Be aware this is very rambly and I’m just emptying my head – it would be nice to get other views on this so if you are having problems please comment.
Well now here I am writing this post on a Hackintosh PC – porque?
Curiosity and a major audio problem concerning Windows 8 – well is it?
Let me run down a few things so we can be fair and just.
How did the problem start?
I actually believe it started with Windows 7 – Small glitches in audio at first – audio dropouts but nothing major – I just put it down to using too many plugins.
Guitar FX and live monitoring seemed to be the major problems, as you would expect.
But then then other problems started to occur.
I use Reaper as my DAW and have done for going on 6 years now – without hitch – I also have a program called Notion which connects to Reaper via Rewire.
At first all seemed well but then when I would render it would be out of sync – also sometimes during playback I would have timing problems.
I put this down to software problems – rewire is unsteady from what I have read and maybe I was overextending my PC.
But ah here lies the problem – I upgraded my PC to something more powerful – much more powerful and it was Windows 8 too.
Problems aplenty – so bad that I started to get misty eyed over Windows XP.
And rightly so, XP was a beast for audio – it worked and it worked well.
So before this get’s too out of hand let’s have some points and some information.
1. Current PC is a Quad Core Intel i7, 16gb Memory, Crucial SSD for operating system, Samsung 840 256 SSD for Samples and Seagate 7200 sata 500gb for Audio.
Motherboard is a Gigabyte gigabyte h61m-ds2
I have a PCIE UAD-2 card and a Focusrite 10pro Firewire audio device.
My firewire card is a Syba firewire card.
2. Software: Reaper, Notion, UAD-2 plugins, Waves Native Pack, Camel Audio Plugins – all 64bit plus others including IK Multimedia Amplitube and Sampletank 3
Ok so here is what I did,
Downloaded LatencyMon and ran it whilst using audio device.
Random major spikes – including when not using device – in some cases having to reboot pc to get audio device to work again.
1. Disable internet – being attached via Ethernet this involved disabling Lan card.
Result? Same problems.
2. Remove UAD-2 Card as well.
Result? Same problems.
3. Try another firewire card.
Result same again.
4. Remove USB devices
Result same spikes, even when not using device.
5. Remove hard drives one by one to check.
Again nothing fixed.
6. Disable EIST and countless other Bios settings – I can’t even remember which but anything that causes processor interference.
Nothing, still getting spikes.
7. Remove Firewire altogether and try a USB device. Focusrite USB 6
Interesting – same problems.
8. Install Windows 7 and start from scratch.
Here we go again – exact same problems – major spikes at random points in operation – again sometimes when not even using audio device.
All through this long and protracted process(win 7 and Win 8) the major problem seemed to be a file called wdf1000.sys – searching the internet I couldn’t find any info that would help.
I tired different buffer settings, both firewire and audio.
Nothing seemed to work – and it was all random – not something I could point at and scream eureka at.
And there lies the problem.
Win 8 and 7
Trying XP seemed like an option but would my motherboard work and would there be drivers, also it wouldn’t be 64bit and XP 64bit is so unsupported it’s criminal.
Could I live with it?
It’s possible I could have, if I was a light user.
But I am not, I use Audio on my PC at least five hours a day 7 days a week wether it is Teaching or Recording.
I needed a solution and Windows wasn’t it.
Ubuntu? It crossed my mind but I’d lose all my software.
Buy a Mac…
As a PC fanboy this got my hackles up – and for a variety of reasons.
Spending a large chunk of money of something that might work and wasting a decent spec pc was not something I was willing to do.
But could I take one problem out of the equation in another way?
How about removing windows from the equation, now there would be something.
Like I said Ubuntu is out but could I try Mac Os without a Mac?
Well as I looked into this by pure coincidence Snow Leopard had been announced as a special offer price, I can’t remember how much right at this minute but it was under £30.
All well and good but it’s not that simple, well it rarely is these days.
The solution was to be a Hackintosh.
A pc that runs Mac software – something I’d seen a while back that seemed very complicated.
And it is and can prove to be.
The first thing though is the question, ‘is this legit?’.
I’m not even sure, I mean I expect for profit it definitely isn’t.
I bought the software and I’m still curious as to wether it’s legal to do such a thing.
Anyway I decided to test it anyway, just to sate my curiosity.
Now then, upon investigating I found that my motherboard supports Hackintosh.
But things were not easy, Graphics for one is a minefield and that is just the start.
You will need to set aside a good deal of time to get a Hackintosh to work – and patience will be needed. If you are not PC savvy then do not even think about it.
The internet is full of useful info about Hackintosh – and if you have the time and patience then it’s very possible you could have success but do some reading first.
Check every component, everything and then read some more.
Well after a good few days of screaming, crying, scratched fingers, sore knees and some major headaches I got my Hackintosh all set up.
And it works.
Not only that, the audio works – yup that’s right it’s faultless – perfect(maybe).
It works and it works well – the only snag being running UAD-2 plugins with a buffer at 256 – have to increase to 384 not sure why that is – but it is the only Audio based snag I have found.
I can without UAD, run at 128 and have guitar live monitoring without any significant problems at all.
All midi works, audio records, UAD-2 works with suitable settings, Waves plugins work, IK Multimedia installed without fuss and Camel Audio plugins work too.
So what can I conclude?
Yes indeed, Win7 and 8 blow, huge greasy chunks and I’ll tell you what? I can’t see Microsoft doing anything to solve it soon.
Don’t get me wrong I love the look of Win 8, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that and I’m probably in a very small group who says that. But to me it seems that it’s only intention is to become the xBox – games and media has become it’s sole concern and bugger anyone wanting to create Audio.
So where am I now – I’m still set up as a Hackintosh – Audio works beautifully and there are so many plus’s to it that I would have to say that my next purchase will indeed be a MAC – probably an older one that takes PCIe cards and has firewire but also that can run Yosemite. (Hmmm he want’s a lot eh?)
Pros of Mac?
CoreAudio and Network Midi – Out of the box – connection of iPad control surfaces.
Bluetooth Midi via Apollo Midi
Better iTunes – Loads faster
Yosemite using Bluetooth connection to sync Mac and iPad audio apps.
There’s always a caveat is there not?
A week ago I started to have graphics problems – my onboard Graphics card is a HD4000 which worked to start with but then suddenly started to look glitchy, this was after a Mavericks update.
Try as I might I could not get it to work – three days lost(I kid you not)
Finally I took a HD6670 from my media PC and installed that – turned off GraphicsEnabler and Boom we are back in business.
5 days and absolutely solid – unfortunately I have limited PCIE slots and the Graphics card takes up two slots so I have had to remove the UAD-2 card – major bummer.
So I will have to find a one slot Graphics card that will work – not an easy task trying to find something that will work out of the box but fingers crossed.
If you’ve made it this far through this shaggy dog story and made sense of my ramblings then kudos I hope you learnt something or it helped in some small way.
Back up everything, starting with Windows.
If you go down the Hackintosh route- read everything twice before you start, make that three times to be safe. I take no responsibility for any problems you may end up having.
This was a curiosity that I had and as such it is not advice – it’s a report, if you will.
That said ‘if’ you do then as soon as you’ve loaded everything up do a backup – you never know when something may go Fubar.
Finally – make sure all your software is compatible.
Cakewalk Rapture is not compatible with any Mac Os after Snow Leopard.
The workaround that you can find online works but it’s convoluted to say the least and requires you to already have it installed on a mac/hack running Snow Leopard.
Right I’m done, finished, spent.