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Composing : PC Vs Mac by Sabrina Pena Young

Sabrina Pena Young

PC Vs Mac

Ok, so I have been working on Macs for several years, but my current mac died once this summer and so I am going to have to update my studio system again. While I'd like to stick to Mac (or have Mac and PC), I only have so much in my budget for this. So thoughts - Mac, PC, Alienware, Build your own, Hackintosh, tablet?....What are your thoughts about systems? I have primarily used Logic (though I've used almost all other systems in the past). I also do film and animation, so having a system that can manage that, too, will be important.

Joel Irwin

In my previous job/life, I was a technology assessor for Exxon (23 years) (after a masters and part PhD in Computer Science in Artificial Intelligence at Rutgers). So I was in the thick of things all the way back to 'the beginning'. I was at the IBM PC announcement in July 81 as well as the Apple Lisa and Mac announcements in 83/84. What I can tell you from my perspective is that there is NO answer to this one anymore than an answer to which is better iPhone or Droid. You will not get an answer here that you can take to the bank every time. At best it's going to be 'it depends' and even that will be debatable. Alot of it depends on whether you are coming in cold or whether you have prior allegiance to a 'platform'. It also will have something to do with your prior investment in hardware and software. Are you willing to get rid of the stuff that won't work on your new machine? How much will it cost to replace or perhaps it does not need replacing. For me hardware platforms and operating systems are there to support my application tools. I make my decisions based on what tools I need to do the job and how well they work by themselves and in unison on the platform I choose. I look at support - both by the vendors and the user community in case I have problems, issues or questions. I try to understand what direction the hardware, operating system and application tools are going. The last thing I want is to work with anything where the manufacturer has gone out of business or has stopped supporting what I use. Then I look at what else I need to use the equipment for and what my budget is and what I feel will be the minimum investment cost I need to make to get the job done. In my case, I am regularly 'cascading' my equipment to my wife about every 4 or 5 years for something newer - something with an operating system that will support the current peripherals and software tools I need. Something that can support the power, memory, storage capacity (my desktops all use RAID storage devices because I am very cautious about data loss). I also don't feel the need to be an 'early adopter' or on the 'bleeding edge'. That is cool for me when I have leisure time but not in a business. I use my studio equipment not only for composing but I have a wedding videography business as my day job and a little extra power can make the difference between a 6 hour render and an 11 hour render - the former is my desktop, the later is my laptop - both with the exact same operating system and software. So which is better? Notice you can't tell from me which I have quite yet but you can guess as I spent half or more of my working life in 'corporate America'. The final factors have something to do with my 'background' and how often to I replace my equipment (for example, I am the type of person who keeps cars for 8 to 12 years and I tend to be very loyal to whatever company I have chosen). My primary studio machine is on the Windows Platform (7 Professional) and uses a 3.4 GHz Intel I7. Its about 4 or 5 years old and I will likely replace it in 2015 or 2016.

Samuel Estes

Do NOT do Hackintosh - you will run into a LOT of problems with OS updates, since they are so frequent. Since you are used to Logic, stay with logic and Mac, otherwise go PC and move to Cubase. PC is genuinely cheaper, I have built my two PCs for under 2k each. I also purchased a used 2010 Mac Pro, which is running great and does everything I need. The new Mac Pros (trashcans) are awesome, but not quite worth the money IMHO. I am not sure how large your templates are, but a new iMac with 32gb ram, 1tb smart drive and a thunderbolt chassis will be good for 80% of most composers. If your templates are looking like 300+ tracks, and you are using lots of synths and samples, then you would need to re-evaluate. -Sam

Jay Goodman

If you depend on your computer to do your job, do not cut corners. Get the best system you can afford and then some. In 2001 I spent $2000 + on a top of the line Mac that I still use today.

Pierre Langenegger

I agree with Joel. You're only going to get personal preferences from most people who have only had experience on the one system. Having said that, I moved from PC to Mac 2 or 3 years back and I wouldn't consider going back. I love it but if you're happy with what you had and it did the job well, stick with it.

Sabrina Pena Young

Thanx everyone! :) I started on PCs in music, then learned Macs as I started studying film and video editing in college. Because I do music, animation, AND video editing, often times I need to run several programs at the same time without hiccups, so I've traditionally gone with Mac. I just got a netbook for writing and on-the-go composing, but will probably have to stay Mac for my major system. My first one cost $4k, the current one was about $2700. I'm thinking that tech has gotten where I can spend $2K for a system that does what I need. I've moved away from animation that requires a lot of render time, so that may work, as long as the system handles HD ok. Most of my projects don't have more than 50 tracks running, and right now my older computer can't really handle all of them running simultaneously (I usually freeze all the tracks so I don't have to worry about CPU as much). The specs for that imac sound good. If they've reconsidered how they cool the imacs, that might be what I go with. I love the new Mac Pros, but yeah, an awful lot of power and a big price. I do want to move to HD and working comfortably in surround sound (right now my system isn't set up for that). Thanks again for the input! :)

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