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  • To G5 or not to G5

    I saw a similar thread on another site but there seem to be more knowlegable Mac users here. I'm an old PC user that's fairly familliar with Mac in the audio world.

    I'm in need of a more professional recording setup for home/freelance and I'm considering stepping into a G5, probably the Dual Core (but perhaps just the Dual) with Logic 7 or perhaps Nuendo (what I'm used to) for tv and film music work. I've been working out of a commercial house for a minute but the scene is a bad one and I could do a lot on my own.

    Funds are always in rare supply and knowing that there are some major innovations inside of the one year horizon, namely the PC/Mac hybrids or whatever folks are calling them, does it make sense to not plunk down 3K total on a new system and instead go for a top end G4 unit? New technology always renders something obsolete but are we looking at a sharp cliff or a more gentle slope next year? Is buying a G5 right now akin to buying a late model betamax machine?

    I want to be totally practicle and leave the usual gearlust completely out of the equation as there are other things I'm going to need to spend dough on.

    I need to be able to produce and master tv commercial ready tracks with plug ins a-plenty & some live tracking including drums.

    Could I get away with a tip-top G4 for a couple of years?
    Are next year's developments looking to be as drastic as I'm imagining?
    Really it comes down to this... am I fooling myself in thinking I can have a strong and flexable enough home setup for this kind of demanding work in this day and age with the last year's technology?

    I hope this makes sense, I'm on 5 hours of sleep in the last 72.

    Season to taste and enjoy.
    "Music is pussies who don't know how to express them selves by shouting" Tracey Ullman as Sydney Cross, Celebrity Lawyer.

    58.327% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

  • #2
    Leaving lust out of the equation, I'd say: yes. Buy now. The G5 is really hitting its stride, and even when the MacIntel's hit the street, you wont be able to use one effectively for audio for at least 6-12 months after that to allow developers time to iron out the porting bugs and so forth.

    Buy a G5 right now and you know that:

    You're getting the fastest and sweetest Macs available
    All current software is compatible
    You've got a SOLID foundation of compatible accessories and hardware expansions

    I LOVE my G5 (Dual 1.8Ghz) to death. I really wont need to consider upgrading for at least another two years. By that time, the MacIntel's will just be starting to really hit their stride.

    Buy now. And make sure you get at least 2GB of RAM, 2 SATA drives (internal), Applecare, and a decent graphics card - even if that means getting a slightly slower processor.


    • #3
      Funds are limited?
      Consider all the pieces you'll need beyond the computer. Audio/MIDI interface? Additional plug-ins beyond what comes with the DAW software of choice(Logic/Nuendo)? Monitors?
      By that you'll then know what amount of horespower you'll need and be able to decide if a G4 will work or if you'll require a G5.
      Consider how much you'll be making on your jobs and given that how long it'll take for that to pay for your setup.
      Do you have a PC you can use as a Softsynth/sampler computer or for other audio services?

      Beyond that...the new dual-core 2ghz with 2gb RAM and second 250gb+ SATA drive will pretty much handle anything you need.
      "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."


      • #4
        One of the last G4 models, say the Dual 1.25 Mhz G4 MDD, will still be running the same software as a G5 two years from now. The G4 will not be as fast, may not handle as many tracks and plugins and have a lower hard limit to the amount of RAM you can stuff in it. It is still going to run and be a decent machine.

        Both kptkarl and Symbiotic both make good points worth considering.
        1. Buy a G5 instead of waiting for brand new unproven technology.
        2. Buy a G4 and use your surplus cash for other goodies.

        I definitely say, do not wait for the iNtel machines. As an early adopter(I am) I can tell you first hand you will be waiting for third party companies to play catch up. I had to wait a few months for M-Audio to update the form factor for my PCI sound interface. The point is, as a professional you cannot afford to wait around for another company when you have your own deadlines. So, buy something that works now rather than something they say will someday change your life.

        So, do you get the G4 or the G5? Well, I love my G5 It is a dual 2.0 G5 (first model) with 3GB of RAM. I use Ableton Live and Reason most of the time. Slapping tons of plugins into Live has almost never caused issues for me. The G5(argo) happily does what I want it to all the time. I have a G4 466Mhz that I was using just prior to getting the G5 and, while I was riding the cpu meter it still preformed well. I have two friends, one with a dual 450Mhz G4 and one with a Dual 500Mhz both running audio software. They each are able to get done what they need.

        I guess my point here is, talent, skill, creativity and dedication are what make ones home setup strong and flexible (not the computer, but the person). I have made perfectly presentable recordings by overdubbing on karaoke machines with radio shack microphones. Do not overestimate the potential of technology to solve your problems. A computer is certainly a catalyst but not a substitute for ingenuity. The question still remains, G4 or G5? Man, I cannot make that decision for you. The G5 will last longer and give you a little less sass. The G4 will cross the finish line, with honorable mention, but no medals will be awarded.

        Good Luck.


        • #5
          If you are going to use Nuendo, nothing less than a dual G5 will do. the Steinberg products have the highest minimum requirements of all the Mac DAWs.(cpu hogs)

          I would get one the latest G5 models, I would also give it a good year before attempting to transition to the Mactel platform.

          It's going to take time for, software, and drivers to catch up.

          For my business I need to be up and running, not on the bleeding edge, if i'm going to continue to make a profit.


          15 inch Quad-core i7, Macbook Pro,
          OSX 10.8.2, LPX, Logic 9.1.8, Apollo Duo


          • #6
            You my friend (lipids) have captured the dillemma succinctly.

            Word up on technology being no substitute for skills and creativity. I actually recently finished a record in my basement that's been picked up and is soon to be distributed that we recorded with an M-Audio Omni (4 ins), two decent external pre's and 2 decent mics - like $1500 worth of gear. I'm all about making due with what's around but given that I want to be flexible and un-encumbered by too many physical limitations, I thought a big step up neccessary.

            I have a vague notion of the money I can make in this venture but like everything in this industry, it's all pretty speculative. It's feast and famine and highly unpredictable when the money's going to hit. I can say that I intend to devote at least two years to making and licensing music for TV, Film and Video Games. I think anything less isn't a realistic concerted effort. I'm not neccessarily expecting to turn a profit in that time but become established and keep the lights on. I have a business plan and am considering ways to raise capital and have been in continual dialog with most of my major contacts and intellectual resourses. Anyway, that's a long roundabout way of saying that I do intend to make a living from this but basic operational costs are likely going to be a continual concern for the next few years. Thus my questions about what I can 'get away with' system wise.

            I'd love any additional technical advice from folks who've hoed this row. Any tips of where to spend and not spend money would be appreciated - especially from folks that are in the biz. I'm still in the finacial assesment phase. I've establised I need to spend some quality money on better monitors, at least a good 8 in AD/DA, room treatments, a few more worthy pre's and a few more worthy mics. The software (excepting Logic) I'm hoping to simply move from my old system to the new. I'm still tallying but figures I'm looking at are anywhere from 12.5K to 20K just for the initial capital. I need to assess how much I'm going to need to worry about synch stuff, format & media conversion/transfer and video monitoring or if I can afford to do most of that 'in the box'.

            Anyway, thanks for the insights - P
            "Music is pussies who don't know how to express them selves by shouting" Tracey Ullman as Sydney Cross, Celebrity Lawyer.

            58.327% of all statistics are made up on the spot.



            • #7
              phillip w -

              One last thing that no one's brought up is the difference and importance of the new G5's PCIe structure. The brand new G5's have and NON-backward compatability issue with many PCI cards that you might be using for pro audio, such as Pro Tools or the TC PowerCore. This "problem" exists on the CURRENT G5's.

              I would really really ask a lot of questions from e-v-e-r-y piece of third party gear you use, both software and hardware, for possible conflicts. Paying special attention to PCIe stuff.

              I have been a Mac guy since 1985, since I was 15. Macs tend to LEAD the industry (no more floppies, adoption of Firewire en masse, 64-bit implementation, being able to address more main memory than 4GB (the new G5's can address 16GB - that's one-six, not a typo), etc.

              Believe me on two points: the current G5's kick a lot of ass, they do NOT constitute a beta max technology (the Mac has been around for 22 years). Secondly, the "novelty" of being able to boot Windows is just that. While it's true that the MacIntel G5's (and future G6' for that matter) might "tolerate" a Linux or Windows partition, Apple has no plans at all at being able to address that partition through a GUI in Mac OS X via either emulation or natively. A cheapo Windows box is still the better bet because you won't have to reboot to access resources, you can access that resource through standard SMB networking, etc.

              The two main cons I see in the Mac space regarding this dual boot idea are easy to spot: you must trust that Windows itself will respect the Mac OS X space (not a high priority for them) or even worse, wait for MS to get their crap together to make Virtual PC run off said partition. This idea is totally valid and seems cool, but in ten years I never have seen a virtual PC run with acceptable performance: I wouldn't expect this to change dramatically. I, for one, don't trust MS farther than I can spit, hence I have a seperate PC, a nice Shuttle XPS. I am capable of booting XP up natively, but only stay there as long as I have to. YMMV.

              The intel switch is more about contracts, heat, and the future roadmap of their nano technology. A current G5 will be an outstanding machine for you for five years, period. And don't forget that Macs tend to hold their value as well. Even if you end up buying the latest greatest G6 in 2010, your current G5 would absolutely be able to serve as a file server, backup machine, mobile recording in a road case, or run the website of your fantastically successful recording biz.

              Unless computers levitate in the next two years, you're absolutely safe.

              Incidentally, I JUST bought the PowerMac Quad 2.5 Ghz. I can't wait.

              "Man In Black" Mac


              If you've got any newbie questions about Macs and Mac OS X, gimme a jingle. I will try to be of help.


              • #8
                You're the bees knees. Thanks.
                "Music is pussies who don't know how to express them selves by shouting" Tracey Ullman as Sydney Cross, Celebrity Lawyer.

                58.327% of all statistics are made up on the spot.



                • #9
                  No problem PW.

                  Keep us posted on how you choose and how things work out for you.



                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lipids

                    Do not overestimate the potential of technology to solve your problems.

                    Right on. Everyone using a computer for recording,etc. should have this on their studio wall.

                    Just because you can do a 64 track recording with 6 plugs on every track doesnt mean anyone's gonna want to listen to it.

                    64 tracks of **************** is still ****************. You just wasted more time on it.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by philip w
                      Any tips of where to spend and not spend money would be appreciated - especially from folks that are in the biz. I'm still in the finacial assesment phase. I've establised I need to spend some quality money on better monitors, at least a good 8 in AD/DA, room treatments, a few more worthy pre's and a few more worthy mics.

                      Yes, spend $$$ on this stuff, it'll serve you well after your G4 or 5 has been sold off.

                      I've heard the difference using something like an Apogee Rosetta 800 makes as a AD/DA.****************ing awesome.

                      Along with quality pres and a nice mic selection, no compromise monitors are very important. There's no point making perfect, pristine recordings if you have to go and check your mixes on a zillion different systems because your monitors and/or room are not up to snuff.

                      Oh, and I agree with just about everything else in this thread. The Mactels will be hyped to the heavens when they finally ship, but chances are there will be some glitches with complicated audio apps, drivers,etc. for a while.


                      • #12
                        multitrack mind has a really really valid point.

                        Nothing in my opinion beats going through a Neve console with great inboard or external pres, going to two inch tape, and going to PT or DP via Apogee products, in particular the converters with the Bob Clearmountain mods. At least for guitars, it doesn't get better.

                        Multitrack Mind's point has it's boundries too. The G5 will process all the information that you give it, no problem. But don't discount the rest of the chain.

                        Although the problem is less and less apparent lately, I personally prefer a real, physical piece of outboard gear to plug ins. So for me, lots of flexible I/O is really important. This is just an example,mind you.

                        I'm primarily a guitarist, so for me there isn't anything to beat the sound of a flat-out tube amp with a Les Paul blowing your pant legs forward. Line6 stuff has it's place and is a handy option here and there, but nothing f-e-e-l-s like that cranked tube amp killing small creatures.

                        Phillip - don't discount the G4 idea, either. I knew a guy once who had awful demos - he was recording them on an 8track with standard cassettes at standard speed, with liberal overdubbing and track consolidation. At his cries of "why does it sound muffled", I suggested we set up some gobos. Eight inputs to six tracks at a higher tape speed, with vocals added later. Night and day. Your needs might be simpler than you think. The new G5s CAN reroute the space shuttle, crash the Belgium stock market, and get the tickertape on CNN to read "F**k me hard". But do you personally need all that power? If not, you're overspending for what you really don't need.

                        I have done the whole Bradshaw thing with my guitar rig, everything in excess. Today? Les Paul-->Custom Audio Electronics OD-100--->Cab with greenbacks.

                        Be honest and chart it out, like a budget. Get some discipline together and decide where your needs really exist the most and put the money there.

                        Keep us informed.



                        • #13


                          • #14
                            Damn. Just read Jaron's last post and I don't think it could be said any better (or with more humor).

                            I finally came to the realization (after some prompting from a great book I was reading at the time) that a studio should MEET your needs, but if you're trying to run a business of any kind, never spend money on gear unless it makes you:

                            a) more competitive
                            b) more money

                            That may sound harsh to some, but in business it is a harsh reality. If you have a personal project studio this may be different, and of course there are always going to be exceptions. I haven't parted with my Machinedrum or my Tablas even though I haven't played either for well over 6 months. But I know I'd regret getting rid of them...

                            Anyway, my point is, whenever you are looking at something new, figure out what it takes to get the job done well with maybe a bit of room to grow, don't go bleeding edge (unless you're lipids! ), and don't spend money you don't have unless you're guaranteed a return on your investment.


                            • #15
                              Symbiotic -

                              Thanks for the kind words. I try to keep a light attitude, but still get the point across.

                              Guys, look at my other post "My new Quad benchmarks". It contains information that tells you exactly what time you'll save if you sit all day waiting for titanic PS files to render.

                              I absolutely agree with Sym's synopsis: unless it can immediately produce more work or save more time, only buy what you can afford to blow.

                              I hate waste, debt and risk. I am a Dave Ramsey guy, so don't go into debt either for ANY reason.

                              OR you've got plenty of petty cash and have a ball!

                              Personally, I saved for this Quad for three years. But it's MINE and it hauls ass.