Ready to purchase laptop/Hooray!

Good morning!

My University has seen fit to purchase me a Mac Book Pro.

Here are the vitals:
Memory:  2GB 667-DDR2
Hard Drive:  100 GB Serial ATA drive @7200 RPM

Before I submit my purchase request:

Questions:
1.  Should I have them purchase a display?  at least 20";?

2.  What would you recommend for external speakers?

3.  We have Airport Express at home and I can plug into
the ethernet cable here at work, so I don't need an
Airport Express.

4.  We're getting Sibelius and I already have VDL2,
so I should be good to go with those two, other
than learning Sibelius and the Apple operating
system.  Anything else I should know?

5.  The University will provide Microsoft Office, so
I don't need to acquire that.

Can anyone recommend any other items I might need?
Anything I have forgotten to consider?  Address?

Thanks for any and all input you might offer!

Have a great day!
Neal

Neal H. Flum
Associate Director of Athletic Bands
Sibelius, VDL2, Kontakt and many other programs aren't updated for use with Intel Macs yet so it's going to run [i]a lot[/i] slower than it should.  However, Apple released ";Boot Camp"; so you can run Windows XP on it.  Sibelius and VDL2 have both Mac and PC versions on the disc.  The problem is you have to format your hard drive into 2 separate partitions or run from an external drive which will be very slow.  Basically, Intel Macs aren't ready for a work environment yet.  I was at the Apple store about to buy one... then I used Photoshop on it and realized I should wait.  Companies like Adobe are saying they won't have updates until 2007.  Yuck.

For speakers, I recommend M-Audio monitors and a powered subwoofer- not cheap though.

External display is entirely your preference of course.  If you get one, consider a USB keyboard too- it bugs me using my laptop if my second monitor is bigger than my laptop screen, so I push the laptop off to the side to be the 2nd screen and put the USB keyboard in front of the larger monitor.  If that makes sense.
Any idea as to when VDL2 will be updated for the Intel-Macs?
There is a VDL2 Universal Binary for Mac-Intel systems in the works. Can't give a definite timeline on availability just yet, but the plan is to have it available this year - hopefully sooner than later. There are a few items that make this a more in-depth process than just recompiling things, but I won't get into that. Suffice it to say, this is a very important step for Tapspace, and the wheels have been turning on it for a while now.

Running Sibelius alone on an Intel Mac has been reported to run very well using ";Rosetta"; - the PowerPC emulation layer. It's when you start adding other processor intensive events (like triggering samples) where the slow-down is likely to become an issue. The good news is that Native Instruments is planning to release a Universal version of Kontakt (free update from what I understand) by the end of April. If you're using Kontakt, and update to the latest (universal) version when it comes available, you should be good to go.

The Apple move to Intel will ultimately be a great thing for Mac users. It'll just make for a litte phase of transition for the early adopters.

In terms of speakers, you can go a couple different ways. You can buy ";computer speakers"; like you'll find at Best Buy, that will just plug into the 1/8"; jack of your laptop. These will most likely be fine without breaking the bank. Bose makes some decent ones, and I used to use some Altec Lansings that were pretty good. There's always the headphone jack too. :)

The more 'pro' route would be to get a higher quality audio interface, and run it out through some studio monitors. Something like the [url=http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/StudiophileBX5a-main.html]BX5a[/url] would probably sound nice running through a [url=http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FastTrackPro-main.html]FastTrack Pro[/url]. This is certainly the ";next step"; if you're looking for a high quality output while monitoring. Certainly not mandatory.

BTW - if you're going to be using this for long periods of time (stationary) daily, it might be worth considering getting a display for it. The Apple 20"; running from a mac laptop is very nice. I'd also recommend getting an extra Apple Keyboard for daily use since it has the keypad which is very important with Sibelius. It's only like $29 for the wired version and well worth it with a laptop IMO.

Hope this helps.
I did a few tests on a MBP when I got the chance, but I haven't started using one full time. While my setup runs slower than a natively compiled version would, it seemed fairly similar to my old 1.5GHz G4 laptop. I'll try to post more specifics when I get a chance, but with the 2-copy licensing scheme it makes it difficult to have working versions on both laptops as well as my tower for larger recordings.

For the questions:
1. A lot of times I do my work on the laptop screen, but having a big display (or two) is always nice. It all comes down to a personal preference (and a money issue), really.
3. Doesn't seem to be a question, but it sounds like both places will work :)
4. Read up on the different methods for recording the audio. You will probably need to run another application in order to record you final mix. There are many different options with varying difficulty, some of which would require you to purchase other programs. Just search on the forums, there are quite a few threads about it

Another note about the performance I was seeing on the MBP - it was able to handle a midi score with percussion sounds for the battery (snare, tenor, bass, cym), but without any of the keyboard sounds. This is the same as I was able to do on my PowerBook G4 - without spending time tweaking the DFD and other VDL2 settings. I'm sure there is more that can be done that would improve both systems, I just haven't had the time to dig into it...

Sibelius has said that their next version will be a Universal Binary, but they haven't announced a date yet. Cool to hear about the VDL2 update Jim!
Corey - thanks for the encouraging report from your testing with a MacBook Pro. Good to know you're still able to be productive. This will certainly improve once the universals are all in play.

Good point about creating recordings. WireTap Pro is a cheap, quick and easy solution that a lot of Mac users like. The higher end route would be to use an actual sequencing program like Logic or Digital Performer. Neal, you may or may not be into diving into the world of sequencing software yet, but just something else to keep on your radar. Since you work for a university, you can get much better prices on expensive software like that.

Good luck!
Good morning!

Thank you all for taking time to respond to my questions.  I
called and spoke to Larry Marchese (Sibelius) today about my
concerns as expressed by you all here in the forum.  While
there may be some slow and unsure footing at first engaging
the Apple Mac Book Pro with Sibelius, eventually, technologically
so, I'll find a better process down the road.  I'll also purchase
an external laptop, mouse, speakers and Kontakt II.  Thanks
again for everyone's help.  Being challenged in the technology department
and so many others, it is comforting to have folks like you all
reaching out to help!  It makes wanting to engage this new
technology much less daunting.

Take care!
Neal

Neal Flum
Associate Director of Athletic Bands
University of Alabama
Here's a good review of the Mac Book Pro that covers the ";user experience"; very well.  It only tests the iApps vs. the G4 Power Book, but you can see it is clearly faster when the software is updated.

http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=2740



Login or Signup to post a comment