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I'm after your experience here. Is there any known issues with Pro Tools on Windows? I'm considering selling my Mac but I need to be sure that Pro Tools will run just as well on my PC.

I have very little time to experiment myself, hence this post. I'll be experimenting in the next few days, but I won't have time to come across all the potential problems there might exist.

Thanks in advance for your help!

PS: we're not talking specs here, rather plugins and overall system stability.

14 Answers 14

4

Hi

I have been fortunate enough over the last couple of years to be studying audio engineering and post production at a Digi ProScool and am currently sitting my 2.10M and P. Although the studios we have are predominately based around Macs we do have 2 PC based studios running the D-Control surfaces. Now normally I would say there should be no difference crossing platforms, as I do quite regularly for the Adobe products and have both a Power Mac G5 and a custom built PC. But these 2 studios seem to struggle a little and have thrown up numerous problems when trying to run sessions however I will say that the system is connected to ISIS and is used by some students who know nothing or should I say neglect to take on board the information they're taught about using the 2nd drive for saving sessions and letting the 1st run the OS and ProTools. Mac's seem to handle this ok even though its a no no in the ProTools documentatiion.

Personally I have to confess before going back to study I was an avid PC user and would have sworn by them but the stability of the Mac for ProTools qwas what persuaded me to buy a 2nd hand G5 and I've not looked back, saying that though if you do operate you PC properly and keep it tidy / uniformely indexed I cannot see why ProTools would have any issues running it.

When it comes to short cuts and general operation of ProTools I have to suggest Mac again, my lecturer Rob Magoolagan have influenced this and rightly so, the Mac shortcuts seem to be more logical, when you want to select something to the end or nudge right you have the CMD key and to go left or earlier in the time line its OPT, PC seems to jump between CTRL and WIN keys, so for the exams I have learnt only the Mac shortcuts purely for ease of remembering, although saying that the set breakpoint value to next and previous on a Mac baffles me and definately came from a PC.

Thats my few pennies worth and hope that it helps your decision

Dave

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I'm platform agnostic, and I think the whole debate is pretty pointless. You could easily get a PC that runs as well as a Mac, but you'd be paying about the same price. Most who go out and buy a PC don't shell out the kind of money you do on a Mac. Of course Pro Tools is going to run poorly on a lower quality machine. I'll admit that OS maintenance on a PC is a little more difficult, as it doesn't have as many user-friendly tools as a Mac does; but as Alexander mentioned as well, the more you dedicate a machine to one task, the better it will run.

Whatever choice you make, be ready to dish out the money for a good system.

5

I will add a +10 for mac here.

I have been a "PC" guy and even "anti-mac" for most of my life. To make a long story short. I fought and fought with many PCs when starting my career in post audio. I lost months and months of work due to faulty software , drivers and hardware. Some may thing it was human error but I beg to differ.

The mac is just so easy to use and is rock solid. When you have clients counting on you to deliver a product and there are tens of thousands of dollars on the line what would you rather? It really comes down to can you deliver with the tools you choose.

I would also like to add that there is not much in terms pro level audio software from third parties available on the mac. It also has nice integration of metadata searching in finder where as explorer will leave you crying.

Pro Tools has always run much better on the mac than on PC and I have seen, experienced and heard too many horror stories about trying to deliver and create using a PC. It just does not make any sense to use one from what I have seen.

Your clients will also know you care and have invested a nice chunk of money up front however you are probably saving more in the long run. Think of how many PCs one has to replace during the life span of lets say the G5, probably 3-6 different PC systems.

Mac is just cleaner and way more pro IMHO. We have been using them in the studio for a little more than two years now and it is just splendid!

  • I agree with you. As I said earlier, Mac OS is definitely an environment of choice. It feels simpler and more robust than any other system and of course Pro Tools is mainly developed for this platform. I'm not too worried about the image though, whatever you use to get the stuff done is worth it. PC's are a less safe bet! But when they are made and maintained by me they hold up to their promise ;) – Justin Huss Jun 28 '10 at 22:30
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I presume you've tried looking in the DUC http://duc.digidesign.com/ If there's issues with plugin compatibility or general bugs that are found, people are generally pretty quick at posting and letting others know. There's different forums for both HD/LE or PC/Mac

I've installed LE and HD on both Mac and PC's, Mac is easier to install, less fiddly and had less hitches. In use, it all depends on how you set up your system - a badly configured computer isn't going to run software perfectly.

Personally, mac installations are preferred. The Hardware is designed for each other so theirs no conflicts with drivers etc, its rock-solid running 24hrs a day and the OS is regularly updated. Theres a few plugins that are PC only but likewise, theres some that are Mac only so do a quick check on what you have/might need whichever way you decide.

Don't forget the general user experience - do you prefer Finder to Explorer and the other 'general' programs you'll use day-in, day-out. Since you've been using a mac, how long will it take to adjust key-commands to the pc layout etc - could be a bitch if your mid-project.

No doubt there is a cost difference between mac/pc but (in my opinion), mac's are actually the better value in the long run.

  • I was not worried about major glitches with Pro Tools in Windows, after all they do support Windows 7 x64 now. I was really asking about how it feels on day-to-day use. I guess it all boils down to how I feel about it after trying it! Thanks for your answer. – Justin Huss Jun 28 '10 at 22:15
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I have worked a lot with both platforms and It's always the same: when you use a video preview in PC, you gotta watch it in Draft and It will stop over n over. In MAC things run smooth and great. Same RAM, HD, processor for both. Having a MAC instead of a PC is equally relevant as the importance of the sync in sound design. Absolutely crucial.

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Pro PC here! I have always been a PC user and bought a mac laptop only because my school insisted on it. To date, I have rarely used the laptop for my post production work. Also, I have used my PC at home more than the Mac based DAW labs for my work. The only exception to that is when I really want to work in a mini suite or a sound design suite which are run on Macs.

Honestly, my experience on either computer has been the same. I've had the same number of crashes on a Mac when compared to crashes on my Windows 7 setup. In order to transfer my work to and from a Mac laptop, I had to purchase MacDrive on my PC so that my external Hardrive can communicate well with both my PC and Mac. I'm keeping my Mac around because I heard some good things about Logic Pro and MIDI which is what I've been getting into for quite some time now.

So, I think the experience of using Pro Tools on a PC is on par with using the same DAW on a Mac. I just tend to use my PC way more often and so it feels more natural to me to use Pro Tools on a PC.

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I use Protools LE on a Vista PC for work - it is pretty solid, but there is one thing that really bugs me in the PC version of protools compared to the mac. Protools opens in a single window on PC. This means when you are using a duel monitor system you have to stretch the single parent window across both monitors so you can see the edit and mix window on seperate monitors. This can get messy if you are swapping between applications.

  • That does s*ck especially when you've got two monitors of different resolutions... – Justin Huss Jun 29 '10 at 17:06
  • This isn't an issue on my rig (PT9 on Windows 7). Yes, there's a single parent window, but I can move any of the child windows out to the second monitor independently. – Shaun Farley Apr 30 '12 at 17:16
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This site may help:

http://www.dawbench.com/win7-v-osx-1.htm

Lots of nice comparison graphs.

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I think it depends what's available to you and what you're more comfortable owning and working on. A Mac is going to work better than a PC straight out of the box. PCs are bad about getting viruses if you don't know how to protect it correctly(that's what I like the macs). But in all honesty a PC will do just as good as a Mac. System performance: if you want a PC you can build one that works just as fast as a mac and even faster for cheaper. Maintenance: PCs need more upkeep and Macs don't require much beyond system updates.

Overall I like Mac. I think it says something since it seems to be the industry standard just like Pro Tools.

  • 1
    Macs still get viruses, there are just currently less of them. Virus programmers have been writing viruses for Windows machines for 20 years, and only the last 5-10 years have even been worth their time to write them for Macs. If you're not running an anti-virus program, regardless of what OS you're on, you're asking for trouble. – Dave Matney Oct 4 '11 at 14:59
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It seems to me that PCs will work fine, maybe better, but you have to be willing to sort out some hardware conflicts sometimes. I had a lot of problems with HD 8 conflicting with an NVidia 9600GT card, finally figured it out and switched it out with an ATI card and now its very stable. I don't use this particular PC for anything other than Pro Tools. I have a laptop for every day use.

The reason I went with PC was due to cost. You can get the PCIx cards for HD for like $700 each and those are still compatible with PC. Whereas the PCIe cards which are what you have to have for mac are around $2100 each right now. HD3 PCIx and PCIe are supposed to be comparable, although I understand that HD1 PCIe and HD2 PCIe will outperform the equivalent PCIx configuration slightly.

So I built my PC based HD3 system for about $3000 where it would have cost me about $8000 on mac. Of course none of this probably matters now that there is HDX!

-Tyler

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I've used Pro Tools LE on a Windows XP PC since about 2005. I also have an Apple Laptop with Pro Tools LE, and I have extensive experience using PT LE on a Mac G4 in a voice-over studio. A main reason why I use Pro Tools on a PC is because I also use audio software (Sony Sound Forge, CD Architect) that only works in Windows.

The main thing to remember when using a PC for any serious audio work, is that you are far better off using a dedicated DAW (not used for gaming or web surfing) that has been set up from scratch to be a good audio computer. This is true for Macs too, but it especially applies to Windows machines. You do not want to buy a Dell or HP that has been setup for the typical consumer, with all the bloat-ware and "extras" that such machines typically have. Either buy from a vendor that provides PCs set up for audio from the get go (Sweetwater Sound's Creative Stations, for example), or make sure you have the Windows install disc, wipe the hard drive(s) and reinstall only what you need.

There are various sources (such as Sweetwater's web site) that have articles devoted to setting up Windows for audio work, which basically means turning off a bunch of "features" and configuring the operating system to favor audio. Once you have done this, assuming the hardware doesn't have any incompatibility surprises, you can run Pro Tools reliably on a Windows PC.

Obviously, the Mac platform is a little more audio-tolerant and less likely to have hardware compatibility problems. If you can hack the higher price of the hardware, the Mac platform is a nice way to go--though it is not infallible. Pro Tools setups on Macs can have problems too.

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I run a custom built AMD Core 6 with 16gigs of ram and Pro Tools 10 runs flawless. I went in and disabled Aero and other crap that was slowing down resources and I get perfection at it's finest.

I also run Komplete 8 Ultimate with Pro tools 10 again it's perfect. AMD makes a heck of a processor for use with Pro Tools. You can read about older processors and get a bad impression, but the new batches like the AMD multi cores are better. Read any Pro Tools forums; AMD runs amazingly well.

Don't hook up the internet and use a virus scan program with Pro tools. Keep your software up to date. Thinking a PC can't handle it is just ignorant. If you put in the effort on a PC, it will reward you. I know an Apple looks a lot cooler to use, like wearing your sunglasses at night, but it's just Apple marketing. Apple vs PC is just a different OS that's it. It's the same fight about which Daw is better, it's a useless argument if you know your game.

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I have read all the posts and the one that had the most sway was the 96 bit floating point (Mac) vs. the 64 bit floating point (pc).

My two cents: I have been using Nuendo 4 for several years now and have gotten some pretty good results. I just purchased Pro Tools 10 and am about to install it on my PC running Windows 7.

Before I go any further, I would like to comment on the Windows 7 platform. Back when Windows 98 came out, it was a crashy little beach, I hated it. Then XP was released and stability was acheived. As time went on Windows 2000 and Vista came and went while I stayed with XP. I've purchased Windows 7 and found the same contrast in stability between 7 and XP, as I did between XP and 98.

I also build PC's and if you know which componants to link together, it is possible to build a rock solid system with SSD's and much faster than a mac at 1/8th of the cost, componant for componant. Some of the componants are made in the USA, some are not. (Note: Intel chips used by Mac are made overseas)

Everyone in the production or post production industry will say that Mac is the industry standard. You will not see a PC at the show floors, period. You will also lose customers if you don't have a Mac. Portable drives with Mac to PC drivers are a pain.

I have been sitting in the wings and comparing Native systems, DSP systems, and HD systems. Now Avid has released the HD-X system. My buddy is already into his HD system 40,000.00 and I can see the pain in his face. I think I may make the jump to HD-X which is not that bad, 12,000 - 20,000 with 4X the processing power, new interfaces 750.00, and a MAC 12,500. All my preamps are boutique and will never go out of style.

Long story short, when I have 12,500.00 to get the Mac of my choice, I will. And now is probably a good time now that there is a major platform change by Avid (headroom is now 1000 dBs). Until then, I will make do and will avoid telling my clients I have rock solid PC.

It's kind of like having an ugly wife that you're afraid to take out in public because people will make fun of you and your feelings are bound to get hurt, but she works hard and I can count on her. But baby, you know I'm gonna leave you someday for that ever changing honey that makes me money.

  • Since Windows 7, portable drives between Mac and PC work fine actually. I've got one which is formatted so that both OS'es can read/write. Whenever i hook it up to Win XP/Vista machine though it's not recognised. – Daan Hendriks Oct 28 '11 at 13:29
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Great post! I enjoyed reading..however as per my point of view Mac is much faster than windows because it uses less system resources and delivers more output. Even windows has a plus point i.e. its can be installed and evecuted on any system like celeron, AMD, Pentium and I series(i3, i5, i7). Cheers, Susan Smith.

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    @Promotional Products: Hi Susan, thanks for your answer. Not sure why everyone is downvoting you, but I appreciate your participation. – Jay Jennings Oct 7 '11 at 7:01
  • Macs tend to be loaded down with less crap, because they're more functional out of the box, but I actually think a fresh install of OS X uses more resources than a fresh install of Windows 7. You are right about Macs being locked to their hardware, though, and that says something about Windows computers. Even so, there's something inherently bad about how AMD processors handle multimedia editing, compared to their Intel counterparts. – Dave Matney Oct 14 '11 at 5:27

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