Refurbished Mac or PC??

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Holomovement, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. Holomovement

    Holomovement SS.org Regular

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    I'm looking for a new recording setup because the laptop I'm using freezes a lot during tracking. This will be my first recording setup, so I'm in need of some advice on which way to go. I'm trying to keep my budget around $1,500 (including monitor, mouse, keyboard) and I'm not sure if shopping for a used iMAC or a PC would be the better option. Thanks in advance for the help.
     
  2. Defyantly

    Defyantly Aspiring Builder

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    You should stay away from refurbished anything! With the budget you have you could definitely build a pretty decent first set up. A used Mac will probably last longer than a used PC due to the nature of PCs but you could definitely get a top end spec'd PC as will as all the peripherals for under your budget.
     
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  3. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I made the switch from PC to Mac maybe... seven years ago? On one hand, there's definitely a learning curve, and if you're not familiar with MacOS it's confusing as fuck at first because it's just similar enough to windows to REALLY confuse you. :lol:

    On the other... I'm still on the same Mac I bought maybe 7 years ago and while I added some additional RAM a year or two ago, it works like a champ and I haven't yet found something it couldn't handle comfortably. That's a lot more than I could say for the PC it replaced.

    So, not sure what to tell you - if you know and like MacOS then go for it, especially if you use other Apple devices. If you don't, though, a PC will be immediately familiar, and will likely be cheaper. It just may not be as stable over time.
     
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  4. Lorcan Ward

    Lorcan Ward 7slinger

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    I think my IMac is about that old too and I don't have any trouble with my DAW, it's getting a little slow at initially opening safari though.

    You could probably score a good second hand Mac for that price and it should handle most of your needs. If you can't then you'd get a solid Pc made for that price too
     
  5. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    I always used to buy my macs refurbed from the apple store. They have pretty good deals sometimes and their refurbs can be fully warrantied.
     
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  6. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    That's what I did for mine.
     
  7. rexbinary

    rexbinary MOD King

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    Refurbished Macs from the Apple Store are the same as brand new except they come in a different box. It's the best way to buy a Mac.
     
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  8. MSS

    MSS SS.org Regular

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    I have bought a couple refurbs from the Apple store and they always look and run new. IMO I would go Mac and Logic. The hardware for Mac is more expensive but the software is cheaper. I bought Logic x and Final Cut x years ago and Apple just keeps making them better and better with the free updates.
     
  9. jmeezle

    jmeezle SS.org Regular

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    Go Apple refurb
     
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  10. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    +1 for Apple refurb
     
  11. setsuna7

    setsuna7 Poor Gearwhore

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    +1 for Apple refurb.

    Went to Mac in 2007(2007 Macbook White) it dies in 2015, since then, Macbook Pro early 2011-present day. Upgraded the SDD to 500gb, maximized the RAM, changed the wifi port. still going strong. Can't go wrong with if you wanna record stuffs.
     
  12. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    It really depends on how intense of a setup you want. What will you be tracking? Just guitars, a full band at the same time etc. different setups provide different capabilities. If you're just tracking guitars and a scratch drum/bass track or something then handing it off to a producer/mastering engineer then for $1500 you could get some high wuality stuff but it may have fewer channels of simultaneous use.

    If your computer is freezing a lot during tracking and your only tracking a couple tracks at a time, then your computer is configured wrong. Ancient computers with like 2gb of RAM can multitrack just fine without freezing when configured properly. You may be able to get your current system working just fine and save a BUNCH of cash. these issues aren't difficult to fix if you know exactly what to look for what you're doing. It may be worth taking it to someone who knows AND actually doesn't keep telling you to geta new computer. Even people who know what they're doing always seem to have this affliction against old gear for some reason and they always say just get this or that software/hardware/computer, it's awesome. People like that are just trying to make their lives easy. Find someone who's actually into the old school stuff and they will probably make you're system run like lightning compared to what it is now and they will be all jazzed about it and never once mention needing to buy other stuff. That being said, there are system limitation based on what you'll be doing. The best thing is to figure out the maximum strain you'll put on your system in any given situation, like tracking a full band with 50 plugins. 10 soft synths, a video editor etc. all at the same time while doing automation etc. . Whatever your REALISTIC actual needs are. Then design the system around that. Most major projects aren't actually recording more than 12-16 tracks at a time. usually you're just recording a couple at a time, although you may be monitoring dozens at once with full running plugins etc. Also, is this a semi-pro demo machine (home studio for good sounding personal use) or a professional (all the bells and whistles etc) studio. It all depends, but Apple/Mac isn't a big deal. Apple does tend to be overpriced for the level of tech you get. You can get more for your money with a PC imo, but the studio game is a Mac world because of the Protools familiarity. I don't think Macs are more reliable than PC, in fact my experience and many people I've know experience have had the opposite experience. I'd figure out everything and do a ton of research before putting down any money. I'd especially check out just reconfiguring your current comp properly. Seriously, I Ran either Cubase or Sonar (can't remember now) on an ancient 1994 computer, back in 1997, with 512mb of ram on Windows 98se ,and could easily record 24 tracks of jam time for an hour straight with no issues. We ran it in a hot shed in Arizona in the summer time with no A/C. The computer started turning off by itself around 2000. I replaced the power supply and it still runs today, if I wanted to. I got excellent 24-bit, 48k .wav files of tracks out of it. Then mix on whatever you want. I assume your computer is way better than that so it should be possible to configure it to do basic stuff. Save your cash, buy more guitars!
     
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  13. Holomovement

    Holomovement SS.org Regular

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    Awesome thanks for the help. I actually did a little research and figured out my problem was actually that I had my sample rate and buffer size configuration fucked up. As far as tracks go, really I only track guitars and bass using plugins and use ezdrummer 2 for drums. I’m starting to dabble with doing vocals and mixing and everything, but ultimately I will probably be sending off everything for mastering.
     
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  14. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Awesome, Yeah buffer size. It sounds like for what you're doing you could probably fine tune your current system and get along just fine. Ultimately, I would do everything you can to make this system work for you before upgrading. By doing that you may learn a lot along the way causing you to make a better informed decision if you do ever upgrade, and also know what to look for in the future, such as that buffer issue you just figured out. There's all kinds of stuff like that. With laptops, especially, you can also check the power settings if it's windows based, you can adjust the computer for performance in those menus as well. The higher the performance the faster your battery drains, but if plugged into the wall then it doesn't matter it just uses more power. Bunches of little stuff like that. You can also go into the msconfig (if on windows) editor and trim down the system resources by adjusting the Services and Boot files so that only what you want to run is actually running. Disconnect the internet, turn off the Wifi, bluetooth etc. Disable all security features, updaters, upgraders, reporting services etc. so that only what you want to run is running and your system will come alive and be pretty rock solid and fast. It's like getting a whole new computer, really. Be careful when doing this because if you turn off the wrong thing you can make certain stuff not work, but that's the goal as long as it's not the stuff you want to use or is required to make the system and Windows run. You can also change the Startup config in this menu so that when you start your computer it won't load stuff you don't want to use and consume resources. Basically if it isn't part of what you want to run, essential for Windows and your programs to run, doesn't need to be used immediately upon the computer starting up etc. just disable it. There will be lots of rebooting involved. After this is done make sure you know everything about your programs and settings on how to use them. Do tons of research to really know. Make sure to document every thing you do so you can reverse the result if you don't like it. Document as you go, sometimes 10 steps down the road you figured out you shouldn't have done something. It's all Easily reversible if you document it. This is a laborious process, and a huge learning curve, but once you get these basics down, you'll feel like a computer wiz, be able to trouble shoot many issue (which is one of the most important things to learn), help others etc. It may take months or even years to get really good at it, but you would be well on your way to being an engineer at that point and know more than most people about this stuff etc. But just focus on the current goal which is get your computer to run smooth and acceptable to what you want to use it for. Try some of the stuff mentioned above and I promise your system will come to life, especially for what you're saying you want to do with it. Make it a recording/music computer and do everything else with another computer. You can get a cheap computer to do all that office/internet stuff for less than a $100. I got a Dell Inspiron 1720 laptop for all that with Windows7, and I can do everything on it, and it's fast even though it's only got 3gb of ram and a 2.4gb processor. Ancient and outdated by todays terms. Got it for $120. I don't really record with it even though I do have Reaper and Cubase on it and they work just fine. If you're into gaming that's a whole other thing. You want a separate system for that as well. Yes, It is possible to make all this work on one powerful computer smoothly, but you need to throw a lot of money into it AND know what your doing before you even buy the computer, so you really know what to buy and what to do with it, instead of relying on others opinions, and throwing money at problems, you will know. This is a learning curve and well worth it. It is a goal to work towards, and honestly once you get the basics of this down the rest is almost intuitive with a little quick research as you go or run into problems. Getting the basics that can be hard but it will pay dividends for the rest of your life, honestly.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  15. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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  16. aesthyrian

    aesthyrian SS.org Regular

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    $1500... build a new PC. You can make a real nice rig for that $ that'll last for several years, and then you can upgrade components and get even more life outta it. It's literally child's play to build one.. I think those new lego sets are harder to build.
     
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  17. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    If you build a PC for $1500, it is childs play to build it, but you do need to know exactly what you're doing still. You want to know al that first. Someone asking about PC/Mac may not know all that and be a bit overwhelmed on what to buy. But yeah, if you buy the right stuff and built it then that computer will probably last the next 20+ years as a tracking machine. I still say keep old computer and buy more guitars!
     
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  18. gunch

    gunch chungus

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    Apple 5 years ago would be a sound pick but these days, man I really don't like what they're doing

    That's not to say PC/Windows 10 is that much better
     
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  19. aesthyrian

    aesthyrian SS.org Regular

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    Fair point, but like with anything it pays to do your research and be an informed consumer. I think most people have issues installing the operating system, but then again, those people probably also can't set up an interface and use a DAW.
     
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  20. makesexnotwar

    makesexnotwar SS.org Regular

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    Actually I had same dilema about a year ago. Grabbed used MacBook Pro 2015 for about 900$ and you can't imagine how I'm happy with it! No issues at all, everything works like a charm!
     
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