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Author Topic: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?  (Read 5591 times)

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Offline newscane

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TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« on: December 03, 2009, 02:04:57 AM »
My main PC right now is a 1.8 Ghz P4, 512MB RAM, WinXP, about 7 years old.  I have a 40 + 80 internal, a 160 external, and a 1TB external.  I have a Linux box that was my "big" file server until I got the 1 TB drive... it's a P3 450 w/ a 500 GB SATA.  I recently got a netbook... that's provided a "faster" way to be on the web... and I've been using it for processing recordings.  I'm thinking it's time to replace my desktop.  I've thought about building one w/ parts from Newegg (and maybe Best Buy, etc) ... the latest "cart" had a AMD X3 & 2 GB of RAM at the center of it.  I've also thought about buying a computer off the shelf... or possibly switching over to the Mac side of things w/ a Mini.  I'm a little hesitant to go to the Mini because of a lack of expandability... but there is always USB.  My budget is in the $500-700 range, I'd say.  Any thoughts? 

ETA: To bring this back into the taping-related fold: I'd say my audio processing/filesharing is about the heaviest load I put on my computer.  Right now my workflow is JB3 > Audacity > CD Wave Editor > Foobar.  I know Audacity has a Mac version... the only thing I think I'd really need to find a replacement for is CD Wave Editor.  What say you, Mac users?
« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 02:06:55 AM by newscane »
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Offline dgodwin

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2009, 10:08:31 AM »
At the beginning of the summer, I picked up a macbook.  I still haven't attempted to use it to do any audio processing, as I'm extremely happy and efficient at using Audition and CDwav.  I keep my desktop running for audio processing and sharing. 

If you don't go mac, would you want to continue to run xp, or go to 7?  If you need to buy a full version of 7, you'll likely find some good deals on pre-built computers over the holiday season...  If you can use the XP license you all ready own, then building from parts would likely be a good way to go. 

Offline Sebastian

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2009, 10:48:59 AM »
I know Audacity has a Mac version... the only thing I think I'd really need to find a replacement for is CD Wave Editor.  What say you, Mac users?

I'm running CD Wave Editor on my Mac in a virtual Windows installation (and actually that's the only reason I still have a Windows installation around). There's a Mac program called Fission that supposedly does the same thing as CD Wave Editor, but IMHO it's not as easy to use.
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Offline greenone

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2009, 11:16:06 AM »
You have two options with Audacity. You can either export directly to FLAC and then use xACT to fix the SBE's, or you can export to WAV and then use xACT to encode to FLAC AND fix the SBE's at the same time. That's the beauty of the "fix SBE" tab. This of course would involve tracking in Audacity (cmd-B to drop a marker > export multiple) but the end result is the same.

As for the mini, what kind of expansion are you thinking of? You can replace the hard drive and even replace the optical drive with another hard drive if you want, RAM is upgradable to 4GB...

http://www.macworld.com/article/140575/2009/05/macmini2009upgrade.html for the hd/ram upgrade, http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Repair/Mac-mini-A1283-Terabyte-Drive/660/1 for the second hd upgrade.
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runonce

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2009, 12:57:30 PM »
Why not just make the netbook your new desktop?

I run my Acer netbook on a ASUS 24 inch monitor. Add a wireless mouse and keyboard...and some RAM (i think the netbooks can take 2GB)

netbook battery acts like a UPS...

The only thing I miss is that big clunky thing on my desk and the noise it made- (well and a CD burner...but, I dont use CD much)

runonce

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2009, 01:00:17 PM »
You have two options with Audacity. You can either export directly to FLAC and then use xACT to fix the SBE's, or you can export to WAV and then use xACT to encode to FLAC AND fix the SBE's at the same time. That's the beauty of the "fix SBE" tab. This of course would involve tracking in Audacity (cmd-B to drop a marker > export multiple) but the end result is the same.

Audacity can track SBE free as long as you have the right boxes ticked. (snap-to, I think)

Offline newscane

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2009, 09:01:03 PM »
Not gonna quote individually... gonna handle it all at once...

dgodwin: I may go to 7... it looks interesting.  I need to research compatability.  I do have a friend with a spare Win7 license.

Sebastian:  I like the idea of running CDWav in a windows window...

greenone: I can't see myself tracking in Audacity... I think it would drive me nuts...

runonce: That's an idea.. but it doesn't give me much of an advantage over my current situation.  It's a 1.6Ghz atom, with a gig of RAM.  It's also being a little flaky these days with the wireless (forcing reboots sometimes).  And, I really like having two computers to access the internet, so my girlfriend and I can both be online.
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Offline greenone

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2009, 09:06:45 PM »
Audacity is the only free program I'm aware of for the Mac that lets you track a show. You could get something like Sound Studio but that's $80; that's what VMWare Fusion is running these days.

What don't you like about Audacity tracking? Find the spot you like, hit Cmd-B, enter a track number, and move on. Admittedly I've never used CD Wave but it can't be much easier than that. Yes, I like Sound Studio better for tracking because it's auto-numbered, but I wouldn't drop $80 on it just for that (I bought it like 8 years ago for $35). If Audacity would auto-label their track markers rather than making you enter a label, that'd be pretty much all I'd need...I'll have to try to find the snap-to that runonce mentions...
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Offline newscane

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2009, 11:09:47 PM »
Audacity is the only free program I'm aware of for the Mac that lets you track a show. You could get something like Sound Studio but that's $80; that's what VMWare Fusion is running these days.

What don't you like about Audacity tracking? Find the spot you like, hit Cmd-B, enter a track number, and move on. Admittedly I've never used CD Wave but it can't be much easier than that. Yes, I like Sound Studio better for tracking because it's auto-numbered, but I wouldn't drop $80 on it just for that (I bought it like 8 years ago for $35). If Audacity would auto-label their track markers rather than making you enter a label, that'd be pretty much all I'd need...I'll have to try to find the snap-to that runonce mentions...
Audacity just seems slow and cumbersome.  I like CD Wave because I can click to a spot, fiddle a bit to get the right spot, and click once to split.  Saving the files also seems to go relatively quickly -- a lot faster than when Audacity is exporting wav files.
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Offline greenone

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2009, 12:07:23 AM »
Agreed, it is slow and cumbersome. I was wondering why you were using it in the first place and mistakenly assumed you were ok with it...and then if so, why you weren't ok with tracking with it. Only other free programs I can find are Audio Editor and Wavepad which I'd never even heard of until now.

Fission is $32, Wave Editor, Twisted Wave and Sound Studio are all $80, Wiretap Studio is $70. All from reputable vendors though I've never used them. Fission I think I tried for a little bit but don't remember my experiences.
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Offline Fried Chicken Boy

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2009, 02:10:52 AM »
To respond to the original subject, I would suggest building your own box if you're technically curious and have a few days to get everything together and running as you want.  It's surprisingly easier than you would think and you can put components in it to make it exactly how you'd like.  I've built a handful of desktop computers and even the worst issues I've run into have been sussed out with a few Google searches; most of my builds have gone without a hitch.  There are plenty of building guides on the web but in terms of component suggestions, there's a site called Ars Technica that publishes a good updated article a few times a year on the subject > http://arstechnica.com/hardware/guides/2009/10/ars-system-guide-october-2009-edition.ars

As far as Windows vs. Mac, IMHO it comes down to personal preference and what you're comfortable with.  I use both but prefer Windows machines as there are a lot more free/cheap programs available for that OS and I feel they're more customizable.  The Apple people can say all they want about Macs being superior, more reliable, easier to use, etc... but with improvements in hardware and the Windows operating systems, there's virtually nothing you can do on a Mac that you can't do with Windows and vice versa.  Good luck.

Offline Todd R

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2009, 09:26:08 PM »
Audacity is the only free program I'm aware of for the Mac that lets you track a show. You could get something like Sound Studio but that's $80; that's what VMWare Fusion is running these days.


Not free, but Amadeus Pro for the mac is something like $39 and it is a nice sound editing program.  It has a good range of editing features, allows you to add in VST and audio unit plugins, does tracking/markers along sector boundaries, allows you to save into wav, mp3, flac, AAC, ogg, etc.

A good option to consider if you go mac.
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Offline bhtoque

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2009, 10:38:42 PM »
A few basic points on build vs buy:

1. You can easily spend more building, but the end result is going to be more robust (take a look at a $50 Zalman cpu fan vs the tiny clanker in an off the shelf PC)

2. When it comes time to upgrade again a custom built system will be much easier to upgrade (many vendors use crazy case designs and non-standard hardware)

3. You have some valid hardware you can roll over (drives) and a pre-fab box might not have room for them

4. Very few PC makers pay enough attention to cooling, especially with multiple high rpm drives which you will want for audio work.

5. Most pc's you buy will come with a bunch of crap software pre-installed and often without original software cd's. Buying parts gets you all the discs you need and you will end up with a more stable OS install doing it from scratch and using a custom install (of course buying a full version of an OS is expensive)

6. You can not do too much research. Check ram compatibility for any mobo you like. mobo and graphic card conflicts are also common. Tom's hardware is a great site for product info.

7. If you build, don't skimp on a power supply

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Offline it-goes-to-eleven

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2009, 03:44:26 PM »
Linux + virtualization for your winblows needs.

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Offline scb

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Re: TSKB: New computer: build, buy, or go Mac?
« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2009, 10:25:30 AM »
ETA: To bring this back into the taping-related fold: I'd say my audio processing/filesharing is about the heaviest load I put on my computer.  Right now my workflow is JB3 > Audacity > CD Wave Editor > Foobar.  I know Audacity has a Mac version... the only thing I think I'd really need to find a replacement for is CD Wave Editor.  What say you, Mac users?


If macs sucked at audio stuff, we wouldn't be using them :)

If you switch to a mac, you'll have plenty of audio options.  And for all the PC users who try to tell me "but you don't have CD Wave," I simply say: "So?"  I've never needed it

 

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