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  1. #1
    Advice desperately needed - is a Mac right for me?
    Hi guys,

    I am a hardcore PC user, and know them and Windows inside out. However, I have had zero/nada/zilch experience with Macs. The closest I've been is moving around a cursor on a demo iMac many years ago.

    Which brings me to my current slightly complex situation. I'll try and get straight to the point, so please bear with me:

    - I have an Alesis MultiMix 8x Firewire audio mixing unit, which as you have probably guessed runs on a Firewire interface. I need it to be mobile for business use.

    - The Alesis works absolutely fine on my desktop PC, which has a built-in 6-pin Firewire port. My desktop PC, however, is not mobile. But when tested with my IBM laptop, the Alesis is very inconsistent and unreliable, with disconnections, audio dropouts and generally very fussy behaviour.

    - I do not have a built-in Firewire port on my laptop, but rather use a PCMCIA interface which has 6-pin Firewire inputs. However, in practice they may as well be four-pin Firewire ports because they do not shift power. To do this, I have to connect an AC/DC adapter to an auxillary jack on the PCMCIA card which will then deliver the requisite electricity. It is not elegant at all and the whole thing looks like a mess.

    - Research I have conducted has led me to believe that for many people with the Alesis unit, using it with a four-pin (or non-powered six) Firewire port can be a bit difficult. It seems that even though the Alesis is actively powered with it's own supply, the little power there is running through the cable makes some kind of difference.

    - As it stands I could make things work, but it really is a mess, especially physically with that little power cable going into the PCMCIA interface which could pop out at any time. And ss it happens, I need a new laptop for the business anyway.

    You see where I am going with this?

    Macs are the only laptops that I know of which come with built-in six-pin Firewire ports. They are therefore ideal given my circumstances. I think.

    Will I be able to run Windows XP natively on the new MacBook without any real issues? Specifically, I need the the Firewire port to work perfectly and for the whole thing to run stable. I also need it to be compatible with PC audio-editing software, like Cubase, Sonar and Adobe Audition. Any known issues?

    The other alternative I guess is to use the Alesis on the Mac OS, but I know nothing about the interface, so unfamiliarity breeds contempt in this case. I am sure that I will love it once I get used to it, as everyone says Windows is a clunky old dinosaur compared to it, but for the moment perhaps I will stick with Windows as learning time is not a luxury I have.

    So, over to you guys. Thanks so much for reading if you've kept up this far. What do you think? I am open to ANY suggestion, as I really don't know what I'm doing when it comes to Macs!

    Thanks a bunch

  2. #2

    Zoolook's Avatar
    Member Since
    Sep 24, 2006
    Brooklyn, New York
    15" 2014 MacBook Pro, i7 2.5Ghz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD; iPad 3, iPhone 6
    There is a complication in your question, which is how stable will the Firewire 800 port run on a MBP under Windows. I don't know the answer to this. However a quick Google search seems to indicate it will.

    However, I am a music veteran from the PC world and I recently switched to a Mac (I used Cubase SX2, Cubase VST 3.1 before that and Ableton Live 4). I must admit, I cleared out my music stuff about 18 months ago and have only recently started building it up again, which I am doing around Logic and Ableton 6.

    I used to read about how much better Mac were for music production and I never believed it, but quite honestly, running Ableton Live 6 and Logic on my MacBook has been an unbelievable experience and even my fastest desktops in Windows with professional sound cards were no where near as smooth and glitch free.

    I think a MacBook Pro will do the trick, but it'd be such a shame to run WinXP for your music stuff. Would you ever consider a full switch?
    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death.
    - Joan D. Vinge

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Zoolook View Post
    I think a MacBook Pro will do the trick, but it'd be such a shame to run WinXP for your music stuff. Would you ever consider a full switch?
    Thanks for that Zoolook. Reports indicate that the Alesis has more stable Windoze drivers, though that was early in its life when drivers were at an infancy. The latest Mac drivers for it came out in August, whereas the latest PC drivers were way back in March. I know those new PC drivers fixed a lot of the issues which users were having, so I guess it is likely that the current Mac drivers have done some good.

    The other thing of course is that I know how to use a PC. And the Mac... well... I know there is a learning curve, but I need to hit the ground running with this project, so better the devil you know when time isn't abundant.

    I will probably dual-boot the unit to OSX and XP, and slowly begin to learn the Mac ropes, and perhaps in time I'll switch over.

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