PC vs Mac

Lets open this can of worms. I’ve seen on a post, that when a user running PC/Windows gets an error, some comments is simply Buy a Mac to fix. Honestly - I’ve been running PC for most of my production life, and also ran a Mac for about 3 years. I’ve studied computer systems engineering so I might have an valid opinion - Use it don’t use it.

For years Apple had the marketing strategy that only Apple Mac can do graphic design and video production and PC is bad. There was one small reason for this (in the beginning) and that was that Apple had the ability to Calibrate the monitors, and PC did not - I’m talking years ago. So this stigma ran rampant. Obviously PC caught up quickly but could never convert the Apple fanboys.

Apple is basically running a Unix OS, with OSX GUI on top. One thing the do very well is, to match hardware - Foxconn is the company building the Mac (Don’t know if it changed) but last I remembered. In the PC world, Foxconn will never be me first choice motherboard. It is just not good enough, but Apple, because of their testing etc, they matched all the hardware perfectly. And that is why it works so good. They took the guess work out for the consumer - Which can be a good thing for a lot of consumers. Get on with the work, and stop worrying about the “mechanics” .

PC world this is definitely different - You need to know what is going on underneath - Because I decide how you expand, what hardware you add, what features you need.

Simply put - If you use the dedication to build a PC, with decent hardware and compatibility, you will most definitely have a stable computer, stronger and cheaper than a Apple Mac. No doubt.

You thing that does bother me - Is it feels the same strategy apple used regarding the graphic design, is no creeping in, in the Audio Production World. That only apple can do “music”… One place where is see this is at Universal Audio. For a long time their Apollo interfaces was only available for Thunderbolt. I do understand the reason behind this - Bandwidth. But USB3 changed all that and Apollo was made available for windows. One thing to not is, Thunderbolt is not Apple technology. It is Intel Technology that is available on every modern Windows PC. The PC world just never cared to implement it, simply because of the USB. USB is backwards compatible. A usb 1 device will work on any USB 3 port. It will always work. And that was the reason for not going to Thunderbolt. PC decide to wait for the bandwidth of USB to catch up to that of Thunderbolt. No that the technology is on-par, the PC world is still kept behind. No Luma (Universal Audio) for windows? Why? I promise you in the world of Music Production there are a lot more Windows pc than Apple Mac, but marketing drives consumers to believe their Investment in Apple is worth it and protected.

If you use PC or Apple it doesn’t matter. We will never bash a user for using a SM58 to track vocals instead of a U87 since we understand the art. But to just say apple is better and you have no idea what is inside is just naïve. Upgrade your PC CPU to the same spec - Upgrade the drive to the same NVME drive. Same Ram . Same bus speeds etc. etc. Quality components. And your PC experience might just be mind blowing…

You don’t have to build a PC. You can buy a pre-build and then just upgrade anything later. Even laptops allow you to upgrade your RAM and Drives.

I did get an M1 MBP when they came out, but ended up returning it for a PC laptop because it didn’t offer any tangible benefits. I had serious buyer’s remorse, because I had to pay such huge charges to upgrade RAM and Storage at point of sale. It drove the price up to almost $2,100.

All of my external SSDs run at reduced speed on M1-series SoCs, as well.

I returned it and bought a G14 and, saving about $800. Well, $700 after the RAM upgrade I put in it.

The newer MacBooks are better with port selection, but they retain the issue with USB Storage speeds. They are great machines, I just don’t feel any difference between Windows and macOS, personally. I am too computer literate/adept with technology to care. I use them both equally proficiently and don’t really feel any disparities. They are interchangeable to me.

The only actual preference I have is window management on Windows. It’s simply next-level compared to macOS.

They were involved both in the development… at least for version 1 and 2

The technology is not on par… the advantage of Thunderbolt is not bandwith only, you are able to access the PCIe bus directly from the device driver software to lower latency for audio and video as well

I stand corrected. Technically no - But practically pretty close. USB3 is still more than good enough for any audio application… Latency is not a problem. Even with multiple channels and DSP. USB4 also runs 40 Gbps

Thunderbolt devices can lower the latency a bit more… the limit for USB seems to be around 4ms roundtrip with significant high system load, TB can reach 3ms with much lower system load… so if you need low latency audio transfer it would be better to use Thunderbolt or TCP/IP
I’m working as a live sound engineer and we need low latency… the future will be TSN

Apple supports TSN directly in its systems.

I read up on TSN. If the PC world decided not to adapt any other format than USB, I doubt they will adopt TSN even. Just keep on waiting for USB to improve as needed. I seems rather if apple is slowing embracing USB.

I see this is based on Ethernet Technology? If im looking at the correct stuff. Is it just software(Network Card Driver sort of thing), or do you need special hardware to run?

Yes, it’s Ethernet technology.

They (PC vendors) have to adopt TSN… it is needed for other use cases as well, automation and controller applications will rely on it in the future.
Actually, it is available in standard Unix systems based on PC hardware or ARM based systems.

There are some functions required that have to be implemented in hardware
Intel has some NICs already available and there exist implementations for other network controller or different FPGA environments from assorted vendors.
The biggest problem is that switches need to support it as well.

Old wives tales. Mac> PC for audio. Its a pile of dung . Im on my 4th Mac here BTW.

Equally as many issues as a PC. Only diff is on PC I can buy a part and FIX it

IF you need latency free monitoring you simply use the software mixer that comes with your interface, this is NOT a hard thing to do. Guys piss and moan about 3 secs this 4 secs that in round trip. It does not matter if you are using the tools properly.

If you are doing LIVE sound then get Sound Grid or something that is designed for that use.

Thanks for the obvious advice…
but SoundGrid has the same problems, minimal possible latency is around 5ms and the technology is expensive.
AVB, Dante and Ravenna work as well.
And there are proprietary protocols available that provide round trip latency times around 0.7ms and Dante can reach 1ms within the Yamaha environment… the bottleneck is the interface to the computer in these cases, this adds too much unwanted latency.

But our main concern in live sound is that it is not possible to compensate the latency automatically.

1 Like

You can work on either. It doesn’t actually matter although Macs are kind of ubiquitious in many visible creative enviroments. Macs and Apple products also hold resale value pretty well. Choose what your prefer. For the record I love the Mac ecosystem for my regular day-to-day driver stuff like browsing the web, listening to music and watching YouTube vids but I do all my office and audio work on PC devices (mainly HP) – however I could work on anything without issue.

If you are doing LIVE sound as you say then I would think you would be using. Yamaha MC or DIGICo board for the mixing. You would simply have a snake split on stage to go to your recording rig. I"ll assume the OBVIOUS here that you are wanting sub 1ms latency for your live mixes cause you can hear it in that big room?

Ive never heard live guys complain about this but then there is you.

Back on topic here. PC vs Mac

In-Ear Monitoring… think about it… that’s live as well, and it’s the most critical application I can think of.
And if the desk and the transport stream have too much latency, it will add this to the FIR filters in modern PA controllers.
Nobody mentions that the high power system amps have up to 10ms of latency.

You can see what I own in my profile. And I use some other desks on some locations around here.

In a live situation I would simply take a split off the stage and monitor with a diff console for in ears. .

I ask this for learning sake here. How do big places like say Lakewood Church in Texas do things like this? There are using in ears as well.

You can PM is you would like.

As a both PC builder/user/expert/HW developer since the 1980’s - I think this needs a few comments. I use both PC and Mac (Now M1 Max) and use Cubase/Steinberg tools on both.

  1. PC’s often suffer from bad drivers and implementations - so it can be hard to get something to work well on Windows 10/11. Product cycles are so fast drivers loose “attention” not long after product release.

  2. Apple have to support less hardware - so usually the computer and drivers are “reasonably” well integrated - and Apple supports their “old” products generally longer than the Windows “counterparts”

  3. USB suffer from lack of requirement for real certification. That is one of the biggest differences between TB & USB. To show TB logo - the device port have to be certified. I have a stack of ThinkPads (Workstation class) where High Speed USB does not work (USB C/3.1 etc) - likely due to HW design fault (matched data pairs not matched correctly) - that was the reason I finally gave up on ThinkPads after 4 generations of buying the “highest spec” ThinkPads money could buy - and none of them would not work correct with high speed data.

  4. I feel when ever I use Windows now - it is all advertising. I open the start menu - and there are adverts for something I really do not want - ever. Animated Icons with advertising or news gets put in the start menu when you look away for 30 seconds. Even ThinkPad’s “holy” utilities have become advertising hellholes. (ThinkVantage)

  5. When ever I turn on a ThinkPad after not using it for a week or two - the first 20% of battery and 10-20 minutes is used on downloading updates, restarting, waiting for Windows Telemetry to update due to the updates and then waiting for anti-malware check to complete checking updates did not contain anything bad.

  6. Apple hardware is not super repairable compared to TP - that I think is a big minus for Apple.

  7. Many PC’s are upgradable - but a lot of manufactures incl. Lenovo are copying Apples standards - so many new machines are not as repairable as they used to be. And even some ThinkPads now don’t have “protection” for leaks through the keyboard any more.

  8. Apple Audio vs Windows Audio - IMHO - Mac’s are much more flexible with audio interfaces - and not an eternal fight to get things to work. (Apart from when RME and Apple can’t agree on Mac Kernel based drivers) - I had so many issues with PC’s and especially MOTU interfaces.

  9. On my ThinkPads it was a constant fight to keep fans quiet. I would have Task Manager open to make certain I stayed below 10% CPU usage so fans would stay quiet during recording and mixing. On my M1 Max - I have no such worry - I rarely hear the fans even with huge projects - and that was running through Cubase 11 and “Rosetta” translation.

I still have a giant “desktop” Tower PC for running very intensive tasks and VR. But 95% of my work is done on my MacBook Pro M1 Max. When I was using PC’s only - the work distribution was more like 60% ThinkPad - 40% high performance PC.

And I’m not flooded with advertising when using my MBP compared to Windows - but there is no “ideal” platform.

If you have something that works - stick to it.

That’s really a company thing, not Win vs OSX. It’s the choice of Apple how many devices to support and it’s the same for Lenovo or any other non-Apple brand.

Not a “PC vs MAC” issue either really.

On my Win 11 Pro install I have absolutely zero advertising.
None.
Ever.

You can defer updates for weeks and set updates to only run off-hours, which can be between midnight and 6am or whatever.

I don’t have a lot of issues with my MOTU 16A. Also had very few issues with my Lynx TWO-B. I generally prefer OSX’ general treatment of audio though.

Points 7/9 seem to also not be about “PC vs Mac” but about specific brands. And when it comes to power usage and cooling it’s not like Apple didn’t make a few “pro” machines in the past that didn’t sound like jet engines. They did.

One of the main benefits of a Windows system is building it yourself. We used to be able to build a Hackintosh but with their new chips I’m not sure how that’ll shake out. Anyway, building one’s own Windows computer gives more control over component selection which will include fans, and in addition to that fan speed and what curve to apply to them is under control… as is CPU power usage and clock speed.

I’ve built my own PCs and bought PCs built for audio. I would never buy an off the shelf pc or laptop/think pad etc. I have never had a single problem using a pc and I get no adverts on win 10 or 11 so I’m not sure where you get this from. I managed to use an i7 pc (still being used with Cubase by my son) for 12 years. Upgraded the cpu and memory off eBay for £50 about 4 years ago so it got a new lease of life. It’s 14 years old and still working well. Do that with a Mac. A 14 year old Mac couldn’t run a newer OS or be upgraded easily. My machine for the last year and half is a i9 built for audio (was about £50 more than I could build it for and had two years guarantee) works perfectly with my zoom L-20 and my RME Babyface pro fs.

The difference is there are many pc makers out there. If you are serious about using for audio then get one made for audio where the components are chosen for that purpose.

By the way I’m not knocking Apple as they are one company so easier to get something that works. just stating that you have to choose more carefully with PCs.

By the way Ive seen a huge amount of problems in forums for things not working right with Macs these days so something is not right. They also change os more regularly which seems to cock up everything

I’ll just add that in my experience the OS has little to do with a lot of problems encountered. A lot of the time it’s software and/or drivers that are poorly written, or it’s incompatible or failing hardware. Generally I’ve had much more issues in professional studios where I work than at home on my home-assembled PC.

They’re all computers. They all have problems.

2 Likes