So, I switched to a Mac to make music...

Thanks to everyone who participated in the great Mac or PC for Music? debate a couple of weeks back. The result was 22 votes for Mac, and 13 votes for PC, so I ended up buying a bottom-of-the-range 2.4ghz iMac, which works nicely (after a bit of messing about with DNS addresses). Assuming that cheap Logic Studio from Amazon isn't an ebay-style con, that should be arriving soon, together with a pile of non-Apple Ram. I'll probably get a used Motu 828 mk 2 firewire, unless that's a terrible idea (I need a few inputs, so won't be buying an Apogee Duet, before you mention it).
Now, MT-reading Mac enthusiasts, you got me into this position, what do I need to know next? Essential freebies? Good ways to learn Logic? Nice ways to integrate hardware into the system? Brain training to understand why they have the ALT and CTRL keys swapped round?

Welcome! I switched about a year ago and have been loving my time on the Mac and with Logic.

sflogicninja has a slew of YouTube tutorials that may be worth perusing for some Logic specific features.

Mac specific tools I enjoy: Amadeus, Qlab, MIDI Monitor - and not audio related, but I love Scrivener.

There's a great forum for logic:

In fact the guy who runs it has written a great book:

There's a more advanced book as well that is pretty good as well.

I've also just got one of these keyboard covers, which is great for learning all the shortcuts:

There's plenty of little neat audio apps, I can recommend Soundflower

It allows you to route audio around applications.

Another neat little app which is payware but I find a lot of use for is Audio Hijack

It allows you to capture audio from apps etc

The best way to get used to your Mac is to use it ever day. I've found the more experienced you were with a PC the, longer it takes to get used to how things work with a Mac.

I'd used PCs exclusively for 8 years before getting a Mac. 2 months later I got rid of every PC. I'd say I was an advanced user so you should get to grips easily.

There are some good music advice here, but in terms of general computer use my recommendations would be; Quicksilver (app launcher), Adium (IM/Chat), for CD/DVD writing theres Toast ($79.99) or Burn ($free)

Of course you might want a seperate account for all those so you can concentrate on your music :)

Anyways enjoy your Mac, you can spend more time playing, less time maintaining. For general Mac advice, the people on the MacRumors Forum are very friendly.

Other than that the only recommendation I give is get a nice fat external harddrive, that is bigger than your internal, for use with backups. Your Mac comes with Time Machine built in which will run a backup every hour. You may want to change that to only back up manually.
Cool! Welcome to the darkside :) Don't forget you can always turn it into a Windows machine if you don't like the Mac experience anyway.

I'd recommend the MacProVideo tutorials for learning Logic. About $50 buys you around 400 minutes of tutorials each between 1 and 3 minutes. Useful, accurate and easily digestible.
Oh and just one more thing. Have a look down the list of top apps on iusethis for other essential pieces of software.
Hi Tom. Make sure you get a little shareware app called "appzapper" from It's a very handy uninstaller.
Yeah I'd recommend installing bootcamp early on if you have the space (and if you can do that on an iMac?)

I stopped using Windows for music about 4 years ago.. but it's still handy to be able to pop back in now and then. Also reminds you why you left.
Heads up, my friend: I had SEVERAL MOTU firewire interfaces fail during a tour at the end of 2006. 828 mkII, Traveller, Ultralite, they all went down at various times. MOTU was incredibly un-helpful, especially considering one of us on the tour was a endorsee!!

Got a RME Fireface and love it!!
You will have difficulty in the future if you plan to add any sort of firewire storage or firewire DSP processing card. The chances are that the Mac's single firewire bus will not be able to cope with playing audio via firewire plus your other connected firewire devices.
There's no way of adding any sort of firewire expansion to your Imac.
Any additional storage will need to be USB, making sure that you don't have too many other USB hungry devices connected too.
Soundhack is pretty essential for me as are:
SupaTrigger - VSTFX free. good for chopped up beats d'n'b beats.

livecut Free VSTFX - similar to supatrigga

Argeïphontes Lyre 3b3 Summer - can't really explain what it does, but I use it every day
soundflower (cycling 74) similar to Jack but I find it easier to use
don't crack have a pretty comprehensive listing of freewware which seems a bit more up to date than the macmusic site -
I would be lost without They have a ton of great software that I use everyday - a lot of it freeware. And if you haven't been using it on the PC, Audicity is great for quick recording and editing.

Congrats on making the switch!
sflogicninja's videos on youtube are super helpful!
how about an Apogee Ensemble then? It does have "a few" inputs, and looks GORGEOUS.
There's an excellent iTunes video podcast, "Logic QuickTips," which teaches how to get around Logic's UI. A lot of the lessons are pretty banal if you already know any sort of DAW, but several of them completely saved my sanity when it came to unlearning Logic's old UI quirks in order to actually understand Logic 8.
I found the best way to learn logic was to just play around with it and pick up various internet tips when needed. Try messing around with its synthesizers for a while (the ES series synths in the logic basics section). Write a few basic songs and just get to know the layout of the program.
some nice audio utilitys to have in your toolbox:
AudioUnit Manager
MIDI Monitor
(perhaps) WireTap Studio

- benoît
"You will have difficulty in the future if you plan to add any sort of firewire storage or firewire DSP processing card. The chances are that the Mac's single firewire bus will not be able to cope with playing audio via firewire plus your other connected firewire devices"


I have no trouble with an Echo Audiofire 12 and a Lacie 320Gb external drive on a Firewire daisy chain from a single Firewire port on a MacMini

In any case the iMac has 2 Firewire ports, on at 400 and one at 800!
Join us. You'll never want to go back to windows once you get used to the Mac. I use a 828mk2 with a macbook pro, I was playing back 24 tracks with multiple reverbs and effects WITHOUT a hickup. I haven't experimented yet, but I've read up on at least a couple people who use the interface as an analog controller for modules with Max/MSP. If this is true, I wonder if my Mac could just be another fancy module...
cannot say enough good things about

for me, it's been the closest thing to matrix-style learning. spend the time watching and you leave with the knowledge!
glad to see you switched.

as far as using the CMD (Apple) key instead of the ctrl key, it's way more comfortable for your thumb to use the CMD key when using CMD+letter key commands over ctrl+letter.

you are kind of on your own on the alt key. sometimes it's needed, sometimes not.
best mac audio interface by far is the metric halo stuff - pricey, but worth it.

a couple of other more esoteric free mac audio software i use all the time:
I got an ultralite, its pretty nice motu, very portable. I also reccomend getting TAL bassline, and TAL u-no-6, both amazign free plugins, but there for both OS
congrats on the new machine! i just bought the exact same model last month.

one thing though.

I use a M-Audio ProjectMix and have had issues with trying to use the Firewire800 port along with the Firewire400 the ProjectMix uses.

The ProjectMix is great and i highly recommend it, but, it freaks out when i try plugging my external HD into the FW800.

if you decide to buy an external drive to use for recording either stick with FW400 or possibly USB2.0 if you end up running a FW400 audio interface. has some of the best Logic tutorials I've found, and some of the instrument and effect ones go pretty deep. is all you need to know for freebies.

Oh, and Soundflower.

Also... it's a lot easier to type Alt-C than it is on Windows.

Shortcuts to use

APPLE + Spacebar = finder

finder is the most awesome thing, I think. I was so turned off to the idea of using "Find" in Windows, but its a whole different better thing on mac

an awesome alternative to that is a program called LEAP.


Right Click Settings

If you have a mouse with a right mouse button, you are set. If not you can set it up so that the any combination of MIGHTY MOUSE buttons = a right click in The Preferences panel.


When you open up a zip file or a compressed file it will "mount" it as a disk. So if you were to download an app, and you want to try it out, you can unzip/mount it and use the program, if you don't like it, just unmount it. If you like it, drag it into your applications folder and it will "install" it. If you then decide you don't like it, just delete registry madness or remove program craziness or anything.

Airfoil/Airfoil Speakers

It's an app that lets you stream audio from specific programs/system sound to any airtunes compatible device(Apple TV/Eirport Express) and to ANY other Computer(Mac or PC) that has Airfoil running.

My Documents
is now essentially the "Home" folder. It contains your download, documents,pcitures,music, movies folders.

VLC Media Player/Flip4Mac

Download Flip4Mac WMV(to play wmvs) and VLC media player(because it rocks).

Rip and Convert video

Cut and Paste
APPLE + X is cut and APPLE + V is paste. There is no real cut option in the right click menu.

I switched about 2 years ago. I am no pro but after about 2 months I was hooked. I use Linux at work and I avoid windows when possible. I don't hate it but it just feels/looks ugly. And that may seem shallow but it matters to me.
Welcome to the world of Mac! It's pretty nice.

I'm running an 18 month old MacBook Pro, and pretty much love it. I run a M-Audio Firewire 410 interface, which is relatively cheap and works pretty well. People will complain about the drivers (me too) but the last update seems to have fixed most everything for me. About time, and almost 3 years late.

I run external drives on the same Firewire interface as my audio and haven't had issues. But I know it's not a good idea. To whoever mentioned that there's actually 2 Firewire interfaces, a 400 and an 800 -- while that's true, they share the same internal bus. Same as my MacBook Pro. So you don't really gain anything except an extra connector. It kinda sucks, I was disappointed too.

I don't play live with external drives, only the internal drive, so I can't comment on how bad it might be. But when I run in the studio at home, I don't get any glitching.

Definitely get Soundflower, it kicks ass. It solves many routing issues and opens up some interesting audio flow possibilities. I'm currently experimenting with running Traktor DJ through Ableton Live for my DJ sets, and I don't think that would even be possible without Soundflower.
I echo the recommendations for the tuts. The BEST vids out there.
Look up
The SECOND best Logic vids

These two sources will get you up to speed in no time.

For general Mac knowledge pick up- Mac OS X Leopard: The Missing Manual by David Pogue.
There are a lot of undocumented shortcuts, tricks, tweaks, etc. in OSX and Pogue explains them in a clear, concise style.
Leafcutter John's "Forester" is fun.
When I got a Mac Mini, I installed Boot Camp right away. Since I didn't plan on doing anything really taxing from Windows, I figured I would just install all my Windows programs on my external drive (formatted as FAT32 so that it's accessible from both Windows and Mac), to save the mini's precious 70 GB of hard drive for more important things. I figured I would make the Windows partition as small as it could go - 5 GB. Bad idea. It wasn't big enough for the paging file, meaning I had to decrease the size of the file, since you can't safely resize the Windows partition later.

The moral of the story, give at least 7 GB for your Boot Camp partition (heck, I'd probably go with 10)
fireface800 RME. better than 828II
(At least) a 2 button mouse will be the most essential purchase.

Logic is ace, you will love it!

RME make the best low latency interfaces for the money. Research their FPGA chips to understand why. They sound BETTER than MOTU gear - just don't ask me to describe the difference. Go for RME, you won't regret it. I used to work for Turnkey and while 828s would come back on occasion, we couldn't get enough RME stock!

Get a USB 2 Hard drive - plenty of bandwidth for loads of tracks. Yes in theory disc and interface should be fine on one firewire bus BUT you might come a cropper on that huge project with 128 vocal overdubs!

Good luck Tom with the Mac - I use Macs at work and PC at home. Apple displays are the best and stuff just works without having to poke the computer like a PC.

My next home computer will be a Mac. I still love my PC though!
I would say avoid anything MOTU at all costs, but my expierences are only with Windows. (Beware of driver problems)
I'm running a MOTU 828MKII on OSX Panther, I don't know about leopard, but the drivers work fine, I've recorded through it into Logic at 44.1, 48, and 96k with no problems so far. My setup is only a few months old, Macbook Pro, Logic 8, and the 828MKII. For the cost, the used 828MKII was the best deal I found after drooling over an RME fireface for a few months. But $1500 vs. $400...a no brainer for my needs.

Mac monitors...I don't know about the built in all in one Macs, but I went through 3 23" Cinema Displays at work this year. Dead pixels in a brand new monitor from apple, and two that suffered from screen burn in, I could read what was on the screen after I closed that window. I LOVE Macs, but their screens aren't what they used to be back in the Trinitron tube days. I still have a 20" I paid $2000 for in the early 90's that works.

I don't know if the imac has a 2nd video out like the notebooks, but if it does...a nice place to put your plugins. :)
I asked this question once at Dog On Acid and nearly got myself crucified.
The keys aren't backwards. PC keys are. :-)
Get MenuMeters ( It allows you to monitor accurate processing load, hard disk traffic and memory usage in the menu bar. Very handy if your pushing your iMac to the max.
I'm running an 828 II on leopard, & Logic 8 on an imac 24" 2.8, and it's a beast, works great! Just about to finish my new album.

Note this site!

It's the Logic Pro Apple forum, it's a goldmine, you'll need it.

Logic has all the plugs you'll need for a while, EXS is great.

Firstly, thanks for Music Thing.

I'm a Mac user for 20+ years. It's always been the platform for music. I've also been with MOTU stuff all that time, and I currently have the 828mkII.

Under OS X there are lots of great apps, and more every day. Many apps are merely front-ends for stuff that's built into the system already, and often there's something available for free to do what you want. The Leopard developer package contains some useful items, like video recording and an Audio Units "playground".

Avoid installing too many extras as even a simple printer driver from a "PC first" manufacturer can cause hard to find problems. Many peripherals have poorly supported, seldom upgraded software.

That said, the one item I find indispensable is FinderPop. Lightweight power, free, and funny.

If you're going to use the iMac for more than music, set up a separate user account. It's a good way to keep things organized, as well as protect a stable music setup. It's also a good idea to set things like your iTunes music, photo, and video libraries to use an external, non-system drive, thus keeping the system drive lean and easily upgradeable.

I've found that Firewire beats USB on the Mac, for both speed and trouble free operation. I've never had a single 1394 glitch, ever; it just works. USB on the other hand...

The combination of iLife and a .mac (now "") account is awesome on numerous levels. For multimedia I recommend the Quicktime Pro upgrade and a free package of codecs called Perian.

Also, if you can, buy the AppleCare contract; believe me, it's money well spent. The iMacs pack a lot into a small enclosure, which causes heat stress on components. My MightyMouse died and I had a new one the next day, including return shipping for the corpse; free, no questions asked.

The 828mkII is a great unit. MOTU is a "Mac first" company, and with the CueMix you get a considerable amount of flexible power; especially at today's used prices. I have an Oasys_PCI (in a G4 tower) and the combination is incredible. Many say that other interfaces "sound better", but I find the mkII to be extremely neutral, which is what I think an interface should "sound like".

Cheers, and welcome to fold.
Logic 7 makes me very happy. Very user friendly and boy do I love that ES1!!!!

Fun with audio files here:

Oh, MOTU Traveler!!! A very kissable interface.

I'm using the 2.4GHz imac as my main computer in my studio right now and i love it. at some point maybe i'll need to move to some Quad Core 3ghz mac pro tower or other, but so far i havent really run into any limitations, using the Imac with Logic Pro (and Ableton Live, occasionally.)

one of the best resources i've seen online for training is at they have an EIGHT HOUR series of video tutorials for Logic Pro that is really amazing:

pretty fast paced, actually. you'll learn plenty and not even notice you've been through hours of quicktime movies! they charge a small membership fee i think, but it's worth it because for like $20/month you get unlimited access to all their instructional videos and there's lots of good stuff on there.
visit my blog with information on guitars old Brazilian.
carlos costa

worth a look.
828 Mk2 is a great idea. To learn logic watch all videos by Sflogicninja on youtube.
Hi there,
I maintain a link list of all free audio plugins for mac for mac at Big Blue Lounge, so check that out - you should be interested in all the audio units :) Big Blue Lounge is a good forum in general for mac music-making questions.
All the best,
Simon from Never Enough Rhodes
Well there is plenty of good music advice on here, so I'll try to provide a little about the *other stuff*

Chances are you're going to get very frustrated with the Apple Finder. Download and try out Pathfinder from Cocoatech. More than you can use, totally customizable and really really useful.

You're going to want to get a copy of Disk Warrior. It is THE essential MacOS disk repair/fix it tool. Stay away from anything else.

Get one of the many cache cleaning utilities. Onyx, Leopard Cache cleaner are two good ones. They also let you turn on various "hidden" functions. (Onyx is freeware and very very good)

If you use Usenet, Thoth is the best, but the developer is a little difficult and copies of it are hard to find.

If you use gMail, get Mailplane. Nuff said...

Graphic Converter is a 5 star graphic program. Does a whole lot. (too much to go into here)

Mac has a built in text editor that is fine for most people, other choices are Text Wrangler (free) and BBEdit.

For FTP, Yummy FTP is far and away the best.

Remember you have Terminal for command line, activity monitor for running processes, Network Utility for ping, trace route and all that good stuff all standard in your utilities folder.

Have fun!

BTW - I clicked on 5 of your adsense ads!

Have a great day!

This is a neat Mac OSX only Terminal trick.
Type "say musicthing rules" (without the quotes) into the Terminal.

You can change the voices in the System Preferences. But I think there may be a way to specify which voice is used. Neat-o.
the only reason to switch to mac:
Pro Tools
ixi software is worth getting (mac only). It'll help you learn about your mac's audio especially if you figure out how to use the input and output. I also never used an interface. You can plug anything into the 1/8 >o< plug for input.
"Before you mention Apogee Duet"?? Are you f'in kidding? They sold that thing with so many known mac issues. It didn't work well for 10s of 1000s of users (more?) until they made the recent Maestro update. And still there are problems. Things they dont tell you about. No one knew what was going on til the recent update and before that a lot of people were simply SOL with no recourse. Apogee makes good products of course but the Duet has NOT been one of them for many, many users. Word to the wise.

Personally, despite all the efficiency of computer recording, I often wonder if it's worth it. My advice: once you get a system that works don't change anything. Dont upgrade the OS (obviously), dont use the machine for anything but audio recording, dont upgrade sh**! And yet I realize that it's not that simple... And new products come out for new OS's and new DAW platforms and... and... and...

Ridiculous... And I just sold an old Tascam 238... so never tell me I'm not full of contradictions okay, J? Yo!
My favs:

Snapper from Audio Ease
QLab (cuelist based audio and video playback for theatre) from Figure 53
Audio Hijack Pro from Rogue Amoeba
SoundSource from Rogue Amoeba
Smaart from EAW (sound system analysis)

And lastly, before purchasing any audio interface, take a good look at Metric Halo's Mobile IO. It really is that good. I couldn't live without mine. Be sure to check out the DSP options. (and I've heard many horror stories about MOTU hardware failing at the wrong moment!)
Plenty of great advice so far, but I can't believe an absolute studio essential hasn't been mentioned:
Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies Widget!

I've been using a Motu 828mkII on a Mac G5 for three years now and it's top-notch. I'd highly recomend you get one soon!

I've wired everything up to both in and outputs and use it to send signals from one device to another, like a digital patchbay. That way you can also control the volume for every send from the software quemix console. I'm actually considering to get another one seeing as your can daisychain up to 4 of them via firewire and control all of them from the same mixer. (only on a mac though...)

- Studio owning dude from the Netherlands
Rather than AppZapper mentioned above, I'd recommend Hazel. This will do the same thing when apps are moved to the trash, but can also be configured to do a lot more. Examples: any audio files I download are automatically added to iTunes, and then deleted (iTunes keeping its own copy in its own folder).

When I press Command-Shift-4, the screenshot selection crosshairs come up; an image of the selected area is then saved to a particular folder and imported into a "Clippings" album in iPhoto. The original is then deleted, again leaving iPhoto with its own copy which will be transferred to my iPod Touch next time I sync. So, for the trip I'm making over the next couple of days, I have an album of clippings on my iPod, showing maps, addresses, train timetables, photos and so on. You can do this without Hazel, but it's the easiest way of automating it so thoroughly.

Other apps; Things is great for task management, and is flexible enough to be easily applied to musical projects. Scrivener is fantastic for writing. Quicksilver is witchcraft, and VisualHub and AudialHub are flawless media conversion apps.
The MOTU 828mkII is great gear; I've been using it with a Mac for several years. You will be happy.
Welcome to mac. I'm learning Logic at the moment and agree with what others have been saying about it.

As I moved from Ableton Live I lost my VST plugins I used until I found this VST to AU adapter.

One thing I would recommend to any new Mac user is ditch the Apple mouse. I recommend a basic wired Microsoft optical mouse. Ironic I know but the best thing Microsoft appear to do is make mice whilst Apple make terrible mice.
Come on Tim! Itching to know what you think? Either, whoa this bitch is bad ass or, what is this rubbish why did I lilsten to those fools?
I don't know about any of that, I just know that there is something beautifully poetic about that picture you made.
I just wonder how much the shiny mac cost...

I bet it cost a fair bit more than the quadcore pc I just built. £393 including 2gb of fast ram and a 500gb hard drive. It's virtually silent and even looks nice in its black case.
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