Academy Dashboard Forum Studio Gear Talk Mac computer

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  • This topic has 13 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 6 years ago by Jonathan Marshall.
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  • #42242
    Anders Larsson
    Participant

      Hello,

      I really enjoy working with Mac and I like Pro Tools.
      My question is what's the best buy.

      A Mac Pro 4.1 2009 is cheap right now, and a processor upgrade to a 5.1 makes it a beast.
      I have Pro Tools HD1 system right now and only doing mixing and productions.
      I have thought about UA DUO or SOLO.
      Is that a good buy to work on a Mac Book Pro and skip my HD1 system?
      Is it possible to mix and produce on a Mac Book Pro?
      Or is a stationary computer the way to go.
      I have a studio room but it would be nice to mix at home as well.

      Thanks and have a marvelous day. 🙂

      #43127
      John Poloyannis
      Participant

        Hi Anders,

        You mention a mac pro, then MacBook. I assume its a MacBook pro? Whats the CPU speed, ram etc...?

        The general rule is the faster and more ram the computer has the better. In saying that depending on how much you are pushing it the MacBook should be fine... and its portable?

        The UA duo is an added bonus as there are great plugins and you are freeing up CPU.

        I am using a MacBook pro in my studio (using Logic).... an only occasionally need to freeze up tracks.

        Cheers
        JP

        #43234
        Anders Larsson
        Participant

          Thanks for your answer.

          Of course, Macbook Pro is the computer.
          I haven't any specific MacBook Pro I am buying, just want to check if that's possible to mix songs.

          [quote quote=43127]Hi Anders,
          You mention a mac pro, then MacBook. I assume its a MacBook pro? Whats the CPU speed, ram etc...?
          The general rule is the faster and more ram the computer has the better. In saying that depending on how much you are pushing it the MacBook should be fine... and its portable?
          The UA duo is an added bonus as there are great plugins and you are freeing up CPU.
          I am using a MacBook pro in my studio (using Logic).... an only occasionally need to freeze up tracks.
          Cheers JP[/quote]

          #43298
          Jared Sherman
          Participant

            Most importantly, what’s your budget? I would go with a top spec MacBook Pro over an old 2009 Mac Pro. I use a 2017 15” MacBook Pro and it works very well. It’s not as powerful as my iMac Pro, and I find that I do have to do some track freezing or committing when opening sessions on the MacBook Pro after working on it with the iMac Pro, but that iMac Pro is a real beast and I have an Avid HDX|2 system attached to it as well so I can pretty much go unlimited processing at 24/96. In fact if you are not that interested in the mobile aspect the iMac Pro is crazy good, and completely silent. I had iMacs before but I didn’t like them for studio work because they would tend to get noisy under stress but the Pro design they did some wizardry with the cooling system because it is amazing. That may be out of your budget though.

            Back to the mobile thing, the mobile interface that I would recommend for a MacBook Pro would be the Universal Audio Arrow, primarily because it is totally bus powered and, in tandem with a MacBook Pro is probably the sleekest mobile recording setup available right now because it doesn’t have a power adapter, just plug in the Thunderbolt 3 cable and you are good to go. I plan on getting an Arrow myself soon because the MacBook Pro only supports headphone out at 48K max and i think the Arrow would be the most inconspicuous and simple solution for getting 96K headphone out while mixing at Starbucks or wherever.

            #43343
            Anders Larsson
            Participant

              I have looked at the Arrow since it has the needs I'm searching.
              In the past, I had an iMac, and I was delighted with that.

              Thanks for your answers and as always, the budget is your limitation. 🙂

              [quote quote=43298]Most importantly, what’s your budget? I would go with a top spec MacBook Pro over an old 2009 Mac Pro. I use a 2017 15” MacBook Pro and it works very well. It’s not as powerful as my iMac Pro, and I find that I do have to do some track freezing or committing when opening sessions on the MacBook Pro after working on it with the iMac Pro, but that iMac Pro is a real beast and I have an Avid HDX|2 system attached to it as well so I can pretty much go unlimited processing at 24/96. In fact if you are not that interested in the mobile aspect the iMac Pro is crazy good, and completely silent. I had iMacs before but I didn’t like them for studio work because they would tend to get noisy under stress but the Pro design they did some wizardry with the cooling system because it is amazing. That may be out of your budget though.
              Back to the mobile thing, the mobile interface that I would recommend for a MacBook Pro would be the Universal Audio Arrow, primarily because it is totally bus powered and, in tandem with a MacBook Pro is probably the sleekest mobile recording setup available right now because it doesn’t have a power adapter, just plug in the Thunderbolt 3 cable and you are good to go. I plan on getting an Arrow myself soon because the MacBook Pro only supports headphone out at 48K max and i think the Arrow would be the most inconspicuous and simple solution for getting 96K headphone out while mixing at Starbucks or wherever.[/quote]

              #43525
              Samuel Botstein
              Participant

                Hi Anders,

                I highly recommend macOS, especially for Pro Tools. However, I strongly recommend against Apple hardware. Thus, I suggest building a "hackintosh." It is very easy, quick, and inexpensive to do this these days. Please find build guides, tools, and lists of compatible parts at the link below.

                https://www.tonymacx86.com/buyersguide/april/2018/

                There are also community support forums and troubleshooting discord servers (that almost definitely won't even be needed).

                These are just some of the reasons I strongly recommend against Apple's own hardware (from extensive experience):

                They are expensive.

                The desktops are either very, very old (have not been updated or refreshed in six or more years) or very mismatched in terms of the hardware configuration inside. The extravagantly expensive new iMac Pro for example has soldered-down (irreplaceable, non-upgradable) AMD Vega graphics cards which would be fine except that it has an unnecessarily high-resolution screen requiring about twice the number of pixels as compared with the number for which those cards were optimized. Once something as intensive as the Pro Tools interface gets going, it starts to choke. The iMac Pro is the only computer they make configurable with enough RAM to meet and exceed the recommend minimum requirements for Pro Tools HD, but as it's a sealed, never-upgradable monolith, one has to commit to the cost to do this up-front. The "trash can" Mac Pro can be configured with more RAM by the user - not by Apple. They all have decent processors in them but none have adequate cooling.

                The notebooks are a disaster. They are stuck at 16GB of RAM max, half what is recommended for Pro Tools HD, and have flaky butterfly keys and no physical function keys. I have run every version of the MacBook Pro products, and am sad to report that when doing anything like running Pro Tools the fans are so loud that I can hear them through closed headphones while music is playing at a safe volume. Recording in the same room as one of these notebooks is only a memory. The wide-band noise is just too obvious. Other than Arrow, just about anything one might want to connect to these things requires costly dongles and/or adapters (including every version of iLok and Apple's own mobile devices). I have had two of them literally go up in flames, and another needed to have its main circuit board replaced more than twenty times until I was able to convince an Apple Store manager to give me a new one instead of doing this costly repair. I was happy to have a computer that worked again, but of course this newer, top-of-the-line MacBook Pro has only integrated graphics despite the enormous resolution of the screen resulting in issues similar to those with the new iMac Pro mentioned above.

                Every single macOS product they currently offer has inadequate cooling. This means that despite whatever specs are in there, the computer will quickly and dramatically thermal throttle, meaning that it will blast the fans and slow down everything to avoid overheating, mostly unsuccessfully.

                • This reply was modified 6 years ago by Samuel Botstein.
                • This reply was modified 6 years ago by Samuel Botstein.
                #43646
                Anders Larsson
                Participant

                  Thanks! 🙂

                  I've checked around the site and I'm wondering, is it cheper to buy a HacinTosh or a real Mac?
                  Or is the price the same?

                  [quote quote=43525]Hi Anders,
                  I highly recommend macOS, especially for Pro Tools. However, I strongly recommend against Apple hardware. Thus, I suggest building a "hackintosh." It is very easy, quick, and inexpensive to do this these days. Please find build guides, tools, and lists of compatible parts at the link below.
                  https://www.tonymacx86.com/buyersguide/april/2018/
                  There are also community support forums and troubleshooting discord servers (that almost definitely won't even be needed).
                  These are just some of the reasons I strongly recommend against Apple's own hardware (from extensive experience):
                  They are expensive.
                  The desktops are either very, very old (have not been updated or refreshed in six or more years) or very mismatched in terms of the hardware configuration inside. The extravagantly expensive new iMac Pro for example has soldered-down (irreplaceable, non-upgradable) AMD Vega graphics cards which would be fine except that it has an unnecessarily high-resolution screen requiring about twice the number of pixels as compared with the number for which those cards were optimized. Once something as intensive as the Pro Tools interface gets going, it starts to choke. The iMac Pro is the only computer they make configurable with enough RAM to meet and exceed the recommend minimum requirements for Pro Tools HD, but as it's a sealed, never-upgradable monolith, one has to commit to the cost to do this up-front. The "trash can" Mac Pro can be configured with more RAM by the user - not by Apple. They all have decent processors in them but none have adequate cooling.
                  The notebooks are a disaster. They are stuck at 16GB of RAM max, half what is recommended for Pro Tools HD, and have flaky butterfly keys and no physical function keys. I have run every version of the MacBook Pro products, and am sad to report that when doing anything like running Pro Tools the fans are so loud that I can hear them through closed headphones while music is playing at a safe volume. Recording in the same room as one of these notebooks is only a memory. The wide-band noise is just too obvious. Other than Arrow, just about anything one might want to connect to these things requires costly dongles and/or adapters (including every version of iLok and Apple's own mobile devices). I have had two of them literally go up in flames, and another needed to have its main circuit board replaced more than twenty times until I was able to convince an Apple Store manager to give me a new one instead of doing this costly repair. I was happy to have a computer that worked again, but of course this newer, top-of-the-line MacBook Pro has only integrated graphics despite the enormous resolution of the screen resulting in issues similar to those with the new iMac Pro mentioned above.
                  Every single macOS product they currently offer has inadequate cooling. This means that despite whatever specs are in there, the computer will quickly and dramatically thermal throttle, meaning that it will blast the fans and slow down everything to avoid overheating, mostly unsuccessfully.[/quote]

                  #43647
                  Samuel Botstein
                  Participant

                    It is certainly cheaper to build a hackintosh in most cases. This is the primary reason that people do it.

                    #43651
                    Jared Sherman
                    Participant

                      I would STRONGLY caution against the Hackintosh route. I tried doing that a couple years back, using the TonyMac site for a reference, thinking I could build a more powerful Mac for less money (ended up probably being more money in reality) and let me tell you it was a HUGE mistake that I wish I could do over. So many hours wasted on a ultimately non-stable system, and even in the brief moments when it did work it is such a gigantic hassle to update the operating system and you don't get access to the App Store. I could go into even more details but I will leave it at that. Ultimately just to keep a stable system or to be able to upgrade it is a major time sink. I am also not a non-technical or non computer-savvy person, I have a masters degree in Computer Engineering! I would definitely never ever use a hackintosh when relying on it for paying clients.

                      As to Samuel's complaints about the current generation of Mac computers: Mac Pro: I agree and highly do not recommend the current generation of “Mac Pro” because they haven’t truly been refreshed in 4+ years. When they do get refreshed (2019?) that will be the time to re-assess. MacBook Pro: RAM maximum is not ideal but it is definitely enough to run Pro Tools just fine unless you have stacks and stacks of non-frozen VI tracks in your mix. The simple solution there is to freeze or commit. If you are not a heavy VI person, 16GB of RAM should be plenty without track freezing. iMac Pro: is a dream but yes it does have a high point of entry.

                      #43652
                      Samuel Botstein
                      Participant

                        Hi Jared,

                        A lot has changed in terms of making a hackintosh recently. It is much easier and more stable than ever before. Also, as I mentioned, there’s a growing community of mega nerds willing to help with hackintosh stuff over forums and discord.

                        It is just wishful thinking that there will ever be a Mac Pro refresh, let alone next year. It’s an empty promise from a company who for better or for worse makes all their cash through iPhone, and for whom professional workflows are a tiny part of their business.

                        #43654
                        Samuel Botstein
                        Participant

                          Several computers colleagues and I use for live shows are hackintosh and always have been. I wouldn’t dream of running Windows for those - I’m not crazy - but it is the right choice for the tour in question as the Apple hardware overheats under load.

                          http://avid.force.com/pkb/articles/compatibility/Pro-Tools-System-Requirements

                          As for the 16GB of RAM, please see the link above where 32GB is recommended by Avid for Pro Tools.

                          In addition, if the iMac Pro starts at five thousand dollars US... I can only imagine what a new Mac Pro model would run. $10,000 for 16GB RAM base model?

                          • This reply was modified 6 years ago by Samuel Botstein.
                          • This reply was modified 6 years ago by Samuel Botstein.
                          #43657
                          Jared Sherman
                          Participant

                            Hey Samuel, I am glad you are finding things are better on the hackintosh front. I recall people saying similar things about how much awesome hackintosh was when I took the plunge and those turned out to be false promises and I won't do it again. If someone does choose to go that route I wish them the best, but I just hope they are aware that it is not without its potential pitfalls, bad experiences, and severe time sinks.

                            I am hopeful on the Mac Pro refresh, I was more skeptical before they totally knocked it out of the park with the iMac Pro so I have no reason at this point to doubt they can make a great Mac Pro again. Yes the Mac Pro trashcan was a terrible design (which I assume is what you are referring to by 'heats under load') which Apple has admitted especially in regards to cooling and upgradeability. And regarding the 16GB vs 32GB I have Pro Tools HD 2018.4 and it runs just fine and dandy on my 2017 MacBook Pro, recommended specs or not.

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