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New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

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New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby redlester » Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:52 am

I have a small setup at home for 'in the box' (software synths, etc) hobbyist level use, no pro or semi-pro stuff required. Having said that I approach it as a serious hobby which I'm prepared to invest a lot of money and time in, as I enjoy it so much.

Have been exclusively a PC user since MS-DOS 3.3 through to Windows 10. But my PC is a fairly middle of the road i5 Haswell which is OK but not good enough for anything taxing. So I have been looking at options for a major upgrade, and therefore considering whether I should take the opportunity to switch to Mac.

Having never used Mac before I decided that rather than spend about £3k on a system I know nothing about, I have bought a 2012 Mac Mini off eBay (2.3GHz i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD & 1TB HDD). I ran through the setup procedure last night and it's currently a clean install with the latest High Sierra OS, and no other apps installed as yet. My plan is to use this for a year or two (by which time the next Mac Pro might be out?) and see how I feel about the whole Mac/PC thing from my own experience rather than just opinions of others.

I have a vast array of questions I could ask at this point, but the first thing I would be interested to know, from seasoned Mac users at my sort of level, is regarding installation strategy for samples, VST's, etc. Should I be looking at Thunderbolt HDD's rather than USB? I can't justify the cost of external SSD's at this stage, and I need quite a lot of storage.
I use Ableton Live 10 (might like to explore Logic at some point), Komplete Ultimate 11, Arturia V Collection, Trillian, several Soniccouture and Spitfire instruments, quite a lot of the Izotope instruments and applications, Repro, Serum, several Waves effects, etc, etc.

So (finally) my question is; for long time Mac users, if you were starting off now from a clean install, what would you advise regarding storage drives and paths for plugins, etc? What would you do differently with the benefit of hindsight (other than "use a PC" ha ha).

Supplementary question; there is quite an array of advice out there regarding audio setup for PC's to maximise performance, does similar apply/exist for Mac? Is there an equivalent to Latencymon? I am currently using the NI Komplete Audio 6 USB interface but have not set it up on the Mac yet.

Cheers.
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby Dave B » Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:08 am

So, first off, welcome to being a Mac owner / the Dark Side / etc ;)

So, I think I have pretty much the same Mac Mini and that replaced my old Mac Pro a few years ago (and, quite frankly, crapped all over it in terms of performance). Those minis were so good that Apple themselves nobbled the specs of more recent ones - presumably as they wanted to sell more iMacs / Pros.

First off - organisation. I have all my OS and apps on the system drive. I also have some sample libraries on there as well. I only use drums and a small string library so there's not a huge amount of streaming so I'm happy. I have an external drive unit which is a) fast and b) mirrored so that I have some peace of mind. It's thunderbolt and seems to go like the clappers. I have all my projects on that.

You say that you have an SSD system drive and another drive installed. That second HDD will be ok and it's worth checking the speed. An ordinary 5400rpm drive is ok, but I would want to use a proper 7200rpm drive for any heavy lifting. In your case, I would try running that as your 'project' drive.

I _think_ that you have a well spec'd mac with Thunderbolt, Firewire and USB3 ports on it which gives you a lot of options. Thunderbolt is the best for performance and you might find cheap, fast FW drives around. A good FW800 drive will be more than fast enough for audio. I use USB3 drives for backup (checkout Time Machine - it can be set up and only told to backup when you manually press the button, which is what I do) and transfer of data.

If you have lots of big sample libraries, then another drive might be sensible. You have lots of options for this :)

In terms of things like latencymon, performance tweaks, etc - forget it! MacOS works quite differently under the hood to Windows and these things are less of an issue. As long as the system is correctly setup (right audio driver configured with appropriate buffer size), it should just chugg along happily.

Which is nice.
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby redlester » Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:23 pm

Dave B wrote:So, first off, welcome to being a Mac owner / the Dark Side / etc ;)

So, I think I have pretty much the same Mac Mini and that replaced my old Mac Pro a few years ago (and, quite frankly, crapped all over it in terms of performance). Those minis were so good that Apple themselves nobbled the specs of more recent ones - presumably as they wanted to sell more iMacs / Pros.

First off - organisation. I have all my OS and apps on the system drive. I also have some sample libraries on there as well. I only use drums and a small string library so there's not a huge amount of streaming so I'm happy. I have an external drive unit which is a) fast and b) mirrored so that I have some peace of mind. It's thunderbolt and seems to go like the clappers. I have all my projects on that.

You say that you have an SSD system drive and another drive installed. That second HDD will be ok and it's worth checking the speed. An ordinary 5400rpm drive is ok, but I would want to use a proper 7200rpm drive for any heavy lifting. In your case, I would try running that as your 'project' drive.

I _think_ that you have a well spec'd mac with Thunderbolt, Firewire and USB3 ports on it which gives you a lot of options. Thunderbolt is the best for performance and you might find cheap, fast FW drives around. A good FW800 drive will be more than fast enough for audio. I use USB3 drives for backup (checkout Time Machine - it can be set up and only told to backup when you manually press the button, which is what I do) and transfer of data.

If you have lots of big sample libraries, then another drive might be sensible. You have lots of options for this :)

In terms of things like latencymon, performance tweaks, etc - forget it! MacOS works quite differently under the hood to Windows and these things are less of an issue. As long as the system is correctly setup (right audio driver configured with appropriate buffer size), it should just chugg along happily.

Which is nice.

Thanks for that. Am not quite an Apple virgin - I much prefer iPhone to Android, but am new to the desktop part of it.

I hadn't considered looking for firewire drives, but I will see what's available. Who is everyone buying external drives from now that Maplins has gone under!? I doubt my 1TB drive is 7200 but will check when I get home tonight. I currently have about 850GB on my samples/instruments drive so I will look for a 2GB Thunderbolt or Firewire drive. Am pretty sure it's Thunderbolt 2, yes?

On my Windows machines, since XP I have always done a Registry edit to relocate my default Documents and Downloads folders to another drive or partition other than C:, so that I always had the option of a clean install without having to backup and restore it all (although I still do periodic offline backups, obviously). I assume the default drives for those can be changed on a Mac?

Next thing am having trouble getting my head round is anti-virus, etc. I know there is another thread on here where opinions differ on this. The official Apple line seems to be that 3rd party software is not referred to as being necessary, but I feel kind of "naked" without it! I currently use Malwarebytes premium on my PC, does anyone use the Mac version?
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby desmond » Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:35 pm

Don't forget you will be bringing a lot of PC baggage to the Mac that doesn't apply.

Just because you've always done certain thing a certain way with the PC, doesn't mean you should continue to do those things on the Mac - they are often quite bad practices.. :)

It's a bit of a learning curve, but mostly, it's unlearning a bunch of necessary complexity that just all goes away on the Mac. Once you acclimatise, you'll start to realise how nice it all is.. :thumbup:

You don't need AV, btw.
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby job » Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:07 pm

I think the main difference from a user perspective is the naming of things: Program Files > Application Folder. ProgramData > system library. Appdata > user library.

Another difference i guess is that on a PC developers seem to think that the documents folder is their playground for installing a whole bunch of crap for their application rather than the programdata and appdata folders (yep, that's a deliberate gripe! :bouncy: ). On mac the documents folder is kept nice and clean for your own stuff.
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Apr 11, 2018 3:37 pm

job wrote:On mac the documents folder is kept nice and clean for your own stuff.

Oh how I wish that was true. Plenty of programs create folders in Documents for storing templates and defaults and all sorts of rubbish. On my machine I seem to have acquired:

Flux
IK Multimedia
iZotope
Microsoft User Data
MuseScore2
Pro Tools (why? I've never touched pro Tools on this machine)
Sound Quest
Universal Audio

Some of these (stand forth MuseScore) have loads of subfolders. I didn't create these and I don't want them but if I delete them they either make something fail or they get recreated. Sorry, this is off-topic but it is a sore point with me.

To return to the topic, with a few exceptions Macs are pretty straightforward and much nicer than Windows but there is one big gotcha you need to watch out for. All configuration options are under System Preferences on the main menu. Go into that and select the General icon. On the screen that follows there is an option "Ask to keep changes when closing documents" this is unset by default. Make sure this is set! If it isn't then with your PC background you will find much of the filehandling simply baffling. Even with it set you will still find a few mostly Apple apps which have dropped "Save as ..." in favour of "Export" which works differently. Still, you get used to it.

I would also set the option directly below it, "Close windows when quitting an app". Also when shutting down make sure the box "Reopen windows when logging back in" is unset.

If you do those three things you should have a pretty straightforward transition.

CC

PS:
desmond wrote:You don't need AV, btw.

Certainly you don't need it as much as with Windows. This is one of the few areas I don't agree with or follow Desmond's lead on. You will need to form your own conclusion on this but there isn't a desperate rush on this, you've got time.
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby redlester » Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:07 pm

Cheers all. I actually intend to spend several weeks just using/learning/setting up the Mac as a general use computer before plugging my audio interface in and starting to use it for any music related stuff.

This Mac Mini came with a Trackpad rather than a mouse, am not sure I will be keen on using that for some of the intricate tasks of DAW operation. But if I want to use a wireless mouse without taking up a USB port will I need to buy one of the Apple ones for £79? (Another visit to eBay maybe?).

In my brief mooch around the Mac last night I already came across the "reopen windows when logging back in" and instinctively unticked it. I think I'm gettting the hang of it already ;)

(Btw I have spotted that in my previous post I mentioned getting a 2GB external drive which is clearly a typo!)
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby desmond » Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:10 pm

redlester wrote:will I need to buy one of the Apple ones for £79?

You can, but don't have to.
I largely despise all Apple mice ever and use and vastly prefer Logitech mice (which do require a USB port, they are not bluetooth), but ymmv...
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:14 pm

Definitely agree with Desmond on this one. I have the trackpad and a Dell wired mouse attached to my Mini. I like the trackpad but use the mouse much more. Apple have no idea about mouse design unfortunately but you aren't constrained to use them.

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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby radian » Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:32 pm

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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby redlester » Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:43 pm

I will probably get something like one of these. I too have used Logitech in the past and liked them.
https://www.logitech.com/en-gb/product/ ... less-mouse

So, going back to no requirement for 'Latencymon' type stuff. There surely must be some processes or settings that I need to turn off (or turn on?) for maximising audio performance?
I've found this from Native Instruments, but will do some proper Googling later on this subject.
https://support.native-instruments.com/ ... Processing
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby redlester » Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:45 pm


:lol:
The last thing I did before switching it off last night was search the internet to discover that I have to press "Fn+Backspace" in order to forward-delete text!
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:54 pm

redlester wrote:There surely must be some processes or settings that I need to turn off (or turn on?) for maximising audio performance?

Um, no, not really. Something not immediately obvious is that buried away in the Utilities folder of Applications is an app called Audio MIDI Setup. This does pretty well everything you need to do when configuring the OS end of devices and such.

When I'm actually recording I will turn off Time Machine and then in System Preferences / Energy Saver I will unset "Put hard disks to sleep wherever possible and push computer sleep off into the middle distance. Doing this prevented the odd insufficient resources error from occurring. Remember to set them back afterwards. That's all I can think of.

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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby Forum Admin » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:29 pm

Hi redlester,

For general tips on acclimatising yourself to the Mac's way of doing things, have a look at this (and other) YouTube videos from David A. Cox of Tech Talk America.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twf70Tl7piY

Look on his channel for other Mac videos, too.

New To Mac? (Sierra Edition) is around 2 hours of good/useful stuff.
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby redlester » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:51 pm

ConcertinaChap wrote:
redlester wrote:There surely must be some processes or settings that I need to turn off (or turn on?) for maximising audio performance?

Um, no, not really. Something not immediately obvious is that buried away in the Utilities folder of Applications is an app called Audio MIDI Setup. This does pretty well everything you need to do when configuring the OS end of devices and such.

When I'm actually recording I will turn off Time Machine and then in System Preferences / Energy Saver I will unset "Put hard disks to sleep wherever possible and push computer sleep off into the middle distance. Doing this prevented the odd insufficient resources error from occurring. Remember to set them back afterwards. That's all I can think of.

CC

Thanks CC, all useful to know.
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby redlester » Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:58 pm

Forum Admin wrote:Hi redlester,

For general tips on acclimatising yourself to the Mac's way of doing things, have a look at this (and other) YouTube videos from David A. Cox of Tech Talk America.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twf70Tl7piY

Look on his channel for other Mac videos, too.

New To Mac? (Sierra Edition) is around 2 hours of good/useful stuff.

Thanks for these. You won't believe it but I had already discovered the first of those. Just need to find the time to sit and work through it all.
(David A Cox puts me in mind of someone. I think it's Harry Shearer of Spinal Tap!)
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby redlester » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:42 am

Update on progress; managed to set up my IMAP email account on it last night, and all is working fine. Tonight will attempt to configure it to connect to my Synology NAS drive, which contains my mp3 music collection, then set up iTunes to connect to it.

I expect to have some headaches with that as I know mapping network drives on a Mac is very different to PC. :?

I assume I will need to let the Mac build it's own iTunes database file from scratch, rather than importing the one from my PC? I have around 280GB of mp3's so might take a while!
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby desmond » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:45 am

redlester wrote:I expect to have some headaches with that as I know mapping network drives on a Mac is very different to PC. :?

Not really. You just have sensible names rather than those daft arbitrary drive letters from 1987... ;)
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby redlester » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:52 am

desmond wrote:
redlester wrote:I expect to have some headaches with that as I know mapping network drives on a Mac is very different to PC. :?

Not really. You just have sensible names rather than those daft arbitrary drive letters from 1987... ;)

:mrgreen:
I was actually thinking at one point of renaming my "Macintosh SSD" to "C:", if such abominations are allowed! But I will leave well alone and fully embrace the Mac Way.
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Re: New Mac user, any tips gratefully received

Postby Forum Admin » Thu Apr 12, 2018 11:57 am

redlester wrote:Tonight will attempt to configure it to connect to my Synology NAS drive, which contains my mp3 music collection, then set up iTunes to connect to it.

Good luck with this -- this Apple discussion may therefore be worth reading first:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7668494
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