First, my apologies for being MIA with respect to posting frequency of late. Suffice it to say that I’ve been fairly busy the past few months, and I’ve neither had the time nor proper mindset for my music mistress… So, I’ve been using this “time out” to deeply consider my options for migrating my studio onto (one of) the looming 64-bit platform choices: Windows 7 vs. Mac OSX (Snow Leopard 10.6 and beyond). While I personally feel that the first few years of stable 64-bit computing will provide an evolutionary (vs. revolutionary) improvement, there is still enough benefit to make the move worthwhile. Besides, if you’ve like me, and have been patiently hanging around in Windows XP, your hardware is likely approaching its end of life. Therefore, you’re next upgrade will likely dip your toe into 64-bit waters ready or not!
Given then that a hardware upgrade is in many of our futures, it’s understandable that PC users are more tempted than ever to switch to a Mac.
Apple has clearly leveled the playing field in terms of price-performance, and continues to garner market share while Microsoft has only recently acknowledged its Windows Vista debacle. As luck would have it, I was forced into this decision recently with my business machine, and felt what better way to help my dilemma than give the Mac a try in my work life first – realizing that a laptop migration is far less complex than a music studio retrofit! So I made the switch to a Macbook Pro for business, and most recently upgraded to Snow Leopard (Mac OSX 10.6) and couldn’t be happier. Without question – the Mac is a superior piece of kit with an unmatched price-performance ratio.
So why not do the same for my music studio? Well, I’m thinking about it! But as of now, I view these as very different scenarios. For work, mobility and multi-tasking are extremely important to me. And, with desktop virtualization, I can have the best of both worlds on the Mac. In the studio, my workflow mostly centers around a single application, my DAW. I require no mobility because I choose not to take my music on the road and my collaboration with other musicians is done over the Internet.
For me, switching to the Mac for music would be justified only if driven by a change of DAW software. Why? Because most leading DAW applications are, unfortunately, tied to either the Mac or Windows platform. For better or for worse, that’s one of the reasons why I opted for Cubase many moons ago; Cubase is one of few supported on both. Whether professional or amateur, we invest heavily in our DAW relationship; and like any long-term relationship, it ain’t always pretty. Regardless of your choice, you’ve likely contemplated greener pastures along the way, but I believe a “better solution” today ultimately morphs into “different challenges” tomorrow.
I find it helpful to pose this question: Would a Mac (and/or alternate DAW) help me make better music or make music better?
Forcing that perspective has kept me grounded – and not become distracted by an endless pursuit of perfect technology. So for all the accolades I can now officially bestow upon the Mac, it’s neither helped me to write a good post, nor has it made it easier to write. Would it be any different with music? Or should I say, contribute enough improvement to justify the time and investment to switch? In my opinion way too much energy is expended upon senseless debate of superior tool or platform. It’s simply not a binary question; the answer is extremely situational and highly dependent on your workflow and what you’re trying to accomplish. So until someone can prove to me that the choice of platform materially affects the quality of the end-product, the music, I’m going to do my best to stay grounded with regards to my studio technology refresh. What are your thoughts?