Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
kgrace88
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Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by kgrace88 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:38 am

So earlier this week my MacBook Pro crapped out on me, and I can't afford the repairs. For the time being a bought a cheap Windows 7 laptop as I needed a working computer for an event this weekend. I plan on returning it as soon as the weekend is out and going from there on what will be my next audio computer. I really only have experience in MacOS when it comes to Ableton.

Basically my question is of whether or not Macs are really that much better than PCs for audio, as most of my production and recording friends say. I have been looking into PC laptop options with ExpressCard slots for FW800 and some specialized builds with FW800 chipsets in them.

I tried Ableton out a bit on this cheaper temporary laptop and it actually seems to run alright in terms of mixing, but I did get a few clicks and pops here and there. I am used to being able to lower the buffer size to 256 samples on my MacBook, with or without an external audio driver and it's just not happening on this thing.

I guess my worry is that I'll invest money in a pricier Windows laptop with ExpressCard or FireWire and lots of memory and still up not getting the same performance I did on my Mac. I don't want to repair my old Mac because it was already falling apart long before it completely failed.

So my main question is, should I just get another Mac?
Last edited by kgrace88 on Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

h4nc0
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by h4nc0 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:38 am

Most PCs work fine. Some will even perform better than equivalently spec'ed Mac. But fuken is right. With Mac, you know it will work, period. No time wasted on other issues.

Earwax69
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by Earwax69 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:10 pm

Did you install Asio4all on your pc laptop?

The problems with PC laptops is that they are loaded with crapwares that take half your RAM. Problem that you dont get when building your own PC. Win7 is a very reliable system. Uninstall that crap and it's going to be smooth.

The point is you get what you pay for. A 1400$ macbook pro will be great but so a 1400$ wisely chosen pc laptop. Right now I use a 600$ Acer 13inch when on the go and I have no problem with it. It saved my butt quite a few times. Im actually surprise that it still working great since 2010. Of course I produce on a i7 desktop with a 30inch screen. Thats the real life!
if Macs are really that much better PCs for audio, as most of my production and recording friends say.
Well, if your using Logic, then yes, you need a mac. But it's untrue that mac handle audio better. typical apple fan propaganda. I use both PC and Mac and it's more down to what CPU and RAM you have.

Still the macbook pro are great computers and look very good. I might myself be tempted with the new macbook 15inch Ivy Bridge but it's not because I think the computer is better... it's because I might want to show off a bit at the coffeeshop. :oops:

kgrace88
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by kgrace88 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:50 pm

Thanks for the advice guys. I did not yet install ASIO4All on this temp laptop but I will try it out and see if it makes a difference. I did notice that even on my six year old Windows desktop (upgraded to 7 over the years) I have a better soundcard than in this Dell and it had ASIO drivers already. So the only performance drops I experienced there were just due to it being a six year old computer: the latency was much lower than on this Dell.

nathannn
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by nathannn » Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:38 pm

im some one who uses windows because of cost also, i have never used one computer running windows that did not have pops and clicks and eventual loud burst of white noise.
whats wierd with windows is that these problems always eventually go away. its like the the code in windows is fighting with the audio drivers for the first day but they end up working everything out after a few days.
this also only happens directly after using new audio hardware on a pc that has never had any asio drivers installed.

my suggestion is never use windows in a live situation or if you are recording as a pro.
that said i have to drag my desktop out of the house in a few minutes to go make a demo for a friend. i am anticipating some sort of problems since i will be using a fire wire device instead of my normal usb.
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doom_Oo7
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by doom_Oo7 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:49 pm

With regards to your concern of latency, on my PC with windows 7 x64 and a multiface II I can get down to 32 samples and still record and play tracks with VST plugs on them (mainly guitar amp sims or vsti) and have no crackles or pop or any other buffer problem.
I make entire mixes in 128 samples with no problem.
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Donnie
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by Donnie » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:35 pm

Having performed as part of an act with both a Mac and a PC at the same time using various interfaces/configurations...I can honestly say that each will have its quirks. The 'mac will just work' is funny because I just dont find it to always be true. Over time we have had the same amount of general issues with Mac as with PC. In the end, use what you like...the Mac vs PC debate is antiquated at this point.

Personally for live performance I would ditch firewire and start using USB interfaces that are supported by companies with quality drivers. Especially so ASIO4ALL is not needed on PC, which doesn't report latency values very well amongst other things (not saying it is not a good option on some configs though). In the end Firewire can be quirky on both Mac and PC based on personal experience, I avoid it at all cost now and find Firewire undesirable unless absolutely necessary. However I know many already have Firewire cards so thats not always an option.

You may need to do a few Windows tweaks upfront on a PC, this is true, but beyond that in the end the quality of the machine + sound interface + drivers is going to determine what your latency is in the end. Also, always pay more attention to models than brands when it comes to researching/purchasing laptops.

As an example...right now I can play live on my Lenovo y550p and Scarlett 8i6 with 16 channels of audio, a few vst instruments, a mic, and occasionally external instruments having no problems at 96 samples - 11.8 ms round trip. I can go less but thats my safe zone. Which isnt bad, but im still going RME pretty soon to push that even lower.

One more thing to keep in mind...you will not be able to run a bus powered Firewire card on an expresscard alone, a heads up that you will need to power that externally. Also, USB devices need an extra step to get going again if they accidentally get unplugged/loose power on a PC, you will need to go into the MIDI settings and 'Track' them again.
Last edited by Donnie on Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

kitekrazy
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by kitekrazy » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:53 pm

funken wrote:Well, with a mac you know it's gonna work, all you need is a bit of extra Ram and you're off. They are expensive but over the years it's not a lot. However if you are really skint you can either get a second hand mac or a pc.
I would agree with this. I can't stand laptops for music and I'm a PC desktop believer.

With pc laptops you have to deal with the manufacturer's installed apps running in the backgroud, ect. There's less overhead running in Macbooks. You're option is to buy a PC laptop optimized for music. You might not be saving money that way.

If you opted for a (pc) express card for FW audio, you might have to use the power adapter for your audio device. I guess even Macs are moving away from having FW ports. Also any laptop that only has a 5 pin FW ports will not power sone FW audio unit without the need for external power.

You could also consider going with USB audio.

Donnie
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by Donnie » Sat Apr 28, 2012 6:58 pm

kitekrazy wrote:
funken wrote:With pc laptops you have to deal with the manufacturer's installed apps running in the backgroud, ect.
I just uninstall that crap ;)

kgrace88
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by kgrace88 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:16 am

doom_Oo7 wrote:With regards to your concern of latency, on my PC with windows 7 x64 and a multiface II I can get down to 32 samples and still record and play tracks with VST plugs on them (mainly guitar amp sims or vsti) and have no crackles or pop or any other buffer problem.
I make entire mixes in 128 samples with no problem.
This is the kind of thing I'm hoping for, really low audio buffer, extremely rare artifacting unless a connector isn't seated right or something obvious like that. I should add that I also want to have the system stability to just mix on my computer with no interface or outboard gear and still not have pops/clicks/buffer issues.

What are your system specs like aside from the Multiface? I also prefer the x64 versions of Windows.

kgrace88
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by kgrace88 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:41 am

kitekrazy wrote:If you opted for a (pc) express card for FW audio, you might have to use the power adapter for your audio device. I guess even Macs are moving away from having FW ports. Also any laptop that only has a 5 pin FW ports will not power sone FW audio unit without the need for external power.

You could also consider going with USB audio.
Do you have any recommendations on USB 3.0 interfaces? USB 2.0 has been nothing but trouble for me audio-wise. But as of right now I am probably leaning towards FW since my interface has it and doesn't have USB, and most of the interfaces I'm looking to buy in the future either use FW or a PCIe card (that'll be my desktop pipe dream)

But the other thing is that the new Macbooks have Thunderbolt and I'll be very surprised if we don't start seeing more interfaces/A-D converters with Thunderbolt soon. And durability is also a concern; most of the PC laptops I've found have shitty plastic cases, and this is a recording computer, it gets taken around a lot. My Mac took more of a beating than any computer I've ever had.

My beef with the recent Macbooks is that they have so few USB ports and only one FW. I'm just very torn, because I'm very comfortable in either operating system.

pencilrocket
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by pencilrocket » Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:24 am

Windows7 performs far better.
Mac is no longer for todays DAW. It's obviously old fasioned
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=179720

Buy windows machine if you need to invest best production envronment. Mac is for on-stage to hype noob audience. Apple stopped manufacturing Xserve, anti-glare Cinema disp and Mac Pro(not yet). It shows how much they care prosumers. They care i-toys now.
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oblique strategies
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by oblique strategies » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:15 am

Donnie wrote:Having performed as part of an act with both a Mac and a PC at the same time using various interfaces/configurations...I can honestly say that each will have its quirks. The 'mac will just work' is funny because I just dont find it to always be true. Over time we have had the same amount of general issues with Mac as with PC.
This has also been my experience.
Donnie wrote:Also, always pay more attention to models than brands when it comes to researching/purchasing laptops.
Wise advice.

PHY6
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by PHY6 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:18 am

pencilrocket wrote:Windows7 performs far better.
Mac is no longer for todays DAW. It's obviously old fasioned
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=179720

Buy windows machine if you need to invest best production envronment. Mac is for on-stage to hype noob audience. Apple stopped manufacturing Xserve, anti-glare Cinema disp and Mac Pro(not yet). It shows how much they care prosumers. They care i-toys now.
Windoze fanboy

Earwax69
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Re: Some computer performance questions: Mac OS versus Windows

Post by Earwax69 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:33 am

No, I think he is a mac enthusiast faking to be a Windows fanboy to make them look stupid. Hey Pencil, moderation is the key!

For me it's simple. If you plan to use OS X tools and softwares, go for a mac. If not, get a pc. End of story.

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