What iMac for music production? (No virtual instruments)

Paratriplel

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 1, 2011
65
4
I'm thinking or getting an iMac as KY next computer, I currently have a MacBook Pro 15" (2015) (2,3 Ghz, 16GB RAM)

I do not use any virtual instruments but I want to start using more plugins without increasing latency when I'm recording/producing.

I'm using Logic Pro X.
I record "real" synthesizers, guitars, bass, vocals on one channel and I often just record myself but sometimes but I do I have friends or songwriting partners coming over and we multitrack but rarely more than 4 channelks.
Oh and I also record MIDI but just for sending it back out and this is something that really makes you hear the latency created even if there's just a single (non CPU-heavy) plugin on a channel. I currently almost only use external DSP procession for plugins but I want to start going back in the box with plugins and just use my DAW for that. No switching between apps etc.

So you should look at me as a hobbyist even if I make a couple of bucks on my music.

What 27" iMac (yes I'm getting a 27") would you recommend for these tasks?

Of course I understand that the more cores, the higher GHz, RAM and disk space the better but if we're being realistic with $/performance because money is an issue but is solveable to a degree.

I'm in no rush to get a new Mac
. My Macbook Pro is holding up pretty good for its age but I do feel it's slowing me down in my work and that the age has taken its toll on it so I believe that I could benefit from getting a new one pretty soon but waiting half a year and saving maybe up some extra money for an even better computer would be nice but the iMac 2019 seems really good as it is and I like the fact that the T2-chip is missing, since I'm doing music though I'm currently using a Thunderbolt interface and not Usb (since believe that the T2-chip is just affecting USB-interfaces with issues but maybe the next update or even redesign means that it will get a T2-chip but I hope all issues are solved because I might get a USB interface sometime in the near future.

Anyway don't know enough about how computer specs affect the performance when working with audio since it's always about video editing or photo editing so I'm feeling it's a hard deduction to do about which one to get except that I want a 27" or even bigger (if Apple makes that an option for that) but n hoping you can help me out and even if I buy the next generation or next update I'll be more educated about it.

Live in the EU so computers are more expensive and even live in a high tax country so that means the computes cost even more.
 
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Veezer

macrumors newbie
Jun 30, 2015
20
2
Get an i7 Mac mini and you’re good to go. This is specially because you use outboard gear which need a higher investments towards Pre’s and Mics and less on stuff like Monitor, and CPU performance. Besides this, an iMac has a Graphics Card you will NOT be using. Another raccomendation might be looking for past generations Mac Pro, but provided you think having 6-12core on the CPU on a 6.1, or a 12core 5.1, will be even better at that, at the cost of portability and upgraded OS support.

That said, if you desperately need an iMac, get the 27” base version. It will do more than enough for your needs, and update the RAM separately. Also, DO NOT buy any version with HDD or fusion drive unless you want to open the machine and swap the drive yourself.
 

Paratriplel

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 1, 2011
65
4
I actually forgot to mention that I'll also use this Mac for 3D modeling, nothing super advanced but I of course want something to grow in, but in not doing 3D animations or anything, more "product design" and such.
I'm not sure if this affects the decision.
What I currently do works rather okay on my MacBook Pro from 2015.

But the base model iMac looks fine if I upgrade/config the go 512 GB SSD or even 1 TB. Then upgrade ram to 16 and make that higher if I notice that I need to.
An iMac base models costs 2 389 dollars
512 SSD config is 2 733 dollars in my country
1 TB is 2 963 dollars

How is the thermal issues on the iMac? Will the higher cpu-configurations make a difference or will get for the most part throttle?

About the Mac Mini in just a afraid about the T2-chip, really hard to find information about if the audio issues is solved or not and not every one seem affected but a lot of people is/was.

Mac mini with 3,2 GHz six core i7 and 512 GB coats 1 895 dollars, 1 665 dollars if I'd skip the 512 and settle with 256 GB but I don't like that idea.


I'll probably wait for the next Mac Mini upgrade if I go that route.
I'll probably do the same for the iMac and I'm leaning towards and iMac because I feel you get a bit more

Worth mentioning is that I like to mix as I go, it's only a light mix with some eq's and compressors on a couple of channel and maybe a bus channel and maybe put a reverb in a bus to get some space to maintain the motivation and feeling.

So no I don't need the most powerful machine most defiantly but I rather get something more powerful than I need than the other way around :)

I thought Mac were kind of redicously expensive 10 years ago but now it's really a different level of redicously but I'm still buying into it, can't stand Windows and I don't think Linux is yet simple and stable enough but it seems there's at least 6 distributions "for artists/musicians" so maybe time to check that route out soon.
 

nihil0

macrumors 6502
May 19, 2016
269
166
For 3D modelling you need strong GPU and even more strong CPU (for rendering). So that would at least mean mid-tier with SSD. Ideal would be i9 with Vega 48. If you have money :).
 

Sam Marks

macrumors member
Jul 5, 2019
67
19
I'm thinking or getting an iMac as KY next computer, I currently have a MacBook Pro 15" (2015) (2,3 Ghz, 16GB RAM)

I do not use any virtual instruments but I want to start using more plugins without increasing latency when I'm recording/producing.

I'm using Logic Pro X.
I record "real" synthesizers, guitars, bass, vocals on one channel and I often just record myself but sometimes but I do I have friends or songwriting partners coming over and we multitrack but rarely more than 4 channelks.
Oh and I also record MIDI but just for sending it back out and this is something that really makes you hear the latency created even if there's just a single (non CPU-heavy) plugin on a channel. I currently almost only use external DSP procession for plugins but I want to start going back in the box with plugins and just use my DAW for that. No switching between apps etc.

So you should look at me as a hobbyist even if I make a couple of bucks on my music.

What 27" iMac (yes I'm getting a 27") would you recommend for these tasks?

Of course I understand that the more cores, the higher GHz, RAM and disk space the better but if we're being realistic with $/performance because money is an issue but is solveable to a degree.

I'm in no rush to get a new Mac
. My Macbook Pro is holding up pretty good for its age but I do feel it's slowing me down in my work and that the age has taken its toll on it so I believe that I could benefit from getting a new one pretty soon but waiting half a year and saving maybe up some extra money for an even better computer would be nice but the iMac 2019 seems really good as it is and I like the fact that the T2-chip is missing, since I'm doing music though I'm currently using a Thunderbolt interface and not Usb (since believe that the T2-chip is just affecting USB-interfaces with issues but maybe the next update or even redesign means that it will get a T2-chip but I hope all issues are solved because I might get a USB interface sometime in the near future.

Anyway don't know enough about how computer specs affect the performance when working with audio since it's always about video editing or photo editing so I'm feeling it's a hard deduction to do about which one to get except that I want a 27" or even bigger (if Apple makes that an option for that) but n hoping you can help me out and even if I buy the next generation or next update I'll be more educated about it.

Live in the EU so computers are more expensive and even live in a high tax country so that means the computes cost even more.
I am also from an EU country. I also produce music with my MacBook Pro (2011) and I tested an iMac i9 Vega 48 512Gb SSD a few months ago with very bad luck (the computer died after a music production sesion after 14 days and I returned it). It could be a bad unit or a bad design. I will never know.

The problem for me with the new macs is that the MacOS Catalina is not currently compatible with my main audio interfaces and some of my most used software. And it is imposible to order a new Mac with Mojave or to downgrade after purchasing.

Finally, due to this fact, I ordered a 17,3 inch custom Clevo laptop prepared for the instalation of various OS. i7 9700 CPU (7500 geekbench multicore score under this configuration), 64GB RAM 2666, 512Gb SSD (for €200 more I will install 2TB more of NMVE SSD), a GPU similar in performance to the Pro Vega 56 (Nvida GTX 1660ti) and totally upgradable. All for €1,400 including taxes, vía Amazon. I will see how it performs for music production under different OS. Maybe Cubase or Live on Windows 10 or another OS could run smoothly. If not, I will return the machine.
 

Paratriplel

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 1, 2011
65
4
I am also from an EU country. I also produce music with my MacBook Pro (2011) and I tested an iMac i9 Vega 48 512Gb SSD a few months ago with very bad luck (the computer died after a music production sesion after 14 days and I returned it). It could be a bad unit or a bad design. I will never know.
I'm sorry to hear! Did you push it or it suddenly died?

The problem for me with the new macs is that the MacOS Catalina is not currently compatible with my main audio interfaces and some of my most used software. And it is imposible to order a new Mac with Mojave or to downgrade after purchasing.
What?! I did not know that it wasn't possible to downgrade OS. Really? There's no issue free hack for it or anything?
Hmm... I've recently checked and almost everything I use is 64 bit now but of course some smaller apps are gonna have to go if I upgrade.

Wish I could go non Mac but I promised Apple to give them one last chance.

For 3D modelling you need strong GPU and even more strong CPU (for rendering). So that would at least mean mid-tier with SSD. Ideal would be i9 with Vega 48. If you have money :).
Well my MacBook Pro seems to be able to perform well when being used for 3D-modeling (Music production pushes the computer more than 3D modeling! Seriously!) even if it sometimes could have a moment of lag etc.. But as said I'm not doing animations or anything, just the 3D-modeling and I just started applying it for 3D printing so I'm not sure I'll need a big ass graphics card for that but I might be wrong? When I've tried reading up about requirements but got the impression that it's more important having a fast CPU rather than having an expensive CPU and seeing that my MacBook Pro works rather fine for it I'm guessing computes today should do at least ad good? Isn't that the case?
When you say mid tier SSD what does that mean? Doesn't all SSD for the iMac perform the same?

Do not have the money but could of course save up if I feel it's worth it but I believe I'm more likely to leave Applefor computing than spend over $3000 on a computer.

I really believe that I'd I'd manage with all 27" offered right now but if course i9 would be preferred and but GPU is probably fine? Isn't it? But for professional work maybe the upgraded to Vega 48 would be a big upgrade and time saver for a work.
 

nihil0

macrumors 6502
May 19, 2016
269
166
Well my MacBook Pro seems to be able to perform well when being used for 3D-modeling (Music production pushes the computer more than 3D modeling! Seriously!) even if it sometimes could have a moment of lag etc.. But as said I'm not doing animations or anything, just the 3D-modeling and I just started applying it for 3D printing so I'm not sure I'll need a big ass graphics card for that but I might be wrong? When I've tried reading up about requirements but got the impression that it's more important having a fast CPU rather than having an expensive CPU and seeing that my MacBook Pro works rather fine for it I'm guessing computes today should do at least ad good? Isn't that the case?
When you say mid tier SSD what does that mean? Doesn't all SSD for the iMac perform the same?

Do not have the money but could of course save up if I feel it's worth it but I believe I'm more likely to leave Applefor computing than spend over $3000 on a computer.

I really believe that I'd I'd manage with all 27" offered right now but if course i9 would be preferred and but GPU is probably fine? Isn't it? But for professional work maybe the upgraded to Vega 48 would be a big upgrade and time saver for a work.
I wrote mid-tier with SSD, not mid-tier SSD :).

It depends what you call "rather fine" work. With more cores and threads, you can for 1) have better and faster workflow inside the app meaning you can see better quality of scene because render is faster and 2) you will save lot of time rendering your works (more cores/threads = faster render). So it really means what will you exactly be rendering (non-animated stuff is also demanding) and how much time you want to spend doing it.

You are correct that CPU is much more important for 3D modeling than GPU but it all depends whether you can justify the price hike.

But also maybe you are only 3D modelling simple stuff and not complex scenes and therefore you will not benefit from i9 at all. So the thing is to be really sure what do you expect from the computer and act accordingly.

For my photo workflow, CPU is important, GPU not as much, that is why I am getting 2019 iMac with i9. I also work little with Logic Pro X and on my current config it is running great (and I use VST Amplitube and for 1 project I have around 15 tracks with VST applied on 3 of them, the rest is WAVs with EQs and stuff).

So it depends.
 

Sam Marks

macrumors member
Jul 5, 2019
67
19
My 2019 iMac Vega 48 died the day after a night of intensive music production sessions with 150 tracks of virtual instruments and effect plugins. The morning after the computer started to reboot randomly and increasingly. After one hour of reboots the computer refused to turn on anymore. I assume that the logic board caused a fatal failure of the system.

I do not want o try another iMac with the same thermal desing for the moment. I will try the commented laptop to see what happens.
 

Paratriplel

macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 1, 2011
65
4
Thanks for explaining nihil0, I believe I read a bit too fast. Hehe.

I'm sure I'd benefit from the i9 but I'm worried that the iMac will throttle away most of that power but maybe Apple has solve the heating issues. Though when reading Sam Mark's reply I'm guessing sadly not.

I just wish I could buy a Mac computer and know it will stand up to the task if I pay a freaking €3000... And I want it to last at least 3 years but preferable up to 6-8 years.

Right now I'm doing fairly simple things in my 3D modeling, recently started learning Fusion360 and I'm trying to move away from SketchUp due to several reasons.

Logic is something I early have over 5 midi tracks / 30 audio tracks but it happens so I'm guessing I should plan for at least 50 tracks since I want to be able to grow.
Never felt that my current computer isn't holding up to the task but it's getting very hot and loud and I really don't like that, with computer in my studio room it could be an issue but I've placed my microphone quite far away from the computer etc.

Or to wake or not to wait for next update or the iMac..