Will The New iMac Pro Be The Center Of Your Music Studio?

The new iMac Pro has been unveiled by Apple and it's being called the most powerful Mac ever. With that in mind could this be the machine that runs your music studio?

These days the rumor mill tends to leak the big reveals from Apple before they announce them. But somehow the new iMac Pro slipped past them at WWDC yesterday. And unlike when Apple rolled out the MacBook Pro's with USB-C in 2016, few musicians or creatives can deny this is a machine that will suit their studio needs.

In short the iMac Pro is a monster. And interestingly has taken people's attentions away from the "modular" Mac Pro currently being created. We reported on the modular Mac Pro development here.

Before we get too excited we'll have to wait until December 2017 to buy one. And Apple tells us this is their most powerful Mac ever. Yes, more powerful than the current Mac Pro. So, what makes this one so special? Let's take a look at some of the specs. In particular this new iMac can be configured with up to 18 cores!

  • 8-, 10-, or 18-core Xeon processor
  • Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
  • Up to 42MB cache
  • Retina 5K Display
  • Radeon Pro Vega
  • 11 teraflops single precision GPU
  • 22 teraflops half precision GPU
  • 8GB or 16GB High Bandwidth GPU Memory
  • Up to 128GB RAM (2666MHz DDR4 ECC)
  • Up to 4TB SSD (3GB/s throughput)
  • Four USB-3 ports
  • Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB‑C) ports
  • 10Gb Ethernet

You can connect two more 5K monitors to the space grey iMac Pro, and with specs like those above you can imagine it doesn't come cheap. Prices start at $4,999 USD.

However, Apple also offer very capable, powerful and attractive regular iMacs, which will do the job for most music and audio production needs. The 21.5-inch iMac with Retina 4K display prices start at $1,299 USD. An option that shouldn't be ignored by the budget conscious.

For those doing any kind of 2D or 3D design work, VR, video editing or music production the iMac Pro looks to certainly pack a punch in all departments. Fortunately, Apple have provided four USB 3 ports and four USB-C ports. But, with USB-C being the way forward we'd expect Apple to begin phasing out USB 3 over the coming year or so.

 

If Logic Pro X is optimised for this machine it's going to be able to run huge sessions. We're talking masive sample libraries, hundreds of tracks, tons of effect plugins, and probably will barely break into a sweat.

For the recording musician or studio, with the right interfaces, and assuming the new Mac OS High Sierra (we're still having trouble saying that without smiling) is optimised for music makers there shouldn't be an issue with tracking as many tracks in real time as your interface has inputs.

This level of performance is something you'd expect from a Mac Pro, but with an iMac Pro including a 5K retina monitor you can setup your studio machine quickly and easily. 

Oh, and in this you're wondering, Apple tells us the new iMac Pro runs cool and has excellent speakers built-in too.

So, the big question remains whether you and other musicians and producers would consider the iMac Pro for your music studio needs? Tell us in the comments below.

Price: (from) $4,999 USD

Availability: December 2017

Webapple.com/imac-pro.

 

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by Bob Moog Foundation

"Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & macProVideo. He's built a crack team of professional musicians and writers to create one of the most visited online resources for news, review, tutorials and interviews for modern musician and producer. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic Pro Rounik has taught teachers, professional..." Read More

Discussion

Ebo
Not for that price...

It seems Apple think the vast majority of creative people have become rich since the last time their products were made with us in mind?
ivandub
Will The New iMac Pro Be The Center Of Your Music Studio? At $5000 US for a base model, it isn't going to happen unless I win the lottery!! Apple had better be careful or they're going to price themselves right out of the market.
MLNZ
"the exclusion of USB 3"??? It has 4 USB 3 ports and 4 USB-C ports... did I miss something?: https://www.apple.com/imac-pro/specs/

Also...
I still can't figure out, if $5,000 US is for the base model, how much will it scale for the top specs one? $10,000???
patzer
Unless you have software that will take advantage of the Xeon architecture, a regular iMac with loads of RAM, a fast SSD, and a decent i7 processor will provide plenty of horsepower and be a *much* better value.
ellisberg
For video or VR development, the beefy Xeon multi-core is more than a nice-to-have. However, for *most* music projects, the regular iMacs are sufficient and do not compel dropping $5K on a music production box. Now, if I were mixing scores and soundtracks in 7.1 surround for films... yeah, I'd probably have to spring for the big box. As Ivandub observed, unless I win the lottery, I don't see one of these monsters in my future. And, even if I did, I would still want to see what the *modular* Mac Pro looks like as an alternative in the stratospheric price range. Expandability with sound cards etc. would be more important to me than raw processing headroom. That's why the Trash Can Mac Pro was such a huge regression from the old cheese grater Mac Pro. We will see...
Tonehenge
Ummm...I have a full load 2011 iMac in the studio (3.4 ghz i7, 32 gig ram, 2 tb SSD + 4 gig WD Red spinner) and it still has loads of power for my projects. Besides the exorbitant price (though I know graphic and video artists will benefit mightily from the latest specs) the big issue is NOISE. Can I assume they've done something to address that?
Reynaldo Braga
My PC is much stronger than this and cost about 1/4 of the value and flexible... apple sorry, my money is just for iphone and ipad... for while...
Realist
Let's see... do I want a car, or do I want a non-customizable, bulky, and extremely expensive computer with loud fans screaming right in front of my face? Or, do I want to wait until Apple comes out with a modular Pro (truly) computer and redeems themselves from their failed attempt in 2013? Looks like I'm waiting another year. My 12-core cheese grater is still an incredibly powerful machine, and I will wait for true customizability.

Have you heard the fans on the MacBook Pros when you use them to their capacity? Imagine what it will sound like on this iMac "Pro." The answer is... real sound professionals will not be buying this. And if they do, they will very quickly regret their decision.
Francis 7
Its going to cost well over $10KAUD in Australia AND it's no different to the last MacPro. I want internal storage I don't want a dozen peripherals hanging of the computer, sprawled all over my desk with the inevitable rats nest of cables. It is very powerful but not for me. Maybe next time?
Geoff
Hmmm. Well I'm excited about the iMac Pro for music. I use a crazy amount of samples for orchestral pieces and my 2011 iMac is choking. Before that I had mac pros and they choked. For what I do the only other choice is linking several computers together and running Vienna Ensemble. I tried it but it can be clumsy and timing issues pop up. If I was simply recording a band or one instrument at a time then I would agree with the comments here but if you are high end midi based driving Vsl dimension strings plus sample modeling, cinesamples and 8dio choirs etc., then spending $5,000 for one computer rather than buying multiple computers makes the iMac pro a good deal. Sample based midi music production is the most gpu intensive task there is, more than most video processing and even all but the highest end vr work because there is no background rendering. Every thing happens live.
Yep the iMac pro isn't upgradable. But seriously, what sound cards do you use on a mac? Why do you need a pci card? The apollo is probably the hottest ticket right now and it doesn't require a pci card and has its own gpu. Does anybody honestly think that the Mac Pro will be the last computer they will need and upgradable forever? I used to replace my computer every 2-3 years, now it's more like 6-7. At that point the motherboard and buss speeds will have been eclipsed by new technology and the chip sockets and will have changed to the point where you need a new computer anyway. So I have to max out the ram and storage now as opposed to later... yeah wish that was upgradable by me but 4 tb of storage (for samples/programs) plus a raid array in a thunderbolt 3 tower for back-up and or recording if necessary seems a great solution.
I know many LA based film composers who have been in limbo for several years because of apple's abandoning the pro market. Now, they are back in the game with a serious pro machine. Is it expensive? Yes, but when you have invested $20k in high end samples and recording samples that no other machine will run and you have the option to do it all in one computer rather than 3 with a nice 5k monitor and the ability to run 2 more.... $5,000 doesn't seem unreasonable to finally realize the full potential of your investment.
Alex
Exactomundo, Geoff! I have been writing music for TV and music library companies for 9 yrs. You can't make a good midi-mockup off of one machine. I mean, its possible, but limiting and you will always struggle with sessions stopping mid play from low processing power and chocking every 30 secs. When composing for TV and running video at the same time, you are looking at a 3-computer setup; one running your DAW, one for your samples via Vienna, and the third machine for your Pro Tools export and video. Im really excited about the thought of getting rid of the grief of 3 machines and instead running everything off of this iMac Pro, with the only external units being SSD drives for reading sample libraries (regardless of how many cores, I would never run samples off the same drive as the OS) and another to write the sessions to. For $5k, this seems like a good deal. My only question is can Logic X use all that RAM and 10 cores?
Alex
Im a little worried about the fan noise though.....that is the only reason why I might hold out and wait to see what the new modular in 2018 have to compare with
Geoff
Alex- Apparently the design is whisper quiet otherwise it wouldn't make sense as a pro machine. My old mac pro was really loud. That's part of why I switched to a iMac. We'll see. Hopefully we'll get more info in September and reviews ahead of release. I'd also like a bit more info on the mac pro just to see if it makes sense to wait. Right now though, I'm all in on the iMac pro. Hoping the top end price is closer to 10K rather than the 17K some are predicting. Those extra cores would be nice. My guess is Logic and other software will have no problem accessing them once they are available.

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