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PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? #2921896 12/11/19 12:10 PM
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kiwibd Offline OP
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Hey guys! I am planning to purchase a new laptop to run my Garritan CFX Full as I might be returning my company Macbook Air soon.

With the budget of the latest macbook Pro, I can actually get PC with much better specs (faster processor, larger SSD, more RAMs). However, I have heard people saying that Apple's notebook can run music library more efficiently.

Here's the question: with the same budget, should I really get a Macbook Pro (let's say 2.4GHz quad-core 8th‑generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) or should I get a monster PC (or even a cheaper PC with the same specs) ?

Would appreciate your insight on this. Thank you very much!

p.s. I am currently using a 2017 Macbook Air with 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, 8GB. It's running smoothly with occasional cracks, especially when i hold the peddle for too long and when I play very loud with huge chords...would love to solve this problem with my new purchase.

Last edited by kiwibd; 12/11/19 12:17 PM.
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Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2921909 12/11/19 12:39 PM
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Maybe. Garritan CFX has a few glitches, so you may never get 100% dropout-free playback with any computer. Search the forums for some free tweaks on Garritan CFX as those may be as (or more) effective than wasting money on new equipment.

Perhaps the biggest factor is running good drivers for the audio interface. Most external interfaces outsource the software to the same shops.

For computers, Apple tends to be a bit quite popular for audio professionals and hobbyists, but there are some caveats IMO

- I would avoid the terrible butterfly keyboards that have been used for the past few years in macbooks. They have high failure rates and are difficult (read expensive) to repair. The new 16" models have a completely new keyboard so that is the model to choose (until the revised keyboard is deployed to other models). But I would wait a bit to make sure there are no glaring defects in any model.

- Expensive

- There were some issues with OS Catalina. Not sure if they were resolved as my 2007 model does not run Catalina.

- There were some audio issues ascribed to the T2 chip. Not sure if they were resolved.
https://appleinsider.com/articles/1...ped-macs-connected-to-usb-20-connections

- Apple runs hidden buffers so the performance is a bit overstated. Still Apples to Apples, MacOS runs well in the real world as Apple has just a handful of computers to test-support.

On the other hand you can buy a high spec Windoze laptop for a lot less money. Some caveats:

- Plenty of laptops with garbage firmware. For example, Dell seems to have abandoned their efforts to fix DPC latency issues of the flagship XPS laptops for audio professionals (XPS group head Frank Azor left for nVidia). My older XPS is pretty good now but it took Dell over a year to work out some terrible firmware.

- Lots of the Lenovo models were popular with audio professionals. But I see a lot of complaints these days on certain models.

- Laptop marketing specs are inflated. Thermal and power constraints in a small box are the principal issue. So is cost. So that i9 looks great for a few seconds, after which it throttles down.

Below is a good site to search for computers that tend to do well with audio.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/

Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2921911 12/11/19 12:39 PM
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Hi,

Good question but it's not easy to answer.
Generally, Apple computers are considered as more stable for music production, especially for us who need low latency for playing the piano.
Now, Windows 10 seems to be also very stable. In facts after some tweaks, I can say I have no problems to run my VSTi on my pc under Windows 10.
You can find here some videos from a guy who builds pc for audio production. These tutorials are very interesting:
https://www.youtube.com/user/MoltenMusicTech/videos

My advice would be: if money is not a problem for you, go for a Mac, probably the safest choice.
Otherwise, a good pc under Win 10 with good components and some tweaks on the os and the Bios should do the job, maybe even better...

Last edited by stamkorg; 12/11/19 12:40 PM.
Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2921923 12/11/19 01:03 PM
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Thanks for your replies, stamkorg and newerplayer. Would you guys mind sharing what "tweaks" there are to reduce latency and improve stability?

Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2921969 12/11/19 02:59 PM
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@kiwibd: I cannot answer for stamkorg concerning tweaks. But I can say that I don't require any tweaks.
An external audio interface helped with latency back when I had an old slow laptop.
But with the new desktop running Windows 10 (and the older desktop running Windows 7) I have very low latency.
No tweaks required.
And a lot cheaper than a Mac laptop.

Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2922082 12/11/19 09:05 PM
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My vote is for windows, If you don't need portability. Build your own PC. This is very easy to do.

Otherwise get a windows 10 laptop. You can get one for about 60% of the price of a mac with better specs.

There won't be a glowing apple on the back but I find a sticker of a pear on a windows laptop is always good for a laugh.


When you play, never mind who listens to you. R.Schumann.

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Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: newer player] #2922116 12/12/19 02:07 AM
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Originally Posted by newer player
Perhaps the biggest factor is running good drivers for the audio interface. Most external interfaces outsource the software to the same shops.


Sorry I'm quite new to this and I don't understand some terms. What do you mean by driver? Something like ASIO4ALL? I think the Garritan CFX comes with the application itself and it doesn't require an extra driver, right? And do I really need an external audio interface? What's the benefits of that? Or should I get an external sound card instead?

Thank you for your help in advance!

Last edited by kiwibd; 12/12/19 02:13 AM.
Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2922133 12/12/19 04:21 AM
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I presume that he meant ASIO ...
Originally Posted by kiwibd
What do you mean by driver? Something like ASIO4ALL? I think the Garritan CFX comes with the application itself and it doesn't require an extra driver, right?
That's for the audio interface, whether internal or external. It's likely that you'll need it. It's free.

Originally Posted by kiwibd
And do I really need an external audio interface? What's the benefits of that? Or should I get an external sound card instead?
An external audio interface IS an external sound card. Same thing.
Maybe you need one. Maybe not. If your sound quality is good (particularly, the latency) when using the built-in interface, then you can skip the add-on audio interface.

Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2922140 12/12/19 05:03 AM
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Windows would start antivirus checks in the background or auto updates and that would lead to pops and cracks. It’s very hard to turn those off, you have to edit the registry, etc which is already some kind of hacking around. All at all it’s an immature and messed up OS that’s not good for audio IMO. Never had such problems with macOS. It’s good for audio out of the box.


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Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2922144 12/12/19 06:38 AM
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I think the most annoying things that Windows does (that could affect your PC performance) are:

1) check files for virus;
2) collect statistical data and upload them to the software house servers;
3) check for updates (and download + apply them in background if there are new updates);
4) file indexing (but just the first time you install the os, and then for each new file you create);

Theoretically, the os should do all these things only when the CPU usage is very low, but sometimes that's not the case. Anyway you can tweak the os so that it never does the above, and in this case I think it behaves as fast (if not faster) than MacOS. And I'm sure MacOS does at least the (3) and (4) of the above things too (and maybe (2) too), maybe in a less aggressive way.

At the end of the day, I think you should use the os and softwares you are most used to. If you don't know how to tweak the system (or you don't know someone who could do it for you), then a MacOS based computer could be a better choice, but prepare to pay MUCH more for the same hardware.
Or, with the same money of a Mac computer, IMHO you can buy a monster PC that behaves better than a Mac even without tweaking the system. laugh

Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2922147 12/12/19 07:10 AM
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With enough free time for tweaking and finding suitable drivers for the hardware, a custom built Windows machine might be faster and cheaper on an absolute scale compared to Mac. However many people just don't read the fine details about that statement and then end up being frustrated and endlessly troubleshooting the machine. So, PC and Windows are not for everybody. If you feel you're really a power user and have time to tweak stuff, yes, it might be better. Otherwise it just isn't worth it.

Last edited by CyberGene; 12/12/19 07:14 AM.

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Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2922227 12/12/19 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by kiwibd
Hey guys! I am planning to purchase a new laptop to run my Garritan CFX Full as I might be returning my company Macbook Air soon.

With the budget of the latest macbook Pro, I can actually get PC with much better specs (faster processor, larger SSD, more RAMs). However, I have heard people saying that Apple's notebook can run music library more efficiently.

Here's the question: with the same budget, should I really get a Macbook Pro (let's say 2.4GHz quad-core 8th‑generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) or should I get a monster PC (or even a cheaper PC with the same specs) ?

Would appreciate your insight on this. Thank you very much!

p.s. I am currently using a 2017 Macbook Air with 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7, 8GB. It's running smoothly with occasional cracks, especially when i hold the peddle for too long and when I play very loud with huge chords...would love to solve this problem with my new purchase.


Hi Kiwbd,

I guess the issue with Mac laptops is two fold:
1) The cost of the units being high due to miniaturization and because macs tend to have high cost components compared to cheaper laptops with added markup for brand .
2) Since the death of Steve Jobs, Mac software is getting less user friendly and less versatile.

That makes a powerful motive to buy and build a Hackintosh, although one would need to do the research and be prepared to work a bit harder to get everything working.

If you are going to buy a desktop PC, you could build a Hackintosh---many people in music production use Hackintosh's to get the best of both worlds. A decent Hackintosh can be built for around £1000 that can cope with music production needs. There are many guides on YouTube and via Google search to explain how to best do this.


Kind regards,

Doug.


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Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2922281 12/12/19 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by kiwibd
Thanks for your replies, stamkorg and newerplayer. Would you guys mind sharing what "tweaks" there are to reduce latency and improve stability?


These are a good starting point:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxtkEyGih2g&t=6s

Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: Doug M.] #2922326 12/12/19 06:38 PM
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The claim of "superior parts" in the Mac has been questioned time and again. I don't see any support for the claim.
Originally Posted by Doug M.
The cost of the units being high due to miniaturization and because macs tend to have high cost components compared to cheaper laptops with added markup for brand.

The Mac is good. But the price is prohibitive. (Not that an MS Surface is any better! We got sticker shock when my wife went looking ... so we got a better Thinkpad for far less money. I didn't see the value in paying an extra $1500 for a touch-screen Surface.)

So get a superb non-Surface laptop ... just make sure it's a business laptop, not a "home" laptop ... for far less money than a Mac.

Better yet ... spurn the laptop and get a desktop. The VST computer need not be any more portable than the piano, methinks.
My piano goes nowhere. And its VST computer doesn't, either. And it was a much better value for the performance.

Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2925957 12/23/19 05:03 AM
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You can very much improve performance on Windows by disabling all the non neccessary services.

The process I followed was that I have simply disabled all services and re-enabled only those that is neccessary to the VST. Those are mainly audio, power management.
All the rest: wifi, defender, windows update and hundreds more .... are disabled.
I use this laptop only for the VST so it is fine for me.

If you need the laptop/PC for other purposes then you can save the sate of the services you use for the VST and then re-enable all when you have finished playing with the Garritan. When needed you just simply load the saved services state and enjoy the VST again.

This way on a 12years old Core2Duo Acer Extensa 5620 , 4GB RAM with a cheap SSD I can use Garritan with buffer size of 512 and without any cracking in the sound. It is never turned off just put to sleep when not used. Works since months without the need of restarting Garritan at all.

I guess the similar process might be applied for a Mac too.

Without disabling the services the buffer size was set to 1024 and still there were some cracks in the sound.
Additionally I could not use the reverb section or the equalizers as in that case the VST was almost unuseable.
By disabling the non neccessary servies it works like a charm.

Try this before buying an expensive hardware.

best regards
Tamás

Last edited by tpatai; 12/23/19 05:10 AM.
Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2925962 12/23/19 05:49 AM
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If I was setting up a Windows installation specifically for audio, I would seriously take a look at using NTLite to customise the setup and only install the components I needed.

https://www.ntlite.com/

Kind regards,
James
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Re: PC vs Mac for Garritan CFX? [Re: kiwibd] #2925999 12/23/19 09:27 AM
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Are you saying that Windows is an ongoing and perpetually unraveling mess? wink


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