Following on from our article that HD Native could be the killer system the next question has to be what computer to run it on which got me to thinking about the future for Apple’s Mac Pro. We have all seen the email where Tim Cook replied to one concerned Mac Pro user, saying: “Our Pro customers like you are really important to us. Although we didn’t have a chance to talk about a new Mac Pro [at WWDC], don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for later next year.” There has also been rumours that it will be smaller and less user configurable and that for me highlights a trend in Apple’s designs, which although has some merit in the consumer market, is much more of a pain in the professional market. Let me explain.
The Mac Pro is a classic tower design, yes with an Apple spin on the design which I like. the tower design gives the user the opportunity to open the case, take bits out, put new bits in, like hard drives on nice aluminium sleds, pull a drawer out and add more memory, or put an SSD Drive in in the second optical drive bay, which I am going to doing to my Mac Pro next week, ready for Pro Tools 11.
However if you look at the way Apple have been changing the way they make their hardware, they are becoming harder and harder to get into. Take the MacBook for example, it used to have standard Philips screws to attach the case with. Now MacBooks come with 5 point Pentalobe security screws which make it impossible for most people to get in and upgrade the hard drive etc. Moving onto the iMac, the front panel and LCD used to be held together with magnets but now they are glued together and you need a heat gun to remove the adhesive. Apple aren’t just deterring you from opening it’s products, they are now making them so you end up damaging them trying.
So back to the Mac Pro, the latest rumours are suggesting there may be an announcement at the WWDC event in June. But even if they do announce a new Mac Pro then, will it be so locked down and non user adjustable that it shouldn’t retain the title Pro?
All of which begs he question, where do we go as Pro users, for a Pro computer? For pro users running our machines all day, every day, I do have concerns using the iMac or Mac Minis. They are, as I have said before, made up of laptop components and they are great for the hobbyist and semi pro users, but for the big studios and post houses like Abbey Road and Skywalker, as well as the smaller facilities, also you end up having to add so many extra lumps to them, Thunderbolt to Firewire, Thunderbolt expansion chassis, Thunderbolt monitor adaptor, extra storage and so on. We need a solid reliable tower type solution, one that is designed from the floor up for pros to use, easy to add and upgrade individual components to. It clear with all the iOS products etc Apple is no longer in the pro market, they make nearly all their money from the consumer product ranges, both hardware & software.
So if Apple aren’t going to provide an answer for us, and we will see what comes out of WWDC, then what? For me I am looking forward to Neil’s Pro Tools PC, it will be rack mounted, whisper quiet, totally Pro Tools ready, and compatible and best of all ready to run Mac OSX*. Recently on Facebook Neil posted a picture showing the Pro Tools PC running Pro Tools 10.3.5 and a Digi002 Rack at a 64 sample hardware buffer Size, 32Bit 96K session, Recording to 128 audio tracks at once to the internal second SATA 7200rpm hard drive. I know that Neil is busy testing with the full range of Pro Tools hardware, so maybe like me you will need to consider looking to the Pro tools PC and possibly running it as a Mac to get the ‘pro’ features we need from a computer to host Pro Tools on.
* This would require the user to install Mac OS in a way not approved by Apple. Pro Tools PC do not offer either computers with this installed or a service to do it - this is a user decision and entirely at their own risk.