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iMac or PC for recording?

Tone Disciple

Member
Messages
2,432
Sorry to beat a horse that has probably been beat to death here, but I have a serious question and because of the search limitations on word length, I could not find any thread on this easily.

Here is my situation. I have not done any recording ever on the computer. I have the UX2 Line 6 interface and it comes with Ableton that my wife gave me for Christmas, I know I can go out there and get Reaper, so software is not the first issue I have.

So - for the same money - Mac or PC? The basic iMac desktop comes with 2GB of DDR2 memory and a 160GB hard drive for around $1200.

Many PC's for the same money have much more impressive spec's, but all of the reviews mention locking up, slow speeds and high maintenance to prevent virus issues as detractors even though the spec's make them look like they would be faster.

Your opinions? I just want to get something basic at the lowest cost possible that will still work so I can learn! Later I will upgrade once I have discovered the limiting factors for myself.

BTW - I have owned and operated PC's forever, but have never owned and Apple.
 
Last edited:

soundbee

Double Platinum Member
Messages
1,282
I generally recommend sticking to what you know - mac or pc - if you have experience on one of the platforms you'll most likely get up and running much quicker. Plus don't believe the hype, I've seen just as many macs lock up and freeze as other computers. You probably hear about it less cuz Macs are such a significantly smaller part of the market.
 

NotWesYet

Member
Messages
5,303
I recently received a sales email about refurbished 17" 1.6 or thereabout Ghz Imac's for $499. I'll try and find the info when I get to work.
 

guitarlifestyle

I like guitars.
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,760
I generally recommend sticking to what you know - mac or pc - if you have experience on one of the platforms you'll most likely get up and running much quicker. Plus don't believe the hype, I've seen just as many macs lock up and freeze as other computers. You probably hear about it less cuz Macs are such a significantly smaller part of the market.
What soundbee said. There's a hidden cost in learning a new OS if you're switching from one to the other.
 

meterman

Member
Messages
7,924
I use PC, it's just what I know. Since I built my new machine I've had zero problems running Reaper, no freeze ups, drop outs, etc. I'm running 4GB RAM and a dual 3.0mhz processor on a machine I built from Newegg parts for less than $800 (not incl monitor which I already had).

But, I have an old machine for email and web and keep this one almost entirely off the net as I don't have antivirus software on it (big resource footprint, kicks in unexpectedly, etc). And yes there are many many more bugs and critters out there for PC than Mac....
 

onemind

Member
Messages
3,585
Here's an easy barometer, if you are ever going to connect it to the internet, stick with the iMac. If you are only going to use it for recording as a dedicated machine it's a slightly tougher decision.
 

richpeax

Member
Messages
114
The PC's out there specs are amazing compared to an Apple for the money. Unfortunately most of the software companies drag their feet to support the latest versions of the OS. Vista 64x is not currently supported by Pro Tools even though the Quad Core processor has been out for a little while now. I'm sure there will eventually be an update. Good thing I got an Apple primarily just for recording.
Try to determine what platform you will record with and check compatibilty with computer maker, this really applies to PC.
 

Somniferous

Member
Messages
1,207
It depends upon which piece of software you plan on using. If the software was designed for PC, a PC would be fine, and vice versa. I know for sure that reaper doesn't really work on a mac because it's still in beta, but I am unsure where ableton works best, although most of the people I see that run it extensively use macs.

If in the near future you foresee yourself getting into ProTools, I'd recommend getting a Mac, it makes things so much easier. Sure things have changed a bit in v8, but the mac side always seems to get more attention since most current recording studios run it on macs.
 

Tone Disciple

Member
Messages
2,432
It depends upon which piece of software you plan on using. If the software was designed for PC, a PC would be fine, and vice versa. I know for sure that reaper doesn't really work on a mac because it's still in beta, but I am unsure where ableton works best, although most of the people I see that run it extensively use macs.

If in the near future you foresee yourself getting into ProTools, I'd recommend getting a Mac, it makes things so much easier. Sure things have changed a bit in v8, but the mac side always seems to get more attention since most current recording studios run it on macs.
Good points. I was unaware of what platform studios prefer.

I have an IBM T60 for my business laptop. It is loaded with MacAfee and other virus protection software. I also have a Dell laptop that is the household laptop and my daughter has a nice Dell in her room for schoolwork. The point being that the computer I plan to buy will not be needed much for business or internet (although I will probably visit this forum on it). My Dell laptop is not powerful enough to run the Ableton. My daughter's computer is just that - her computer and it is a desktop in her room. My IBM is my company's computer and it is already full with business related info documents and powerpoints.

My new computer will primarily be strictly for recording and photography with occassional internet activity. And yes, Ableton can be loaded for either PC or Mac.

Good comments so far - keep them coming!
 

dantedayjob

Member
Messages
1,866
I own both, have done so for 11 years, so I feel that I can give an opinion that is based upon dual real world experience: The PC is relegated to a backup and is used only for; occasional internet browsing and the odd program that needs windows.

Having run both, I can tell you that it is true that Windows machines lock up more frequently than Macs. That is not to say Macs DON'T lock up, but I what estimate the ratio at about 4 or 5/1. That is not insignificant.

There is also the issue of real time speed. Despite what you might see on paper when comparing processor speed, etc, Macs are significantly faster. I was told in a college course that a combination of the physical architecture and the OS design was the reason for this. One of the issues in Windows OS that affects this the fact that it has to be designed to run on several different company's hardware and with a broad range of peripherals, whereas Mac OS can be more stream lined because it only needs to be compatible with one company's hardware (as far as the computers themselves go, periperhals are anther matter, but more consitant in design with Mac compatible items). This is what my prof told me, and he'd a PC guy, so?....

As an example, about 3 years ago, I got a new windows laptop. It wasn't one of the faster ones on the market at the time, but it had a 1.6ghz processor as opposed to the 800mhz iBook that was my previous portable. (The pc had 512meg ram, the ibook 640 meg.) After using the pc for a couple days I thought... "hmm, how about a race boys?", set the computers side by side and performed a cold boot. The pc, being twice as fast by clock speed, should have been quicker, right? Nope... I had checked three email accounts on the iBook before the pc finished booting. I tried surfing the same internet sites, side by side, and the mac was proving noticeably faster, except when downloading graphics-heavy pages, that was when the faster clock speed in the pc showed itself. However, the difference was only about 15% faster as opposed to 2x as fast as the clock speed would have indicated. I was shocked. Now, my current Mac performs a cold boot in 30 seconds.

Now, my wife and I play World of Warcraft together. I on my MacBook Pro (17" dualcore 2.16, 2 Gig ram) Her on her pc which is similarly appointed... I don't know the exact specs, but they are very close on paper. When playing together on the same internet connection, she experiences lag when I do not and she gets disconnected more than I do at a ratio of about 7/1.

In general, I have found that similar programs seem to run smoother on my Macs than they do on my pcs, and, as I said earlier, while the Macs do occasionally lock up, I see this much more frequently on my pcs. The Macs are noticeably faster. The downside is that Macs are also noticebly more expensive... That being said, I from first-hand personal experience with both, definitely prefer Macs.

I have to admit that I have not used my pcs for recording. I run ProTools on my Mac and it behaves precisely the way I want it to. I have no issues with it and it has never locked up once. I cannot say if there are any performance issues with the pc version.
 

Veritas

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,922
Yes, macs are the standard in studios. I've been in and out of a lot of studios in Nashville, and I've yet to see a PC. Just as the above post suggests, on paper PC's often look to be the better/faster computer, but macs are much more streamlined, especially in the world of music and video production. That said, they still aren't perfect, and your needs will certainly dictate which way you should go. In the end, a pc might be the better solution for you, if recording is going to just be a hobby. However, if it's going to be more than that, take a very hard look into buying a mac.
 

Dannc6

Member
Messages
188
I own both, have done so for 11 years, so I feel that I can give an opinion that is based upon dual real world experience: The PC is relegated to a backup and is used only for; occasional internet browsing and the odd program that needs windows.

Having run both, I can tell you that it is true that Windows machines lock up more frequently than Macs. That is not to say Macs DON'T lock up, but I what estimate the ratio at about 4 or 5/1. That is not insignificant.

There is also the issue of real time speed. Despite what you might see on paper when comparing processor speed, etc, Macs are significantly faster. I was told in a college course that a combination of the physical architecture and the OS design was the reason for this. One of the issues in Windows OS that affects this the fact that it has to be designed to run on several different company's hardware and with a broad range of peripherals, whereas Mac OS can be more stream lined because it only needs to be compatible with one company's hardware (as far as the computers themselves go, periperhals are anther matter, but more consitant in design with Mac compatible items). This is what my prof told me, and he'd a PC guy, so?....

As an example, about 3 years ago, I got a new windows laptop. It wasn't one of the faster ones on the market at the time, but it had a 1.6ghz processor as opposed to the 800mhz iBook that was my previous portable. (The pc had 512meg ram, the ibook 640 meg.) After using the pc for a couple days I thought... "hmm, how about a race boys?", set the computers side by side and performed a cold boot. The pc, being twice as fast by clock speed, should have been quicker, right? Nope... I had checked three email accounts on the iBook before the pc finished booting. I tried surfing the same internet sites, side by side, and the mac was proving noticeably faster, except when downloading graphics-heavy pages, that was when the faster clock speed in the pc showed itself. However, the difference was only about 15% faster as opposed to 2x as fast as the clock speed would have indicated. I was shocked. Now, my current Mac performs a cold boot in 30 seconds.

Now, my wife and I play World of Warcraft together. I on my MacBook Pro (17" dualcore 2.16, 2 Gig ram) Her on her pc which is similarly appointed... I don't know the exact specs, but they are very close on paper. When playing together on the same internet connection, she experiences lag when I do not and she gets disconnected more than I do at a ratio of about 7/1.

In general, I have found that similar programs seem to run smoother on my Macs than they do on my pcs, and, as I said earlier, while the Macs do occasionally lock up, I see this much more frequently on my pcs. The Macs are noticeably faster. The downside is that Macs are also noticebly more expensive... That being said, I from first-hand personal experience with both, definitely prefer Macs.

I have to admit that I have not used my pcs for recording. I run ProTools on my Mac and it behaves precisely the way I want it to. I have no issues with it and it has never locked up once. I cannot say if there are any performance issues with the pc version.
All your points should be qualified with "in my opinion". If you are comparing cold boot startup times (between any two computers) as some sort of indication of system speed, that says a lot about the amount of insight that you're able to provide in a discussion of this nature. There's a lot more to this debate than what a professor said, or how many times your system freezes.

The most valuable advice that I can give, coincides with the advice already given. Use software that was designed for your platform. I wouldn't invest in a protools system for PC, and I wouldn't invest in Cubase for mac. Not because they won't work, but because there are some tricky issues that can be completely avoided when you use the platform that the software was actually designed for. Keep this in mind, and remember that the limitation of most audio related software programs is the user. Professional mixes come from all different platforms.
 

Mickey_C

1.428571428571429e-10 of humanity
Double Platinum Member
Messages
2,229
I keep hearing how much more PC you get than Mac for your money.

I looked into this last year and it wasn't true at the top end of the Macs (and I ended up buying an 8 core Mac Pro). So I checked again today:

Mac Pro base:
Two 2.83GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Harpertown” processors
2GB memory (800MHz DDR2 fully-buffered DIMM ECC)
ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT graphics with 256MB memory
320GB Serial ATA 3Gb/s 7200-rpm hard drive1
16x double-layer SuperDrive
Ships: Within 24hrs
Free Shipping
$2,799.00

Dell Base T7400:
Quad Core Xeon 2.83GHZ
Add Quad Core Xeon 2.83GHZ
2GB RAM
NVIDIA NVS 2900
16X DVD
300GB Serial ATA Hard Drive
Total as configured: $4,343.00

This is the big PC myth, and it doesn't hold water except for cheap PCs. Go do the same comps at any of the big PC suppliers, and you will see the startling truth I discovered regarding pricing of the Mac versus the PC.

When you get into the high end gear, Mac is the price leader, and you get a lot more for a lot less.

And, IMHO you really want a top end box for doing music and or video recording and production. Heck, even my graphics programs and PCB layout software run faster. And I can rip a DVD in 15 minutes too... there's no substitute for a powerful host. I upgraded my Mac RAM off of ebay for 400.00, making it 16GB. My Mac Pro one year later still eats PCs for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

And it costs LESS not MORE.
 

Sunil

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
804
Go with the iMac. I had been a PC user since the mid-90s and still mainly use them at work. I switched over to Mac for home use last year and I'm much happier. People make way too much out of the environment difference between the Mac and PC OS. I had no difficulties whatsoever making the switch. I do a lot of stuff on the internet, including file sharing between bandmates, and got tired of all the PC security issues. Virus scanners and firewalls were constantly slowing down or freezing up my PC, which on paper had specs that suggested it would be faster than most Macs, but that turned out to be meaningless given all the security software. My iMac is not without its occasional problems, but overall it runs more quickly and much more smoothly than my PC, which has been relegated to being a storage unit.
 

iaresee

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,802
When you get into the high end gear, Mac is the price leader, and you get a lot more for a lot less.
Amen to that. And the gap widens further when you start looking at the software costs -- that PC comes with nothing. The Mac is a fully functioning productive work environment right out of the box. And for $99 more you get iWork.

In general I find that for just about every oddball tasks I want to do there's either a free or ridiculously cheap software solution for it already available on the Mac. That's been the big take away lesson from my Mac --> PC switch experience this past 6 months.

I'm even starting to like Logic 8 over my beloved Cubase SX 3 -- and it was cheaper than Cubase.
 

landru64

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,420
all of these platform arguments are moot when you consider the actual model you are proposing. there are debilitating performance problems with the agere/lucent firewire chips found in imacs (and laptops). since you only have usb and firewire, and since firewire is the 'better' interface, you're stuck with firewire audio interfaces. it's well documented on the internet the problems people have been having with agere/lucent firewire chipset-equipped macs. apple is saying there is no problem, of course, but just call up a tech support desk at m-audio or rme and they'll tell you what's really going on. there ARE stupid workarounds, but they are not 100% effective by all accounts.

the mac pros for sure have the desirable TI chipset. but buyer beware if you buy a mac with the other chipset. you're probably going to be miserable. whereas, if you are just talking about a generic pc tower, you can put any number of robust pci cards in it (you'd have to check the firewire chipset if you want to use that interface, but why do that when you can take advantage of pci?)

apple has really screwed this one up--and to do so with a core market like audio is just unbelievable to me.

ps i agree that the mac pro especially has changed my mind about the value equation of pc's versus macs.... quite the value leader!

ps some laptops i know do not have the undesirable chipsets, but the only way to tell which chipset the machine has is to do ctrl s at boot up on the actual computer you are thinking of using/buying.
 

dantedayjob

Member
Messages
1,866
All your points should be qualified with "in my opinion". If you are comparing cold boot startup times (between any two computers) as some sort of indication of system speed, that says a lot about the amount of insight that you're able to provide in a discussion of this nature. There's a lot more to this debate than what a professor said, or how many times your system freezes.
VERY little of what I said was based upon opinion, it was based on real-time, first hand comparison of hardware and operating systems and therefore did not require qualification. The comparison of cold boot times is relevant because it is indicative of the manner in which hardware and operating systems interact. I mentioned the information I was given by my professor, who's JOB it is to KNOW these things, since the question was bound to come up as to the reasoning behind my statement. As concerns system freezes, it is relevant because a lock up can cost you data... and time, again this is a matter of side by side real world experience. I have used both platforms extensively for everyday tasks such as internet, desktop publishing, word processing, business tasks and gaming...and, while I have not done audio recording on both platforms, I have done video editing on both and that is a task that requires comparable processing power and speed. When comparing the two, side by side the Macs had the advantage in speed and stability, that is not a matter of my opinion, but a matter of my experience. To use an example of another sort; when comparing two cars, a driver might say he likes the look of one car over another or the way it "feels" in a corner over another, that is subjective, but if he does multiple 1/4 mile runs in both cars and consistently pulls lower times in on, it becomes a matter of the fact of his personal experience that the car in question is quicker than the other. Or, in terms of music; tone and feel are subjective, if I have a Tele and a Les Paul, I might say I like the way one plays and sounds over the other. That is opinion, but if I say "when playing material x on guitars a and b, guitar a stays in tune and b does not, my tech says this is due to the design of the nut, bridge and tuners" that becomes a matter of real world experience and not a question of opinion.
 




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