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Will my Mac work for a home studio?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by 43% burnt, Apr 4, 2005.


  1. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    Ok, I know there are a few threads on here for newbie home studio enthusiasts. But I wanted to get some specific thoughts on my machine/setup. I am a total beginner when it comes to this. I want to start building a basic home studio using my computer to record and edit tracks. I am not looking to build a vocal booth, or seperate room for drums, etc...(at this point). I basically want to familiarize myself w/recording guitar riffs, bass lines, some vocals, etc.

    I have a mac g4, 400mz, 512mb ram, 250gig firewire hd. I've had this machine for a long time now, and its nothing compared to the new macs on the market. But i'm wondering if I added some ram, could I use what I already have? Or, should I invest in a newer more powerfull machine first?

    Also, I bought an imic yesterday to use as an interface. Are these things decent? If not, any recommendations?

    What about software? There are so many programs out there, I don't know where to start.
     
  2. msquared

    msquared

    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    If you already have it, try it out and see.

    The best answer though is "it depends". A good rule of thumb is that as you increase track count, you need to have better drives. As you increase plugin count, you need to have better CPU. You really ought to max the RAM, always.

    I've done projects with a track count of over 40 with a handful of plugins on a 500MHz laptop with 80G firewire drive. I was fine. You should be too.

    For software, either Digital Performer or Cubase.

    For interface, you'll eventually want to start thinking about the MOTU 828, Presonus Firepod, or something similar. In fact, this is your most likely first purchase (over computer upgrades). Try to stick with the firewire based units as they're more flexible units.
     
  3. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    It depends on what software / hardware you'll be using. If its DSP Type cards which process everything with their own chip and not thru CPU, then this will be more then enough. A lot of guys still run their old Pro Tools rigs on G4 /400s

    Cheers
     
  4. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    thanks for the input, I'll definitely check out some of those interfaces. Are firewire interfaces better because they are faster? Do any of those you mentioned come with software?

    Since my machine is very old, I'm kind of in the market for a new machine anyway. I'm going to need to upgrade soon. I'm having a hard time justifying putting more $ into it, instead of towards a new one.
     
  5. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    What exactly is a DSP card? Is that like an internal card that fits in a pci slot?
     
  6. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    Exactly, it has its own CPU(s) so all the processing is done with your card not the Mac CPU. I said it many times always choose your software first, then buy the best possible hardware for it. You have to be comfortable wiht an audio program you're going to use on daily basis. Once you decide on a program you like and it also fits your needs, then buy the hardware which works best with that software. The reason Digidesign & Pro Tools has been the leader in audio industry for so many years, it's because they design their own hardware & software

    You have to decide two things.

    1) What are you trying to accomplish (pro recordings, or just a simple hobby) not only now, but in the near future within 3-5 year period.

    2) What is your budget.


    Many people have a miscomputation that home studio is just a computer and speakers, its much more then that and big part of it is room acoustics. It all depends on what kind of results you want.


    Cheers
     
  7. Tash

    Tash

    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I would get some more RAM regardless, but with the right interface you will probably be able to get good results as long as you aren't trying to do more than 1 or 2 tracks at once.
     
  8. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    Yes, regardless of software and DSP get as much RAM as possible. Aslo get two fast hard drives, one for programs one to record on.

    Cheers
     
  9. Jakedempsey

    Jakedempsey

    Dec 19, 2004
    Will it work? Yes. Will it work well? Maybe not. The Imic is junk by the way. It's fine for scratchpad type recording, but you'll never get a pro quality recording from it.

    Also, on an Imac, you can't use "card" type interfaces. You'll have to buy an external USB, or Firewire interface. The Mackie Spike/Tracktion setup is great if you're on a budget. DSP built into the interface, so it won't tax your CPU. 24/96 Hardware, and software for $400. You can't beat it. It's very surprising what you can get away with on this setup.

    Should you get a new machine? If you want to do any serious recording, yes. If you just want to be able to track to your computer to record ideas and simple demos, it should work fine. Bumping your RAM up to 1 Gig will help a lot too.
     
  10. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    thanks for the input guys. I think i will buy a decent interface first. I'm going to try using my machine as is for now to get familiar with the process. I cant see the sense in putting anymore $ into my computer, cause I'm gonna get a g5 soon.

    My budget is $400 max for an interface. I like the idea of it coming bundled with software. I also want to have the option to record more than on track at the same time. and eventually pro demo recording. I dont need top of the line, but I would like something decent. Any suggestions?

    Any thoughts on the m-box? It comes with pro-tools LE. I'm eventually going to want to learn pro-tools if I really get into this. Would this be a product to start with?
     
  11. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    If you have a G4 tower then get a used Digi 001 & Pro Tools and run it on OS9, you'll have rock solid set up with it. But if you upgrade later to G5 you wont be able to use your 001 anymore it's incompatible wiht G5s, so its a tough decision because you only have $400. I still use my 001 only with OSX - because I have G4 Dual 1 ghz, but if I go back to OS9, Pro Tools won't utilize my second CPU. The reason I don't upgrade to Firewire 002 - there are still many problems wiht it, and my system is rock solid, plus I don't use Digi's converters, I bought RME ADI-8 so it smokes Digi's converts - you can do the same in the future - always think of your upgrade path, so you don't get stuck in the middle. As fro Pro Results or Pro Demo you need pro gear to get a pro sound - no way around it.

    Cheers
     
  12. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    i'm confused. I cant run pro tools w/ os x? or with the digi 001? I would really prefer to use os x.
     
  13. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    The other unit i'm looking at is the Tascam US-122. It's half the price and comes with Cubase LE.

    So the big question is Pro Tools (m box) or Cubase (us-122)??

    I'm leaning towards pro tools, I have a feeling I will want to upgrade to it eventually anyway. Any thoughts?
     
  14. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    OK...I've decided to go with Protools. I am going to get the mbox factory bundle w/ PT 6.7 LE. I'm still unsure if my mac using os x will run it. It seems like it would according to digi's specs. Does anyone know why it wouldn't??

    So, should I buy the mbox and some ram for my current machine. Use it for a little while to get familiar with it. In the meantime save up for a g5? Or, should I put the $500 towards a new computer, then get the mbox??
     
  15. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    OSX was programmed and intended for Dual Processor Systems. You wont have sufficient enough system running single G4/400 specially with Firewire drive, so best deal would be to get a better Mac. But if you must dive into pro tools right now and can't wait, then just load up more ram get Digi 001 and run it in OS9. Also note about Mac Expose shows, so if one is coming within a month or so, wait till new Mac models come out ,so you can buy the second best one for 2/3 or price it is right now.

    Cheers
     
  16. I run PT on OSX, a single proc was 733 now 1.4 GHz (Sonnet upgrade), and 1GB of RAM w an MBox and an 80GB Glyph - and it runs comparable to anything else I've seen as far as G4s.

    Get everything setup - if PT runs slow, get more RAM first, then check out www.sonnettech.com for a processor upgrade. And their customer service rocks. That'll save you from having to spend $1 - 2k on another Mac, at least for the time being. And the results from one of these cards is amazing. I doubled the CPU speed and almost never see the beach ball anymore.
     
  17. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    Hmm...good advice guys.

    Rubo: According to digi's specs I cannot run PT LE with OS X on my mac, I believe I have the G4 pci graphics edition, which is not compatable. I don't want to run classic, It's not very stable on my system.

    As far as processor upgrades I've looked into it a bit. Seems like when all is said and done it will cost at least $500. Which could be a nice chunk out of a new machine. And I still don't know whter it would be compatable. So I guess I have to get the new machine first. Unless anybody knows for sure about my specific machine, and it's compatabilty with PT LE on OS X, that can tell me otherwise.

    I'm bummed now, because I have major GAS for PT. I was ready to buy it today. :(
     
  18. rubo

    rubo

    Aug 25, 2003
    Best option is go to DUC

    http://duc.digidesign.com/


    and ask if you can run it on your Machine wiht OSX. Because when Digi says its incompatible that means they haven't tested it, it doesn't mean they tested it and it doesn't work. I also don't believe in Mac upgrades, it's better to sell and buy a newer model then upgrading a Mac. Why is OS9 not stable on your Machine, try OS 9.04 not 9.1 or 9.2. Also you have to use a certain extension set to get better performance, I remember mine was rock solid it was 9.04 on G4/400.
     
  19. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
    Thanks, you've been a big help. I'm gonna seach through their forum. I haven't used classic too much, but when I upgraded I was still using a program that didn't support OSX (quarkxpress 4.0) and I just had alot of weird glitches. i can't remember exactly what. It could've been quark 4, which was known to be glitchy at times.
     
  20. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    Corrupticut
    I'd take a look at the forums over on OSXAudio.com and see if you can get some ideas by scanning the existing threads. The key is to decide on a scale for your system. The number of simultaneous tracks that you want to record, the desired final quality, the total number of tracks in the project, MIDI and or softsynth support... all of that will lead you toward one app or another.

    Your best bet might be to look at some of the older multitrack apps like DESK, which while not supported does date back to when your machine was pretty hawt. Think "older and stable" not "latest and greatest".

    I run a recent iBook (1.25GHZ G4, 1.25GB RAM, glyph fw drive, motu 896HD) and it is fine for my needs. I could see that if I was doing a llot of CPU intesnive stuff like using plugins while recording, softsynths, ... I would be out of processor headroom fast. When things get intense you want the faster bus speeds and IO that a G5 tower gives you.

    Your limitations will be more about compatibility with that older and slower G4 with no Altivec support. That might put something like Garageband 2 out of your system's reach.

    Pete