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PC to Mac - Advice needed and welcome

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by JohnL, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    Ok, don't hate...but I've been a pc guy for years...could never justify the expense of a Mac with all my other expenses. But now I feel like I need to move forward. I have a Asus laptop running Windows 7 64 bit, Pentium I5, 2.50 ghz...which apparently every usb interface (at least the 3 I've tried so far) does not like at all. I'm just tired of banging my head against the wall. I looked in all the FAQ's and recording stickies, but some are really old so I thought I would ask here.

    I want to be able to record a few tracks on my own, add tracks to mp3's that people send me, make click tracks with backing loops for bands I play with. I'm not in the recording business and do not need 10,000 virtual tracks or any of that. I want something simple and easy to use without headaches. I am not up to speed on models of Macs or names of operating systems like Snow Armadillo or Sun Lizard and whether they work with Garage Band or Logic or not. I tried various mac forums, and I get 20 people telling me 20 different things on what is best. So I thought I would come to the sanest people I know...the Bass Brotherhood!

    If I was to purchase a used or refurbished Mac, what is some of the most economical models I might find to do what I want to do? Do I need to look for, or watch out for certain OS or hard drive speed issues? I would love to stay around $500. (please, I have kids in college, so no "for only $500 more you can get....") I see a lot of refurbs out there that meet that criteria price wise...I'm just not sure about what I would need, or what might not work. I would appreciate any advice.....thanks in advance!
  2. 3506string


    Nov 18, 2004
    Lawton, OK
    Not trying to dissuade from making a switch, but what sort of problems are you having recording on your current system.
  3. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I would suggest you look for a G5, preferably a dual 233Hz or thereabouts.
    They currently sell for around $250-$300 on the used market. Then put the DAW software of your choice on it or stick with the Garage Band that should already be on it.
    You'll probably need a D/A converter though, if you want to do anything in the digital audio applications at a higher level than the Garage Band. So you could look at a used Digi M Box or similar unit...they're cheap and will get you several tracks with one or two inputs for mic/guitar, etc.
    If you look hard enough you' might even find a complete rig with all that or similar at a bundle price from someone who is moving up to newer stuff.
    The G5s are solid machines. Liquid or fan cooled models are out there. Liquid cooled are quieter.
  4. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    If you already have yourself a decent monitor, You can get yourself a Mac mini for $600 brand new
  5. kevinmoore73

    kevinmoore73 Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    I'm sure you can find a used Intel Apple machine for around $500. Don't get a G5. Apple hasn't sold a G5 machine since August of 2006.

    You could get a Mac Mini new for a little bit more than $500.
  6. Thrash3r


    Aug 5, 2013
    I'd go with the Mac Mini, I'm still using a 5 year macbook, Lexicon Alpha interface & Reaper for a lot of my recording, I'm even using it to record the bass for our EP.

    I wouldn't even consider buying anything other than an Intel Mac, G5's were obsolete years ago, pointless buying one now.
  7. - DO NOT get a Mac that doesn't have an Intel processor. Serious.

    - Why not shop for a good Windows machine? There's no Apple magic-dust packed inside that makes them better for DAW support (and I own both Mac and Windows machines, and use both for DAW support).

    - If you do get a Mac amd want to use GarageBand, be aware that GB only outputs an MP-3 file...no .wav support there.
  8. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead! Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    With your current PC sporting an i5 you REALLY have a good machine that can handle recording with no problems.

    What I'd recommend is spending the money on a good USB audio interface (nothing fancy needed, a Line 6 UX1 would do everything you need and more) and then a nice, basic DAW like Reaper. $149 for the Line 6 UX1 new plus $60 for a personal Reaper license. Then you've got a couple hundred to spend on a RAM upgrade to the laptop, external hard drive to store files, or perhaps a couple of external monitors to place plugins or folders on if you want. Nothing against Apple's products, but you REALLY don't have a bad laptop at all and it would be a waste to not use it for what you want if you already have it. The plugins you'll get with Reaper and the models that come in Pod Farm will let you do some great stuff for a very modest price. With the Apple, you'll likely need an audio interface anyway if you want to just plug straight in.

    **If you're hitting a wall with the Line 6 UX1 installation, PM me and I'll give you some walkthrough info. I own the UX2 and have had great success with it.
  9. I've seen many iMacs listed for between $400-600 which are only a few years old, all Intel processors and would be capable of running Garageband and Logic. Logic, by the way, is one of the best values for the money in a pro DAW that I've seen. $200 for the full featured program (recently updated) including plugins, samples, software instruments etc. It's a really great program. If you can find a used iMac or Mac Mini for about $300, you could put the other $200 into purchasing Logic. You would also need an audio converter too, but you should be able to find a used one under $100 if you don't need to do multichannel recording. I use the Apogee One, which is a converter with XLR and 1/4" inputs and has a decent built-in mic as well, but there are many options on that end.
  10. Morning Beer

    Morning Beer

    Oct 2, 2009
    Made the same move last spring. Went with a decked out mini. Couldn't be happier. Probably would have stuck to PC but windows 8 totally turned me off.
  11. Nagrom


    Mar 21, 2004
    Western Canada
    Make sure your mac has firewire. Its vanishing from the new ones. It's a good switch, but PC works too as others have said. Reaper is a nice choice that works on both PC & Mac, is very powerful, free to try and cheap to buy.
  12. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I rebuilt a beat up mac book, dropped in a 256 g SSD plus 4 g ram and have a little under 500. I am way comfortable with computer hardware... This is a bottom of the barrel macbook. It rocks. I run Presonus Capture up the 16 tracks AND the remote control software for my 16.4.2 board.

    This has completely replaced my old water cooled Windows/ProTools tower and I am seriously not looking back...

    If I didn't need the firewire to interface with my board... I could easily live with one of the lower end Tascam interfaces.
  13. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    First thank you guys for so many responses! Lots of good info here! For the guys asking about my laptop, its not that its not a good machine, its just that I had
    1) an old tascam interface that wouldnt install at all (a Windows 7 issue from what I discovered)
    2) a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
    3) a Presonus something or other that I can't recall

    In the case of the Presonus and Focusrite, both would install their DAW software on the computer with no problem, but I got all kind of issues with error messages and no recording ability with either. It was like going to the dentist for a root canal. Nothing installed and worked like the instructions said it would. I really liked the Scarlett, the software is Ableton Live, and Ableton tech support said it was a Focusrite issue, Focusrite techs said it was a Ableton issue....blah blah

    The reason for my post was that every tech that I was in contact with said if I had a Mac it would just sync up with no problems, and that PCs can work, sometimes you just have to go through a lot of troubleshooting to do so. And thats what I want to avoid.....

    Again, thanks for all the great info!!!
  14. 6stringpanda


    Aug 9, 2013
    As an avid mac user I would recommend that you do not but a used Mac.

    I am on my third mac in a 10 year period and although the old two are still awesome and better than any PC, recording music and all the Photoshop work Ive done has slowed them down enough to notice.

    I know they are very expensive but I would seriously advise against buying a used mac.

    Also-THe mac mini is cool but you would be supprised how fast you will run out of memory recording music/photoshop/etc.

    At least get an Imac-1 TB harddrive.

    Also-Understand that macs do not interface well with aftermarket hardware the way PCs do ( I use mac and PCS).

    For example, my daughter has a mac mini and it does not work fast enough with a WD external hard drive when she is do artwork or recording music. IT is better to start out with a mac that has at least a 1GB hard drive.
  15. kevinmoore73

    kevinmoore73 Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    FireWire is available on every Mac sold today, either directly or via the Thunderbolt port with a $30 adapter.
  16. kevinmoore73

    kevinmoore73 Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    You say it twice, but provide no reasons why.
  17. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA

    He might also want to get a bigger "hard drive" than 1 GB, no wonder he runs out of room, lol...I think he means RAM. ;)
  18. - I'd argue that FireWire is no longer mandatory...USB 3.0 is rapidly becoming the preferred standard (one reason why it's harder to find FireWire on new systems). FireWire's main advantage now is that its peer-to-peer connection is better than USB's host-based connection, and (in theory) has better latency. The reality is that, while USB 3.0 may need more CPU cycles and (again theoretically) has a higher latency potential, USB's performance is significantly better overall than FireWire when used on pretty much any modern machine.

    If you can get a machine w/FireWire (particularly if your current interface only has a FireWire connection), do so. My point is to suggest that not choosing a system based solely on the lack of FireWire may not be a good idea.

    - Reaper rules, especially if you do need cross-platform compatibility; I record onto my MacBook (mainly for the portability) and transfer the recordings to my desktop PC for editing/mixing/mastering (mainly for the 27" primary monitor)...as long as both copies of Reaper have the same VSTs etc installed, the transition is seamless.
  19. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    As a person who used to work for Apple, the most happy Apple customers had way too much money so they could buy all Apple stuff to work easier. Once you throw in a Linksys router and an HP printer and try to use them wirelessly is usually the worst scenarios. The amount of people who would **** bricks because they bought a computer just to browse the web and print e-mail and their $3000 Macbook won't connect to anything that their $200 Dell connects to with ease. Apples will fudge up if you put in 3rd party RAM, well they tell you this so you buy their considerably more expensive RAM that actually isn't different but 3rd party RAM can actually cause issues in some situations. On the plus side, you can bootleg everything (OS, iLife, etc) for free on Apple, since Apple does not support their OS/programs on anything other than their own computers they do not feel the need to put serials and licenses. There is also a certain amount of ease when it comes to using external things like an audio interface. Also, if you get a Mac Mini, you must upgrade the RAM (You will also need a USB/BT mouse and keyboard). Trust me, I am running one right now. You need a ton of RAM because Apple uses **** video cards, so if you have 4 youtube videos open it is slow as molasses, unless you get a Mac Tower then you can slam a killer card in there.
  20. kevinmoore73

    kevinmoore73 Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2007
    Cleveland, OH
    Citation needed

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