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  #1  
Old 12-02-2017, 03:47 PM
jawjatek jawjatek is offline
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Default Upgrading my recording computer - to what?

My rig works great for what I do, but I need a new computer. Thinking of taking advantage of the holiday pricing.

Current computer is a mid-2009 MBP 15" that my daughter used in college, and handed down to me when she got a new retina MBP. Its been dropped several times, has tweaked hinges and a slightly bent unibody. I just keep it in the studio (basement). I repaired it, upgraded OS, maxed out the RAM, and installed a SSD. Works great. I run Reaper SW mostly, I like it and have used it for years on both PC and Macs, but will also be getting PT.

DAW is a RME FF800 with a Lynx Aurora 8 for more analog I/O(8) connected to FF via ADAT (I sometimes do remote/live recording). I have a variety of external pres in a 500 chassis, API, Avedis, Neve, Purple, etc.

I have about $2k to spend. Leaning toward another mac, an iMac 21.5" w/4k display and 16Gb RAM...
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:34 AM
AX17609 AX17609 is offline
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I don't have an answer for you, but I'll be interested in following your decision, because I'm in a similar predicament. I, too, am relying on a mid-2009 MBP. I upgraded the memory and OS as far as I could go, but I've got compatibility issues with my other Apple platforms. For music, I run Band-In-A-Box and Reaper. I've been limited by the fact that my MBP only has one audio port, which can be used for either input or output but not both at the same time. Makes recording a little awkward, so I started using a Zoom R8 instead, and I just import the files into Reaper. It's actually a lot easier.

I've looked at the iMacs pretty closely. I got put off of the 21.5" model, because the memory isn't user upgradable. The 27" model is a real beauty, but getting one properly configured runs up the price pretty quickly. I also don't like the fact that an iMac glues me to a desktop. I don't don't move around as much as I used to, but I still like the portability of the laptop. Regrettably, getting one of those properly configured runs the cost up even more quickly.
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:43 AM
Mooh Mooh is offline
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I happily use an iMac, for Garageband. I used to use other software on an HP but Garageband is more or less idiot-proof, and I get results much faster. I only record acoustically, with a decent mic, and multi-track like crazy.

Beyond that I can't advise you.
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Old 12-03-2017, 10:23 AM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jawjatek View Post
My rig works great for what I do, but I need a new computer. Thinking of taking advantage of the holiday pricing.

Current computer is a mid-2009 MBP 15" that my daughter used in college, and handed down to me when she got a new retina MBP. Its been dropped several times, has tweaked hinges and a slightly bent unibody. I just keep it in the studio (basement). I repaired it, upgraded OS, maxed out the RAM, and installed a SSD. Works great. I run Reaper SW mostly, I like it and have used it for years on both PC and Macs, but will also be getting PT.

DAW is a RME FF800 with a Lynx Aurora 8 for more analog I/O(8) connected to FF via ADAT (I sometimes do remote/live recording). I have a variety of external pres in a 500 chassis, API, Avedis, Neve, Purple, etc.

I have about $2k to spend. Leaning toward another mac, an iMac 21.5" w/4k display and 16Gb RAM...
The iMac would be a pretty good choice for a studio computer. And the RME interface is a great unit and with the Firewire to thunderbolt adaptor from Apple should work fine. The RME can run both DAW's (Reaper and PT) equally well
But be advised that currently PT is not qualified for High Sierra OS which is what a new Mac will ship with installed (users are reporting it does work but it won't fall under the PT support plan yet) it will likely be supported fairly soon but not quite yet. I am guessing that a new Mac still under Apple warranty and support you can probably call Apple support explain PT is not qualified for HS and get them to give you a link to download Sierra
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Old 12-03-2017, 10:49 AM
jawjatek jawjatek is offline
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That is good info about the 21 not being user RAM upgradeable, thanks. I better get the full 32Gb. On the other hand, the 27" screen might be too big for my dinky studio. I better go to the apple store and see them in person first. I'll continue to read the threads here and on other sites, but I'm liking the iMac so far.

Edit: I was just reading about the upcoming iMac Pro. Wow, I may need to save some more money for that!
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Last edited by jawjatek; 12-03-2017 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 12-03-2017, 10:55 AM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jawjatek View Post
That is good info about the 21 not being user RAM upgradeable, thanks. I better get the full 32Gb. On the other hand, the 27" screen might be too big for my dinky studio. I better go to the apple store and see them in person first. I'll continue to read the threads here and on other sites, but I'm liking the iMac so far.
One further thought, unless there is literally no physical room for the 27",
besides the upgradable Ram, and if you can budget it, for mixing and editing in a DAW, the more screen real estate the better ...
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Old 12-03-2017, 11:14 AM
AX17609 AX17609 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jawjatek View Post
That is good info about the 21 not being user RAM upgradeable, thanks. I better get the full 32Gb. On the other hand, the 27" screen might be too big for my dinky studio. I better go to the apple store and see them in person first. I'll continue to read the threads here and on other sites, but I'm liking the iMac so far.

Edit: I was just reading about the upcoming iMac Pro. Wow, I may need to save some more money for that!
Take your checkbook. When you see that 27" screen, you'll fall in love.

As far as the iMac Pro is concerned, I'm not sure audio engineers will benefit from all that horsepower. Video editing, for sure, but maybe not audio. I don't even know if an SSD offers all that much benefit. Seems like a fairly basic iMac with a big screen and a barn load of RAM is the ticket. I wonder if other people agree.
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Last edited by AX17609; 12-03-2017 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 12-03-2017, 01:36 PM
Cocobolo Kid Cocobolo Kid is offline
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A solid state drive (SSD) as your boot drive is the best single upgrade you can make to the performance of your computer (assuming you have at least 8gb of RAM). The computer will boot so much faster and every program you use will load faster. After using computers with SSD boot drives, I would never buy one without one.

I personally would choose a new PC over a Mac. Apple makes a good computer but you pay a big premium. I have an RME Fireface 802 and RME's firewire drivers work flawlessly with Windows.
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  #9  
Old 12-03-2017, 02:42 PM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cocobolo Kid View Post
A solid state drive (SSD) as your boot drive is the best single upgrade you can make to the performance of your computer (assuming you have at least 8gb of RAM). The computer will boot so much faster and every program you use will load faster. After using computers with SSD boot drives, I would never buy one without one.

I personally would choose a new PC over a Mac. Apple makes a good computer but you pay a big premium. I have an RME Fireface 802 and RME's firewire drivers work flawlessly with Windows.
I agree with an SSD there is no question that it certainly improves boot time by a considerable factor of maybe 4 to 8 times faster , but how much of an improvement an SSD makes while recording/mixing/ or playing audio, is much less noticeable.
Personally I have a PCIe based SSD boot/system drive, I installed on my older Mac Pro tower and the difference in load time is remarkable

As far as Mac being more expensive (per se) As I understand it that depends entirely on what PC and what specs and features you are talking about... and the differences begin equalizes fairly quickly and can become null, when you compare actual apples to apples pun intended .
But on a performance spec = spec and feature = feature and quality for quality of components used the gap gets significantly less and in some cases disappears with the better brand name PC's
In other words while you certainly can get a stripped down PC that will cost a good bit less and there are certainly far far more options available to PC's , once you start adding up all the specs and features and particularly if you are looking at turn key solutions, the cost savings starts to become more negligible.
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Last edited by KevWind; 12-03-2017 at 03:14 PM.
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  #10  
Old 12-03-2017, 07:19 PM
AX17609 AX17609 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
I agree with an SSD there is no question that it certainly improves boot time by a considerable factor of maybe 4 to 8 times faster , but how much of an improvement an SSD makes while recording/mixing/ or playing audio, is much less noticeable.
An SSD offers essentially no improvement in boot time over Apple's fusion drive, which is standard issue on iMacs. Unless an SSD improves audio recording and mixing performance, I don't see justification for the considerable increase in cost.
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Old 12-03-2017, 08:08 PM
Cocobolo Kid Cocobolo Kid is offline
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Smile Mac vs PC

Apple's fusion drive is a hybrid mechanical hard drive with 24gb or more of flash/NAND storage. Boot times and frequently accessed file openings may be somewhat similar, but an SSD equipped computer will feel much more responsive and quick. Large files and DAW projects will open much faster. I am guessing that an SSD will also let you record more simultaneous audio tracks (Kev will know more about this). In a laptop, an SSD will typically add 30 minutes or more of battery time and has no mechanical parts to break. However, what the improvement versus cost means to me is strctly a personal choice.

Kev, I quckly checked the Apple and Dell websites. A 15" Macbook Pro with 16gb of RAM and 256gb SSD is $2,399. A 15" Dell XPS with the same CPU but bigger 512gb SSD (and even a better video card) retails for $2,149 and sells for $1,899. The Dell is $500 less and better equipped. If you configure the Macbook to match the Dell's 512gb SSD and 4gb video card it raises the price to $2,699. That's now an $800 difference.
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2013 Baranik Meridian, Blue Spruce/Cocobolo, build thread
2009 Beneteau Concert Standard, Englemann/Brazilian
2009 Hamblin GC, German/Ziricote
2008 Baranik CX, Blue Spruce/African Blackwood
2008 Breedlove A20 Masterclass 12-string, Adi/IRW
2003 Thames classical, Euro/Brazilian
Brian Moore iGuitar1.13 midi electric, sunburst
Fodera Standard 4 Fretless bass, figured walnut

Last edited by Cocobolo Kid; 12-03-2017 at 08:24 PM.
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  #12  
Old 12-03-2017, 11:24 PM
jawjatek jawjatek is offline
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More good stuff; not really sure I need the SSD upgrade, a fusion drive is fine for me; I usually use a fast external drive for recordings. I am going to the Apple store in the morning to check them out, but may wait for the Pro rollout to see how the prices go. Anything with max RAM in a 21.5" is special order and not on sale right now, plus I want to see the 27".

I already have a WinPC for work uses (engineering, SW, crypto), and before I got the old MBP I use now, I was running the system with a Lenovo laptop/W7 and had no issues. I just prefer the mac for recording use, and also fooling with video.
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Old 12-04-2017, 12:51 AM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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All drives in my PC are solid state simply because my computer is in the same room I often record in.
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Old 12-04-2017, 06:36 AM
AX17609 AX17609 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jawjatek View Post
...may wait for the Pro rollout to see how the prices go....plus I want to see the 27".
I predict love at first sight.

Apple has confirmed that the iMac Pro will retail at $4,999.
https://www.macworld.com/article/319...s-release.html
http://www.valuewalk.com/2017/06/ima...se-date-specs/

Regarding SSDs, I love them, too. However, I don't really understand the computer features that recording software most benefits from (RAM? processor? storage speed? storage space?), so it's hard to spec out the perfect platform. If you need both speed and space, you're looking at a 1TB SSD, which is hugely expensive.
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Last edited by AX17609; 12-04-2017 at 06:45 AM.
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Old 12-04-2017, 07:08 AM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
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If you need both speed and space, you're looking at a 1TB SSD, which is hugely expensive.
There are a couple of workarounds to getting a larger internal ssd in the iMac...

1. You can get an external Thunderbolt 3 drive.

2. You can buy a Thunderbolt 3 ssd bay and add ssd drives as you need them.

I went with the smallest internal ssd available on my new iMac this summer. I then went with option 2 and bought an Akitio Thunder3 Quad Mini. It will hold 4 ssd drives. I currently have 3 1TB drives installed. One is my sessions drive and the other two are set up in a raid 5 array for VST samples.
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