The debate over which type of computer reigns supreme has raged on for decades now. As with sports teams and political parties, people began to huddle into distinct camps, devout in their allegiances. In the computing world, these camps became Mac vs PC. And this battle has also bled into the world of music. For producers and musicians, the question of Mac vs PC goes beyond computing alone, but Mac vs PC for music production, specifically.
The power of Mac. Dedicated apps for music, TV, and podcasts. Smart new features like Sidecar, powerful technologies for developers, and your favorite iPad apps, now on Mac. MacOS is the operating system that powers every Mac. It lets you do things you simply can’t with other computers. Which is Best: Mac or PC for a Music Computer Straight Talk from Tweak. G o to any computer gear-head forum, including studio-central, and simply ask this troubling question. Suddenly the air changes around you. For a moment, you sense a cold scrutiny from everyone around you, the same kind of vibe the significant other gave you last year when you forgot valentines day (again!). Apple MacBook Pro – Retina Display. Apple Macbook Pro. The reason you see so many Apple.
Today, people still tend to cling to one or the other. However, years of competition and exponential technological breakthroughs have shrunk the gap between Macs and PCs even further. This bodes especially well for music producers. More processing power means shorter export times, more plugins, faster workflow, higher quality sound, and so much more. But even with this overall improvement in computing power, most producers want to work within a single system. And Macs and PCs remain the two most viable options. So when it comes to Mac vs PC for music production, which is better?
Mac Or Pc Yahoo
- These days, the inside of a PC could be very similar to the inside of a Mac, yet both platforms still come with their own pros and cons. Although the cases and, in particular the operating systems, of a PC and Mac still have a somewhat different look and feel, after so many years of fundamental internal differences it still feels slightly bizarre that nowadays you could find almost exactly.
- The operating system on a PC or Mac is a fundamental part of the user experience. Replacing the aged iTunes with new Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Podcasts apps. Read Best free Mac apps.
What do we mean by Mac vs PC?
Before we go further with the specifics of Mac vs PC for music production, let’s briefly describe what we mean by Mac and PC. These labels get thrown around as general markers for Apple and Microsoft products, but this isn’t exactly right. Apple alone produces Macintosh computers and its operating system, macOS. Microsoft also manufactures computers and its operating system, Windows. However, several other companies such as Dell and Lenovo make computers that run Windows as well. To make matters more complicated, Windows can run on a Mac, and some people hack macOS onto their PC.
So in short, we’re really referring to the unaltered package here. If you buy a Mac, you’re likely running macOS, and if you buy a PC you’re probably using Windows.
What are we looking for?
We should first outline the parameters which will inform our decision when duking it out between Mac vs PC for music production. Which hardware or operating system does a particular thing better than the other? What are these particular things? They might be numerous, depending on how technical we want to get. We’re mostly concerned with music production, of course. So to keep things simple, let’s break it down into four categories: ease of use, compatibility, functionality/power, and cost.
Aside from ease of use, compatibility plays the biggest role in the Mac vs PC for music production debate. This includes both hardware and software. Both Apple and Microsoft have to walk a tightrope to keep up with advancing technology while not leaving average users in the dust.
When we say hardware, we’re talking about the physical components of the computer. Depending on the model and year of Mac or PC, the hardware can vary. The most recent MacBook Pro, for instance, abandoned the standard USB 2.0/3.0 port entirely and strictly adopted USB C. Yes, the latter is much faster, but most products still rely on USB 2.0 or 3.0. So if your interface is a standard USB model, you’ll have to dish out for an adaptor, which Apple is happy to sell you.
New MacBooks also lack a CD/DVD drive. Because most files are shared and stored digitally now, there isn’t much of a use for this drive, but it can still frustrate some users who enjoy using their physical collections or uploading/downloading data to and from discs. Likewise, you’ll need a special lightning cable adapter to hook up an HDMI cable to your Mac.
On the hardware side, PCs might win the day here. Because PCs are made from parts that can come from more than one manufacturer, they’re highly customizable. More customization means more compatibility. But even without purchasing add-ons, PCs generally come equipped with more universal hardware out of the box. You won’t need special adaptors for USB, HDMI, or disc drives. Even beneath the hood, swapping out parts like graphics chips and processors tends to be a lot easier and cheaper for PC owners.
This isn’t to say Apple completely fails the compatibility test, however. Several music production companies design products with Apple in mind, since they understand their audience often uses Apple products. Apple’s iPhone has even found a niche in the mobile DAW market (check out these great iOS DAWs). In this way, Macs and other Apple products push the industry forward, but some fallout is inevitable.
As for add-ons, plugins, and software, you’ll generally find way more plugins available for Windows than for Mac (but check out these 25 free Mac plugins). When it comes to free plugins and VST instruments, PCs fare better as well. It takes a lot of research and time to find the best plugins for Mac, and even more time to find freebies. As for DAWs, if Logic is your program of choice, it will only run on Mac. Conversely, Sonar can only run on Windows. PCs can run more DAWs natively than Macs as well. You really have your pick on a PC: Cubase, Reaper, Ableton, FL Studio, Pro Tools, etc. While many of these top-tier DAWs also run on Mac now, they tend to work a bit better on PC.
Functionality and power
This factor stems right from the previous one. Out of the box, Macs are typically more functional and stable than PCs. They even come pre-loaded with GarageBand, a good stepping stone for the amateur producer without a professional DAW. Macs are designed with optimization in mind already. PCs, which have a more general audience, vary a bit more in their functionality and processing power. If you only use your PC for light web browsing and emails, you don’t need the bells and whistles. But for music producers, artists, designers, and gamers, the more power and functionality the better.
For some, even a high-end Mac doesn’t offer enough speed to handle everything, even if it’s generally more stable. And, as we mentioned, since PCs offer more customization, some creative types simply modify or enhance their PC to handle their work and play. Of course, not everyone has the money, skill, or knowledge to transform their PC into a powerhouse. So it’s really a draw here. Do you want more right away, or the potential to add more down the road?
Ease of use
Your ability to navigate your computer matters more than just about anything. You won’t get very far if you can’t get a grip on the design philosophy of your computer. Macs have dominated this space with intuitive design both inside and out. They’ve become known as the “creative person’s computer” in part for this reason. The applications of the MacBook touchpad alone make navigation and precision control incredibly simple. In Logic Pro, for instance, the touchpad acts as a multi-purpose mixing board, and it feels great.
Macs cost more, sometimes by a lot. This is partially due to fantastic branding by Apple, which drives up demand regardless of the product itself. But the product usually backs up the price. Macs run well, crash infrequently, offer a lot of power out of the gate, feature an intuitive interface and design, and live a long time. With fewer maintenance costs, the price of admission is usually worth it. These machines really are perfect for music production and creative endeavours in general. If that’s the experience you want, just be prepared to dish out a grand or two.
PCs typically cost less to start with. But, again, if you plan on modifying your hardware or software, the dollars begin to add up. Still, you’d have to modify your PC quite a bit to reach the cost of the highest-end Mac. In that case, your PC would likely perform better anyway. PCs might require more maintenance than Macs, but that gap is narrowing as well. So in the end, you could end up shelling out as much for a PC as you would have for a Mac, but it’s unlikely. And if you did, your PC would take the cake by a long shot.
Mac vs PC for music production: and the winner is…
Truth be told, you can’t really go wrong either way. Both Macs and PCs get better every year, and they’ll continue to improve so long as people continue using them. If you want a computer strictly for music production, maybe consider a Mac for its ease of use and built-in features. But if you plan on using your computer for several purposes in addition to music production, get a PC and upgrade it to your liking. The Mac vs PC for music production war rages on, and we all benefit from the competition. In the end, the winner is us.PreviousEmploying Music YouTube Channels to Grow Your Audience
You’ll be amazed to hear the music quality recorded from home recording studios.
That being said, should you go for a Windows PC or a Mac? There is a war going on because of this subject itself, but having produced on a Mac & Windows before, let me give you my insights.
Should You Buy A Mac?
Apple Mac computers are beautifully designed and you feel good owning one. I started producing music on a Mac on Logic Studio. Logic Studio was made by the same company, Apple, so I figured I shouldn’t have any problems using them both.
I’d be honest. It was much easier to work on a Mac as compared to Windows. Installing my first software was pretty easy. I could depend on the Mac at all times. All I had to do whenever I wanted to make music is just power the computer on, launch my DAW and then make music. Good when inspiration strikes and you must put down ideas quickly.
With a Mac, you get Core Audio as your built-in audio driver. Core Audio is brilliant and you have close to no issues using it with your favourite DAW or when doing screencasting. On the other hand, Windows Audio is horrible when it comes to music production and screen casting. (I even had to find a new solution when doing screencasting on a Windows PC).
My second Mac machine was the iMac. I bought an iMac for my recording studio and continue to finish many productions on it.
Another reason why I liked the iMac a lot is because it was almost near silent-less. No noisy fans or loud spinning hard disks. That made it a perfect machine for recording in the same room if you’re recording in your home studio.
Let’s Look At Some Mac Computers You Might Buy
Macbook / Macbook ProMacbook Retina 2015
First of all, please do not buy the new Macbook Retina 2015 for music production. Despite what people say, the Macbook Retina are not made for music production. It may be good for writers or web users on the go but not for a music producer.
On the other hand, Macbook Pros are fair for music production. Besides being portable, it has the power to take on many recording projects you throw at it. I’m not talking about big film scoring projects. For that, you’ll need a desktop machine, which we’ll get into later.
Macbook Pros also ships with a number of ports, like the Thunderbolt which is recognized by many audio hardware companies. It’s easy to find an audio interface with a thunderbolt connection.
There are a few things you have to watch before investing in a Macbook Pro. First, while it’s really fast, most Macbook Pros ship with very little hard disk storage. I find this limiting because I normally install lots of sample instruments into my computer. A Komplete Ultimate installation will take up to 320GB of space on your computer, more than what most Macbook Pros ship with.Macbook Pros don’t ship with large hard disk space sizes
A solution to this would be to install all your samples into a portable hard disk in which you carry with you.
Second, Macbooks are not upgradable. That is to say you have to upgrade your Macbook to the fullest specifications you can afford on the day you purchase it. You’ll need a lot of RAM for music production and you really have no choice but to upgrade the RAM on your Macbook to 16GB.
iMacAn iMac in a home recording studio
I like the iMac a lot not because it’s really quiet, but because you get a large screen real estate. Trust me, I’ve tried working on a film scoring project with over 60 tracks on small laptop screen and though it’s do-able, I found myself squinting and scrolling all over my DAW.
As you fill your DAW with tracks, you’ll start to crave for more screens to work upon. The iMac also has lots of ports for connectivity. I like to think of the iMac as a big laptop. And oh, you have to buy as much as RAM as your budget allows when you buy the iMac. Sucks, I know.
Which iMac Should You Buy?
It is always better to get a computer with the fastest processor, but if your budget won’t allow. You should be fine with starting off with an Core i5 at bare minimum. RAM however should be upgraded to the max. As for screens, having a big screen is nice but you can always add another screen later on.
My iMac 09′ lasted me for about 4 years before I finally grew sick of it’s sluggishness in coping with the latest softwares and projects size.
Mac ProAll the computing power you’ll ever need in the studio
Got all the budget and want to go big? Then get the Mac Pro.
I’ve never got my hands to actually finish a music piece on a Mac Pro, but looking at its specifications I’d say it’s worth a go if you want the best on a Mac platform.
The Mac Pro is actually an overkill for music production. Why? I’ll lay down the pros for you.
- Speed – You have everything you need to record loads of tracks and plugins
- Storage no longer an issue – We talked about having storage issues when it comes to samples. Not anymore on a Mac Pro
- Mac Pros are customizable – Yes they are giving you more space for future proofing your computer.
- Multiple Video Cards – Multiple outputs for your screens. You’ll need more screen real estate when you go bigger.
And oh, enjoy watching the jealousy on people’s faces when they visit your studio.
Check the complete list of Mac Computers here
It said that that Mac is the industry standard for recording and music production. But that isn’t the case. Even big time composers such as Hans Zimmer and Tom Holkenberg, uses multiple linked PCs for their work. Read Inside Track – Sci-Fi Movie Divergent
Maybe a Windows PC is something never considered for music production back in the days. However Windows OS have evolved so much that it’s not an excuse not being able to make music on a Windows machine anymore.People have been asking why I made the switch
When I made the switch to Windows, many people wondered why. The first reason I made the change was because I had lots of students who were making music on the Windows platform. I figured I had to be on the Windows platform too, so I’d be able to help them on the VSTs, softwares and plugins as we go about the music production classes.
And oh please. A Mac DO NOT sound better. Your skills makes the difference regardless of what OS you’re making music on. Period.
Call me a semi geek, but I like to have control over my computer and the systems I’m working on. In short, I love being able to customize.
When I made the switch, I had to look for a new DAW because Logic Studio doesn’t run on Windows machines. I then chose to go for Steinberg Cubase, which I bought over in Amazon.
Upon switching to Windows I quickly realized that there was so much customizing I could do. I was using the M-Audio Profire 2626 as my audio interface. So what I did was I purchased a Firewire card for my desktop PC, and voila I’m able to use the audio interface to record. The M-Audio Profire 2626 connects to the computer with a Firewire cable.
You may argue that Firewire is outdated, but being able to customize my computer to run with legacy hardware and devices was very much appreciated. So the PC allows for lots of customization and networking. You could use that to your advantage in future proofing your production computer and also to add more computing power to your recordings.
The Downside Of Windows
There are few things I dislike about Windows. There’s always going to be pros and cons, right?
Firstly, Windows Audio. Windows Audio driver is great for your everyday uses on the computer from watching videos, playing games and listening to music. But not when it comes to music production. It’ll be hard to produce music on a Windows PC without actually investing in an audio interface, acting as your main audio driver.
Secondly, there are various of motherboards and chipsets controlling things when you buy a PC, conflicts are most likely to occur. With a Mac however, you get one motherboard and everything configured for you out of the box. The solution to this problem is to do more research and make sure you know your stuff. If you’re more of a person who just want things done out the box, go for a Mac.
What Type of Windows PC Should You Buy?
I suggest going for PC makers who specialize in building PC desktops & laptops made for audio production. Browse for computers from sites such as Scan.Co.UK or ProAudioLabs. With them you’ll be sure to get a system that simply works for music production.
However that is not to say you can’t build your PC yourself. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when building your PC for music production.
1. Silent PC CasingCooler Master Silencio 352
Try to get a silent casing with built in padding when you built your PC. A good case not only helps with the cooling of the computer, but it should also be silent enough. Noises are usually emitted from hard disks and fans in your computer system. If you have a one room home recording studio, getting a silent case is so every crucial.
There are many silent PC cases in the market from all ranges. If you want something that works and isn’t very expensive, I’d recommend the Cooler Master Silencio silent case.
2. Power SupplyCooler Master 800W Silent Pro Gold
Never skimp on power supply for your computer. Go for a cheaply made PSU unit for your computer and you might risk getting hums whenever you record. True story.
You’ll also have to look at the output capacity of your the power supply unit. It depends on the number of devices you’ll be plugging in into your computer. The more devices you plug in, the more power you’ll need. For a music production system, going for a 800W power supply will be more than enough.
A silent and efficient power supply is what you need for a good music production PC. I’d recommend going for the Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 800W 80 PLUS Gold Power Supply with Modular Cables (RS800-80GAD3-US)
There are various kinds of motherboards you can get out there – no restrictions for this. A rule of thumb when getting a motherboard for music production. Lower temperatures of CPU means a quieter PC – the coolers need not work so hard to cool the CPU. Get a motherboard with good voltage regulations.
As always, get as much RAM as you can. Sampler instruments and plugins are always RAM-hungry, so you make sure you have enough RAM for a smooth producing experience. There are few things to look into RAM. Make sure it has a frequency of at least 1600Mhz.
Audio Mentor prefers the Crucial 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR3/DDR3L-1600 MHz
5. Hard Disk DrivesOther than just SSD, normal Hard Disk does a great job for storing data
If you have budget, use an SSD for your main operating system and DAW. Then use HDD with at least 7200rpm for your project files and samples.
I find this to be the best setup for music production on a PC. This setup ensures your system is blazing fast while you have enough space for the other samples. Audio Mentor recomends the WD Green 2TB Desktop Hard Drives
Best Mac Mini For Music
Always go for Intel processors. They seem to work the best with DAWs and you’re better of with an Intel processor over and AMD processor. For recording music, I always advise getting an i5 processor as a minimum.
I hope I covered enough for you to get started in recording and producing music in your home studio. There would be an endless debate on which operating systems and hardwares are better for producing music, but most importantly, you should focus on your music and skills.
Don’t waste time meddling with too much technical stuff when buying or building a computer. Get one that works for you then jump in right in to producing.
What are your current setup? What are some hardware or setup you can recommend? Comment below.