Is that an expansion chassis in your pocket or….

One of my best friends is Andy LaCasse. Multi instrumentalist, songwriter, bandmate and co-conspiritor. Most Tuesday evenings we get together to work on a slow moving train of a recording for our band Kilter. Some guys play poker, we do this. We do get some work done, but spend a fair amount of time discussing whatever is going on with our lives. So of course on the last Tuesday in September we talk a bunch about my recent computer adventures. Andy said something that really sticks with me. I’m paraphrasing, but what he said was I had been given fair warning that it was time to start moving toward a new computer.

This is a more complex problem than you might think. My studio computer is loaded with Pro Tools HD Accel, which besides software includes three very expensive PCI cards mounted into the slots in the G5. In the middle of 2006, Apple introduced the Mac Pro tower computers and changed the architecture of the slots to something called PCIe, which they have used ever since. PCI cards won’t work in PCIe slots, so my $14,000 worth of cards can’t be installed in a new Mac. Another problem is the Apple operating system. Snow Leopard, the newest OSX, does not support the G5 and earlier, non Intel Apple computers. So Apple is gradually sailing away from me. My frankenstein G5 is working great so far, but since it is just as old as the box it replaced I am aware it could go belly up any day. I head to Gearslutz, the online forum for recording geeks, to do some research. I learn that my PCI cards will fit into some new Windows computers. Sorry, but I’m a Mac guy, so that’s not the solution for me. I find a thread where a couple of pro engineers are discussing using new Macs and putting PCI cards into an expansion chassis. The expansion chassis is a box that holds the cards and connects to the computer through a cable hooked to a PCIe card. Great, I can keep using my cards! A company called Magma makes a chassis that works perfectly with Pro Tools, but it costs $2199. Yikes, that’s close to the cost of the new Mac Pro quad core I plan on getting, but this seems like the way to go.

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