New computer for intensive Film Scoring and Sound Design

Hi all:
I’m planning to change my old Mac Pro (2009) to a new computer. I’ve read nearly all the posts published in this forum, but as I still have several doubts, I’ve opened a new specific thread.

My main work is film scoring and sound design. I use Nuendo 10 with an RME Fireface 800 interface. My main setup involves a lot of MIDI tracks routed to several Vienna Ensemble Pro 7, where I have both VSL instruments and Kontakt 6 instances (plus some PLAY instances as well) and back to Nuendo for mixing. The total amount of tracks is between 150-200, and I also use a pretty large amount of plugins to process and mix (no UAD cards or similar, all native).

I’ve read a lot about the supposed problems of Cubase/Nuendo with multiple cores systems (it’s supposed to be better a reduced number of cores with higher speed per core). On the other hand, VE Pro and Kontakt make an intensive use of multiple cores and multithreading, so it completes the mess when deciding the path to go.

I have no problem on switching from Mac to PC, but what I worries is to make the right configuration of number/speed of cores to maximize the performance with the setup that I have explained.

What I have clear is that my confguration may include the following:

  • 128 Gb RAM expandable.
  • Dedicated GPU card
  • SSD drives

Currently, my options are:

  • A new Mac Pro with the right configuration of number/speed of cores
  • A new Audio specific PC (by Pc Audio Labs or similar). Here the options are more diverse, but I can reduce them to the following:
    · i7/i9 processors based computer
    · Dual Xeon processors based computer

Any recommendation?
Thanks in advance.

Some thoughts on that, since im in a similar field and think about a new computer as well:

Mac or Win:
My opinion on that is
+customizable, so its easier to get the perfect system for your needs, and by reducing things you dont need, you can save money.

  • You need to know how to handle that software, driver in times of trouble


  • if its running, its running, and you dont need to think about it anymore
  • not so customizable so you have to pay for things you dont need

So in the end, if its for business, you should take the best system for your needs and not the cheapest.

I once did the change and bought a WIN Pc specialized for audio by a company that sells audio stuff and builds audio win computer.
it worked perfectly fine for 4 months, and then suddenly didnt boot up 2 SSDs. it took me some days to find out that windows installed some safety updates that were not compatible to the ssd driver. So i had to download a samsung firmware SSD upgrade , do the update and it worked again. No big deal - as long as there is no customer sitting behind you …

So i went the more expensive way and switched back to Mac again. Here i have minor problems, but all in all the systems are more reliable.

So now to your CPU questions:
I dont know the answer as well. I try to get a student do a bachelor thesis about that, because i like to know that as well - and we have lots of students that need topics :slight_smile:
From what i guess its like:
The multiple core problem was much bigger until Cubase 9. It seems that they improved that matter in Cubase 10.
Never the less, Logic seems to handle it better. So i had the same issues with an 12 core 5.1 mac pro, which performed very poorly (i wrote about that quite long in another threat) and was much better on a 6 core. And the test was the other way round on logic :slight_smile:

On VI Control some user post tests on the new mac pro 16 core, which perform very good in terms of needs of many tracks. So that seems to be pretty good for us!
I talked to apple and they say they are culant - so will try it out myself, and if it doesnt work out , i will send the mac pro back.

To make it a bit more complicated : VEPro uses the CPU power from outside the DAW. So it isnt restricted by the programming of the DAW. That means, if you work with VEpro , the more cores the better for you, if you need a lot of tracks.

my strategy is to go with the base model or 12 core mac pro, do the ram upgrade my self, and having the options to upgrade the CPu later, if i need it. And if you want to go that road: talk to your local apple store before, becasue they give 6% business discount

Regarding Cubase/Nuendo and Windows+many cores: The basic issue is that Windows allows for a maximum amount of a specific type of threads and those are the threads that Cubase/Nuendo uses. There are two threads per core when using hyperthreading. When going above that limit some threads have to wait their turn and you can get audio dropouts. Steinberg has solved this as follows:

  1. If you’re using ASIO Guard it’s not an issue, because there’s enough buffering in the audio engine that even if there are more threads than “allowed” there won’t be dropouts.

  2. If you are NOT using ASIO Guard then Steinberg disables about half of the cores/threads, effectively limiting the chance that you run out of threads (because you’re using fewer).

That’s as far as I can see how they’ve gone about “fixing” it. I really think you’ll need to do some more reading up on this because Steinberg probably won’t give you any recommendations. They should be commenting on this but they aren’t.

As for Win vs. OSX I’ll just say that other than the above the issue of updates can be dealt with pretty easily by making sure all hardware is from vendors with a good reputation so there aren’t any funky drivers floating around, and then you get Win 10 Professional and that allows you to defer feature updates up to a year, and quality updates up to a month. Deferring the updates is a way to make sure that your computer doesn’t automatically update using a version that won’t work for you. Instead you can wait until you hear from others that the new big update is working fine, and then trigger it manually when you have time to troubleshoot if you need to.

And on that note: If you’re willing to buy from a company that assembles PCs for consumers then I really think that the worry about Windows kind of goes away. Because now the burden of setting up a good system is on the seller of that computer, just like it is when you buy a Mac from Apple.

So since that’s the case you should be able to get good recommendations from that company about what to get, if they recommend i7/i9 or AMD CPUs. Generally the pricier platforms will give you slower maximum clock speed but often provide more memory channels with a higher capacity as well as more connectivity to drives etc.

Start by figuring out your budget and then ask a PC audio DAW builder for recommendations. Come back here and see if people agree…

If you are techy - you could build a computer using pc hardware and install the mac operating system (a “hackintosh”). That combo will give you the best performance (make sure to do the research on what’s compatible. The info isn’t hard to find. ) and also bang for buck. You could build a pretty powerful/quiet machine for around 1k that would be easy to upgrade in the future “piece by piece”. In my humble opinion - Overall, i think apple charges wayyy too much for their computers the hardware specs aren’t really worth it.