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Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread #2996068
06/26/19 08:47 PM
06/26/19 08:47 PM
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Anderton Offline OP
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Back in the day, Mac vs. PC threads were pretty common. Windows was still in a minority among musicians, but like today, they gave greater value if you were willing to put up with their needing tweaking "under the hood." Both their audio facilities sucked until the Mac created Core Audio for OS X, and more recently, Windows finally came up with their relatively low-latency WASAPI drivers (although ASIO still rules for Windows).

But the times are changing. Apple's new Mac Pro starts at $6K, and is overkill for audio. The Mac Mini is cool, but to configure it to where it's a good computer for music, you need to pay around $2,700 or so. The iMacs are powerful, but the all-in-one design limits expandability.

Windows machines have a more open architecture, so there are companies like PC Audio Labs, Sweetwater, Studio Cat, etc. making custom Windows machines that deliver excellent performance. But the consumer models you find at Office Depot and the like may or may not be good for audio; it's a bit of a crap shoot, and the odds aren't great you'll win. When it comes to laptops, Windows laptops are fine, but Apple's MacBook Pro remains a steady, mostly reliable performer (if you look past the butterfly keyboard fiasco). When you see a DJ running Ableton Live, it will probably be on a MacBook Pro.

I've used, and continue to use, both platforms. However, Windows does all the heavy lifting for my audio and video work. The MacBook Pro is more of a personal computer, while my circa mid-2000 Mac Pro is more or less dead in the water because it can't update to a 64-bit operating system. I'll probably replace it with a tricked-out Mac Mini someday, but it's not a priority.

If someone came to you today, wanted to get started in computer-based music, and wanted to know what computer to get, which would YOU recommend?

Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2996077
06/26/19 09:43 PM
06/26/19 09:43 PM
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My profession is computer service and networking, and I use both platforms (plus a small amount of Linux). Recommendation would depend on such things as: how knowledgeable is the "someone?" Do they have considerable experience in one platform but not the other? What do they want to DO with the computer?
If the "someone" had very little experience with either, for the purpose of computer based music, I would likely suggest that they begin with an iPad, and next go to Mac OS. Reasons: IF what one wants to do can be done on an iPad (maybe, maybe not) with available apps, it is by far the simplest and usually most economical method. Barring that, ALL DAW software has a significant learning curve. MainStage (which I do use) and Logic (which I may use in the future) seem to me to offer by far the best value for the money.

My Mac systems: first bought 2011 Mini with quad-core i7. Maxed the RAM to 16GB, replaced one HD with 500GB SSD - result was a machine that really performed well for the amount invested. This machine is now serving for audio-visual in my church. Second machine, that I still have is 2011 MacbookPro 15", again quad core i7, 16G RAM, and a 1 TB SSD. Used in my service business when I'm not sure what the client may have (or if they have both - one of my specialties is "Making Apple and Windows PLAY NICE" Also running four VMs using Parallels - 3 of which are Windows 10 and other is Mint Cinnamon Linux.

My heavy duty desktops are HP Workstations running (generally) Windows 10 - and my business was served with Windows software before I got into the Mac realm. I do have a couple of older Windows machines that are running low priced DAW software. I had so much trouble over the years with adding one thing - then having to work for days to get all the stuff running again in Windows. The Mac seems more just plug it together and it works (as one would expect when MIDI and audio are built right in to the OS, although Windows 10 is getting there a lot better than older versions.

Professionally, my "best OS" is whatever one my business can use to generate revenue and profit (one reason for minimal use of Linux - mostly there I'm supporting various NAS boxes for clients that run on Linux variants). Operating systems are not a "religious" issue to me - some things each does better than the other.


Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's
HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Jim
Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2996151
06/27/19 12:12 PM
06/27/19 12:12 PM
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Mike Rivers Offline
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Originally Posted by Anderton

If someone came to you today, wanted to get started in computer-based music, and wanted to know what computer to get, which would YOU recommend?


I'd recommend doing what I do, and have been doing for 20 years or more. I'd visit the used computer store (or eBay equivalent) and buy a two or three year old "business grade" computer, Dell or H-P, with Windows 7. If it's a desktop computer, it should have at least a couple of expansion slots. If it's a laptop, good luck, because few have offered anything beyond USB expansion for some years now. You definitely get more bang for smaller bucks on the Windows side, and that's a good thing for someone wanting to get started in computer-based music.

But . . . depending on what kind of "music" he plans to do - which he may not figure out for a couple of years - the first computer may become inadequate for the work of choice fairly quickly. So it's important not to spend too much money when getting your feet wet. I've never used a Mac, but I believe that it's the right path where video is involved. Also, Windows computers never really supported Thunderbolt, limiting the choice of audio interface hardware. Now USB-C seems to be taking over the Thunderbolt path, but a three year old Windows PC won't support it. There are plenty of excellent USB2 and PCIe interfaces so that won't be a problem until it's time for a major expansion, and by then the user shouldn't still be a beginner, so he will be better able to make an intelligent choice on his own.

Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2996167
06/27/19 01:44 PM
06/27/19 01:44 PM
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Mike Martin Offline
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I struggle with this.

I've always built my own PCs for music. Last desktop build is now probably about 4 years old and still going relatively strong but I've been contemplating doing an update soon.

That being said, I have been using a MacBook Pro for my daytime gig for the last 8 years or so currently on a 2015 model.. I use it for all the normal work / office stuff but also do a ton of photo and video work on it. Although there are moments where the file system drives me nuts compared to Windows, this thing runs as good as that day I got it. I do have Bootcamp on it because initially I was still booting into Windows to run Sony Vegas but I do that less and less these days. Add programs like MainStage and the overall ecosystem of Apple things like iMessage and more (since I do have both an iPhone and iPad) the Mac platform is more compelling all the time.

Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Mike Martin] #2996249
06/27/19 05:01 PM
06/27/19 05:01 PM
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Anderton Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Mike Martin
I struggle with this.

I've always built my own PCs for music. Last desktop build is now probably about 4 years old and still going relatively strong but I've been contemplating doing an update soon.


It sure would be cool if when you create a new machine, you post a thread with the components you chose.

Quote
That being said, I have been using a MacBook Pro for my daytime gig for the last 8 years or so currently on a 2015 model.. I use it for all the normal work / office stuff but also do a ton of photo and video work on it. Although there are moments where the file system drives me nuts compared to Windows, this thing runs as good as that day I got it. I do have Bootcamp on it because initially I was still booting into Windows to run Sony Vegas but I do that less and less these days. Add programs like MainStage and the overall ecosystem of Apple things like iMessage and more (since I do have both an iPhone and iPad) the Mac platform is more compelling all the time.


Good point - Apple gives a much tighter ecosystem. After Windows threw in the towel on the Windows phone, there has been increasing integration with Android. And Windows has also been good about scaling their programs across mobile to desktop, but it will likely never have the same level of integration of all the "moving parts" that Apple has attained.

Ultimately I don't think it's possible to have a non-dedicated music system that handles all your photos, personal stuff, etc. Perhaps the route going forward is custom Windows desktop for music, Apple laptop/pad/phone for personal.

Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2996485
06/28/19 07:16 PM
06/28/19 07:16 PM
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Geoff Grace Offline
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I have so little experience with PCs that my qualifications to comment on the Windows platform are minimal.

That said, I have had to be the IT guy for my wife's PC; and it's been a real struggle trying to deal with antivirus apps trying to uninstall each other and Microsoft trying to update system software without my permission. Issues like that crop up any time the computer is on for longer than an hour. I imagine that if I were to take the time, I could get it all sorted out; but I'm not eager to invest the time in a platform I've mostly migrated her away from.

In contrast, my Macs just work; and in the rare instances in which they don't, I find that Apple is the gold standard in tech support. Microsoft's tech support, on the other hand, is roughly as bad as Avid's is, in my experience. Both companies offer minimal assistance by email, whereas Apple offers phone support; and they stay with you on the phone as long as needed. That's worth the "Apple tax" as far as I'm concerned.

I've used Microsoft Office for decades, and I have more experience with the company for that product than I do for my wife's PC. I've had more problems with MS Office bugs than I've had with most Mac apps over the years. Maybe Microsoft is better at writing software for its own OS?

Nonetheless, I might still recommend Windows over Mac for the technically inclined. Windows allows users much greater flexibility in building your own computer than Apple does. With Windows, you can spec exactly the computer you want. With Mac, you only get to choose from the options Apple offers at Apple prices.

Best,

Geoff


Enthusiasm powers the world.

Craig Anderton's Archiving Article
Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Geoff Grace] #2996498
06/28/19 07:51 PM
06/28/19 07:51 PM
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Anderton Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Geoff Grace
I have so little experience with PCs that my qualifications to comment on the Windows platform are minimal.

That said, I have had to be the IT guy for my wife's PC; and it's been a real struggle trying to deal with antivirus apps trying to uninstall each other and Microsoft trying to update system software without my permission. Issues like that crop up any time the computer is on for longer than an hour. I imagine that if I were to take the time, I could get it all sorted out; but I'm not eager to invest the time in a platform I've mostly migrated her away from.


Actually you've hit the nail on the head: You can't be a "part time" Windows user, and you need to go all in. The only antivirus I use regularly is Windows Defender. I do install Malwarebytes every few months and run a scan, then uninstall it because Defender is good about updates. I (knock on wood!) don't get viruses.

The OS updates can be more problematic because of their frequency. To be fair, most people have seamless update experiences. But for those who don't, it's a total beeyotch to lose your OS until things get sorted out, or you re-install from scratch. With Apple, there may be some features that don't work or incompatibilities, but odds are your system won't be fried (although that happened to me when going to Mojave). However a fried system is one area where Apple is way ahead: You can re-install the complete operating system from scratch, and all your apps remain untouched. With Windows, it's wipe hard drive, and re-install everything.

I've had a major problem with the Windows 10 1809 update, but again to be fair, AT&T dropped the connection during the update, and Windows 10 was installed 4 years ago as an in-place install over Windows 7 instead of a clean install (not optimum, to say the least). Given you much I abuse my computer, it's to Microsoft's credit it's kept going for this long. For now, I'm postponing updates and hoping that the latest update fixes whatever was wrong.

Regardless, you're certainly right about the hardware. Windows machines outperform Macs that cost way more, and that's what got me into Windows in the first place after being Mac-only for 10 years.

Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2996674
06/30/19 02:37 AM
06/30/19 02:37 AM
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I have no objective view as a Mac music make for 25 years, but on the 'lack of expandability' for iMac, I'm not finding that to be an issue at all. That said, I've spent (too much) up front on the maximum sized SSD drive I can etc, but with increasing support of external drives for plugins etc, I've never had a problem on the expandability front. I'm also way ahead financially as I've spent 15+ years writing on Macs and music which I couldn't have done otherwise wink

Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2996681
06/30/19 02:53 AM
06/30/19 02:53 AM
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Gus Lozada Offline
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íHola!

Well... 20 years ago I was a 100% a PC Guy, mostly because I didn't have money for a Mac.
And then, reality is that even the most powerful laptop Mac, 20 years ago, was perhaps as powerful as a good PC desktop adapted for stage use. So, it made no sense to spend in a Mac if truly a PC could do the same, cheaper.

20 years later I am a full 100% Mac guy. Love it. Fan boy. iPhone. iPad. AirPods. MacBook Pro. iMac. Apple Watch. I could not be happier.

Why? 2012 was a significant year for me: I got my first quad-core, 500 GB HD, 16GB Ram i7 MacBook Pro. It was WAY more powerful than my iMac. And that any PC I ever had.
Expensive, you bet. But it was a monster machine.

In 2014 I upgraded it to the SSD model, same specs. Used in a continental tour with a band for my synths and have used it for all of my tours of clinics with presonus, is my studio's main machine, too.
5 Years old and still kicking butt.

I am sure I couldn't find a PC who could ever make me as happy as this machine. cool

The Mexican is back. twothumbs


M
Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Gus Lozada] #2996691
06/30/19 08:13 AM
06/30/19 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Gus Lozada

The Mexican is back. twothumbs

íHola Gustavo! wave

Best,

Geoff


Enthusiasm powers the world.

Craig Anderton's Archiving Article
Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Gus Lozada] #2996748
06/30/19 06:34 PM
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Anderton Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Gus Lozada
20 years later I am a full 100% Mac guy. Love it. Fan boy. iPhone. iPad. AirPods. MacBook Pro. iMac. Apple Watch. I could not be happier.
I am sure I couldn't find a PC who could ever make me as happy as this machine. cool


Interestingly, I too have an iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro (as well as a older desktop that needs to be replaced). Apple products have a "fun factor" that Windows ones do not, so when you say your computer makes you happy, that makes perfect sense. It's always fun to boot up my MacBook Pro when it's in Mojave's night mode smile And an iPad runs circles around other tablets.

For day-in-day-out work, though, Windows still gives the best bang for my buck by far - not just the initial cost, but in terms of being able to upgrade economically and keep the same machine going more or less forever. I was very excited when the new Mac Pro was announced, but the $6K price tag (with a lot of that going to video capabilities I won't use), was a non-starter. I'd hoped there would be a stripped version that I could populate the way I wanted, but apparently it's either all or nothing. I'll get a Mac Mini one of these days to replace my desktop, and I'm sure that when tricked out, it will do everything I need for $2,700.I think a big Mac advantage these days is Thunderbolt, because that makes it easier to expand. Windows' Thunderbolt is not as developed although ultimately, USB-C looks very attractive for both platforms.

Quote
The Mexican is back. twothumbs


I'm so glad you were able to make it through that wall!! (Great avatar picture, by the way!)

Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2996799
07/01/19 05:09 AM
07/01/19 05:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
Apple products have a "fun factor" that Windows ones do not, so when you say your computer makes you happy, that makes perfect sense. It's always fun to boot up my MacBook Pro when it's in Mojave's night mode smile And an iPad runs circles around other tablets.


As long as MS Windows is the alternative to macOS, I'm staying at this, the fun side.

Originally Posted by Anderton
I was very excited when the new Mac Pro was announced, but the $6K price tag (with a lot of that going to video capabilities I won't use), was a non-starter. I'd hoped there would be a stripped version that I could populate the way I wanted, but apparently it's either all or nothing.


When I was working for AVID I was always looking for the most powerful computer ever, since Pro Tools is so CPU hungry.
Studio One Pro runs quite perfectly on my son's MacBook Air, 256 GB, 8GB RAM. That said, I couldn't care less about the $6K Mac Pro. Not for me.


Originally Posted by Anderton
I'm so glad you were able to make it through that wall!! (Great avatar picture, by the way!)


It's getting harder and harder every day. But ... I'm here! grin ... and that microphone really helps my voice and looks


M
Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2996807
07/01/19 08:17 AM
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They each have their strengths and weaknesses.

With regards to upgrades, maintenance, and compatibility - 2 very different experiences.

One thing that bothers me about Apple is that at some point, they pretty much just totally pull the plug. My first gen iPad is worthless. Can't update it at all and nothing any longer supports its old iOS. My old MBP I basically don't change anything on. I have a piece of software I use with it and as long as it keeps working, I'll leave it at that. At one point I needed to install some software that SHOULD work on that model of laptop, but I hadn't updated the OS in a long time and it was incompatible. Unfortunately, Apple would no longer let me update to the latest software that the MBP was compatible, it wanted me to upgrade to the NEW OS, only to then tell me my MBP wasn't supported. Luckily there are other ways - somebody guided me to a link where I could download the latest OS my MBP was compatible and I managed to get it installed, which then allowed me to install the software I needed. But at this point, it's more or less frozen in time.

Windows, on the other hand, by NOT locking things down, provides a ton of POTENTIAL compatibility. Lots of new software works on older OS's that are no longer supported, lots of OLD software (if you have a disk or something) will run just fine on the latest OS. But since it's not locked down, something might seem like it's going to work but then introduce problems that you have to troubleshoot. Biggest headache seems to be drivers. ESPECIALLY when your legacy equipment gets bought out by another company (like my M-Audio Fasttrack Pro and Avid). Sometimes it's hard to tell what's conflicting. Sometimes a supplied driver causes problems and you find out that there is some other 3rd party driver that works better. Sometimes doing something as simple as installing a printer messes up something completely unrelated like your video editing software.

Different kinds of problems and what's funny is the steps they take to solve problems that exist on one platform create different problems on another. For that reason, I don't think either one will EVER be the perfect solution.


Dan

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.
Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: J. Dan] #2996818
07/01/19 12:18 PM
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I see this question in two parts. The first part - My interest is in using a laptop and controller for live performance, a Kronos alteranative if you like. I started out with Windows 7, Cantabile and an ever expanding library of purchased VI's. Then switched to OSX with MainStage and am a happy camper. It just works and I like MainStage's GUI in Perform mode, no other host comes close.

The second part, how much tech knowledge do you have and how much time do you want to invest in tech? If a lot of knowledge or happy to invest time in tech then Win 10 can deliver everything OSX can, except MainStage (or Logic).

Its about the tools, not the toolbox in which you keep your tools.

And if you are really tech savvy and want OSX on a lower budget then build a Hackintosh. Just stick to the Apple hardware menu.


MainStage 3 | Axiom 61 2nd Gen | Pianoteq | B5 | XK3c | EV ZLX 12P
"Music is a journey. We are all at a different stage in that journey." James Morrison, Australian trumpet legend
Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2997030
07/02/19 08:34 PM
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If the person is rich, Mac. If they are on a budget, Windows. smile

Actually, for me the choice is more about control. If you like to use several internal drives dedicated to things like programs, sample libraries, output files, etc... then Windows is the way to go. This is how I like to operate. If you are not a techie and are happy letting the OS make all your decisions then Mac. One thing that has always driven me crazy with Mac's is the way it want to control where everything goes. There are specific applications that make the choice easy. The MacMini is a GREAT media computer. I use one for my song library. Power consumption is low and I can leave it on without worry. It is accessible from my AppleTV and Sonos. I've tried Windows alternatives but they cannot match a MacMini +iTunes. For games, word processing and database, Windows is the only route I take. I have office on my MacBookPro but I prefer it on Windows. And why pay twice the price for a computer to run office.

Now, the biggie. If you want a notebook computer for music, and more so, for stage, MacBookPro is the easy choice. Some people do great things with Windows notebooks for music on stage, but Mac is easier.

Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: RABid] #2997046
07/03/19 12:16 AM
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Anderton Offline OP
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Originally Posted by RABid
Now, the biggie. If you want a notebook computer for music, and more so, for stage, MacBookPro is the easy choice. Some people do great things with Windows notebooks for music on stage, but Mac is easier.


I agree, but with one caveat. If anything happens to your Windows machine, you can go to Office Depot just about anywhere, load some strategic programs from your mirrored hard drive, and do the show. Or, if you want to carry two computers so you have a backup, Windows will save you a bunch of money.

Otherwise, Macs are great for live performance - especially if you dedicate it to live performance. Apple's right when they say "it just works."

BTW thanks for the Mac Mini comments. Pushes me closer to getting one smile

Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2997822
07/09/19 06:01 PM
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My main studio computer is a souped up home built PC. I've reached the miracle plateau of getting it to hum along without reaching memory or CPU bandwidth ceilings. I will very shortly upgrade one more time to make sure I am well-above that ceiling. I haven't used a Mac for music in a very long time. I do have an IMac I use in my home office that is running the incredible VCV, but it's old and non-upgradeable. Even the RAM is soldered in.

That said, when my kids each wanted their own DAW to get started, I got each of them a MacBook Pro. Even though they are not shallow by the long shot, I think they were happy that they had the laptops that they see Pharrel, Zedd, Dre, etc using. I was not interested in being the home IT tech. So that's what they got.

If a MacBook could host 64 gigs of RAM, I would switch today just for the reduction in fan noise.


"For instance" is not proof.
Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Anderton] #2998627
07/15/19 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Anderton
<...snip...>

If someone came to you today, wanted to get started in computer-based music, and wanted to know what computer to get, which would YOU recommend?


PC. Why? I'm a live gigging musician so my views are skewed in that direction.
  • Easy to get a replacement when "The Show Must Go On" - You can get a Windows machine if needed at any office or department store
  • You can get a cheap backup that will limp you through the show - for a couple of hundred bucks
  • Easy to transfer files to and from with a flash drive - no having to upload/download from the cloud.
  • No exclusive firewire or other Apple non-standard connectors
  • Universal compatibility vs. Exclusivity
  • More available software titles and apps that come out on both platforms are usually released earlier on Windows and with more features than OSX


I use ThinkPad computers on stage, and they have proven to be at least as reliable as any Mac. I still have a 2002 ThinkPad with the IBM brand on it working full time bouncing on a keyboard stand and transported in a hot van to cool venues as I make my living doing one-nighers.

There was a time when I preferred Apple, and they make fine hardware, but their efforts to keep me 'in the fold' and lot let me play with others turned me off. When my iPad dies, I'll probably get an Android tablet.

Many years ago, the 'sax for hire' at recording studios saw me looking at nothing but Apple computers, now I see both, and sometimes no Apple. I think the days where Apple was the clear cut leader have passed.

Of course there are those who love Mac/Apple products, and there is nothing wrong with that. But for an on-stage gigging musician, I think Windows is the better choice.

Insights and incites by Notes


Bob "Notes" Norton
Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
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The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<
Re: Time to Re-Visit a Mac vs. PC Thread [Re: Notes_Norton] #2998758
07/16/19 05:46 AM
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Anderton Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Notes_Norton
But for an on-stage gigging musician, I think Windows is the better choice.


I agree about the "you can get a replacement anywhere." But I also agree about the "you can get a cheap backup that will limp you through the show" - you can bring a second, mirrored Windows laptop and the price for both would be the same as a good MacBook Pro.

But to be fair to Mac, it makes it soooo easy to boot off a separate drive. So if the problem is your computer dies, Windows is way ahead. But if the problem is if your system drive dies, I think the Mac has an advantage.


Moderated by  Anderton 

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