Upgradeable, yes. But the cost of the machine itself is very high - and GPU and CPU upgrade options often aren't the best buys for a Mac tower, either. Photo (CC-BY) Glenn Batuyong.

As Mac Pro Debates Rage On, Time for Some Reality Checks

For all this debate over the new Mac Pro, you really need to know only two things: 1. The current Mac Pro is not a good value at the moment. 2. We have no idea how much the new Mac Pro will cost. And so, everything else (minis, iMacs, MacBooks, and yes, even PCs) rule the roost. That’s good for music, because (as a couple of commenters observed), they’re all working just fine. The Mac Pro I thought was newsworthy last week in that it demonstrated that more internal horsepower is coming to high-end desktops, and that those machines can …

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Life After Slots: What the Mac Pro, External Hardware Mean for Production

“Pro” is a funny word. When people say “pros” in contrast to “amateurs,” “producers” rather than “consumers,” they mean something about relative seriousness. And in tech, they usually invoke these words when they’re looking down on tools they feel aren’t up to snuff. That’s fair. Especially in music making and digital art where money is tight, people invest in tools because they deliver, not just to show off. And they’ve usually been burned by something less-than-pro letting them down. So, when people see a machine from Apple dubbed the “Mac Pro,” they have certain expectations. The problem is, the upcoming …

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Symphony I/O: Next-Gen Apogee High-end I/O, Works with Any Mac DAW Via USB

Looking for all the world like a high-end audiophile stereo radio receiver as much as pro audio equipment, the shiny, new Symphony I/O has arrived from Apogee. It’s a top-of-the-range audio interface designed for low latency, high-quality digital-to-analog conversion, and quality clocking, as well as flexible input and output, coming from a company known in the category. With Pro Tools HD support, it’s also a rival to Avid’s own audio interfaces, while also working with all major Mac DAWs – even Ableton Live. You’re talking an investment of a few grand here, depending on configuration, so this isn’t likely to …

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Echo Audio’s New 2x, 4x FireWire Audio Interfaces; Echo Vista Driver Update

Echo are the maker of quite affordable, nice audio interfaces; they’re perhaps best known for their ultra-compact PC Card (CardBus) interfaces and, before that, PCI-based interfaces. They’ve gotten into FireWire, but initially in the 10×10 and 12×12 configurations, where there’s plenty of competition. There are far fewer FireWire interfaces that are smaller and less expensive, which is why Echo’s latest could catch some additional attention. The new interfaces are: AudioFire2: 2 x 2 ¼” balanced analog inputs/outputs, an independent stereo headphone output with volume knob, a removable dongle for S/PDIF and MIDI i/o, an 8 foot 6-pin FireWire cable, a …

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Vintage Sounds in your PCI-Express Slot: Universal UAD-1 Goes Express at AES

At long last, Universal Audio’s UAD-1e DSP platform brings Universal’s retro-styled mixing and mastering plug-ins to the increasingly popular PCI-Express (PCIe) bus. Why is that cool? Well, for starters, it lets you run effects like perfect emulations of the retro Roland effects shown here. Now, some readers here have been skeptical of the performance improvements of PCIe (though, compatibility-wise, many computers make it a necessity). But Universal says the new cards deliver a quantifiable improvement over PCI and PCI-X. Joe Bryan, VP of technology, says PCIe provides lower system overhead, more reliable low-latency operation, and more tracks (up to 254 …

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An Audio Interface with Built-in Effects; Other Effects and Guitar Goodies from TC Electronic

TC Electronic is rapidly becoming a household name for audio gear and not just a high-end plug-in maker. The lead item in their newest lineup is a drool-worthy new audio interface loaded with some of their best built-in effects, plus PowerCore for PCI express and some treats for guitarists and hardware effects lovers. Here’s a quick preview.

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PCI Express Hitting Primetime Audio; MOTU PCIe-424

This year is all about more bandwidth for audio production, and one of the buzzwords you’re likely to hear a lot more of is PCI Express (PCIe). We’re only just now seeing cards that use the cutting-edge bus, but over the coming months they should become more commonplace. Granted, if you’re like me and focused on at-home music making, you probably spend most of your time using six or eight channels at a time, or, let’s face it, often just two! But for those who need 24 or 48 channels, even at high-resolution, more PCI performance is very good news. …

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Vintage Commodore 64 SID Synthesizers: Reborn on PCI (Mac/PC)

CDM Exclusive: Reflexaudio tells us that they’ll be manufacturing the HardSID Quattro PCI card, a PCI card featuring authentic vintage SID chips as used in the original Commodore 64. (European readers may be aware the HardSID product has been available over there for a while, but Reflex will bring manufacturing and broader North American distribution.) Pop this into your Windows or Mac desktop computer, and you can run four of these mean analog-style synth chips simultaneously with full MIDI control. Why? Aside from being able to make C64-style game music with incredible accuracy (if you’re into that sort of thing), …

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