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Questions about Audio/Video Setups for Pro Work

Joined
May 27, 2018
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Hi Guys

I wanted to know if anyone has done a stable build with Sierra or High Sierra for audio and video. My old Mac Pro is basically dead. I'd like a setup that can run Digital Performer and Adobe CC (photoshop, after effects, premier or FCPX) with a modern audio Interface, fast processor (or dual CPU) with lots of cores, and ideally 128GB of RAM. I was looking at the MOTU 828es interface which is Thunderbolt 2 as a good interface that can handle the IO I need.

At first I was going to just setup a Windows workstation because I'm sick of Apple making overpriced non-pro systems and for graphics work I could build a dual Xeon v4 beast that would be more powerful, but then I won't be able to open my music projects—according to MOTU, DP8 or DP9 won't recognize my virtual instruments and plug-ins since they are AU and not VST, so if I open projects on Windows I'd have to rebuild the setups and automation which is not practical. I also don't like Windows in general and prefer Mac OS for how it works and its stability, but I'm not sure if I can setup a Hackintosh system, let alone one that will work with modern audio hardware that runs over Thunderbolt 2 for the lowest latency.

For the photo and video work I do, I could also use more than one thunderbolt port so I can use some of the fast M.2 external thunderbolt 3 drives that give no daisy chaining but have high data rates, like the Sonnet Fusion 2,600MB/s drive and OWC Envoy. If that's not possible I may be able to get away with using more M.2 on the motherboard, but most motherboards I see start disabling SATA ports when you add more than 1 M.2 drive and I have 10TB of existing storage across 4 drives and would like 2 blu ray burners in the machine.

Add to the fact that dual Xeon v4 setups don't seem to work for hackintosh so I'm stuck using older single cpu setups.

Any advice is welcome. I need to get a new machine setup so I can work, but I feel like a man without an OS at this point.
 

Stork

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See BoomR's Build(s) in the Golden Builds forum section. He's in your business and uses his hackintoshes as he would a Mac Pro with the appropriate applications. He can give you lots of good advice.

BoomR's “Power UP” for 360/VR Production Build: GA-Z370 AORUS UG - i7 8700K - GA AORUS RX580

Forum also has dedicated forum sections devoted to your areas.
https://www.tonymacx86.com/forums/photography.22/
https://www.tonymacx86.com/forums/video.23/
These forum sections are located in the Clubhouse > System Usage Forum area > https://www.tonymacx86.com/categories/system-usage.19/
 
Joined
May 27, 2018
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Hi Stork.

Thanks for the links. I'll check them out.

See BoomR's Build(s) in the Golden Builds forum section. He's in your business and uses his hackintoshes as he would a Mac Pro with the appropriate applications. He can give you lots of good advice.

BoomR's “Power UP” for 360/VR Production Build: GA-Z370 AORUS UG - i7 8700K - GA AORUS RX580

Forum also has dedicated forum sections devoted to your areas.
https://www.tonymacx86.com/forums/photography.22/
https://www.tonymacx86.com/forums/video.23/
These forum sections are located in the Clubhouse > System Usage Forum area > https://www.tonymacx86.com/categories/system-usage.19/
 
Joined
May 27, 2018
Messages
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Well... after reading through a lot of this stuff it sounds like Thunderbolt 3 doesn't have all the bugs worked out yet (hot swap) and the motherboards used might not have enough PCI slots/lanes for all the stuff I'd like/need—TB3, 10Gb ethernet, video capture card, 2 m.2 drives, plenty of internal storage, backups, etc. The only motherboards that seemed to have the extra slots, lanes and enough SATA ports were the Supermicro workstation/server boards that were for Xeon E5 v4 chips.

I was planning on getting a MOTU 828es because it's damn good for the price and which does have USB also, although MOTU said some chipsets on PC motherboards can do weird stuff with USB and their drivers and TB is needed for lowest latency. I can't afford a ProTools system and have been working in DP for over 20 years, so I need a Mac and DP but I need to rely on raw horsepower for now for plug-ins. Not sure I want to go the UAD route and be bound to theirs.

I was hoping to also do a dual GPU setup with NVIDIA 1080 Ti cards since I wanted to start using Davinci Resolve for grading and I could also use the CUDA for Premier (not an FCP fan since they went X). Not sure if AE benefits much and 2 cpu would be best for AE. I also may start using Maya and RenderMan again and RenderMan's next version will add GPU render support. Having a dual boot into Windows for 3D and Gaming with SLI would also be a nice treat.

I just don't know if I can handle all the setup. Putting the hardware together I think I could manage, but probably not all the installs, troubleshooting and tweaks as I've never built my own system before, messed with bios etc, let alone a Hackintosh.

If any of you pro setup guys live near NY/NYC area, I wouldn't mind paying someone with expertise to help with the setup if I decide to go this route—if it's even possible to build a powerful stable system like this. After 3 weeks of trying to find a solution I'm at the point of taking an axe to something. I can't get what I need on Windows, Apple doesn't make what I need, and I might not even be able to build it.

Eh, c'est la vie. Maybe I should just plan a heist and buy an iMac Pro and a Windows workstation... :crazy::banghead:

thanks
 

trs96

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For getting everything you need look into an X299 build. They are expensive and complicated to setup but for your specific requirements it's the only thing that checks all your boxes, dual high end GPUs, 10 Gb ethernet, Thunderbolt, 10 or more core CPU, dual boot macOS and Windows, etc etc.
https://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/...c-pro-successful-build-extended-guide.229353/

You can select your components based on what you need and then have a pro PC builder build it for you, install Windows and test out all the hardware. They cannot install macOS for you, that's where you need to learn, mostly from these forums, how to make it all work and how to update it. Take some time to read the main X299 guides here and then make a decision.
 
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Thanks for the link. I'll give it a read.

It's just a really crappy time to be a Mac user. Windows guys can have the best of all worlds with the most powerful, upgradeable everything... albeit still OS problems that the Mac lacks. All Apple would need to do is allow OS X to be installed on PC hardware and develop a few tools to make it easier and provide cpu/motherboard support for a handful of models to get us going—possibly an SDK so others could do some of it. I wouldn't even care if they charged for the OS for those of us who want to do it.

For getting everything you need look into an X299 build. They are expensive and complicated to setup but for your specific requirements it's the only thing that checks all your boxes, dual high end GPUs, 10 Gb ethernet, Thunderbolt, 10 or more core CPU, dual boot macOS and Windows, etc etc.
https://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/...c-pro-successful-build-extended-guide.229353/

You can select your components based on what you need and then have a pro PC builder build it for you, install Windows and test out all the hardware. They cannot install macOS for you, that's where you need to learn, mostly from these forums, how to make it all work and how to update it. Take some time to read the main X299 guides here and then make a decision.
 

pastrychef

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Well... after reading through a lot of this stuff it sounds like Thunderbolt 3 doesn't have all the bugs worked out yet (hot swap) and the motherboards used might not have enough PCI slots/lanes for all the stuff I'd like/need—TB3, 10Gb ethernet, video capture card, 2 m.2 drives, plenty of internal storage, backups, etc. The only motherboards that seemed to have the extra slots, lanes and enough SATA ports were the Supermicro workstation/server boards that were for Xeon E5 v4 chips.

I was planning on getting a MOTU 828es because it's damn good for the price and which does have USB also, although MOTU said some chipsets on PC motherboards can do weird stuff with USB and their drivers and TB is needed for lowest latency. I can't afford a ProTools system and have been working in DP for over 20 years, so I need a Mac and DP but I need to rely on raw horsepower for now for plug-ins. Not sure I want to go the UAD route and be bound to theirs.

I was hoping to also do a dual GPU setup with NVIDIA 1080 Ti cards since I wanted to start using Davinci Resolve for grading and I could also use the CUDA for Premier (not an FCP fan since they went X). Not sure if AE benefits much and 2 cpu would be best for AE. I also may start using Maya and RenderMan again and RenderMan's next version will add GPU render support. Having a dual boot into Windows for 3D and Gaming with SLI would also be a nice treat.

I just don't know if I can handle all the setup. Putting the hardware together I think I could manage, but probably not all the installs, troubleshooting and tweaks as I've never built my own system before, messed with bios etc, let alone a Hackintosh.

If any of you pro setup guys live near NY/NYC area, I wouldn't mind paying someone with expertise to help with the setup if I decide to go this route—if it's even possible to build a powerful stable system like this. After 3 weeks of trying to find a solution I'm at the point of taking an axe to something. I can't get what I need on Windows, Apple doesn't make what I need, and I might not even be able to build it.

Eh, c'est la vie. Maybe I should just plan a heist and buy an iMac Pro and a Windows workstation... :crazy::banghead:

thanks
As trs96 stated, it definitely sounds like you need an X299 setup. You need the PCI lanes for all the things you want to install. The thread he linked to is extremely detailed and, if followed closely, should provide you with all the info you need to get up and running. The sheer length of the guide may make it all seem very daunting, but much of it is simply lots of detail.

I'm a New Yorker and would love to aid you in your endeavor, unfortunately, I believe that's against forum rules... At any rate, I hope that you document and post your experiences if/when you take the plunge as I'm sure many others will benefit from it.
 
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Hi Pastrychef.

I might be more confident if I had done a build before. The hardware I can wrap my head around, but the other stuff makes me go a bit cross-eyed. :)

Either way I need to get something running or I can't work. I guess the positive side would be that even if I couldn't get OS X running I could still use it as a Windows workstation and have a powerful machine... provided I didn't fry anything.

Rules... yeah, I can understand that. Could cause a lot of drama.

One thing I'm finding while researching that is disheartening is that many software companies are not even supporting multi-threading well anymore, or they ditched it completely—not to mention lack of GPU support by some while others go balls to the wall. So it's not a clear cut case of choosing more cores over clock speed or vice versa, you need to choose which will benefit one or two software titles the most and cause the others to not run as fast.

One real problem is if I can't get Thunderbolt to work. Besides not being able to use TB3 drives, I'll have to run an audio interface through USB. That might be okay if I had the budget to splurge on an RME interface which has awesome latency specs over USB, but interfaces I can afford are best over thunderbolt. Also if a client gave me a Thunderbolt drive I wouldn't be able to get the data off it.

As trs96 stated, it definitely sounds like you need an X299 setup. You need the PCI lanes for all the things you want to install. The thread he linked to is extremely detailed and, if followed closely, should provide you with all the info you need to get up and running. The sheer length of the guide may make it all seem very daunting, but much of it is simply lots of detail.

I'm a New Yorker and would love to aid you in your endeavor, unfortunately, I believe that's against forum rules... At any rate, I hope that you document and post your experiences if/when you take the plunge as I'm sure many others will benefit from it.
 

pastrychef

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Hi Pastrychef.

I might be more confident if I had done a build before. The hardware I can wrap my head around, but the other stuff makes me go a bit cross-eyed. :)

Either way I need to get something running or I can't work. I guess the positive side would be that even if I couldn't get OS X running I could still use it as a Windows workstation and have a powerful machine... provided I didn't fry anything.

Rules... yeah, I can understand that. Could cause a lot of drama.

One thing I'm finding while researching that is disheartening is that many software companies are not even supporting multi-threading well anymore, or they ditched it completely—not to mention lack of GPU support by some while others go balls to the wall. So it's not a clear cut case of choosing more cores over clock speed or vice versa, you need to choose which will benefit one or two software titles the most and cause the others to not run as fast.

One real problem is if I can't get Thunderbolt to work. Besides not being able to use TB3 drives, I'll have to run an audio interface through USB. That might be okay if I had the budget to splurge on an RME interface which has awesome latency specs over USB, but interfaces I can afford are best over thunderbolt. Also if a client gave me a Thunderbolt drive I wouldn't be able to get the data off it.
Things may have changed by now, but here's a video showing how, after a certain point, there are diminishing returns with extremely high numbers of cores:

According to the X299 guide, Thunderbolt is working well on that build including hot plugging. The one thing that I've read from others' experiences is that network interfaces connected via Thunderbolt don't work.

In the event a Thunderbolt drive is inaccessible on a hack, a workaround would be to mount the drive on a real Mac then transfer whatever files are needed over the LAN. I know this will severely hamper performance but, at the very least, you'll be able to access the files.
 
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Thanks for the video.

Yeah, the problem I have is different from his because I actually do multitask and use multiple apps at once working on high-end niche stuff that tends to get weird at times compared to normal workflows. On a typical day I would have open Photoshop, AE, Illustrator, Maya (and Pixar apps), DP (if doing A/V or driving things with audio), FCP (or Shake back in the day), mail, browser and a handful of obscure utility apps. I may also be running X11 stuff and a VM for conversions or other things. So yes, I use After Effects and might start using Premier and Adobe removing multi-threading makes it suck for tons of cores, but I don't use Audition like he does which is strictly audio tracks.

I use Digital Performer to write music, mix and do audio editing. As far as I know, virtual instruments (load as AU plug-ins, driven by MIDI) will each use one core per instance and DP will use multiple cpus if you have them. I use a bunch of VIs. I'm not sure how effects plug-ins are distributed though, but when using dozens of VIs (unless something has changed) I would expect a performance increase with more cores and multi cpu and on my old Mac Pro I would see near 100% CPU usage when mixing complex projects on a dual cpu system or just having a bunch of VIs running with audio tracks and effects until the cpu just couldn't take it.

Add to that the 3D stuff I do. I've never worked on a non-ECC system. ECC seems to be ideal when doing simulations. So if I'm doing particle simulations (that can take a long time when you bake them to disk) the last thing I'd want are errors that might translate into visual errors in the render, or even errors during rendering of non-sim stuff using Arnold or RenderMan. I'll have to contact Autodesk and the Pixar guys and ask them about this. It is possible Autodesk has changed Maya to account for non-ECC cpus and maybe they just suggest ECC render nodes.

So yeah, it seems that for an Adobe workflow that a dual cpu hyper-threaded system might indeed suck ass compared to a Skylake single and I'm not sure if doing AE renders to a farm makes better use of multiple cpus. RenderMan will suck up every core you throw at it as far as I know. It used to plateau but the latest version seems like they changed it to take as many cpus and cores as you throw at it from what I read on the forums last week. Working in Maya itself is single-threaded when setting up a scene, modeling, or animating. I used to use RealFlow for liquid sims for a long time, but not sure if I'd get back into it. Last I used it, it was optimized for more cores and multiple cpus.

I'll contact MOTU again to see if I can get some current info about how DP performs based on clock and cores. Besides running simulations and 3D renders, single processor higher clock with GPUs seems to be the ideal for a desktop today. It's just bizarre that there is not an ECC option for the most common cpus, boards and ram. I guess they expect us who need to do sims and renders to have separate machines. Ideal world I'd have a sim/render farm, but can't do that now.

I'm also spoiled with ECC stability from all my years on Apple hardware. I ran my towers into the ground 24/7 and rarely had a system crash until they were long in the tooth and had hardware failures. Perhaps things are different on Windows now but up to Windows 7 I still saw system crashes far too often or a corrupt registry out of nowhere. I assume (maybe wrongfully) that a non ECC system running Windows would be more likely to crash.

Core counts were much lower the last time I got a machine, so maybe I'm just too stuck in the old mindset. :think:

P.S. sorry for the novel.

Things may have changed by now, but here's a video showing how, after a certain point, there are diminishing returns with extremely high numbers of cores:

According to the X299 guide, Thunderbolt is working well on that build including hot plugging. The one thing that I've read from others' experiences is that network interfaces connected via Thunderbolt don't work.

In the event a Thunderbolt drive is inaccessible on a hack, a workaround would be to mount the drive on a real Mac then transfer whatever files are needed over the LAN. I know this will severely hamper performance but, at the very least, you'll be able to access the files.
 
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