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New monitor. Buy a used iMac as Master instead? Hmm...
Last post Sun, Dec 01 2019 by RCMusic23, 18 replies.
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Posted on Sun, Oct 27 2019 12:18
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 15

Hi! So, I have a MacBook Pro 2018 (32GB Ram; i7 8th Gen, 6 Cores). Use it with an external monitor (24 inch Benq GL2450), using Sibelius Ultimate, composing with large orchestral templates.

The monitor may need replacing soon. I was looking for monitors between £250 - £350.

As Apple don't make standalone retina displays, if I want a nice 4K or 2K screen, I'd need to buy a refurb/renewed iMac to use the monitor! That would be around £500 - £850 for at least 8GB Ram and either i5 or i7. So maybe I could use it as a Master and the MBP as a slave? I am considering a 27inch iMac model so that I can upgrade the Ram to 16-32GB at some point too.

I currently get around 4-6ms latency. I would like a lower latency for when I am playing the piano using 8DIO's 1928 Steinway, but not essential, as if I'm composing for piano, it will be a much smaller template of a couple of instruments or just the piano on it's own.

Would I see any performance improvement in orcehstral templates by using such an iMac as a Master and my MBP as a slave, for this template using VEP 7 in Sibelius and occassionally Cubase:

Piccolo. Fl. Ob. Cl. Bsn. Hn. Tpt. Tbn (Tenor & Bass). Tba. Timp. Cym. Perc (Xyl. Vibra. Marimba. Drums etc) Hrp. Vl.1 Vl.2 Vla. Vc. Cb. PLUS some cinematic plugins from Native Instruments and 8DIO.

My audio interface is PreSonus AudioBox iTwo. I don't use microphones and occassionally just use my electric guitar, so I don't need a fancy interface.

Any advice appreciated. :)

Posted on Mon, Oct 28 2019 00:23
by mohsohsenshi
Joined on Thu, Mar 01 2018, Posts 33

Hi,

If you want to have a 2k/4k screen, why not try an adapter thunderbolt 3 to displayport to go with your Macbook pro?

You can find a fancy 2k screen around 200 euros at Amazon without any difficulties, and an adapter which costs no more than 100 euros.

It's not worth investing in an used Mac if your current machine works fine. No dropouts/crakles = No need for a new computer. Once your Macbook pro run out of resources with your orchestral templates, it won't help much even if with VEP, because the performance depends on your slave. Laptop is not a ideal slave machine. And older iMac has less CPU power than your 2018 MBP.

Posted on Mon, Oct 28 2019 10:05
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 15

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

It's not worth investing in an used Mac if your current machine works fine. No dropouts/crakles = No need for a new computer. Once your Macbook pro run out of resources with your orchestral templates, it won't help much even if with VEP, because the performance depends on your slave. Laptop is not a ideal slave machine. And older iMac has less CPU power than your 2018 MBP.

Thanks.

Current MBP produces pops/crakles when I drop the sample rate to achieve less than 5ms latency. It also struggles at higher setting to allow more latency when using it's native Retina display as oppsed to the monitor output. I imagine the Retina display is more demanding on the resources.

So, if I opt for a 2k / 4k monitor I presume the MBP would struggle with lowest latency settings.

Yep, I agree about laptops not being best suited as slaves. I bought it months before I discovered the networking potential of running VEP across multiple machines to share the load. So am stuck with it. It's a fine machine, no doubt, but as my scores are becoming more complex, I was wondering if it might work fine as a slave to an older Mac master running just the Sibelius/Cubase software.

Posted on Mon, Oct 28 2019 19:58
by mohsohsenshi
Joined on Thu, Mar 01 2018, Posts 33

In your case, the problem for laptop is they don't have indiviual graphic card to support 2k/4k, which means it will eat up quite a lot of CPU power. You need every single CPU capacity to deal with audio and VST. 

Further more, streaming via gigabit cable, the laptop will produce crakles/pops when huge data flows in/out, which forces you to raise your buffer size and ends up with higher latency. Bottom line, laptops (Macbook pro) are not that good as both master or slave for large orchestral VST composing. I have an old macbook pro 2013 myself, I've tried and without luck. Disappoiting!

If you are not an Apple's fan boy, may be go for a well-built pc with individual graphic card, you can have a much more power machine at a reasonable price and enjoy your 4K screen with large templates.

Otherwise , choose a i9 iMac 2018 and upgrade the ram to 32G yourself. Use cheaper PC with core graphic card as slave to provide CPU power via VEP if it's still not enough.

Hope this help, enjoy composing!

Posted on Tue, Oct 29 2019 12:50
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 15

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

In your case, the problem for laptop is they don't have indiviual graphic card to support 2k/4k, which means it will eat up quite a lot of CPU power. You need every single CPU capacity to deal with audio and VST. 

Further more, streaming via gigabit cable, the laptop will produce crakles/pops when huge data flows in/out, which forces you to raise your buffer size and ends up with higher latency. Bottom line, laptops (Macbook pro) are not that good as both master or slave for large orchestral VST composing. I have an old macbook pro 2013 myself, I've tried and without luck. Disappoiting!

If you are not an Apple's fan boy, may be go for a well-built pc with individual graphic card, you can have a much more power machine at a reasonable price and enjoy your 4K screen with large templates.

Otherwise , choose a i9 iMac 2018 and upgrade the ram to 32G yourself. Use cheaper PC with core graphic card as slave to provide CPU power via VEP if it's still not enough.

Hope this help, enjoy composing!

Yes, you've been a great help. Especially regarding the graphics output factor. I wish I'd asked you before I bought my MBP.

Yeah, I'm an Apple Fanboy lol! I love the accessibility features they have built-in which helps for my medical conditions, plus I enjoy the experience of using them.

I'm really regretting getting my MBP last year as well I've just learnt about the current 2019 iMac 27" being capable of being manually upgraded to 128GB. Even though the base model is i5, that apparently can be upgraded to i9 (although it's not clear if this will cause heat issues).

If I sell my MBP I'd only get abour £1000 for it having paid £2500. Big loss of £1500, for only 15 months of usage. Then to get the base model 2019 iMac 27 (I've 10% discount) is around £1500 and upgrading to 64GB an extra £300 or so I think.

I don't know what to do, as I'm needing to compose more and more large-epic scale music for tv and film etc. My 15" screen is ok, but starts to get tiny with huge numbers of instrumnts and a bigger screen would allow me to see more bars ahead.

Currently, on my 32GB MBP, I've got around 12GB spare when using full symphonic playback in Sibelius. That's with 6 input events/instances covering winds, brass, strings, percussion. 48000khz Buffer 32, latency around 4ms.

Posted on Tue, Oct 29 2019 21:23
by mohsohsenshi
Joined on Thu, Mar 01 2018, Posts 33

Do you have some recording projets? You only use sebelius for composing or you will play a midi keyboard in DAW in realtime?

In my opinion, you could raise the buffer size to 64 or 128 because latency isn't that matter with only sebelius playback. There is a tiny difference between 32 buffer size and 64 or 128 in this case. Or else you have to invest in a much powerful machine.

Sorry to hear about your MBP, composing for large orchestral music is a monster who swallows up your money especially while using Apple's products! Sometimes we've got to do what we have to, I've paid enough to figure out how this works. I was supposed to be simply a composer but not a hardware/computer DIY expert or something.

Posted on Tue, Oct 29 2019 21:49
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 15

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

Do you have some recording projets? You only use sebelius for composing or you will play a midi keyboard in DAW in realtime?

I am also a pianist and will record an album of piano music, to be commercial distributed worldwide but if I were to split the costs with my record company for recordings by another artists, that would push into the same price as a iMac 2019! So I want to record them myself this time. So yes, will be using for recording too.

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

Or else you have to invest in a much powerful machine.

I've spent the whole day weighing up my options. It really does look like a 2019 iMac 27" base model with me adding the RAM and further along the line getting an i7 or i9 processer to switch out the i5 6-Core base model one.

Luckily I received some nice royalties this quarter. All that will be going to such an iMac, I've decided. First I will add more RAM so with 4 slots (I think two taken by the 8GB) I will get 64GB of RAM and install that, taking it up to 72GB.

Next year I will add an i9 to it.

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

ometimes we've got to do what we have to, I've paid enough to figure out how this works. I was supposed to be simply a composer but not a hardware/computer DIY expert or something.

I agree, sometimes you have to do what you need to, and sometimes it's a learning experience that costs a lot of money I guess. I want a machine that will be future proof to as much as it can be, without paying the cost of a car!

I'm selling some equipment as well, to finance this. I think it makes sense to sell my MacBook Pro too, since you suggest that it will not be good as a Master, outputting on to a 4K screen of an iMac Slave? My MacBook can use the iMac's display via Thunderbolt 3 connection, but you mentioned about the MacBook Pro's CPU wiould be dedicating a lot of CPU to manage this.

So, looking at the peak, I will have a 128GB i9 iMac by next year. At the moment it will be an 72GB i5 (but 6 Cores, so not a dull i5). It is not worth keeping the MacBook Pro  (32GB, i7 6-Cores) as a Master? I have a 2018 iPad Pro 12.9" and that works great as a non-music-tasks-laptop following OS updates that allow a mouse to be used with it etc. So I wouldn't need to have the MacBook Pro to do those tasks anymore.

Posted on Wed, Oct 30 2019 16:10
by mohsohsenshi
Joined on Thu, Mar 01 2018, Posts 33

Quote:

I am also a pianist and will record an album of piano music, to be commercial distributed worldwide but if I were to split the costs with my record company for recordings by another artists, that would push into the same price as a iMac 2019! So I want to record them myself this time. So yes, will be using for recording too.

Ok, That's the reason you care about 32 buffer size, you really need that low latency.

Quote:

I've spent the whole day weighing up my options. It really does look like a 2019 iMac 27" base model with me adding the RAM and further along the line getting an i7 or i9 processer to switch out the i5 6-Core base model one.

Luckily I received some nice royalties this quarter. All that will be going to such an iMac, I've decided. First I will add more RAM so with 4 slots (I think two taken by the 8GB) I will get 64GB of RAM and install that, taking it up to 72GB.

Next year I will add an i9 to it.

Some points you need to pay attention before buying:

1. Make sure to get a set of RAM kits at the same Mhz as the originals. EX: your new iMac has 2X4GB Ram at 2666MHz, you'd better find one set of 2X32GB at 3000MHz to add, avoiding any compatibility issus.

RAMs may have compatibilty conflits even though they look familiar in tech description, so buy the kits instead of single ones. Kits are made with same DIE and tested by manufacturerers to make sure they work fine together.

2. Common RAM size is the mutiple of 2, such as 16,32,64,128 etc. 72 is a really rare size since computer nowaday funtion with dual rack of ram or single rack. Triple rack RAM can only be found ten years ago.

3.For most music production, desktop i7 8th generation is way too powerful. If you won't have some huge amouts of track to do mastering/mixing job, don't over commit to a top monster CPU, is a waste of money.

4.64GB is enough for most situation, check out how many projet you may reach the limit, don't invest on another 64GB that you will never use.

5. The speed of SSD should be taken as a foctor that affects your work flow. While using VST and huge samples in composing (VSL, Eastwest, Spitfire...etc), what matters is the 4K ramdom read speed. Computer loads part of your samples in the RAM, and search the rest in your SSD when receiving signals from your midi equitment(you play your master keyboard and creat some signals, they are "ramdom" to your computer). That's how modern sample players with "DFD"(direct from disk) work.

Nvme SSDs are the best choice for large orchestral VST arrangement. Apple's iMac has small harddrive in their basic models, and they charge plenty for hundreds of GB, so thinking of buying a Nvme SSD and a thounderbolt 3 external harddrive enclosure to store your samples.

Sata SSDs are cheaper but with less 4K ramdom read speed.

This factor may cause the crakles/drop out issus at low latency. Simply 'cause your SSD is not fast engouh to catch up with the CPU and RAM! Woodern barrel theory. Try to balance your budget on SSD, it will improve the whole system's performance in music prodution.

"i9 9th gen, 128RAM, Sata SSD" may result in much poor performance than "i7 9th gen ,64RAM, Nvme SSD".

 

Looking forward to listen to some of your composition and learn someting new :)

Posted on Wed, Oct 30 2019 18:14
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 15

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

Quote:

I am also a pianist and will record an album of piano music, to be commercial distributed worldwide but if I were to split the costs with my record company for recordings by another artists, that would push into the same price as a iMac 2019! So I want to record them myself this time. So yes, will be using for recording too.

Ok, That's the reason you care about 32 buffer size, you really need that low latency.

Quote:

I've spent the whole day weighing up my options. It really does look like a 2019 iMac 27" base model with me adding the RAM and further along the line getting an i7 or i9 processer to switch out the i5 6-Core base model one.

Luckily I received some nice royalties this quarter. All that will be going to such an iMac, I've decided. First I will add more RAM so with 4 slots (I think two taken by the 8GB) I will get 64GB of RAM and install that, taking it up to 72GB.

Next year I will add an i9 to it.

Some points you need to pay attention before buying:

1. Make sure to get a set of RAM kits at the same Mhz as the originals. EX: your new iMac has 2X4GB Ram at 2666MHz, you'd better find one set of 2X32GB at 3000MHz to add, avoiding any compatibility issus.

RAMs may have compatibilty conflits even though they look familiar in tech description, so buy the kits instead of single ones. Kits are made with same DIE and tested by manufacturerers to make sure they work fine together.

2. Common RAM size is the mutiple of 2, such as 16,32,64,128 etc. 72 is a really rare size since computer nowaday funtion with dual rack of ram or single rack. Triple rack RAM can only be found ten years ago.

3.For most music production, desktop i7 8th generation is way too powerful. If you won't have some huge amouts of track to do mastering/mixing job, don't over commit to a top monster CPU, is a waste of money.

4.64GB is enough for most situation, check out how many projet you may reach the limit, don't invest on another 64GB that you will never use.

5. The speed of SSD should be taken as a foctor that affects your work flow. While using VST and huge samples in composing (VSL, Eastwest, Spitfire...etc), what matters is the 4K ramdom read speed. Computer loads part of your samples in the RAM, and search the rest in your SSD when receiving signals from your midi equitment(you play your master keyboard and creat some signals, they are "ramdom" to your computer). That's how modern sample players with "DFD"(direct from disk) work.

Nvme SSDs are the best choice for large orchestral VST arrangement. Apple's iMac has small harddrive in their basic models, and they charge plenty for hundreds of GB, so thinking of buying a Nvme SSD and a thounderbolt 3 external harddrive enclosure to store your samples.

Sata SSDs are cheaper but with less 4K ramdom read speed.

This factor may cause the crakles/drop out issus at low latency. Simply 'cause your SSD is not fast engouh to catch up with the CPU and RAM! Woodern barrel theory. Try to balance your budget on SSD, it will improve the whole system's performance in music prodution.

"i9 9th gen, 128RAM, Sata SSD" may result in much poor performance than "i7 9th gen ,64RAM, Nvme SSD".

 

Looking forward to listen to some of your composition and learn someting new :)

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

1. Make sure to get a set of RAM kits at the same Mhz as the originals. EX: your new iMac has 2X4GB Ram at 2666MHz, you'd better find one set of 2X32GB at 3000MHz to add, avoiding any compatibility issus.

Oh. I didn't know I could put 3000Mhz in there. I already got this from Amazon: Dataram DDR4 2666Mhz So-Dimm Compatible With The 2019 iMac 27" 5K 64GB.

Was so easy to fit in :) I hope it will be ok? Or would it be a lot different if I had put 3000Mhz instead?

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

  2. Common RAM size is the mutiple of 2, such as 16,32,64,128 etc. 72 is a really rare size since computer nowaday funtion with dual rack of ram or single rack. Triple rack RAM can only be found ten years ago.

 

The iMac has 4 slots/racks available. There are 2 x 4GB already in there. I just added 2 x 32GB in the two spare slots. This is the 72GB total. Will there be performance issues by mixing GB (4GBs modules sitting along side the 32GBs)? Should they be all even, like 32 + 32 +32 +32? I spent £300 on the 64GB (2 x 32GB) but don't have enough funds to stretch to another 2 x 32GB just yet.

Also, do they all have to be of the same Mhz? Or can my 2 x 32GB 2666Mhz work with a future set of 3000Mhz?

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

 

"i9 9th gen, 128RAM, Sata SSD" may result in much poor performance than "i7 9th gen ,64RAM, Nvme SSD".

About the processor. It's only got an i5 6-Core 8th Gen. It seems too difficult for me to upgrade that myself anyway. Something to do with removing the screen. If that happens, I'd have to trust an actual technician to do it or perhaps ask if an Apple technition might, but I doubt they would. So the i5 is ok for now then?

Storage: I was using the internal SSD of the MacBook Pro for VSL. Literally, had hardly any applications of files on my system, just all VSL ahah! I have already bought a WD Blue NAND SSD M.2 SATA 1TB and put in an encloser. It's around 400 MB/S which is waaay slower than the MacBook Pro's 1500 MB/S Write & 2500 MB/S Read speed (read is the important bit for samples, right?)

The new iMac seems to be around 2500MB/S too, but I only have 1TB of that. So Maybe it would make sense to keep my sample libraries in the NAND SSD connected with Thunderbolt 3?

NVme and the other 64GB would be a nice upgrade for next year. I'll keep my eye out for NVme SSD though.

Thanks again for all this information! Very helpful.

Thanks re: new music! Send me a private DM and I'll send you my website etc if you are interested.

I'm also a new-ish part-time music PhD student so composing is a bit slow due to having to get through lots of publications/books etc. But in 2020 will have new stuff out! :)

Posted on Wed, Oct 30 2019 19:31
by mohsohsenshi
Joined on Thu, Mar 01 2018, Posts 33

Quote:

Oh. I didn't know I could put 3000Mhz in there. I already got this from Amazon: Dataram DDR4 2666Mhz So-Dimm Compatible With The 2019 iMac 27" 5K 64GB.

Was so easy to fit in :) I hope it will be ok? Or would it be a lot different if I had put 3000Mhz instead?

 

The iMac has 4 slots/racks available. There are 2 x 4GB already in there. I just added 2 x 32GB in the two spare slots. This is the 72GB total. Will there be performance issues by mixing GB (4GBs modules sitting along side the 32GBs)? Should they be all even, like 32 + 32 +32 +32? I spent £300 on the 64GB (2 x 32GB) but don't have enough funds to stretch to another 2 x 32GB just yet.

Also, do they all have to be of the same Mhz? Or can my 2 x 32GB 2666Mhz work with a future set of 3000Mhz?

 

My mistake, that was a slip in writing. Sorry, I meaned three options:

1. Replace the original RAM with 2X32GB 2666MHz DDR4, total size:64GB

2. Add 2X32GB 2666MHz DDR4,total size:2X4GB origianl + 2X32GB new = 72GB

(but option 2  may not help improving performance)

The MHz won't matter, there is little improvement in loading speed or latency.

3. Replace with 4X16GB 2666 DDR4 which is a little bit cheaper.

If you plan to upgrade to 128GB, pick the first option.

Quote:

About the processor. It's only got an i5 6-Core 8th Gen. It seems too difficult for me to upgrade that myself anyway. Something to do with removing the screen. If that happens, I'd have to trust an actual technician to do it or perhaps ask if an Apple technition might, but I doubt they would. So the i5 is ok for now then?

Storage: I was using the internal SSD of the MacBook Pro for VSL. Literally, had hardly any applications of files on my system, just all VSL ahah! I have already bought a WD Blue NAND SSD M.2 SATA 1TB and put in an encloser. It's around 400 MB/S which is waaay slower than the MacBook Pro's 1500 MB/S Write & 2500 MB/S Read speed (read is the important bit for samples, right?)

The new iMac seems to be around 2500MB/S too, but I only have 1TB of that. So Maybe it would make sense to keep my sample libraries in the NAND SSD connected with Thunderbolt 3?

NVme and the other 64GB would be a nice upgrade for next year. I'll keep my eye out for NVme SSD though.

i5 8th gen will be ok for now (under 100 tracks of VST with light usage of mix plugin).

I recommand to choose a CPU upgrade with Apple's official technician and pay the price if you are not DIYer.

Storage: 

2500MB/s is the serial read speed. Anyway, NVME usually has pretty higher 4K ramdom read speed, such as Samsung 970 evo/pro/plus, WD Black SN750, Apple's built-in SSD....

The 2019 iMac basic model start with a 1T fusion hardrive which is not a true SSD. It combines with HDD and a small slice of SSD (64GB-128GB). Make sure you choose the SSD 256G instead.

The Sata SSD you've been using may be one of the problems that produce dropout at low latency. (with large template, over 100 tracks)

You can try a Nvme SSD with your current machine and see if there is any improvement. If issus still remains, then go for new machine next year.

Posted on Fri, Nov 01 2019 13:54
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 15

So the pops and clicks were due to using my iPad Pro as a second screen, to control the VEP (not through VM1 but just extending the VEP mixing desk to the iPad). I also noticed that performance suffers at times when using the screen of the MacBook Pro at Default resolution, but is much better at scaled down to the next level down. Navigating the scores in Sibelius is smoother too.

However, now I have the iMac 2019 27" with 72GB but an i5 8th Gen processor. It would be too hard for me to install an i9 8th or 9th Gen, as it's an expert's job. You can order the higher spec CPU from Apple's site and they custom make it and send it.

However, rather than returning thie iMac and ordering a higher CPU spec, instead would it be better to spend this £400 - £800 higher cost on a really fast, large NVme SSD and using that to run my OS and storing my sample libraries? Stick with the i5 8th Gen I mean. Some say there's no real difference between the i5 8th Gen and 9th Gen.

Posted on Fri, Nov 01 2019 19:22
by mohsohsenshi
Joined on Thu, Mar 01 2018, Posts 33

Originally Posted by: RCMusic23 Go to Quoted Post

However, rather than returning thie iMac and ordering a higher CPU spec, instead would it be better to spend this £400 - £800 higher cost on a really fast, large NVme SSD and using that to run my OS and storing my sample libraries? Stick with the i5 8th Gen I mean. Some say there's no real difference between the i5 8th Gen and 9th Gen.

Hardrive with OS can't be replaced. But you can store your samples on Nvme streaming from thunderbolt 3 to improve performance. So yes, it will help a lot.

9th gen only has 5%-9% better performance than 8th gen, the price seems not to be worth.

Using third party usb hub also affects performance. You plug both your external sata SSD and Audio interface and other midi controller in the usb hub with MBP, which often creats noise and pops on streaming. That's the reason why I suggest to use desktop computers, like iMacs they have multiple native thunderbolt3 and Usb3 connectors.

Posted on Fri, Nov 01 2019 20:05
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 15

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

Originally Posted by: RCMusic23 Go to Quoted Post

However, rather than returning thie iMac and ordering a higher CPU spec, instead would it be better to spend this £400 - £800 higher cost on a really fast, large NVme SSD and using that to run my OS and storing my sample libraries? Stick with the i5 8th Gen I mean. Some say there's no real difference between the i5 8th Gen and 9th Gen.

Hardrive with OS can't be replaced. But you can store your samples on Nvme streaming from thunderbolt 3 to improve performance. So yes, it will help a lot.

9th gen only has 5%-9% better performance than 8th gen, the price seems not to be worth.

Using third party usb hub also affects performance. You plug both your external sata SSD and Audio interface and other midi controller in the usb hub with MBP, which often creats noise and pops on streaming. That's the reason why I suggest to use desktop computers, like iMacs they have multiple native thunderbolt3 and Usb3 connectors.

So I found out some things. The OS can be run on an external SSD and programmes run from it too. But there doesn't seem too much point. The read of the Fusion Drive is around 2500 Mb/s so pretty fast.

I spent an hour or more even with an Apple tech guy at the store. He suggested that there was no real benefit for my music composing and production in returning my iMac for a higher CPU spec. In fact the iMac I have with the 8th Gen i5 has a better benchmark than the i7 7th Gen 2018 MacBook Pro I am replacing. We tested out a few things with the iMacs and even a Mac Pro there (not MacBook Pro, but MacPro the thing that costs upwards of £4000!

The real benefit for music production and VEP VSL etc seems in the SSD and RAM, and the i5 is good enough. This is along the lines you say too.

So in the end, I get both objectives complete: better and bigger screen, a good iMac with a tonne of RAM and the possibility to get a computer repair shop or similar to put in a future i9 and/or replace the Fusion with an internal SSD (which can be done from reading others who have done this).

But for now, a happy iMac and I will look for a SSD of the NVme type for my sample libraries :)

Posted on Fri, Nov 01 2019 22:17
by mohsohsenshi
Joined on Thu, Mar 01 2018, Posts 33

Originally Posted by: RCMusic23 Go to Quoted Post

So I found out some things. The OS can be run on an external SSD and programmes run from it too. But there doesn't seem too much point. The read of the Fusion Drive is around 2500 Mb/s so pretty fast.

I spent an hour or more even with an Apple tech guy at the store. He suggested that there was no real benefit for my music composing and production in returning my iMac for a higher CPU spec. In fact the iMac I have with the 8th Gen i5 has a better benchmark than the i7 7th Gen 2018 MacBook Pro I am replacing. We tested out a few things with the iMacs and even a Mac Pro there (not MacBook Pro, but MacPro the thing that costs upwards of £4000!

The real benefit for music production and VEP VSL etc seems in the SSD and RAM, and the i5 is good enough. This is along the lines you say too.

So in the end, I get both objectives complete: better and bigger screen, a good iMac with a tonne of RAM and the possibility to get a computer repair shop or similar to put in a future i9 and/or replace the Fusion with an internal SSD (which can be done from reading others who have done this).

But for now, a happy iMac and I will look for a SSD of the NVme type for my sample libraries :)

The CPU is a long story. Since the AMD has launched their new zen+ in late 2017 which forced Intel to renew their 7th gen to 8th gen in 2018 and try to take back some market share, there is huge improvement between 7th gen and 8th gen rather than 8th & 9th...That's corret, a i5 8th gen Intel is good enough for most of part.

The read speed of fusion drive has an illusion. It use his SSD part as cache to boost up read speed. It copies files in the SSD parts and read. Once it use up its SSD space, it will drop down as a normal slowy HDD. Imagine you that you fully fill your 1t drive with VSTs and VSL, then it definly begins to produce dropouts. The test shown to you is with a brandnew fusion drive but not a full filled musican's drive.

OK, that seems to be the last thing you need to know:)

Posted on Sun, Nov 03 2019 15:42
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 15

...maybe not the last thing my friend haha!

That was really helpful about explaining the Fusion Drive misrepresentation. Thanks.

Question: Will moving Sibelius, Cubase, Logic to new Application Folder on an external MNve SSD make those programmes run faster? I know certain system apps can't be moved, but those applications can.

I will put all Sample Libraries on an external MVme for sure. I don't see the need anymore, to separate music DAWs/programs from the Sample Library folder on SSD/Flash, but I could see the need in the old days with machanical HDDs due to having to read whilst the other write, no? But if it's ok with SSDs to have programmes and samples on the same drive, and if it improves the programme running speed etc, then I'd move those programmes to the SSDs too...

So, I've bought 2 x 1 TB Crucial MVme SSDs for a great price (couldn't find a singular 2 TB module). Since I can't install them myself on the motherboard (I'm not experienced and it's a 50 step process or something!). Each SSD is capable of 2000Mbs individually, using a Thunderbolt 3 cable and correct enclosure.  I've put them in 10Gbps enclosures only for now (I couldn't find 20 or 40Gbps enclosures very easily and they're really expensive from what I've seen).

Connected via USB-C (I don't have a Thunderbolt 3 cable at the moment) the spead of each SSD is around 800-950Mbs from Blackmagic readings. I've made them into a RAID 0. Now its speed is around 1600-1750Mbs as a combined volume.

When I find a couple of enclosures capable of higer than 10Gbps and connect with the 40Gbs Apple/or Belkin cables, would that RAID shoot up to around 4000Mbs then?

Anyway, having samples on this 1750Mbs will surely help. I know RAID aren't as reliable as a single SSDs. I tried installing Mac OS on this RAID but Apple don't allow it, so it didn't work. Probably a good thing, as if one of the SSDs fail the whole RAID and therefore, OS is broken.

I do back everything up on a 3Tb LaCie Time Machine drive and Google Drive, so even if this RAID dies, there'll be backups.

Posted on Sun, Nov 03 2019 16:42
by mohsohsenshi
Joined on Thu, Mar 01 2018, Posts 33

Originally Posted by: RCMusic23 Go to Quoted Post

...maybe not the last thing my friend haha!

That was really helpful about explaining the Fusion Drive misrepresentation. Thanks.

Question: Will moving Sibelius, Cubase, Logic to new Application Folder on an external MNve SSD make those programmes run faster? I know certain system apps can't be moved, but those applications can.

I will put all Sample Libraries on an external MVme for sure. I don't see the need anymore, to separate music DAWs/programs from the Sample Library folder on SSD/Flash, but I could see the need in the old days with machanical HDDs due to having to read whilst the other write, no? But if it's ok with SSDs to have programmes and samples on the same drive, and if it improves the programme running speed etc, then I'd move those programmes to the SSDs too...

So, I've bought 2 x 1 TB Crucial MVme SSDs for a great price (couldn't find a singular 2 TB module). Since I can't install them myself on the motherboard (I'm not experienced and it's a 50 step process or something!). Each SSD is capable of 2000Mbs individually, using a Thunderbolt 3 cable and correct enclosure.  I've put them in 10Gbps enclosures only for now (I couldn't find 20 or 40Gbps enclosures very easily and they're really expensive from what I've seen).

Connected via USB-C (I don't have a Thunderbolt 3 cable at the moment) the spead of each SSD is around 800-950Mbs from Blackmagic readings. I've made them into a RAID 0. Now its speed is around 1600-1750Mbs as a combined volume.

When I find a couple of enclosures capable of higer than 10Gbps and connect with the 40Gbs Apple/or Belkin cables, would that RAID shoot up to around 4000Mbs then?

Anyway, having samples on this 1750Mbs will surely help. I know RAID aren't as reliable as a single SSDs. I tried installing Mac OS on this RAID but Apple don't allow it, so it didn't work. Probably a good thing, as if one of the SSDs fail the whole RAID and therefore, OS is broken.

I do back everything up on a 3Tb LaCie Time Machine drive and Google Drive, so even if this RAID dies, there'll be backups.

Don't need to move your OS and DAW to external drive, the fusion drive can handle these software very well.

 

Besides, RAID is not safe for data storage, once one of the drives goes down, the whole system may crash and you will lose your data , so never put your OS/projet files/important personal data in RAID.

Check out the 4k iops read speed on testing software. That's the most important rating you should care about SSD for music production. RAID won't help improving this performance. Anyway, it's useful to have large SSD drives for all samples.

Posted on Mon, Nov 04 2019 22:06
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 15

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

Don't need to move your OS and DAW to external drive, the fusion drive can handle these software very well.

Besides, RAID is not safe for data storage, once one of the drives goes down, the whole system may crash and you will lose your data , so never put your OS/projet files/important personal data in RAID.

Check out the 4k iops read speed on testing software. That's the most important rating you should care about SSD for music production. RAID won't help improving this performance. Anyway, it's useful to have large SSD drives for all samples.

I returned the two ssds used in a RAID. I agree, it's not stable nor a good option.

I bought the external SSD Samsung X5 which is comparable to Apple's internal SSDs and much faster than the Fusion Drive. I did put the system and apps there as well as my samples. I'm using the 1TB internal Fusion Drive as my documents/project files etc.. Now my iMac is running quicker and no dropouts/latency/pops/crackles etc. Just smooth functioning and I like it :)

Thanks for your advice.

Posted on Sun, Dec 01 2019 16:27
by RCMusic23
Joined on Wed, Apr 30 2014, Posts 15

Originally Posted by: mohsohsenshi Go to Quoted Post

Don't need to move your OS and DAW to external drive, the fusion drive can handle these software very well.

Turns out I was mistaken. The quick boot up was actually from my Fusion Drive, not the external Samsung X5 so I returned it. The Fusion drive is quicker to boot up the system than an SSD NVme drive connected with  USB-C (since connecting with Thunderbolt isn't possible without spending a lot of money on an imported Gen 3 enclosure). The X5 was basically an NVme in a dedicated Gen3 / 40gbps Thunderbolt 3 drive and cable. Great performance, but not what I needed, as you are right, the Fusion Drive handles these well.

The Fusion Drive in my iMac is 7200rmp and since the OS puts the regularly used apps etc on the tiny SSD portion, it is fine. I only ever have about 18GB of apps anyway.

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