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To Mac, or not to Mac.....

Discussion in 'Computers / Software' started by BrotherLove, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. BrotherLove

    BrotherLove Active Member

    Ok, so I brought and iPad and found the Mac experience to be not a bad as it used to be, and since I like to upgrade my studio PC every few years, I took the bait and started reserching Macs.

    So heres the problem(s) Ive encountered so far, wondering your thoughts on the subject:

    Price. Damn, they are expensive. My current Windows system is a I7 920 with 12gig ram and a Quadro FX1800 video card. To get a comparible system is going to cost around $9k if I get a 27" monitor. Yikes. My old system only cost around $5k, and that included 3 UAD1 cards!

    Software. Since Apple pretty much treats users like sligtly retarded babies, you arnt allowd to use any other software that hasnt been Apple certified, you have the choice of about 4 very over priced DAWs. Fortunatly my main DAW Reaper has a fairly stable Mac version available. No VSTs either....double yikes!

    Attitude. HOMG Im sick of the elitist snooty attitude of Apple sales people.

    Lots of the myths Ive heard about Mac (never crash, no viruses, better graphics, faster) are simply not true. My iPad crashes 3 or 4 times a day, and apparently thats pretty normal. The last album we mixed on a Protools Mac system, I remember spending lots of time watching the little flower icon as the system hung and crashed all the time.
    So anyways, might sound like Im anti-mac, Im not, its just so far Im struggeling to justify any need to swap over to one. Im wondering why you Apply guys use them, at the end of the day they do the same job as a Windows system.
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If you are used to a PC, then I see no reason to switch. Especially if you are already used to an i7. I don't think you are going to be totally happy with a lower end Mac to bring the price down.

    By the same token, if you were already Mac based I would have told you to stick with that unless you required some PC compatibility for your visiting engineers.
  3. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Apples and Oranges my friend!
    Apple does a very good job of marketing THE thing to have in this modern tech world!
    That is what they do, that is what they've always done, that is the genius of Steve Jobs and his company!
    Apple will always create excitement and get high prices for their products. That is because if you buy into their concept that you own the best leading edge latest technology and that anything you create or use their product with, it will also be leading edge and the best!...that's part of the dirty little secret and marketing ploy....association theory! If I use this product I will be able to create the same thing as someone else who I hold in esteem or value related to their accomplishments regardless of the reality of that psychology....it has nothing to do with the product and everything to do with marketing.
    PC's and Mac's have always used the same standard electronics, the same standard code of instructions to make microprocessors execute and achieve the same basic results.
    Sure they can be different manufacturers (Intel, AMD, TI, Motorola) and people will argue forever about the features, but in the end it's still a toaster and it still toasts bread. It still just a car and it still just drives down the road.
    This certified concept certainly keeps Apple in the loop and creates secondary markets to piggy back onto their marketing philosophy.....try buying Mercedes parts sometime!
    Either system is capable of recording music perfectly!...but nobody will ever tell you that!
    I've used practically every computer system you can think of in my many years...being the vintage Electrical Engineer that has watched the progress and used these toasters since they all became personal in 1976. FWIW I've always preferred the PC machine over Mac products! So don't ever feel ashamed to own a $5K PC that will blow the doors off a $9K Mac!
    If you want to drive a Mercedes then you pay the price and you can have your feeling of owning something premier like others do...or whatever that feeling/thought is....if you buy a Ford because you don't care about that premier feel/myth or aren't fortunate enough to have the funds to pay for that premier feel/myth, then be happy and toast your bread or drive that Ford down the street.
    It will get you to the same place in the end and the feeling and accomplishment is still all yours..!!!!
    BTW Mercedes McClaren and Ferrari aren't winning in Formula 1 these days, Renault is!
  4. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    There, is no need to switch, unless there is specific mac-only software you want to use.

    The only real advantages are resale value, I've never gotten less than $600 for my old macs, and that I can go into a Mac store anywhere in the world, purchase a machine, connect my hard drive and interface and continue to work. ( yes I am rich, my wife is a wealthy microsoft employee )
  5. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Jack pretty much nailed this a week ago, but I'll address the part about why us "Apply guys use them" - since the thread has been revived.

    If your local 'genius' is an insufferable twit, I'm sorry. But you'll have a good bit of that in any nerd herd.

    For starters, I'm not trying to convert anybody. I could not possibly care less what platform anyone else adopts. And I certainly admire those of you who have devoted yourselves to studying and understanding the in-workings of your computers. If you know what I'm talking about when I say TRS-80, Timex-Sinclair, Vic-20, C-64, Franklin Ace, NCR, DOS - it will give you some idea how long I've been a computer user.

    10 INPUT "Do you have any idea what all those cryptic writings are? Y/N", A$
    20 IF A$="N" OR A$="n" THEN GOTO 999 ELSE GOTO 30

    I've used this analogy before and I think it sums up the reason I use a Mac. With the Macs I can devote all of my time/creativity/brainpower to learning the intricacies of the program. Or as I often equate it to, "learning how to play the piano", with Windows machines "in addition to having to learn how to extract music from the instrument I have to know how to build the piano too."

    If I want to get something done, I turn on the Mac. I'm making money all week long primarily running Photoshop, FinalCut Pro, ProTools, GoLive, InDesign, SketchUp, & Excel and recently added PreSonus StudioOne to the list of income generating apps. I have immeasurably less down-time, and time IS money. To me, that easily offsets the higher purchase price.

    If I had any advice for both platforms: There's always a cost to being on the bleeding edge of technology. So, don't be in a big rush to be the first kid on your block to get the newest toy. Give them a little time and a couple revisions to work the bugs out - you'll be glad you did.

    There you have it in a nutshell, if you want to bail here go ahead - who could blame you?

    40 INPUT "Are you gonna bail? Y/N", B$
    50 IF B$="Y" OR B$="y" THEN GOTO 999 ELSE GOTO 60

    I can spin around in my chair here and use any of 6 computers. I currently use 2 Mac desktops and 2 Mac laptops, as well as 1 PC laptop and 1 PC desktop that both run Windows XP Pro. So I've given them all a pretty fair shake. Have there been times I've felt like taking each of them out back and smashing them with a baseball bat a la the printer scene from Office Space? Yep. But it's 100:1 ratio as to which platform/hardware drives me to that level of frustration.

    I totally understand why full-on PC lovers think many Mac-users are idiots. Because to some extent with the Mac you could be a power-user without having to know anything about what goes on under the hood. I will say however, being a non-moron is as universally helpful in the computer realm as it is everywhere else in life. I've met countless cross-platform computerized idiots who can't set the clock on their VCR and have no business owning anything more complicated than a hammer. So as with anything else, you have to consider the source.

    Macs undeniably cost more, but near as I can tell don't become obsolete as quickly. (using the definition: does it still satisfactorily perform the task(s) you bought it to do? NOT, is it the smallest, fastest, prettiest, coolest machine available?) On average since going Mac, I've replaced systems once every 10 years. Compared to my PC graphic design buddies, and IT friends who are high-end PC users who seem to replace machines every 2-3 years. When I have added peripherals - they've been plug n play. The UPS truck is barely out the driveway before I'm using it. My extremely Windows-savvy PC buddy is scared to hook up his new peripherals because he's too worried about a fatal crash that will cost him a week's worth of productivity. (he's been burned before, and left on a 3-way call with 2 different vendors each pointing the finger at the other vendors' hardware and/or drivers) I've got a 10-year old G4 Tower, and a 10-year old mac Powerbook Ti that still work perfectly. Not just functional, but useful. And a 20-year old Performa that's being stored in the garage until I think of something to do with it.

    Say what you want about the cost, but the limited number of vendor interchanged/substituted parts makes for significantly better system stability and fewer catastrophic failures.

    I've had very few hardware issues. This summer I had a known video card problem with a 3 1/2 year old Macbook Pro. In which case, the Nvidia video card is integrated right into the motherboard. I'm not the original owner, and it would have been 1 1/2 years out of warranty regardless. It was known issue, Apple stood up and did the right thing and extended an additional 2 years of coverage for anyone who experiences the problem. I had the $900 motherboard / video card replaced on a second hand laptop for $0. It was the first time I've set foot in an Apple store and they were extraordinarily helpful. I can't complain about their attitude or the service. I have an old Powerbook G4 Titanium that's nearly 10 years old that still works like a champ. I've made a lot of money with that machine and it has never been in the shop. I wouldn't have needed the aforementioned Macbook Pro, but after all these years I was starting to run into software limitations. Much of the newest software is being developed to only be compatible with an Intel chip version. Overall, backwards compatibility between their different OS is very good. I can't blame new developers for not writing software for my 10 year old machines.

    100 PRINT "Thanks for playing along."
    999 END
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Having been a PC user since 286 machinery, it wasnt until I decided to 'get digital' with my recording system that I bought into Mac. I had used Mac based stuff when I would go to bigger studios to mix and master and it was this experience that led me to believe that the Mac was best for music production. Dave summed it up completely.

    I do have friends with studios who are running custom, purpose-built PC's and they do fine. Except when they get lazy and try to add a new dingle that doesnt quite like where its installed and then all hell breaks loose.

    When I started on the Mac I got lucky and a friend who is the IT guy at his business supplied me with an older G5 tower that was slated for recycling. I loaded all my PT8 and uad_1 card and everything I thought I wanted. It was okay but the problem was the speed of the ram bus in that particular Mac just wasnt where I needed to be for my recording services. So I bought an almost new Mac. Quad core lots and lots of very fast ram and a couple of harddrives. Now my cpu load never gets above 30% even with a bunch of Pultecs, Fairchilds, EMT140's, convolution verbs and 40 tracks.

    I'm sure that there are PC's with this kind of performance available, but this is right out of the box. I'm in the second year of the warranty and Mac checks up on me simply because I'm a registered user. The older Mac made my office a much nicer place to work and with the network in the house I can look at anything I want to add from here before I send it to the studio.

    I still have three fairly fast and powerful PC's all running XP Pro, all with at least dual drives, and dual cores. But I wouldnt trust them to my musical work. I've lost too many through suspicious circumstance.
  7. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    What a load of horseshit! My neighbour's mac screws up far more often than my PC. What's more every OSX update seems to break some part of his setup until his plugin devs catch up with their updates, while I can still happily run SynC Modular (for example) on my win7 machine, which I originally bought to run in win98SE!

    My theory: people try running DAW software on a generic office PC built from cheap parts, and big surprise: it sucks. Then they spend 4 to 8 times as much on a mac and what do you know; it works better!

    I suggest a better comparison: price up your shiny new i7 mac, then see what kind of system you could buy for the same money from a dedicated audio PC builder. Not only will the paper specs be better, but the hardware will be optimised specifically for audio DAW work, and as a bonus you will have access to really great software like Soundforge for example. Yes obviously you will lose Logic: another advantage if you ask me ;)
  8. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    My Carillon Core 4 i7 system worked right out of the box: I just had to install my audio interface (and if I had bought that from them as well I wouldn't even have needed to do that). I struggle to get my cpu over 10% these days :)
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Absolutely agree with IIRs

    and to add a bit...

    Its really obvious you guys haven't had the opportunity to use a professionally built, optimized Pro Audio PC.
    Mac is the most popular computer for good reason. Its been marketed the best and it works OTB, off the store shelf as long as you are using the recommended drivers and versions of everything and stay with it!
    Custom build PC's are not available from your local store. Mac is Mac and you can trust it is quality. PC can be something cheap like a Russian Lada or custom build like an Italian Ferrari. Most people don't get that and this is the real reason why Apple has the better reputation. Its simply too easy to buy a piece of crap PC and them complain about it.

    I feel Macs are more bloated, call home more and cannot be streamlined as well as a PC but it doesn't seem to matter right now, maybe never. If you are buying Pro Tools HD or Logic, don't waste your time, buy into Mac and be happy. Plain and simple. But I would buy it all second hand. The first time I bought into PT and Mac, I didn't listen to others like I should have. You'll save a lot of money that can be used to get better things for your studio that you will definitely need. Refurbished Macs are a lot less.

    Both platforms work and PC is IMHO the better value if you get it made for you or know what you are doing with everything from converters to the DAW system. I have PC's here that are 5 years old and run like a clock. I have 2 Mac's here that are ready to retire, so who is right? They bog down all the time. I only use them for the internet now. Mac's are awesome for web stuff and excellent for photoshop etc. I plan to get another Mac for the internet but will never go back to Apple for Pro Audio.
    Everything goes in cycles. I think Apple's best decade is behind them.

    Being said... Both platforms work great. Choose the DAW you want and then buy the OS that fits the DAW system you are sure of, plain and simple.
  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    This is certainly one of the biggest discussions and probably the most heated of anything involving gear there is. I certainly dont have the expertise to know all the reasons for why something works or not. I DO know that purpose-built is the ONLY way to operate a music capture system. I have a Mac and it has been streamlined to run specific for PT. Theres a lot of things you have to disable and shut-off to get this done, which is true for ANY purpose-built PC. I did NOT buy into hype of any sort I just bought what I knew worked for the system I was planning. I'm sure I could have gone with the PC (not an office machine but a real recording based set-up) and been just fine. I know several techs who can and do build custom stuff for all sorts of uses, gaming, heavy office networks, music, etc etc...and I could have gotten something well within my budget.

    But I didnt make a poor choice and I couldnt be happier. Each to his own and everyone has their own experiences which lead them in one direction or the other.
  11. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    It's always a battle between platforms....and again the reason there's always controversy is because they are both small scale digital computer systems. One is more open source, the other one is not! But they are both acting like digital tape recorders. They both have the code to stream and record bits of data onto a HDD and then graphically display that on a screen for you. They really don't do it any better or worse than the other. Apple is now using Intel i7's rather than Motorola? Why did Apple have Power PC to allow users to buy MSFT software? That kind of stuff just blurs the differences.
    Sandy bridge i7 is the current way forward from Intel, AMD will follow and so on and so on.
    What you need to record audio is any of these computers. They are designed to operate at high enough speeds today to stream and record sound. So buy what you like, want and need. If your not much of a computer techy type, buy a Mac that's really it's market. People who buy Macs don't care about the guts or what's going on in there...and if they did it's a proprietary system that is impossible to modify by a user....that's why most people say they like it and it works better OTB because that's the way it was designed....duh!
    A majority of people today don't have time or interest in playing with drivers, software or components. They want to just plug them in and it does what they expect it to do right frickin now!!...they can get on with what they are interested in doing with this toaster, like making toast.
    PC's were originally designed as an open source modifiable modular system of computer parts for people who have some technical knowledge of computers and electronics and save a little money along the way in the vein of hobbyist electronics.
    They already realize there are hundreds if not thousands of configurations they may need to figure out before that PC is setup properly before they can toast the bread....
  12. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    dvdhawk...yes I do some....nice BASIC there...AARP carbon dating routine!...LOL...you'll have to post the sub-routines!
    Anybody know what the actual name for the acronym "BASIC"....there will be test on that tomorrow! :cool:
    I had a Sinclair with the Zilog Z-80 in it!
    Maybe I should dig up my Intel 8085 SDK-85 dev board and do a little machine language for fun!...NOT
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    I'll start by saying, although he probably thinks I'm a moron, I've admired IIRs and his work for some time. He is undoubtedly a genius who understands computers on a level I will never comprehend. And I'm OK with that, because that's my point. I'd love to buy some of the platinum ears plug-ins, but, well.... you know....

    Chris, you're right I've never used a professionally built, Pro Audio PC - but we do regularly install video projection systems that include outside-contracts for professionally built, optimized Video Presentation PCs. Essentially it's a high-end gamer's system. Fastest available Intel quad-core processors, maximum RAM @ max bus speeds with heat sinks, high-performance video card loaded with max RAM, high-speed SATA drives, over-spec'ed power supply, CPU cooling and fans.

    Now we can even buy special machines optimized by the presentation software manufacturer that are designed to blaze through their program.

    They generally work great for a while and I'm thankful I had NOTHING to do with the computer system. My system starts at the VGA/HDMI/DVI output. That means they won't be calling me more than once with the inevitable service/support phone calls.

    So if I'm reading you guys correctly - I need an expensive optimized audio machine. Do I need a different machine optimized for video editing? graphic design? 3D modeling? and another machine that's allowed to be online? So not to be a smartass, but if I need more than one machine, where's the incredible savings?

    all peace and tranquility
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm told the bios and video cards are different for audio PC but I have an older Rain ION AMD on win7 64bit here that is a gamer system and its awesome for both audio and video. Its incredible actually and keeps up to my i7, maybe better actually. The only thing I don't like about video built PC is the cards with fans are noisy. This system has beautiful graphics but its louder than I like. Mac's that are good for video are noisy too.
    My PCAudioLabs i7 however is strictly audio and its the best system I've ever had for audio.. Its so quite I hardly know its on. When I switched from Mac to PC I new I just wanted the PC for serious audio and nothing more. I don't want all the apps and junk running in the background that are becoming more and more with apple. And I don't want to pay for that. I used that money to buy better hardware and better software. I can upgrade things easier too. Everything is better priced in the PC world and less restricted.
    You have a point but we're not talking about web design and video, gaming etc here or did I miss something? If I wanted an all in one, I suppose I "might" look at a $6000 plus apple system, because I do a lot of web work but I'd still have to think about it now that I understand it all better now. I shared your POV until I got one of these beasts for audio. I'm not trying to sway anyone. Just couldn't stand back without defending the blanket statement. The real reason why PC have gotten a bad rap is because of whats already been said. Ones that are designed as well as a Mac, are just as good at half the cost.
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I have a question at this point and its not to MAKE a point. Its just something I'm unsure of.

    Chris you say that with the Mac theres becoming more and more stuff running in the background. I know that I can turn everything off on my Mac and it doesnt stop the OS from doing its thing, whereas on my PC's theres was always something interlaced with something else that couldnt be defeated in order for the OS to continue its task.

    I wonder if this is actually the case with, say, regular PC's vs. regular Macs? Like I said, I can completely customize the Mac to suit my purpose.

    Again, this is not an argument for or against. When I'm finally complete I'll have both running different platforms in order to take in mixing and sweetening work.
  16. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    I don't think you're a moron: I hope I didn't give that impression? :confused:

    BTW, my plugins are all free (you mac guys are missing out! :tongue: )

    Don't know about graphic design or 3D modelling, but my audio machine is great for the simple video editing work I do (H.264 encoding is FAST!) and I do allow it to be online for delivering work or downloading software updates etc. I don't go surfing dodgy wares or **** sites, and I know better than to open attachments in spam emails: not had any problems so far.
  17. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Like Dave I started with a 286 based IBM PC (four digit serial number:wink:). Since then I've switched to Mac, back to PC, then back to Mac for (mathematical day job) work and general home use. This has been mostly prompted by my work where my software needs (and the platform support) has shifted over the years. On the other hand, all of my audio work has been on purpose-built audio PCs that have never been connected to the internet. While I got into the hardware in the early '80's, my current relationship with the hardware and even with the operating system of my machines is strictly on a "need to know" basis. Fortunately, the Math Department has a good IT team, so I don't need to know much. So some observations:

    1. Mac has pretty much always been ahead with ease of use on their operating system and the interaction and connectivity of hardware and software. If your goal is to concentrate on high level languages and ignore the operating system, Mac is the better tool for the job. (At least this is true if you are not pushing the bleeding edge of the machine's power. )

    2. In a purpose-built audio PC the operating system is almost irrelevant. You turn the sucker on, launch you DAW and go to work. You are running a limited number of high powered programs and everything else is turned off. All of the (very expensive) advantages of the Mac OS go out the window.

    3. Price for raw performance is all with the PC at this point.

    So that's the basis for my current situation. I'm running a Mac work to use Mathematics and Latex and lots of miscellaneous programs. At home we have Macs for general use (except for my son who needs a PC for games). Dead easy with the Macs to set up a reasonably secure home wireless network with lots of wireless peripherals. The audio computer in the studio is an i7 based Sweetwater Creation Station. It is probably not optimal on either price or performance, but it is very functional, reliable, and easy to use.
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    Even though I go back as far as you guys, I'm far from a guy to help or trust with optimizing but I'll say this. The older Mac's seem to be better, less apps running in the background back then. But once OSx came along and Apple started taking over the internet, I've noticed more and more junk running. Apple is going God speed towards the mobile world to keep us all connected which is the last thing I want going on in the background. Maybe your machine is different but even though I try and turn off stuff, it keeps running in the background and calling home to apple world. I love Apple and also PC for its ability to be only what you want it to be.
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Chris.....You can disable everything on the system I'm using. There is nothing running at all except what I ask it to run. Yes, it wants to update with Apple central and if I turn those apps on it will immediately ask to update the OS and any periferals that were built into its language. But the point is, it asks. I can refuse and it doesnt care, it does what its told. I have a Quad-core Nehalem processor Intel chip with 16 gigs of DDR3 1060 ram. I run the highest number Snow Leopard and PT9. something or other. Its Damn fast and very stable. Since I'm an idiot about these things I needed the security of a machine that did what I told it too and helped out silently. Its not the most latest and greatest but it IS the most qualified by Avid and Mac and stability means more to me than features I'll never use. When I get paid to run a session I want it to start and end with a smile.

    On the PC's I've owned everything was hyper-threaded and some programs were integrated at some point with other programs and when you went to switch them off the error messages would appear or warnings that this particular program would cause the machine to not operate if it was disabled.

    Now I know that purpose-built machines probably are free from this but it always struck me as the main difference between the platforms.

    Yes, OSX is somewhat pushy in selecting for you what you need, but as I said, you can turn it all off without loss of performance and concentrate solely on what you're asking the machine to do. I think this is why the animation and video editing industry has been so enamoured with Macs for so many years. Of course any machine on any platform can crash and burn given the right situation, but the Mac has so many automatic failsafe systems it just seems to be as stable as you can get with a computing machine.

    I never got into the innards, so to speak, although I've sat in with some of the Wizards I know while they constructed Frankensteinish machinery that would out perform most stuff you could dream of. I've seen some PC stuff that you better be damn sure of being where you want to be because when you push the 'GO' button its already completed the task by the time you let the button go. Large files and very complicated stuff too. Almost too fast.......

    To me, the PC specialty crowd is much like the hot-rodders of the 50's and 60's with their jalopies and fast flivers built out of stuff lying around the garage but capable of blowing the doors off of anything on the road, and the Mac guys were more like the actual drivers of the sports cars that race in the road circuit. They dont care whats under the hood only that it sticks in the corners and accelerates when asked to.
  20. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Even though I disable things on Mac, they are still running. But, its not the sole reason I am less interested in Mac, the main reason is they are over priced compared to what you are able to get in PC now. Once I took this step, I also took the step of leaving Pro Tools and entered a new world of freedom sort-of-speak . My hybrid DAW system is a free spirit.

    Both PC and Mac work.

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