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Buying a Mac, lotsa questions

Discussion in 'Recording' started by simonsez, Mar 8, 2001.

  1. simonsez

    simonsez Guest

    hello,
    I apologise in advance for the basic nature of these questions. Up until a few years ago
    I had never used a computer, and since then
    it has been all PC. I don't really need a
    "racehorse" computer out of the box, but I would like to know it has good upgrade possibilities.

    First of all.....is this a good deal?? Link removed
    $1300 for a G4, I have no idea, looks like a good deal to me. Plus the 'free' ahem memory.
    Is this a good start for my first MAC?
    Are there any inherant problems or limitations with this model?

    Can a person generally get a better deal online or can I negotiate a better price with a Mom and Pop store? Is it better to "custom"
    order a G4, or get an off the rack model and upgrade or add components one at a time?
    Pro's and Con's.

    Also, what is the deal with this.....
    Older Apple Monitors currently have compatibility issues with this system.**
    Does this mean I will have to buy a special and expensive monitor?? I wanted my next DAW to have Dual Monitors and this may be a problem...$$$$$

    The idea is a relegating my current PC
    (a P2 400mhz) to an internet, gaming, TV tuner, etc Multimedia Computer. And getting a MAC as an audio only computer.

    Whaddya think??
    thanks for your input
    Chris
     
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    well I'll answer one question for you.

    I do everything on my mac. This entire site was designed with a mac and then when I'm done messing with the web site I flip back to Pro Tools and do a mix plus session. The phone rings and bam! It's an internet client needing some updates on their web site. I open up photoshop, do some graphics, set the html up, upload the stuff to the server and go back to Pro Tools. Everyday for 4 years and no problems to complain about. The main thing is understanding your extentions and conflicts with certain products. Good hard drives and your set.

    It works awesome for me.

    Couldn't sell me a PC.

    As far as which model, not sure there. I use an upgraded 9600 with a G4 450 newertech card. The 9600 are solid.

    Well just my totally bias opinion here, hehe!

    all the best!

    :D
     
  3. subspace

    subspace Guest

    Go to Dealchat.com and post a question asking what the best deal on G4/400's currently is. You should get the best price to be had this way. Buy a base model and add RAM and a second hard drive yourself. Don't buy chips smaller than 256MB with RAM as cheap as it is, and get an IBM 75GXP 7200rpm Deskstar ATA/100 drive, whatever size you can afford. The G4, RAM, and drive are your hardware essentials outside of the audio card and software. You can use any normal monitor, but some of Apple's own recent models feature proprietary connectors that require a G4 of the same genre.
    Consider what software and hardware you want to use first, then buy the machine that runs it optimally. I suggest the MOTU 828, as it provides 8 analog i/o, adat i/o and sync, S/PDIF optical and co-axial i/o, 2 mic pres with hardware monitoring, as well as a very nice 24-bit recording application, AudioDesk, for $795 retail. It ships on the 20th and can be ordered here: http://www.macmidimusic.com
    HTH
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    simonsez , what DAW are you going for?
     
  5. simonsez

    simonsez Guest

    Hello,
    Thanks for the input,
    First off I noticed at Link removed
    The hard Drive included on this model is only a 5400 rpm, I don't think this will be fast enough, am I right about this??
    Geez subspace, a 75GXP that is a HUGE Hard Drive!! :eek:. I suppose I could add a hard drive, and use the faster one for audio files. The 75GXP was around $300.00.

    The G4 store also has this Dual Processor
    this model is also on "closeout". With the free 128 meg ram chip. What is the experience with the dual processor G4?

    What is the differance between a 100-MHz system bus and 133-MHz system bus ,,,besides the obvious.....duh 33.!!! (insert Nigel Tufnel voice here, it's one louder)
    I have no idea what a system bus is or duz.

    I did start a topic at dealchat.com and got several responses, then I surfed to the recomended online dealers. They all seem to have about the same prices. This weekend I will stop into a MAC only store nearby, shop,shop, shop.

    audiokid said,,,simonsez , what DAW are you going for?
    Well ,, good question. I have been using Cubase VST 24 version 3.72 for about 2 years.
    And overall I am very happy with it.I use a 20 bit Layla card with it, rock solid. The only problem with the Layla is no Lightpipe.I will have to check if The current Layla drivers are supporting G4's.
    I am so comfortable with Cubase that I would
    feel just fine about purchaseing Cubase VST 32 for the Mac. I would seriously consider Nuendo if it supported VSTi's. Also the yet unreleased Steinberg control surface HOUSTON
    looks real good, on paper. As you can tell I am a Cubaser at heart and will be for a while.
    The Idea is to move up to a 24 bit soundcard,
    and the MOTU product line appears to be strong and supported. I'm not sure if the 828 is the right choice for me. I already have what would be considered an entry level soundcard.
    Holy Cow, decisions, decisions.
    My head is spinning now.
    I will be spending a good month at least researching the Mac purchase. I just really want a G4 that will serve me well for at least a few years, before becoming outdated.

    thanks, simonsez
     
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    If you doing audio and runing 24 bit with 16 plus tracks & automation start thinking about fast drives for starters.

    At least 10,000 rpm with fans. Nothing more depressing that getting things rolling and the whole thing dies because the drives can't handle the data.

    Remember the drives are you virtual tape. Cheap tape, slow speed tracking is no good. The data works the same way. Try to cram it all in at a slow speed drive and BAM! :mad: crash, Melt down!
     
  7. subspace

    subspace Guest

    On hard drives: The stock 5400rpm will work for an OS and apps boot drive. You have to get another for audio, so make the new one a 7200rpm audio only drive. The IBM 75GXP is a model #, you looked at the 75GB version, try a 30GB for $150. You could add SCSI, I use 10k U2W IBMs, but the current IBM ATAs are more than adequate for heavy use.
    On which G4: You could get a closeout 400 for $1300 or a new 466 for $1700. The new model's system bus is 1/3 faster, has an extra PCI slot, and a built-in CD-RW. If I had the extra $400, I'd get the refurbed Dual 450 at the Apple store instead. I use MOTU software which will be multi-processor enabled in the new version. If you want to keep up speedwise for a couple of years without being outdated, this is the only way I see of getting ahead of the curve. 400s are already in the rear-view mirror, but we're seeing the dual 533 getting better benchmarks than the single 733 with multi-processor enabled apps. So you could be looking at a nice speed jump depending on the software you choose. Besides, it's already 50MHz faster with a bigger 7200rpm drive for $400, even if the second CPU sleeps until OS X...Keep in mind, these deals are probably gonna be gone in a month so the only choice left may be the 466...
    On soundcards: Put your money in the Mac right now. Make a little label that says 24-bit and paste it to the front of the Layla, it's supposed to sound alot better that way. I use a 2408 for digital connections and a 1224 for analog. The converters in the 1224 are the best I've heard on a soundcard, a step up from the 2408 MkII-828 (both have the same converters) and lower echelon stand-alones. You could get similar performance from the RME stand-alones but you'll still need a digital soundcard. The 1296 sounds good if 96K is your bag...
     
  8. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Well, every party needs a pooper, and here I am! Yup, I'm gonna rain on the Mac party...
    First of all, I have a G4-400, I've had it for a year, and I love it. But if I had it to do over again, I'd go the PC route, due to cost and ease of upgradability. I wouldn't have bought the GDMFing 001 either, but that's another story...
    For just a little more than you'll pay for a 466 and a second harddrive, you can have a PC that'll blow its' doors off, and that you'll be able to easily upgrade with future technology as you wish...
    1.2Gig AMD T-Bird(266Mhz), Iwill KA266-R mobo, Antec SX1040 case with 400 watt PS, 768Mb 266Mhz DDR SDRAM(2100), IBM deskstar 7200rpm harddrives(a 20.5G and two 45 Gigs!...RAID), Pioneer 16X DVD ROM(DVD-115), Matrox G450 32Mb DDR video card, SB Live Platinum sound card, IBM kbd, Logitech Trackman Marble Wheel, and a Diamond Multimedia SupraExpress exterior modem. $2200 hehehe...Let's see your bottom of the line Mac keep up with that! Hmmm...like to see if the 733 would keep up with that(?)!
    And if that's not enough, the 1.3Gigs are just coming out...OR...I can even get 1.5Gigs NOW...email me if you're interested.
    Just thought I'd give you a different perspective and point of view...
     
  9. MSA

    MSA Guest

    Hi, I'm a mac user. Thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.

    I use a top-o-the-line PC at work. I've got dual moniters, loads of RAM, etc., but honestly, I don't use it for much multimedia... instead I prefer the macs we have in the office as everything is much more seamless.

    It's amazing being able to use a mac for digital video (final cut pro), web design, graphic design, and as a daw. All this without having to reboot and reconfigure.

    But, to each his own. And remember, computers are just tools.
     
  10. Fredrik

    Fredrik Guest

    Hello everybody!
    The real advantage of the Mac has always been that it comes as a total solution. Software OS and hardware from one company.
    But times are changing. The Mac and PC are growing closer to each other, both in OS and hardware.
    The "seamlessness" of the Mac can be true if you only use the components installed in the Mac when delivered. Then it's great. Works right out of the box.
    But, for instance, if you were to randomly choose one out of a hundred different graphic-cards to be installed and working right away with your other hardware, and (especially music-)software...
    ...then you have the same problems any computerowner has from time to time. Compatibility problems.
    The PC and Mac uses the same kind of PCI-cards (different drivers, though), the same kind of harddrives and USB gadgets. So I figure they also have the same kind of problems occasionally.
    The motherboards are also similar in construction (although the Mac is a little cheap with the number of PCI slots :D
    It's true that you can get more horse-power for your money, when building a PC, but you also have to do some research to get matching components.

    BTW, my experience with relly heavy graphic work (3D animation, morphing video etc), is that it is done on Silicon Graphics computers. Of course the Mac is traditionally and firmly planted in the soil of advertising-companies and the likes of it.

    I can well understand that people fall in love with their Mac's. The company's got an attitude, and the machines have a very appealing design. And they work as well as you can ask of any computer.

    I also want to add that when buying/building a PC, you have a lot more options for upgrading (at a reasonable price), and keeping the hardware that is good in new configurations. Was this mentioned earlier?

    My last note on this is that I wish there were more music-software companies that would support the fabulous OS BeOs!

    Best to all,
    Fredrik Lidin
     
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Originally posted by SonOfSmawg:
    Well, every party needs a pooper, and here I am! Yup, I'm gonna rain on the Mac party...
    First of all, I have a G4-400, I've had it for a year, and I love it. But if I had it to do over again, I'd go the PC route, due to cost and ease of upgradability. I wouldn't have bought the GDMFing 001 either, but that's another story...
    For just a little more than you'll pay for a 466 and a second harddrive, you can have a PC that'll blow its' doors off, and that you'll be able to easily upgrade with future technology as you wish...
    1.2Gig AMD T-Bird(266Mhz), Iwill KA266-R mobo, Antec SX1040 case with 400 watt PS, 768Mb 266Mhz DDR SDRAM(2100), IBM deskstar 7200rpm harddrives(a 20.5G and two 45 Gigs!...RAID), Pioneer 16X DVD ROM(DVD-115), Matrox G450 32Mb DDR video card, SB Live Platinum sound card, IBM kbd, Logitech Trackman Marble Wheel, and a Diamond Multimedia SupraExpress exterior modem. $2200 hehehe...Let's see your bottom of the line Mac keep up with that! Hmmm...like to see if the 733 would keep up with that(?)!
    And if that's not enough, the 1.3Gigs are just coming out...OR...I can even get 1.5Gigs NOW...email me if you're interested.
    Just thought I'd give you a different perspective and point of view...


    ya, but does it really work SOS?

    It's true that it is kinda like religion but most serious audio gurus are on Mac. Until your doing multimedia you won't really know what we/I see in a mac.

    Don't get caught up in the megahertz hype and all the bells and whistles. If you know what the Damping factor is in amplifiers, this may help understand power in amps/ cache in computers.

    You can have a 100 watt crown amp and a 400 watt peavey, the crown will melt the peavey. Why? the crown just keeps pushing under a load. The peavey gets tired and has a heart attact lol! I think it's the same thing with Mac ver PC. The bottleneck thing happens when large amounts of audio and automation are happening. Big deal about how many numbers are behind the PC, it can't get it all through under a load. This seems to be the common feeling with PT users. Not to sure about the others daws but........PT and Mac go together. I would expect it's the same for other daws supporting macs but I don't know for sure.

    I'm not saying PT is the best, I'm saying that PT and Mac are solid.

    IMHO That's why I would deside on the audio system first, then go for the computer that supports the software etc.


    :cool:
     
  12. subspace

    subspace Guest

    The results I've seen so far from the 733's indicate the Mac might be starting to hit a bottleneck as well...Apple says it's a software optimization issue, new cache scheme and all, but some folks speculate it's a motherboard/ bus speed issue. Whatever the problem, it seems 500MHz is the point of diminishing returns presently...
     
  13. Fredrik

    Fredrik Guest

    audiokid:
    I believe one of the "bottlenecks" is the PCI-bus speed. You can get PC's with a 133mHz bus speed. I also think there are some G4's with this bus speed?

    I believe that the biggest difference between Mac and PC "numberwise" is that the Mac processor handles more instructions per clock-cycle than the Intel/AMD processors.
    This results in a Mac being "faster" at a lower frequency. I don't know exactly in which relationship. But a guess would be that a 400mHz Mac G4-processor equals in performance with a 733mHz Intel PIII-processor. No? :D

    Take it easy,
    Fredrik Lidin
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Hi Fredrik, you are right about "the more instructions per clock-cycle"

    I don't think simonsez is going for PT but I just wanted to point out the system ver computer concerns.

    SOS is totally bummed out on the 001 so he's is looking for an new DAW system. I would find the best DAW for my needs and then see what PC model etc is working the sweetest.

    It's a tough topic eh?

    Interesting about the Mac bottleneck subspace. This sounds like an on going problem for any OS .

    :cool:
     
  15. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Yeah, audiokid is right , I am bummed about 001. It's a good system for what it does, but when you're ready to move-up, you're screwed. Unfortunately, it's the same situation with my G4-400. 001 is host-based, and I'm in no position to step-up to 'mix'.
    If I go to another host-based system, I'll be in the same position that I'm in right now with 001/G4...not enough CPU. To give example to my previous post...if I'd bought a PC a year ago, I could upgrade to the newest CPU/Mobo for under $500.
    The example PC which I mentioned in my previous post was simply to show a typical high-end PC that is easily available, totally compatible, and great bang for the buck compared to a Mac. audiokid was dead-on when he mentioned the fact that DAWs are very 'picky', and you must tailor your PC system for your chosen DAW. The things that you really need to be concerned-with are the video and sound cards and the Mobo. These things are all catching-points in DAWs, but the difference in total cost of the PC will not vary much, unless your particular DAW MUST use a certain, newest, expensive component...but that is normally not the case. Most DAWs just have problems with certain models or brands, but work well with other 'common' components.
    It is true that Macs now have the 133Mhz bus, but the example PC has a 266Mhz bus. It also has 768Mhz of DDR SDRAM. Plus, it has a 20.5G h-d for your system and two 45G h-ds on a RAID system. The Matrox G450 works very well with most DAWs, with 32M DDR SDRAM, and gives you the ability to use dual monitors. The part of the example PC that could most likely be questionable would be the Iwill Mobo, as it is very new. My reason for including it in the system is that it has received all of the highest reviews when compared with other K7 socket A mobos supporting the 266Mhz bus and DDR SDRAM. Also, it has three memory slots, where most of its' competition only has two. Currently, DDR SDRAM is only commonly available up to 256M, hence the 768Megs(3x256) in this system. BTW, DDR SDRAM is coming way down in price, making it worth the bang/buck. All of the components included in this system are there for good reasons of optimizing performance...no 'bells and whistles', just good, solid high-performance. Those of you who are familiar with me know that I REALLY do my homework...including consulting the best people who I can find to get my questions answered.
    The one variable that I did not mention is cooling. The better that you cool a massive system like this, the better it will perform. Using extra case fans, upgraded CPU coolers, harddrive coolers, Peltier coolers, Kryotech coolers...any of that stuff...will increase the performance and reliability. When you design a PC to build, cooling should be a MAJOR consideration.
    Anyway, just passing-along the fruits of some of my recent studies as I'm trying to become much more educated before choosing my next DAW. If it can help anyone else, great...if you just gotta have that Mac...that's cool, too. I DO love my Mac, but it very well may end up on 'internet duty'...hehehe...
    My best piece of advice is that if you are going to buy a Mac to run a host-based system, shell-out the $3k for the 733. Don't get STUCK with less.
     
  16. simonsez

    simonsez Guest

    Thanks for all of the great input.
    I have thought long and hard about this purchase and I am SURE
    this next computer HAS to be a MAC. I am going to buy a dual processor G4,the DP 533. Base price 2500$ US Yikes. :eek:
    I will also get the smallest 7200 rpm hard drive I can get, 40 gig. And add another drive later as needed.
    The only add on I will buy
    right away is dual monitor support.
    I haven't decided if I will buy extra RAM when I buy the computer or not.
    Either way I will end up with 512 MB of Ram.

    I realize for the same money I could build a kick ass PC. But I'm tired of all the PC headaches..DLL errors, IRQ conflicts, etc. I want a music workstation I don't have to worry about..(as much), right out of the box.

    Now where is that bonus check !!!

    Thanks Again
    simonsez

    [ March 19, 2001: Message edited by: simonsez ]
     
  17. Max Howarth

    Max Howarth Guest

    Originally posted by simonsez:
    Thanks for all of the great input.
    I have thought long and hard about this purchase and I am SURE
    this next computer HAS to be a MAC. I am going to buy a dual processor G4,the DP 533. Base price 2500$ US Yikes. :eek:
    I will also get the smallest 7200 rpm hard drive I can get, 40 gig. And add another drive later as needed.
    The only add on I will buy
    right away is dual monitor support.

    [ March 19, 2001: Message edited by: simonsez ]


    Hi there

    we run three Apple Studio Displays from our cream G3 and it wokrs like a dream. We're using the (now defunct) ixMicro Dual thing. I'd be interested to see what you are going to go for when you make your purchase.

    Let me know

    Max
     
  18. simonsez

    simonsez Guest

    decisions decisions............
    Now that I've had plenty of time to think about it, I've got myself really confused, and second guessing the Mac Vs. PC decision.

    I can get this PC. P3 866 MHZ. http://www.audiocomputing.com/ML-8600.htm
    With some upgrades, to 512 MB RAM, Matrox G450 dual video card, and a downsize from the 60 gig HD to 30, (saving $160). Shipping $100
    for a grand total of about $1825.

    On the Mac side....
    Its going to Run me about $3000 for a 533 MHZ G4. With 512 MB of RAM and a single 40 gig hard Drive. And a Rage dual monitor card. The Ram is $200 for an extra 128MB at the Apple Store, VS. $101 for 256 MB at Audio Computing?!?!? What is wrong with this picture? Is the Apple Store that much more expensive for add ons like RAM? I suppose a person could get the RAM elsewhere for cheaper.

    What is a boy to do.....?
    I really really want to get into the MAC thing, But the question I have to ask myself is it really worth the extra $1000 to $1500 for a comparable MAC. :confused:

    Not to mention the software I already own is for the PC, About 75% of it I could crossgrade to the MAC. But my favorite program, Wavelab is PC only.......
    URGH!!

    Time to make a decision.
    ????? what do you think ??????

    Thanks
    simonsez
     
  19. Faeflora

    Faeflora Guest

    Actually, don't buy a 733. A dual proccessor 533 is faster. i read the stats somewhere and also, if you use DP or Logic, both are optimized for dual processing (DP will be in v. 3) :) :) :)
     
  20. Branko

    Branko Guest

    I'm happily filling RAM slots on my G4 s (we have 3 systems with ProTools) with PC 133 RAM, buying it at a price of 100 dollars / 256 megs. It works, even if it's not Apple.
    BTW, ProTools work really well with 256 megs, even with 192. New 5.1 needs more, but 320 should be enough.
    Branko
     

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