I’m regularly asked what machines are best for music. On the Mac side, it’s pretty clear what you should get for your desktop: go G5. The Mac mini is great and will work fine if you’re on a bare-bones budget, but the performance gains for music are significant on the G5 systems. And now Apple’s G5s are cheaper and faster than ever; if you’ve been waiting this is a great time to upgrade. (for full analysis, click ‘read more’)

Here’s the latest on the new Apple machines — check the bottom of the PR for the full specs:

  • April 27: Apple upgrades Power Macs

  • May 3: Apple upgrades iMacs

  • Apple Store: New Power Mac G5
  • Apple Store: New iMac G5

  • On the heels of Apple’s upgraded Power Mac line, Cupertino announced yesterday it was boosting its iMacs, too. The new 1.8GHz G5 is now only US$1299. It’s no wonder people like DJ Sasha are gigging with iMac G5s; upgrade this baby to 1GB RAM and you’ve got a mean music machine, and it’s still “luggable” to gigs. If you can spare the extra cash, even the entry-level US$1999 Power Mac G5 is a big performance boost and should last you a long, long time. But I think it’s worth noting that the iMacs are really gorgeous, high-performance machines; those built-in displays make for a pretty good buy versus getting a Power Mac AND display. And you’re not going to lug around a G5 tower.

    So what about portables? My current dream setup suggestion is a desktop G5 for production work and a high-spec (800Mhz+) PowerBook for live performance, but I know not everyone can afford that. The high-end PowerBooks now are certainly more than capable of running audio apps like Ableton Live, Propellerhead Reason, and Apple Logic. But I’m still waiting for a laptop with a generational improvement in performance. Via the highly unscientific evidence that Apple has just updated its PowerMacs and iMacs, we can only hope the laptops are next in line. (Incidentally, don’t believe what you hear: there’s a significant laptop-desktop performance gap on the PC side, too. Sexy PC laptop CPUs aside, there are plenty of other potential bottlenecks.)

    So Mac users, looks like: desktops, BUY (enthusiastically), laptops, HOLD for now, unless you’re hurting for a new machine, in which case Apple’s current PowerBooks will make you very happy, indeed — your PowerBook G3 will understand. (PC users, I’m just holding out for those dual-core AMD laptops . . . but we’ll see when those actually ship!)