Optimizing imac for audio recording

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by glachap, Jan 20, 2003.

  1. glachap

    glachap Guest

    Hello to everyone...I'm a new guy on the block here. I have an imac question for those people who are interested in sharing their knowledge.

    I've just recently purchased an imac g3/500mhz/OS 9x etc.. to do some multitrack audio recording etc via USB audio/USB (Edirol)...I want to optimize it's performance for audio only....it will be upgraded to 512 RAM, additional F/W HD etc...I've read "Opus's" article on tweaking PC's (I also have a PC) and am wondering if there is such an article or info available to do the same on a Mac or imac ? Any info is appreciated...thank you!! Twister
  2. M Brane

    M Brane Guest

    The best advice I can give you for doing audio on an iMac is:

    Get to know the Extensions Manager. Your gonna have to turn off everything that isn't essential to your audio app.

    Add as much RAM as you can, and don't buy the cheapest stuff you find. Don't buy the most expensive either. ;)

    If you really want to optimize your iMac for audio, consider a setup like this. :cool:
  3. glachap

    glachap Guest

    M Brane:

    Thanks for the advice...I'll certainly put it to good use...Twister :->
  4. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    For future reference, please post your Mac questions in the Mac Forum.
  5. glachap

    glachap Guest

    Okay.....Twister :-> :tu:
  6. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    Anyway ... I agree about the RAM. I know it only has two RAM slots, but I think it can take two 512Mb sticks, for a 1024Mb (1G) total. With RAM being so cheap, that would definately be the way to go, but make sure yours will support a Gig before you buy the RAM, and make sure that you buy RAM that is intended for your iMac.
    Also, most iMacs come with a 5400rpm HDD. A Western Digital WD400JB (40Gb, 7200rpm, 8Mb cache) would definately be a great improvement. I recommend a clean OS install on a small primary partition (perhaps 5 - 10 Gigs, depending on your needs). Make sure that you update to OS 9.2.2.
    As with any Mac, keeping your Control Panels and Extensions to a minimum is escential for audio. Your iMac is only a G3-500, so you need to run it lean and mean.
    Good Luck!
  7. M Brane

    M Brane Guest

    You may also consider getting some FireWire drives to use for recording & backup. With an iMac or iBook/Powerbook that's your best option. Just be careful where you get them. Some of the cheaper suppliers put really cheap drives in the cases. If you can handle some DIY hardware consider getting a case kit(s) & filling it with the drives(s) of your choice.

    For general Mac news check out AccelerateYourMac Lot's of good info there including a searchable database of hardware reviews by users.

    For upgrade and software tips also check out MacGurus. Sure wish they still sold hardware.

  8. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    Right-on, M Brane. There's no place to put a second HDD inside an iMac, so a firewire HDD for your audio files is the best way to go. It's also very true about companies putting less-than-optimum drives in their firewire cases. Let the buyer beware! An 80-120Gb WD 7200rpm, 8Mb cache drive in a good firewire case would be very kewl.
    This could be a very nice little system!
  9. glachap

    glachap Guest

    Thanks to all for your time and guidance!!

    I have in fact upgrade the RAM to 512 and can upgrade to 1 gig but that will come later....I've invested in a Firewire case and have installed a 7200 RPM 20 gig Quantum Fireball HDD. Plugged it in and away it went...no drivers to install...Eazy-Breezy.....I am considering re-formatting the internal HDD to clean it up...Is a complete "re-install" the same thing??? Is there a partitioning utility in the imac?? Also, what advantage is there to upgrading the 9.1 OS to 9.2.2...is this a free upgrade??? ...I'll also be checking out the links provided by "M Brane"...will keep you posted on my progress (for those who are interested)...thanks again....Twister :-> :c:
  10. M Brane

    M Brane Guest

    Your welcome! :D

    Which OS depends on your software choice. That iMac will have no problem with 9.2.2 or even OSX so use whatever your software recommends. Anything from 9.1 up is good.
  11. glachap

    glachap Guest

    M Brane,

    Thanks for the extra info.....from what I gather from your post, a clean install re-formats (erases everything) the hard drive and re-installs the OS, offering a choice of which components to have on the machine once it's up and running again. I think this is where I'm headed with this one....once the system is fully functional, with upgrade to the OS if appicable, then I'll re-install my Midi/Audio drivers and software-(Digital Performer)...I realize this is a lengthy process but I do believe it's well worth the trouble to have a, as you say: "lean, mean OS 9.1"....your help is much appreciated...Twister :-> :cool: :tu:
  12. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    The best way to reinstall the OS is to manually format and partition your drive prior to your OS installation. As I said previously, it would be best to install the OS on a small primary partition, so that your OS isn't spread all over your harddrive. This will allow your computer to run faster and more efficiently. Also, if there ever comes a time when you need to reinstall your OS, you will be able to format that primary partition without having to backup and format the entire drive.
    For your OS:
    Insert your CD and do the standard installation. Use your auto-update feature to install the OS updates (to 9.2.2) and the rest of the updates and additions. Once that is complete, uninstall the components which are unnecessary for your audio-only machine. This way all of your components are fully optimized, and all of the bugs are worked out which Apple addressed in the updating process. 9.2.2 is as stable as a rock. If your audio apps are intended for OS9 (as opposed to OSX), they will work fine with 9.2.2.
    If you have any questions regarding whether or not to remove something, just ask. Don't worry, anything that you accidently uninstall that you shouldn't-have can easily be reinstalled if need-be.
  13. glachap

    glachap Guest


    There is something to be said about a person who actually takes the time to write out detailed instructions on a process that would otherwise be no less than daunting for someone like me who is getting used to a totally different brand of computer and operating system. My hat is completely off to you and M Brane for taking that time!!! and...I raise my glass to you!! ;)

    1) My HD is a 20 gig...how much of that space would you allot to that small primary partition??

    2) After the primary partition is formatted, would I then reserve the rest of the HD for Digital Performer and/or other audio apps?

    3) Would it be of any benefit to format another small partition to house Digital Performer, or would that be an exercise in futility??

    4) The formatting utility utilized for this process is already on the machine, I presume.

    5) As for periodical defragmentation of the HD, is there a utility within OS 9 that will do that or should I obtain a 3rd party utility for this? if so...which one??

    Okay, that's enough for today....Thanks again for your time!! Twister :->
  14. M Brane

    M Brane Guest

    If your not going to install Jag on it, I would think that 5G would be enough space for your system & apps. Only you will know exactly how much space you will need. Remember it's not good to have a drive more than 80% full, so leave a little extra room on each volume.

    I've never tried the apps on a separate volume approach. Never had a problem with the apps and system on the same volume.

    Drive setup (in the utilities folder) will take care of formatting and partitioning. Just don't do a low-level format on an IDE/ATA drive. They don't like that very much.

    Actually it's best to just backup your data, initialize the drive and re-install (since you have to do a backup anyway) ;) De-fraggin programs work by copying data off the drive to RAM, initializing that section of the drive, then re-writing back to the drive.

    I must confess though that I do de-frag, but I always keep a copy of my system drive on a second drive (I have three) and another copy on CD's. When I get some more FW drives for backup then I will probably not de-frag again.

    Stay away from Norton. It used to be OK but has basically sucked since v.5. I use TechToolPro for general system maint. (in addition to Disk First Aid) and DiskWarrior for disk maint.

  15. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    First of all, to make it easy for you (and me), here's part of one of my previous posts ...
    LOL how's that for a detailed explaination?
    To answer you a little more specifically:
    As stated above, 10 Gigs is cool, but in your
    situation you can easily get away with just 5Gb.
    If sometime down the road you add so much stuff that you need it bigger, it can be easily and quickly done if you used the backup method as described in the first "quote".
    Your OS, your audio software, and all other apps/programs go on the primary partition. The rest of your "system" harddrive is basically for storage. Your actual audio files don't go on this HDD, they go on your second HDD.
    It's called "Drive Setup" ... makes sense, huh? LOL
    LMAO ... you left this question for last, so it makes me think that you've probably read some of my other posts. You poor guy!
    This is where my opinion differs from most peoples'. My opinion differs due to the fact that I use the previously-described backup method. I don't HAVE to defrag! I just transfer everything that I want to keep that's on the primary partition to a different partition, format the primary partition, reinstall my OS and apps, move my saved stuff back over, and VOILA! The whole thing takes a little over an hour, but I have a WHOLE NEW FRESH INSTALLATION, not a "refurb". So, if people want to defrag, hey, whatever floats there boats, but I've NEVER done it to my Mac, and I never will have to. *IMO*, this method is MUCH better. I don't use any "utilities" on my Mac other than what comes in the OS.
    Hope this helps, Bro. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. I'll try to give you as thorough an answer as possible. LOL
  16. glachap

    glachap Guest

    SOfS and M Brane,

    Thanks again gentlemen.....whew!! how's that for detail......all my questions were answered and then some....I like the idea of having the organized "saved" folder(s) on a separate partition...pretty well eliminates the need for any kind of defrag.......makes sense....all that's left now is to put all this into practice, which I will be doing within the next week or two as soon as I can spare a few uninterrupted hours....again...thank you....Twister :-> :p:
  17. glachap

    glachap Guest

    Okay...here's the update:

    Initialized my HD and created a 5 gig primary partition...loaded OS 9.1, then upgraded to 9.2.2 (which by the way can't be done unless you upgrade to 9.1.1 first according to the Apple download instructions....so I did that too). Created a "saves" folder on the secondary partition as well....loaded up my drivers and audio software...so far so good...no crashes...yet....performance has improved and is good...so far.

    One thing though, which was my own fault for not being attentive enough, is that I ended up initializing my "audio" HD, which wasn't planned (Both drives are 20 gig, so I mistook one for the other)....so I lost all my audio files....oh well....I guess it's back to drawing board for those...this will force me to improve on these anyways...thanks again for your help boys!!!! Twister :D

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