Forums > MaxMSP

Buying a Mac for very basic use of Max MSP

Jun 19 2012 | 10:14 am

Dear comunity,

I am a PC user, and I would like to move on to the Apple platform.

I am a singer, and I use quite simple Max patches. What I do is looping, and processing my voice with basic effects (reverb, ring modulator, flangers and so on).

I have no idea about computers (as a matter of fact I do not know about Max either) and I would need some advice.

I want a VERY BUDGET option, as I do not have that much money and I need to buy only what is absolutely needed for my work.

I understand that "the bigger the better", but I need to work on a "as small as it can get" mentality now.

Please advise me on what is the absolute basic setup, the cheapest possible solution for me to perform live with Max MSP.

Also I would like to ask whether external audio interface is ABSOLUTELY necessary at this stage.

Thank you

Jun 19 2012 | 10:31 am


For basic Max use, any current desktop/laptop mac will do, mac mini included.

As for the audio interface, sure you can input and output sound on these systems without external card, so no it’s not absolutely needed. But plugged into a decent sound system you really hear the difference. Plus you’ll want a pre-amp to match your vocal mic.

Also, internal soundcards are much more prone to ground-loop and static noise problems. When I see people having these problems on stage most of the time they’re using the internal soundcard. Very unprofessional.

Jun 19 2012 | 12:07 pm

macbook pro 13" or imac 21.5 is best choice for you

Jun 19 2012 | 1:36 pm

I’ve had a lot of firewire audio glitches with the latest mac minis on Lion, using MOTU hybrids (same glitches with an 828 MK3 and an ultralite MK3). Fortunately USB seems to work.

Endless Series v3 out now – A unique synthesis and effect plugin/app based on the Shepard Tone auditory illusion.

Jun 19 2012 | 5:19 pm

i mainly work with PPC G4 computers – thats like 5 generations of apple hardware back.

you can get those for some 50-100 USD.

for the type of audio effects you mentioned those will be fine, but otoh you said yu are a
singer, and o i think you might want to use pitchshifting and reverb, too, sooner or later.

so i think i´d recommend the first generation imac with intel processor.

Feb 12 2013 | 1:55 am

Save your money and buy software dedicated to effects processing and audio. If you are buying Max/MSP for the sake of using basic effects and looping you might spend a LOT of time beating your head against the wall trying to reinvent the wheel. Not to mention the fact that you will have to spend lots of time learning to patch. If you are trying to innovate and come up with new effects you really have to know what you are doing and be very comfortable patching. I came to Max with similar intentions and I feel kind of burned by it. IMHO, your time and money are better spent buying something like Ableton Live and getting plugins (freeware or bought) for the effects that don’t already come with it.

As for buying a Mac, I am feeling a bit burned by that too. I spent a bunch of money buying a Macbook, and now just a few years later, like any computer, it is getting out of date. The OS is quickly getting out of date too, and it is not supported by some of the software that I want to use. What a racket. To top it off there are a lot of VST plugins that simply don’t work on Mac. On my next equipment upgrade I am going back to PC. Apple can go overcharge someone else for their wares.

Feb 12 2013 | 2:02 am

Well, it sounds like the OP already has the patches he/she needs, so learning to patch won’t be an issue. And there’s always the 30-day trial. But Ixian’s comment does make some sense—a pre-made audio program or plug-in that does what you want, well, that’s kind of a no-brainer. Max is much better suited for making new things and stretching limits, but it comes at the price of the learning curve.

Speaking of price, you can always go to Pure Data too…

Good thoughts on the laptop internal soundcard issues. I’d definitely invest in something external that’s at least decent. You won’t need to spend much.

Wanting to move to Mac is fine for it’s own reasons, but of course you don’t have to just for Max…

Feb 12 2013 | 4:55 am

Ableton Live Suite w/ the free UG to S9 (w/ M4L) is almost a no-brainer for the task.

Depending on the PC hardware the OP is currently using – the Mac part of the equation is hard to recommend, what are the expectations in terms of performance? Generally speaking almost anything they produce now is capable of pretty decent audio performance when coupled with a decent interface so Mac Mini dual or quad, Macbook . . .iMac, whatever.

Don’t forget the Refurb Outlet either, some very nice machines can be got there.

The decent audio interface is really the only thing in this not up for grabs. Well, that is until you get into the subject of *which* audio interface. :)

But there’s good kit these days for every budget, pretty much.

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Forums > MaxMSP