Home Music Studio: MAC vs. PC (Which is Better?)


Mac vs. PC is an argument that has been going on for some time between gamers, web designers, writers, developers, and of course, music producers. If you are a beatmaker, you will not need compelling specs as much as a music producer and songwriter. There are a lot of differences between the two operating systems in terms of power, appearance, and mechanics. Whatever the difference is, any of the two OS’ is more than capable of producing a song.

Choosing which is better between a Mac and PC is a matter of the user’s preference, what they are using, and budget. The right components and compatibility can factor in the product to producing good quality music. The DAW you choose will also affect your decision as well because some DAWs are MAC or PC exclusive. To answer the question, none of them are better than the other; both are capable of music production and beat making.

Operating Systems:

MAC

A Mac computer is a powerful tool for recording music in your home music studio. If you chose the right Apple computer, you could create full music albums. Apple computers are committed to bringing the best experience for creative professionals such as musicians, artists, and music producers.

PROS

  • Powerful processing power
  • Minimal viruses
  • Sleek and simple style
  • User-friendly interface

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Fewer compatible software
  • Fewer ports

Here are some examples of good MAC computers for recording music:

  • Apple iMac Retina 5k

(Price: $1,799)

A good reason for choosing an Apple computer is the multi-tasking capabilities it has to offer. The large 27-inch screen and retina display of the iMac will help you maximize your workflow. Most modern producers use Apple for recording because of the processing power it offers. Although Apple only offers and supports fewer music-recording software, the software they offer will surely work at its best.

Specifications:

  • 8GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory that is good enough to run all your favorite Digital Audio Workstation software and numerous VST plugins all at once.

You can upgrade the RAM to 16GB for an extra $200 and up to 32GB for an additional $600.

  • 1TB Fusion Drive Storage so you can store tons of audio stems for your music projects.
  • Magic Mouse 2 that can you can upgrade to a Magic Trackpad 2 for an extra $50
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Radeon Pro 570X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
  • 3.0GHz 6-core 8th-generation with an Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo boost up to 4.1 GHz
  • 27-inch display
  • 5k resolution with Retina display
  • Apple MacBook Pro

(Price: $1,299)

If you want a smaller Mac Computer that is good for recording, the MacBook Pro is one of the best Apple laptops. The newer versions are much thinner than, the older models but still has the same powerful processor. The thinner versions, however, stripped-down CD drives and USB ports, which doesn’t affect the functions if you’re going to use the computer for recording.

Specifications:

  • 32GB RAM perfect for operating data-heavy recording software
  • AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics
  • The 15.4-inch screen that suitable for a laptop
  • 4TB maximum storage to store all of your recording files and stems
  • 4.2 lbs. light so it is easy to carry around

Compatible DAW

GARAGEBAND

(FREE)

This DAW comes free with every Apple computer, a more advanced version of Garageband is called LOGIC X PRO, and it costs $200. Garageband is capable of producing quality music if you can get the most out of its features. This DAW has most of the effects that you’re going to need, but having a few third-party VST plugins will help in improving the quality of your music.

Key Features:

  • Touch Bar Features for MacBook Pro

Garageband has more straightforward functions and shortcuts if you have the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The Touch Bar is a nice feature that works as an extension of the keyboard and Trackpad.

The Touch Bar can be used to play the current patch and selected software instrument track. You can use it as a keyboard to play notes and use it to adjust octaves.

  • Tons of Helpful Recording and Editing Features

Edit your track from right down from the note and decibel. You can fix any issues with rhythm with a click. A wide variety of effect plugins is included to finish and master your track like a pro with compression and equalization.

  • Sound Library with Instrument Presets

It includes a whole library that is full of instruments such as violins, pianos, world instruments, and drums. In addition to this, the sound library consists of a sampler, unique effects on each device, and master track.

  • Guitar and Voice Effects

Garageband has tons of different amps and effects for the guitar you can use to create tones for different types of genres. It includes amps from vintage clean sounds, jazz, ambient, to heavy metal. It also provides guitar pedals such as overdrive, delay, reverb, chorus, compressor, and many more.

You can record vocals like a pro with different effects, such as pitch, reverb, and even harmonization. To get the most out of these effects, you will need an excellent AUDIO INTERFACE.

  • Intuitive Modern Design for Optimized Workflow

The user interface has a design that is very easy to understand and use. The recording process is very straightforward so that you can produce music and podcasts conveniently. The design may look easy to use, but you can create music like a pro.

You can polish your performance and fine-tune the sounds with the easy to use piano roll editor that works with the virtual instruments.

  • 28 Beat Making Drummers

Creating drum track will not be much of a problem with a choice of 28 different drummers with different musical styles. You can change the pattern of each drummer to fill in your entire song.

The drummers included play in different genres like rock, EDM, hip-hop, Latin, metal, dubstep, and many more.

  • Powerful Synths with Shape-Shifting Controls

Garageband includes Alchemy Synth, which is a sound module that has a library of powerful synths that sound fantastic. You can edit each of the synths in real-time with features like the transforming pad and X/Y pad.

The synth includes arpeggiators, octave shifters, and bright, punchy lead tones. There are over 100 editable presets such as leads, synth bass, and pads inspired by EDM and Hip-hop sounds.

  • Easy Share and Rendering Tracks

One-click sharing and rendering of your tracks is a nice feature so you can share your records straight to your sound cloud and file explorer. Have your friends and followers listen to your produced track or podcast with one click.

PC/ WINDOWS

For recording, there is a lot of software and free software you can use on a Windows PC than a Macintosh. Another advantage of having a PC is the lower price. Many companies release their computers with Windows OS, such as HP, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba, Dell, Samsung, etc.

PROS

  • Cost less than MAC
  • Tons of compatible software
  • Maximum customization/upgrades
  • More connection ports

CONS

  • Prone to viruses
  • Not all PCs are good
  • Lower priced PCs often break easily

For Windows, you can start from scratch and build your PC. Here is an example build of a suitable PC for recording music that will set you back about $800-$1,200:

  • CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 3.6 GHz 8-Core Processor

This CPU is a Fast PC for gaming as well as music production. This computer is highly rated, and you can get it at a very reasonable price of $329. The maximum memory the Ryzen can support is up to 64GB.

Note that the CPU does not include the components when you are building a computer. You will have to buy the RAM, Operating System, Video Card, Sound Card, Hard Drive, etc. separately. In a CPU, you are purchasing the processor or from the name itself, the CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT.

Building computers are more common on Windows OS as Apple is the only company licensed to use MAC OS.

  • Motherboard

Asus PRIME X570-P ATX AM4 Motherboard

(Price: $169)

It has four memory slots, that can support up to 128GB of memory.

  • Memory

G. Skill Trident Z RGB 16 GB

(Price: $120)

These memory sticks come in two 8GB of RAM sums up to 16GB of DDR4-3600 memory that is enough for all your recording needs.

  • Storage

HP EX920 512 GB Solid-state drive

(Price: $69)

512 GB is enough for starting recording. Although you can always upgrade storage space when you are building a PC. You can also get external hard drives for easier data transfer.

  • Video Card

Sapphire Radeon RX 570 4GB PULSE VIDEO CARD

(Price: $120)

This video card is sufficient for recording purposes and more.

  • Case

Fractal Design Meshify C ATX Mid Tower Case

(Price $90)

It is a nice case that has excellent ventilation. The all-black design is very sophisticated and simple.

  • Power Supply

EVGA SuperNOVA G3 650 W

(Price: $100)

The SuperNova is a modular power supply that makes cable management more accessible and neater. It is efficient and quiet and suitable for heavy-duty CPU use.

Note: This build only includes most hardware and processors needed to run the computer functions. You can choose the monitor, keyboard, and mouse of your choice.

  • Operating System

Windows 10 Pro

(Price: $130)

The current Windows OS is most capable of fulfilling your applications such as recording, editing, mixing and mastering music, as well as pictures and videos. Make sure you get the Windows 10 Pro version for more advanced features and applications.

If you do not want to go through the hassle of building a computer, you can always go for pre-built computers or laptops. Here is an example of a powerful Windows laptop suitable for recording purposes.

PC AUDIO LABS MC MOBILE 10

(Price: $2,899)

This laptop is quite an unknown brand in the mainstream world. However, this is an excellent example of a Windows PC that has enough processing power to match an Apple Computer.

The design of this computer looks like it came straight from a science fiction movie. If you are into high-tech looking gadgets from the future, this is a suitable choice for you.

Not only does the design look futuristic, but the specifications are also quite remarkable.

Specifications:

  • 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H Processor (2.6GHz) with 6 Cores that can be upgraded up to 8 Cores
  • Intel HM370 Express Chipse 15.3
  • 13.6” Full HD Display
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with 8GB GDDR6
  • RAM is 16GB that can be upgraded up to 64GB
  • 250GB SSD Storage
  • Window 10 64-bit
  • Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
  • Full-Size Color Illuminated Keyboard
  • 6 in one Card Reader
  • Weight 5.8 lbs.
  • Size 14.13” x 10.15” x 1.18”

Compatible DAW

AUDACITY

Audacity is a free source digital audio workstation that you can use to produce quality music and podcasts. Unlike other full-blown DAWs, Audacity does not have many instruments and plugins included. However, it will still work with most of the free VST plugins I will show you next.

Key Features:

  • Recording

Audacity can record audio from virtual and real instruments through an audio interface or digitize recordings from other media like Midi.

  • Export/ Import

It is easy to import, edit, and combine sound files. You can export your tracks in several different file formats and multiple files at once.

  • Sound Quality

Audacity supports 16-bit, 24-bit, and up to 32-bit sound quality. It converts sound formats using high-quality resampling and dithering.

  • Plugins

Audacity supports most plugins in different formats such as LADSPA, LV2, Nyquist, VST, and audio unit effect plugins. You can even write your effect plugins in a text editor if you have experience in sound modeling and software development.

  • Editing

You can edit your tracks and takes quickly by cutting, copying, and pasting tracks in the editor. It has unlimited undo and redo to go back to steps.

  • Effects

You can preview any audio unit effect plugins in real-time. The plugin manager easily installs and removes plugins for your convenience.

  • Accessibility

You can manipulate tracks and selections with the long-range of keyboard shortcuts. You can also assign your keyboard shortcuts.

  • Analysis

Audacity has a spectrogram view mode for visualizing and selecting desired frequencies. It also has a plot spectrum window for detailed frequency analysis.

The difference between a PRODUCER and BEATMAKER

 A beatmaker arranges music and beats from presets and samples. The process of beat making does not require a computer with top-of-the-line specifications. What a beatmaker does is arrange beats from pre-bought or free download software. Some beatmakers do know how to play musical instruments and understand music theory, though it is not required.

A music producer, on the other hand, is required to have a lot more skills, such as software mastery, sound engineering, and many more. Although music producers are not required to know anything about music theory, it is still an advantage. Learning how to play instruments is another advantage for producers; however, with modern technology, it is not required.

The primary skills a producer and beatmaker should have is excellent listening skills, essential musicality, and groove. You cannot produce a good song if you don’t have these necessary skills.

Glossary

DAW

DAW stands for a digital audio workstation. It is a digital console for producing music or any other kind of audio files, such as podcasts, sound effects for videos and movies. These digital audio workstations replace the massive and costly music consoles that you can find in a traditional music studio.

These days, independent and signed musicians and producers do not use the big consoles anymore. DAWs are enough to produce high-quality music these days. It doesn’t mean DAWs are better than the real thing, so large recording companies still use expensive and bulky equipment.

There are some free source DAWs that you can download and try before purchasing paid software. However, some paid software usually has an option to try out the DAW for seven days before actually paying for them. This way, you can work your way around the paid DAW and see if the software fits what you need.

PROCESSOR

The processor is the brain of the computer and typically refers to as the CPU or central processing unit. The better the processor, the equipment will be more suitable to execute all the data-heavy processing needed for recording.

RAM

RAM or Random-Access Memory is hardware located in a device or computer which is responsible for running computer programs. RAM cannot store any data, but the data that it gathers remains while the computer is on.

If you have several applications open on your computer, the size of the ram will determine if the computer can keep all the programs open without crashing.

Recording software and apps can take up a lot of data. You will need at least 8GB of RAM to use this recording software and all the other third-party software without compromising the speed and functions of the particular app.

The RAM can be upgraded depending on the processor; some processors can only handle a certain amount of memory and not higher than that. Windows computers can be improved, but a Mac computer’s hardware is all built-in, and you cannot remove or replace them.

VST

VST or Virtual Studio Technology is a software that does not stand alone by itself. You need a DAW to run most VSTs. They are usually instrument plugins such as synths, keyboards, guitars, drums, etc., and most of the time, VSTs are effect plugins such as reverb, compressor, delay, chorus, equalizer, distortion, flagger, phaser, etc. 

VSTi refers to instruments, and VSTfx refers to effects.

MIDI

Musical Instrument Digital Interface or Midi is a term that describes a wide variety of electronic musical instruments and connections. It includes computers and any other related audio devices for playing, recording, and editing music.

A traditional Midi connection is through a 180-degree five-pin link that has both input and output. Nowadays, the Midi signal can be transmitted via USB for modern devices.

Examples of Midi devices and controllers that you can use for a DAW and for playing live are:

  • Midi Keyboard Controllers
  • Midi Pads
  • Midi Knobs
  • Midi Drum Machine
  • Midi DJ Controllers

CONCLUSION

Both Operating systems have their unique set of features. They both have PROS and CONS in terms of all-around functions and music production. No matter which one you choose, you will still be able to produce music either way. MAC vs. PC is a matter of personal preference for who wins.

To check out how to record music using free software and apps, click here.

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