Best laptop for Music production: very curious - Macbook?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
GusHage
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2010 10:24 am

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

Post by GusHage » Fri Oct 23, 2015 4:17 pm

jlgrimes wrote:
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'm guessing RAM/HD performance is what is messing with your system.

30-40 tracks can put a bind on you. I remember having performance issues with Live years ago on Windows because I only had 2-4 gigs of Ram. It worked fine in Sonar but I think that is Live being more geared for Live use, utilizing probably more RAM than other applications that doesn't require gapless playback.


That said I went Mac, Mac mini 16 gigs of Ram and do not have any issues doing multitrack projects although I tend to do multi-track projects on other DAWS like Studio One/Reaper because of workflow reasons when it comes to dealing with large track counts and mixing/automation capabilities.


I would think the two biggest performance increases are going to like 8 gigs or higher of Ram and SSD type drives. If you are on a mechanical drive, it can only handle so much (especially if your program doesn't have the best disk streaming code) but even then it takes time for the drive to find the proper files it need especially when the disk gets near full. With SSD, there is no moving parts and it the performance is almost as fast as RAM access, so it will be much faster doing alot of things.


Performance wise I don't think Mac vs PC makes much difference but it is more what components your Computer has. In general Macs tend to use higher end components, so it can be harder to go wrong with a Mac but that said even with Macs you get what you pay for. A MacBook Retina Display should be able to do about any task you need audio wise provided you get one with enough Ram. The processor should already be pretty powerful. A MacBook Air will be a different story though. From a SSD perspective, MacBook Airs load up very fast but their processors tend to be pretty outdated. Good for recording/mixing audio, but not so great for using Softsynths as they only have dual core processors. Going PC you could save some money but there will be some tradeoffs most likely. But that said with Mac or PC, you should be able to make music in the end.
That you for a very details answer. It completely makes sense. Looking around for alternatives while considering the fact that Macs don't lose value the same was as all other tech, I keep leaning more towards a high spec 15" rMBP.. But it would kill me to realize that it wasn't powerful enough - though it would be weird.

My friend has a 13" rMBP and I was quite disappointed with its performance, I suppose the dual-core is to blame first, right? I believe he has 8 gigs.. I used it with my Steinberg and push, and though the CPU-meter ran lower, it didn't perform very well..

deva
Posts: 1685
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2006 4:32 pm

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

Post by deva » Fri Oct 23, 2015 5:35 pm

GusHage wrote:
That you for a very details answer. It completely makes sense. Looking around for alternatives while considering the fact that Macs don't lose value the same was as all other tech, I keep leaning more towards a high spec 15" rMBP.. But it would kill me to realize that it wasn't powerful enough - though it would be weird.

My friend has a 13" rMBP and I was quite disappointed with its performance, I suppose the dual-core is to blame first, right? I believe he has 8 gigs.. I used it with my Steinberg and push, and though the CPU-meter ran lower, it didn't perform very well..
I have the high-end 15" MBP and it is fast. The SSD is shockingly fast. If this machine is not enough for you, then forget a laptop.

Khazul
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Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Reading, UK

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

Post by Khazul » Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:31 pm

I'm still using the best early (Feb) 2011 MBP 17 I could get my mucky paws on at the time (2.3Ghz 2nd gen i7 cpu, 8GB ram and since stuck a 1TB Samsung evo 840 SSD in it). It was the first Apple computer I have used since the old apple II GS (very very long time ago).

Over 4.1/2 years later and its still a decent DAW machine and has served as my only workstation despite having a decent PC available for use. Its just starting to show its age a little with some recent CPU heavy synths and plugins. While it was expensive at the time, its since been a good and very reliable machine even over several OS upgrades. I guess if you consider the cost over 5 years - the cost wasnt so bad either.

I have no hesitation at all with recommending a recent i7 based MBP for use with Live - the best MBP15 now is probably only around 50% or so faster in many CPU benchmarks Ive seen.

I heard somewhere that this year's models have started to use the new M2 connected SSDs which should make a huge difference to disk I/O speed relative to even the 1TB Samsung evo that I have (which was about the fastest when I got it). That to me was going to be the next big speed boost in laptops and no doubt will help with audio work. Otherwise I don't think there is anything special around the corner.

The only warning I can give you is that once you have owned one of those beautifully craft lumps of aluminium, you will probably never look at most horribly made PC laptops the same way ever again :D
Nothing to see here - move along!

fishmonkey
Posts: 4105
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:50 am

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

Post by fishmonkey » Mon Oct 26, 2015 10:14 pm

Khazul wrote: I heard somewhere that this year's models have started to use the new M2 connected SSDs which should make a huge difference to disk I/O speed relative to even the 1TB Samsung evo that I have (which was about the fastest when I got it). That to me was going to be the next big speed boost in laptops and no doubt will help with audio work. Otherwise I don't think there is anything special around the corner.
Retina MBPs have had PCIe connected SSDs since late 2013...
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

Syver
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Joined: Tue May 28, 2013 10:46 am

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

Post by Syver » Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:13 am

fishmonkey wrote: Retina MBPs have had PCIe connected SSDs since late 2013...
The 2015 MBPs have PCIE 3.0 which is twice as fast as the previous 2.0

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

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

Post by fishmonkey » Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:58 am

Syver wrote:
fishmonkey wrote: Retina MBPs have had PCIe connected SSDs since late 2013...
The 2015 MBPs have PCIE 3.0 which is twice as fast as the previous 2.0
i missed that spec jump. they now do around 1400 MB/s. that is smokingly fast...
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

H20nly
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Location: The Wild West

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

Post by H20nly » Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:06 am

fishmonkey wrote:
Syver wrote:
fishmonkey wrote: Retina MBPs have had PCIe connected SSDs since late 2013...
The 2015 MBPs have PCIE 3.0 which is twice as fast as the previous 2.0
i missed that spec jump. they now do around 1400 MB/s. that is smokingly fast...
yeah it is.

deva
Posts: 1685
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2006 4:32 pm

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

Post by deva » Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:11 pm

fishmonkey wrote:
Syver wrote:
fishmonkey wrote: Retina MBPs have had PCIe connected SSDs since late 2013...
The 2015 MBPs have PCIE 3.0 which is twice as fast as the previous 2.0
i missed that spec jump. they now do around 1400 MB/s. that is smokingly fast...
Yeah... the first few times I copied some files from one place to another I thought something went wrong 8)

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