December 26, 2005

And now we return to our regularly programmed schedule...

by Chris Randall

Back from Christmas With The Rednecks, and right in to it. Over the break, I got a letter from Michael Liero, who pondered the following:

Over the last
few years I have been running ableton live and reason on a very outdated
800mhz P3 gateway which I've owned for over five years. Im finally ready to purchase a new computer and was looking at an iMac, due to the fact that I am on a limited budget. I was goin to run ableton and reason on it with a presonus firebox, do you think that an iMac would be sufficient for a [computer just used as a] DAW?

Well, speaking strictly from a dollars to power ratio, I think buying a PC would be a wiser choice, if you can't afford one of the big gun Macs. For a grand, you can build/buy a pretty powerful PC, whereas the cheapest iMac is gonna set you back $1299, and is a long way from anything that could be described as a "powerhouse." Plus you'll need to get an external 7200 RPM FW drive. Your plugin and track counts in Live are gonna be on the low side, as well. The iMac isn't a computer very well-suited to production chores, in my humble opinion.

From a usability standpoint, it's strictly a matter of taste. I personally use a (quite powerful) PC for music because Nuendo is Nuendo, so who cares? I just want to use a shitload of plugins and not spend $4000 doing it. However, I vastly prefer OSX for my email, web surfing, iChat, iTunes, etc., and I am, in fact, writing this on my trusty iBook, which has been beat to hell, and still works fine. So, what does everyone else think? Let's keep this from degenerating in to a platform flame-fest. From a strictly professional viewpoint, should Michael spend $1299 on the new iMac, or put that same money in to a more powerful but less friendly PC?



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Dec.26.2005 @ 9:29 PM
Aenemone Carbuncler
well, speaking from a productivity standpoint, go mac. Personally I could live w/out A. Lyre or Soundhack, and w.out the PC Audiomulch is rough. I a so biased, to me everything PC is ugly careless and stupid.
I use both, but the only things i wish Apple would add are: 1. when you hit the "delete" button shit should be in the trash. 2. whe that shit is in the trash, you need a restore button to to send it back to from where it came.. Other than that Winblows is a retarded half-assed hack, so go Linux or Mac.
check out PWGL:
link []">link []

also Chris, you may want to wait as intel ibooks and mini's may show up in January. amd they should boot into windows.


Dec.26.2005 @ 9:34 PM
im still using a dual 533 running tiger and using DP4.6. and logic pro. Im not ready to upgrade quite yet and satisfied with its performance still. The new IMacs blow my computer out of the water performance wise.

my frontside bus is 150mhz while the IMacs are either 600 or 700 mhz .

and they do have 7200 rpm drives built in . so you wont need a 7200 firewire hard drive until you run out of space.

my workflow though is probably much different than newer DAW users. i never use more than two software instruments at a time and freeze them as soon as i find the sound i'm looking for instead of keeping a dozen tracks of instruments live .

does live have a freeze tracks function?

my problem with Imacs are they do not have another monitor port. I have grown use to using a dual monitor setup. so i need my screen real-estate.

I think your computer purchase depends on which software you will be running. If DP or Logic you have to go mac. and i think the new imacs will cover what you need to do. you'll jusst learn to Freeze tracks when you run out of processing power and other performance work arounds.

if you are going to go pro tools or steinberg go PC. and in your case with using live for @ home or studio use i would go with a kick ass self built PC.

unless you absolutely hate windows. which I do !
i have a self built pentium 4 3.2ghz just kickin it in the corner. If you are in chicago area i'll sell it for $1000 .
i spent 1600 on it less than four months ago . But i didn't like Nuendo compared to DPs workflow.


Dec.26.2005 @ 9:45 PM
Aenemone Carbuncler
it's too close now, and things have slowed. so buy what you know.
There are too many apps to enjoy them all now, I seriously tossed my pc, as things were close for a few years. whatever, from the mac standpoint we lack Audiomulch, Soundforge and maybe CrusherX. But make up for most. IK'm mostly analog now so these things are less important to me now. ProTools rocks, yet digi sucks, nice app, poor limited supported will seal their fate.

watch Grizzly Man by Herzog.


Dec.27.2005 @ 10:25 AM
Wade Alin
imho, it's gotten to the point that it just doesn't matter. i'm using a PC at home, a Mac at the studio. Nuendo at home, Protools at the studio. Live and Reason on both. They both do the same thing. PC does it for a lot less. Mac's are cooler looking unless you spend $250 on a Lian Li case (like I did!).



Dec.27.2005 @ 10:37 AM
penzoil washington
refurb iMac (previous model) G5's go for as low as $750. I think you can get a lot of work done on one. And they do run SATA drives which are fast.

Dec.27.2005 @ 11:40 AM
while i am not giving up the apple anytime soon (unless BeOS made a miracle comeback including the proper Nuendo release for it or apple brough back os9), if you are using Live, windows does seem to be the way to go at the time.

setting aside the far nicer expereince of mac osx and focus strictly on your stated DAW of choice, from what i have read and heard, Live on the windows side trumps the OSX version thanks to some optimization that never occured on the mac side and now won't until the macintels (at best).

venture over to the Ableton forums, i am sure it has been discussed to death over there.


Dec.27.2005 @ 11:47 AM
Chris Randall
Oh, man. You had to bring up BeOS? I swear, if the BeOS Nuendo ever came out, I'd still be using that operating system. It was my main system for over a year, believe it or not. I really hung my hat on that OS, being absolutely convinced it would become the OS of choice for creative professionals. I _still_ have a good well-optimized BeOS system, just in case...

I can get Adam worked up pretty easily by continually pointing out the ways that BeOS was (and still is) better than OSX or WinXP. I'm sure that's one of the ways he finds me endearing.

In any case, Wade and I are in agreement on the point that it doesn't really matter which system you use these days. It's really just personal preference and what you can afford.



Dec.27.2005 @ 11:59 AM
....the argument over Mac G5 Towers and Imac G5s. Ok, well I was thinking of getting an Imac too and i think people hose'em too much. Yes a tower will have a faster frontside bus, more RAM slots, FW800, expansion slots, etc..but the Imac does have a SATA 7200 harddrive, gigabit ethernet, superdrive, and a pretty fast processor. i understand it's performance easily trumps the current powerbooks. Sound on Sound tested it and were impressed.

Now, it may not be better than a PC, but as far as Macs go, the Imac should be fine for Live and Reason, at least compared to other macs. OK maybe you're right that it isn't quite a full-hog "powerhouse".

If he already knows PCs, though, i'd say get a PC. Macs are great for people who never want to bother with Microsoft. If you're already accustomed to Windows' clumsiness, then I'd reap the benefit of getting a cheaper system.


Dec.27.2005 @ 1:14 PM

a good friend of mine was a media architecture engineer at BeOS until the bitter end. technically, he is still part of that team as it has passed through Palm.

anyhow, i remember the very early alphas of nuendo. like much of Be, it was like glimpsing into the future.

i too hung my hat on Be for a number of years. i subverted the company i was at at the time and there were quite a few Be machines sprinkled throughout.

did you ever see the leaked versions of the versions that never quite made it out? i never saw those versions, but I did see the developer versions of what they were working on (thanks to my aforementioned friend). there was so much more coming that it is a real shame it never got there. as much as I like the Next/OSX, it would have been great if Be would have played their cards better and got picked up by Apple. at least, Apple was smart and hired the filesystem guys (while some of others went off to work for Danger).

after BeOS, I jumped around for work machines (my audio machine went Windows for a few years) from early Gentoo to QNX until OSX came out (i worked part time in a studio with a OS9 that I loathed) and became stable for audio. i haven't really looked back since.

btw. i agree with you and wade as well.


Dec.27.2005 @ 1:42 PM
Personal preference and where your comfort level lies is *highly* important.

To really foster a creative environment, consider if adapting to a new operating system is really for you. There *are* headaches involved with either platform, and if you're a longtime PC user, you're probably used to dealing with those things when they come up.

A small word of caution with Reason and Live running at the same time. You probably won't encounter *too* many cases of running out of processor headroom on the G5 iMac, but I'll tell you, anything less than one of the newer G5's, and you might find yourself frustrated that even some of Reason's demo tracks push the limits of what you can do. I also recall the developers at Ableton have been bluntly honest in saying that they have no interest in tweaking Live for the G4 or G5 processors.

If you tend to work a bit minimally, the iMac should serve you well for a long time. But, if you love to load up channels with lots o' plugs, esp anything like lots of reverbs and the like, the PC is the real champ here, at least until Apple sorts things out with the Intel chips (and the software to run on them).


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