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Audio production, PC or Mac?

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There is always a big debate when people have to choose between a PC or a Mac. The PC usually excels at versatility and choice of options in terms of hardware, software and games. Also, the price point for decent PC systems is usually more attractive than Macs. Supporters of Apple products usually quote ease of use, stability and reliability as a reason to choose for such systems; and that the additional price is worth it. In most cases, the conclusion is usually that both systems will be able to do similar things and that the choice comes down to personal preference. But where does that leave audiophiles, audio and music production? Here is a quick exploration of the basic choice between Macs and PCs.

So first things first, what is your preferred programme to use? There are a few programmes that only are available on PCs and some on Mac systems. For example, Sonar, Sound Forge, FL Studio and Adobe Audition are only available on the PC. The Mac will give you the option to use Logic, GarageBand, Peak and Soundtrack Pro. It pretty much comes down to what you have (or will) master, and if that’s any of the programmes mentioned above, that will decide which direction you go.

One of the things usually overlooked – and a reason for irritation later on – is the actual noise your machine makes. Nothing is worse than working on your audio production within the background a system fan spinning up. And also consider that any new system will run quite cool, but over time that might worsen. In general, Mac systems usually are built to be quiet, and for PC systems you will need to primarily invest in making it quiet. That might mean getting a build with quieter fans and bigger heatsinks. Alternatively, if you have the cash to splash, you could opt for a water cooled system. Just avoid any bubbles in the tubes as that will really drive you nuts.

And if you like the idea of being mobile, the  noise issue becomes more prevalent, with Macs usually coming out on top. If this is your direction, and you are used to using  PCs, be aware that some of your regular screenshots and apps are slightly different on Macs. Read how to record video from screen with audio to get your bearings on what is different, it has some valid points on snippet tool alternatives as well.

Regardless if you go for PCs or Macs, make sure you don’t skimp on the processor and RAM. Those two elements are the main determinants in how able the system would be in handling your audio programme and possibly all the VST and VSTi plugins you might be using.

So either you go with the tried and tested Macs, a more traditional choice for the creative industry, granted you can shoulder the costs, or you go for a more personalised (and tweak-able) PC setup. And if you have the possibility, and following most professional studios, why choose? Get both.

Photograph by Belinda

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