Mac Mini with Virtual Drumline

I was hoping to get some advice from this forum. I just recently made the switch from PC to a Mac. I was on a budget, but wanted to get a mac that would allow me to load complete drumline and pit arrangements without having to make multiple recordings of each section and ";paste"; them together, like many users with slower computers have had to do. Through post and articles I have read here, and looking at my options with the current Apple line and my budget, I decided that the best route to take would be to get the Mac Mini and just pimp it out. I chose the new 1.66Ghz Core Duo. I know that the minis don't have as many options for upgrades as some of the other more expensive apple platforms, but I did manage to recently beef up the ram to 2gb. I also read that it helps to upgrade the hard drive to a faster unit that runs at 7200rpm. Is this upgrade really a neccesity in order to run full score recordings with VDL2? Being that the mac runs on a 2.5"; notebook drive, I have found it pretty difficult to find one that runs at the faster 7200rpm speed, and when I finally did, there was very little upgrade in storage size (only 40gb more in storage). Is it worth the $100 for this upgrade? If it is, I'll buy it. What about a faster (2Ghz-plus) intel processor? Will I need one of those as well, or can I squeak by just having the 1.66Ghz that came with it.
      I know you might be thinking: ";Why on earth did he get the mini?"; My math= Mini(600)+sweet new 22";widescreen(250)+2GB ram(125)+hard drive if necessary(115)= $1100. Besides the slower processor, I figured that route kicked the crap out of the 24"; Imac (currently $1999).
      Am I wrong in my thinking here guys? If I am, I still have about 11 days to return it! Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, as I am not a computer guro here. Again, just wanted a computer that (at the most) would let me run a full marching percussion score (snare, tenor, bass, cymbal, metals, woods, aux, timp, etc...) in Finale/Sibelious alonside VDL2 and make a recording with a recording based software, at one time, without having to sync together several audio clips due to lack of computer power.
      Summer is here, so I know have time to stop practicing and start writing again, and I wan't to make sure that I'm ready!
                     Thanks for your time,
                                  Dan T.
Sorry Jim, iMac has been sold.

Gabe
Cobybos, are you still selling your iMac?  What are the specs?

Jim
Wow, I'm overwhelmed by the amount of advice, help, and input here. Thanks! Yeah, I went to the apple website, and noticed the difference in processors between the imac's and the minis. They got me...all that ";duo"; and ";2"; talk got me confused. I thought they all had the exact same processor, including the mini. ";Intel Core Duo"; and ";Intel Core 2 Duo"; sound nearly indentical, being that, in the english language, duo is the same is 2. Had they said ";Intel Core 2 Trio";, I might have caught the sneaky rascals. So that stinks.
�� �� Anyway, in my mind I reviewed the thought of marching into the living room and telling my wife that we need to take everything back and get a more expensive computer. It ended in her slapping me, so maybe I shouldn't tell her that in real life. What if....I go ahead and get a faster 7200rpm hard drive. That should help with the DFD streaming, as my ram will be nearly maxed out trying to load all of the instruments on its own. Will that upgrade aid in the situation enough for the computer not to have any audio-processing ";hic-ups";. Storage space on the hd is not that big of a deal. 80-100gb will probably be more than sufficient for us anyway.
�� ��Jim, you are so right about dependability and upgradibility! I am sure that the Imac would be great for me. But the truth is, being newlyweds, we just can afford it. God blessed me to let me meet and marry someone with a better credit history than I. And even with her getting approved for 18 months same as cash at CompUSA, the monthly payments would still be to high if we were to get the 24"; Imac. I need a BIG screen for graphic work (used to be an art major). So, unless I start selling my body away in the evenings, I think I'm just going to have to make the best out of this mini. Once, I had an accord, and I put a 15 piece body kit on it. It was pretty sweet, but I frequently got beat by Sentras and Aerostars, and I lost my front bumber twice pulling in to gas stations. Hopefully this pimp-out project will go much better than that one.
�� �� �� �� ��Thanks to all!�� �� �� �� �� ��
Dan,

Check your email.  I am selling my iMac with intel and 2 GB of Ram ($1200, insured shipping included).  The iMac is less than a year old which means you can still get Apple Pro Care.

Gabe Cobas
Since Dan was sounding like he wanted to do full percussion scores (more than just battery), that's why a more expandable RAM scenario seems like a smart way to go. You can try loading a large score's worth of instruments to RAM, but once you start filling Kontakt past 1.5gb, you don't have much headroom. So DFD streaming may almost be a requirement. In which case a 5400 rpm drive will offer a significant decrease in performance.

CPU speed probably isn't mentioned enough, but especially when streaming, can make a huge difference. So the Core 2 Duo (imac) would be a much better choice. So while you may spend less out of pocket on the mini configuration, the better performance of the other system is something that has true value and should factor in. So what kind of price does one put on the peace of mind of better dependability? That's different for everyone, but to me, something that should factor into these types of decisions.

Check for factory reconditioned models. That can usually save you a nice chunk of money, and things are still covered under warranty.

Good luck!
The real time recording I was refering to if you were recording live instruments. The data when you're working with live instruments gets sent straight to disk, so you want a fast drive that can keep pace. The recording you'll be doing will playing back pre-loaded samples driven by midi. Overall not a hugely intensive process. It depends too on the volume of what you'll be doing. If you're only looking for Finale and native playback with just a battery score, it's going to need a lot less resources than a full percussion score of VST instruments loaded into Cubase. If you'll be doing a lot of full score writing you'll see better performace from the 7200rpm drive, but I don't think it's a neccesity. The RAM will play a bigger part. You'll certianly see better overall performance from the 24"; iMac, but it will also cost you a lot more. :)
I'd go with the 24"; imac. The faster drive actually makes a significant difference with streaming samples. I think its default configuration gives you more storage out of the box and automatically spins at 7200rpm. You'll be able to get  more memory in the imac, you'll have a faster CPU (which is important), and a bigger screen. Maybe on paper the mini seems like a better deal, but for what it sounds like you're expecting from it I'd bet the iMac will give you better performance and an overall better experience.
Hey Josh,
    I believe I am doing ";real time"; recording. I don't know of any other way. I pretty much just hit record in the recording program, then hit play in Finale, with the VDL2 running alongside. I'm assuming that is what you mean by doing real time recording. So, yes, I will be doing that. In order to get a clean recording, I need to be able to have Finale play a full percussion score alongside the use of a few other programs, with no hic-ups nor glitches in processing. So, should I upgrade to the 7200rpm drive, that being said?
    Thanks for you help.
You'll only see a big difference with a 7200rpm drive if you were doing real time recording, the 5400rpm should be fine. The biggest thing that will help you is the 2gb of RAM, which you have. The processor should be more than enough, of course you'll see improvement from a faster core, but the 1.66 Core Duo should be plenty to get done what you need. You could also look into external firewire hard drives for storage, I know a lot of mac folks go that route.

Cheers,
Josh
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