For high-powered audio processing, recording, editing, synthesis, sampling, mixing: are macs really better than pc's (running windows 2000 or some such) ?
What are the advantages/disadvantages to each? Is there a killer app which runs on one (say, the Mac) and not the other? A piece of hardware which is only supported by one? How about latency? Ease of use? Capacity? Effects availability? Sample libraries? Expandability? Cost?
I have used computers for years, just about every computer and system out there (alot of windows, unix, linux, sun...) EXCEPT the mac. But I am open to the mac, if there are good reasons. I want the best recording system I can afford (even if it is not the cheapest). Mac or PC - I just want a great audio-processing system. Thanks!
This used to be more of a debate than it currently is, but the playing field is fairly even between the two platforms as of late.
My feelings? The biggest thing I like about the Mac is the fact that the OS doesn't chew up a third to half of the processor and lots of memory, as seems to be the case on my PC. However, the solution to this is as it has always been in the case of the PC: brute power and speed.
I have both platforms, a Mac G4 dual 800Mhz running DP3 and Peak, and a PC running PT LE, ACID, and Sound Forge. I find the Mac to be more elegant, simpler, and generally more stable, without all those weird little files everywhere and strange apps running in the background. However, the PC is much cheaper, and runs apps (ACID and Sound Forge) that won't run native on a Mac.
If you want to use Pro-Tools or Digital Performer, you should go Mac. If you want to use ACID or SONAR, you'll need a PC. Some things, like Logic, run well on either platform. Etc, etc.
Macs seem to traditionally have a longer "shelf life" than PC's, being useful for longer intervals before being hopelessly obsolete.
You'll need to be picky with your OS on the PC. Windows 98 is still a good standard of compatibility. Windows XP support is still forthcoming for many manufacturers. Windows ME sucks, and 2000 is not universally supported.
Basically, aside from personal preference and some decisions dictated by software compatibility, there's not a huge reason to pick one or the other. A PC can be built to be as powerful as a Mac for the same or less money. There's a lot more variance in PC builds, with regard to motherboards, processors, memory, etc, so more care has to be taken to arrive at an optimal system.
The power of both platforms is roughly equal. They both use the same RAM, hard drives and mostly the same PCI cards and peripherals. Both have settled on USB and FireWire compatibility.
Pick out the software that you NEED to run and see what platforms it's written for. Then ask yourself which platform you know best (or can get help for.)
I've owned Macs and PCs since the early 1980s. I record mainly with my PC only because the software I use (N-Track Studio, SoundForge, ACID and FruityLoops) is only available on the PC. The biggest complaint I have against PCs is that the hardware is less stable (too many little incompatibilities between components - that's where the Mac has a big advantage in controlling it's motherboards and chipsets.)
Everyone screams that PCs are cheaper but I think not... the cheaper PC components are generally the most unreliable... you can definitely get what you pay for. Look at the majority of posts on audio boards and they're about glitches with motherboard, chipsets and peripherals not quite working together.
ANYWAY.... look at what you want to run, then pick the platform. And join a User Group in your community so you can learn all the little ins-and-outs of getting your computer to run smoothly.
Thanks for the replies. OK, so there isn't much difference between the two platforms. So let's say I want to go with Sonar, etc., and want to go with a PC
New question: what sort of PC would be best? Would an off-the shelf HP Pavillion (1.6 ghz, 512 mb, etc) be ok? Or is a "custom" job really the way to go? If so, what is important? Scssi 7200/10000 rpm disks? Scssi CD/ROM? Certainly some kind of sound card, like a Delta 44. Is RAID important? How much RAM is enough? etc. etc.
Or, again, would a run-of-the-mill garden variety PC like an HP or something work ok, with, say, additional IDE harddrive, and sound card?
I would have a PC based system built this way you can have control what hardware goes into the machine, and from which manufacturers. That way you can control the quality of the components. The whole is equal to the sum of it's parts.
A lot of the off the shelf systems are using cheap parts to keep the cost down and that can be a problem waiting to happen.