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Apple's G5 vs. PC audio comparison: a joke?

Monday June 30, 2003. 12:48 PM, by Francois Déchery (translated by xingu) Apple > Apple
Apple : Apple's G5 vs. PC audio comparison: a joke? - macmusicDuring the most recent Keynote presentation at WWDC, Steve Jobs and Apple gave us a so-called comparative performance test with music software. And, as one might expect, the new G5 Mac won hands down!

The match was organized between a Dual G5 2GHz and a Dual Dell PC 3GHz. Since the most current version of Logic Platinum (6) doesn't run on PCs (in fact, further development of this software for the PC platform has been abandoned, as many of you are well aware of), they equipped the Dell with Cubase SX and loaded the same piece of music.

Watching the video, the number of visible tracks (both stereo and mono tracks) totals 22 audio files playing simultaneously, which does appear to correspond with the correct number when you listen to the piece. Apple's White Paper on G5 performance mentions a total of 5 default reverb plug-ins on each track, although this isn't entirely clear: the paper goes on to mention that in Logic, the plug-ins (at default settings) included Fat EQ, AutoFilter, Chorus, and Silver Compressor (only 4?). Note that these native Logic plugs are less CPU-intensive than reverbs. On the Cubase side, the report mentions "an equalizer" (which one? we may never know...), StepFilter, Chorus, and Compressor plug-ins, all at default settings. Thus, the explanations are extremely vague. Trying to compare a light EQ in Logic with a TC Electronic EQ in Cubase would be far from objective. (And the report fails to confirm the use of the 5 reverbs mentioned above.) Here's what happens next in the video:

- Cubase (on the PC) starts... a quick zoom on the CPU gauge... and a moment later Cubase freaks out (CPU maxed out)... laughter ensues...

- Logic starts... and plays the piece of music... and of course has no problem supporting the data flow... the CPU monitor never exceeds a third of the maximum level... the crowd breaks into a big round of loud and sustained applause.

Trying to make people believe that a Dual PC 3GHz can't handle 22 tracks with Cubase is not just a little naughty, it's downright pathetic. That is, unless the PC was playing from a USB Zip drive with 5 TC reverbs on each track!

We have serious doubts about crashing a PC running 22 tracks in Cubase (even with the plug-ins mentioned above). A PC doesn't need 3GHz to handle this kind of workload. Moreover, Apple places a strong emphasis on the number of simultaneous tracks. Any professional would confirm that the key of the configuration is the relationship between the hard disk and controller (and not the processor). For instance, a 5400rpm IDE drive in the PC and an ultrawide SCSI drive in the Mac could make an obvious difference...

Please note: as the name of our site implies, we at MacMusic are huge fans of Macs, but we find it difficult to stand up and applaud the results of such a questionable comparison. This biased "test" leads us to wonder whether or not other similar tests shown were also somewhat slanted (such as those widely discussed on other websites like Slashdot).

If Apple wishes to conduct truly independent testing, under equal and relevant conditions, we are entirely at their disposal. However, we will not be fooled by this particular Keynote test, even if the G5 is most likely a better performing and more efficient computer.

There is absolutely no doubt that the G5 runs faster than a G4, and this we applaud. :-) Nevertheless, we are still waiting for a real test that demonstrates how PCs stack up against Macs on a level playing field, using the same configuration, settings, software, and plug-ins. As it stands, Apple is just preaching to the choir, and we are not convinced!
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