Why Amateur Musicians Use Macs

While discussing tonights U2 concert in Phoenix, I got into a HUGE argument with a Linux user over why amateur musician/producers would have to be mentally challenged for *not* making a Mac their first investment over Linux and Windows. Since the proof is in the ear pudding, I wrote, recorded and mixed this U2-inspired acoustic/vocal jam (aka “rip off”) in 4 hours using only a 2.4GHz MacBook w/4GB RAM, OSX Snow Leopard, GarageBand, *built-in laptop microphone*, iPod earbuds, ghetto-fabulous Fender acoustic guitar and 2 vodka tonics. (In other words no fancy microphones, A/D converters or other hardware.) The noise at the beginning and end is the sound of the MacBooks fan running at full speed, but other than that (and some really sloppy pitch correction patchwork) I’m not aware of any software that ships with Vista, 7, or any modern Linux distribution that can do anything REMOTELY close out of the box in more-or-less the same amount of time. If you think otherwise, prove me wrong!

Download “It’s Alright” MP3.

(Truthiness: I cheated *slightly* by jumping into Logic Pro 9 for the pitch correction part since I was lazy and didn’t want production to take more than 30 minutes, but that wasn’t technically necessary!)

9 thoughts on “Why Amateur Musicians Use Macs”

  1. “Iā€™m not aware of any software that ships with Vista, 7, or any modern Linux distribution that can do anything REMOTELY close out of the box”

    Why is “out of the box” even a consideration? You’d have to be mentally challenged not to look for the best system you could assemble using available software, regardless of whether it was pre-installed.

    One reason to consider linux: Using a custom kernel tuned to real-time processing so your recording process isn’t preempted by the “Does iTunes need updating” daemon.

  2. It’s important because, in all frankness, dedicated musicians at all skill levels tend to (1) not be the most technically inclined, and (2) be fairly price sensitive. While in performing arts in Phoenix I maybe, *maybe* have met one or two people in the industry that would have seriously considered going Linux, but even if they did, AND built a custom kick-ass kernel, I’m not sure what they would have done with it.

    Linux circles seem to tout applications like Ardour, Audacity and Hydrogen as major flagship “see, we do pro audio, too” apps. After giving these a serious try and really WANTING to like them, though, they all meet the bar of something I would have purchased at Guitar Center for $200… in 1998. Trying to do modern pro audio production on those tools is simply unbearable relative to free, closed-source tools such as GarageBand, and I strongly doubt we’ll see *consumer*-facing innovation in these types of apps on Linux.

    Having usable, capable multi-tracking/MIDI/editing/additional post-production software is a basic requirement of an amateur musician rig, and Linux-based apps have NEVER delivered that too me.

  3. As good as Garage Band is, it’s only good for musicians. As a programmer, not a musician, I’m personally turned off by the Mac ads that say “Macs only come with the stuff you want like iTunes, iMovie, Garage Band”. I don’t want any of those, so to me, those are just more bloat. But yes, I will give you that Macs are ideal for small time musicians and can be great even for big time musicians simply as a music production appliance. However, seeing as how Garage Band is pretty much the defacto selling point for Macs, I don’t intend on moving beyond my Mac Mini. And I only have that thing because I can’t make iPhone apps without it. Would much rather do it from Windows, honestly. Also, Garage Band, iMovie, and all the other useless (to me) applications will stay deleted. I’d get rid of Safari, but apparently Apple made it next to impossible to use any other browser properly with their iPhone dev webpage.

  4. I actually don’t really use GarageBand. For people that want to bounce between OSX and Windows, Pro Tools may be a good choice. I recently upgraded to Logic Studio (OS X only) recently, though, and am very happy with the investment. šŸ™‚ I migrated years ago from a purely Windows-based toolchain and have been much happier. Another big selling point about Logic Pro for me is also that I don’t have to buy specialized hardware. Rather, I can just add Logic Nodes on the network to support real-time playback of complicated tracks. For example, most of ours right now can’t be played back in realtime with at least two machines… though three seems to work better. šŸ™‚

  5. I’m a RedHat guy when it comes to servers. But for audio recording, Mac’s are the way to go. I won’t even consider anything Windoze based. I have no respect for Microsoft. This is a shift from my early recording days, when I was using Cakewalk on 2 Windows 98 machines. Until I got a job working with Mac’s, and OS X, I didn’t realize there is a difference. Even recording to a Linux based machine didn’t get me the sound I wanted. So I am a Mac convert.

  6. I actually don’t really use GarageBand. For people that want to bounce between OSX and Windows, Pro Tools may be a good choice. I recently upgraded to Logic Studio (OS X only) recently, though, and am very happy with the investment. šŸ™‚ I migrated years ago from a purely Windows-based toolchain and have been much happier. Another big selling point about Logic Pro for me is also that I don’t have to buy specialized hardware. Rather, I can just add Logic Nodes on the network to support real-time playback of complicated tracks. For example, most of ours right now can’t be played back in realtime with at least two machines… though three seems to work better. šŸ™‚

  7. With the price drop of Logic Studio I think a lot of people have/will do the same. It’s low enough now that the cost is lower than both Pro Tools hardware as well as many DAWs, and with a clean upgrade path from GarageBand to Logic Pro it just makes sense for many people.

  8. While it is possible to do pro-audio in Linux, Macs are more user friendly. Also, Apple’s Core Audio compared to the mess that is in Linux (ALSA, JACK, Pulse Audio) is …well, no comparison.

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