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Re: Mac upgrade advice needed

Subject: Re: Mac upgrade advice needed
From: "Walter Knapp" waltknapp
Date: Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:49 am (PDT)
Posted by: "vicki powys"

> Do any naturerecordist members who use Mac computers, have any good advice
> on the current suitable Mac models with a view of course to processing
> nature recordings? 
> I have been using an 'old' iMac (G3, 350 mhz, 6 GB, USB 1, OS 9),
> transferring DAT to computer running Peak, using analogue sound input
> miniplug, then burning to CD with external burner.  The iMac does the job OK
> but is well past its use-by date and I am thinking I will need to upgrade to
> OS X fairly soon, and also to USB 2.  The new Macs come in a bewildering
> array of new styles including the Mini-Mac (bring your own screen), the iMac
> with vertical CD slot, and the very expensive G5.  The e-Mac seems to have
> gone.
> Someone has suggested that the less-expensive Mini Mac might do the job, or
> that a 2nd-hand G4 might be the go.  However, living as I do in a remote
> area, 2nd hand Mac stores are few and far between.
> Any advice would be much appreciated!

I'm still using the earliest G4 desktop and it handles USB and OSX just 
fine. Sound processing is no problem. But support can be a bit thin, OSX 
is sometimes quirky on it, if not just quirky in general. And though it 
supports wireless hardware just fine, Apple never saw fit to implement 
support in the OS on it. I'm expecting to have to move on before too 
much longer. I was set to move to the G5 quad until Apple announced 
their intention to abandon Power PC processors. A lot of money to spend 
on something they are about to abandon.

I'd not recommend the Mini Mac. Virtually no expandability, it's 
intended only for simple tasks. USB 2 is not really a problem as it's 
backwards compatible. Unless you intend to use it to run hard disks or 
such like.

All the macs you mention are outdate too. Apple is in transition to 
using only intel processors. They still sell the G5 high end, but that's 
supposed to end by next year when everything they sell will be intel 
processors. In transitioning to intel processors the OS has to be 
reprogrammed. For now it's being provided in both Power PC and Intel 
processor form. And both versions of OSX are still being updated.

With Steve Jobs in charge it's only a matter of time until all Power PC 
processor macs will be ignored and support will go away if it's not 
already occurring. That's been his pattern several times in the past. 
Every mac program must be redone to work on intel macs, the very 
arrangement of bits in data is different. The most immediate effect is 
that any programs that are original mac OS (mac Classic in the OSX 
setup) won't be supported at all as that's going away immediately. No 
classic support in the intel version of the OS. Most third party 
software suppliers are or already have come out with compatible 
software, however. You need to verify that each software you use is 
being updated or find substitutes.

As a result my recommendation is to look just at the newer intel 
processor macs if you want longest life. I cannot tell you which one as 
I am still working them out. Basically Apple is replacing their entire 
line with similar intel processor machines. I've heard some good things 
about the new mac that will run both windows and mac without emulation 
on either side. It's quite new, however, and I know little about it. 
It's the one I'm most interested in finding out about. Currently the 
biggest downside is that it does not come with the windows OS so you 
have to buy that separately and install it and handle your own support. 
I'm at this point holding off on replacing my G4, not sure what I'll end 
up with. Any move I make will involve considerable expense as most of 
what I have in the way of hardware (like my large array of high speed 
SCSI based hard disks) won't be properly supported. I'll have to get a 
new monitor too. I've even considered moving down to windows, but that's 
a more expensive and even less desirable option. So far there does not 
appear to be a direct replacement for the quad G5, that will probably be 
replaced next year, they started from the low end.

I'd not be surprised if it all does not just evolve in the end that 
Apple just becomes another PC clone maker. Which would at least make the 
decision easier, though not necessarily desirable.

Note I don't think there is any problem processing nature recordings, 
most any should run that just fine. Though a few newer macs have been 
reported to interrupt sound operations in undesirable ways, that's a 
function of the Unix that's what OSX really is. The user and his tasks 
is lowest priority in the Unix world. Any add on soundcards will have to 
be checked for compatibility. Apple has also slowly been implementing a 
competing system of sound software, particularly in things like a new 
plug in format. Their own stuff is not suitable for nature recording 
processing, however. The biggest problem in sound software now is price 
as one after another the cheaper options are discontinued or jumped way 
up in price. Note that the newest peak uses a dongle protection system 
so a dongle must have a dedicated port and if the dongle fails you are 
out of business. I've been holding off upgrading, though it will be 
necessary if/when I go to the intel processor. Peak has also been jumped 
quite a bit up in price.


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