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  • VIs and MAC

    Ok all,

    I'm seriously toying with moving from my current PC based DAW to a MAC Quad G5 with 8GB RAM. However being new to the MAC world, I want to know if this will give me an advantage over my current PC setup, especially in terms of the number of VI VSTs I can utilise - i.e. can I really use all 8GB of RAM on the MAC.

    Alernativelty should I just purchase an additional PC instead? My main aim is to have an "all-in-one" workstation as I hate having to faff on with MIDI over LAN et al.

    Current PC is a 3.4GHZ PIV HT with 4GB RAM. I use an RME Fireface for my audio card and my sequencer of choice is Cubase SX3. I also have a TC Powercore Firewire and a 1.6TB Lacie F800 HD. I only plan on switching the PC and would like to keep my other gear. All my other VSTs I use are MAC/PC based so I shouldn't have any issues there.

    Thanks for any help you guys can provide.

    Tim

  • Quad G5 will pretty much blast ur PC performance-wise, but so will the price. [[;)]] I see no problem in using all ur other hardware with the MAC, and SX3 works beautifully on MAC afaik. As for the RAM im not sure, but the MAC's RAM usage is far better than the PC. It all depends on those VIs we all are waiting for, but CPU and motherboard speeds will be the dependant factor in how many u will be able to run, not the RAM (u do have DFD streaming possibility).

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    @Vagn Luv said:

    Quad G5 will pretty much blast ur PC performance-wise, but so will the price. [[;)]] I see no problem in using all ur other hardware with the MAC, and SX3 works beautifully on MAC afaik. As for the RAM im not sure, but the MAC's RAM usage is far better than the PC. It all depends on those VIs we all are waiting for, but CPU and motherboard speeds will be the dependant factor in how many u will be able to run, not the RAM (u do have DFD streaming possibility).


    OK Let's look into this.

    I agree that a Quad G5 should be faster than your current PC, but there are much cheaper and faster PCs available and there is no evidence that a quad G5 is any faster than a higher spec PC, in fact just the opposite.
    SX3 works very well on a Mac, but is generally better on a PC at the moment.

    Regarding RAM, I know that Logic can access up to 3.7 Gb, but am not sure whether or not this is the case with Cubase. I know that it is possible to use up to about 2.7Gb in Windows XP, but unless the Mac version of Cubase is designed to use more than 2Gb, there might be no difference on this one. I'm not sure in what way a Macs RAM usage is better, except to say that it can certainly address more than XP.

    Where it would currently make sense to get a MAC would be if you were to use it as a sample player, as theoretically each instance can use up to 2Gb, you could all but fill up your RAM. However, until Mac users have really played with all the figures I wouldn't rely on any information that you get here, except from people who have actually tested the software.

    My advice would be to stick with what you already have until you have played with VI a bit and there are some better ideas of what platform/amount of RAM will suit you best for your budget.

    DG

  • DG - Thanks, seems a sensible approach. Hopefully we should get some real-world performance results in the next few weeks.

  • No problem. If Mac turns out to be the way to go, then I'll be the first to jump on the bandwagon, but for me (at the moment) it is a backwards step.

    DG

  • Clearly There is an issue of two platforms being exercised at the moment.

    Tim, thanks for your very observant and inteligent observation.
    And the same goes to the mac users. We need all the arbitration necessary to keep the balanced scale mutual and exercising.

    If I may take a moment here to show off from experience ;

    years ago I took a course from the late great Jerry Goldsmith, And he did not hesitate to mention that, Its healthy to have BOTH PLATFORMS, PC and MAC, in which he had. Obviously not all of us can afford both. But we are very much a part of the working public. In which is involved with the present and serious issues. Obviously again, we rely on the motion picture industry to keep this technology afloat. And available for us. Otherwise it would dissipate. So there is no doubt, there are ambivalent issues that need arbitrating, and discussing.
    And as a wise person told me from the motion picture industry years a go ; you have alot of friends here.

    I say lets sit tight and wait for the VSL team to get back with their clearable insights.

    Best regards

  • There seem to be many references across the forum from VSL users running various numbers of PC's for their VSL set up.

    I run my complete Logic system from one well specified Mac G5. It copes with most things thrown at it - large scale orchestations, 200 track plus audio playback etc...

    With sample steaming, and where necessary freezing and bouncing, I have perfectly well completed film and broadcast projects without having to resort to additional computers.

    Make sure you have a fast Mac and even faster hard drives then single computer working is totally satisfactorary, simple and rewarding!

    Julian.

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    @julian said:

    There seem to be many references across the forum from VSL users running various numbers of PC's for their VSL set up.

    I run my complete Logic system from one well specified Mac G5. It copes with most things thrown at it - large scale orchestations, 200 track plus audio playback etc...

    With sample steaming, and where necessary freezing and bouncing, I have perfectly well completed film and broadcast projects without having to resort to additional computers.

    Make sure you have a fast Mac and even faster hard drives then single computer working is totally satisfactorary, simple and rewarding!

    Julian.


    Julian, you have to be much more specific, or your advice is meaningless.

    Firstly, you are using Logic. Many users are very happy with their sequencer/audio application and have no intention of switching. AFAIK none of the cross-platform applications (I don't know about DP) will allow more than 2Gb RAM on a Mac, so what you can load in Logic is irrelevant. Also do remember that if you don't use Logic, then you would have to convert all your samples to K2/Halion etc. This could end up being a very time consuming process and can't be that quick to do properly or else I would imagine VSL would have done it long ago...!

    You also mention bouncing and freezing. I don't do either of these, so it would be useful for you to give some sort of idea as to when it starts to become necessary. I certainly have no intention of either bouncing or freezing until a track is finished.

    The samples that you are using will take up widely differing amounts of RAM. For example, I have most legato instruments loaded up as well as a myriad of other articulations. If you don't use the legato instruments then you will be obviously be able to load much more.

    The last point is plug-ins. Some are really CPU hungry, so again unless you are using commercially available plug-ins, rather than the ones that come with Logic, there can be no direct comparison.

    As I've said before, I don't care what machine I use if it allows me to work the way I want to. As far as I can see one Mac wouldn't even get me close.

    DG

  • OK well here's some more info.

    My system is as follows Mac G5 2.5 GB dual with 6.5 Gb of RAM. My VSL library is on a 4 Disc SATA Raid. The Mac is running OSX 10.4.4 and Logic 7.1.1 I have various audio interfaces but by choice and for best performance I use Metric Halo's ULN 2 for stereo outs and 2882's for multichannel outs. (These are firewire interfaces)

    A typical large scale project has in the past run up to 200 audio tracks streamed real time from disc - this is where I have gone to full orchestra/choir - the large track count can be a result of the production process - rather than the recording process, where the orchestra and choir usually get recorded on say 48 tracks.

    For my film and special projects work the Orchestra is often recorded across a number of sessions - all strings, then wind, brass, percussion, choirs, soloists, other stuff. This enables further editing and orchestration flexibility beyond what's available when the whole orchestra is recorded together.

    Now with respect to sampled instruments and VSL in particular:

    I have realised projects pretty much within a sampled domain using the VSL Pro Edition plus my own library. In these cases I have managed to get about 80-90 instances of Logic's EXS 24 sampler. These are mixed via groups (returns) usually 6 to 10 stereo returns - this is the point I add reverb so I would be running say 10 Space Designers (Logic's conv' verb) I might have 4 or 5 other specific reverbs on individual tracks. I guess I would have 30 to 40 instances of eQ plugs across the session. Most of these would be Logic's channel Eq (with the Eq bands I'm not using bypassed. I would also use say 4 examples of Logic's linear Phase EQ - this is a CPU hog!

    I may also end up running some compressors but as the VSL samples/instruments can be dynamically controlled using other methods this is less of a requirement with the virtual orchestrations.

    I also,if required apply, external EQ processing and Fx from the Metric Halo's DSP resources - these are extremely high quality (Waves quality or better) and do not load the G5's CPU.

    Now when to freeze and when to bounce? Well as freezing tracks in Logic is so simple it can be used as and when required. What is important to understand is that Logic and the EXS sampler can realise larger orchestrations than might otherwise be possible by prioritising samples and the fact it's CPU overhead is so low. If you start encountering loss of voices temporarily freezing your string tracks could turn say 40-60 sampler voices into 5 stereo audio streams.If you need to work on these tracks just unfreeze.

    When the project is ready for final mixing the mix can be accomplished as an offline bounce thus ensuring no sampler voices are dropped or CPU resources compromised (I have run a series of blind tests using high quality orchestral recordings and virtual orchestra sessions and no one has been able to correctly identify between offline and online bounces so as far as my production environment is concerned there is no quality loss in an offline bounce)

    With regard to RAM the Mac will address just under 4GB of RAM for each application - where that application uses plug-in these count towards the single app total. In my experience the Logic EXS sampler is an extremely efficient CPU user compared with external plug-ins. For example Spectrasonics instruments though fantastic are a nightmare to work with in regard to processor hog and RAM use - (I certainly hope the VI's as third party plug-ins aren't a retrograde step in this resect). The EXS has a streaming option which, when utilitzed, only loads the front end of the samples (you have control in it's preferences of the amount of sample you load - small, med or large - if you have a fast processor and very fast discs you can load a huge number of VSL instrument (including a lot of performance and combination sounds) and if you run out of RAM just freeze some tracks re-load your song and you have space free again.

    So I would say that using the latest Mac hardware and having an understanding of how your system and apps work enables large scale projects to be realised at a very high level on a single Mac. I am currently working of re-mixing some stuff created 3 years ago - at the time the sessions were maxing out my system and very hard to work with. Now they only utilze a quarter of the systems power and can even run in the background whilst pro video or photo apps are being used!

    I put this massive increase in power to not just the raw CPU processors but also the latest video cards (these now take much more load off the modern processors) and the extremely fast drive speeds - my SATA Raid is transferring large files at 200 MB/second and files up to 16 Meg at 400 MB/second - ten times faster than your average PC ATA internal drive!

    Well I hope this has't bored the pants off you and provided more info!


    Julian

  • Thanks for all that info Julian; I'm sure that it is much appreciated by all here.

    As I suspected, if you want to load the maximum number of samples on one machine then you have no option but to go with Logic on a Mac. For all other options I can't see any difference between PC and Mac, apart from the fact that there may be a slight speed advantage for audio on PC. I say might, because the Quads haven't been through the same cross-platform testing as the earlier G5 models which were certainly slower. If you want CPU efficiency and maximum number of plug-ins, then again Logic is the way to go, but of course this is only true for Logic's own plugs; use other 3rd party plugs and there is no difference.

    So after all this, my advice to Tim would be, if you want everything on one machine, then Mac Quad with Logic is the way to go. If you don't want to change your sequencer, then get a fast, properly specc'd PC, either instead of your current one, or as well as.

    DG

  • Just curious DG , what PC setup would do better than the MAC Quad G5, and based on what test?

  • Here is where we get into definitions of "better". The Duel Opterons have previously smoked the G5s in terms of performance for audio, and people who have the Xeons say the same about the Quad, but as there is no testing readily available I don't know what the current situation is. I have asked various people who have access to both if they could do a test, but have not got an answer yet.
    Unfortunately you can't believe a word that Apple says about performance, so at the moment I am sitting on the fence.

    DG

  • I have yet to see a PC smoke a quad, but I must confess I have no experience with opterons as of yet.

    How expensive would such a PC system be?

  • DG, just wonder what crossplattform tests you mention?

    If you mean Cubase - although I nice program, but performance-vise it does not stack up to Mac native sequencers as DP (which is not corssplatform as you seemed t mention before) and Logic - I have all three here and tis my experience.

    So for the Cubase tests you have to say that a program optimized for PC runs on Mac where it is rather unoptimized at about the same speed - which is funny.

    If for example I load hydratone in Cubase - it is about the last I can do without getting spikes at 1024 - if I do the same in Logic @ 256 I hardly notice the hit.

    But of course on the RAM thing you are right - 16 GB max does not help if you can only address 2 or 4 GB - although I do not understand what you are talking about conversion form exs to HAL or K2?
    HAL is the most problematic on MacOSX - its RAM management is inferior to this of K2 or exs/exs Manager - as OSX in standard setting only allows 10k open files for a program and 12k max for the system - do not ask why I need 16 GB when only allowed to open 12k files? This is the most ridiculous part of OSX!
    Also the rest of exs/exs Manager will make you want to work with that setup - easy, fast and reliable - things you do not get from HAL or K2 at the moment.

    I would really think if moving to Mac one should rethink also moving to Mac software (and of course non crossplatform software can more easily support OSX specific features). I do not like sequencing in Logic either though....

    best

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    @steff3 said:

    DG, just wonder what crossplattform tests you mention?

    If you mean Cubase - although I nice program, but performance-vise it does not stack up to Mac native sequencers as DP (which is not corssplatform as you seemed t mention before) and Logic - I have all three here and tis my experience.

    So for the Cubase tests you have to say that a program optimized for PC runs on Mac where it is rather unoptimized at about the same speed - which is funny.

    If for example I load hydratone in Cubase - it is about the last I can do without getting spikes at 1024 - if I do the same in Logic @ 256 I hardly notice the hit.

    But of course on the RAM thing you are right - 16 GB max does not help if you can only address 2 or 4 GB - although I do not understand what you are talking about conversion form exs to HAL or K2?
    HAL is the most problematic on MacOSX - its RAM management is inferior to this of K2 or exs/exs Manager - as OSX in standard setting only allows 10k open files for a program and 12k max for the system - do not ask why I need 16 GB when only allowed to open 12k files? This is the most ridiculous part of OSX!
    Also the rest of exs/exs Manager will make you want to work with that setup - easy, fast and reliable - things you do not get from HAL or K2 at the moment.

    I would really think if moving to Mac one should rethink also moving to Mac software (and of course non crossplatform software can more easily support OSX specific features). I do not like sequencing in Logic either though....

    best


    You are quite correct when you say that the most efficient software for Mac is not cross-platform, but unfortunately the only way to do comparisons is to use cross-platform software. The argument that something is not optimised for Mac makes no sense, as something like Cubase has been cross-platform for ever. In fact, who's to say that it's optimised for Windows? In any case it does run faster on PC; the arguments for which will never be proved by either "side".

    The only other cross-platform audio software that I can think of is ProTools, but much of the processing is not done natively so it doesn't make much difference either way. Interestingly enough I believe that Cakewalk is working on a Mac version of Sonar, so Cubase will have some competition in the cross-platform stakes.

    There are many reasons for my current set-up. Some of them historical (I learned Cubase and stuck with it because some features I needed were not present in any other Sequencers or audio applications), some of them due to bang for the buck and some because I like the workflow.


    Of course what the situation will be with 64bit and MacIntels nobody knows yet, but I think that much more software will become cross-platform. After all who would have ever thought we'd see Altiverb for PC [[:|]]

    DG

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    @Vagn Luv said:

    I have yet to see a PC smoke a quad, but I must confess I have no experience with opterons as of yet.

    How expensive would such a PC system be?


    I think that Opterons are round about £300-£400 less than a G5, but I guess it depends on your system. I think that many of them come with 2Gb RAM as standard, so I guess that with the Mac you have to figure the cost of the extra RAM into the equation as well.

    DG