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  #1  
Old 05-07-2021, 09:36 AM
Justin1524 Justin1524 is offline
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Location: Portland, OR
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Default Presonus 4848, Mac Mini M1, and an upgrade path I can be happy with...

As my maxed out 2010 Mac Pro cheesegrater with HD Native is now 11 years old, I'm looking to upgrade in the next year or two. With quite a few choices, here is what I'm thinking about doing...

Currently I have 2 Digidesign Blue 192 interfaces and a Waves Soundgrid DLI with impact server connected - all work fine and give me a nice mix of analog and digital I/O. I have 4 rackmount 8 channel preamps: 1.) a Digidesign PRE 8 analog pres, 2.) a Panasonic wz-ad96m which has really nice pres but no analog line out only AES or ADAT 3.) A Mackie Onyx 800R which has both analog and digital outs and 4.) A Focusrite Octopre MKII which has analog and digital outs. Yeah they're not the greatest pres, but they're all mine!

So here's the plan - ditch the 192s, ditch Soundgrid (err maybe), ditch the HD native card and ditch my 2010 cheesegrater (eventually sell it all off) and replace it with...

...a Presonus 4848 and a Mac Mini M1.

Ok so there are some gotchas here but here's my thinking: I get to use my outboard pres and then some, 32 analog I/O is sweet plus an additional 16 I/O adat. I'll probably choose to clock it to my Apogee Big Ben and I have a hearback system for monitoring which can be either analog or digital inputs. And you hear me refer to analog and digital a lot here - why? Because we all want the best sound analog-to-digital conversion possible right? From what I've read the Presonus 4848 has great sound quality. It does one thing and does it well, getting sound in and out of the computer. The one critical piece here is how solid the driver is and how solid it is with Pro Tools. That I don't think I can know until I get into it. And then there's latency. Is the Thunderbolt 2 good enough to give me glitch free tracking at a low, low native buffer setting. My gut tells me yes, but with a fast computer. And that brings us to the heart of the system, the Mac Mini M1...

Now I'm fully aware the software is not ready yet for the M1, so I'm definitely waiting until I get a sense that it really is and this might be at least a year from now. I also really hate that the form factor is so small and you can't easily replace parts like you could with a PC, such as the power supply, ram, video card etc. But on the other hand, having a fast, inexpensive computer that you can more or less throw-away and replace isn't such a bad thing. I would want the most ram, the faster ethernet, at least a 1 TB boot drive. I also want support for at least 3 monitors (1 will be mirrored). It's all gotta work, low latency native. I would want to keep using Pro Tools but also start using Studio One more and more like I'm already doing. The number one reason for the Presonus is it allows me to keep using the preamps I already own and then I can upgrade them at my own pace later. And all of this upgrade comes at a price of about $3K total - a lot for me but something I can live with and sure a lot less money with a lot more IO then some other options.

Anyone have any thoughts? When the new M1s come out (M1x) I'll be watching very carefully and hoping my plan comes together. If I find the Presonus is unreliable, I can still keep my old HD native stuff and get a expansion chassis but trying to avoid that route. Oh and a side benefit is lightening my rack space quite a bit. Also, you can get longer thunderbolt 2 cables cheaper so I can potentially put my M1 in a separate room if I want.
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Studio: 2010 Mac Pro Tower Intel Xeon 12 core 3.33 GHz, 64 GB macOS Mojave PCIe SSD 1TB Boot | Pro Tools Ultimate 2021.3.1 | HD Native Card | Digi 192 Analog & 192 Digital Blue | Digi PRE, FR OctoPre MKII, Mackie Onyx 800R, Panasonic WZ-AD96M and DA7, Eleven Rack, Apogee Big Ben, Waves DLI, Impact Server, Horizon, Rode K2, Slate VMS ML-1. Laptop: Dell Inspiron 5559, i7-6500U 2.6Ghz, 16 GB RAM, 15.6" 1920x1080 1TB SSD
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  #2  
Old 05-22-2021, 06:07 AM
RyanC RyanC is offline
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Default Re: Presonus 4848, Mac Mini M1, and an upgrade path I can be happy with...

I've been down this path a bit, albeit with a quantum instead of the 4848 and can chime in on a few things.

-Driver quality for the Quantum is good, but not RME good. What do I mean? Overall it works pretty well, but some plugins glitch at the lowest buffers and don't one RME (For me, the RME is a HDSPe MADI in an AKITIO node 2). For instance Black Rooster Audio plugins, I could not track through these on the quantum, no problems on the RME. RME does have slightly higher RTL than quantum (.8 ms with ferrofish at 32/44.1).

-Studio One is more stable on windows for me. Maybe this will change with a code refresh for AS native, but as-is, it's just rock Solid on Win10 and has had some issues, particularly with huge sessions with lots of VI's on OSX.

-AMD Zen3 is the current low latency king, and not by a small margin. I compared M1 MBP vs 5950x, single-core using AS native code in Reaper with FF Pro-R. At the 32 sample buffer, the 5950x can do 11 instances of Pro-R to the M1's 6 (on one track/core). I leave my 5950x rig set to the 32 sample buffer for 44.1/48 and 64 for 96 always. Why single core? Because for LL performance, plugins in series create a series process dependency and ZLM in S1 is single core only.

The M1 is off to a good start and either or those is going to blow you away coming from a cheesegrater. Of course with the M1/2 being a radically different architecture, it's possible that some LL performance varies from plugin to plugin more than comparing x86. I did check a couple other FabFilter plugs at 32 samples and 5950x held at slightly less than double. As you increase the buffer sizes, the 5950x holds the lead, but not by as wide of a margin.

That's just sort of my journey there, which sounded similar enough to yours so I thought I would share. I have a multi-user studio that caters to freelancers, so I will always need macs around, PC's are more optional. I'm excited about what Apple is doing too...
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  #3  
Old 06-03-2021, 09:05 AM
Justin1524 Justin1524 is offline
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Default Re: Presonus 4848, Mac Mini M1, and an upgrade path I can be happy with...

Thanks Ryan for this detailed information. I'd really like to know more about the quality of the A to D conversion in these interfaces. I'm often bewildered at why ADAT remains such a staple in digital connections. I've always been fond of AES/EBU but, in some sense, who cares, if it sounds good, it is good. What we all want is a computer that can handle native processing and tracking with low latency and great workflow. I think we're getting closer to that day.
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Justin (Proud Pro Tools Ultimate PERPETUAL license owner)
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www.elevenrackpresets.com
Studio: 2010 Mac Pro Tower Intel Xeon 12 core 3.33 GHz, 64 GB macOS Mojave PCIe SSD 1TB Boot | Pro Tools Ultimate 2021.3.1 | HD Native Card | Digi 192 Analog & 192 Digital Blue | Digi PRE, FR OctoPre MKII, Mackie Onyx 800R, Panasonic WZ-AD96M and DA7, Eleven Rack, Apogee Big Ben, Waves DLI, Impact Server, Horizon, Rode K2, Slate VMS ML-1. Laptop: Dell Inspiron 5559, i7-6500U 2.6Ghz, 16 GB RAM, 15.6" 1920x1080 1TB SSD
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  #4  
Old 06-15-2021, 08:01 AM
RyanC RyanC is offline
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Default Re: Presonus 4848, Mac Mini M1, and an upgrade path I can be happy with...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin1524 View Post
Thanks Ryan for this detailed information. I'd really like to know more about the quality of the A to D conversion in these interfaces.
Well, I may not be the best person for that because in the past decade or so I've found that the vast majority of converters have surpassed the point where they can be used towards professional results. Differences, sure, I guess, it seems like when you change systems some adjustments are in order, but I've never had a major problem making them...That said, when I had the Quantum up and running I didn't do any major band tracking with it (that was going to depend on aggregating multiple Quantums- which ultimately won't work for PT for me because of the 32i/o limit). My logic with the regular quantum was worse case I would consider a different Adat converter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin1524 View Post
I'm often bewildered at why ADAT remains such a staple in digital connections. I've always been fond of AES/EBU but, in some sense, who cares, if it sounds good, it is good.
Totally agree- I also think it's a bummer that MADI has the same issue with adat with the halving of channels for doubling of sample rates. At least with MADI you can make 32ch templates and simply ignore 33-64. It's not the end of the world, but it is annoying having to have different IO templates for 44.1/48 and 96k...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin1524 View Post
What we all want is a computer that can handle native processing and tracking with low latency and great workflow. I think we're getting closer to that day.
To some extent, this will always be out of reach because with more powerful computers always come more power hungry plugins- but with the 5950x I feel that I have that more so than any system I've used, including UA, HDX and TDM. It's just the least amount of trade-offs. HDX has too much 'per plugin' latency and TDM was great when the plugins we're state of the art, but when the innovation shifted to the native side it fell behind (also a bit of an issue for HDX as well).

As mentioned, I feel that apple is close to crossing that same sort of line for most users. I was disappointed not to see M1X/M2 released at WWDC though, my biggest concern with apple for power users is they might ride a little too high and comfy on that 2T$ horse they're sitting on there.
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