#1
Hey guys,
I've decided to buy a Mac for recording here at home. Just not sure what to go for. I'm only recording through a Line 6 UX1 at the moment. I'm not sure whether to go with the standard 13" MacBook (not pro) or a 21.5" iMac which is $300 more.
The iMac is obviously more powerfull running at 3.06ghz and with 4gb ram but I don't have a mic setup or anything at home so the MacBook would be great to be able to take to school and use the electric kit and mics there.
What would you guys recommend? Would I be facing any problems with the MacBook only running at 2.26ghz?
#2
My initial recommendation would be to stay away from Macs. But that's just me.

Aside from that, the processor speed is a little low on the MacBook and more RAM never hurt anyone. You could probably get by with that, but the iMac would run things more smoothly and probably provide less latency. It's honestly just a personal preference on your part; you have to ask yourself how important portability is for you in the long run.

If it were me, I'd go for power over portability. But I've never been a huge fan of laptops in the first place, either, so I can acknowledge that my opinion is skewed slightly against them.

Another question to consider is: what DAW will you be using? This is a rather large can of worms, but what it boils down to is if you want to step up from Garage Band in the future (which you will, as you progress, because Garage Band is pretty limited) then your options will be slightly more limited on a Mac and the speed issue will become more pronounced in that MacBook. Macs also don't have a lot of VST support at the moment, as I understand it, so that's another thing to keep in mind for when the POD Farm stuff gets old. Long story short: in terms of scalability and potential, Windows-based systems simply offer more than a Macintosh.

If you're sold on getting one of those two, however, I'd put my money on the iMac. But again, that's all a matter of how important portability is to you.
#3
I'd go with the iMac myself.

As far as the "limits" of mac, it's not really limited at all. Get Logic, and then you have this amazing process of being able to quickly sketch an idea in the very fast and user friendly Garage Band, then export to Logic for the more complicated stuff. Logic is a great professional program.

Cubase is an alternative I know is available for mac, as is Pro Tools. There are more of course, but most of the major professional programs are available for Mac.

I would invest in Windows 7 eventually though, and just install it on a partition so should you ever need it for something it's there. And with this brings up another point for laptop vs. desktop: storage space. Yes, you can buy external usb drives. And you will need to anyways. But make sure you have enough space on your internal drive to work with, because with external drives there is a slight amount of latency which could potentially cause a problem but more likely will just be annoying. If you're going to install windows, it is good to have enough so that both partitions have some breathing room too.

Of course the advantage of the laptop would be portability. But honestly when you consider that to do any recording you'd just have to bring a bunch of other equipment anyways, the desktop isn't any less portable as far as recording goes. Cuz, ya know, no tower.

I'd go with the desktop.

EDIT: To clarify something about VST support. VST support has little to nothing to do with mac or windows, but rather what program you're recording in. GarageBand and Logic use audio units, Cubase uses VST and VSTi, Pro Tools has it's own type, it really has almost nothing to do with OS. Most sound packages you buy nowadays come in enough formats that you don't have to worry about it at all.
Last edited by Jondy at Nov 27, 2009,
#4
Well currently I'm not doing anything serious with my recording seeing as though I only have a UX but hardware-wise, would I be facing any problems with the MacBook? I've been thinking about it and I'd love to be able to take the MacBook around with me as long as it could cope with a decent DAW such as maybe Logic or Cubase.
I also have a Windows desktop here at home running a dual core at 2.80 and with 3gb ram which I've been recording with so far so I always have that to fall back on.
#5
Cubase would be much better off to run on Windows. Pro Tools and Logic are basically written for Mac, and then "ported" to the windows platform.....
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
#6
I record on a Mac G5 Imac - I use Logic Studio 9, Cubase 4.5, Studio ONE and Garageband. I have literally hundreds of plug-ins (AU's and VST's). I also have a Windows 7 machine I use to record on also. I can assure you - Mac's are MUCH BETTER SUITED for recording. It's a recording dream. People who shy away from them are usually too dirt poor to afford one.

You'd love either the Mac laptop or the Imac - both are used by lots of recording folks and both work beautifully. The Apple forums (Logic & Garageband) are filled with happy campers who have done it on both platforms and prefer their Mac's.

And your UX-1 would work great! I know of hundreds of people switching to Mac (the forums are loaded with them) but very few switching back to Windows... I love Windows 7 and use Sonar Producer 8 on my Win 7 laptop but my Mac is what I use for most of my recording stuff. There's no latency issues (we don't need stuff like ASIO4ALL on Macs), no driver issues, no hassles setting up Input and Output options - just pure enjoyment.

If you buy a Mac you'll wonder what the hell took you so long
Now running an Eleven Rack with Pro Tools 10.3.3 - it's amazing and I'm having ball with it - worth every penny. PT 10 is tops IMO and the Eleven Rack is a work of art!
Last edited by strangedogs at Nov 27, 2009,
#7
the real question you have to ask yourself is: what exactly will you be using the computer for? if it's just for music, and you'll be working mostly from home, the imac would be a better bet. if you're going to be lugging the thing to and from school, using it in class and etc. then of course the macbook is better.

don't listen to anyone telling you macs are worse than windows-based systems for music production. maybe that person has had bad experience with macs, or they seem worse from a purely technical number-crunching standpoint. a mac will work fine for you, for anything up and through professional-level work.

all that being said, there's always the option of getting a 13" macbook pro for the price of the imac.
#8
Macs have Pro Tools. Pro Tools is a great program as far as capability goes, but a total pain in the ass to figure out if you're not familiar with it all. I've got a Mac Pro 8-core tower loaded with Pro Tools 8 LE and a Digi 003 rack for it, top of the line equipment hurr, and absolutely no f**king clue what I'm doing with it. Thanks mom for spending $6000 on a brand new recording set up for a band that's going nowhere leaving me with all this shit and no idea what to do with any of it. :]

now she's f**king broke. that's the setbacks on macs. expensive. extraordinarily expensive. worth it, but very expensive.

getting back on topic here, the iMac is definitely a better bet. If you're working with recording music, you do NOT want to gamble with your sound quality. If sound quality doesn't matter, get a cheap windows NetBook, open sound recorder and run a ds pedal into a 1/4th inch to 3.5mm adapter into the mic port. you'll be kickin yourself in the teeth on that one.
Quote by fly135
Great list Rutch. On re-reading this one I'd have to say Solid State means not liquid or gas.

I figured it out.
#9
pro tools works with windows....

and you really aren't going to have a difference in sound quality between a current imac and macbook.
#10
Either the macbook or the imac, will do u just fine, really just a preference choice there. Not having to deal with drivers is a plus, mac's are awesome.

@Ishiga ... I have the exact same gear as u, but I know what I am doing. Get the musicians guide to Pro Tools, or check some basic tutorials on youtube to get you going. Dont let all that pretty gear go to waste, u have a monstrous warrior of a DAW if u put a little learning time in.
#11
Quote by climhazzard


and you really aren't going to have a difference in sound quality between a current imac and macbook.


but there will be a difference in terms of hardware expandability, and the amount of stuff you can do at one time.

If you insist on getting a mac, go for the iMac, You get more bang for our buck and also the option for getting into things like DSP cards, plus you can upgrade your RAM and whatnot as needed.
make Industrial and/or experimental electronic music? Join my group!

Last.fm
#12
^well obviously. i wasn't trying to say that the imac and macbook are the same, merely replying to the post above mine ("If you're working with recording music, you do NOT want to gamble with your sound quality." which insinuated that a difference in sound quality was apparent, from imac to macbook)
#13
I use a macbook pro and its amazing, I have the 2008 model with the 2.4 GHz and 2GB ram, It suits me down to the ground,the speed and power of it is incredible,everything starts and runs in seconds so I'd defo recommend them, the good thing about a macbook is their portable but aren't going to be as powerful as an Imac but for home recording are you honestly going to need so much power which realistically you aren't going to need unless your running a huge pro tools rig or something similar. Seeing as your only in school I'd recommend the macbook.

You can also delete all the uneeded language files/certain binary codes etc , I gained back 8GB in space and now my mac runs twice as fast as when i got it, I've heard a lot of complaints about snow leopard and how it is very unstable, I haven't tried it but if you want a 100% stable OS I'd recommend Leopard 10.5.8 which was the final update with nearly every bug dealt with.

I'd say you should up your budget and go for a macbook pro, the latest ones can hold up to 6GB ram(completely unesscary) and it will be perfect for what your doing
#14
Quote by drawnacrol
I use a macbook pro and its amazing, I have the 2008 model with the 2.4 GHz and 2GB ram, It suits me down to the ground,the speed and power of it is incredible,everything starts and runs in seconds so I'd defo recommend them, the good thing about a macbook is their portable but aren't going to be as powerful as an Imac but for home recording are you honestly going to need so much power which realistically you aren't going to need unless your running a huge pro tools rig or something similar. Seeing as your only in school I'd recommend the macbook.


I've maxed out the CPU on a macbook pro several times when running logic...
make Industrial and/or experimental electronic music? Join my group!

Last.fm
#15
I'm recording with a Macbook Pro and it works great. Don't listen to the people saying to go with Windows instead. If it really comes down to it, you can always install Windows on your Mac, but you're not going to want to. Logic is an amazing DAW (I greatly prefer it to ProTools - especially for MIDI work), and there are plenty of VSTs available.

Go with the iMac though. The processors in the new iMacs are a huge step up from even the Core 2 Duo in my Macbook Pro - they're amazingly powerful. I give this advice even knowing that portability is a concern for you - these are as portable as a desktop computer gets. There should be no problem picking it up and taking it with you wherever you want.

Just don't skimp on the RAM. I have 2GB in mine, and it's a little tight. 3GB would give you a lot more breathing room.
#16
If you are honestly going with Mac for recording, you darn well best be going with a Mac Pro. Self-serviceable, and way more power than any IMac will ever have. If you are not...then you best be going PC. I was about to dump on an IMac....but then I noticed that I can get a 4x more powerful machine in a PC for $800 less that will perform better and last longer than the IMac. Oh, and Pro Tools runs great on PC. I dont know who said it didnt....but it most definitely does.

EDIT:

I should also mention. If you are buying a separate computer for recording. LEAVE IT AS A RECORDING COMPUTER ONLY. You will benefit much MUCH more in the long run. For example:

This new comp I am buying for recording, will not have internet or any non-recording related programs on it. It will run better and longer because of this.

It's not like Mac's record better than PC's. It's that the top used software was written for Mac, and therefore, the top studios are going to use Macs.

For home recording, I will most definitely suggest a PC, because if you do it right...it should be a secondary computer and not your main one. As I said above...it shouldnt have anything on it but recording related programs, and therefore, will run just as good, if not better, than any Mac you would be attempting to use.
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
Last edited by Brendan.Clace at Dec 13, 2009,
#17
Quote by Brendan.Clace
If you are honestly going with Mac for recording, you darn well best be going with a Mac Pro.


Not true. Look at the current lineups - the i7 processors in the new iMacs are actually MORE powerful than the Mac Pros! (I recently ordered a Mac Pro for non-music-related work purposes, but it was a tough call - the only reason the Pro won out was because of the expandability)

Computers are powerful enough these days that you absolutely do NOT need to have anything near the top-of-the-line for recording. People have been recording on computers for over a decade, and the top of the line from even 5 years ago pales in comparison to budget PCs today. Yes, the software is more powerful today and requires more resources, but you do NOT need to go for top-of-the-line.

There are two reasons you might want to spend thousands extra on top-of-the-line hardware: either you're setting up a truly professional-level recording studio, or you're trying to compensate for inadequacies below the belt.

Trust me - the iMac will suit you just fine. Even the Macbook would be fine (I used to record using Logic Pro on an older 2ghz Macbook and it worked fine), but the iMac will give you a little more breathing room.
#18
Quote by Brendan.Clace

I should also mention. If you are buying a separate computer for recording. LEAVE IT AS A RECORDING COMPUTER ONLY. You will benefit much MUCH more in the long run.


This is excellent advice though.
#19
Quote by xtapol
Not true. Look at the current lineups - the i7 processors in the new iMacs are actually MORE powerful than the Mac Pros! (I recently ordered a Mac Pro for non-music-related work purposes, but it was a tough call - the only reason the Pro won out was because of the expandability)

Computers are powerful enough these days that you absolutely do NOT need to have anything near the top-of-the-line for recording. People have been recording on computers for over a decade, and the top of the line from even 5 years ago pales in comparison to budget PCs today. Yes, the software is more powerful today and requires more resources, but you do NOT need to go for top-of-the-line.

There are two reasons you might want to spend thousands extra on top-of-the-line hardware: either you're setting up a truly professional-level recording studio, or you're trying to compensate for inadequacies below the belt.

Trust me - the iMac will suit you just fine. Even the Macbook would be fine (I used to record using Logic Pro on an older 2ghz Macbook and it worked fine), but the iMac will give you a little more breathing room.


There is no i7 in ANY of the IMac's The highest end IMac has an I5 in it. with an OPTION to upgrade to an i7 2.8GHz for extra cash. By the time you add logic (even express) into the price, and fork out extra cash for a firewire drive, you are looking at the cost of a Mac Pro in the first place.
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
#20
Quote by Brendan.Clace
There is no i7 in ANY of the IMac's The highest end IMac has an I5 in it. with an OPTION to upgrade to an i7 2.8GHz for extra cash. By the time you add logic (even express) into the price, and fork out extra cash for a firewire drive, you are looking at the cost of a Mac Pro in the first place.


Sorry, you're right. That's what I get for shopping for computers on somebody else's dime

Although the i5 is a damn fine processor anyway - better than the Core 2 Duo in my Macbook Pro, and it's handled everything I've thrown at it.

An external firewire drive is nice to have, but for basic recording with a few tracks is not necessary. But point taken.
#21
Quote by xtapol
Sorry, you're right. That's what I get for shopping for computers on somebody else's dime

Although the i5 is a damn fine processor anyway - better than the Core 2 Duo in my Macbook Pro, and it's handled everything I've thrown at it.

An external firewire drive is nice to have, but for basic recording with a few tracks is not necessary. But point taken.


I know 100% for sure that Pro Tools does not support recording to the same drive as it is installed on. Also, they do not support USB external drives. It will work....but they don't support it.

I don't know if its the same for other major DAW's....but PT is for sure like that.
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
#22
Quote by Brendan.Clace
I know 100% for sure that Pro Tools does not support recording to the same drive as it is installed on. Also, they do not support USB external drives. It will work....but they don't support it.

I don't know if its the same for other major DAW's....but PT is for sure like that.


Wow, that's pretty lame. I use Logic, so I wasn't aware of that. Logic works just fine with a single drive.

Will Pro Tools let you INSTALL on an external USB drive and record to the internal drive?

EDIT: oops, now I see that you said it'll *work* with a USB drive, just isn't supported. Still, lame.
Last edited by xtapol at Dec 13, 2009,
#23
Quote by xtapol
Wow, that's pretty lame. I use Logic, so I wasn't aware of that. Logic works just fine with a single drive.

Will Pro Tools let you INSTALL on an external USB drive and record to the internal drive?

EDIT: oops, now I see that you said it'll *work* with a USB drive, just isn't supported. Still, lame.


It's possible, but I know they don't support USB really. They basically say firewire or nothing. Might be worth looking into. I know that with my new machine it will be 2 separate hard drives. Im gonna be tracking and editing with PT and then mixing/mastering with Reaper.
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
#24
first off, this thread is old. second, i don't know where or how you encountered issues but pro tools fully accepts recording to the same drive that it's installed on. are you kidding me? i've done it, and i'm sure half of the people on these boards who use pro tools have done it. it just limits your track count and cpu -- by that i mean you'll encounter errors sooner.

edit: and no, pro tools will not work with a usb drive. you can store backups on your usb drive (and you should), but you cannot work directly off of it.
Last edited by climhazzard at Dec 14, 2009,
#25
Quote by climhazzard
first off, this thread is old. second, i don't know where or how you encountered issues but pro tools fully accepts recording to the same drive that it's installed on. are you kidding me? i've done it, and i'm sure half of the people on these boards who use pro tools have done it. it just limits your track count and cpu -- by that i mean you'll encounter errors sooner.

edit: and no, pro tools will not work with a usb drive. you can store backups on your usb drive (and you should), but you cannot work directly off of it.


Please go back and re-read what I wrote. I said it works, but they dont support it. Which is true. By dont support i mean, it limits your track count and CPU, and the will tell you that they dont support it.
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
#26
Quote by Brendan.Clace
Please go back and re-read what I wrote. I said it works, but they dont support it. Which is true. By dont support i mean, it limits your track count and CPU, and the will tell you that they dont support it.


you should go back and reread what i wrote. not only is USB not supported, but it won't work at all. what i meant by making backups on a USB drive is the same as making backups of anything onto another drive. you drag+drop a session folder in there and it'll save a copy for you. you won't be able to work off of it. thus: usb will not work (and is not supported).

and what i said was: what limits your track count and CPU is working off the same drive that pro tools is running on. god damnit.
#27
Quote by climhazzard
you should go back and reread what i wrote. not only is USB not supported, but it won't work at all. what i meant by making backups on a USB drive is the same as making backups of anything onto another drive. you drag+drop a session folder in there and it'll save a copy for you. you won't be able to work off of it. thus: usb will not work (and is not supported).

and what i said was: what limits your track count and CPU is working off the same drive that pro tools is running on. god damnit.


That's exactly what I am talking about. Don't take my post and try and use it out of context. I was referring when i said "It will work, but they don't support it" to both parts, because I am assuming he is talking about a USB hard drive and not a thumb drive.
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
#28
Quote by Brendan.Clace
That's exactly what I am talking about. Don't take my post and try and use it out of context. I was referring when i said "It will work, but they don't support it" to both parts, because I am assuming he is talking about a USB hard drive and not a thumb drive.


Do you even know what i'm talking about? I'm staying a USB drive will not work at all in the context of pro tools. It will work to backup data -- whether or not that data is a pro tools session doesn't matter because it's all just 1s and 0s. Neither a USB hard drive nor a thumb drive will work with a pro tools session at all.

when i spoke of CPU usage and track count i was referring to recording to the same internal drive that has pro tools installed on it. because you can't record to a USB drive.

If that's what you were trying to say, then we're in agreement.
#29
Quote by climhazzard
Do you even know what i'm talking about? I'm staying a USB drive will not work at all in the context of pro tools. It will work to backup data -- whether or not that data is a pro tools session doesn't matter because it's all just 1s and 0s. Neither a USB hard drive nor a thumb drive will work with a pro tools session at all.

when i spoke of CPU usage and track count i was referring to recording to the same internal drive that has pro tools installed on it. because you can't record to a USB drive.

If that's what you were trying to say, then we're in agreement.



Haha it is what i was saying, and what i was trying to get you to understand lol
I've bought, sold, and traded more gear than I care to admit.
#30
hah well my bad. your syntax was a bit confusing. anyway, and let's let this thread die.
#31
Hahaha guys, I already got my Mac. I opted for a basic MacBook, I didn't have a whole lot of money to spend in the end but I'm happy with what I bought. So far everything has been a breeze and it's doing everything I want it to.