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Macbook Pro or iMac?

Discussion in 'DAW's, Computers & Software' started by Dudeinthemoon, Jun 18, 2010.

  1. Dudeinthemoon

    Dudeinthemoon Active Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    Home Page:
    A while back I was trying to decide whether to buy a 27inch iMac or a Rain Recording PC. I went with the PC and would first like to say I've been seriously happy with it. However, literally the same day I got it I went up to an open day at the university I'll be starting at in September and guess what they exclusively use for the course?

    So now I need to get a mac lol. I'm stuck for choice between the Macbook pro and the iMac. Essentially, it's a battle between the portability and versatility of the laptop and the extra power & lush screen on the iMac. I'm worried that if I buy the mid range macbook pro, It will have trouble running a lot of instances when I use a program like Omnisphere or Kontakt. I'm also aware that laptops generally have more latency than desktops, but then the iMac isn't really a desktop either so I'm not going to make an assumption on that. With the imac, I would get a fair helping of extra performance as well as a really good screen (and this could well be a factor as I plan to start editing films when I can afford to make them!), not to mention that the equivalent models are respectively about £100 to £200 cheaper that their Macbook Pro counterparts here in the UK. The drawback is that it would be stuck at home, whereas with the laptop I could take it with me, and in the context of a student that is an extreme bonus.

    So I guess I would like input from those experienced with these products. To be honest, if the Macbook Pro is still fast enough to really stretch the legs of the latest software, then it's a no-brainer despite the lesser features and higher price, because as I said the ability to take it into my lectures and swap projects straight from the class computers onto it would be a serious plus. Could anybody verify that, say, eight channels of Omnisphere, sixteen of Kontakt (that's one fully loaded instance of each), twenty or so audio tracks as well as DSP effects for all would run smoothly on a Macbook Pro?

    I know that whichever I get it will be slower than the Rain PC (that lot uses about 25% of the processor power on here according to my DAW, I have literally NEVER had a single dropout or any glitch no matter how hard I try) but to be honest I'm f***ing tired of FL Studio :) and was looking forward to getting my hands on Logic anyway, so I can accept that.

    My usage is very varied, I do plenty of multi-track recording, as well as very complex arrangements with power hungry synths. My overall question is - I know that the Macbook Pro is a good laptop for music, but exactly how good is it?

    Any advice or anecdotes I can get would be very much appreciated
  2. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Distinguished Member

    Mar 19, 2003
    Kirkland WA
    Home Page:
    Depends on what is more important to you, portability vs more power.
    I have two machines that have less power, but I get good results with Logic9.

    No problems with sessions of 32 to 48 tracks, using mostly virtual instruments. CPU never goes over 50%.

    I have a 2.2GHz Black macbook, and 1.14GHz Mini, all audio on external firewire drives, MOTU 828.

    I don't have any experience with Omnisphere or Kontakt, I do have a few instruments that use N.I. player.

    I have seen reports on Omisphere that say it's a CPU hog.

    Make sure you max out the RAM, but don't buy RAM or hard drives from Apple. I installed 500Gb, 7200rpm drives in both machines.
  3. FlyBass

    FlyBass Active Member

    Oct 31, 2007
    Central Indiana, USA
    I use both an iMac (G5) and a MacBook Pro.

    The iMac's larger screen is great for working with Logic and Final Cut Pro, and with the video cards in the the newer models, you can add an extra monitor to extend the desktop. The iMac is more portable than you might think, but it is awkward to lug around; I wouldn't recommending doing it on a frequent basis. (You could always use the box it came in as a transportation device.)

    The MacBook Pro runs everything well and is made to be portable (obviously). You pay for this portability in cost and processor power. BTW When it's doing heavy processing, my MacBook Pro really heats up, so don't be surprised when this happens. It can also support the extended desktop feature. I have a model with a 15" screen and have adapted to working at that size. Surprisingly.

    For the optimal working environment, buy extra RAM and install it yourself (as long as you don't void the warranty). Make sure it is the right RAM module, not the cheapest RAM that will work -- this will pay off with better performance and less problems down the line. And look into buying an external hard drive for audio and video files. That will keep the computer's hard drive from overtaxing itself, giving you better performance and more processing power, with less likelihood of crashes. For portability sake, if you own an iPod, you could set it up to work as an external drive -- I've heard this works well as a temporary drive (you would then transfer the files to an external hard drive later).
  4. HaHallur

    HaHallur Active Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    Desktops are always much more powerful than Laptops, so I guess its power vs. portability
  5. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    There are other options for the PC you know. You tried Reaper? REAPER | Audio Production Without Limits

    Regarding the mac / pc issue: DAW Bench : DAW Performance Benchmarking
  6. tstoneman

    tstoneman Active Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    Referring to the desktop comment, I was thinking the same thing - neither one. but if your only choices are those two, definitely macbook pro. Way more robust.

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