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Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? #2688560
11/10/17 12:49 PM
11/10/17 12:49 PM
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Pologuy Offline OP
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Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios?

Is there something that makes Apple a better choice than a Windows computer?


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Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688562
11/10/17 12:58 PM
11/10/17 12:58 PM
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One reason is Apple has a great sound API baked into the operating system, which deals with issues like latency.

Windows does not have such a great native sound API, so some of the things that are native to MacOS have to be handled with third-party solutions. That said, a Windows machine with the proper pieces can be perfectly fine for music making. I use a Windows 10 box as a host for Pianoteq and it works fine (with external USB audio).

Another reason is that some popular software, like Logic Pro X and MainStage, are Apple-only.

Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688567
11/10/17 01:16 PM
11/10/17 01:16 PM
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Part of it is also marketing and historical inertia. Right from the release of the 1984 Mac, Apple has always advertised to and pushed into the educational and artists markets while MS-DOS and (later) Microsoft Windows was advertised more as a business machine.

Atari also tried to get into the artist market with their ST line, as did Commodore with the Amiga, but of course that's all gone now.

These things tend to build a certain amount of momentum and since Apple was in the artist market more-or-less from the start, it tends to continue to be there. If I'm writing a program for musicians (painters, etc.) and I wrote it for a previous version of Apple's computers, I'm more likely to re-write it for a newer version that I am to jump ship and start over again with a completely different computer and operating system that I know nothing about.


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Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688576
11/10/17 01:41 PM
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Yes to all of the above. Macs were an early leader in creative applications before Windows even existed. Inertia would tend to keep it there, even apart from its technical advantages at the OS level (which Microsoft didn't even attempt to challenge until Windows 10, and still seems to lag). Pro Tools was originally Mac only. etc. What made Windows a challenger at all is that (a) the hardware was often cheaper, and (b) many people already owned Windows machines for other purposes. That said, I'm looking into the possibility of incorporating a Windows machine into my rig, because they are available as tablets and Macs are not (leaving that functionality only to iOS).

Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688578
11/10/17 01:51 PM
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Apple has only a handful of computers they need to support so the operating system and drivers are relatively easy for Apple to optimize and keep up to date.

In addition to the well done sound API Dave mentions, Firewire was excellent for music work. I suppose TB3 or TB4 will be the next thing for regular people.

Windows 7 and Windows 10 are quite popular for audio work. But OSX still requires less tweaking for the average user.

Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688627
11/10/17 04:58 PM
11/10/17 04:58 PM
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I don't think latency is the issue in a studio. A performer can listen to a live sound without concern over latency in and through the VST. He need not hear the latent synthetic sound at all. Nobody will hear the latter until the technician produces a mix. And there latency is not relevant either.

It's live performance where latency matters. Even if the performer can listen to a live source, the sound system will produce the synthetic sound ... with latency. Will that bleed through the performer's phones? Does he even wear a pair of phones? If not the latency had better be low.

So ... if Macs have the upper hand in a studio, it's more likely so for the reasons given by newer player (software is easier to support on a closed platform) and by Frank Cox (Macs were there first).

Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688739
11/11/17 06:04 AM
11/11/17 06:04 AM
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I came across this great video on YouTube that shows how to build a great computer cheaply for music production.

This method essentially builds a Hackintosh with a Spec designed for running multiple heavy applications.



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Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688762
11/11/17 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I don't think latency is the issue in a studio. A performer can listen to a live sound without concern over latency in and through the VST.

Let's say you're in the studio, and want to put down a piano track using Pianoteq or your favorite sample-based piano. Why would you say latency is not an issue?

Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: anotherscott] #2688775
11/11/17 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I don't think latency is the issue in a studio. A performer can listen to a live sound without concern over latency in and through the VST.

Let's say you're in the studio, and want to put down a piano track using Pianoteq or your favorite sample-based piano. Why would you say latency is not an issue?


Also, producers and musicians will often wánt to keep tracks 'live' as long as possible before rendering to audio wave tracks in the mix. This means keeping all midi-activated tracks (external or VSTi) fluid, as well as processing by VST. There maybe many ideas they want to be able to audition, per track, let alone on the whole mix, before the final mixdown. This is not possible without a very fast and anti-latency streamlined computer.

Last edited by toddy; 11/11/17 05:21 PM.

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Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: anotherscott] #2688787
11/11/17 11:30 AM
11/11/17 11:30 AM
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Sure, if low latency can be achieved (quite easy for Pianoteq), then listen live while laying it down.
But if low latency cannot be achieved then it's awfully difficult to perform properly ... and it would be better to listen to a keyboard-local voice while rendering the VST post.
Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by MacMacMac
I don't think latency is the issue in a studio. A performer can listen to a live sound without concern over latency in and through the VST.

Let's say you're in the studio, and want to put down a piano track using Pianoteq or your favorite sample-based piano. Why would you say latency is not an issue?

Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688796
11/11/17 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Sure, if low latency can be achieved (quite easy for Pianoteq), then listen live while laying it down.
But if low latency cannot be achieved then it's awfully difficult to perform properly ... and it would be better to listen to a keyboard-local voice while rendering the VST post.


Someone in a studio who is completely VST/controller based may not have a local voice to use for that purpose. But also, a player is constantly adjusting his playing based on the feedback between what his fingers/feet are doing and what his ears are hearing. If you're triggering Ivory and basing your expressivity on what you're hearing out of your local slab, you're unlikely to get your best performance out of it.

Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688799
11/11/17 12:24 PM
11/11/17 12:24 PM
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I'll tell you my own personal experience. I had always used PCs in the early stages with Finale and Cakewalk. Things were always a bit flakey there, but not terrible once you got it up and running. Then Vista happened. I was in the middle of a recording project and it would be working one second, and then the next it would just suddenly forget there was a keyboard hooked up via MIDI. This happened on several occasions and I tried upgrading software, changing hardware, and it came down to the only thing that was the consistent variable: Windows.

I changed to a Mac and since then, it's been so easy to set new hardware and software up and running that I regret not doing it sooner. I'm able to focus on getting *music* done rather than spending hours on just getting the computer to see my keyboard. I've never looked back.

Obviously, YMMV, but I see no reason to try PCs again.


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Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688822
11/11/17 02:39 PM
11/11/17 02:39 PM
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I believe strongly that being able to plug things in and "they just work" is worth a few more hundred bucks up-front. I was an early adopter of both Finale and Digital Performer, and neither was available on Windows for quite a while (largely because Windows was not programmed for audio). Whenever you read anything on this board about having to find the right "drivers" for anything, you're reading about someone who saved some money up-front but is wasting a lot of time getting their equipment to work optimally. If you don't mind messing with computers, Windows is great. If you mostly just like playing music, Macs have an advantage.


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Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688849
11/11/17 06:20 PM
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I'm looking forward to seeing Sibelius or Finale for Linux. When that happens, I'll never have to struggle with the appalling Windows, or pay inflated prices for a Mac, ever again. A plague on both their houses.

Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: kevinb] #2688853
11/11/17 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by kevinb
I'm looking forward to seeing Sibelius or Finale for Linux. When that happens, I'll never have to struggle with the appalling Windows, or pay inflated prices for a Mac, ever again. A plague on both their houses.

I'm not so sure about calling the prices "inflated" - it's what the market can handle, otherwise no one would buy them. They offer something different than PC/Windows, and some are happy to pay that price to avoid the other issues (or buy used/refurbished for less).

As for Sibelius or Finale making something for Linux, have you heard anything about that? If not, don't hold your breath. smirk


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Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688856
11/11/17 07:21 PM
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Linux is for servers, not for desktops. That's why you find so little desktop software written for it.

Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688863
11/11/17 07:56 PM
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I'll disagree with that, though with a bit of a caveat. I've been using Linux for everything since 1998; my wife uses it on her computers and I've set up laptops and desktops for some relatives as well, all for the purpose of Linux-on-the-desktop. Everyone uses it as their primary computers (and only computers, if you don't count their cell phones) and everybody's happy. Especially when they read articles about Microsoft viruses and ransomware and the like.

The caveat: You need someone knowledgeable to set it up and maintain it for you. I've been playing with and programming computers for well over 40 years, so in my corner of the world, that person is me. If any of the people that I support have a computer problem I can log into their system and see what's going on, without getting out of my chair. Same thing with applying updates, installing new software, and so forth.

Unix and Linux are built around the idea that you have a system administrator to manage everything that's under the hood and you as a user just use the system to do whatever it is that you're doing.

If you have a system administrator then the setup is pretty much bulletproof. If you don't, then you probably won't be happy with the result if you just jump into trying to use it.

I personally wouldn't dream of doing something like online banking with a Windows system.

My humble opinion, but it's an opinion based on a good many years of been-there and done-that.


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Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688868
11/11/17 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Pologuy
Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios?

Is there something that makes Apple a better choice than a Windows computer?



Could it be mostly a matter of commercial sense? Because, although studios probably contain a greater proportion of geeks than there are in the general population, they simply do not have the time to arse around with drivers and persistent interfacing problems. A Mac system running Logic will just work, leaving the studio engineer to address important musical matters rather than wasting time on obstacles, however absorbing they may be to us amateurs.

Last edited by toddy; 11/11/17 08:27 PM.

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Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: Pologuy] #2688876
11/11/17 09:52 PM
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Apple has promised their next MacPro will be user configurable again (as opposed to the hard soldered current "trash can" model). But they would also need to tier the professionals machine like they did years ago for me to bite. Music is not as resource demanding as video, and we don't need to pay for those dual high end video cards. On the other hand, the iMac Pro models are due soon and may be plenty horsepower for audio work.

Latency is definitely an issue in production if you track virtual instruments in live performance with a keyboard controller. After that stage it doesn't matter any more, you can jack up the buffer as high as you need during mixing and mastering to free up stress on the CPU.

Both Windows and MacOS machines are great choices for music production. There is no shortage of software developers producing top notch vst/au instruments, vst/au hosts, DAWs, audio editors, etc. Apple has paid more attention to audio services in the operating system than MS has and they also have the eMagic team in house making music production software exclusively for their OS and hardware. They also have an unusually close relationship with Appgee and Avid/ProTools. None of this means you can't do the same work on Windows, it just explains why professional studios and music producers find themselves historically on Apple hardware. There are also many professionals using ProTools and other software and hardware on Windows. It's become an unimportant debate. Make a selection and make music. But I wouldn't advise jumping back and forth unless you like constantly changing workflows.

Re: Why do you see so many Apple computers in studios? [Re: FrankCox] #2688881
11/11/17 10:37 PM
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We're substantially in agreement.
Originally Posted by FrankCox
The caveat: You need someone knowledgeable to set it up and maintain it for you ...
Unix and Linux are built around the idea that you have a sys admin to manage everything under the hood ...
My humble opinion, but it's an opinion based on a good many years of been-there and done-that.
I've been there and done that, too. I started with Unix servers and workstations about 30 years ago, followed years later with Linux.
Bother made excellent servers. But as desktops, not so much.

There's no reason that Linux could not have been the be-all end-all desktop ... but Windows got there first.
It took MS ten years to make it happen to the point that Windows was useful, and another ten to make it robust, with an wide ecosystem of support.
I don't think there's sufficient demand for yet another desktop flavor (Linux), so it seems unlikely that a Linux desktop ecosystem will develop. There's just no money in it.

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