Mac vs. PC for Audio Recording and General Music Production.

In the debate over Mac or PC, in my opinion there is one true winner… but everyone’s opinion is different due to the nature of the project you are working on, and your budget.

Your decision should also be based on your experience level. Are you new to recording music? Are you a seasoned professional? I will take you through every level in hopes that in the end of this article, you will at least have a better idea of what your needs are.

Cost: True or False: You have to have a million dollars worth of equipment to sound like a million dollar recording? False. The most important part of your recording gear doesn’t cost you a dime and you were born with them attached to your head. It’s your Ears. You will then need to build your gear around your ears and your budget carefully. There are a lot of great mixers, interfaces, etc. out there that don’t cost a whole lot and will last you for years if you just know what you are looking for and where to find it.

PC’s are definitely a lot better on your budget and are more readily available. You can get on any online selling website these days and pick up a great PC for around $200 – $300 that would make a great home studio rig. The Mac however is a little harder to find, and costs usually around twice as much. The thing to remember is that just because the Mac costs more, doesn’t mean that it is the best choice. I have recorded with both PC’s and Mac’s for years now and they both have their advantages though they differ in price.

Compatibility: When choosing the Mac or PC make sure that any existing equipment that you already have (mixers, interfaces, software, etc.) will be compatible with your new system. This is one category where I agree that the PC is far superior. Most modern software (Pro Tools, Cubase, etc.) is available and compatible with most PC and Mac systems, but the difference lies in the details.

The PC’s for example will usually run many versions of the recording software on the same version of Windows. So you will have many more options on which versions of software you will get to use and they will not need to be upgraded for years if all goes right. The Mac however is a little different. As with everything Mac, software, hardware etc. is always reliant upon what version of OSX (10.5.5, 10.6.1, etc.) that you are using. Then you have to make sure that each individual piece of equipment and recording software is also compatible with your exact version of OSX. Now, I know from personal experience that even thought Mac will tell you that the version of Pro Tools 8 won’t work on OSX 10.6.1, i have seen it first hand and it seemed to work fine. Mac is just very careful about guaranteeing anything that might come back and bite them. Can’t blame them. One plus of the Mac is they will usually come with recording software called “Garage Band” installed. Now, this isn’t as fancy as Cusbase or Pro Tools but you can always upgrade it later.

So when choosing the Mac or PC for your home studio, make sure to be aware of what versions of recording software work with what versions of operating software. In the end, it will save a lot of headaches, trust me.

Performance: In the overall grand scheme of things, most people will tell you that Macs are faster… I disagree. Have you ever noticed that all big time gamers use PC’s? The real contest here is which one is more productive. The PC is a great platform with almost unlimited options on memory, motherboards, etc. but PC’s are more prone to conflicts from viruses and hardware failures. The Mac, though it has many less options, will work straight out of the box and will give you years of service with fewer conflicts. This is important when deciding which platform to choose to be the workhorse of your home studio.

Closing Arguments: I have used both Mac’s and PC’s in my 20+ years of experience recording music and for me, the Mac has always been a much less aggravating experience for making music.  I am much more productive with the Mac and there seems to be fewer snags when I decide to make a song, and I worry less about security, crashing, and compatibility when I want to add on to my system.  That doesn’t mean that I am against using PC’s, I just think for my projects the Mac was the best choice.

Please don’t let this detour you from trying out your own ideas and seeing what works best for you and your budget.

In the end, the most important thing is that you are comfortable and confident with your gear so you can spend less time fiddling with it and more time recording with it.

Deacon Tim over and out.

Please leave your comments below!

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9 thoughts on “Mac vs. PC for Audio Recording and General Music Production.

  1. ….exxxxcellent work, Deacon sir……..I’m sure that one day my “old school digital—low cyber/ high fiber” rig will go and I’ll be shopping for a computer-based system……and this stuff was good to tuck away for future consideration.

  2. i use PC for recording even i work with mac at my office i am happy with both, runing same plug-ins and DAW PT 10, MBOX PRO audio interface. spec for pc: i7 core, 8 gb ram, 3 tb hdd,E-VGA 560 TI, mainboard Gigabyte ultra durable.

  3. Hello and thanks for the post…I currently have an old dell inspiron 1545 laptop but am looking for something around $300 for recording music mainly…I havn’t really found a site that can help me come up with something for that price…was wanting to know if you could help me?..\
    I would greatly appreciate it…
    Cory

    1. Cory,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Are you looking for an entire recording rig, a better computer or just an recording interface for $300?

      My suggestion would be to keep the laptop, buy a decent recording interface like this http://m.guitarcenter.com/Item/Default.aspx?itemno=2571810&source=4WWRWXGP&gclid=CJSY1I7mp7oCFcZAMgodYxQAcw&kwid=productads-plaid%5e65675829642-sku%5e108091133%40ADL4GC-adType%5ePLA-device%5em-adid%5e27115165722&urx=1 then download the FREE “Reaper” recording software here http://www.cockos.com/reaper/

      With those 3 items (laptop, interface and free software) you should be able to get up and running for around $200. That will leave you about $100 left in your budget for a decent mic or other recording items.

      Hope this helps!

  4. This debate needs a new title – The real debate should be OS X vs Windows for music production. Hardware is irrelevant since both operating systems can use intel processors. However, you do have more hardware combination options with a custom PC, truly rendering the cost of a Mac overly inflated. Apple’s true strength is the ignorance of a consumer, because they cant be bothered with building their own computer at a fraction of the cost.

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