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BassBus

PC vs Mac for music software

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I'm in the process of putting together a new studio and would like to add a laptop to it. I've heard people say that music just works so well with Apple gear but there is the price tag to consider with that. How do people feel about using PC for studio work?

I have Cubase on my desktop PC and that works fine but there are some issues when using digital instrument plugins. Arturia's Piano V2 has noticable latency even after changing settings. Playing Dune 3 synth sometimes brings up nasty glitchy unwanted noise.

Are Macbook Pros any better and worth spending the extra money?

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@Wolverinebass knows his onions about stuff and may be able to help.

I am a pretty much embedded Mac man and like Apple products, Garageband, Logic X etc.

Could the outlay for a Mac be used to buy other better stuff to go alongside what you have?

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Mac can be expensive, laptop with windows 10 will work fine minimum 8gb RAM. Gaming laptops are better options.

You'll be left with hundreds to spend on other essential gadgets, like studio speakers etc.

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15 minutes ago, SH73 said:

Mac can be expensive, laptop with windows 10 will work fine minimum 8gb RAM. Gaming laptops are better options.

You'll be left with hundreds to spend on other essential gadgets, like studio speakers etc.

Agreed

The reason I went Mac initially was when I was studying I had an educational discount and needed a computer - by the time I factored things I wanted from a laptop, the old unibody MacBooks were incredible value with the discount - and you could upgrade them.

Other than that, nowt wrong with a properly spec’d windows machine

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I would always go windows, the price difference would easily buy some nice extras like mics or other recording goodies, I'm actually running Linux on my desktop pc running reaper which saved me a fair amount as I didn't have a copy of Windows so would  have had to buy it. 

 

Matt 

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Rather than looking at the platform, look at which DAW and which plug-ins you want to use as some are only available for one OS or the other.

IME unless you are a very experienced and technically-savvy Windows user, the money you save by not buying a Mac will be used up in the extra time spent troubleshooting.

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I recently bought a 2012 i7 2.6ghz Quad Core Mac Mini. I upgraded the RAM to 16GB and put a 500G SSD drive in. It runs Catalina very happily. It whips along. I have two 27" monitors. All in £750

New Macs are bonkers prices. 2nd hand are fine.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2380057.m570.l1311.R4.TR8.TRC1.A0.H0.Xmac+Mini+i7+.TRS0&_nkw=mac+mini+i7+16gb&_sacat=0

 

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4 minutes ago, owen said:

New Macs are bonkers prices. 2nd hand are fine.

I would agree. I've just upgraded from a 2008 MacPro 3,1 2.8Ghz 8 core with 16GB RAM (which cost me £350 just over 3 years ago) to a 2010 MacPro 5,1 3.46 GHz 6 core with 64GB RAM which cost £600. (These are proper Xeon desktop/server processors rather than the i-series that are found in most consumer grade computers). The only thing wrong with the old one was the fact that it wouldn't run an OS newer than El Capitan and I needed to upgrade the OS in order to have the latest versions of Adobe Creative Cloud for my work. The old Mac was more than capable of running any of my music projects in Logic. 

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Thanks for all the input guys. @owen's idea of the Mac Mini has me thinking that that might be a good idea as an internet computer and move the desktop to the studio.

The cost of new Macs is what made me ask as I was left wiping the water away from my eyes after seeing those prices. The used prices of Macs are looking interesting, particularly @BigRedX's buy.

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Apparently you can run Catalina on a 2012 Mac Pro IF you have the right graphics card in it. I do not know what that card is called.

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3 hours ago, BassBus said:

Thanks for all the input guys. @owen's idea of the Mac Mini has me thinking that that might be a good idea as an internet computer and move the desktop to the studio.

The cost of new Macs is what made me ask as I was left wiping the water away from my eyes after seeing those prices. The used prices of Macs are looking interesting, particularly @BigRedX's buy.

I would advocate going the Mac mini route. Especially as you can upgrade the memory in the 2018 onwards versions. Buy the smallest memory, smallest SSD, fastest processor you can afford then upgrade the memory yourself and hook up an external SSD for music projects. Once you've tasted Mac you'll never go back!

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1 hour ago, sammybee said:

Especially as you can upgrade the memory in the 2018 onwards versions. 

Ooh! Interesting. 

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What DAW will you use?

Personally I’d buy either a used MacBook Pro, or investigate a refurbished one. If you know someone who’s a student, see if you can buy one through them, Apple do some generous student discounts.

 

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Personally I’d go with Mac. Yes, it’s more initial outlay, but I’ve only had a couple of issues n my MacBook Pro (since 2010) that have stopped me making music, and I remember a time when I was spending more time taking my Windows machine apart every other weekend to solve hardware conflicts, and regularly had to reinstall drivers. 
 

It’s true what they say - once you’ve had Mac, you never go back.

Macs have a free DAW in the shape of Garage Band, which is more than adequate for dipping a toe down the rabbit hole.

 

cubase will install on your Mac too, so there’s that. Latency issues will be there on any system, so I’d recommend a solid state drive and max out your RAM. 

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Reminding myself of the system on the PC it is very high spec as I wanted. To get the equivalent on a Mac would nearly treble what I paid for the PC when it was built. It has run well. It is maybe halfway through its life and as I have all the software for Windows I'm leaning towards staying there.

Other fora have stated that Cubase will run on Mac but it runs better on Windows. 

Hmm. First world problems.

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If you have something that works, then don't fix it.

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Firmly in the PC camp here but then again I've worked with them both at home and professionally for over 30 years. If you're familiar with Windows and some of the ins and outs of keeping a system like that running, it would have to be a very compelling argument to change. 

As far as if you've had a Mac, you'll never go back, my wife wanted something nicer looking than her aging desktop pc back about 2009 and had heard about how the Mac was much easier to use etc. etc. so I got her a Mac Mini and set it all up. She *hated* it with a vengeance to such an extent that after about six weeks I relented and it then ran Windows for the rest of the time she had it! She still uses the keyboard though- pretty keyboard!

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I have pretty well always have had both, in fact, bought a new(er) windows laptop this week - don't let anyone tell you they are cheap if you want something decent.

I have done music on both and TBH, life is too short for me to do music on windows. I know, a lot of people use it and swear by it, and if you really love windows you probably won't get on with the mac that much so you are probably better off with windows. 

Don't rule out either a refurbed mac (available on the store, a few hundred quid off), or a second hand of a few years old,, my macbook is 2013 and I don't really have a pressing need to update it yet.

 

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Mac defo. Would never go back to PC through choice- although as people have said, the hardware costs are significantly higher than a PC.

However, it all just works... and you'll spend more time being creative rather than trying to fix stinky poo.

 

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, owen said:

Apparently you can run Catalina on a 2012 Mac Pro IF you have the right graphics card in it. I do not know what that card is called.

The graphics card must support “Metal”. There’s a list of compatible cards somewhere which I will look for later. IIRC for best compatibility you need an AMD rather than NVIDIA card.

Edit: read this article https://www.pro-tools-expert.com/production-expert-1/2018/6/12/how-do-you-find-mojave-compatible-graphics-cards-for-cheese-grater-apple-mac-pro-51-computers for compatible cards.

Edited by BigRedX

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I've never had any windows/PC type issues while making music on my laptop using Ableton... Funnily enough it just works!

Saying that, I got an i7 processor with SSD and 16gB RAM - cost me about £650 5 years ago. However, I've since realised that 16gB gets maxed out if you use 20 analogue, 4 hungry midi instruments, plus Izotope Neutron and sound balancer on each track plus Bias FX on the guitars...

I'm thinking of following Big Red's route - sort of; haven't used Macs since I was at the BBC (that was when Avid/ProTools was only just starting to be able to be used on a PC) so may go for a refurb 16 core Xeon processor business server or graphics machine with at least 64gB RAM running windows.

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I'd say that if you're familiar & comfortable working with Cubase, then I'd go for a high spec Windows machine & equivalent USB audio interfaces. Try and get something with a few USB 3 or higher connectors.

The more memory the better, and a good size HDD. Maybe something with separate video memory as well, so a gaming machine would be a good bet.

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42 minutes ago, Skybone said:

I'd say that if you're familiar & comfortable working with Cubase, then I'd go for a high spec Windows machine & equivalent USB audio interfaces. Try and get something with a few USB 3 or higher connectors.

The more memory the better, and a good size HDD. Maybe something with separate video memory as well, so a gaming machine would be a good bet.

Hadn't thought about USB so USB 3 would be helpful. I'd go for SSD as opposed to HDD. I have a 1TB SSD in the desktop, so much faster than any HDD I've ever had even after all the time I've had it.

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8 hours ago, BigRedX said:

The graphics card must support “Metal”. There’s a list of compatible cards somewhere which I will look for later. IIRC for best compatibility you need an AMD rather than NVIDIA card.

Edit: read this article https://www.pro-tools-expert.com/production-expert-1/2018/6/12/how-do-you-find-mojave-compatible-graphics-cards-for-cheese-grater-apple-mac-pro-51-computers for compatible cards.

Ha! "Graphics card wanted- must be good for metal!

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