Mac or PC?

As those other threads Split linked will show, if you’re speaking simply in terms of raw performance, Windows/PC is the current hands-down winner for Cubase.

But really, with modern computers and audio interfaces this really only makes a difference in your day-to-day work if you’ve got projects with dozens of tracks and hundreds of plugins. Otherwise any current-model Mac will be perfectly adequate for most folks’ needs. Tons of professional musicians and producers use Macs. They’re fine.

But at the moment, for a number of reasons, if performance is a big consideration get a PC.

Thanks for all the advice so far. My current machine and Inta Audio about 4 years old has intel core 2 duo 6320 1.86Ghz 1.86ghz, 2 hard drives, 4gb of ram of which 2.94 is usuable. If I use more than one track of halion SE, sonic or sonic SE it just dies - keeps crashing etc. It seems to struggle particularly with the Grand SE and HSO. I am a reasonably accomplished pianist so play lots of notes and I would like to use up to about 20 tracks of sample based vst instruments - each using lots of harmony.

So any tips on what sort of minimum spec might work for me whether mac or pc would be gratefully appreciated.

(My workaround for now seems to be to export the VST instrument tracks, copy the song file, remove the vst instruments and insert the samples as audio tracks).

Incidentally if lots of pros are using macs - is that Cubase or just logic?

What kind of audio device are you using at the moment? And are you planning to keep that device?
What’s the budget you want to spent for a system?
Will the system be dedicated to audio only, or does it need to serve another goal?

Why don’t you just freeze the tracks??

Hi Niles,

I have an alesis multimix 12 firewire - I was planning on keeping it unless it turns out it is not good enough?

Regarding budget, right now my budget is zero! but I need to know what I am heading for and save up somehow. I hope by next early next year I can spend about £1200.

Regarding the question about audio, I am not sure I understand the question. I use some midi - e.g. my yamaha S90 keyboard, and some audio as in my S2200 condenser mic and some plug in VST instruments,

Thanks, Nigel

Erm… I did not realise I could do that :blush: It’s a while since I have looked at the manuals and tutorials! Thanks for that tip - that sounds like a much better idea!

Another tip. If you work with a sample player that can load multi-instruments
(like Kontakt or Halion) you can make the whole production with just one instance of
that sampler and route the different instruments to several outputs in cubase to mix 'em down
via the F11-Rack. You can save a lot of cpu here too.

I have not found this to be the case. Multiple instances of kontakt do not eat up much CPU at all.

Just looked up how to do this in the manual - what a great function. This should make a huge difference

Not sure about Kontakt but I do use halion. Sorry I don’t understand what is the F11 rack is and what do you mean by route the instruments to several outputs? Please excuse my ignorance on this. I am a somewhat sporadic user of cubase.

Look at Devices > VST Instrument Rack. If you open a VST Instrument there
you can send the midi data from different tracks in Cubase to different instruments
in Halion. And there’s a small arrow which points down in the rack right to the instrument where
you can add new audio outputs for the instruments.

This video describes it very well. Have a look at 4:55:

You can do the same thing with the different instruments of halion which makes it a little easier.
And well, for my case more VST Instrument instances mean less CPU Power.

Best regards.

Lots of pros use Macs with hardware TDM mixers. And ProTools running them. Does Logic’s TDM bridge still work?

That said, I found Cubase far more stable on OSX than Logic while running third party VIs. No more or less stable than Windows. The windowing is better on OSX by miles…but, to do heavy VI work, you need multiple internal drives, which means MacPro…which means thousands of dollars…and many of my VIs needed paid upgrades to be compatible with X.6, so I went Win7x64.

Doing light VI and general audio work, I really don’t think it matters. Take direct monitoring off the table as it doesn’t work for crap on any system I’ve had. Work? Yes…work well, no. So, you’re GOING to use the control panel of your interface to control its cue mix routing on either platform, IME…if you’re not just a picky bastid and use an analog mixer for cues like I do.

Haha. Well, that’s true.

If u need huge power for less money, go PC.
A Mac Pro is a nice thing. But as you said, very expensive.
I can’t tell how good or bad logic or pro tools are running on the
present OS cuz I simply do not use them as I really do not like them in any way.
But for me as I work a lot more with MIDI than with audio the internal hdd
combined with an external backup drive is enough.

To be true I thought that the TDM bus was pro tools only as it’s used to send
and receive data from dididesign interfaces.

But I can tell that Cubase is running very stable on my Mac.
When I used Win XP back in the days I had too many crashes.
Sometimes it was the system itself, sometimes it was Cubase.

But I heard from many users that this is a thing of the past since
windows 7.

Btw, direct monitoring works very well for me as I just use a 2-channel-interface.
So how do you make the cue mix not using it? Using the To-Tape-Signal?
Otherwise the musicians get a latency on their headphones, don’t they?

If it works, it works!
Just be sure to order an extra TI FW card when building or ordering a system, unless the mobo has a TI chip onboard (not very likely these days).

With that budget I would personally go for PC. Simply, because even for a PC it’s a rather tight budget to build a system, which is silent (Silent 19" rack, Noctua coolers, decoupled HDD if you don’t use SSD, and so on) but powerfull (i7 hexacore). But it is possible!! And by next year, maybe even better.
I think a Mac with those specs isn’t realistic for now (who know what they have next year).

For instance when you also use your system for heavy graphical (3d) application or games, you need a heavier graphic card with active cooling (risk of noise) and most likely a more powerfull PSU. If you don’t use those programs you could use a card that is cooled passive (silent).
Or maybe you use the system for Office applications too, then it would be wise to dual boot (2x OS) to keep your DAW enviroment clean. For optimal use seperate HDD’s would be prefered.

In terms of a new PC the best performance / price ratio at the moment is the Intel I5-3570 (which can also be overclocked easily). I would go for at least 8GB ram and also an SSD drive for your main programs with another normal drive for samples etc. Not sure if you are in the UK but if you are Chillblast and Scan are both good system builders

Thanks for explaining. If it may mean less CPU drain then well worth a try. Cheers :slight_smile:

If you’re gonna go the Mac route, I’d say get a Mac Pro not an iMac. iMacs are very beautiful and sleek, but their all-in-one design is somewhat conducive to overheating. If you were gonna use an iMac for less CPU-intensive tasks, it would be fine. But if you’re running Cubase with lots of VIs and samples, it might have a somewhat shorter lifespan than a comparable PC tower.

Thanks to all the people who have replied. Really helpful tips and lots to think about.

Much appreciated

Cheers, Nigel :slight_smile:

Get what makes you more productive. Personally, I’m more used to a PC and am fine with building my own and setting it up.

Make the computer become as invisible as possible. It stands between you and the music. It’s a little bit different answer for everyone.