Mac Setup: A Pro Home Recording Studio
Editor note: After an unintentional hiatus, featured Mac setups are back! We’re a few weeks behind schedule but don’t worry, we’ll catch up! And yes you should absolutely continue to send us in workstation shots and details… OK enough rambling, let’s get to it….
This weeks featured Mac setup is the awesome home recording studio of Steve Steele, a professional film composer, musician, and band leader, with some very beefy Apple gear and loads of great music equipment. This isn’t your average home recording studio though, there’s better music gear and hardware here then you’ll find in many professional studios, so let’s dive in and learn a bit more about this Mac setup:
What do you use your Apple gear for?
Film scoring. MIDI orchestration mockups. Musical instrument tracking, engineering and production. Video editing mainly for YouTube channel. Web development. Part time Macintosh IT consultant.
What hardware is included in your Apple setup?
My current Apple line up consists of the following hardware:
Mac Pro (2009) with updated 5,1 firmware. The Nehalem 2 x 2,26GHz CPUs have been swapped for dual hex core Westmere X5690s for a total of 12-cores running at 3,46GHz. Other specs include 64GBs of OWC RAM. An OWC 480GB Accelsior PCIe SSD card. A Sonnet Tempo Tempo SSD Pro Plus 6Gb/s eSATA / SATA PCIe with dual 2.5” SSDs. A Sonnet Allegro Pro USB 3.0 PCIe card. (3) internal OWC Mercury Extreme SATA SSDs, a 3TB Toshiba HDD Time Machine Drive and a BlueRay optical drive. This MacPro is my Vienna Ensemble Pro 5 slave MacPro. All SSDs hold orchestral samples. No other third party apps are installed. One OWC eSATA dual HDD enclosure with two 3TB HDDs for Carbon Copy Cloner backups.
Mac Pro 3,1 (2008) 2 x 3GHz Xeon 8-core. 32GBs RAM. Samsung 840EVO 500GB boot SSD. (2) Samsung 250GB 830 SSDs in RAID 0 for orchestral audio samples (installed in lower optical bay). (2) Samsung 250GB 840 SSDs in RAID 0 for orchestral samples. A 3TB Toshiba HHD for the Time Machine drive. An OWC eSATA card. One OWC eSATA dual HDD enclosure with two 3TB HDDs for Carbon Copy Cloner backups. Digital Performer, Sibelius, FCPX and Photoshop are the main apps, but this MacPro also acts as my internet computer, and is also the host for the Vienna Ensemble slave MacPro.
(Note, there is a third MacPro that you can just barely see in the photo that I just bought and plan on integrating into my Mac Pro farm, but it’s not listed here).
iPad Mini with Retina display with 128 storage. Lightning to USB adapter for MIDI keyboard.
iPhone 6 Plus for capturing video and photography for video editing on the FCPX MacPro.
Apple TV 2 using AirPlay for demoing finished film scores to my home theatre.
The rest of my studio is non-Apple pro audio gear.
Why did you choose this particular Mac setup?
It all started with my obsession with all things Mac and my music degree. I chose the high-core count Xeon MacPros because my main three apps (Digital Performer 9, Vienna Ensemble Pro 5 and Kontakt 5), take full advantage of multiprocessing and with the demands placed on computers in MIDI orchestration film scoring rigs, every CPU core and thread count is needed, as is a very high memory requirement (48GBs to 64GBs per machine is usually my desired minimum and that need is ever increasing).
What apps do you use most often? What apps could you not do without? Do you have a favorite app for Mac or for iOS?
For OS X, my favorite app is Digital Performer. Couldn’t live without Terminal and Activity Monitor. But I also very much need Vienna Ensemble Pro, MIR, Kontakt, DSP-Quatro, iZotope RX Advanced, Sibelius, Screenflow, FCPX, Motion and an obscene amount of virtual instruments, sample libraries and plugins.
For iOS, my favorite app is GuitarToolKit due to its flawless design, but also use many apps in my daily workflow including AmpKit, DP Control, V-Control, Garageband, Alchemy, iProphet, iRealPro, ProCam 2 and XL, Pages, Numbers, Evernote, Fing, and Youtube Studio.
Do you have any Apple tips or productivity tricks you want to share with OSXDaily readers?
All Mac users should spend some time getting familiar with and utilizing Gestures, multiple desktop spaces, memorizing keystrokes, and Terminal and Activity Monitor (keep Terminal and Activity Monitor open at all times in a separate desktop space then use control-right arrow key or left arrow key, or use a quick swipe gesture on the Magic Track Pad or Magic Mouse to easily view that desktop). iMac, MacPro and Mac Mini users should own a Magic Trackpad and if it doesn’t bother their workflow a Magic Mouse for the gesture capabilities alone (watch out for latency with the Magic Mouse under heavy OS X loads).
For users who have extremely large files, or a bunch of files that come close to filling up RAM (this happens to me with my orchestral template despite having 64GBs of RAM), don’t hesitate to use the Terminal command “sudo purge”, to clear out memory cache and to keep the OS from moving compressed data to the disk. Although OS X does a fine job of managing memory on it’s own, users who push above 80% of physical memory constantly with just one or two apps should get in the habit of managing memory themselves. Also, memorize the Terminal commands that are applicable to your workflow. If a user combines the power of the Terminal, the efficiency of using Gestures, keystrokes and Desktop Spaces, and keeps an eye on memory via the Activity Monitor their workflow would increase exponentially! I also use an Apple TV to enhance my workflow and improve the overall Apple eco-system.
Send us your Mac setups! Go here to get started, all you need to do is answer a few questions about hardware and how you use it, and send it in with several high quality pictures. If you’re not ready to share your own setup yet, enjoy browsing through previous featured workstations instead.