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best operating system for audio 2009

Discussion in 'Computers / Software' started by rainydayglory, Feb 18, 2009.


what is the best os for audio

  1. 1. os x

  2. 2. vista

    0 vote(s)
  3. 3. xp

    0 vote(s)
  4. 4. linux

    0 vote(s)
  1. hi,

    let's all weigh in on what is the best os for audio

    1. os x
    2. vista
    3. xp
    4. linux

    the reason for my question is that i've heard XP will only use 2 gigs of RAM effectively. so that means i'm stuck with vista? i can't go with os x because i can't really afford the hardware.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Re: best operating system for audio

    32 bit XP or Vista will utilize 3 gig officially. 64 bit versions will utilize as much as the mobo will recongnize. If you have XP and 2 gig and a low latency machine then you have plenty of ram. Latency is the real issue and has more to do with your hardware than the OS.

    As to Vista, there is nothing wrong with Vista SP1. I am beta testing Win7 and I would say if you could wait for that version you should. I currently have one XP Pro, 2 Vista 32 SP1, and one Win7 machine and they all work fine.
  3. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    I notice you have no linux option in the vote ;)


    Vista has a stange limiter on it's Audio system which might get in the way. Kristal crashes on mine a lot.

    XP is solid, stable, has a host of apps that are maintained for it.

    OSX, yawn.

    Linux, too finicky and footery to actually get anything done - but things like JACK/Ardour seem to be incredibly powerful (Rewire-esque audio, complex DAW).
    All free.
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    IMO, Mac has been the true leader in audio until recently. OSX isn't making me a believer anymore.
    The idea of a system that allows the world to build hybird audio computers like PCAudioLabs, ADK etc is powerful thinking and why I feel this way. They make great audio systems. The PC's I have right now are killer and smoke on my Mac running OSX. I've just received a new i7 and can't wait to test that baby out.

    I'm definitely migrating from Mac to PC for a variety of reasons. Mass 3 party support is a big factor.
    10 years of Mac is enough testing. However, Mac has been solid but expensive.
    I have a feeling things go in cycles and PC is on the rise again. Keep your production PC off the net and it should be awesome.

    XP pro.

  5. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    IMHO, it really depends on what software you're running, and at what level of operation you're running.

    If you're running a little project studio operation... you can get by on XP.

    Personally, I wouldn't pee on a Vista box if it was on fire.

    AFAIK, when you have a Vista box, it doesn't matter what you do to it, unless you physically do not connect it to a network, it WILL phone home... and therein is a major nasty. Because ET phone's home, that means that nasties WILL get in.... THAT is an absolute MS documented certainty.

    You can break XP of this habit, but it's not pleasant to do it the right way... and it's no picnic to light up internet access once it's done.

    If you're gonna run a shop where you will be running PT HD, then quite obviously a Mac under OS-X is the way to go.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ooo, this comment should get interesting :wink:
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    I know it might seem inflammatory, but having seen 100% failure of every XP box I've ever dealt with....

    In a critical professional operation, if I gotta have a choice between a box I KNOW is gonna fail, and a box I KNOW is gonna work...

    I've got an XP box... relatively solid. Less than 2 years old... already failed on boot... ate itself all up... Format, reinstall, restore from tape... STILL doesn't work the same as the 1st install.

    Same thing with the other 200 I deal with... and all 186 lappies.

    100% OS failure is not acceptable.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Well, as always, PC/ Mac topics are interesting. I've always sided with Mac, but nothing lasts forever and I do believe things go in cycles.
    I'm personally entering unknown PC territory so I'm not the person to remotely rely on when it comes to PC world. So far, I'm very impressed on what I have right now. Lest hope they stand the test of time. I am planning on using both Mac and PC in my new studio. Mostly PC though.

    I would like to learn how we can avoid what you are calling "Calling Home". Maybe this is a topic we need to discuss in detail, yes?
  9. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Well I don't manage 400 computers but I do maintain my four laptops 2 desktops and about 40 pc's at my business. The only failure I have had has been power supply related and about two HD's. I've only had one cooked mobo in the last five years and that was user error from a buddy setting his laptop down on a big blanket and blocking the air channels. So I haven't had your experience of 100% failure. YMMV and obviously has.

    Near as I can tell, Mac's have power supplies and mobos too.
  10. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Re: best operating system for audio

    Hundreds, nay, thousands of people have used or are using XP 32...ever since it came out. Vista has only been out a couple years and most people in the audio community that I know are not using it. Before Vista all (or most) PC audio machines were running XP.

    So, with that in mind think about your memory comment. It worked for so many people for so long, why can't it work for you?

    Where memory become a big concern is when sampling is used. If you use programs that use lots of samples, then the more memory you have and can use, the better. If you are simply recording audio and processing it, memory is less of a concern and speed is more of a concern.

    As has already been mentioned, a lot depends on the programs you are going to use. The only way to get access to more memory is to use a 64 bit operating system. But 64 bit drivers and software is still a bit behind the times. Sonar and Cubase have 64 bit versions but are all of your plug-ins 64 bit as well?

    For now, go with XP.
  11. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Not to take this too far off topic... ET Phoning home is of course Windows Update Service and Window's Security Updates on the Win platform and Software Update on the Apple platform.

    On a Mac, you just turn it off in the preferences... On XP, it's similar but to stop it completely, you have some registry keys to switch and a few more to kill. Maybe 10 minutes.

    It simply cannot be done with Vista at this time... unless you upgrade to XP. :)

    In a general business situation, I've seen Windows come full circle and has actually matured to a tolerable OS... and it can be fairly well locked down to be a pretty secure box.

    The thing that I consistently see fail with Windows is the ability for the OS to deal with memory management and drive fragmentation and thus, rendering the OS as fairly unstable with non MS written code.

    Supposedly the modern memory manager takes I/O calls and renders them into complete routine calls that are open for software vendors to access. These routines are supposed to be initiated by the software vendor, and the OS is supposed to manage the operations from end to end. The problem is that somewhere in the OS, the operations fail to do proper cache management of both RAM and drive I/O.

    After a reasonably short period of time, 6 months or less, you have such poor performance that you cannot work - problematic software operation (crashes/hangs), fragmented drives, corrupted files, missing or corrupted drivers and/or complete OS failure.

    That qualifies as a failure of the operating system.

    If you dig fairly hard in the MS knowledge base... you might now need to be a registered MS Admin... you'll find that the dirty little secret is that MS themselves recommend a complete rebuild of a box every 6 months.

    That qualifies as a failure of the operating system.

    I've got one last OS9 box at the day gig... it's an original installation of OS9... never been re-installed, same drive as the day it came in. The next to the last OS9 box died from a HDD failure about 4 weeks ago. It was originally an OS8 box from way back... probably 9-10 years ago.

    I have 20 other OSX boxes in a variety of flavors... Only MS Office and Firefox 3 are problematic packages.

    In case you're wondering... we process over 12 million images a year... so we are definitely pushing some hard data through the OS and it just doesn't stand up.

    Giving the Redmond Retards a bit of kudos, XP is far superior in our environment than Win2k or 98 ever was... but then you look at Vista's poor implementation of trying to look like OSX and all I can do is chuckle.

    Hardware is hardware... some is good, some is bad... all of it is man made and you just plain get failures.

    I've had 1 CPU failure from a dual G5, 3 HDD's, a video card on a G5 and 2 NIC's go bad in 15 years.

    I've had 3 CPU's, 11 mobo's, 35 NIC's and 32 or 33 HDD's (drive 33 is on the bench at this time for eval) fail on the Window's side. Percentage wise, the hardware failure is about the same... except when it comes to drives. I chalk a lot of the drive failure up to the relentless hashing of drives dealing with fragmentation.

    When you discuss platform wars, you also have to look at TCO. Last year, a staff of 3 techs spent just under 3700 man hours maintaining 200 windows workstation machines. We spent roughly 500 hours on repairs and 400 hours on reinstallations and rebuilds.

    Our field support staff of 2, spent nearly 4000 hours supporting maintenance and related issues on the laptops.

    We had less than 10 hours on maintaining the Apple boxes.

    There is actually a budget for anti-malware/AV that we have to deal with for the Windows boxes... I have a budget of zero dollars for the mac's... it's free.

    A lot of young folks get on a Win box and love the things... because it's so customizable and "fun" to tweak... and break.

    When you've had your fun and it's time to make money and just plain get product out the door... gimme a mac. I don't have a lot to tweak... I don't give a crap about customizing or any of the bling... I'm paid to do a job. I want to do it and get paid.

    I don't have nearly the back end cost with a mac. I don't have 2% of the maintenance issues. I have fewer security issues.

    In a professional environment with ProTools, I just don't see the balance sheet in favor of Windows. To me, it's not worth the risk.

    For someone else, who's maybe a smaller operation, or is doing this part time... sure... go for it... and good luck.
  12. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    If I could afford two separate, very nice computers, I'd use a PC with XP for everyday stuff: internet, documents, file storage, games, etc..., and I guess it really wouldn't matter if I used a Mac or PC for the audio, because that's all that computer would be doing. It's tough to get viruses if the computer never goes online... However, I really would prefer a Mac if I had to do everything on one computer. Unfortunately, circumstances forced me to buy another PC, so we'll see how long this one lasts before it needs to be reset. :lol: :?
  13. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    My DAW is an XP internet virgin. Amazing how well a Windows machine will run when everything has been stripped out of it. As said above - works well for a small project studio at a nice price.

    OT, but boy, what Max say about windows OS degradation after about 6 months rings true. It has certainly been the case with the last three boxes I have had. I got the wife an iMac for Xmas, so we are gradually returning to the cult. (We had very early versions of the Mac back in the 80's.) I'm up for a new computer at work and switching to a Mac. No way that I can justify a Mac when I compare initial price/performance, but if performance degrades over time...
  14. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    The OSX superiority is a myth now. That perhaps used to be true when Windows was in its 95/98 and ME days. Also the lack of a real powerful CPU kept Windows away from serious music. Also a Mac used for music should be kept of the net. It also needs maintenance. There is fragmentation on OSX too, but it occurs under different circumstances.

    Nowadays, it doesn't really matter what you do. I'd have to say, seeing a Powermac repeatedly loosing USB connections with midi devices I don't trust them more than I would a Windows machine. My MacBook drive was severely fragmentend and took ages to boot. For a Windows machine it would have sufficed to defrag. For a Mac you have to buy an app to do that.

    Having both, they all have their cons and pros. On a laptop it is also different. Thinking you need to make no adjustments is false. The MacBook cannot sleep, neither can the screen or the HDD. It won't just magically work for you because it is a Mac. With the dissapearance of the FW port on the vanilla MacBook, I wasn't exactly tempted to upgrade. It needs a FW port and eSATA to be a serious contender for me. How hard can that be, Apple? I see laptops around 600-700 euro's with these features, also with reasonable amounts of RAM and a decent CPU, HDMI out etc.

    My wish: MS and perhaps Apple too, will come up with a profile that gears the OS towards DAW tasks in a simple way, like AMD's Overdrive can do it for games.

    We all will want to go 64-bit at some time because of the sheer amount of RAM you can address. 8GB RAM sticks are not imaginary. It however needs to be a full fledged 64 bit environment: OS, DAW, drivers and plugins. Can't wait.
  15. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    MadMax, yes - Windows hardware fails more.
    Apple however, if I understand correctly, are completely anal and have 12' brick walls against 3rd party hardware in their machines - Windows runs entirely on low end crap with insufficient cooling and gets dropped into cupboards with no airflow.
  16. hey codemonkey, i TOTALLY included linux but somehow the poll didn't set it up right, ie, EYE messed it up. but i MEANT to put it in, for sure.
  17. hi everyone...

    if you're all still there, this response was exactly what i was looking for. thanks a million for all the responses, i'll need to do some more reading when i have time to digest all the info.

    does anyone want to test some these theories in the real?

    i'll buy a new system this week, and set up a webcam and take some instructions from the community on tweaking and we'll see what a $2500 home system can do.

    my band has a backlog of over 12 years of material. this could get REALLY interesting.

    if you can help us avoid latency on a mackie onyx 1620, we would be forever in your debt.

    PM me, or we could start a new forum topic, all about OS choice, RAM choice, graphics card choice, motherboard choice, CPU choice, and DAW host program choice too.

    but let's test it in the REAL. i have $2500 and a full band and an interface. let's do this. this week.

    thanks again and good luck to all, check my profile soon for some great links to good gear choices based on community research. oh, and there are some rough mixes on my webpage.

  18. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    cfaalm, (et al)

    I agree that the gap has certainly narrowed between Apple and Microsoft. But, IMHO, given my longstanding history of extreme success with Apple hardware, I still have to choose the less expensive box.

    True, no good should be expected by taking ANY box on the internot. I just find it sorely noted that exploits are so readily observed just by turning on a Microsoft OS powered device.

    As you noted, to get deep root defragmentation software, you have to purchase it for a Mac.... but let's be fair and point out that the defrag routine which MS incorporates in their OS is a leftover, lightweight string of code that only does cursory, static file header reorganization... that was left over from the lawsuit with PC Tools, under DOS 5.0.

    To get deep root file defragmentation for a Windows OS, you too must purchase said software as well. And I might add that the same holds true for Linux, and UNIX... but wanna guess which platform has the more reasonably priced utility?? It ain't MS or Apple, I'll tell ya. Although supporting a HPUX box ain't exactly the cheapest on the block either. But I can assure you that you get what you pay for... and you use the right tool for the right job.

    Not sure why anyone would attempt to do any heavy data lifting on a lappie... but hey... you do whatcha' gotta do.

    But with any high performance expectation, you do many of the same "tweaks" on all 3 platforms...

    No Sleep on a drive
    Long screensaver times
    No hibernation
    No wake on Network
    Undock/decouple uneccessary Tray/TSR and background operations
    and a few other odds-n-sods

    While I can't wait for a solid 64 bit OS, I really wanna live long enough to see a 128 or 256 bit OS/hardware.

    Once we get to that level of horsepower, I think a LOT of things come off the table and SOOOO many wonderful things then finally come to the table.
  19. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    I think I know what happened - you need to add the last option before posting - means you get another blank box at the bottom of your post before submitting it, but it's fine once it's posted.

    Not like I would've voted for it anyway, it's too "let's grab a zillion parts and put it together".
    To hell with my passion for audio, let's build an operating system!
  20. oh man, wouldn't that be awesome

    just push an "on" switch, and then it's an audio station, no OS, no parts to mess with, just pure audio standards.

    something that did drums machines, samples, reason-esque things, AND tracking, NO latency

    ah, dreams

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