Monday, 5 April 2010

Why I use an Apple Mac computer

Cue flame thread.

I did do a post on this on the previous incarnation of this blog, but didn't copy it over as its been a while since then and I only love my Macs more. I'm not a complete Jobs fanboy, I don't think they're the be all and end all of computing. I recognise the flaws and some of them even annoy me. Luckily, there's enough good things to keep me here.

Its the age old flame war, and one which will never die. Both sides are exactly the same, even though popular stereotypes (which Apple only reinforced in their "I'm a Mac" campaign) suggest otherwise. Windows and Linux have their die-hard fanboys, and are proud that their computer is not a Mac just as much as "Macfags" are proud to own one.

So why do people hate Macs?

  • People only buy them for looks
  • Expensive
  • Too Simple
  • Not upgradable
 These are only a few. I didn't buy my Macs for the looks and I got them off eBay to cut down on cost because I agree, they are heniously expensive. Hell, they even retain quite a lot of value second hand. But there's a reason for that, right?

As for the simplicity, I love it! I believe this is because I'm a different type of user. See, the Apple hate crew usually argue that Macs are like a tricycle with trainer wheels, you're told where to go and you have no freedom of tweaking your computer into a Megamachine you designed yourself.

This is a fair point, however it has one flaw. These people think that everybody is, or should be, exactly like them. They couldn't be more wrong.

I'm a producer and a musician. I want to turn my computer on and work. If I should need to buy a computer, I want to turn it on and work. Some people love to take it out of the box and tweak, I don't.

I understand it though, I'm the same with guitars! Most people want to buy a guitar and start playing it out of the box and have it sound brilliant and be exactly how they want it. They usually buy an expensive Gibson, PRS or something like that, since they're usually great from the shelf and have really nice electronics and are setup nicely (well, not really with Gibson). These are the Macs of the guitar world. I love buying a mid-range guitar, and then installing some custom electronics myself, making it more to how I want it to be and tweaking the setup myself, and this usually ends up cheaper.

So I can understand why the anti-Mac parade hates the un-tweakability of the Mac. If I bought a guitar and the pickups were cemented into the body with the wiring blocked off by a welded steel panel and used a special type of string where you had to take it to a shop to change the strings, I'd hate it. Funnily enough, some guitars have features like this.

But I don't mind. My Macbook pro is powerful enough to edit in Logic on the go, and I can word process with iWork and surf the internet absolutely fine. My Mac Pro is fully upgradable, and I got it off eBay for £1000ish since its a 2007 model. Its Quad core and has 10GB RAM, quite a powerhouse for £1000.

Still, they are stupid expensive. I would never buy a Mac Pro brand new, £3000+ is far too much money despite the spec. But remember I mentioned that they retain some good value used? Thats because I can trust buying them used. I know it'll still be an awesome machine that'll last me years and years. They're built very well, and part of the premium you pay is for this fact alone. No worries about internal hardware drivers, Apple's computers and its OS are meant to work together, and only together. Limited, but who cares? It works. I need a working solution. And I'll pay for that convenience. I'll be damned if I have the time to learn how to tweak a computer.

I spilt an entire glass of water on my Macbook Pro, it was a scary moment. It wouldn't turn on for a while. I only had to leave it to dry out though. I'm typing this post on that very same Macbook Pro, 6 months later.

So are Macs better for Audio? Nope, not one bit. A PC can be made that is more powerful for less money, and you can make awesome music on one just the same as a Mac. Unless you want to use Logic or Digital Performer, that is. The issue is choosing what goes with your workhorse computer. Apogee hardware is Mac only, some drivers work better on one platform than another, etc.

Yet you see a lot of Mac Pros in professional studios. This is purely for consistency and convenience: Installing a new Mac Pro in a studio facility, getting the hardware drivers in and installing the software doesn't really take that long. Its ready to go. A Windows PC can be made this way, but it takes a bit of tweaking and optimizing to make it ready for professional studio use. Some people love doing this, Studios don't have time for that crap. Clients are coming in to give them money for recording, not for tweaking the BIOS.

Which is why there's the perception that an artist needs a Mac. Its not true, but in the Industry it seems to be the norm because its easy and convenient. See that? Its simplicity is a goddamn advantage in the professional sector. Its the same reason Pro Tools is in all those studios. Its reliable and everything runs smoothly when its setup, even though you have to spend thousands on affiliated hardware and its highly restrictive. Exactly the same as a Mac.

In fact, a Mac Pro with Pro Tools HD on it is probably the most expensive DAW workstation possible. You could make an amazing record (and loads have) on a setup which costs half as much. But wouldn't you know it, most top studios have that exact setup. Why? They're willing to pay for reliable, consistent results. That's why those things cost more. There's less scope for expansion and tweaking, but there's also less guesswork and unexpected surprises, and this is a benefit to studios whose very existence runs on the "time is money" adage.

Hell, I'm just talking about music production now. Even though Steam is coming to Mac, PCs still rule when it comes to gaming. I'd never game on a Mac. Mac ports are afterthoughts, video games are optimised for Windows, and its one thing where getting in and tweaking your PC for optimal results is definitely worth it. I loved PC gaming, but this is the reason I bought a PS3. (Plus I didn't want to get into the trap of spending thousands a year keeping my PC up to date and not being able to trade games in!) PC is the best gaming platform, I will agree, but as with everything, you pay for that privilege.

On all other aspects, these computers are exactly the goddamn same. You can type words, make spreadsheets, surf the internet and listen to music on either, and its exactly the same. Except a Mac costs more, apparently.

Nope, I'm not coming to a conclusion saying one is better than the other, because that's what you want. You want me to declare my love for Macs so you can start flaming. I do love my Macs, and I love Logic Pro.

But I don't believe Macs are better than Windows PCs. Its just that the downsides of Windows are things that annoy me, whereas the downsides of Macs are things that don't annoy me one bit. And thats the big difference you have to decide. Not what the advantages of one platform are, because you'd better believe that they can both do the same things to a professional level (well, except gaming). Instead, look at the disadvantages, and decide based on which one has less negative aspects.

So that's why I use a Mac. Flame away.


  1. Good post. I love my mac. I love my PC as well. They are both good for different tasks.

  2. loved your post! and its true macs are reliable!