Archive: December, 2013

The New Mac Pro Looks Impressive, but Who’s Going to Buy It? or: Is This Thing Any Good for Musicians?

Peter Kirn susses out the new Mac Pro:

The US$2999 “entry-level” model is already a hefty machine, with 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor and 12GB of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory. (Now, admittedly, you’re likely to be happier with the pricing if you’re buying the US-assembled machine in North America; Europe, for instance, does appear to pay an additional premium beyond just VAT at 2.999€.)

If you have a bunch of PCI cards you’re happy with that you want to migrate, then the Mac Pro is a non-starter, it’s true. But if you were building a new studio machine and outboard rig, it’s clear that this is the machine to drool over.

I agree. If your entire workflow is based around a PCI based system, don’t buy one. But I personally don’t see the lack of slots as a deal breaker. Given the crazy amount of real-time processing this thing can perform on 4K video, I think the concept of offloading audio processing to dedicated processing chips (on PCI cards or otherwise), or needing to use PCI for multi-channel audio I/O, will seem awfully anachronistic a few years down the road. Things have been heading in the direction of native systems for years.

A big question remains: Will it be possible for audio applications to take advantage of the extra processing chips this new Mac Pro offers, namely the two very powerful GPUs included in every machine? And if it is possible, will the software makers decide to support it?

Avid’s S6 Looks Impressive, but Who’s Going to Buy It?

That giant hole I mentioned a while back in the control surface market? Still there.

Avid’s S6 is state of the art. Modular. Beautiful. And brutally expensive. A big row of quality faders is 95% of what I want in a control surface, and the least expensive S6 costs $2,750 per fader. That’s crazy. Any way you dress it up, the S6 still just a big mouse. A sleek, black, shiny mouse plastered with OLED displays—but a mouse nonetheless.

Yes, Hollywood movies will be mixed on these. And big fancy studios will buy one to impress their clients. For my own needs, however, I will restate my former wish list: Don’t give me mic preamps, extraneous I/O, or digital mixers. Same goes for touchscreens, a rainbow of scrolling waveforms, or a separate button for every last Pro Tools keyboard shortcut. (Just because we can have these things, doesn’t mean we should.) Give me 24+ faders, a handful of knobs for panning and sending, and a simple master section, and I’m happy. Sell it for an affordable price, and I’m sold.