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View Full Version : Recording audio and video - Windows versus Mac



greenie44
09-18-2013, 09:04 AM
Hello all

I was hoping that some experienced folks here could help me plot my next move. I have been recording songs for about 2 years and videos for about a year on my Windows machine. For songs, I use a cutdown version of ProTools (got it for free with my M-Audio interface) and for video I typically use Nero Vision/Video. So far, they have served my needs, particularly the ProTools.

My main Windows machine has started to run very slowly, either because of hardware or a virus issue, so it is getting difficult to use my standard tools. (I work in IT, and have not been able to address the issues with some trying.) So I was thinking about putting a solid state disk in a laptop body I have and loading up my standard recording software.

But then I got to thinking could I do better by going to a Mac? Aside from an iPad, I have not used a Mac in decades. Is the recording software actually better there? If so, I could save the $350 or so I was going to use to bring the laptop up to speed and use it towards a Mac recording suite. I'd bite the bullet and do the learning curve for a better result.

If you weigh in on the Mac side of the equation, how big a machine would I have to get? Could I get by with a used Mac? The machine is going to be dedicated to recording.

If anyone out there has actual experience with both platforms, I would appreciate guidance and advice. Thanks in advance.

blowery
09-18-2013, 10:05 AM
Great move, being an IT guy of 17 years on windows/server platforms, my personal and work computers are a Macbook Pro and Macbook Air. Then learning curve is nil, and there are videos on apple.com that kinda give a "windows to Mac" get to know it.

My macs are very quick and way more stable/safe than the windows I support all day. (windows 8 drives me crazy in corporate environments)

My macbook Air is 2 years old, 13" screen, i5 4Gb ram, 128G solid state and screams. Boots up in 8-9 seconds. My Pro is 3.5 years old 15" and is slower on boot up but runs pretty good, no issues recording or lag when started. (neither have ever been restored/rebuilt)

I really only use Garageband (comes free with new computer or the ilife suite is under $20. and use the M-audio interface. It records really good and is really easy to use. The AMP sims for guitar/ukes/etc and effects are pretty dang good. If you want to step it up, you could run Logic Pro which is a high end recording software with more features, but honestly if you don't "really" have a recording room/high end mice/know-how in the software/ I"m not sure you could tell the difference between the final products.
Tons of video options as well. imovie is included in the ilife suite and works well for basic stuff. Bump up to Final Cut Pro for movie like production.

My Macs have no issue running garage band and mulitple track and tons of effects. If I were building a small home setup, I would look at the mac mini. Small footprint.
http://store.apple.com/us/mac/family/mac-mini
http://store.storeimages.cdn-apple.com/3581/as-images.apple.com/is/image/AppleInc/2012-macmini-specs-size?wid=230&hei=104&fmt=jpeg&qlt=95&op_sharpen=0&resMode=bicub&op_usm=0.5,0.5,0,0&iccEmbed=0&layer=comp&.v=1350177658088
i5 or i7, upgrade the ram and you are off and running if you have a monitor. for $650~$900 with ilife suite since you already have the maudio. (Great thing is don't even have to install drivers. OSX finds it, installs it and you are off and running)

Wanna go higher? get more computer than you think you need. New Mac Pro desktop coming out is a beast. Will run anything you need for a high end studio.

Hope I don't sound too fanboy.

I can email or post a soundclip I recorded if you are interested in sound quality.

Flyinby
09-18-2013, 10:28 AM
Unless there's a hardware problem, which is not all that likely unless you're having unexpected shutdowns or bluescreens, why not just reinstall the operating system with either a Windows disc or the recovery disk from your laptop. Most actually have a recovery program built in, with the needed files on a hidden hard drive partition.

If the machine is fairly old, it may be time for an upgrade, but not necessarily to a Mac, just to something more recent. If it came with Windows 7 or Vista (and is updated), it probably isn't so old that just a reformatting won't bring it back to being a good machine.

Most any Mac user will tell you that Mac is better, but you have to consider the source. You can get a mighty fine Winodws laptop for what you'll pay for an entry-level Mac, and you won't have to learn a bunch of new stuff that you really don't need to learn, buy new software, and be locked in to a proprietary machine. I worked for a prepress software developer for years, and we had Macs, Windows, UNIX, and some others in the office, and I was continually amazed at how the raved-about Macs were more trouble and more tempermental than any of them, even for simple tasks. They've improved with OSX and beyond, but they're still pricey, cult-and-prestige-marketed machines that really aren't anything special. Pay a lot, and you'll get a nice machine, but not because it's a Mac, because you paid a lot.

Provided your current machine is a late Vista or Win7 machine with no hardware problems, you probably can save your documents and reformat it yourself. One major performance improvement that can be made is to install a solid-state hard drive (SSD), and the prices are coming down nicely on them. Everything will be faster, boot-up, programs opening and their performance. You may need to take it in to a shop to have it switched to an SSD if you're not fairly computer tech-savvy, but that SSD will make it better than when it was new.

Better yet, if you can just install Windows without the recovery discs, and get the necessary drivers from the manufacturer's website, you'll get a clean, faster running machine because the usual programs they always give you "free" will not be slowing things down. If you have a shop do the SSD, perhaps they can install Windows in that manner for you (I'd avoid Windows 8 if you can, it's really no better than 7, and more touchscreen, dumbed-down oriented).

But don't think that because you buy a Mac your troubles will be over; they will, for a while, probably, but only because it's a brand new, medium or higher end machine, and given time you'll be shopping for a new Mac, unless you want to go through the transition again. They're made in China, with the same parts and factories that every other motherboard and peripheral uses.

Audacity is a great freeware/open source application for recording, with a lot of options, and it runs on different OS's. Sony makes some outstanding software for more advanced sound recording and editing, as well as Cakewalk and many other options.

UkeyDave
09-18-2013, 10:37 AM
I have had a Mac now for about 5 years and would definitely NOT go back to windows. iMovie is really very easy and stable to use. "Once you get a mac there's no going back". Just my opinion. My macbook machine is much more robust than any of the many previous laptops I've had and its only the cheapest one.

blowery
09-18-2013, 11:50 AM
Most any Mac user will tell you that Mac is better, but you have to consider the source. You can get a mighty fine Winodws laptop for what you'll pay for an entry-level Mac, and you won't have to learn a bunch of new stuff that you really don't need to learn, buy new software, and be locked in to a proprietary machine. I worked for a prepress software developer for years, and we had Macs, Windows, UNIX, and some others in the office, and I was continually amazed at how the raved-about Macs were more trouble and more tempermental than any of them, even for simple tasks. They've improved with OSX and beyond, but they're still pricey, cult-and-prestige-marketed machines that really aren't anything special. Pay a lot, and you'll get a nice machine, but not because it's a Mac, because you paid a lot.
It's not hard to "learn" at all. The newest OSX is way nicer and polished than windows 7/8/etc faster, less virus prone* when used correctly. People complain it doesn't work well in our windows environment. Well be glad it works at all, throw a PC on a Mac network and see what happens? I wouldn't use a Mac on a corporate environment, running windows programsuse the right tool for the job.

The price debate isn't apples to apples (pun intended) either. Price a COMPARABLE ultrabook to the Macbook air and you will find the Apple is cheaper. As for the mini, I run a Lenovo M72e Tiny for all my upgrades at work and they are great with windows 7. $515 semi-comparable price goes up when you ad more features to get closer to Mac mini.



Provided your current machine is a late Vista or Win7 machine with no hardware problems, you probably can save your documents and reformat it yourself. One major performance improvement that can be made is to install a solid-state hard drive (SSD), and the prices are coming down nicely on them. Everything will be faster, boot-up, programs opening and their performance. You may need to take it in to a shop to have it switched to an SSD if you're not fairly computer tech-savvy, but that SSD will make it better than when it was new.

Better yet, if you can just install Windows without the recovery discs, and get the necessary drivers from the manufacturer's website, you'll get a clean, faster running machine because the usual programs they always give you "free" will not be slowing things down. If you have a shop do the SSD, perhaps they can install Windows in that manner for you (I'd avoid Windows 8 if you can, it's really no better than 7, and more touchscreen, dumbed-down oriented).

I've done this for 17 years and a reformat will help and you WILL have to do it with windows (registry sucks) but it doesn't always make it better/faster. Usually because it was running crappy, but sometimes it never just runs as quick as the first time. It is however one of the cheapest ways to see if you current computer works. Drivers *may* be a pain if you don't have recovery disks and sometimes you have to search EVEN at the manufacture site for awhile to find it. HUGE bonus in the Apple department for this.

SSD is a great option for ANY computer.



But don't think that because you buy a Mac your troubles will be over; they will, for a while, probably, but only because it's a brand new, medium or higher end machine, and given time you'll be shopping for a new Mac, unless you want to go through the transition again.
Or ANY new computer you buy could have problems, Mac's you name it right out of the box. It's a computer/mechanical has a great chance to fail. You can run either mac/PC as long as you want as long as your happy with the software and performance. Especially if it's a dedicated recording setup that doesn't go online or do anything else.



They're made in China, with the same parts and factories that every other motherboard and peripheral uses.

Apple builds their OS with drivers and components that they use. Thats why you can't (easily) install OSX on a Dell or HP or whatever they happened to slap together. Makes some people angry, me I'd rather have it tailored to the hardware. I don't need something to mess around/tweak/make a bunch of changes. I do that all day at work. It works extremely well as it's tested to run as fast/smooth as it can with OSX. In windows, if you can find a driver, install it make it work. You can even "fake" the driver to get it to "work" plus/minus.



Audacity is a great freeware/open source application for recording, with a lot of options, and it runs on different OS's. Sony makes some outstanding software for more advanced sound recording and editing, as well as Cakewalk and many other options.
Audacity was OK when I tried it. There are others, cakewalk was decent before when I used an older version. Not familiar enough with Sony but you can't go wrong with the big names, ProTools, Logic Pro etc. Garage band is a really good easy to use software.

There is no "best" computer overall. Not trying to start a fight, but there is mis-information on things. All computers have the capability to run bad/fail. They all have plus and minuses, But there is a lot more to the "apple are cult elite-ist with extremely expensive machines that no software runs on" There is a lot of pro audio-video being run on Mac/Apple and have been for awhile.

greenie44
09-18-2013, 01:06 PM
Thanks to all for the information. blowery, Dave and anyone else, I have played around with GarageBand on my iPad, and it doesn't seem to be anything as deep as even my limited ProTools. Is GarageBand on the Mac a more sophisticated and capable piece of software? I don't have any experience with Macs and their software, so please forgive my ignorant questions. Thanks in advance.

blowery
09-19-2013, 05:23 AM
Thanks to all for the information. blowery, Dave and anyone else, I have played around with GarageBand on my iPad, and it doesn't seem to be anything as deep as even my limited ProTools. Is GarageBand on the Mac a more sophisticated and capable piece of software? I don't have any experience with Macs and their software, so please forgive my ignorant questions. Thanks in advance.

It is more in depth and more robust on the Mac. There are quite a few differences, but here are some major ones.

Multi-track recordings - simultaneously record multiple instruments, doesn't work on ipad
You can add 3rd party plugins/effects. I use a great studio double track ADT plugin.
Processing power - you will have much more processing power/storage and flexibility and will need it with larger projects/effect

ProTools is an excellent and $$$ piece of recording software and has tons of options, many of which you may never use. You can also install/use Protools on a Mac. You should already have a license for Protools LE that came with the M-audio.
GarageBand on Mac is pretty good and works really well and is easy. benefit if you already have an iPad you can share projects and work with them on the road or anywhere. Pretty cool.

Another benefit to Mac I forgot to bring up. Dual booting or virtual machine. You can have the Mac boot up to OSX or Boot it up and run full windows. There also are programs that allow you to run a "virtual" windows setup in OSX. Parallels is one program. Double click that icon and you are running Windows in a "window" on your Mac if you need a windows machine or application.

It's too bad you couldn't try both and see which you preferred.

greenie44
09-19-2013, 06:16 AM
It's too bad you couldn't try both and see which you preferred.

Funny you should mention that. I realized that we have a Mac in the house - a used Macbook I bought for my daughter that has iLife on it. I made a deal that I would upgrade it if I could use it to play around with. So within a couple of weeks I will know which direction to head into.

Thanks for all your help. If people are interested, I can update this thread (or start a new one) after my experimentation.

japarts
09-19-2013, 12:05 PM
There's a lot of great music software out there and quite a few of them run on both Windows and Mac. As far as I've been able to tell, there's little or no inherent difference between the two OSes when it comes to running music software. The only thing you should really consider is which system you're more comfortable with. You don't even need to think much about the software because a lot of it runs on both. One thing you might consider is that there is more free (and inexpensive) software available for PCs, as far as I am aware.

The variety of tools is enormous, so I recommend taking some time to consider what it is you're looking for before making a purchase. Also, demo the software that has a demo available. Demo a lot! There are always surprises.

My recommendations (all of which run on Windows and Mac):
1. Tracktion - this is what I primarily use. It's uncomplicated for the simple things. Note: it comes with few or no extras (ie. instruments, effects) which is what I prefer. I like to choose my own stuff and not have extra clutter.
http://www.tracktion.com/

2. PreSonus StudioOne - good, solid music software with decent extras and 3 levels of purchase (Artist, Producer, Professional)
http://www.presonus.com/products/studio-one/

3. OhmStudio - still in beta until October, but it's inherently collaborative. Songs are stored on the cloud and you can invite others (who also use it) to add tracks to your songs no matter where they are. The developers started off making effects and instruments, so it comes with those.
http://www.ohmstudio.com/

Not my recommendations:
http://www.musicradar.com/tuition/tech/the-15-best-daw-software-apps-in-the-world-today-238905

bakechad
09-19-2013, 12:22 PM
I'd take your Windows machine and install Linux. I've been 100% Linux since 1997.

Great audio and recording software including a low latency kernel.

About half a dozen well supported video editors from simple to crazy complex.

More free software than you could use in a lifetime.

Take a look AVLinux which is distribution dedicated to audio/video production.


While I am a Linux junkie, the rest of my family uses Macs, so I don't think you could go wrong going down that road either.

Good Luck.

blue_knight_usa
09-19-2013, 02:48 PM
I'd take your Windows machine and install Linux. I've been 100% Linux since 1997.

Great audio and recording software including a low latency kernel.

About half a dozen well supported video editors from simple to crazy complex.

More free software than you could use in a lifetime.

Take a look AVLinux which is distribution dedicated to audio/video production.


While I am a Linux junkie, the rest of my family uses Macs, so I don't think you could go wrong going down that road either.

Good Luck.


I would not recommend Linux for many reasons but the biggest is unless you know what your doing it is far more complicated to load aps and have appropriate drivers for which some equipment will not work at all due to the interface. As for Mac or PC, the others have covered the topic making good points on each.

I use PC and Mac and always end up going to my Mac for simple recordings using my Maudio DAW or just importing recorded video and audio. I would definitely get an i7 with 8gb of memory and an SSD (solid state drive) and your audio and video editing will be fast and smooth as butter.

Cheers!