Question on using Apple IMac or Macbook for music

Posted on 2011-09-22
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I'm a PC person. This is the first time I'm ever considering to buy an Apple IMac or Macbook for music. I know it comes with Garage Band, and I wanted to know if it's good, or should I buy the Apple Logic instead as my midi sequencer software.

Any feedback from someone who uses Apple for music composition/arrangement would help.
Question by:elepil
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LVL 84

Expert Comment

by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 36584262
Apple Logic is multi-channel recording studio software with interfaces for Firewire and USB recording consoles.  I would think it would be way overkill for MIDI sequencing but I could be wrong.
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 36584481
You should get better performance from the iMac along with a larger screen, which helps.

Author Comment

ID: 36584513
Thank you, DaveBaldwin and mccrick, for responding.

I guess when I asked my question, I wanted information that would help me decide whether to go with Garage Band or Apple Logic, and I don't feel I have the answers I need.

DaveBaldwin, when you said multi-channel, that wasn't clear to me, my fault of course for having been away from this field for a while. By multi-channel, you don't mean multi-track, do you? Secondly, when you said "recording consoles", were you referring to sound units/tone generators?

When I was into midi music in the past, sounds were not yet really reliable in software form. I had to buy sound units like Yamaha FB01, JV880, JV1080, Proteus 1XR, all of which provided me with sounds. Each of these units had a number of channels. For example, Yamaha FB01 had 4 channels, and I could assign 4 tracks in my midi sequencer software to the 4 channels of the unit.

I know things have changed dramatically since then, and I was told that I no longer needed those sound units because instrument sounds were available now in software form, presumably digitized samples? So I hope you can see why I'm having difficulty understanding how things are done in the present where one can have a huge "palette" of sounds and still have to deal with the concept of "channels".

I hope I'm making sense to you, and maybe you can enlighten me further?

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LVL 84

Assisted Solution

by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 200 total points
ID: 36584578
Multi-channel like 8 and 16 channel mic mixers which are often recorded as multi-track also.  One of my friends using Logic has a Mackie Onyx 16 with 16 channels of Firewire audio going into his Mac with Logic.  I believe he does has sound generation capability too.  Another friend has Garage Band or Band in a Box where he has the computer play all the instruments.  I don't know if Logic will do that but most everyone I know is into live, human performed music.

Author Comment

ID: 36584695
No, I'm not aspiring to perform live or anything. I just like making compositions/arrangements from home and eventually record them into MP3 files and distribute to friends and family.

I'm hoping someone who uses his Apple computer for music the same way I intend could enlighten me. Thank you though for responding. I'll award you some points when I close this ticket, but I still do not have the answer I seek.
LVL 11

Assisted Solution

mccrick earned 200 total points
ID: 36584717
GB is awesome but limited. You could certainly start with GB, but you will probably feel those limitations rather quickly based on your question. You mentioned "composition:" For that, I think of Sibelius. Logic is not only a financial commitment but comes with a decent learning curve (imho).
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 36584735
You probably saw this but... Logic Express would be a step up from GB for $200. Then if that's feeling limited, you could bump up to Logic Studio for another $300. Therefore there isn't a big risk of under-doing with the Express version, knowing you can expand for the same cost of buying LS in the first place. To me, it's not just about the money; the pro versions of this type require some serious learning.

Dave B has a good point. GB allows you to bring in one live instrument at a time as far as I know.

Author Comment

ID: 36585156
Maybe I should rephrase my question.

As an amateur composer/arranger, here are examples of what comes to mind:

1) What is the maximum number of tracks can a midi sequencer software support?
2) Does the software support quantizing, and if so, how good is the interface?
3) Does the software support fancy standard musical effects like portamento, ritardando, etc., and if so, how easy is the graphical interface to use to produce such effects?
4) Does the software make it easy to control the velocity of each note? Is it easy to edit and rearrange the sequence of notes?

When I asked my original question, I was wondering which software better addressed the above concerns. By that, I am referring specifically not only to the availability of the above features, but also the ease of use in terms of the graphical interface.

I was hoping somebody would give me a brief comparison between Garage Band and Apple Logic regarding the ease or un-ease of use? Is one clearly easier to use than the other? I understand there will be a learning curve. Is Garage Band just a subset of Apple Logic, given both came from the same manufacturer? Is the graphical interface of one easier than the other? That kind of thing.

Accepted Solution

davidmcrell earned 1600 total points
ID: 36585969
Both GarageBand and Logic have excellent interfaces.  GB is by far the "easier" software, and at its best, encourages recording and developing ideas quickly, but you'll also hit limits quickly if you're a technical musician.  Logic is easy enough to get started, requiring time to master, but Logic is essential if you intend to go beyond whatever barriers you encounter in GB.

I'm aware that others above had similar comments, but if you're going to buy a Mac, you'll get GB automatically, so get your feet wet again and exhaust its possibilities.  After a few weeks (days) you'll have a much better idea of what you want.

1) Logic 9 will support thousands of MIDI tracks. Garage Band will handle up to 64 "Instrument" tracks, but while you can use MIDI to record into GB, it is designed around its built-in instruments and does not natively support MIDI out, or even exporting to MIDI.

2) Both Logic and GB support quantizing.  Logic's GUI is detailed but clean; GB calls it "Fix Timing" and the interface is extremely simple.

3) Portamento, et al, should be in a separate question. Logic should support any technique for composing and performing with portamento, but don't expect much from Garage Band.

4) Both Logic and GarageBand handle velocity editing.  Logic's interface, naturally, goes much much deeper, and GB has a very simple slider to adjust selected notes. GB makes it very easy to move notes around, and Logic will too, again with more options lurking.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 36587094
davidmcrell, your answer has made me decide to go with Apple Logic. That was the kind of answer I was looking for.

What was especially decisive for me was when you said GB didn't support MIDI out, and that it is designed to work with the instruments it comes with. While I may not necessarily use all of the advanced technical features, I don't want a basic limitation such as inability to send MIDI data to another external device.

Thank you very much for your help.

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