Recommended Machine

Hey everyone.  This is my first post, but I've been reading the forums for a while now, and pretty intensively over the past few weeks studying up on VDL2 and the necessary ";knowledge requirements";.  I may be in the position to be getting a new machine soon, and I'd like to hear recommendations on an iMac versus a MacBook.  I'd love to have the portability of the MacBook, but when it's all said and done I want a machine that will run Sibelius 4 and VDL2, along with necessary add-ons (Sonar, Kontakt2, etc) when needed.  Of course the Mac Pro would be ideal, but a little (translated alot) out of the price range.  If it helps I'm usually writing full percussion scores with wind arrangements and complete indoor shows, so I know the specs and requirements may help make the decision.

So specs, being the same (i.e. at least a 2ghz processor, 2 gigs of ram, etc) is there a recommendation from the powers that be?

Thanks in advance.

( apologies if this is in the wrong forum)
Hi Keith! If you're planning on writing FULL percussion ensemble scores (pit and battery) including winds, my best recommendation would be to aim for a Mac Pro. I know you're shooting for a lower budget machine, but with this type of advanced technology you're looking to run, you'll likely find much more desireable results with more horsepower. It remains to be seen how much a boost the Universal Binary versions of Sibelius and VDL2 will improve CPU performance when running dense scores like you're looking to do. I'm sure it will be a marked improvement. With that in mind, if a pro system is completely and totally out of the question (which you've already implied), go for the imac. Others may be able to give more technical reasons why (like bus speed, cache, etc), but you'll probably find the imac would perform better than a budget portable. Plus you'll have a bigger screen, which you'll thank yourself for after the fact. Big scores are much nicer to work on with a larger screen.

Sorry if this isn't the recommendation you were looking for, but sometimes having the right tools for certain jobs can really help save lots of wasted time wrestling with technical limitations you'd encounter on lower end models. Of course, this wouldn't necessarily be the case if you were just focusing on battery only, or pit only. But since you're specifically wanting to dive into large, highly polyphonic writing, a pro end machine would be my recommendation.

Good luck!
Thanks for the response Jim.�� Believe it or not, I've talked with my band booster president and the response was ";we've got the money"; and also said ";wouldn't you like a laptop to make it portable?";�� God bless Band Boosters.�� :)

Anyway, would you particularly advise [i]against[/i] a MacBook, if the right specs were there, say, if I could get three gigs of ram? Also, what are the chances of being able to go back and forth from PC to Mac with my arrangements?�� I would guess they would be small since there are different connections involved (host programs, AU to VST, etc.)

Of course I could always JUST write on whatever new machine I got if need be, as long as that machine could do everything I needed it to.
Forgive my ignorance, I re-read my post and realized I should have been asking to compare an iMac vs a MacBook Pro.  Big difference there.

(Maybe my desire to get a Mac will negate the drop in Karma I deserve for that.) :)
No worries Keith. That does make a significant difference though. A MacBook Pro would likely be a pretty good option for you. If you can get 3GB RAM into it, that would be outstanding. 2GB is good, but 3GB is better. :)

A couple things I would also recommend you consider:

1 - Make sure it has a 7200RPM hard drive built in. This will assist in DFD (direct from disk) streaming sample data from the hard drive more quickly than the 5400RPM drives which are typically standard in portables. This can make a big difference. With VDL2 going to the new Kontakt Player 2, DFD (which is much improved in KP2) will be an automatic inclusion. So the better your drive performs, the better VDL2 will perform.

2 - I'd recommend having an external qwerty keyboard when you use Sibelius. A huge amount of Sibelius commands are actuated from the numeric keypad (on the right of your computer keyboard). If you want to be portable, you can consider the wireless bluetooth version offered by Apple. I prefer this over an extra USB keypad plugged in. If you decide to get a standalone USB Keypad, be sure to check the Sibelius website for which brands they recommend. Many keypads have different keys on the top row which interface differently with macs/pcs, and Sibelius is very particular about which keypads work best.

3 - When you're not traveling, plugging an external monitor into the MacBook Pro would be a really helpful addition to give yourself a more efficient workspace. This, combined with an apple keyboard and mighty mouse, will essentially give you the feel of working on a desktop, which can be much nicer.

4 - Don't forget to consider midi keyboards as well for note entry. You might also take a look at Corey Peterson's VDLmidi program for OSX if you don't have a keyboard.
Thanks for the tips, Jim, especially about the keyboard/numpad.  There's no way I could get by without at least a numpad!

And to help with portability I already have the M-Audio O2.  So if I can get a decent laptop I should be good to go.

I'm looking forward to jumping into this.  Thanks for the help!

Oh yeah, any thoughts on taking arrangements from PC to Mac and back?
Forgive my ignorance, but why are you looking for a Mac, and running Sonar6?  Sonar is mosdef a windows-only DAW.  Are you looking to run Windows on an Intel-chip mac?
[quote author=Keith Anderson link=topic=1513.msg7068#msg7068 date=1168991626]
Oh yeah, any thoughts on taking arrangements from PC to Mac and back?

VDL2 will run the same on PC or Mac, so that's fine. If you add Kontakt 2, same thing, though you'll want to make sure your Kontakt database is up-to-date on each machine, so when you share .nkm files (Kontakt ";multis";) it will be able to locate sample data which will have a different location path on PC vs. Mac. If you're using Sibelius on both PC/Mac, those files are virtually interchangeable, so as long as your versions are current, you shouldn't have any problems.

As drumcat mentioned, your DAW software will vary on mac vs. PC. Most Mac users use either Logic or Digital Performer.

You already touched on this, but your virtual midi cable settings will differ on the PC vs Mac. This isn't really a problem. It will just require to you do a ";reset sounds"; in Sibelius when you open the file in the alternate platform. Once you've done that, you may have to take a few minutes to re-assign devices and channel settings in the Sibelius mixer. Not ideal for efficiency, but a necessary step for having your settings accurate if you're going back and forth between the two platforms. If that gets to be a drag (which it may) you may find it easiest to just stick to one platform, especially if you're going with a portable.

I should have mentioned that your audio drivers will differ from mac to pc. All macs have Core Audio drivers standard, which perform well. Depending on the soundcard on your PC, the audio drivers can vary widely. Typically an audio device with ASIO drivers will perform best. This won't really affect you switching from machine to machine. Just in your soundcard settings within VDL2 or Kontakt 2.
[quote author=Keith Anderson link=topic=1513.msg7064#msg7064 date=1168981697]
Believe it or not, I've talked with my band booster president and the response was ";we've got the money"; and also said ";wouldn't you like a laptop to make it portable?";�� God bless Band Boosters.�� :)

Hi Keith. Any chance your band boosters can call my band boosters??? Sounds like they have the right idea!
[quote author=erath link=topic=1513.msg7073#msg7073 date=1169005399]

Hi Keith. Any chance your band boosters can call my band boosters??? Sounds like they have the right idea!

If it were only that easy.  :) It took some courage to even bring it up; just feels kinda funny asking for something that hefty just for little ol' me.  But when my office computer [i]barely[/i] runs Sib3 with a full score going, I desperately need a machine I can work on at school, which is why the MacBook Pro would be the way to go I think.  That way I could work at home or at school.  My home PC should be able to handle things, but recently every upgrade or software install has become a major headache.  I bought a used 13"; iiBook for a great deal last year (my first Mac) and loved it, so I'm definitely wanting a Mac.  8)

Drumcat, I'm planning on using Sonar on my home PC.  I guess I got my wires crossed earlier when I mentioned Sonar in the Mac realm.  I was really just thinking DAWs in general and Sonar came out first.

It sounds like the best thing to do for my situation, and based on the recommendations here would be to get a MacBook Pro with the right specs and stick to that platform, at least for the same arrangement.  The purchase of VDL2 does allow for two installs, correct?  Say, one at home and one at work?

Thanks again for all the advice guys.  It is most appreciated. 
[quote author=Keith Anderson link=topic=1513.msg7075#msg7075 date=1169009939]
he purchase of VDL2 does allow for two installs, correct?  Say, one at home and one at work?

Thanks again for all the advice guys.  It is most appreciated. 

Yes, that is correct. Registration is handled directly with Native Instruments. They have an application you can download called ";NI Service Center"; that handles updates, registration, etc. Or with VDL2 you can just use the Registration Tool included with the installation.
Wonderful.  Thanks again!


Greetings!  Great to see you in the Tapspace/VDL online community!
The water is warm and the folks who frequent the forum are
quite helpful, supportive, and friendly as well.  If I can ever be of
any assistance to you, please let me know.  Hope all is well
at Bob Jones.  Are you doing an indoor group this winter/spring?
Good luck with your upcoming purchases. 

Take care!

e-mail:  [email][/email]
or [email][/email]

office: (205) 348-9440
cell: (205) 239-0336
Hey Neal!  Great to hear from you.  I'm sure I'll see you at the convention this weekend.

Yes we're doing indoor this season.  First full season in Open Class after our promotion late last spring. 
Login or Signup to post a comment