The heart of most home studios is the computer, the sacred place where we keep all our music programs, samples, and plug-ins. Many questions from music producers are whether they just have to take an Apple Mac computer or a Windows PC.
“MAC or PC? Which is the best for Music Production?”
My answer is always: “Buy a good system” for both Apple and a (good) PC, as long as it works for you!”
It is very similar when people ask me: What is the best music production software / DAW for music production? The best music production software is the one you learn and know best. Any modern DAW is good as long as you manage to master it, it is like a wild horse that needs to be tamed.
Let’s get back to our main subject…
MAC or PC?
It is known that in the 90 Apple’s MAC machine dominate the music studios. After the 2000’s things have changed, so have appeared more and more computers running on Windows, perhaps because it is cheaper and easier to upgrade. Today it is hard to say which is more popular.
A good, professional studio just needs to have both a Mac and a PC. Very often it happens to work on different projects that were built in specific music programs (MAC or Windows). Many audio and video file types work perfectly on both, such as WAV, AIF, MP3, MOV, AVI, MP4, so it’s quite easy to transfer them from one to another.
Today, most PCs are very powerful and theoretically suitable for making music and recording music. Both platforms have software that runs only on that particular system. The PC has Sonar, Sound Forge, Adobe Audition. The MAC has Logic, GarageBand, Peak, Soundtrack Pro.
But there’s more…
Both platforms can work with Ableton, FL Studio, Cubase, Nuendo, Pro Tools, Reaper, Bitwig Studio, Digital Performer, and a few others. Fortunately, most (but not all) soft synths, effects plugins, and soft samplers work on both platforms.
To record some audio tracks in your home, you do not have a heavy system, but you might use many VSTi and VST plugins so you need a good CPU (processor) and at least 4GM of RAM. Each PC is a different cluster of variables, while the new iMac from Apple has a very large reserve of power for real-time processing.
Another consideration to keep in mind is that these computers generate some noise. Many desktop MACs are very quiet to work. That’s nice if you put it in the same room where you produce and record your music. You can also get your PC silently, by placing other fans, power supplies, and enclosures.
Okay, you’re ready for a new system, but what’s it gonna be? It depends largely on your application, you will use it in a professional studio or in your home studio?
Fortunately, there are music stores (where musicians working and speaking your language) that have knowledge of computers and give this support. There are various music stores where you will find Apple computers and there are also a few shops that sell PCs that are designed specifically for music production.
I hear you’re thinking: “Why to go in a music store?” Well let’s see:
- They will help you fit into a budget and get the best machine for your needs
- All components are matched and fully compatible
- The Operating System (OS) is properly adjusted for making music
- In some cases, you can get pre-installed music programs (freeware or paid)
- It has been tested for use in the home studio or professional studios
- Support after purchase
But what if you’re on the go? Many people choose a laptop. However, there are only a few specialized Windows laptops available for music production. Most people on the go usually choose Apple Macbook Pro, and there is definitely a good reason.
Also see: Best Laptop For Music Production (Buyer’s guide)
Apple has always had its base in the creative industries, including music production. Apple computers are well known for their stability, ease of use, and good performance. Today you have a wide choice of Apple models. The Mac Pro is the most used in a professional studio environment. For home studio applications, an iMac or MacBook Pro is more than enough.
There is also a wide range of dedicated audio interfaces, MAC plugins, and music-making software like Logic Pro that makes Apple computer a serious candidate for your music studio.
Apple is perceived as expensive compared with the PC. Well, this is true, they don’t offer a low-end product. Apple computers are more expensive but offer a different perspective, it is just like a premium car, you get extra safety, comfort, quality materials, and exclusivity.
In the field of music production, Apple does have a big drawback. You’ll find far fewer free music software and audio plugins for MAC than for PC. Below you have an Apple’s 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display specs:
|CPU||3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5|
|Memory||8GB (two 4GB) memory|
|Storage||1TB Fusion Drive|
|Video||AMD Radeon R9 M390 with 2GB video memory|
|Display||Retina 5K 5120-by-2880 P3 display|
|Peripherals||Magic Mouse 2|
You can get LogicPro software already pre-installed on your iMac for $ 199. Also, if you want more memory or more storage space you have to pay extra.
For the PC you can get a huge amount of free VST instruments and other cool freeware plugins and software. PC computers are more flexible and can keep up with your budget. For example, you can build a PC yourself ordering different components from different manufacturers.
If you need extra space, you can simply add a new hardware disk for that. This can happen if you want to store very large sample libraries such as Symphony Series (44 GB), MAXIMO by Sonokinetic (36,3 GB), CINEMORPHX by Sample Logic (30 GB) and more.
Film scoring music composers make the example, they need huge storage space for their sample libraries.
For those with home studios, I recommend this approach. With a little more generous budget you can get a PC computer that will be perfect for both music production and other media applications or even for video games.
A powerful PC desktop can become the center of your musical production but also can be your center of entertainment. The comfort of your home allows this and you should take advantage.
Here is a setup for music production, audio recording and editing, and even for 3D graphics, photo editing, or gaming that you can build with less than $1000 (excluding peripherals)!
This configuration will handle any music software (DAW), any audio plugins including virtual instruments, software synthesizers, multiple effects on the main mix or individual tracks, soft samplers, and so much more.
|CPU||Intel Core i5-6600K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor||$229.99|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-D14 65.0 CFM CPU Cooler||$66.99|
|Motherboard||Asus Z170-A ATX LGA1151 Motherboard||$145.03|
|Memory||Corsair Vengeance LED 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3000||$99.99|
|Storage||Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal||$49.78|
|Video Card||MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB 6GB GAMING X||$276.99|
|Case||NZXT S340 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case||$66.99|
|Power Supply||EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX||$43.89|
If you need to add a 27-inch monitor, a mouse, and a keyboard, gotta fork out about another $ 300 – still below the price of Apple’s iMac.
Both platforms have their own advantages and disadvantages. It may depend on your budget, productivity, your customer base, digital audio workstation (DAW) choice, or your own preferences. For a stable system to use exclusively for music production and audio recording go with the MAC. MACs just aren’t competing in certain markets such as gaming computers.
If you had to choose for a home studio, where you can carry on other activities besides production, then choose the PC, it’s more flexible and more upgradeable. Microsoft’s new Windows 10 is more stable and secured compared to previous versions, so why not?!
What? My opinion? As I said: buy both! 🙂
Do not forget that besides the computer and the music software you’ll need a good audio interface, a pair of quality audio monitors, and a MIDI controller, at least for the beginning.
Also see: Essential Music Production Equipment