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Topic: GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

  1. #1

    GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

    My son is a genius pianist and is composing high level classical pieces on piano. He dreams of composing fully orchestrated pieces centered around his piano compositions, and I ordered the GPO for him for Christmas. The problem is, I have no idea which computer to buy him to go along with this program! He wants a MAC (that's what I use), but everything I am reading is extremely confusing as to which MAC will support the full orchestra. Some sites say you need a MAC Intel, but that Leopard doesn't support it. Don't all new MAC's come with Leopard now? Do I have to buy a used MAC with the older operating system? I don't want to give him a used computer for Christmas, though! Also, how do you play the piano with GPO? Can he somehow connect his electric keyboard to the computer and use GPO with that as he plays or something? Sorry to ask what probably sound like idiot questions, but I am like a fish out of water with this stuff. Any help would sure be appreciated! Thank you!

  2. #2

    Re: GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

    Greetings and welcome to the world of GPO!
    Based on my experience I would purchase a 3.0 GHz 24 inch iMac. Any upgrades you want (4 gigabytes of memory is the only way to go) purchase through a 3rd party because Apple is too expensive. Get a Firewire audio card, run it off of the Firewire 400 port. Use the Firewire 800 port for firewire 800 drives. (I prefer Glyph, but other brands will work well too as long as they are 7200 RPMs or above.)

    The iMac will provide more than enough power for GPO. If you decide to go with `larger' libraries down the road you will probably need to go Mac Pro. That being said, I have used 24 GPO tracks with no problem. I also use other libraries, but the iMac does get strained with some of the bigger libraries out there. If you have the budget and can go Mac Pro with 8 gig of memory and several internal drives go for it. You should not consider a Mac Book. If you have to have a laptop you need to go with a Mac Book Pro. Again, 4 gig of memory, etc. Personally, the allure of a laptop was strong but in the end I'm glad I went with the iMac. I can't quantify that for you, it is just a gut feeling.

    Does your son have a sequencer? Normally, I would say start with the least expensive, Reaper, but with GPO you will have to do a great deal of MIDI editing and Reaper is not there yet IMHO. Other options are Digital Performer (Get version 5.13, not 6.x if you can) Logic 8 and Cubase. Each has strengths and weaknesses, the bottom line is no matter what you buy you can get the job done.

    Have you purchased an audio card? If not, what is your budget? Lots of folks will provide suggestions around that too. Personally I've been very happy with Mark of the Unicorn Firewire devices. There are lots of great options though.

    More questions will undoubtedly crop up, I am sure you will find several folks here on the forum will be glad to help out.

    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  3. #3

    Re: GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

    This is so helpful to me, you have no idea! Thank you.

    Right now he composes on our Yamaha Grand Piano and his Yamaha P-120. The P-120 does have MIDI in/out, although he has never connected it to a computer before. Will he be able to use it with GPO somehow?

    He doesn't have a sequencer (whatever that is!). Didn't know he would need anything other than GPO itself. Glad I asked! No audio card, either. How in the world am I going to put all this together for him with all the right stuff he will need in time for Christmas? Are there people who do this that will get all this stuff and come to my house and get it all dialed in? I am starting to feel like I'm in over my head...yikes.

    Are sequencers and audio cards expensive? What else might he need? Sorry for my ignorance about all this. I just want to make my son's dream come true this Christmas.

  4. #4
    Senior Member bigears's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Central Illinois

    Re: GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

    Hi, It sounds like you could benefit from talking with a sales associate at Sweetwater Sound, or somewhere similar. They are a retailer in Ft.Wayne, Indiana but deal with customers worldwide. I'm sure someone there could help you put the perfect system together without any missteps. Good luck, John

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    NW Illinois

    Re: GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

    Either a sequencer or a notation program is needed to use GPO. GPO is only the sound source that these programs play through.

    A sequencer would require that your son enter his music via midi, and use the sequencer's tools for editing that midi information.

    A notation program would require that your son enter music via standard music notation and use those elements to create his compositions.

    That's the basics and overly simplified, although many composer's use both types of programs at different points in their creative process.


  6. #6

    Re: GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

    I would recommend getting an iMac (the new Intel ones) with Leopard as that will handle GPO. GPO does now work with Leopard, I've even been using it on Leopard a short while after Leopard's release. Just make sure you update GPO after installing it to iron out any bugs with Leopard that may appear.

    There are actually two different kinds of programs for actually writing the music: sequencers and notation software. Sequencers allow one to modify the music with a higher level of precision but don't quite have the capabilities to edit music through the notes and staves everyone is used to. Notation Software lets you edit music through the notes and staves visually but does not quite give the same level of precision and control. Here, I am using Sibelius 4.1 which is a notation program. I would recommend getting Finale as that will give your sun a notation program that he can get used to quickly while also giving him GPO which is built-into Finale.

    The only thing I would worry about is the P-120 as the MIDI IN/OUT on it seems to connect to a Serial port. I don't think any Macs (let alone many PCs I have seen) have serial ports. What you might want to look into are MIDI Controllers which function like a piano but gives your son more control over each instrument.

    So in the end, I would recommend an iMac with Finale (don't have to buy GPO separate when purchasing Finale) and also to look into a MIDI Controller. You can run Finale without a MIDI Controller, you just have to enter the notes by hand. That's not a big deal as I am horrible at playing my MIDI Controller into Sibelius and thus just enter the notes by hand anyway.
    Colton J. Provias
    Film Score Composer, Location Sound Mixer, and Sound Editor
    Full-stack Web Developer

  7. #7

    Re: GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

    Wonderful information, thank you all so much for helping me. I know that iMac's come with Logic 8 pre-installed so that should work for his sequencer, right? I'll ask the guys over at Mac about the MIDI connection while I'm there for his computer. Any other suggestions/help/info is really appreciated if anyone else has any thoughts that might help.

  8. #8

    Re: GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

    You can order an iMac with Logic pre-installed(at an additional cost) I believe, but it does not come with it installed at no cost. Look at the Apple Store and see. It will come with GarageBand which is not a bad place to start - then move up to Logic. I have used GB for smaller projects.
    MacPro 2.66 - Tiger & Snow Leopard / 16GB RAM / several TB of HD space/ Garritan Libraries / EWQLSO Platinum PLAY / Omnisphere/ Kontakt 2 & 3 / Finale 2010 /DP5/ a VERY patient wife!

  9. #9

    Re: GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

    We could be more helpful if you tell us what your budget is.
    *****Edit: I'm inserting here that I am a Sweetwater fan and that is why I've provided links to Sweetwater when giving product recommendations. They have provided me unfailing good service even though I am a small customer, including shipping replacements before I ship back a faulty piece of equipment. I'll take it one step further and say if you want to deal with Sweetwater give Carson a call at extension 1302. He's great and won't try to oversell you. They have a 12 month zero interest deal going on that might help for unexpected costs. Welcome to the unending gear sinkhole of audio! </end Sweetwater promo>

    As I see it, you are going to need the following:

    1) Sequencer (Logic, Cubase, Digital Performer etc.)

    2) MIDI Controller Keyboard - For what your son is doing, I would recommend at minimum a 61 key controller. 76 is probably much better. There are various threads with people's opinions on controllers. What kind of touch the keys have (like an organ, like a piano and in between the two) what kind of mod and pitch bend devices they have (most prefer wheels) and whether the board has aftertouch or not (having it is much preferred) and whether you want some sounds built in or not are some qualifications for choosing a controller. I would look through some threads here (search on controller) and see what people like / dislike. Guitar Center carries some controller brands that Sweetwater does not that are worth looking at.

    3) Audio Interface - see the following list priced low to high from Sweetwater: http://www.sweetwater.com/c683--Fire...faces/low2high I would talk to someone like a Sweetwater rep to see which one will be suit your needs and is totally Mac compatible.

    4) At least one external drive. GPO will go on the internal drive. However, the samples for GPO, meaning the orchestral should reside on an external drive. Further, you want to save your projects to yet another drive. Last of all, you want to have another drive to backup to. I know this sounds like a huge amount and this is the optimum setup. You could get away with GPO and project files on the internal drive and the sample library for GPO on an external drive. Remember, minimum 7200 RPMs! Firewire is much preferred by me, others mileage may differ. Don't skip out on a backup drive. Imagine this. Your son finishes several pieces and his hard drive fails and he loses it all. Need I say more?

    There is a great deal to swallow here no doubt. However, it is manageable. Listen to what the good folks here have to say and then get further advice from a reseller. I highly recommend you post what you intend to purchase on this forum before purchasing. We are all experienced with exactly what your son is getting into and will be able to help you avoid any pitfalls should they crop up.

    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  10. #10
    Senior Member Leaf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Dallas, TX

    Re: GPO for Christmas for my son - help!

    I have a new macbook pro which is 2.5 Ghz, and came with Leopard. Haven't had any problems using the full GPO in Finale, but it's new and so far all i have done with it is load midi files into it and assigned instruments.

    I think the suggestion for the iMac is a good one, because they have up to 3.6 Ghz. I haven't had any trouble with 2.5, but cannot say how it does with a large orchestral piece or how it would do running a DAW, because i haven't used it yet for those.

    I always like to recommend Finale, because i think almost anyone would love this program, unless he already has it or Sibilius, which is also said to be very good.

    Apple has a discount for students if he is enrolled, and so does Finale and many others.


    PS: I think the Yamaha keyboard will work, but he'll have to go to yamaha.com and download the drivers for that keyboard... that may not be required with Leopard, but was for Tiger.

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