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Topic: Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Mesquite (Dallas)

    Question Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

    Hey guys, not looking to start a row between diehard Mac/diehard PC fans, but lately everyone I meet tells me that Mac's are better than PC's when it comes to running music software/doing audio production, etc. especially in the professional world. They say that Mac's are more stable and reliable. Of course I stop my ears and sing "La la la la la la la...can't hear you...la la la la la la la!" everytime someone tells me this as I have much already invested in the PC world, not to mention all my music software programs (Finale, Cubase, Gigastudio, NI products, GPO, GOS, etc.). I know Mac's are supposed to have better visual graphics, but is it really true that they are also better when it comes to audio? I must admit my present system, Windows XP (Home), does tend to get frozen/crash quite a bit and I am presently in the process of looking to get a new system as mine is a few years old now and can't really be upgraded without installing an entire new motherboard/processor, etc. But the thought of going over to "the other side" seemed a very unlikely option for me as, as I mentioned, all my programs/files are formatted for PC. And then a ray of light appeared...someone told me that they are now making Mac's with the ability to read PC formatted programs. Is this true? (Forgive me, I am not that computer savvy and do not know a whole lot about what they can and cannot do these days.) If this is true, would a Mac even be able to read my myriads of PC formatted music files or would I have to start all over from scratch were I to take the plunge and venture over to "the other side"? Any thoughts--especially from those who work in the professional music arena with either Mac or PC--would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    "The above remarks must not be taken as pointing backwards to the bad old days when viola players were selected merely because they were too wicked or too senile to play the violin. Those days are happily gone forever." [-Cecil Forsyth on "The Viola," Orchestration]

  2. #2
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

    I use a PC and had trouble with it for quite some time before tweaking this, turning off that, and whatnot! I'm going to use Mac in my new studio. Like you, way too many people swear by them.
    It's mind boggling I admit. Can't we all just get along?

  3. #3

    Re: Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

    Windows Systems are a little too hectic for me due to the resources needed and the kernel crashes (this last one is all user error...).

    My Mac is a PowerMac G4 400 MHz. Due to this fact, I can't do much on it besides play around with the dashboard and such. I need a new Mac!

    This is partially ontopic, yet Linux may be the best solution in the future. Right now, there are attempts to create distributions curved towards music creation but the lack of proper software and drivers holds Linux back from being a major contender in the studio front.
    Colton J. Provias
    Film Score Composer, Location Sound Mixer, and Sound Editor
    Full-stack Web Developer

  4. #4

    Re: Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

    Comparing the two and saying Macs are more reliable is really not a fair observation.
    I use a Dell PC for all my sounds, and I use a G5 Mac computer for Digital Performer. I think if a person could evaluate the same software on both platforms, it would be a fair comparison.

    I too use Gigastudio on the PC, and it is very reliable. I would not want to create computer generated music on just one or the other. To have both is really great. It is no secret that Macs are pathetic when it comes to running a number of VI's. PC's kill the Mac in this area. but since no computer that I know of is capable of running DAW software and all the instruments, it is much more advisable to use two computers. There is just not enough CPU horsepower in a single computer. Afterall, we are trying to duplicate an entire orchestra, and that is certainly taxing on any system, especially when you consider we are not creating a word document.

    If your system is crashing, it is doing that for perhaps a number of reasons.
    As long as the computer has at least a few gigs of ram and a semi-current (not old) processor, it should run just great and not crash constantly. Of course, every so often any computer including Macs will crash. Most of the time at least with a Windows PC, it is because too many things in the operating system are running in the background that automatically do everything for us. Unfortunately, that is what messes up a good piece of software. Tascam's website has some excellent setup tips if you plan to use a Windows PC for music production. Even if you don't use Gigastudio, it is great information. I set up my Dell PC with all these tips except the "system restore" feature, that is just too valuable to me.

    Frodo, I would say if you already have software for a Windows platform, I would not switch. Perhaps get a newer more powerful computer for your DAW software, and use your other computer just for sounds.

    I really like the Mac, but actually it is Digital Performer that I really like, and it is a Mac only application.

    Do yourself a favor whatever you do, get an old piece of junk computer to use for internet. DO NOT let the internet touch your music making gear.

    I hope this sheds some light on the situation as being not for one or the other.


  5. #5

    Re: Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

    For a long time I was a PC guy... but then a couple of years ago, I switched to mac. The sound quality did go up. Of course at the same time, I switched from cubase 5.0 to ProTools, which probably had a lot to do with it.

    Bad things about my mac: 1) kontakt and GPO work better on my brother's PC. Probably due to his faster processor {his is new, while my mac is a G4 not the new G5}. 2) PC updates come out for the music programs faster than for Mac. Some may argue that the mac needs fewer updates. 3. It is pretty hard to find programs for the Mac... you normally have to special order

    Good things about my Mac: Normally it is pretty stable...depends on how much I am taxing the processor. The OS itself has been great... not one issue...unlike PC's windows {which has come a long way from win98 by the way)

    My optimum setup would have bothsystems set up in a network. The PC for my notation, whatnot,etc and Mac for mixing, mastering, etc.

    They both have their positives and negatives. I prefer the PC for ease of finding programs and the Mac for audio quality

    That's enough from this peanut gallery!

    Prowland the posting Ninja

  6. #6

    Re: Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

    Quote Originally Posted by Prowland
    the Mac for audio quality
    Given roughly comparable processors for Mac and PC (to eliminate differences that influence latency, ability to handle sample rates, etc), both of which are properly configured for audio, for a given bit depth and sample rate, audio quality up to the outputs of the soundcard is almost entirely determined by the quality of the soundcard and drivers. The processor itself has very little to do with the sound quality per se.

  7. #7

    Re: Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

    my answer is yes, but not because of any software, processor, or sound card limitations, or anything relating to audio for that matter. you can get equal results from both systems if you have the right sound cards, etc.... my opinion is based entirely on the design of the operating systems. I've used both. mac osx is far superior to windows in every way. jmho

  8. #8

    Re: Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

    Once upon a time, Macs were far superior to PCs in pretty much every way because PCs ran DOS. Consequently, for desktop publishing, music production, etc., Macs were the only way to go. Eventually, Windows came on the scene, but Windows 3.1 was still far inferior to Mac. So, early on, Macs received a reputation as the only real choice for anything artsy, including music. All the big dogs in our industry were Mac programs because the PC environment just didn't cut it.

    Fast forward to modern times. Memory, processing power, the evolution of Windows, etc. have changed the scene completely. Today, there is no clear cut choice. Both machines can be equipped with ample hardware and horsepower to do a first class job of music production. However, the Mac Myth, so entrenched in people's minds, will probably never go away.

    The truth of the matter is that "it's not the art, it's the artist." A properly configured PC will run circles around a poorly configured Mac, and vice versa. I have one audio professional friend who's a Mac / Pro Tools guy. Every time I visit his studio his Mac crashes at least once. Macs are not invincible.

    Audio software is a touchy beast on either machine, and a modern operating system, whether Windows or MacOs, is an extremely complex creature. The key to getting a good computer setup for music production lies in the proper configuration and tweaking of your system. Because this is not at all a simple matter, if you're not a computer guru for a living, it can be quite frustrating. Actually, it can be quite frustrating even if you are. You won't solve your stability or performance problems by switching platforms. If you aren't enough of a techie to tweak a computer, you'll have problems on either machine. Your best bet is to either a) become a techie on the platform you have or b) become friends with one.

    Although it was once true, anyone who tells you today that a Mac is superior to a PC for audio production (or anything else) is simply promoting their own religious agenda, as it's trendy to bash Microsoft. Properly cared for, both are fine machines and equally capable environments.
    Christopher Duncan
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer

  9. #9

    Re: Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

    There is a question: what exactly should be compared? Hardware? Operating systems? Music software?

    Today, Macs use mostly the same HW like PCs, but do strict selections for their workstations. Macs operating systems are the same philosophy - users can't so easily "tweak" Mac as PC users do. But, in fact, this means, that even average user should be able quite easily customize his PC! Finally, is it the SW? Again: it is the same Mac philosophy: rather few, "matured" SW then thousands crappy. But, why don't simply choose only "matured" SW for PC?

    On my opinion, Mac is lifestyle, Mac is the philosophy. It is namely designed for those people, they - working on computers - don't want to waste their valuable time choosing the HW, SW and tweaking the system. They simply like to buy "done" computer. On the other hand, PC systems are - in general - less expensive, more versatile and it is far easy to upgrade them in the future. But it depends up to the user mastery, if he is able to build up and tweak his PC on a rock solid workstation - like Mac - himself.

  10. #10

    Re: Are Macs really better than PC's for audio production?

    There really isn't anything that you can do on a Mac that you can't do on a PC with the same quality and vise versa (for the most part). So no, they aren't any better than PCs, nor are they any worse. However, in my general experience, I find it far more enjoyable (and with much less headaches) to do things on a Mac.

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