Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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GusHage
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Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 10:24 am

Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by GusHage » Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:04 pm

ABLETON LIVE 9.2, expecting to update regularly.

I am aware that higher processing speeds and more ram are always a benefit, no matter what you are doing, but I am looking for at portable work station for everyday life as well..

I've looked at a lot of Retina MacBook Pros (I am currently using a windows desktop) and even though they look nice and feel nice in general, I am not sure if they are the right choice for music production.

I have an old (7 years I believe) 2,4 ghz quad core processor, 4GB of ram and I am running into some strange performance issues.. It might be that my PC is simply old and tired, because I recently upgraded to Win10 from Win7 and it seemed snappier for some time and then struggled again..

I have projects with up to 30-40 tracks sometimes most of them with multiple effects on them.
I have a PUSH which I am fond of and planning to carry around with my future laptop. I might perform live, but that is not a main concern.

- well, my actual question is:
1 are the current MacBooks the right choice for me / are they worth it?
I don't mind buying a used one (I'm from Denmark) and I don't mind waiting a little longer if someone thinks a performance upgrade is around the corner.

2 is there an alternative that makes sense?

I search the forums daily, but felt the need to ask directly.
Thanks in advance.


login
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by login » Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:58 pm

Processor speed is also important, but even most budget laptops have plenty of processing power these days.
I don't agree with this at alll, processor is more important.

Anyway, any laptop with an i7 quadcore, 8 gb of ram (or more) and a fast HD drive (SSD better) would do.

MBP advanatge are OSX native audio drivers which deliver better performance than windows native drivers, so with a windows laptop you always have to use an audio interface, which can be annoying when on the go.

deva
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by deva » Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:35 pm

Get the new 15" Macbook Pro with the quad core i7 - with mine, I also got the 1TB SSD

It is very fast, good battery life, solid, good feel, fans rarely go on or if they do a bit they are quiet. 2 Thunderbolt ports and 2 USB ports so enough connectivity.

With mine, I do a wide range of work... audio, video, photography, writing, web design, trainings, presentations, book layouts etc. I find it an exceptional productive machine and would buy it again in a heartbeat.

GusHage
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by GusHage » Sat Oct 17, 2015 10:13 am

Thank you all for your answers!

Though the gaming laptop looked nice, it had very mixed reviews. That added to my own understanding that processors are key, supported here, I am then leaning towards the MacBook.

I must ask however; how intensively have you used your MBP for ableton audio production?
A lot of my live sets have 30+ tracks..

TomViolenz
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by TomViolenz » Sat Oct 17, 2015 11:16 am

Mac laptops were the best when they still came in the pro variety. That ended with the mid 2012 MBPro. Luckily I still managed to get one of those. Now they sell at best prosumer appliances. :x

And no, a machine where I can't change the harddrive, upgrade more RAM or even exchange the freaking battery is not a tool for professionals. :evil:

They are shiny though. I have to give Apple, the appliance company that.
If I ever need a new entertainment device, I may consider them :roll:

fishmonkey
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by fishmonkey » Sat Oct 17, 2015 11:30 am

TomViolenz wrote:Mac laptops were the best when they still came in the pro variety. That ended with the mid 2012 MBPro. Luckily I still managed to get one of those. Now they sell at best prosumer appliances. :x

And no, a machine where I can't change the harddrive, upgrade more RAM or even exchange the freaking battery is not a tool for professionals. :evil:
i used to feel the same before i was forced to upgrade to a Retina MBP, but actually i'm happy with my new machine. the flash drive is super-fast, the screen is great, the two Thunderbolt ports and HDMI port give me more options than my old 2011 MBP. the reduced weight is also good, since i travel with a backup machine as well...
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

TomViolenz
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by TomViolenz » Sat Oct 17, 2015 11:57 am

fishmonkey wrote: i used to feel the same before i was forced to upgrade to a Retina MBP, but actually i'm happy with my new machine. the NON UPGRADABLE flash drive is super-fast,


the screen is great, the two Thunderbolt ports and HDMI port give me more options than my old 2011 MBP. WHICH YOU NEED TO BUY NEW AND EXPENSIVE EXTRA HARDWARE FOR!

the reduced weight is also good, since i travel with a backup machine as well... UNTIL THE BATTERY GIVES OUT-THEN YOU ARE SIMPLY FUCKED! SO MUCH FOR "BACK UP"
Sorry, not seeing anything here that would change my mind.

fishmonkey
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by fishmonkey » Sat Oct 17, 2015 12:15 pm

TomViolenz wrote:
fishmonkey wrote: i used to feel the same before i was forced to upgrade to a Retina MBP, but actually i'm happy with my new machine. the NON UPGRADABLE flash drive is super-fast,


the screen is great, the two Thunderbolt ports and HDMI port give me more options than my old 2011 MBP. WHICH YOU NEED TO BUY NEW AND EXPENSIVE EXTRA HARDWARE FOR!

the reduced weight is also good, since i travel with a backup machine as well... UNTIL THE BATTERY GIVES OUT-THEN YOU ARE SIMPLY FUCKED! SO MUCH FOR "BACK UP"
Sorry, not seeing anything here that would change my mind.
i have a 1TB PCIe flash drive, so no upgrade is necessary for the life of the machine.

the Thunderbolt ports provide excellent backwards compatible expansion options. being able to run three external displays or projectors is a big plus for me. and when at home i use a Thunderbolt dock.

the batteries can be replaced by Apple.

none of the above is cheap or ideal from the perspective of someone who likes to DIY, but despite these shortcomings the machines themselves are very good...
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

TomViolenz
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by TomViolenz » Sat Oct 17, 2015 2:47 pm

I just recently looked up what a regular Thunderbolt to USB converter dongle costs, since my MBP only has 2 USB ports and I have no use for Thunderbolt
The absolute cheapest was 80€!!! 8O

So no thanks!

And a replaceable battery is not only for when it breaks, but also when it runs out. I don't see what good Apples service would do me there.

fishmonkey
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by fishmonkey » Sat Oct 17, 2015 3:16 pm

TomViolenz wrote:I just recently looked up what a regular Thunderbolt to USB converter dongle costs, since my MBP only has 2 USB ports and I have no use for Thunderbolt
The absolute cheapest was 80€!!! 8O

So no thanks!

And a replaceable battery is not only for when it breaks, but also when it runs out. I don't see what good Apples service would do me there.
come on, now you are just being silly. of course you would just use a USB hub for more USB ports.

Thunderbolt is very useful for me (and many other 'professionals'). my next audio interface will be a Thunderbolt device with ultra-low latency.

as for your battery jibe, you could of course use an external battery pack. how would you even charge a second internal battery? who in their right mind would consider removing all those tiny screws and opening up the whole laptop to swap out the battery???
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

Tarekith
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by Tarekith » Sat Oct 17, 2015 3:25 pm

GusHage wrote:I must ask however; how intensively have you used your MBP for ableton audio production?
A lot of my live sets have 30+ tracks..
You'll have issues at all doing that on a MBP, unless you're running a ton of heavy CPU synths like Diva or Omnisphere. I used to run 60-70+ tracks on my first laptop, which was a 1,4gHz Core Duo with a 4200 RPM HD.

Anyway, my rMBP works great for audio production, it's the main computer in my mastering and mixing studio, and I have another as back up even.

TomViolenz
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by TomViolenz » Sat Oct 17, 2015 3:50 pm

fishmonkey wrote:
TomViolenz wrote:I just recently looked up what a regular Thunderbolt to USB converter dongle costs, since my MBP only has 2 USB ports and I have no use for Thunderbolt
The absolute cheapest was 80€!!! 8O

So no thanks!

And a replaceable battery is not only for when it breaks, but also when it runs out. I don't see what good Apples service would do me there.
come on, now you are just being silly. of course you would just use a USB hub for more USB ports.

Thunderbolt is very useful for me (and many other 'professionals'). my next audio interface will be a Thunderbolt device with ultra-low latency.

as for your battery jibe, you could of course use an external battery pack. how would you even charge a second internal battery? who in their right mind would consider removing all those tiny screws and opening up the whole laptop to swap out the battery???
Not silly at all. One USB port has my soundcard, the other already a powered 7 USB HUB.
While USB 7 ports is ok, the power from the USB hub power supply is not enough to power 7 Midi controllers and their lights.
Now what?

And have you checked the prices on these Thunderbolt sound cards? 8O
They are insanely overpriced. Not worth the price differential over the largely (for this purpose) identical Firewire and USB 3 cards.

And not too long ago batteries could be swapped out without removing any screws, just an easy slider. You could do this while the machine was running. But that silly war for thinness killed it. At least that's the bullshit they sell the consumers. The real reason is planned obsolescence.

kitekrazy
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Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by kitekrazy » Sat Oct 17, 2015 4:10 pm

GusHage wrote:ABLETON LIVE 9.2, expecting to update regularly.

I am aware that higher processing speeds and more ram are always a benefit, no matter what you are doing, but I am looking for at portable work station for everyday life as well..

I've looked at a lot of Retina MacBook Pros (I am currently using a windows desktop) and even though they look nice and feel nice in general, I am not sure if they are the right choice for music production.

I have an old (7 years I believe) 2,4 ghz quad core processor, 4GB of ram and I am running into some strange performance issues.. It might be that my PC is simply old and tired, because I recently upgraded to Win10 from Win7 and it seemed snappier for some time and then struggled again..

I have projects with up to 30-40 tracks sometimes most of them with multiple effects on them.
I have a PUSH which I am fond of and planning to carry around with my future laptop. I might perform live, but that is not a main concern.

- well, my actual question is:
1 are the current MacBooks the right choice for me / are they worth it?
I don't mind buying a used one (I'm from Denmark) and I don't mind waiting a little longer if someone thinks a performance upgrade is around the corner.

2 is there an alternative that makes sense?

I search the forums daily, but felt the need to ask directly.
Thanks in advance.
I guess that would also have to do with what you are willing to spend. That Asus laptop is a better value than the bottom dollar MBP. Asus is top quality. If it were an HP - never.

fishmonkey
Posts: 4103
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:50 am

Re: Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Post by fishmonkey » Sat Oct 17, 2015 4:17 pm

TomViolenz wrote:
fishmonkey wrote:
TomViolenz wrote:I just recently looked up what a regular Thunderbolt to USB converter dongle costs, since my MBP only has 2 USB ports and I have no use for Thunderbolt
The absolute cheapest was 80€!!! 8O

So no thanks!

And a replaceable battery is not only for when it breaks, but also when it runs out. I don't see what good Apples service would do me there.
come on, now you are just being silly. of course you would just use a USB hub for more USB ports.

Thunderbolt is very useful for me (and many other 'professionals'). my next audio interface will be a Thunderbolt device with ultra-low latency.

as for your battery jibe, you could of course use an external battery pack. how would you even charge a second internal battery? who in their right mind would consider removing all those tiny screws and opening up the whole laptop to swap out the battery???
Not silly at all. One USB port has my soundcard, the other already a powered 7 USB HUB.
While USB 7 ports is ok, the power from the USB hub power supply is not enough to power 7 Midi controllers and their lights.
Now what?

And have you checked the prices on these Thunderbolt sound cards? 8O
They are insanely overpriced. Not worth the price differential over the largely (for this purpose) identical Firewire and USB 3 cards.

And not too long ago batteries could be swapped out without removing any screws, just an easy slider. You could do this while the machine was running. But that silly war for thinness killed it. At least that's the bullshit they sell the consumers. The real reason is planned obsolescence.
erm, you would use multiple powered USB hubs of course.

i don't see anything strange about the prices for pro Thunderbolt audio interfaces when compared to other high-quality interfaces. whether it's worth it for you depends on your needs and occupation.

it's been a long time since an Apple laptop had an easily removable battery. as someone who travels a lot for work, i really appreciate a lighter, thinner laptop that also has the capability to be expanded when necessary. the trade-off is worth it for me (and i regularly upgraded the RAM and drives in my previous laptops).

of course, YMMV. are you speaking as a 'pro' or as a 'prosumer'?
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

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