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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been in the place of helping quite a few clients purchase mac computers for their recording studios. (although I am not a mac dealer).

Lately, the dilemma is for people wanting to go portable. With cost always being the main limiting factor, the other is the ability to run a major recording application (Logic 6, Cubase SX or Pro Tools 6) in OS X.

I have been steering people away from the iBooks because of the G3 processor and the RAM limitations. It's fine for now, but I fear they will want to upgrade before the year is out. On the other hand the G4's are still pretty pricey and I wonder if it's worth it. Does anyone have a working opinion?

Restating the question: "Which Mac portable should I buy if I want to run the Application (Cubase SX, Pro Tools 6, Logic 6) in OS X?"

Thanks!

- Jason
 

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I'd go G4 -- particularly if the user wants to utilize virtual instruments/sampling like Reason or Emagic's EXS24 sampler.
 

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I say G4 just due to the fact that you can hook up another monitor and increase your deskspace. I know this isn't exactly a portable feature, but I can see many audio dudes wanting to take their sessions back home to edit.

Plus, if you go with the 15" or 17", you get a much larger workspace anyway (>1024 X 768).

And while some apps may still not be optimized for the G4 (still true for PT???), the higher processor speed will be benificial.

IMHO, if I were doing audio work on a portable, I would have dropped the few hundred extra for the 12" powerbook rather than this ibook. But then I think, if I had ProTools with me at all times, I'd never get any school work done
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies.

Okay, so I copied the two cheapest portables with CD-R drives off the apple.ca website. (Oct. 14th, 2003)

iBook
1,849.00 (add $300 for 640 total RAM )
900MHz PowerPC G3
512K L2 cache @900MHz
128MB SDRAM memory (Expandable to 640)
40GB Ultra ATA drive
Combo Drive

G4 power book
$2,299.00 ( upgrade 786 RAM add $450 )
12.1-inch TFT Display
1024x768 resolution
1GHz PowerPC G4
512K L2 cache
256MB DDR266 SDRAM (expandable to 1.25 Gig)
40GB Ultra ATA/100
combo drive
Full size keyboard
FireWire 400

We're looking at a $450-600 difference (depending on RAM configs). Mostly for people it comes down to price. Of course EVERYONE reading this would take the G4 over the G3, but is it worth the hard earned money for the audio recording performance boost?

- Jason
 

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When running OS X on any mac computer you have to remember that the OS itself is a ram pig. You need 256 megs just to have a mac that will respond with speed and that's not including the amount of ram you will require to run your audio applications. The next element of the computer I would look at is vram, here again the more you have the snappier the mac is going to perform. When comparing the G3 and G4 powerbooks these points become factors that you should consider when recomending a portable to your customers. I would also be miserable with the 12 inch screen size of the iBook and low end powerbook G4. If you are working with Cubase, Logic or Reason you want some real estate to open up your windows. I have used these programs on a 12 inch screen and after any length of time I was very tired. Too much eye strain. The 500 or 600 dollars that you will shell out for the G4 will be a moot point after any length of time that your customers will be working or giging with a G4 powerbook. I know that it's definately worth it. There have been too many times in my past when I have cut corners to save 500.00 dollars on a computer and I only ended up spending more in the long run. You can't sell your 5 day old iBook for what you paid for it last week and get all your money back. I haven't even mentioned the gains the G4 chip has over the G3. I think everyone knows about that. And how about all the other features the powerbook G4 has that the iBook lacks. Add them all up and there is no way to compare. The iBook is a great portable computer but the G4 simply out classes the G3 when you compare the two portables side by side.
 

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Though I am not a real audiofile, I have just finished some very basic editing (Cropping, Fading In/Out, Enhancing and taking out the odd pop and click) using Sound Studio. Not a High End application by any means.

One files was 1 hour and 20 minutes long and 1.38GB in size. (Raw) The other about 30 minutes and 650MB in size.

I began the editing on a 17" 1Ghz/512MB/G4 Aluminum.
Clickedy, Clickidy, Click, I was having fun.

Had to return it and finish the job with the trusty Pismo.
14" G3/500Mhz/1GB.

Now it is more like Click (Go for Coffee), Click (Scratch myself, fart and have time to burp), Click (Damn, I gotta get me a G4 at any cost.)

So I would suggest the G4 processor at any size (even 12" remembering ayou can attach a second monitor) but as stated earlier the wide screen has its advantages when toting around on location.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This is kind of the bottom line I'm coming to with people: The iBook (like the iMac) are just not meant for pro audio recording. You CAN do it, but you probably won't WANT to do it on these machines.

Yes Timothy - OS X the memory hog. Now Panther will have separate installs for G3, G4, G5's - it will help a little, but probably not enough I suspect.

I'd love to hear some more real life application stories (thanks heart). Anyone else out there doing OS X audio on a portable?

- J
 

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Not done any heavy recording per se, but I have done some editing. That was getting a little crazy at times. A little bit of stuttering to say the least. And these were only 3-4 min aiff/SE16 files. Those were done on an iMac DV 400 with a stock HD + 512 Megs of ram. but it was cool. Looking fwd to doing the same on the G4 though... should be alot more fun though... As I should be doing some low level recording: simple live feeds.

H!
 

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A composer friend of mine took his 15" TiBook and a small midi controller out west with him for some "field composition" and liked it. He used Logic Audio, EXS24 sampler and one of the RME interfaces. i THINK it had a G4/667 in it.

Yeah, the iBook is not a strong solution for audio; G3, lower FSB -- AND VIDEO MIRRORING ONLY on VGA output... on the smaller iBook, that is. The 12" TiBooks can do dual monitor spanning. BUT, like the iMac, the 12" Powerbook does not have an L3 cache! The other Powerbooks do.

And you DEFINITELY want LOTS of RAM.

What a conundrum.

What about a used 15" Powerbook -- a Titanium one? Like, at least s/he'd have a larger display, the G4 processor, a decent L3 cache and dual monitor spanning.

Here's a comparative list of g4 laptops:
http://www.lowendmac.com/pb2/g4-guide.html

Now, the following example isn't a MONDO multi-track audio situation, but it is a mondo 24 EXS-24 audio instruments pumping out a big palette of samples (over 700MB), along with a Waves Renaissance reverb... maybe an EQ or two. Totally out-of-the-box, except the ethnic flute licks and piano. It's for a TV series I did. This music was a real John Williams rip-off. but, so was the character! :D The point of this audio clip? It was done on a G4/450. That's a 450MHz processor, 100MHz FSB... and 1.5GB of RAM -- but, under Mac OS 9, which has a lower overhead than OS X. But, I'd bet ya an 800MHz G4 -- with the L33 cache -- would be great for audio and OS X.

http://members.rogers.com/dropzone/EXS24andG4four50.mp3
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Macaholic! The talent! That was a very cool clip. I heard a little "Fiddler on the Roof" in there too I think.


That MP3 clip the best sounding argument I've heard for Logic so far (and the sampler!). Has anyone made anything equivalent in ProTools? (without paying a live orchestra - and no, using giga sampler on a second computer does not count!)

- J
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oh yes, and it goes to show that the MHZ may not be as essential as the G4 processor matched with a program that is optimized for it. I don't think I could pull that score off on my 450 G3.

Used macs - a great solution. I have owned 8 macs. Two I purchased new, six used. I would say I'm a fairly educated mac buyer, but I only had "take it to the mac store" problems with my new bondi blue iMac and new MMD G4 867. Both were covered under apple care.

I have a theory - if a mac makes it past the first 6 months, it will last for years (with proper care). As long as the person you're buying from is being honest about the condition you're probably okay.

Low End Mac is a great place to research. Ebay CAN be good place to buy. Nice selection if you can sort through all the crooks! What do people think - is G4 powerbook used a better option than a new ibook?

- J
 

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Rev Audio wrote:

> Macaholic! The talent! That was a very cool clip.

Thanks, man


> I heard a little "Fiddler on the Roof" in there too I think.

Hmm... aint no Yiddish in this show's scene. There's a short section in the middle, right after the "Raiders" rip-off theme, where there was this Polyenesian island with ancient ruins on it. Maybe you're talking about that part? there are some "broken, lurching gruesome staggers" in it, where I did a broken waltz feel in 5/4. And one short section of a "warm 'n fuzzy Leave it To Beaver" scene before the final Big Build and statement. Anyhoo, I'm glad you liked it. BTW, I did that whole cue in 2 1/2 days :cool:

> That MP3 clip the best sounding argument I've heard for Logic so far (and the sampler!).

A sampler is only as good as its library -- and its programmer ;) And BIG RAM helps! (Gigastudio obviously exceeds the Mac's 2GB max) I have also dumped a lot of dough on sample libraries. But, most of what you heard on that was done with Peter Siedlaczek's Advanced Orchestra, some Roland Orchestral Library, and a dash of Quantum Leap Brass, all on Logic 4 -- which is limited to 24 audio instruments :( But I amassed a GIANT perussion preset, combined all the brasses articulations and dynamics together by instrument spanning the entire midi keyrange spec. So, everything was easily available. A sub release of Logic 5 pumped Logic Platinum up to 64 insruments. I am still on version 4 -- and Mac OS 9 for music ONLY -- but hope to move to version 6 (and finally give Mac OS Classic the decent burial it deserves) in a month or so.

> Has anyone made anything equivalent in ProTools? (without paying a live orchestra - and no, using giga sampler on a second computer does not count!)

I can tell you that there is NO WAY you can pull that off by sequencing in ProTools. You need a powerful sequence editor with continuous controller input and other interface tools to shape and massage that stuff into something musical. The physical characteristics and limitations of the keyboard in trying to phrase like other instruments demands much post-record sequence editing. Like I suggested before, know what your customr wants to do and package accordingly.
 

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Lowendmac is GOD! VERY valuable resource.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the replies.

So, I guess the bottom line is - what is the best VALUE for portables right now? If you were putting your money down today, what would you do:

G3 used
G3 ibook new
G3 ibook used
G4 new
G4 used

Anyone?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
anyone....?
 

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12" G4 1ghz powerbook new or used. I recommend this because I've done a ton of research and this is what I'm getting. My main focus is music production and video editing, and this machine will do them both with ease. I have had bad experience with OS X and G3s, using audio apps for recording live audio, such as poor latency and not enough power to handle multiple track effects. IMHO, 12" G4 1ghz is the way to go for them.

Also, you should get the bare min. of ram from Apple, it's extremely overpriced. 512MB ram for $400 something or $135 at a computer store downtown Toronto... just a thought..
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hey what about those new G4 ibooks - this line maybe helps answer the problem: we want g4 portability, we want cost effectiveness. If you can live with the RAM only being expandable to 640, then I think they are a good deal for portable audio recording.

- j
 
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