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Mac vs. PC for recording.

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by caesarbass, Jul 13, 2005.


  1. This debate is always going to be around and this website might help answer some qusetions. It has some great information.
    http://www.jonkubis.com/technology/mac/
    Moderators, if this is an inappropriate thread, please shut it down.
     
  2. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Well, the article in your post is from July 2003. It is now July 2005, and the top-end Apple is now dual 2.7GHz which gives you an extra 1.4GHz for audio work compared to the G5 discussed in the article.

    Not only that, but in 2003, Logic was available for PC. It isn't anymore, it is Mac only now. This may or may not matter but still it is a point to bring up.

    Anyway, not to try and swing anyone towards Mac or away from PC. Just pointing out that your article is now dated and should be taken in that context.
     
  3. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I dunno if the debate is really always going to be around, heck, I didn't even know there was a debate for Apple vs. Windows when it came to recording. Apple is the standard in the industry. Hobbyists, sure go use a PC if that's what you're comfortable with, but if you're planning to work in a studio, you're going to have to learn how to use the Apple hardware. Even though there are many PC based studios out there, there are a lot more Apple based ones, to where, it'd be foolish to limit yourself to only knowing how to use windows(same with only knowing how to use apple stuff, though to a lesser extent because there is much more of it around in this industry)

    Aside from that, That article is very dated, and full of dubious and bias information. However, it is funny that the author glibly assessed that Apple would eventually switch to pentium based architecture. Which is what apple intends to do in the next 2 years. Whereupon, the debate about Mac vs. PC should shrink considerably, since there will only be Operating systems to debate, which should be plenty interesting, as it will allow more 1:1 comparisons with both 'the numbers' and real world tasks.

    Additionally, benchmarks are mostly stupid when it comes to comparing PPC/unix Apple stuff vs. x86 Windows/dos stuff. Even the best tests have incongruities and even then, none of the numbers mean a damn when you factor in all the other things involved with owning and operating a computer. So, Windows has over 50,000 viruses, OS X has 0, that alone might be all someone needs when making their decision to buy a new machine.

    However, once Apple does switch to x86 processors, benchmarks will actually start being a little bit more useful, since it will be a more direct comparison, but even then, benchmarks are still pretty silly, and are really only around to satiate the spec-whores.
     
  4. Oh well, I just thought it was useful info....
     
  5. WalterBush

    WalterBush

    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    There's still a LARGE debate about this...yes, the article is dated, but the information is still helpful to someone who is new to computer recording.

    One thing it didn't bring up is that Digidesign has shot itself in the foot with a few business decisions recently, and although they're the standard, because they were the first, they're the most commonly used because they're the standard, and Mac is the most popular for audio because Pro Tools has proven reliability on that platform, technology has changed, and dedicated hardware with a proprietary OS for it has been seen as a liability in some circles, expecially when a studio owner looks at upgrading for TDM or AU plug-ins as opposed to Dx or VST plugins.

    Also, Pro Tools is prohibitively expensive compared to other systems, i.e. Nuendo, Pyramid, iZotope Radar, Sonar, Vegas, and a host of others, to the point that they're losing the high-end customers that were a mainstay. Couple this with Mac's switch to Intel for chipsets, and the possible software conflicts with the new hardware, and it could be disaster.

    Pro Tools has been one of the main reasons that Mac has dominated in audio production, and if Digidesign becomes too expensive while other, newer, cheaper systems become more reliable, the PC based studio, with a variety of hardware, programs, and plug-in formats available, could easily outdistance the Macintosh format for audio sales.

    When Digidesign's latest Pro Tools system, the Icon, costs $150,000 to start, and with so many famous studios closing due to lack of business, it's easily concievable that PC platforms could take over, especially if AMD's 64-bit architecture and M$'s new OS live up to hype (which I won't hold my breath for.;) ) Even if Pro Tools remains the industry standard for a while, the last demonstration I saw, at the AES show in San Francisco, Icon ran on an XP system...

    Just saying, in the circles I run in, these things are discussed and the debate is wide open. In the end, I believe, the product offering the most cost-effective reliability and compatability will win out, not necessarily the best product.

    Oh yeah, Intel has launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign to get people to switch to Pentium processors for A/V production. While this will eventually mean Mac as well, right now they're throwing a lot of money into convincing studio owners and record producers they should invest in a PC system for their studios.

    Of course, all this is conjecture, really this post is just a long-winded way of me saying the debate is far from over :)
     
  6. I guess the reason I went with a PC, is that I was able to build a smokin' fast PC for about 1/4 that a mac would have cost. I still love Mac's, but the cost was the factor. I got more machine for less $$$$.
     
  7. WalterBush

    WalterBush

    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    I went with PC because I'm familiar with its operation under the hood. If something goes wrong, I can fix it. I've seen my other studio, using Pro Tools with a G4 send it out for $$$$ repairs more than once. If I can't fix it, I won't buy it.
     
  8. Platypibri

    Platypibri Technician, Kaman Music

    Jun 28, 2005
    Riverside, CA
    I have to admit to a strong Mac bias, but for what it's worth, I think Garageband2 stomps on any portastudio or budget recording software I've ever seen, and it comes with the new Mac. Then you can go Pro Tools later.
     
  9. lazyi

    lazyi

    Feb 14, 2005
    Hong Kong
    Unix is the best Screw Apple and Windows. PS Apple is moving to intel chips so what will be the difference
     
  10. lazyi

    lazyi

    Feb 14, 2005
    Hong Kong
    Four unix or linux Ardour is the best
     
  11. mz91

    mz91

    Apr 19, 2002
    Zug, Switzerland
    As someone, who just switched from a Dell Dimension to a Powermac for recording. (I still have the Dell right next to the mac, i use the dell as a server right now)

    WR touched on this before, but the thing that makes Macs so amazing for recording is that they are so stable and they just "work".
    I dont know how else to put that. Its just they dont get "dirty" like windows systems do.

    If you are planning on putting your recording PC on the Internet! Then in my opinion its only a matter of time, until your PC gets infected with spyware, virus's and so on. If you arent on the Internet and use it primarily for Recording. THen go for it! The PC will be excellent!

    But if you have 1 Computer at home. And you dont want problems, you want a friendly stable PC that screams "clean" then get the Mac. I cant tell you how in love i am with the Mac. (and this is a guy that studies computer science). i am around PC's all day. And i still get this happy feeling everytime i start the Mac.

    There can be as many tests on speeds or what not. But i garantee you, spend some time actually recording on a Mac, or just sit at it for awhile.. OSX just has something... dont know how to describe it, it just works for me... I doubt you will be wanting a PC as your only computer after spending some serious time on a mac..

    This is just me again, and its my opinion. Macs just seem like more productive computers... At least thats what they do for me...

    Michael
     
  12. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    The "just works" argument is fairly dubious and largely subject to problems behind the keyboard rather than problems inherent in either setup. THAT SAID. It is an indisputable fact that it takes more effort to run a tight, efficient and functional windows ship than it does to take an OS X one. It takes more knowledge of a bunch of bull**** that, imo, impedes on the music making process.

    If you are already abundantly comfortable with windows, then, learning another OS would impede on the music making/recording far more than dealing with whatever computer crap you might encounter mac or windows.

    While the debate is still open when it comes to personal computing and the like. I believe that for recording, it's pretty much a closed book. Apple is the industry standard. If you intend to go anywhere with being a studio monkey, you're going to have to learn to work with OS X. Unless you land some dream gig at some windows based studio.

    On a side note, Garageband is, by far, the greatest consumer level recording program I've ever seen, and the fact that it comes free with every mac just makes it that much sweeter. What's more, Since Garageband is free, and as powerful as it is. It enables you to go really far with your projects. Then, should you want to take it to the next step. Apple(via acquiring e-magic) also makes Logic Pro and Logic express, which are fully integrated with Garageband and OS X. That level of integration makes OS X a very capable and desirable recording platform.
     
  13. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    I graduated last year with a CS degree in which I used my Mac & OS X for all my CS courses so I'm wondering, what exactly do you mean by your statement? I guess if you're working in Visual Studio using VC++ then I understand your statement.

    For me, my CS coursework was mainly in Java, and ANSI C/C++. This work can be done on Windows, Linux or OS X, but I think Linux and OS X have the upper hand because of their *NIX roots. I enjoyed building all my code and programs in OS X, but that's just me.

    I do understand working with MS tools since at this time, that's where 90% of the money is (if you go by installed base). I would just hate to see the impression given that Macs in general and OS X in particular has no place in CS because I feel that assumption to be patently false.

    [semi on topic]
    I got my first Mac in 2001, right around the time OS X first came out. It took a few months to set in that I wasn't having those troubles with the OS that I did with Windows. I wasn't reminding the computer that yes, the modem is still attached, the soundcard's IRQ (ugh, IRQ :( ) is still 5 and DMA is still 1 and yes, please work. About 3 months of Mac useage made me realize that this stuff just shouldn't be the usual experience. To be fair, MS & Windows have come a long way eliminating these types of issues. Still, I got real tired of being everyone's Mr. Computer Fixit especially since I wasn't having these problems anymore.
    [/Mac speech]

    I played around in GarageBand last night for the first time in a while and it was really cool. I had forgotten they include a built in tuner now so I don't even have to disconnect my bass to tune before/during recording. That was a really cool touch. :)
     
  14. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    It does seem that the pro world is still Mac-centered. If you want to work in that world, the Mac is probably better. For personal project studios, I doubt that it matters much.

    FWIW, as regards the stability of Mac systems, I have a PC system myself. I'm no Windows worshipper, but both the guys I know locally who have Macs in their home studios, and who work with them more than I do with my system, occasionally have problems with their systems. I have to laugh when I see the "Macs don't crash" mantra. I've sat around a number of times, twiddling my thumbs while Macs refused to work.

    This isn't to say that Macs are better or worse. Really, I only got a Windows music system because I already was familiar with Windows, for better *and* worse. If I'd already been a Mac person, I'd have gotten a Mac music system. I'd just say, be careful in believing *all* the hype you hear about Macs and music.

    Of course, one big reason to buy a Mac is if you know you need to run software that doesn't run well, or at all, on PC. Like Logic (newer versions). It's better IMO to think in terms of which machine will best run the software you want to run, rather than which software will run on the hardware you want to own. If you're hot for Logic, you need to get a Mac. OTOH, if you really adore Cakewalk Sonar, you need to get a PC.
     
  15. I don't know if there are 0 virus' for OS X, but if anyone is serious about a DAW it should never be put on the internet. Firewall or no firewall (hardware or software). You want the minimum amount of running/installed software on that computer as possible, and anit-virus, firewalls, etc. waste resources.
     
  16. Platypibri

    Platypibri Technician, Kaman Music

    Jun 28, 2005
    Riverside, CA
    The difference will be the markedly superior operating system
     
  17. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    My "Macs just work" wasn't centered around OS X never crashing. It does. In fact, before 10.3 I could connect to a network drive, put the computer to sleep, shut down the computer with the actual networked drive, wake up OS X and BAM! instant crash. Every time. They finally fixed this bug, but it did take until X.3 to do it.

    My "Macs just work" is related more to always seeing connected hardware. My modem/network card never just 'disappeared' as far as the OS was concerned just by rebooting, or shutting off overnight, then starting up the next morning. Windows used to be really bad for me as far as modems went. Not my personal PC, but the ones I was charged with maintaining. Every so often, the modem would just disappear. I'd uninstall/reinstall drivers; unplug/replug in the actual modem card, etc. until Windows decided to recognize the card again. I've had this happen with soundcards as well, but COM port devices other than a mouse/Wacom pad never seemed to be entirely stable under Windows.

    This is really the crux of the biscuit right here. It's all about the right tool for the job. I got a Mac in 2001 because I needed a *NIX system that also ran MS Office so I could use it for all of my courses at university. Only OS X filled this requirement.

    My boss just got his first Mac because he literally spent months pulling his hair out trying to do video editing / DVD burning on his PC. He had to make sure and kill every other program before he started editing, and only edit for 20 minutes at a time or he would crash. Every time he burned a DVD he'd go through two or three discs because he made a coaster every time. He finally said screw it and got an iMac G5 because his daughters work with Final Cut Pro in high school plus I showed him how simple it was to work in iMovie and iDVD. Now that he's gotten more used to OS X and his kids have shown him how to work with FCP he totally digs it. He's like "I shoulda done this a year ago".

    Again, it's all about the right tool for the job. If the PC is what works for you and allows you to do what you want, then why use anything else? I mean, I certainly wouldn't buy a Mac if I was a diehard gamer because it wouldn't fit that duty. I use it because it allows me to edit photos and video (built in color calibration doesn't hurt either), comes with free development tools, allows me to fool around with audio recording/editing and it has the lowest hassle factor combined with good design and engineering in both hardware and software.
     
  18. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Believe me, once a virus for OS X is detected in the wild every news site on the internet will have it as their top story.

    Here's a site with a list of pre-OS X viruses (last updated in '98, seems the site was last updated in '99) http://home.snafu.de/madokan/mvic/virusmac.html . Notice there are fewer than 40 viruses on this list.

    Here's another link that confirms the ~40 number as of early 2000 --> http://www.faqs.org/faqs/computer-virus/macintosh-faq/

    The Mac specific sections are 6.0 and 7.0. Do a find on "6.0" to go straight to the Mac virus section of the FAQ.

    Again, these are all pre OS X viruses. There hasn't been an OS X virus found in the wild. There was a rootkit called 'renepo' that affects OS X (and other *NIXs) but this has to be manually installed and requires administrator/root privileges. It cannot just be 'caught' without physical user installation.
     
  19. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I know what you're saying, and that does seem to be one of the coolest things about Macs in general. It's just that there will always be exceptions, however rare, and you never know if you're going to be the exception.

    The timing of this discussion is funny for me. I just did, or tried to do, a session last Saturday at a friend's project studio, and we couldn't get anything done because his Mac couldn't find the outboard FireWire hard drive that had the files we needed, even though the drive was connected and plugged in the same way it had been when it last worked....

    I know what you mean about Windows going all amnesiac about hardware too. I had a Creamware Pulsar card in my old Win98SE machine, and one day I turned it on, after two years of flawless functioning, only to find that Windows no longer believed that the Pulsar was in the system. And I had changed nothing. Zero. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling all the software, to no avail. The eventual solution? I uninstalled my sequencer and all the Pulsar software. Then I opened up the case, loosened the screw holding the Pulsar in, pulled the card out of the slot, and put it right back down again, just as it had been. I turned the computer back on, and all of a sudden Windows remembered it had a card. I reinstalled the software, and all was fine.
     
  20. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    This is another thing that makes OS X so desirable. I can put my mac on the internet, get all necessary drivers and updates for what I need. Then take it off the net, and not have to worry about anything mucking up the systems resources for any time longer than I was on the net. With windows, just putting the machine on the net for an hour and, unless I set up a handful of resource grabbing spyware/anti-virus programs, I'm likely to be hit with any number of unwanted plagues upon the system. What's more, windows has a penchant for having all manner of programs running when a) they're not needed or b) they aren't supposed to be and simply closing a program doesn't insure that it's actually not still taking some resources.

    So, while a pro studio would want to keep their computers off the net in general, just to focus on the work at hand. It's really not as big an issue with OS X as it is with windows.


    And yes, there are 0 viruses for OS X.