The longstanding debate within the producer community about which is better for music production, Mac or PC, has been around for the past few decades.
Mac computers are best for music producers with intuitive interfaces, software stability, and high-performance features. Though stock PCs do not come with the same creator-centric operating systems, they are very flexible and budget-friendly, allowing creators to customize them to fit their needs.
Of course, with each, there are a few more nuanced considerations that one must explore, which is why we want to examine the main pros and cons of each.
What To Look For In A Mac Or PC?
The first thing you must do is decide what considerations should primarily inform your decision regarding the Mac Vs. PC debate. Which system utilizes better hardware? Which has a more robust operating system?
Depending on how deep into the technical weeds you want to get, there is quite a bit to explore. However, because our primary concern is music production, we will explore the four main things to look for when comparing the two systems, including hardware, software, functionality, ease of use, and cost.
By hardware, we mean the physical components found on and within the computer. Hardware can vary greatly depending on the make and model of your Mac or PC. If you look at newer MacBook Pros, for example, you’ll notice that they altogether scrapped USB 2.0 ports for USB-C.
Because there are many music production products, including interfaces and MIDI keyboards, which rely on USB 2.0, you’ll have the additional need for an adaptor, which can add to your overall cost.
When it comes to hardware, PCs are the clear winner, as they are very customizable. You won’t need to purchase special adaptors to link up your various equipment, and swapping out chips and processors is an absolute breeze.
One of the beautiful things about Apple is that many music production companies design DAWs, Plugins, and VSTs around the Apple OS. Most music production companies understand that most music producers work with Mac computers. It’s not uncommon to see producers working off of their iPhones and iPads these days.
Of course, while the industry progresses alongside Apple and Mac products, there are a few ways in which PC provides the advantage.
For starters, there are more plugins and VSTs that you will find available for PC products, as the software is far more open-ended. Plus, you’ll find it easier to acquire free VSTs and Plugins for PC.
In the DAW world, there are a few exclusives to consider. For example, Logic will only work with Apple products, and Sonar will only work with Windows products. However, most of the other popular DAWs, including Ableton, Pro Tools, FL Studio, Reaper, and Cubase, will work on both.
From the moment they are pulled out of the box, Mac computers are usually more stable and functional than PC. If you get a Mac product, you’ll typically find GarageBand installed with the system, providing easy entry into the world of music production.
Apple designs stock Macs with complete optimization in mind. Because the user demographic for PCs varies, so does their processing power and functionality. For example, a person wouldn’t need a serious amount of processing power alongside a ton of bells and whistles if they only performed a few small tasks, such as sending emails or browsing the Internet. However, a music producer could purchase a higher-end PC with exceptional power and functionality that could outperform a Mac.
Though higher-end Mac computers tend to be more stable, they often don’t provide the same amount of speed and power to handle CPU-heavy sessions compared to PCs. Plus, because PC users can easily enhance their PCs after the initial purchase, it becomes easier to customize them to fit their needs.
The question becomes, “do you want functionality right away, or do you want to have the option to add it in down the line?”
Ease of Use
If you can’t navigate your computer with ease, then making music will be a struggle every time. In the world of intuitive design, Apple is a dominating force. Many people consider Macs to be THE computers for creatives. Even the newer Apple touchpad provides unique and intuitive functionality, allowing produces to mix with it as if it were a mixing board.
While recent Windows upgrades have made the PC interface feel sleeker and more forgiving, it is pretty clear to see that they’ve drawn inspiration from Apple with virtual desktops, refined menus, and nearby sharing.
Overall, Macs can easily cost a lot more than a PC. Apple knows how to brand its products, which is likely why many people are willing to spend so much. However, the price of Apple products is often justified.
Macs run like a dream, don’t require maintenance very often, provide tons of functionality right away, provide users with a gorgeous interface, and have longevity. The additional price, especially when you consider the lack of maintenance costs, is worth it. When it comes to music production or any creative work in general, you’ll need to be prepared to spend at least over a thousand dollars if you want the best experience possible.
PCs cost a lot less than Mac computers right out of the gate. However, if your plan is to buy a cheap PC and upgrade your software and hardware, you might end up paying the same as you would have for a Mac if you modify it a lot. You should also note that PCs often require more maintenance compared to Macs, even though recent advancements in technology are working to change that.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much RAM Do I Need For Music Production?
If you look at the average amount of processing a music producer does, 8GB of RAM is plenty enough. However, if you plan on working with vast sample libraries or sessions with hundreds of tracks and plugins, you may consider upgrading your RAM to 16 or 32 GB.
Of course, there are other things like CPU and storage that you should consider before shelling out tons of cash for a RAM upgrade.
Should I Use A Laptop or Desktop For Music production?
Desktop computers are pretty clearly the best choice when it comes to power and speed, as they have much larger bodies to house better components, fans, and power supplies. Because laptops are much smaller than desktops, they often have to compromise on these features. Luckily, for the on-the-go producer who needs something portable, there are many laptops out there with decent performance specs. You can read our full article about which is a better choice for music production – a laptop or a desktop?
Putting A Cap On the Mac Vs. PC For Music Production Debate
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with any of these choices. Plus, when you consider the fact that both PCs and Macs get better with every new release, both Apple and Windows will continue to upgrade their computers as long as people keep using them.
If your goal is to find a computer that is exclusively for music production, we would recommend going for a Mac due to its built-in features, intuitive interface, and ease of use. However, suppose you plan on using your computer for various reasons beyond the scope of music production. In that case, we recommend starting with an inexpensive PC and upgrading it to fit your needs.