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  #1  
Old 06-21-2007, 08:27 AM
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brianjanthony brianjanthony is offline
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Default Are any pro studios using PCs for everyday tracking?

I know this is a naive question. But I've been a Mac User 20 years. I don't really want to switch to PC. And even though my studio is full time, I just cannot afford to get a new Mac/Xpansion chassis or otherwise. 3 Accell card upgrades are more than my family can bear responsibly.

I need to retire my Dual 2.0 G5. Long story. But I need a stable machine that can handle high RTAS loads and such.

I know Macs are the studio standard. And it's all I've ever used. I've been a Mac defender forever. But I may need to go to the dark side for now. I just need to know if there are any full time major studios using WindowsXP/PCs for live band tracking on a daily basis.

Any thoughts/ insights?

brian
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  #2  
Old 06-21-2007, 09:37 AM
MDog MDog is offline
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Default Re: Are any pro studios using PCs for everyday tracking?

I'm not a "major" studio (if I understand your definition of it), but I've been using a PC every day since I upgraded to HD. I'm assuming that since you can't afford an expansion chassis, you're not a "major" studio either. I'll assume you are a "commercial project" level studio like me. I haven't regretted switching and will probably not switch back even if Apple redesigned the Mac to be Pro Tools friendly.

At any rate, there are some considerations before jumping to a PC:

Not all TDM plugins are available for both platforms. You need to check with the manufacturer before switching. OTOH, there are more VST plugins for the PC side, although many of them are repetitious and/or useless.

Certain clients may be so ingrained in the "Mac is better" myth, that they will question your decision to use Windows. No amount of reasonable discussion or facts will persuade some of them, you will need to be confident in your own decision and gear. It's not a huge problem, and most of my clients don't care. Some even feel more comfortable seeing a Win machine. Go figure.

For the PC, the hardware configuration is thrust completely on you. Gone are the days of having Apple shove you in to their straightjacket. That means doing more research and maybe gaining some computer skills you didn't previously have. There is a sticky here that can help immensely if you are thinking of building a PC yourself.

That leads to the next issue: you won't have Apple to kick around anymore. On the Mac you always have a convenient scapegoat in Cupertino. On the PC, there is no central office to blame, no "big brother", nobody to pass the buck to.

If you switch to PC, it's highly recommended that you dedicate it to Pro Tools. Don't even connect it to the internet. The spyware and adware on a PC is unbelievable, and can bring your PC to it's knees. I use a Mac laptop for the internet and leave my Pro Tools PC completely disconnected.

As far as RTAS plugs, I've found that the PC is more efficient than a Mac for native processing. This may not be true on the newest Macs, but it's true for my little M-Powered setup. It may be that I'm able to turn off a lot of background services in Windows that I'm stuck with in OSX, I'm not sure. It's hard to scientifically compare the two when there are different processors (my TDM machine is AMD based, my MacBook is Intel based), different speeds, etc. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

Before you switch, in old projects you may want to document all of your plugin settings, or even bounce effected tracks to disk. There will be at least some incompatibilities. That said, I bring work home to my Mac M-Powered laptop all the time. For the most part it will just port over and open.

I switch projects between Mac based studios all the time and find it completely transparent.

It's a different experience using a PC, but inside Pro Tools it's pretty much the same (notable exception is key commands). Just like the Mac, there are little workarounds that you learn over time.
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  #3  
Old 06-21-2007, 10:31 AM
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Default Re: Are any pro studios using PCs for everyday tracking?

Quote:
...I need a stable machine that can handle high RTAS loads and such...
You might want to check THIS thread.
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  #4  
Old 06-22-2007, 07:34 PM
jfitz jfitz is offline
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Default Re: Are any pro studios using PCs for everyday tracking?

Brian, where are you at in PA?... I am SouthEast. 45 min from philly.

Anyway, I build PC DAW's, and am very familiar with HD systems... I'm also a certified operator.
Shoot me an email if you need some help.
audio-fitz@hotmail.com

-Joe Fitzgerald
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  #5  
Old 06-22-2007, 07:47 PM
IntelDoc IntelDoc is offline
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Default Re: Are any pro studios using PCs for everyday tracking?

I have a quad core machine (PC) all AMD chips with 4 gigs of ram, a terrabyte of drive space and a bunch of other stuff and it is stable as hell. Just upgraded to a HD 3 Accel rig with a API summing system and I love it.

Basically it is this:

Quad Core machine
HD 3 Accel
Digi 192
Apogee Rosetta 800 x 2
Apogee D/A - 16X (stems out to API)
API 8200 x 2
API 2500 buss compressor
API 7800 master control
Benchmark ADC (summing back to Pro Tools

Audio Solutions 96TT bay with all my analog gear hard wire (full normalled) to it for inserts. 24 channels of I/O for that and the ability to grow later if needed. All used right now as I have alot of outboard that I use, but it is nice.


Now if I cannot "professionally" mix with this, on a PC then something is wrong. The PC does not make it sound any diff. Yes some plugs are MAC only, but you can survice and alot are going to PC versions too. Give it time. Still, there are plenty to get the job done. The quad is insanely powerful too. Highly recommended for the money.

Best,

Doc
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  #6  
Old 06-23-2007, 08:50 AM
BIG D BIG D is offline
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Default Re: Are any pro studios using PCs for everyday tracking?

Hi,

Running HD4 for 2 years now on PC. Solidly and professionally. Just like 2 inch tape Used to be the Standard, Macs are the same. Some still use them but a lot also don't!

As I have always said as I have used both. Macs and PC's are as bad as each other, just one is cheaper than the other. Your call.

All the best,

Big D
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  #7  
Old 06-23-2007, 10:50 AM
Bentley Ferrari Bentley Ferrari is offline
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Default Re: Are any pro studios using PCs for everyday tracking?

Hi BrianJ,

I can identify.

One thing I'll share that has worked for me is to use both a Mac and a PC. I have a G5 like yours, and I know the RTAS plugs can chew up a lot of CPU power at times. BUT, I prefer the Mac OS, and my G5 dual 1.8 handles PT just fine. It just hits the ceiling too soon when I'm using RTAS or VST plug-ins that have no TDM alternative. (Even if there is a TDM version, it is always a lot more expensive than the other formats as far as the list price goes.) Another problem: like you I'm running HD accel PCI cards. Even assuming one could upgrade to a quadcore MacPro for the same net cost as it would take to buy or build a quad PC, you have to exchange your PCIs for PCIe, and I'd rather not put up the money for that right now, either.

So why not keep the Mac running and use it as your DAW. That's where PTHD lives and where the HD cards stay. Then buy or build the more powerful PC you're considering anyway. Install PT M-powered or some other inexpensive but suitable DAW software (the latter only if you don't have to run RTAS plug-ins; i.e., there is a VST version you can use instead.) Then pipe the audio into your PT interface from the PC. I use a Lynx interface installed in my PC to accomplish this, but you can also do it (although in a different way) with Teleport or the apulsoft application or other similar software out there. Teleport, etc. do not require a hardware interface so you can save some money there. The only thing I'm not 100% sure about is whether or how this will work with an HD rig as the target--it seems I have read about HD users doing Teleport and the like, though. You'll have to research this.

Another thing I'm not sure about is how you personally want to work the MIDI end of things. I know many users prefer MIDI on the PC (or whatever external computer hardware they have attached to their main DAW, e.g. another Mac) to lock in to their sessions as if the MIDI programming was being done in their main PT DAW. I don't worry about that, though, because I'm omly sending audio from my PC to my 192 I/O. I sometimes emply MIDI programming in my PC, but only to produce audio there for delivery to my 192 I/O. It can be beneficial to use MIDI in my PC the way I work, only because of the general benefits of MIDI and because of the MIDI manipulating possibilities I can use in my PC via programs unavailable for use in a Pro Tools Mac based DAW, but available in a PC setting. But I'm sending audio, not MIDI info. I also use the MIDI/instrument tracks in PT with my PT-hosted VIs and soft-synths, -samplers. But the MIDI assisted audio generated in my PC is simply printed on a session audio track(s) in ProTools on my Mac.

This way of doing things has worked well in my studio anyway--pretty simple and trouble free. I should also mention that you can use the PC for effects, not just virtual instruments. Its no problem to open one or more effects on one or more channels in your PC, and to then send audio from your Pro Tools Mac out to your PC to be treated by the effect(s) and then routed back to ProTools. Basically, I think of my PC as a piece of outboard gear connected to Pro Tools; just like an EQ, synth,, hardware sampler or a multi effects box. The PC can be used and can interface with your Pro Tools rig in just the same way as a piece of outboard hardware.

Okay, having described what I do, and how it might work for you, I have one more thing to recommend. This is something you're probably already doing. I only mention it here for the sake of individuals who may consider themselves on the earlier end of the PT/computer based music-making curve. NEVER BUY RETAIL. I never pay retail for clothes if I can help it. There are a lot of other things that are normally sold for much less than retail, just like clothing. One of these other things is software. Hardware too when it comes to computers and audio gear. There are just too many good buying opportunities out there: ebay** (find the sellers with lots of sales, good feedback, and repeated sales of the type of software you are looking for), group buys (kvraudio.com is one good place to look), and the "Buy and Sell" forum on the DUC. If you can bear to wait you'll find TDM software new or "used" that sells for as little as its RTAS version. Also look at the Used Gear listings at the Guitar Center website.

I hope this is helpful. I think you'll be able to get this done one way or another.

**Before you buy software or PT gear on ebay, or from any non-dealer, and especially if what you're buying is already registered in someone else's name, be sure to keep in mind the Digidesign policies with regard to transfer of licenses and registrations. Also understand the warranty attached (or lack thereof!). Research the DUC for more info. You might explore DiGi's post in the "Buy Sell" section of this forum. Another good place to start is a general search of the DUC using search terms like "ilok transfer" and so forth. The more you know the better protected you'll be from scam artists, unknowledgeable sellers and the like.

Happy upgrading,

Bentley "Mike Colucci" Ferrari
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  #8  
Old 07-04-2007, 12:55 PM
gomi gomi is offline
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Default Re: Are any pro studios using PCs for everyday tracking?

Quote:

For the PC, the hardware configuration is thrust completely on you. Gone are the days of having Apple shove you in to their straightjacket. That means doing more research and maybe gaining some computer skills you didn't previously have. There is a sticky here that can help immensely if you are thinking of building a PC yourself.

http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?...d=100&eid=3079


http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?...4&itemid=23957


apple doesnt tell you, digi does.
check all those compatibility docs before purchasing or custom building your pc and you'll be fine.

at least with a mac, you just buy the mac, and it's qualified.
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  #9  
Old 07-04-2007, 04:29 PM
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brianjanthony brianjanthony is offline
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Default Re: Are any pro studios using PCs for everyday tracking?

I took the plunge. Bought a Sweetwater Creation Station for $4k. Why? I was too booked to deal with configuring an approved system. I needed a qualified box that I could plug in and record with, with minimal downtime and maximum compatibility.

Here's how it went in week one.

After learning I had to buy and install Mac Drive to see my 2000 gig of recording drives, I (thought) I was set. One (but not both) of my Firewire enclosures repeatedly would not be seen/crashed my machine. They worked fine on my Mac (and still does). And, After fighting with it to see my 2 monitors (every time I restarted, it defaulted to another setting), it all of a sudden worked. Hooray!

Anyway...

Put it into service for a 7 day test (most recent PT and EVERYTHING installed).

Sunday: mixing a 32 channel live album. worked great except Pro Tools would intermittently play back wrong takes until we restarted. Lost about an hour of work do to this bug.

Monday: (tried) to track a simple acoustic duo. Access errors and violations EVERYWHERE. Then they just stopped. Worked ok. But we lost about 4 takes do to the region bug. And for some reason, some regions could not be moved EVER bc of access violations. bs.

Tuesday: full press. 4 piece band live tracking with tons of overdubs. 32+ tracks flying, RTAS plugs (Kontakt and some guitar sims, and Melodyne). This is what my Mac used to do on a daily basis. FUN BEGINS. It starts shutting down/restarting intermittently during takes.

Wednesday: It continues to restart randomly during session. Band is REALLY pissed. Every two seconds I hear: did it crash, did you save, etc. Annoying. Finally, upon one restart, Pro Tools is just frozen. I cannot play, record, etc anymore. That was it.

Wednesday night: After a 3 hour delay, I pressed my Mac Dual 2.0 back into service. boxed the PC. Band continued to track somewhere after midnight. Not happy.

Thursday: called Sweetwater to arrange this pile of crap to be sent back. I was assured it'd be taken care of by LATEST Monday Morn. AND THEY SAID THEY MAY HIT ME WITH A RESTOCK FEE!!!!

Considering this is my livelihood, you'd think they'd try to call back. I also told my SW rep I'd like to order a new Mac and new cards or a Magma. Still havent heard back (its now the 4th of July, I get it...holiday and all ... but no calls Monday or Tuesday.)

So here's my unfortunate conclusions:

1) Sweetwater Creation Stations are piles of crap. I've got 5 days of clients who would agree. Even if I got a lemon, they were surely not in any hurry to help me save my business last week. For $4000? No thanks. What happened to them?

2) I know each platform has issues. But the fact that I had to revert to a 3 yr old Mac, which sputters and coughs, to replace a brand new state of the art PC speaks volumes to me.

3) Graphics freezes on a Mac are still better than not being able to move a region on a PC without Suzuki [hah] errors or crashes.

4) Why the heck can a PC NOT see 2 firewire drives? Plug and Play my foot. Aggravating. 4 hrs to get drives to work.... no.

5) I tried to be patient with a PC. I know it was only a week. But since I record for a living, its nice to have a machine that actually records. But I guess I am just to used to things just working. Networking, external drives, plugins, moving regions, etc.

6) I'm 100% positive others fair much better in a pro environment with PCs. But I'd rather take out a loan at this point to get a new Mac than EVER deal with this madness again.

I thought my old Mac was bad.... yikes.

ymmv
brian
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  #10  
Old 07-04-2007, 07:28 PM
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Default Re: Are any pro studios using PCs for everyday tracking?

While not a "major studio", I am a pro running LE on a PC every day. Powerfull and rock solid.
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