The biggest concern for the computer musician/producer is what happens if it all falls apart? The experience of Mac users tends to be that the “Genius’” at the Apple store don’t know a whole lot about Pro Tools, MIDI sync, sound-to-picture or plug-in incompatibilities. Shoppers of a Dell, HP or Tesco branded PC have a similar experience but in less groovy and relaxed surroundings.
This is of course why places like Pro Tools Expert exist - the support of a community forum and expert articles shouldn’t be undervalued. But at the same time these sorts of places are peppered with people having very similar troubles for which there isn’t always a quick fix. So to whom do you go? Software manufacturers have their own tech support lines but with the best will in the world they can’t know every permutation of every computer or audio interface, and often they have no choice but to lay blame at the feet of the computer rather than their software. It works fine on their machine after all.
Many people make music on their computers with no trouble at all, but in the event of audio glitching, badly behaved plug-ins, or incompatibility issues then you have to become your own tech support engineer. For some people this is an interesting journey into the expansion of their computer knowledge – a puzzle to be mastered, technology to be tamed. Others put up with the issues and carry on the best they can knowing that their system harbours amazing power and a few glitches are worth it for what you can do with it. And a few seem to spend all their time tracking down the bugs, ironing out the problems and hoping the next upgrade will sort them out.
This is really the strongest argument for seeking out specialist audio PC builders, people who know both computer technology and music software, people who offer to work with you through any music related issues you may encounter along the way. It will cost more than going to PC World but you are buying into a system of support that’s designed around your specialist needs. Computers can be tricky things, there’s a wide range in terms of quality and appropriateness for the task you’re asking of it. That’s why we introduced The Pro Tools PC, to do all the work in finding the best components that are fit for the purpose of professional music production and then support you in your use of it. Not just repairing hardware failures, but working with you on your software and hardware integration, getting the right card for your video playback, the right amount of memory and power for your plug-ins, and then being available to you in an ongoing capacity. That’s got to be worth a bit extra.
The UK is fortunate enough to have a handful of high quality audio PC builders, but make sure you ask about the support, start a conversation and you’ll soon discover if they are up for the task.