When it comes to buying the right computer for music production, there are a number of specifications you want your machine to meet. They are the following:
- 16 GB of RAM
- 3 GHz Processor Speed
- 4 Cores
- Solid State Harddrive.
- Graphics Card 2GB
- Optimal Single-Core Performance
The best iMac for Garageband and other music producers would be the 21.5″ (Retina 4K), with a 3.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7, 32GB of memory, 1TB of storage, a Radeon Pro 560X Graphics Card with 4GB of GDDR5 memory, and the 512GB Solid State Harddrive.
The computer with the specifications I just mentioned above is going to have enough power and memory to do whatever you need it to.
With that said, assuming you don’t have any monetary limitations, you could easily just get the best iMac available with maxed-out stats, however, most people aren’t in that financial position.
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What You Need To Know About Computers and Music Production
There are a few things to consider when it comes to buying a computer for music production and audio processing.
Because audio processing requires real-time processing, it’s easily one of the most CPU-intensive operations that are done on modern computers.
Video editing relies on what’s called parallel processing, which means that more than one core is engaged at the same time. In other words, the work that the computer is doing is spread over a number of different cores simultaneously.
Video editing and gaming are also aided in their tasks by the Graphics Card, which means the workload is distributed across the computer’s components.
Music production, on the other hand, is done almost entirely by the Central Processing Unit, or the CPU. Additionally, it typically doesn’t use parallel processing as well as other video editing or gaming software.
It uses serial processing, which means that each task is done on its own, separately, before it moves on to the next task.
Using a VST piano with multiple dynamics processors as an example, (for instance, a piano with a compressor, EQ, delay, and reverb):
Whenever a note is played on the MIDI keyboard, the same core has to do each one of the tasks one after another in the proper order.
The core that started processing the information has to complete it as well before it can move on to the next thing. If the cores aren’t powerful or fast enough, it might crash.
Explained in another way, each core has to complete the task in the proper order, first the actual sound of the piano playing, followed by all of the plug-ins. All of it is processed in one area, and the process can’t be helped by any other core.
For instance, if you want to make bruschetta bread, you can’t have one chef who’s baking the bread and another one who’s putting the toppings on it at the same time.
The bread has to be prepared and cooked before you can actually put all of the toppings on it.
Single-core performance, in other words, is very important, due to the fact that the core has to have enough processing power to complete all of the needed tasks one after another, without breaking down at any point in the process.
With all of that in mind, it’s easy to understand why music production takes so much power and memory. Whenever you load up your DAW, there are A LOT of things happening at once, especially if you have many different tracks.
You may have Garageband’s drummer track loaded up with 5-6 different plug-ins running, a guitar with 6 plug-ins on it, a bass guitar with 6 plug-ins, a synth with plug-ins, etc.
There is a lot happening at once. Furthermore, all of this is happening at the same time and is processed by one core at a time.
Music production takes a lot of power and memory because of all the plug-ins, energy and memory-intensive software, in addition to the instruments and microphones that you have hooked up to your computer.
For that reason, you need a computer that has the specifications listed at the beginning of the article, that way you won’t have to worry about your computer failing to have enough power and memory.
Now we’re going to explore each specification and why it’s important.
Why The iMac’s Specifications Are Important
RAM stands for “random access memory,” which indicates how easily the computer is able to access and store information.
When computers were first being created, additional RAM was a lot more money, but things have changed since then.
Typically speaking, the more RAM you have, the better, at least up until a certain degree.
For music production, you need 16GB of RAM for a number of reasons, including track counts and plug-ins.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The CPU is the area of the computer where all of the most important operations occur.
The number of cores and the clock speed is how the CPU performance is typically measured. In other words, higher clock speed entails that the calculations done by the CPU are much faster.
Additional CPU cores are conducive to multi-threading which music production needs, although, single-threaded performance is crucial for audio production as well.
In other words, regarding the central processing unit, the best thing you can do is get the most cores with the highest clock speed available to each one, when taking your budget into consideration.
A fast processor is needed as much as the RAM.
Rick Beato, on his YouTube channel, suggests that you need at least 3.0GHz and above. It goes up to around 4.6 GHz.
A core acts as the “brain” of the central processing unit because it performs calculations and takes instructions. It’s possible to have many of them, and each kind has its own name, including dual-core, hexa-core, quad-core, octa-core, and so on.
Cores can perform functions independently from others, or they may work together on a shared set of data.
As I already explained above, the core-count isn’t necessarily the most important thing, but rather the processor speed of each core on its own. However, most people argue that it’s necessary to have at least four-cores for music production.
For example, it’s much better to have four cores that have optimal performance for each core, rather than 6 or even 8 cores with less performance in each core.
In other words, single-core performance is the most important thing.
Solid State Harddrive
A solid-state hard drive is a component inside the computer that ultimately makes a huge difference. Most people who have used a Solid State Harddrive will tell you that it boosts the performance of your computer tremendously.
A solid-state hard drive is going to make your work-flow a lot smoother, and a lot faster. Plug-ins will load faster, the software will load faster, and everything will just seem a whole lot easier.
Admittedly, they are a lot more money, but if you’re really looking for a computer that’s going to do the job well, a solid-state hard drive is where it’s at.
Computers nowadays come with the option to have a graphics card or go without one, however, you want to make sure that you actually have one, and it has to have at least 2GB.
So there are a few things to considering when buying the right computer for music production, but truthfully, it’s not that complicated once you have just the basic knowledge of a computer and what each component actually does.
Wrapping it all up, you just want to make sure that you have the computer with all of the specifications that I listed right at the beginning of the article, in addition to solid single-core performance.