will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
ejlif
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will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by ejlif » Mon Mar 23, 2015 4:31 pm

I got into this about a year ago. I bought a macbook pro with 2.8 i7 processor. It seems like it's so easy to get the CPU up to 50% area which is where things can start to get glitchy sounding at least for me. I can't quite figure out why the processor is so taxed with certain songs and not others. It doesn't seem that clear, I can't pin down a specific culprit a lot of times.

So I am wondering what kind of gains I'll get from going to a Mac Pro desktop model? I already have a nice monitor so it would just be the computer I need and I figure I could just sell this laptop. I never should have got a laptop I never take it out of the studio anyway. I know it's a lot more money but compared to all the other money I've spent on the studio so far it's not that much more and I hate to be compromised. So far the laptop has been OK for just getting down ideas and doing rough mixes but I'm worried I might run into some real frustration when I try to do a serious mix and use all the tool I have at will.

c33
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by c33 » Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:02 pm

A Mac Pro is overkill if you're just wanting it for audio. I think you should do some more troubleshooting with your laptop. 50% CPU should not be "glitchy" / clicking and popping. How much RAM and storage space do you have? With 16GB and your i7 processor, you should have no trouble tackling most big projects in Ableton.

Modler
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by Modler » Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:41 pm

The previous commenter is spot-on. If the audio becomes glitchy sounding at *ONLY* 50% (which is actually still within a very safe CPU usage amount), then there's still much potential on your laptop. If the glitchy sound you're hearing is like a crackling sound while auditioning your music then the most likely solution would be to increase your "buffer size" in Ableton's settings under the audio section.

Once in settings, select the audio tab, then either play your audio or play the test tone. Then try increasing the buffer size in increments of about 100, then try again to see if the audio sounds smoother. It is also worth mentioning these 2 things: the audio you're hearing when you make a song is just Ableton's high quality preview of the sound which goes thru your soundcard, so when you come to export it, you will not hear the same crackling-artifacts that you may have heard when making your song. Also please note that the Intel i-7 on a Macbook is already QUITE up to date so upgrading would not improve it very much. Another possible solution is to reboot your PC, uninstall / shut down unneeded software especially audio related, and to run software that cleans your registry & temp. files such as Ccleaner.

ejlif
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by ejlif » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:54 pm

so are you guys saying I won't see any ability to run more tracks, plug ins etc. by going from my macbook pro to a 6 core mac pro? I am confused by all this stuff, how much RAM can be used on a 32 bit system etc... I just want to be able to run more tracks at will I don't want to screw around I don't care if it costs more. I have messed with the buffer size but then my latency increases which is totally frustrating too.

When I read the bench test scores for say a 6 core mac pro vs what I have in the i7 it shows the mac pro being a lot more powerful. Maybe something like 5X as much. So that doesn't meant that I would be able to run 5X as many plug ins on the mac pro?

Thank you guys for your help.

dewaldo
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by dewaldo » Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:28 pm

I recently upgraded from a MacBook Pro to a 6 core Mac Pro. I am very happy with my decision.

I used to struggle with the same things you mentioned. I would get clicks/pops in the early mix stage that could only be resolved by increasing the buffer to really high levels, or by freezing/flattening all of the time. Neither solution was a good one. Increasing the buffer introduced lots of latency into my set, which hindered my ability to add hand-played instrumental parts when I was deeper into the song. And freezing/flattening was quite simply annoying.

With the Mac Pro, I can run as many tracks as I like, as many plugins as I like, and can take a song from start to finish without upping my buffer, which is steady at 64 samples, maaayybee 128 samples if I have a lot going on, which gives me a wonderfully low-latency environment to work in. If you can stomach the cost, you should definitely make the jump to the Mac Pro.

Machinesworking
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by Machinesworking » Wed Mar 25, 2015 7:42 pm

For Live I would go with an iMac over a Mac Pro. IMO Live still isn't that good at using multiple cores.
The current iMac is faster in single core tests than the fastest Mac Pro. Meaning at the very least on a single track in Live you will be able to load more FX etc.
In general Geekbench test results are your friend. No offense to anyone, but the Live performance test results posted here don't mean anything.

http://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks

^^^ Look at the 64 bit single core results. In multi core the fastest iMac beats the slowest Mc Pro. The 6 core is a thousand freaking dollars more, for not much more CPU power IMO, only about 25% in multi core and significantly slower in single core performance.

ejlif
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by ejlif » Thu Mar 26, 2015 4:44 am

dewaldo wrote:I recently upgraded from a MacBook Pro to a 6 core Mac Pro. I am very happy with my decision.

I used to struggle with the same things you mentioned. I would get clicks/pops in the early mix stage that could only be resolved by increasing the buffer to really high levels, or by freezing/flattening all of the time. Neither solution was a good one. Increasing the buffer introduced lots of latency into my set, which hindered my ability to add hand-played instrumental parts when I was deeper into the song. And freezing/flattening was quite simply annoying.

With the Mac Pro, I can run as many tracks as I like, as many plugins as I like, and can take a song from start to finish without upping my buffer, which is steady at 64 samples, maaayybee 128 samples if I have a lot going on, which gives me a wonderfully low-latency environment to work in. If you can stomach the cost, you should definitely make the jump to the Mac Pro.

Thank you this is exactly what I was looking for someone who actually has a mac pro and has seen what the difference is. What you are describing is exactly what I am looking for

fishmonkey
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by fishmonkey » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:27 am

Machinesworking wrote: ^^^ Look at the 64 bit single core results. In multi core the fastest iMac beats the slowest Mc Pro. The 6 core is a thousand freaking dollars more, for not much more CPU power IMO, only about 25% in multi core and significantly slower in single core performance.
it's not as straightforward as comparing brute force CPU benchmarks though.

the Mac Pro has faster memory, higher memory bandwidth, faster busses, and bigger L3 cache. it might not trounce an iMac in particular benchmarks, but it is inherently a lower latency system.

i wonder if anyone has done any proper comparisons of the two?
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Machinesworking
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by Machinesworking » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:30 am

fishmonkey wrote:
Machinesworking wrote: ^^^ Look at the 64 bit single core results. In multi core the fastest iMac beats the slowest Mc Pro. The 6 core is a thousand freaking dollars more, for not much more CPU power IMO, only about 25% in multi core and significantly slower in single core performance.
it's not as straightforward as comparing brute force CPU benchmarks though.

the Mac Pro has faster memory, higher memory bandwidth, faster busses, and bigger L3 cache. it might not trounce an iMac in particular benchmarks, but it is inherently a lower latency system.

i wonder if anyone has done any proper comparisons of the two?
Yeah all that matters, but the iMac stacks up pretty decently against the Mac Pro even in those categories you mention.
Geek bench measures CPU and memory performance, so besides loading things of your HD it's a very reliable test for DAW performance IMO.
I've done 'to failure' tests with CPU intensive plug ins on various machines including the laptop and desktop here, and seen the same difference percentage wise as shown in Geekbench scores for those devices, IE the laptop is 70% the performance of the Mac Pro here.

The completely useless scoring people are doing in the Live 9 Performance Test in the other hand should be a target for derision. Live loads CPU into it's meter at random leaps and bounds, probably due to the multi core operations of it being wonky, but you'll have one mediocre computer looking real good next to a monster of a machine, because OS and hardware differences load Live's CPU differently, the same two computers loaded to failure will show you the real difference between the two.


OK, looking at everyman.com it seems you can upgrade the processors in the Mac Pro's that's a HUGE bonus for them! a 6 core machine today can be upgraded in a couple years to the latest 12 core Intel released recently for $2,600. A few years from now you'll be able to get those chips for a couple hundred off eBay when servers swap out for the latest greatest. 8)

jonnyboy10
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by jonnyboy10 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:05 am

I've been running a Macbook Pro with Ableton for the last year and I've had no troubles with it at all, even when running on just battery it's dealt with everything I've thrown at it.
I'm comparing this to my experience with a slow ass windows laptop which was on it's last legs.
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c33
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by c33 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:57 pm

ejlif wrote:so are you guys saying I won't see any ability to run more tracks, plug ins etc. by going from my macbook pro to a 6 core mac pro?
No, what people--like the Macbook Pro owner above me--have been saying is that Ableton running on your current Macbook should already be more than capable of handling just about everything you throw at it (lots and lots of tracks), and if you're having technical issues you might want to do some troubleshooting to figure out what the problem is. Unless, of course, you don't care and are just looking for confirmation that you should make the purchase. If you have the 3-8K to throw down on a new MacPro, then by all means, knock yourself out. I called it overkill because there are desktops that can give you the same level of high performance needed to run a program like Ableton for a fraction of the price, and it's a workstation geared more towards heavy graphics, 3D and video workflows. But I've no doubt that it will make a fine dedicated home studio machine, if that's what you want it for.

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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by login » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:27 pm

Seriously, who cares about latency when you are mixing? you are mixing, not recording! latency doesn't matter anymore. using low buffer setting while mixing is a total waste of resources.

yes a Mac pro provides more power than a MBP, the question is: Is your system underperforming? why? glitches at 50% CPU use is not normal.

Do you have an audio interface? If so, which? The audio interface is very important for the best use fo the computer resources, if you have a cheap one go for an RME or a Steinberg which have better drivers.

It is also wise to separate mixing from composition, using first all the resources needed for instruments. When you finish the arrengement bounce, increase the buffer and use all resources for mixing.

Airyck
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by Airyck » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:50 pm

I have a quad core iMac, 16GB of RAM... Super fast never run out of power.
Yet I find it more fun to produce on my little dual core 13inch MacBook Pro with 8gB of RAM simply because it's portable and I can make tracks in the living room with my Push and headphones.
I can write full tracks without having to freeze or bounce to audio (on my dual core MacBook Pro). Are you writing film scores with 128 tracks? Maybe you're using too many sounds?
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ejlif
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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by ejlif » Fri Oct 23, 2015 4:54 am

As an update if anyone cares. I got the top very best I could get iMac with 32RAM. 1TB SSD drive, graphics, everything. Long story short it's rules. Everything I was having problems with in the macbook is gone. A better faster computer does make things work a lot better.

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Re: will I gain a lot by getter a faster mac?

Post by login » Fri Oct 23, 2015 4:04 pm

ejlif wrote:As an update if anyone cares. I got the top very best I could get iMac with 32RAM. 1TB SSD drive, graphics, everything. Long story short it's rules. Everything I was having problems with in the macbook is gone. A better faster computer does make things work a lot better.

Learning what you are doing also helps, you never solved the glitches with just 50% CPU use. Seems you really don't listen at all.

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