Old 06-04-2014, 12:15 PM   #1
A4Flyers
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I've seen a few threads on this, which to choose between the MacBook Air or the Pro. I am on a budget so im looking into the MBA, would it suffice 15 track metal recordings? it would be just for music production. Would i need the 8gb and i7 processor options? or would the i5 do the job? i dont do massive track projects, just a good ol metal recording. just not trying to rush into a purchase because they arent upgradable.

THANKS IN ADVANCE!
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:33 PM   #2
Gates of Horn & Ivory
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They are slightly upgradeable. You can add new RAM cards.

(I would answer your question, but I have no experience of macbook airs)
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:43 PM   #3
Repetition Compulsion
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I bought the current base model macbook pro, 13" non-retina, has a 2.5ghz i5 (dual core). I bought it stock and then put 16gb of ram and a 128gb SSD in it. I haven't tried to record more than 2 simultaneous tracks...I program all my drums so all I do is record a wet & dry signal for guitars & bass, but it does fine for that.

I HAVE pushed it to a point where it started a bit of the click & pop though. It was when I had two sets 8 tracks set up for drums (duplicated VST's) and like 9 bass tracks (although only 3 were active) and I was recording dry bass being processed by all three of those tracks at the same time with a bunch of VST's. But in general (i.e. not doing all that dumb shit) it never skips a beat. Reaper usually reports 11-40% cpu use and around 1gb of ram depending on whats going on. Does jump up to like 85% cpu for rendering though.

The MBA might do the job. But (without going back and looking at specs again) when I was shopping & making the same decision, I was finding that customizing an Air to get up to the minimum specs I thought I'd need wound up costing more than the base macbook pro & some aftermarket upgrades. YMMV, but you're definitely paying a premium for the form factor and the hardware takes a hit as a side-effect to that.

Also, the non-retina macbook pro is pretty much the last upgradeable macbook assuming they continue their current trend. So...get it while its hot, thats what I said.

And one more thing, don't discount the mac mini. If you don't actually need a laptop for the sake of having a laptop, you can get a pretty badass mini and possibly spend less. I maxed one out a year or so ago and its a damn beast (although in retrospect I probably should have gone with the 15" retina mbp to get the graphics card in that, but I digress...)
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:53 PM   #4
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The Macbook air is Apple's idea of a disposable netbook. Ram is not upgradable (it's integrated into the logic board). The hard drive is the 1.8" format so you can upgrade to a larger SSD if you want.

None of that is a bad thing. You just don't get the mod-ability/upgrade-ability/repair-ability of a Macbook Pro.

But here in 2014, even a budget i5 is a pretty potent machine.

Just for cross-reference, my late 2008 2.8GHz C2D MBP lets me run live sound with at least 36 inputs and simultainiously record all the inputs to multitrack while I'm mixing. This is with "real-time" (ie. 11ms or less) low latency with a 128 sample disc buffer.

Or I can do post production mixing with 100's of tracks and 100's of plug-ins (disc buffer at 1024 since there's no live monitoring going on).

I play my guitar thru it too. Basically the live sound rig setup with a few channels of amp sims and looper stuff added. Still recording muiltitrack of myself and the whole band.

It does seem somewhat punishing for that machine with cpu use in the 90% range. This MBP puts up with a lot of abuse and has been running nearly 24/7 since I got it in 2009.
The 8 core i7 does all that with usually no more than 7 - 15% cpu use.


Pretty sure just about anything here in 2014 will handle 16 tracks.
Put a SSD in whatever you get.

Last edited by serr; 06-04-2014 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 06-04-2014, 03:39 PM   #5
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Any of the current models should easily suffice. Don't underestimate the interface as a bottleneck for audio production. It, and especially the quality of the driver software, can make or break your system.
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
Any of the current models should easily suffice. Don't underestimate the interface as a bottleneck for audio production. It, and especially the quality of the driver software, can make or break your system.
Thanks for all the replies everyone. I don't do anything too extreme, that's my only hesitation. just trying to hit it right. but i did see a fully upgraded MBA does cost about the same as a MBP. im sure they'll both suffice. back to Ronmac, you're right. i use a Scarlett 2i4
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
None of that is a bad thing. You just don't get the mod-ability/upgrade-ability/repair-ability of a Macbook Pro.
The new retina MacBook pros are the same way. The ram is integrated and the hard drive is also some sort of integrated chip. I believe you can still actually upgrade the harddrive, it's just expensive as hell. You're stuck with the fan though, and at apples cost for upgrading from the factory that's a tough pill. Those are the two reasons I went with the 13" non retina rather than either of the beefier retina models.
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
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The new retina MacBook pros are the same way. The ram is integrated and the hard drive is also some sort of integrated chip. I believe you can still actually upgrade the harddrive, it's just expensive as hell. You're stuck with the fan though, and at apples cost for upgrading from the factory that's a tough pill. Those are the two reasons I went with the 13" non retina rather than either of the beefier retina models.
They started calling all the laptops 'pros' a couple years ago. They used to call the more budget and less upgradable machines 'Macbooks'. And those Retina machines are very much Macbooks. They didn't offer any pro laptops last time around (comments were made, eyebrows raised). The mid 2012 are the most recent pro laptops at present.

The hard drive is their mini-pci proprietary SSD. That's actually the desirable part! They're faster than the current SATA SSD's. As soon as they release a 'pro' machine with one of these they'll have my attention again.

Last edited by serr; 06-05-2014 at 07:43 AM.
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:48 AM   #9
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I have an i7 macbook air with 8gb. Been running some fairly large sessions on it without any problems. Also depends on how many plugins your using. I personally use UAD stuff so I don't always have to run a ton of super intensive plugins. If you're going to go with the Air, I would recommend get the one with better specs.
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serr View Post
They started calling all the laptops 'pros' a couple years ago. They used to call the more budget and less upgradable machines 'Macbooks'. And those Retina machines are very much Macbooks. They didn't offer any pro laptops last time around (comments were made, eyebrows raised). The mid 2012 are the most recent pro laptops at present.

The hard drive is their mini-pci proprietary SSD. That's actually the desirable part! They're faster than the current SATA SSD's. As soon as they release a 'pro' machine with one of these they'll have my attention again.
Depends on how you look at it I guess. You say they don't have any macbook pro's now, I say they dropped the macbook line and made the macbook pro difficult/impossible to upgrade. My start with macs was a powerbook G4, so I've definitely seen the progression of the macbook & pro line. I would definitely say the current Pro offerings are, indeed, Macbook Pro's. My wife has the 15" off-the-shelf model and its an absolute beast of a machine. Right now, the upgradeable machine (the last remaining 2012 13" macbook pro non-retina) can't spec out as high as the non-upgradeable machines. To me, that doesn't mean that the retina macbook pro's are macbooks and the 13" mbp is the only mbp. That means that macbook pro's are non-upgradeable (and probably will be from now on, unless they listen to consumer outrage)
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:55 AM   #11
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Get the i7 if you can but I've had zero problems with my i5 iMac.

Get as much ram in it as you can; you can't upgrade later and its best to just max ANY daw out.
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:57 PM   #12
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EXTREMLY grfeatful for all of your input, thank you guys! i think im going to get a MBA with the i7 and upgraded ram. it should suffice for my needs and seeing how everyone seems to be getting by with theyre old macs, i think itll be fine.

Thanks again!

Cheers
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Old 06-06-2014, 05:08 AM   #13
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Walk into an Apple Store and explain that you want to test Reaper. They should allow you to install it on an Air and a Pro so you can compare.
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:49 AM   #14
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You will be fine with apple's current macbook air lineup. I take a mid-2012 2GHz i7 with 8 GB's of RAM out on remote gigs with a Metric Halo LIO8 all the time. I run Reaper and Logic on it and have zero issues. Plenty of power to spare when you're tracking real/live instruments and vocalists. It's actually an awesome little portable box to have. I admit I dump everything to a Mac Pro for mixing most of the time but even just running an additional monitor / HD tv with the air makes it a powerful little recording tool.
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