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Mac vs PC?
#3019753 08/31/20 10:14 AM
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Hey!! I'm not starting a war here :-) I swing all ways when it comes to technology (android phone, old iphones for music players in the office, ipad, pc laptop and desktop, and now a macbook too)!

I bought an old macbook pro to use with my keyboard and loved that it was easy enough for even me to easily figure out how to record into garage band and export the song very easily.

I notice that the dropouts and latency is great on the mac... and my pc is not as good. The PC has more dropouts / crackles than the mac does. The PC isn't brand new, but it's still pretty beefy with 6gb ram, ssd's, etc etc. I had an old sounblaster card but it was much worse than just using the external berhinger umc204hd asio drivers that I was running.

My question is - is it the hardware, software, or both that make the mac run 'smoother' (less latency / dropouts) over the pc for running the keyboard midi? I know there are a million variables, but it seems like common convention that macs are pretty good at media creation.. and my limited experience here seems to flesh that out.

Last edited by OzarkCDN; 08/31/20 10:15 AM.
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Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019758 08/31/20 10:31 AM
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That has been my experience as well. Mac's aren't perfect by any means, but overall I prefer them to Windows PCs. Apple has always had a more defined design philosophy to their products and user interface. They charge a premium, and their customers (rightfully) demand the best in every aspect of the device.


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Instruments at Home or Office | Pianos: Wurlitzer baby grand, Winter & Co. baby grand, Everett studio | Keyboards: Roland Fantom X7, Yamaha PSR-275 | Organ: Lowrey Prestige
Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019766 08/31/20 10:55 AM
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Apple has control of the hardware and thus usually less problems for most folks. On the PC side especially for laptops the offerings are vast. The problem I see is too many folks expect the cheap laptop to perform like the expensive MAC. It usually doesn't turn out that way.


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019769 08/31/20 10:58 AM
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I hate Cook’s Apple, but I also can’t live without it.

I’ve ventured into Windows land, and though initially welcoming, it swiftly unravels into a labyrinth filled with alien entities that take on many shapes and forms. I then make an escape back to Apple and decide to remain in this marriage gone stale; but still, sticking with this bad, boring, ugly, and out of shape Apple is better than my brief yet tragic affair with that there Windows!

Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019771 08/31/20 11:01 AM
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In general, mac will give you a reasonably consistent dpc latency across products. PCs, some have low latency, some hardware/software sets have very high dpc latencies.

ALL machines can be tuned to have low latency, but then you have to do the homework. Mac generally <but not always> comes with a workable DPC latency out of the box. There's no reason to pay more specifically for this though. You can buy a regular PC, check it's DPC latency, and if it's sporadic or high, just return it, then buy a different one..

Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019772 08/31/20 11:01 AM
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Apple OS just has to support a few computers so that helps. Apple also has a good history of supporting creative industries. And getting good audio results is pretty easy.

Apple uses some hidden safety buffers to prevent glitches. That tends to overstate latency performance "data" but in the real world doesn't matter IMHO.

Whatever works best for you.

Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019773 08/31/20 11:02 AM
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Even in the case of Macs though, these days, on mobile hardware, you'd still have to do pretty much everything you'd do with the PC.

Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019779 08/31/20 11:13 AM
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See https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/kernel/introduction-to-threaded-dpcs

In Windows, if a faulty driver insert a too long DPC, the system may not be available to process your audio buffer at the right time, which can cause dropouts.

I suppose MacOS to be better designed about it.


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Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019780 08/31/20 11:14 AM
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Say thanks to the closed Mac ecosystem.

Most Windows latency and dropout issues are caused by either poorly implemented ACPI management (BIOS and drivers), or poorly written drivers that execute DPC for too long.
Not only drivers not approved/tested by MS are allowed to be loaded, but even drivers signed, i.e. approved, by MS do not necessarily behave nicely. MS verifies only that they do not break the system.

Also, Mac is based on BSD kernel, and has much more modular architecture, while Windows is based on very outdated monolithic NT kernel model that was designed by same architect that created DEC/VAX OSes. Such monolithic structure makes change implementation much harder.

Mac was always king among media producers until Adobe CC raised to the top, and MS never bothered looking into latency improvements - their bread and butter always was enterprise/office environment.

Last edited by VladK; 08/31/20 11:17 AM.

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Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019782 08/31/20 11:18 AM
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This is only one opinion that I have come across - - - also, with regard to OS, I have no expertise - - - that said, a person once told me that the problem with Windows OS is that it is built for a wider variety of purposes, and so if you don't properly adjust the setup, all kinds of unnecessary processes are going on in the background which might interfere with the smooth running of a vst.

On the other hand, the prevalence of Windows means most of us are more familiar with them, and unless we use the PC only for music, using Windows is easier for us.

Certainly for me, I can code in VBA for my job in Windows, but I'd need Java to work on the Mac OS.


One way around this is the nuclear option:
A Hackintosh.

Having the best of both worlds sounds perfect. You get:
1) A PC tower which is easier to keep cool than a laptop, so VSTs might run a bit smoother.
2) You can use software specific to one or the other.
3) When one OS is having a ding dong, you can just switch, meaning that you can keep going if you need.

The downside to Hackintosh machines is that they are more complex, and getting the build to function can take a small labour of love, especially if you don't know what you're doing, and are following some Internet instructions.

Others swear by Linux OS as an even better option. However, again, there is a learning curve perhaps something that one would be better avoiding.

There has been a fair few posts already on the topic, and I would suggest that you Google them or Bing them.

Personally, having heard lots about the issues people have with getting the right setup for a VST and maybe having unrealistic expectations about how these perform, my advice is to measure twice and cut once. Make sure---before you splash out--- to ask and answer a few key questions:

1) What components are key for the smooth running of a VST (no point in having the most expensive parts for functions that have no bearing)
2) How do you set up your OS optimally (so you can evaluate the issues with competing systems before you choose
3) Do you want to use the computer for other things or have two machines both setup for different purposes?


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Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
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Re: Mac vs PC?
Pete14 #3019784 08/31/20 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Pete14
I hate Cook’s Apple, but I also can’t live without it.

I’ve ventured into Windows land, and though initially welcoming, it swiftly unravels into a labyrinth filled with alien entities that take on many shapes and forms. I then make an escape back to Apple and decide to remain in this marriage gone stale; but still, sticking with this bad, boring, ugly, and out of shape Apple is better than my brief yet tragic affair with that there Windows!

🤣

I'd call it an everlasting friendship (due to the lack of fireworks).

VSTs aside: I bought a Mac because I just wanted something to work without any fuss... and it does!

I'm on my second mac - last of the 'upgradable' MacBooks before they made it very difficult to upgrade them yourself.

A 2012 machine... a few cheap upgrades over the years (see it as buying your mate a few pints) and it runs perfectly. Mega impressed.

I even had a flutter with pianoteq and it seemed to work very well.

Last edited by OscarRamsey; 08/31/20 11:22 AM.

Learning to play. Consciously incompetent, which apparently is a good starting point. smirk
Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019789 08/31/20 11:29 AM
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A BSD kernel is monolithic.

The opposite is a microkernel approach : a very reduced kernel which only handles processes, and other functions (like filesystem, networking, drivers...) in normal processes. Such implementations are proposed by GNU Hurd, QNX...

To be more precise, MacOS borrows some parts from FreeBSD, some parts from OSF microkernel, then it is half BSD. (And both parts are in the same address space in a privileged mode... it is not a microkernel approach) Both MacOS and Windows are considered « hybrid kernels ». See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_kernel


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Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019791 08/31/20 11:41 AM
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It depends on the software you use. Apple's own software is dreadfully buggy. I mean 1994 buggy, but the OS is good.

Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019792 08/31/20 11:42 AM
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Home computer - Never liked proprietary Apple. PC has made significant plug & play options over the years.

phone - I started out with iPhone. Too many updates; it seemed like every other day on some weeks. The final demise happened when Apple's latest OS broke my phone. I switched to Android and would never go back to Apple. (I use my phone mostly as a phone, for music ...)

tablet - Very happy with Apple for iPad and iTouch. So glad I can use PC with these Apple products.

Last edited by 36251; 08/31/20 11:42 AM.

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Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019798 08/31/20 11:58 AM
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Why pay lot's of € for an overpriced Mac, when, for the same amount of money, you can build a monster PC?
I never used a Mac and I never will! I always used PCs that I built and I never had a single problem with them.


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Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019813 08/31/20 12:41 PM
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Great thoughts, all! I will definitely research the dpc issues. I have an old laptop running a linux distro too - so I think I was half thinking about spending some time to see what I could get running vst wise in there (but I don't think ravenscroft / modern u has a linux compatible plugin)... but will spend a bit reading first!

Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019821 08/31/20 12:53 PM
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too late to edit my post, but found this latency checker tutorial on the sweetwater site: https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/articles/solving-dpc-latency-issues/#CheckLatency

Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019839 08/31/20 01:39 PM
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The lesson I learned in the 1980s was:

First pick your desired application software.
Then pick a computer to run it.

This why I have an iPad and not a generic tablet. For the available apps.

But MACs and PCs for the most part have different but comparable apps.

(Except for Mainstage. You can’t find anything close, especially for $30.)

So, back to the old-school thinking, just pick Ford or Chevy and plan to stick with it. It will work.

Now having said that, it is possible to buy a hardware computer that is dreadfully underpowered for music creation. Don’t do that!

Re: Mac vs PC?
Doug M. #3019842 08/31/20 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug M.
One way around this is the nuclear option:
A Hackintosh.

Having the best of both worlds sounds perfect.
If you want to take the "both worlds" option, I'd still get a Mac. Boot Camp software (free from Apple) lets the Mac boot as a Windows machine (though you have to supply a copy of Windows). And it's actually a supported config, unlike a hackintosh which is unsupported and can be quirky and can break with new Mac OS releases. With optional software (VMWare, Parallels), a Mac also adds the option of running the Windows and Mac environments simultaneously, which you cannot do on a Hackintosh. You lose some performance in that mode, but it's nice to have the option for situations where highest performance isn't required.

Re: Mac vs PC?
OzarkCDN #3019847 08/31/20 01:52 PM
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My problem with Boot Camp is that the Mac trackpad has really basic functionality under Windows. I haven't tried anyone else's drivers though.

Last edited by johnstaf; 08/31/20 01:55 PM.
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