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Thinking of going Mac

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by CoreyW, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. CoreyW

    CoreyW Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 4, 2017
    I have been a long time PC user, my tower is about 10 years old, but was built with top of the line components (i7 3.2 quad core 3201 MHz) and it is starting to show its age a little. I have kept the video card up to date, (gtx 1070 8gig that I can still use if I just do a new PC).

    This year I have began fooling around with home recording, using a Focusrite Scarlet 2nd gen 2:2.
    I have the entry level Sonar, which seems to run ok on my machine. But the recent announcement regarding this software has me looking elsewhere.

    Now my dilemma. I have a hard cap on 2500 I can spend on a comp. I am not opposed to going refurbished on a mac, but I obviously would like to get the best bang for my buck and do not necessarily have to spend every last penny. All of my peripherals are PC as I do not know what would carry over if I went with the mac pro, or would I be able to get a good enough imac compared to what I can afford with the pro.

    My main uses outside of working on music, would be some gaming and general internetting.

    I am trying to make this decision really fast so I can take advantage of the software sales before they end. I also would like some info regarding Logic vs Pro Tools.

    Other gear I have.

    KRK Rokit 5 pair.
    SM57's and 58's
    Lower end Audio Technica Headphones

    All of this is used in a basement, block walls, ceiling is open floor joists, concrete floor with roughly half carpeted. Lots of stuff down here, pool table, storage boxes, other electronics, kids crap.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
  2. Darkburst

    Darkburst Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    La Crescenta, California
    I don’t have a good recording environment so I use Logic Pro X with Helix Native on my MacBook Pro. Sometimes I’ll even start songs on GarageBand in my iPhone or iPad Pro and then move them to Logic when I get home. You probably don’t need a Mac Pro to do music. I get by with the laptop and use lots of plugins no problem. My career is visual art and I do all my paying work on the same machine with ease.

    You may be disappointed if you spend a lot of time gaming. The Mac OS games are sometimes delayed.
  3. CoreyW

    CoreyW Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 4, 2017
    I am not totally against going with the macbook, but I do prefer desktops.
    Crowder likes this.
  4. lang.murphy

    lang.murphy Member

    Dec 9, 2009
    Lawrenceville, GA
    Depends on the games you want to play, no? I have a Mac Mini that is fine for recording but I doubt it would be a good gaming platform.
    GuitarsFromMars likes this.
  5. Modulator

    Modulator Member

    Apr 29, 2012
    I absolutely love my iMac 27". If you go mac, go refurbished. Some good deals on them on apple's website. Some dealers also sell old models at a discount. NOS Mac in TGP terminology. I got a NOS MacbookPro 13" for about $1000 a few years ago. Saved a bunch for a brand new comp.

    Otherworld Computing sells Macs, I made the mistake of looking for my computer on their website...I shoulda bought from them instead of new...


    As far as gaming on a Mac...
    Step 1. Save up $300
    Step 2. Buy a PS4 or XBox. PCs will run games better and have a wider selection.
    Mc-K, chillybilly and macdolfan904 like this.
  6. pup tentacle

    pup tentacle Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2016
    It's been many years since Macs have been better for recording, and performance per dollar is lower. IMO, the only reason to go with a Mac desktop is a preference for the software and aesthetics. I would piece together a beast of a PC, for well under 2 grand, and slap the 1070 in it until I am ready for an upgrade. That card has a couple good years left, and is more powerful than current consoles. Not only that, you're missing mods and other game upgrades with consoles.

    FWIW, a lot of the deals you're seeing on cutting-edge hardware are probably not any better, and sometimes not even as good, as what you'll see several other times during the year... At least that tends to be true on the PC stuff I constantly check on.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
    CoreyW and rockabilly69 like this.
  7. GuitarsFromMars

    GuitarsFromMars Member

    Jun 7, 2004
    playing in traffic...
    I have an I7 3.0 gig Mac mini with 16 gig of RAM for a desktop recording solution. Two drives, one is USB external. I use Logic. I came from PC/Cubase/RME. I prefer the Mac/Logic/Focusrite.
    FusionRock and Gasp100 like this.
  8. RodTruss

    RodTruss Member

    Aug 29, 2017
    Once you go Mac, you never go back.
  9. ZeyerGTR

    ZeyerGTR Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2013
    Orlando, FL
    I switched to Mac just over 10 years ago and while Apple has been frustrating lately, overall it's been great. I still use the same interface I used 10 years ago, I've done one upgrade to Logic (now on 9 instead of 7), and mostly everything still works. No mysterious drivers not working, no "for some reason I need to turn on the keyboard before booting the pc before it's recognized, etc." no jumping through hoops to get networking to work (to be fair, Win10 has been pretty easy and flawless for me).

    That said, the last couple of years have been more frustrating. Apple's "upgrades" have not helped. They've broken compatibility, removed good features, added useless ones and generally made things worse. I've turned off all auto-updating. I would have been happy on Snow Leopard for the rest of my life, but you get in the cycle of the Apple ecosystem and eventually you'll be forced into upgrading. Be prepared for fallout every few years.

    That said, it's still probably fewer headaches day to day than on PC. I've been using computers for over 35 years, tons of PCs over that time, and I use PCs every day at work. I'm totally comfortable with PCs, and you certainly get more hardware for your money. I'm not paying for hardware, though, I'm paying for the whole package. The functionality of the system. For recording and home use I've been much, much happier and productive with Macs. YMMV, yada, yada.
  10. mattthehoople

    mattthehoople Member

    Nov 20, 2016
    I prefer Logic X by a long mile, BUT I prefer a custom built PC for less money. So it's a Hackintosh for me. Currently using an older iMac and a MacBook Pro.
  11. griggsterr

    griggsterr Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    I am pretty computer agnostic. I own and use mac and windows a lot.
    As far as an overall experience they both have their problems. Just different problems.
    As a guy who has built many computers and knows his way around them pretty well the prices on Mac's always make me think I'm looking at used cars. IF you are not going to do a lot of gaming ( I know nothing about gaming) a Mac mini with an SSD and enough ram will be fine. You can get one new for around $800 and Used YMMV. if you have any pawn shops nearby I would go look there. The ones near me are pretty friendly and have a no questions asked 30 day return policy. I use logic most of the time and that's mostly why I have the Mac in the first place. Plus the pawn shop will negotiate.
  12. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    Chattanooga, TN
    A couple of years ago I replaced a Mac Mini with an older Mac Pro that has decent specs. Four core processor, 32GB ram, and I installed an SSD for my recording drive. I've been very happy with that change. I got a lot of time outs with my Mac Mini.

    Another advantage of the Mac Pro is that you can add cards to it to bring the features up to date. I was able to cheaply and easily add a USB 3.0 card, for example.

    My Mac Pro doesn't have Firewire ports, but that hasn't been an issue for me.
  13. Strat

    Strat Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    Used/ Using both and overall the Mac may be a better experience for you and you don't really need much - hell, Garageband likely does almost everything you'd ever need to do.
    macdolfan904 likes this.
  14. ripgtr

    ripgtr Member

    Jul 17, 2014
    Austin, TX
    I got into music on computers in the mid 90s, and at that time PC stuff was pretty much second class. Except Cubase, which had just been ported over from Atari I believe? Which is what I wanted. By 2000, PC caught up, and now, many people release their PC versions before their Mac updates.

    As far as technology, and ability to do work, it is pretty meaningless. That difference went away a long time ago. Use what you like.
    I'm a tech guy, to me they are all just tools. I like PCs, have built a bunch, I work on them for a living. We have a couple iPADS, I use one for lyrics, as the main band I am in only gigs once a month or so. I like that it is small and I can carry it around. I don't like the interface, it is clunky and hard to find stuff, for me. Just what I know and personal preference.

    From what I have seen, you will pay a premium for a mac. Not sure you get anything extra for the money, on the technical side. Pick the one you find easiest to get around on. Either will work fine.

    I use Reaper now, gave up Cubase 10 years ago. 60 bucks. Free updates through the next full version. In 10 years, I have bought 2 updates. I have a version of pro tools, for comparability, I think I have started it up twice. There are differences, some programs are more "loop" oriented, but they all do the same thing, and they all sound the same.

    Get what you can get cheap, computers are so powerful now, it doesn't really matter. Spend the rest of the money on some room treatment, some homemade gobos, maybe one decent vocal mic (though I just did a vocal track with a 57 and it killed).
    IGuitUpIGuitDown likes this.
  15. -alex

    -alex Silver Supporting Member

    May 15, 2012
    I'd get the machine that best runs the software you need.

    Personally - My old MacBook pro is exclusively for music software, it isn't powerful enough for hardcore computation.
    My PC has 2 TitanX GPUs - it is for compute & running a Vive
    Both are fine for web browsing, email, slack, & writing.

    Next year that may change - but Apple decided to favor AMD over NVIDIA, that is a deal breaker for most heavy computation unless Apple/AMD provides a compatibility layer with CUDA toolkits.
  16. crossbones

    crossbones Member

    May 18, 2008
    Former mac fanboy here.
    Used Macs since 1996 professionally for music.
    The new head of Apple is letting the place go. He does not seem to get it.
    For the premium you pay for Mac, the horsepower is no longer there.
    The Mac laptops are under powered and a pain in the neck connectivity-wise.
    I do prefer OSX over Windows, so use a PC to run OS X.
    If it was taken away tomorrow, I would not be sad to go Windows.
    I never would have said this 5 years ago...let alone imagined it.
    I am thinking it's over.
  17. marmalade cream

    marmalade cream Member

    Aug 4, 2014
    Dallas, TX
    The mac minis used to be great for recording, but the new ones not so much. The processors are worse on the base line models, and nothing is user upgradeable anymore. Which means you have to spend a lot of $$$ to max out RAM and hard drives upfront. Apple charges like 3x for RAM upgrades vs DIY.

    That said I bought a used 2011 Mac mini server last year that's been fantastic. Both SSD and 7200rpm HDD drives internally, so I can dedicate one as a recording drive, the other for OS X and DAW. 16gb RAM. My sessions are usually no more than 36 tracks with a decent amount of plugs (though rarely VST's unless programmed drums) and it never hiccups.

    It may be a little long in the tooth to buy one used today, but maybe a late 2012 server would be worthwhile. Those came with quad core i7 CPU I believe.
  18. JK47

    JK47 Member

    Mar 22, 2010
    Kansas City
    I held off from Mac for a long time, but finally broke down and bought a Macbook Pro. It is easier to use and faster in almost every conceivable way compared to a windows 10 computer. I am 100% converted; I still have my windows desktop if I want to play games.
  19. Astronaut FX

    Astronaut FX Member

    Feb 18, 2015
    Midwestern Hellride
    I have an iMac that I use almost (95%) exclusively for music, and I love it. Logic X is by far my favorite DAW, and all of my hardware synths, drum machines, and software integrate beautifully. I never have to waste time fighting with drivers, conflicts, etc. in my experience, everything just works. I have so much crap hooked up to my iMac that frankly, I’m amazed that it supports it all.

    When I first started with computer based recording (roughly 2012), it was with a Windows machine. I can’t see myself ever going back. That being said, I also have a Windows machine that I use for everything but music. If I could truly afford only one, I’d probably go all in with Mac.
    JiveJust likes this.
  20. rickenbackerkid

    rickenbackerkid Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    I use a MacBook Pro with Logic, very , very happy with it. I know the new one has only one connector, which I would find very limiting. So hopefully they fix that in the next version. I have also set up a rig based on a Mac Mini for a church - that is a very cool and surprisingly powerful rig for an incredible price.

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