What’s The Best Mac OS Version For Music Production? (Reader Poll)

Apple today released its Mac OS X Mountain Lion OS, the latest version of its personal computer operating system.

Last time we checked, most of Synthtopia’s Mac-based musicians were still using Snow Leopard – and some developers are warning users to wait on Mountain Lion.

If you’re a Mac music producer, weigh in on the best version of OS X for music in the poll below. And let us know why you think your version is the best option for making music – or if there’s something keeping you from upgrading!

33 thoughts on “What’s The Best Mac OS Version For Music Production? (Reader Poll)

  1. i’ve heard mention of people having issues in lion, and haven’t had any in snow leopard. don’t really have any reason to upgrade for the time being.

  2. I’ve not run across any issues with Lion, and the multiple-desktop-swiping is a godsend if you’ve got a few bits of software running — when I’m playing live I have my sequencer (Renoise), Audacity, MainStage, and Guitar Rig on the go, and being able to switch between them with a flick of the hand makes life so much easier.

    1. You could switch between desktops in previous versions of Mac OS. In 10.7 this functionality has actually been castrated. Mac OS 10.6 was probably the best system for serious work so far.

      1. I haven’t upgraded from 10.6 but have considered it. What do you mean by not being able to switch desktops?

        Does Spaces work differently in 10.7?

        1. Spaces got killed in 10.7. It was merged into a thing called launch control which takes all of the features of spaces and expose and rolls them into a less useful package.

      2. I know it supported multiple desktops but I only ever ran Snow Leopard on a first-gen MacBook Pro which didn’t support gestures so I had to resort to hot-corners for desktop switching.

        That said I’m not sure how “four fingers left (or right)” is harder than whatever methods Snow Leopard offered. I hear that it works like ass on a multiple monitor setup now, but as the majority of the time the laptop is sat on my keyboard stand this isn’t an issue for me and as I can carry on playing the keys with my right hand whilst switching screens with my left I’m not sure how it could have been better in SL.

    1. I had problems with M-Audio Fast Track Pro Ultra interface, IK Multimedia Philharmonik and Sibelius music programs. The updated drivers aren’t ready yet. I had to go back to Lion to make them work.
      I’d advise not upgrading until you know the programs you depend on are compatible with Mountain Lion.

  3. You’d have to be crazy to, as a music producer, download Mountain Lion right out of the gate. DAW and Plugin devs (not to mention hardware manufacturers) haven’t quite caught up yet. I just moved to Lion about 3 months ago, and it’s running perfectly now, but I know when I first attempted to jump to Lion, NOTHING worked correctly. Just give it a couple months. Are you really THAT desperate for a notification sidebar? No one used that in Windows, and I doubt I’ll use it in OSX.

  4. F*** me, I’m still on OS 10.5.8 and Logic Studio 8, heh heh. I wanted to buy Soniccouture’s beautiful Crowdchoir… but its only for 10.6 and above. That means a whole OS change and a Logic upgrade for $200 MORE out of pocket. I’m officially in the T-Zone where you have a stable system, but the wave has passed you by and you are locked into what you had before the Next Big Things rolled in. I’d also have to upgrade all of my plugs. I only have a few, as I chose my ‘stack’ carefully, but you know what that generally requires: mo’ money and mo’ hassles. Its not a matter of the “best” OS version for music; its a matter of your rig eventually being orphaned, regardless. I prefer Macs, but the regular application of leeches to keep rolling, um, maybe not. Sure, its part of being an e-musician, but clearly, you’d better buy EVERYTHING you need with each ‘upgrade,’ because the compatibility window closes quickly. Not to gripe, really, just letting out a sigh. I love my gear and respect the makers, but ouch.

    1. I feel your pain, but the upshot is that it looks like apple is done with upgrades and $200 gets you the full logic 9 that you can install on any computer you own that has at least 10.6.7 or whenever the app store was released.

      Not to mention your current system has to be reasonably old, right? You could probably get something much faster for less than you spent in the first place. I like to keep my old, stable, reliable systems around until they croak just for running MIDI or real multitasking!

      1. Yeah, that $200 upgrade is pretty sweet for a comprehensive DAW made FOR the platform. I’m happily committed. The funny/nice thing is, all of my older Macs, even one I bought 2nd-hand, were still running to spec when I upgraded. iMacs are the proverbial sh*ite, with no battery to replace and no Extensions with OS X, among other cool aspects. I could easily be able to use this one for several years yet. However, when I take the next step, I’ll have a 100% matured system as I most want it, with zero compromises. Hey buddy, wanna drop $2000 on a fellow struggling artiste?

    2. on the other hand, making good music is more about being able to squeeze out the most from what you have and not about having the latest and hottest equipment. So As long as you don’t feel like you miss something totally essential, stick with what you have.

  5. At least with just a laptop Lion is great. Three finger drag feels even better than two finger mouse scrolling for adjusting parameters and interacting with software. I dunno it’s a small thing, but not clicking and holding makes it a much more enjoyable experience for me. If only we could have multiple “pointers” as I’d love to use another trackpad or touchscreen device so I could control two parameters at once.

    I find mission control and an pinning applications to different desktops much quicker and easier to work with on the fly than with snow leopard, different backgrounds really help.

    Gonna wait and see on mountain lion, the “productivity” features look nice, but I mostly use the computer for audio work.

  6. Lion is working well enough for me. There are a few issues but nothing that is much of a problem. I could say the same thing about what came before as well.

    Do you really think it matters that much?

    If what you have right now works for you, that is, it gets the job done, then there is no point to another “update on perfection”. By the time you get to know this new one well enough for it to be second nature the new one will be out. Your hardware will probably crap out before anyway and you can get the new and improved os with your new system. They don’t care how long it lasts so long as it lasts long enough for you to want to buy the same shit all over again.

    Everything in the computer world is just too short lived to get very enthused about. Mac’s are great computers as computers go; and computers are never more than mediocre at their best because they change so rapidly. It would be nice to see some build last long enough to become totally optimized and efficient– but that would mean a machine with a much longer life-span, and you being happy with your tools ten or twenty or more years. Think Apple or any other pc maker want’s that?

    Have a good time,

  7. I moved to Lion soon after it’s release and everything was stable and functional other than the IK Multimedia products. Lion has been rock solid for me on all fronts. However, Mountain Lion introduces some serious structural changes to how apps are authorized and run, so you are asking for some massive breakage if you move to it out of the gate.

  8. Honestly, I have noticed much difference from switching from Snow Leopard to Lion.. BUT Lion allows Logic to run fullscreen and that alone makes me like Lion soo much more!

  9. So far Lion worked fine for me. I only have some problems sometimes with the laptop not picking up the USB devices (so I have to disconnect and reconnect them) but it might be an issue with the hub.
    Other than that, everything runs nicely. But I wouldn’t upgrade to Mountain Lion now, I’ll wait and see…

  10. Lion and mountain lion are no upgrades, they are downgrades. Incorporating ios is a downgrade. ios was made for smartphones and are of course dumbeddown operating system in comparison with a desktop.

    But because it is so populair and apple want to attract iphone users to their computers so they incorporate the dumbed down stupid ios. So these newcomers will feel comfortable in an ios envirionment.

    and we let this happen.

    Rise up to this. We are intelligent and we are musicians. We know what we want. We don’t IOS. We had a good operating system. we don’t to be invaded by idiots at Apple whom only look at numbers and money. It is expensive enough. We pay for apple products big bugs.

    And now they are dumbing it down.

    For what?

    For you? For me?

    No way hose. It is for bigger bugs. Apple is not interestend in musicians anymore. They are only interested in stupid smartphones.

    This dumbing down trend should be stopped.

  11. Bart, chill.

    Even if you don’t like these, according to you, dumbed down upgrades, you’re not forced to use them. If you really think about it, when you’re using your DAW you’re not messing with all those iOS features.

    I loved that Lion incorporated all those multi touch gestures and launchpad. It made my life easier. I welcome this merge between iOS and Mac OS. The mouse will eventually die. I prefer to use my hands. Tablet like OSes will be the norm in a few years.

    Now, back to topic, I will not upgrade until I’m certain that my audio software and hardware will work without any glitches. It’s a risk I’m not willing to take. And for making music I don’t need the new stuff on Mountain Lion.

    1. So the newest plugs and stuff will run on old 10.6 or even 10.5 as well? With full features (since I pay the same price for the stuff)? From what I know it’s NOT like that, which means I AM forced to upgrade, if I want to keep up as a professional producer.

      Why must Apple always change so many things? I have some Windows workstations, too. Even most old plugins from Windows 2000 times (before XP) still work on Windows 7. Why does Apple need to be soooo different? Would be nice if the difference would always be for the good, but it’s very often difference for difference’s sake. Like the new theft lock on MacBook pro. Everybody was ok with Kensington lock, but no, Apple needs a new solution, not because it’s necessary, but because they are Apple, and that’s what they do. And the same thing happens to the OS. If you don’t like it, you’re not a true Apple user, because everything Apple does is the right thing!

  12. Wow, actually kind of bummed to see these results. I’m also still on Snow Leopard and was hoping it was OK to upgrade now. The only reason I stay on 10.6 is so I don’t have to deal with music software issues.

  13. The reason nothing worked well in Lion at first is because it was a switch from 32bit to 64bit. until we switch from 64bit to 128bit those issues aren’t going to crop up again. ML is fine. the much feared “notification center” does nothing if you don’t use it and if you do compulsively use shit like twitter and facebook it would probably save you time and make your life easier anyways. oh and the other much feared feature “gatekeeper” again is such a non-issue. it’s just provides and extra layer of security, you aren’t even going to notice it except the couple times you install something not from the app store and you have to click through an extra dialogbox.

    the only new feature i really use though is the cloud sync between osx apps and their iphone counterpart but even then not that much. i just upgraded to get it out of the way and it was really not a problem.

  14. I’ve upgraded to Mountain Lion yesterday and now I’d strongly advise to wait…

    FIrst of all: at least in my point of view, the noticeable changes (Game Center, Notification Center, etc.) are completely irrelevant. So you don’t really get any new features that would speed up your working process – at least that’s the case for me.

    But the real problem is the USB issue many other people have also already reported. For example, Virus TI Control does not work under Mountain Lion. You have to go for the public beta, which is still faulty to a certain degree – I still have not managed to get my Virus Snow to work with Studio One since the Mountain Lion update (despite the public beta upgrade for the Virus).

    Also, I have experienced a system crash when I disconnected one of my USB hubs. That has never happened before…

    So, overall I think it’s clear to say that you should wait a few weeks unless you want to become a conscripted OS failure seeker…like myself now 😉

  15. I don’t like all the new GUI and “iPad inspired” features added to OSX 10.7 / 10.8. It’s just extra “fluff” that is not needed and a total waste of your system resources, which are obviously precious with computer recording and should be conserved for just that; recording. But even with 10.6 Snow Leopard I like to optimize OSX for music production in many ways. For example; turning off features like “The Genie effect” and Magnetization from the dock as well as leaving Spaces disabled and more. There are several articles about this if you look around the web. Also 10.6 is still fairly new and compatible with most software today, and it doesn’t have all those extra bells and whistles you won’t need. So you don’t have to worry as much about wasting CPU, GPU and RAM resources on new fancy user friendly GUI enhancements. Only one I was even slightly interested in was the “full screen” which I tried and It doesn’t work well at all with 2 screens anyways : / useless

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