The right MacPro for Music Production?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mingus51, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. mingus51 macrumors member

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    Midwest
    #1
    Hello all,

    I've been tracking this forum for about a year now reading some great discussion on 2008 MacPro and actually held off buying one b/c of the comments recommending waiting for the new 2009 MacPro.
    So I did, and now I've been reading a lot of less than excited posts about how this is a step backwards in the price vs speed camp.

    Rather than hijacking a thread that is really providing a lot of great discussion on benchmarks and other more general pros/cons of 2008 vs 2009 I wanted to get some advice on a very specific request.

    I produce music on a PC now which is way past it's prime. Originally I spec'd a 2008 model and was prepared to buy with my company discount when I was advised to wait until the new 2009 MP came out.

    Right now the cost is equal for a 2009 system (with my corp discount) and a used/refurb 2008 system so $$$ can't help me make a decision.

    The machine I'm spec'ing is

    * Two 2.26GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    * 8GB (4x2GB)
    * 1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
    * NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB
    * One 18x SuperDrive
    * Apple Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter

    My question is, is this the right move for my specific needs?

    I run Cubase, Ableton Live, and mainly Native Instrument plug ins (synths)

    In terms of hyperthreading and quad vs. octo cores: will I even be able to realize this potential given my software?
    Is there any value in trying to sink in the large amount to take me to 2.66 or 2.93 Octo 2009?

    As I understand it, music on a Mac relys more on Ram (number of effects and synths that can run without latency) vs. raw CPU speed. But I've even heard debate on that.

    If all things are equal I'd rather take advantage of my corporate discount as well as emerging technology. Would love to hear what you guys have to say.

    Thanks
     
  2. mingus51 thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Thanks Daim,

    interesting observations for AL

    I guess I should have prefaced that my main daw is cubase and hoping that people will weigh in on how important processor speed is for music applications since I've always heard RAM and HD speed is the bottlneck

    a
     
  3. byrgenar macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    #4
    Session Size

    Hi.

    Good question. I not sure how well (if at all) optimized for multiple core's the Steinberg stuff is. The obvious question is how big do your sessions tend to get?

    Regards
     
  4. dhalfen macrumors newbie

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    Mar 11, 2009
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    #5
    Best Of Both Worlds!

    IMHumO, you really want the _2.66_ GHz (or 2.93) 8-core setup! In my experience, all of my programs benefit greatly from lots of RAM _and_ high clock speeds. I have Komplete 5 with Kore 2, and I _really_ wish I could afford that 2.93 sucker for my really outlandish projects! (The 2.66 would probably make me _very_ happy, just not put me in heaven.)

    This is a case where the middle road might be smartest. While the 2008 model would work "fine," if you want to be truly happy, then, for goodness' sake, get the new machine.

    The skinny: samplers choke on low RAM and slow disks (the bus speed isn't an issue with these machines -- information superhighway indeed! %^), whereas synths and sound modellers/effects _need_ fast-fast-fast processing power.

    Which is the greater part of your arsenal?

    Do yourself a favour and get the best of both worlds! With my current iMac, I can actually run some large sessions in Logic Studio and Live 7, but only if I limit the ensembles and their quality. For simpler things, I am quite happy!

    However, Live benefits _greatly_ from multiple cores -- this should only increase with Live 8!!! (And/or Snow Leopard...)
     
  5. mingus51 thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    I wouldn't say as big as some multi-track sessions...probably about 10-15 tracks but the kicker is they are mostly VSTs and I use a lot of modulated effects and automation.

    I don't see Steinberg doing much to bring multi-processing into their architecture but the way I read this forum it apperas that Snow Leopard will make ANY software optimized? Is that a fair assumption? or is it SL will be a boost to those apps already capable of multi-threading?

    Also worth noting, I'm willing to invest in RAM above what I spec'd previously. Again curious to see if it would be overkill or a benefit?
     
  6. byrgenar macrumors newbie

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    Jan 30, 2009
    #7
    As dhalfen mentioned, the 2.66 is shaping up to be the one look at (whilst trying to avoid seeing at the price). For what you need hard drive's are unlikely to be the limiting factor (though I would add one to the system above, just not from apple). More Ram is good though I think anything up to Cubase 4 is 32bit and therefore wont address than 4GB(ish) anyway. Could be wrong about that though.
    I suppose I would go for the 2.66 at least. 6GB of ram. Buy a 80GB drive for the OS and Shift the 1TB to sample storage duty. From there you can see if you need more ram later.
    Probably. the best thing to do is wait 4 months (if you can) and see the results other people are getting.

    Regards
     
  7. netdog macrumors 603

    netdog

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    London
    #8
    Any Mac Pro is fine and then some (quite a bit actually) for music production. Bear in mind that the MP is a very bad choice if you are recording with microphones in the same room. In that case, you want something that runs quite a bit closer to silent like an iMac or Mini or even the fabled silent Cube.
     
  8. Matt Dean macrumors newbie

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    Mar 5, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #9
    I must disagree with getting an iMac or Mini. For music, you need expansion and eternal connectivity. It's easy to put a noisy MP in a closet, or iso cabinet.

    I was told processor speed is important for music. "power, not crunch" :)

    Regardless. The faster memory and architecture should weigh in when using VI's that stream from memory. Make sure you have a separate hard drive for your sample libraries/VI's. You don't want them on your boot drive. Also, a third drive - external is good - for audio.

    So, that being said, I feel the 2.66 octo overall is the best bang for the buck, or a 2008 2.8 octo. I personally wouldn't get a 2.26.

    BTW, have you considered switching to Logic Pro. It's pretty slick with lots of sounds and guaranteed it will be the first audio program to take advantage of the new MP's architecture and Snow Leopard - when it comes out.
     
  9. rastersize macrumors member

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    Apr 9, 2008
    #10
    Sorry, but that isn't true.
    SL can't make any software optimized. SL(/Grand Central) will not any software use multiple cores. SL will not boost any app (in that sense) that is multi-threaded. What SL/Grand Central will do is to make it easier for developers to utilise multiple cores/processors and OpenCL (using the GPU for general purpose calculations). So it's up to the developer of the software to take advantage of the new stuff that SL will bring.
     
  10. mingus51 thread starter macrumors member

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    #11
    I definitely think I can do that. By the time I get back from WMC and recoup finances it will be about 3 anyway.

    Thanks for the great insight!

    Thanks for the tips and insight. I agree, expandability is what is driving me to the MP camp. Someday I may get an iMac as a VST workstation

    That's what I wanted to hear. Logically I didn't think an OS could make 3rd party apps take advantage of hardware upgrades but wasn't sure.

    I have looked into Logic...and without opening a can of worms let me just say that my workflow and brain can't seem to grasp Logic's. For whatever reason I took to Cubase like a fish to water and have tried to embrace several other DAWs (Logic, ProTools, etc.) but keep coming back.
     
  11. Virtuoso macrumors regular

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    Seattle
    #12
    Same here - I've been using Cubase for 17 years now and, although I bought Logic last year, I just can't seem to get on with it.

    Sadly Cubase on the Mac is still 32 bit, so it won't use all that memory. If you want to run multiple apps at the same time though, the memory is useful.

    The Mac Pro is very quiet in operation - much more so than a PC. I have no issues recording in the same room as my 3.2GHz 8 core.

    Don't get an iMac though - you'll be kicking yourself if you ever decide to get a UAD or a Powercore for plugins.
     
  12. Keniff macrumors 6502a

    Keniff

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    #13

    So, with all this in mind, I can see a Logic Pro 8.1 or 9 being released soon, which has swayed me back into buying the 2.26GHz 8-Core.

    In the meantime, I'll do some more researching on personally upgrading the processors, for maybe a later date.
     
  13. fabriciom macrumors 6502

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    Madrid, España
    #14
    I'm ordering with in this or next week. Also going with the 2,26 and 12gb of ram. I wish I could afford the 2,66 but is just out of the question for me. I'm also dishing out another 530€ for a new RME AIO. It hurts just to think about it....
     
  14. Keniff macrumors 6502a

    Keniff

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    #15
    Yeah, I shall do the the same I think.
    I guess once you've got over the money thing, the quality is always remembered.

    But for me, and maybe 100's of 1000's of people around the world, anything above the 2.26 is just out of our price range.
    I wish Apple would consider this, cause it'll hurt them, just as much (in the long run) in the current economic climate...

    In the UK, the Government have taken 2.5% off VAT (value added tax), but you don't see Apple giving that back to their loyal or new customers, all the prices of everything on the Apple site have stayed the same (or gone up)!
     
  15. rockinrocker macrumors 65816

    rockinrocker

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    Aug 21, 2006
    #16
    I run Cubase 4, NI's Komplete 4 and Reason 2 on my '08 Octo 2.8 and have some big ass projects, and it's quite literally impossible for me to stress the processors....

    50-60 tracks, about a dozen VST's, crap tons of effects, and this is the load:

    [​IMG]



    Anybody that says you won't be happy with an '08 octo for music production is a dumbass.
     
  16. rbro macrumors member

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    Nov 20, 2003
    #17
    That's good to hear. I'm running Ableton Live, but I use Komplete 5 and Kore 2, along with Spectrasonics Omnisphere, NI Guitar Rig 3 and a bunch of other CPU hogging plugs. I'm pulling the trigger tomorrow on a 2.26 Octocore w/12GB RAM. Hope it's the right move :eek:
     
  17. fabriciom macrumors 6502

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    #18
    The only way I can afford this as a student is because the government here is giving a credit to get a new PC of up to 3.000€ at 0% interest to be paid up in 5 years. So roughly 50€ a month for 5 years...
     
  18. Ploki macrumors 68000

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    Jan 21, 2008
    #19
    sorry, you are wrong
    cubase is so far the ONLY 64bit DAW for os x..
    protools = 32, Logic = 32, digital performer = 32
     
  19. rockinrocker macrumors 65816

    rockinrocker

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    #20
    Oh how I wish that was true, but it isn't yet. :(

    C5 is 64 bit for windows, but is still 32 for OSX. Steiny say's this is because of Apple dropping one of their API's (Carbon? I always forget which one it is) which is suppose is reasonable.....
    They have said that is should go 64 bit sometime in the C5 development cycle, so I'm not going to bother updating until then.
    Hopefully this will be sooner rather then later.
     
  20. mingus51 thread starter macrumors member

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    #21
  21. rockinrocker macrumors 65816

    rockinrocker

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    #22
    The early reports I've seen (for C5, not Nehelam's) say people aren't really seeing any improvement in scaling for multicore. It's yet another improvement they say is planned for this cycle.

    We'll see, Steiny's not getting any more of my money until it's a done deal and I see some real numbers.
     
  22. akdj macrumors 65816

    akdj

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    Alaska
    #23
    Very interesting advice in this thread for sure!

    That's about 70% of what we do, audio vs. video editing on the Pro. Although it's important to have the processing speed, I don't think there's a Mac Pro choice W/O processing speed:) LOL> I'm using the Octo 3.0/14gigs RAM with Logic on the OSX side and Audition (on the Widows side, used to be Cool Edit Pro from Syntrillium until Adobe bought it....same situation as you guys with Cubase). I have had NOTHING but Luck with my Mac Pro over the last year and a half. This thing is silly fast with audio...SOOO much faster than the PC I came from! Honestly...the video side is easier to measure. A rip in a minute 20 seconds vs. an hour and 20 seconds....but in audio, when you are rendering all tracks (in multi-track mode) to a single stereo track....and it takes less than a second or two!!! The bar goes from 33-66-100% that quick! And I certainly don't have the fastest Pro. Amazing speed, no matter what plug ins I am running...no matter which drives I'm using, all irrelevant. The Mac Pro is one of the most substantial foundations for audio for MANY years to come. You may add an extra year to the end of the equation with one of the new Pros...not because of speed though:) I just can't see you going wrong with any of the choices if you're doing audio.

    Stepping into video and digital photo manipulation and it may be another story....but for today's audio software, you're going to be King of the Hill.

    And God Forbid, don't go with an iMac because of "microphones being in the same room!"

    The difference between whatever your using (if it's not a Mac Pro) and EITHER choice (the new Pro or the '08), you CAN NOT go wrong!

    Again, I am in the same (kind of) situation as you with Cubase...(With Adobe Audition). I installed Logic last summer, spent a couple weeks with it and went right back to Adobe because of efficiency. In January, I added a Euphonix MC Control and MC Mix setup with the Apogee Duet...a Match Made in Heaven! Optimized for Logic...you can learn it in a day, mix on the fly with the board, zero latency....and for even bigger projects, the Apogee Ensemble is phenomenal! Give yourself some time on Logic. Just like almost everything else Apple, it is VERY intuitive once you've learned about 8 keys and mouse (or external midi) control. Sorry to babble, but you're making a great choice! One that could be made even greater by taking the step to Logic, IMO (Not that we are in a DAW debate)....not for any other reason than because it just "Works!"

    ...and that's what counts when a paying customer is waiting:)

    Peace

    J
     
  23. Ploki macrumors 68000

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    Jan 21, 2008
    #24
    huh.
    im sure ive read that cb5 is 64bit cocoa app and on Steinbergs site..


    as far as multithreading goes Why would nehalem be better at it? isnt with multithreading that each core is split in half? and lots of synth NEED a full core while playing instead of switching between them.
    im talking third party apps, cubase isnt well known for great builtins anyway.
     
  24. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #25
    Nope. Cubase 5 is a 32bit application on OSX. Steinberg have said that a 64bit version will be released in the future. - Last checked: Feb 2009



    BTW, to the OP,

    So far with a few exceptions, most of my Music applications prefer faster cores over more cores. Many tasks performed by music and wave editors can't (as in can not rather than do not) make use of multithreading. That's just the way it is for some stuff. :)
     

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