Macs for Music Tech
We're currently in discussion regarding our Music Technology faculty regards overall performance and workings of their department from IT. (We are a Independent Music Specializing School)
At present we have 2 rooms. 11 Machines in each room. However machines are different in both rooms, so are the keyboards. One room has EMU404 sound cards and standard roland keyboards, where the other don't have 404 sound cards, but imbedded into the keyboards.
Problems with student profiles, ranger profiles, hardware profiles, software profiles between the two rooms are causing an absolute nightmare. (Sibelius, Cubase, Acid Xpress) Cubase works but only just with scripting help. Sibelius has major latency issues and the need to always be setup pre using it. Acid Xpress doesn't like outputting sound in either room and the list continues.
Now our only solution being unifying equipment between the rooms. Same keyboards, same sound cards if needed, same hardware and software profiles.
Either PC based, or MAC based (I've spoken to a few people, other MTECH Directors across a few schools, and the majority use MACS standalone, as the software isn't really designed for this type of environment). Would like to find out pro/cons between the two, if anyone has a moment to contribute to my thoughts.
(Music Tech will be run on its own private network. One server, Roaming profiles for users, 22 machines. Plagiarism and folder permissions and the rest are their responsibility)
Thanks for any feedback.
I am kinda using the same idea as you in terms of using apple equipment. We have setup 6 iMacs which authenticate to our apple server. We could of done AD but did not want to add an extra complication to it. We have also setup logic Pro and had no complaints.
We had windows pcs on the network with profiles etc, but it was such a pain to keep working - large files, multiple users, latency on sound cards, usb keyboards!!! the list goes on....
Now - Its all sweet, simple - Standalone Macs, Logic studio (very cheap now) no problems, more relavent for pupils wanting to get into sound etc. Never looked back!!
Saving done to usb stick - most kids have them, if they dont they can buy / loan them from library.
We also use a wireless video sender (on mac end) and receiver (projector end) to use for good work demostration to rest of class - they quickly chuck the lead in back of any mac!!!
Teachers pc at front is windows based for PowerPoint / VLE access etc. Also has Apple notebook for demos / recording!!!
We currently have 11 Macs and 10 PCs in our Music rooms. The Macs are great... teachers love them, kids love, I love them (most of the time). The PCs are a PITA with latency issues and other sound-related grief.
The Macs auth against AD and mount the kids' home drives (although this seems hit and miss - must fix that!). The kids usually save to the local disk and then copy across to their network shares as a backup. Lockdown is handled by an older G4 Quicksilver running OS X Server.
Thanks for the feedback RIC_. I suppose the only problem without cost implications (other than a new suite) is locking the machines down.
I don't suppose the locking down can be done another way? Or only on an OSX Server?
i would lock them down using os x server, any mac from the last 5 years is powerful enough to do the lock down(if you want it to be more reliable go for something new!).
Although i do not know if its possible to use the 10 user version to do the lock down in a AD setup.....the education unlimited user license price is not too painful compared to 3rd party tools, you also get the benefit of another thing to add to your CV and a lot of cool server features to play with.
@gaz350: The cheapest version of OS X Server is sufficient for locking down. The connection limit only comes into play when you start using it for services such as email and file sharing IIRC. My G4 Quicksilver was second hand and is far too good for the job it does!
all our mac servers are file servers so never really knew :P except the server that does OD
so thanks :D
We use iMacs networked with a Mac Pro running OS X Server for managing accounts, locking out preferences/applications, printing quotas, network storage, software distribution, software updates, 'ghosting', drop boxes for the students to submit work to, remote desktop, pulling screens up onto a teacher laptop/plasma screen and quality speakers for demonstrating work, and visa versa for demonstrating techniques to students. For an interface, I went with the MAudio Keystudio 49i (there are bigger versions if you have the room) and they're working really well. Mic and line inputs, and a midi keyboard in one unit, with two phones sockets for working in pairs or plugging a teacher set in as you walk round.
We are a specialist Music School and we have a seperate Music domain (this wasn't going to play nice with CC3). We use PCs (currently on XP, but we are considering Vista or Windows 7 when we upgrade the hardware this summer) and they run fine most of the time. We mainly use Cubase, Reason, Sibelius and sometimes DanceEJ (but thats a bit crap tbh and is only used with younger kids).
Cubase isn't geared up for Network use and we have had a couple of strange issues in the past, but thats all fine for us at the minute. Reason works nicely, however after the machines are imaged you do need to put both the soundbank CDs in the drive for the software to validate them.
I think with Cubase 5 (which we are hoping to standardise on this summer) a USB dongle is a requirement (unlike for older versions like Cubase SE) so we need to make sure these are inside the cases to avoid any possibility of these being nicked.
I do hear requests for Logic on occasion, but the cost of the equipment compared to PCs rules this out as a realistic option.
We also don't do any standalone machines with one exception - the studio PC, but the studio always has the music technician in there so we don't see problems with that.
We have folder redirects for the home drives and I was concerned about the performance when working with audio, but we haven't had any problems with performance.
The music domain has 40 PCs on it, 16 each in two classrooms, a couple more in other classrooms and the music office and a small cluster for 6th form use.
Shared drives - we use standard shares for distributing resources to kids, hand-in folders, staff only shares and this achieves everything we need.
We also have a KAAN system for the keyboards, these can connect to midi programs without any issue and on the whole they work fairly nicely but we do get the odd hardware problem with those.
Let me know if you have any other questions :)
Logic doesn't need any specialised equipment - it'll work with exactly the same as Cubase. You sure you're not confusing Logic with ProTools?
All full versions of Cubase require a dongle (eg: CubaseVST3, SX2, SX3, Studio4, 4)... SE was a scaled down thing originally released to give away free with soundcards - not a proper full version.
Logic is mac only - we weren't going to spend on Macs to run that.
Pro Tools is now available on PC but my music tech tells me that it only works with some M-audio interface box apparently. He says that Pro Tool on Mac is actually 3 soundcards with 2 processor chips on each soundcard and there isn't a software install - does that sound about right?
Sorry didn't realise you were PC only... yes, Logic is Mac-only - that's it's only requirement... but is awesome in comparison to Cubase (especially Mainstage)
There is a version of ProTools that requires no hardware but it's generally pants...
ProTools on Mac or PC - various versions and ways to do it. But yes, there is a master software component... Protools 8... which will run with any ProTools hardware... but you definitely need the ProTools hardware to get anywhere with it (see Pro Tools|HD Core Systems) - generally need a core interface card, and then an external interface to give you the I/O sockets to plug stuff in to. Or head down the full blow route of ICON hardware (ie: fully digitised ProTools-enabled Mixing Console with ProTools hardware included within)
ProTools M-Powered will only work with M-Audio hardware.
Here we have an iMac based music suite, all fully integrated to AD via our X-Server, on our RM-CC3 domain, running Garageband and Cubase Studio 4... mounts students and staff's Home folders from the PDC, and mounts various dedicated shares on the X-Server for Music Dept only. The X-server deals with locking down access to apps etc. Kids work and save locally then drag n' drop to their network home or to the X-Server shares. The network hardware from X-Server to iMac is gigabit all the way (all MAC equip on same switch), so when iMacs communicate with X-Server they do so at speed, and uplink from that switch to our coreswitch where all the AD servers are located is also gigabit all the way (over fibre).
We also have a PC suite running ASIO4ALL for regular onboard audio, and they all run Cubase SX3 with Halion for soundbanks - all are RMCC3'd... but this suite gets little use these days.
Both suites use eKeys 49 keyboards. None of our suites use any external-hardware MIDI modules for sounds - everything done using VSTis, usually Halion...
In the recording studio we have a standalone PC running WinXP, with 2x MOTU 8PRE firewire interfaces (for 16ch simultaneous input via directouts on a Soundcraft LX7II console), with Cubase SX3 and Cubase Studio 4. Armed to the teeth with all the Native range of VSTis.
Sounds like a nice setup, especially as you got it "playing nicely" with CC3!
Originally Posted by Marci
How did/do you stop Pupils on the Macs being able to browse the network, and get access to directory list ect on the CC3 servers.