We received plenty of response to our Facebook post on the perpetual debate of Mac vs PC for the purposes of music production. If you are a first-time buyer, it can be overwhelming. Two readers share their experiences.
I started with a Mac Mini back in 2014 as I was under the impression that Mac was the one, as we all do. I was using Logic 9 at the time. The day I was due to record a huge project, it failed on me with the feared bouncing ball of death! It was heartbreaking! So, I got it fixed and it cost an arm and a leg. Bear in mind, I was only 19 at the time with a poorly paid part-time job.
Maybe a year later and guess what happened? You guessed it right as the blasted thing did exactly the same. At this point, I was done and I was ready to quit everything (music-related) as I felt the world was against me. My brother had a spare crappy little compact PC and gave it to me. I ordered 16GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive and for the time this thing was a beast! I brought Reason 8 and all was well. It was absolutely amazing and together cost me about £200. I think the desktop was around £300-£400 which is nothing compared to its Mac counterpart. Believe it or not it’s still running today!
Now I use a Dell gaming laptop and Ableton. I use plenty of gear from Native Instruments, Arturia, Waves & UA with no problem. I’ve played live shows with it too. I’m always telling my mates that they should ditch Mac but they all use the same excuse that “everything is in the ecosystem”. That’s their only reason as they simply can’t argue that the right Windows PC has the same if not more power than Mac!
Lastly, Windows has an edge on Mac with FMOD and Unity, which are for gaming sound design. They seem to work far smoother on Windows.
Two years ago I made the switch to a PC. I run Ableton for performing live and producing. I’d had a 2011 MacBook Pro for 6 years, but I was fed up with a known hardware issue that Apple was unable to fix, so I decided to switch to an HP Spectre PC.
I didn’t fully realize what I was signing up for, and I didn’t leave myself enough time before my next tour (which happened to be in Europe) to make sure everything was stable. What ensued was a very stressful tour. Even though the specs on my new PC were a huge improvement over my old Mac, all kinds of problems from drivers to OS issues kept things from running smoothly.
My main takeaway has been that the money I saved by purchasing a PC rather than a Mac has been totally undone by the time and money I’ve had to spend since. I’ve had to move from a Scarlett interface to a Steinberg in search of better drivers, and I’ve spent hours tweaking and optimizing. Even now, updates to my Nvidia graphics card will occasionally cause Ableton to crash when using graphics-intensive plugins.
I like the idea of being free from the Mac ecosystem, and it seems like the build quality and user experience of PCs are trending upward while Macs are trending down. Maybe if I wasn’t as reliant on my PC for live performance it wouldn’t be a big deal. But until the developers behind Windows take being able to handle real-time audio seriously, the only safe option for performing musicians is to continue being locked into the pricey world of Apple.