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PC or Mac?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by silent_nick, Jan 13, 2003.

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  1. silent_nick

    silent_nick Guest

    I'm building a studio at home. Currently I'm trying to decide on whether to get a PC or a Mac. I wanted to know if there is a huge difference between the 2 platforms. The reason I'm asking is that I have a good amount of experience working with PC's (and so does my friend who will probably be my greatest source of tech support) and pretty much none with Macs. The PC system I would build would be a very good one, a P4 with a RAID server and SCSI drives. How does this compete with a Mac? This is not just going to be a studio so I can dick around either. This is a serious project for serious recordings.

    Any help would be great, thanks,
  2. DSL

    DSL Guest

    This has been debated a thousand times. I'd go Mac but my needs may be different. If your used to a PC go PC. :)
  3. M Brane

    M Brane Guest

    If your main concerns are raw speed, low price and tons of sofware to choose from go PC.

    I prefer Macs myself.
  4. pgstudio

    pgstudio Guest

    Yo man..
    the soft i Use is Nuendo and SX .. even if i´m on Mac i´ll use Nuendo and SX ( don´t like PT ) so i think u should choose what soft to use then choose the plataform. if u´ll use Nuendo and SX i think the best way to go is PC (more stable for Steinberg Apps ) but if u wanna Pro Tools/Logic Macs are the way to go.. : )

    my 2cents.. : )

  5. 20db.com

    20db.com Guest

    Nick, I have been a PC user since 1983 when the first IBM was introduced. Since then I have use Macs on and off but mostly PC's.

    I don't know about you but I am about ready to give up on this stupid Wintel platform. Microsoft's latest XP %&%#^ really has been the last straw. I bought a new machine that had XP on it, kept it for 48 hours and returned it. Once I realized that it wouldn't connect to the my NT servers unless I spent another $200 I was ticked. Especially since this meant I actually lost capability comparied to Win98.

    I could go on and on but the bottom line desktop computers are not meant to be pro audio platforms. I am sick of rebooting, memory leaks, poorly written drivers and bloatware. The computer industry including Apple has become a big science project.

    I am not sure the Mac is that much better but I am about ready to take my 9 PC's and dump them in the bay. :)

    Go with the Mac.

  6. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    As with most everything I comment on, I see the Mac or PC debate as a political question. :D he he he. Mac is the computer of the aristocratic elitists and the establishment status quo, while PC's are the machines of the masses. If you want to spend more money than you need to, buy a Mac (and Pro Tools). The people who build Macs (remember they are only built by one company in one location) live in the most expensive place on the planet to reside and just have no concept of how much $2500 is. (same thing goes for Digidesign) Sh*t, that's what they pay for rent each month. If you need to be cost conscience and get the most real performance per dollar you can then a PC is what you want. These are built in the "rest of the world" other than Palo Alto CA. and the people who build them are as varied as the types of breakfast cereal at the local Piggly Wiggly! pg is right in that it also depends on which hardware and software you choose. If you think your going to be going with MOTU hardware or Pro tools package then Mac is what those run on. Cubase and Nuendo however will operate wonderfully on a PC. This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make regarding buying recording gear. It took months of researching to find the right solutions and I still made several mistakes that probably cost me 5 or $600! You almost have to be willing to go through your first system as a learning experience and know you are going to waste some money figuring out what is what. For me it was a step I decided I needed to take to prevent my becoming a dinosaur in the recording business. The up side to this is if you decide on a PC you have this wonderful Forum called RO where you can directly contact the best PC tech on the planet! (I mean that) Follow the tweaks guide that OPUS has set out and you will be cruisin' the DAW autobahn at 125 mph in no time at all! … Fats
    Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
  7. alfonso

    alfonso Active Member

    ...and remember that if your pc daw has a lot of dsp processing in pci cards, avoid raid and scsi systems, as they will bottleneck your pci bus.
    today an ata 100 channel dedicated to only audio hd's is capable of a huge amount of data, not to mention ata 133.....
    if you run totally native, it has less influence.
  8. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    I have both, peecees and Macs. This is an OLD debate, and needless to say, anytime a Mac versus peecee thread arises, you'll get OPINIONS from both sides of the tracks. A couple of years ago, this debate was valid, with both platforms having their own distinct advantages. However, as time goes on, Mac (Apple) has slipped too far behind in the "war" to any-longer be a competitor.
    Apple is in dire financial trouble. In the past few years, they've made some deadly decisions regarding their product line. Rather than having focused on their strong point, high-end graphics and audio, they chose to try to appeal to the home consumers with the Cube, the new iMac, and the even-newer eMac. Given the state of the economy, people just haven't been willing to spend twice as much for a purposely-crippled Macintosh as they would a powerful peecee with expandability and upgradeability.
    Apple's financial state is severe, and they've given no signs of having the ability to pull out of it. They're product line is falling further and further behind the technologies available in the peecee platform, which translates to less and less people making the "Mac" decision.
    They really hung themselves with OSX. It's lack of reverse-compatibility with software which was designed to run on pre-OSX has proven to be a catastrophe. Did Microsoft have to bundle Windows 98 with XP so that it would be useable? No. There was already a lot less software for Mac than peecee, and OSX just widened that margin. Which logically leads us to the other point to consider when choosing your DAW platform...
    Given the state of current peecee technology, and it's rate of growth, host-based DAWs now hold the future of audio recording. There is a lot more DAW hardware and software available for the peecee platform than the Mac, and that gap will continue to widen as Macs fall further and further behind the computing power of peecees. Ahhh, but many companies have their products available for both platforms, you say! Well, that's true, but have you noticed that MOST of those products work better on a peecee? Macs were usually an afterthought (Nuendo as a typical example).
    This whole thing is not a new concept. It was "in the cards". Many of us could see the writing on the wall YEARS ago. If you search the very earliest threads on RO, you will find that this phenomenon was discussed, and this whole scenario was predicted, to the tee. Anyone with adequate knowledge and common sense saw what was coming.
    In conclusion, my advice is that you take the afore-mentioned situation of the computing platform "wars", apply your own knowledge and common sense, predict where this whole thing will be in two years (you DO want your DAW to last for that long, right?), and make your own educated decision. I'll just give you one little clue ... BUY A PEECEE!
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Great points! You Da' Man!! Fats :D !
  10. RL Wall

    RL Wall Guest

    Ah, Fats, you sly old fox, you beat the Macsteroids to the punch!

    Macsteroids: Take a lesson from Fats. Whenever there is the slightest possibility that a political discussion could break out, immediately elbow your way to the table and grab the White Hat and screw it firmly onto your forehead wrinkles -- thereby declaring yourself "The First To Be Concerned" and therefore "The Good Guy" and "The Man Of The People".

    Hey. Colored hats and rhetoric notwithstanding, Macs are not Republican swine milking the masses of their lifeblood.

    They are only computers.

    And PC Land is no Democracy, either. Unless, of course, the PC peons decide to finally raise an army and storm the Great Halls of the Kings up in Redmond, Washington. Until they do, they are all mere chattels and cerfs of King William the Nerd, no matter how fast their Ps can C.

    Or are PCs just computers, too?

    There are people who attach baggage to these choices. I, for one, am so revolted, sickened and repulsed by Carl's Jr.'s idiotic TV commercials, I woudn't eat their food if they gave it away for free. So for me, it doesn't matter whether or not it's a better burger, OK? Like I said, baggage.

    The baggage can be speed, interface, elegance, bragging rights, learning curve, access to cool gurus like Opus or your buddy, or, as in the case of one guy I know, deliberately getting a Mac because his wife taught PC skills at work and he didn't want her lording it over him at home.

    Maybe you'll get lucky. PGStudio said, "i think u should choose what soft to use then choose the plataform. " Good advice. You will ultimately spend more creative time with the software than the hardware, so your up-front horsepower should be directed to software FIRST. If you are lucky, the software you choose will have made the hardware decision for you. If you are even luckier, you get to choose the hardware too. So, you crack open your own personal baggage, examine the contents, make a shopping list of what's important to you, and go for it.

    And if you are reeeaaally lucky, somebody will wander in here and start another gee-whiz-what-platform-is-cool thread and you can drag your bags in and play mine is bigger than yours along with me and Fats and the rest of us.

    Ain't this fun?

    :cool: RW :roll:

    "Once I was blind, but now I see.."
  11. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    If the whole "Mac versus peecee" thing were a "baggage" issue, to be honest, I'd be slamming Microsoft left and right. I hate their "Big Brother" tactics and arrogance. When it comes to the platform war, I try to be factual and objective. Unfortunately, Microsoft is winning for the time being. As for the future...
    It's still very early, as this is my long-term prediction ... keep your eyes on Linux, guys. Linux is now the second-most used platform in the world, AHEAD of Macintosh/Apple! The future possibilities of this open-source platform are staggering. It's only a matter of time before Linux DAWs are here, and the possibilities there are AWESOME.
  12. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Robert Wall (one of my favorite contributors) posted;
    Hey I can't help it! I was born a "red diaper baby". :D Try as hard as I can I just can't seem to make the trip to "Rightland". I am stuck in limbo, somewhere in the middle. Sort of a "Republi-crat"! Oh well, we all have our own cross to bear!
    Regarding the topic, when I am into my DAW program I don't see what machine I am using. It could be a Mac or a PC. It makes no difference. The only differences I have noticed so far relate to configuration and set up, speed /CPU power. But once you're in they're recording if you have a fast machine, all you see is the recording software. The only gripe I have with Apple is their price. I lived in the SF Bay Area for a large portion of my life and believe me there are a lot of folks there who don't understand the true value of money. I think this may be one of Apples problems. Good to hear from you! You don't show yourself here often enough. Don't be such a stranger. Fats
    Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
  13. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member


    Political issues apart :D ;) , here's my point of view: I've been working on both platforms for some time, and my real experience, myths notwithstanding, is that both are equally stable and they equally crash (fotunately not on me); as prices go continuously down on the PC side (a little too on the Mac side recently) and power keeps going up it seems that the performance/price ratio is pointing in the PC direction: I assembled a PC workstation for my Pro Tools 001 setup (yes Pro Tools, this could piss someone off, but I love it and it works throughtout my 12 hours working days without a hitch), and to get the same power on the Mac side the cost would've been about twice as much; there's something to be said about this: you can assemble a DAW yourself, but you have to be a little bit skilled or willing to learn, as it's not like a Mac that comes out ready right out of the box (some snobs say Macs are for those who "don't have time to waste on computer troubleshoothing, because they just have to make music", this could be true, I find time for both), plus you have to be willing to troubleshoot it and deal with an OS that's a little more "elaborated" (maybe we should start using this word ;) ), update drivers and get a little bit into the issues of system configuration; this is the "virtual" price you pay to save the money in advance; Macs come prebuilt and they make you pay for this service; granted, you can have somebody build a DAW for you, for an additional cost, but I prefer to do it myself, because 1) it's fun, 2) it' not that difficult, once I saw a frind do it I could do it myself, and 3) I like to know the tools I'm working with, so that when acciednts happen (and they happen) I can try to troubleshoot instead of unplugging everything and rush to the service tech that'll leave me stuck for days or weeks.

    Then it's wise to consider the software you'll be working with: it seems that with a few exceptions all the most popular audio apps are now developed for both platforms, and Digidesign (who's been a diehard Mac company for years) recent developements on the PC side should mean something; unless you exclusively work with Emagic Logic Audio (and you are starting out now with it), chances are you'll be at home with both.

    I didn't understand one of the previous posts shredding on the PC, claiming OS incompatibilities between NT and XP and such: I could be one of the luckiest people on this earth (at least not with women), but my PC DAW actually works, has power to burn, and I could say it smokes; maybe it's because I don't play games on it, or don't surf the net with it, or I don't stuff it with any garbage software and the likes: it's an audio dedicated machine, and please, stop saying PCs aren't a viable platform for Audio production.
    Don't get me wrong I like Macs too, but getting the Mac setupI needed the first place wouldn't have allowed me to get all of those other things I needed to get my project studio running.

    Sorry for being this long and I hope I've been helpful .

  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    20dB said;
    Lee, it seems a lot of your issues relate to having your audio machine perfoming multiple tasks other than audio. My audio PC is a dedicated for audio only machine. No extra software to cause conflicts and crash the machine. No internet, nothing to connect to NT servers. nada... not even a modem card. I had it pulled out! The machine (a PC) blazes! I'm up to 24 tracks now and I am running multiple instances of comps, eq's, verbs, chorus', rotary speakers, symphonic and sub bass generating all with a 20%CPU, 40% disk load at 6 ms latency (all worst case). It never has crashed and the only problem I have had is once the audio developed clicks when I would scroll rew or fwd until I increased the buffer size.. Fats
  15. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Gerax, I run Digi001 on a Mac G4-400, and it's not bad, for simple home recording. I've been using it for 3 years now.
    LOL, yeah, it means that Avid sees the writing on the wall, too! They know damn well that more and more people are going to spend $10-20k on a host-based rig instead of $50-100k on a Mix rig. Digi001 is a dinosaur. There are simply too many great software apps on the market, that when coupled with a powerful peecee, will blow the doors off of 001, dollar for dollar.
    "DigiDesign" and "ProTools" are no longer the "only apps in town". With digital audio recording being so widely-spread, names like "Nuendo" are becoming well accepted. Thank God! Digi's long reign of terror is finally in check!
  16. Wendy May

    Wendy May Guest


    Fats , I see why Robert is one of your favs!!


    I don't know much about much but I do know the new Pro Tools for 'peecee's' <g> don't move as quickly. There is lag when navigating windows and
    operations, etc., compared to running it on a mac, not really a big deal but when you're used to using it on a mac it's a real drag. I'm sure digi will work that out
    though. Also some of the plug-in's are not yet available from the outside developers. In time, no doubt they will catch up.
    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">In the meantime we all have to do
      what works best for us. I have always been mac based so I use what I have. Personally I think we should just finally have -ONE- platform!! We can all get
      along can't we? <g>
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
    • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I run TDM Mix System on a really cool 9600/350 Power Mac. It's old and it ain't no G4! they don't even make them any more. But it is so cool because it has
      more slots [for more chip space, i.e. for active plug-in's, etc.] just to name one of the accessabilities, than anything available right now. So you see either way
      there is always a way : ). I also have an MBox I run on a G3 ibook. Great for traveling though latency is an issue.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
    I'm outta here for now...happy forum-ing and good luck deciding!! :c:
  17. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member


    I kind of agree with you, the 001 is starting to get a bit outdated now, in fact I'm planning to upgrade to a bigger, pro level system (it depends on how my business will run this year :D ;) .


  18. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    The only sound advice provided so far was, pick the software and hardware then buy the system that is best for it.

    If you go Pro Tools (my personal favorite) or Emagic or Motu, you will be better supported on a mac. All the others like Nuendo, Cubase SX (which is really the new Nuendo BTW) and...... oh yeah there aren't many other pro audio apps for PC are there, anyway go with PC.

    I have 8 Macs and 4 PCs here. For my money Apple is many years ahead of Wintel in application, form and function. I use the PC's pretty much just to run Lotus Smartsuite which is required for a company I work for.

    If you want my political opinion, I think that Microsft has squelched technical progress for close to 15 years now. I think the Apple platform continues to evolve and always comes bundled with the latest and greatest technologies (i.e USB, Firewire, integrated video editing, capture, and now DVD production). The good thing about PC's is you are not forced to buy any of this so you can configure a very low end system of that is all you need, The bad thing is thaty every time you try to add a capability )like printing for instance) it is a science experiment in software/hw compatibility. I have a few little goodies around here that will run on one PC but not the other.

    Macs are already coming bundled with 1000 baseT ethernet, Firewire 800, The come with a Mail program that is not full of infections, they network to anything right out of the box, they import audio and create mp3's without a sound card, they capture and edit video and allow you to make a DVD right out of the box. And if you plug in a digital cam they will capture the pics without the need for a driver. All of this capability is supported by Apple directly.

    Try adding video capture to a gateway then call them for support.

    If you are good at DIY with PC's then you can build a greast PC tweeked just right for audio, but you need to pray that the peripheral hardware will all be compatible with what you have and that the drivers will all keep up.

    As far as Digidesign goes, I make my living using an aweful lot of digi hardware and software. I have to say that Pro Tools is probably the most well supported and stable application I have ever used on any computer. Digi's hardware has made significant improvements over the years, and their customer service has saved my but several times in a very expeditious way. The other big advantage to Digi (besides the fact that the PT editor is extremely efficient) is that no matter what other kind of system someone brings in, whether 2", DA88, ADAT, or other DAW's, PT can lock to it and do a transfer with very little screwing around. Their documentation is also outstanding.

    All of that costs money. But my Pro Tools rig has generated significant revenue since the day I got it. I have never had to make a single payment out of my own pocket in 3 years.

    The pointless and unbased slamming of Digi is an old tired and pointless rant. You might not like the software but people should give credit where credit is due.

    I personally would like to thank Digi for giving me world class products that make my work day enjoyable, fruitful and efficient, and for providing me personally outstanding support.

  19. millionvalve

    millionvalve Guest

    Well, this question again, eh! ;)

    I bought a dual gig G4 after being a PC user for the past 12 years. I got mad at Windows not being able to have a music app open and play Winamp. I got mad at its drivers. I thought it locked up a lot. I wanted hardware that was designed to be used together. I wanted a box that would swing out like the side of my Mac box. I wanted all that hi-end, audio/graphichs mostly power.

    I got it. And it's just another kind of computer. With a paradigm I don't totally understand. It locks up (no apple+ctrl+esc, either [or whatever it is]) as much if not more than my PC did. It's filing system/internal logic was made by artists for artists. I want it made by programmer dorks for everyone. (And I'm an artist.) I want it to know what *.* means in the Sherlock Finder. I want it to append extensions because it wants to. I want it to import files from the PC as readily as the PC imports files from the Mac.

    I had to buy a 2-button mouse. It doesn't have a CD bay eject button on the box (only on the keyboard!)

    Peak and Spark (put together) suck compared to Cool Edit Pro. And Syntrillium refuses to develop for Mac.

    I don't use OS X becasue most of my software won't run on it, and it's a hassle to keep re-booting to go back and forth. So, I use OS 9.

    All of this is to say: If you know Macs, and want to run a lot of Mac-only software-- great. Mine's for sale for 3 grand. Extra 120G HD in it, too.

  20. sdevino

    sdevino Active Member

    I live in a hybrid Unix/MacOS/WindowsXP world. I have written a fair amount of C++ and developed a few apps in my time. I love the power and logic of Unix. The PC never made sense to me because it seemed to make something that should be easy, very complicated.

    That being said I really don't think there is much difference and one should pick the platform that runs the software they want to use best.

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