11.6 inch Macbook Air

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Dingo20
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:11 am

11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by Dingo20 » Thu Jan 28, 2016 4:26 am

I'm thinking about picking up an 11.6 MacBook Air for live shows and on the go producing/sketching out songs in Ableton. I was wondering if anybody has any experience using live with the MacBook Air in this kind of scenario?

I'm not interested in the 13.3 version or a Pro because I have a 8GB RAM, 1 TB Mac Mini where I will do most of my heavy lifting with vsts and doing most of my work. I would just be using the Air for live show and on the go producing where I'd eventually transfer the track to the Mini.

I'm hoping to get an Air with 8GB RAM, but may settle for 4 knowing that it is still sufficient enough to run live. As for storage, I the Air I would get would only be the 128 GB version since it will only be used for every day stuff/live shows and on the go producing.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Dingo20
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:11 am

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by Dingo20 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 1:25 am

Anybody???? :|

dudleyghost
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:05 am

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by dudleyghost » Fri Jan 29, 2016 1:44 am

I don't see that being a problem. I've performed using older/less powerful gear with no issues (iBook g4, Powerbooks, old MBP, etc).

I think as long as you are not overloading it with insane amounts of plugins and test all sets ahead of time you'd be fine.

Hope that helps. If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer.

Dingo20
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:11 am

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by Dingo20 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:03 am

dudleyghost wrote:I don't see that being a problem. I've performed using older/less powerful gear with no issues (iBook g4, Powerbooks, old MBP, etc).

I think as long as you are not overloading it with insane amounts of plugins and test all sets ahead of time you'd be fine.

Hope that helps. If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer.

I appreciate the reply! Yeah, I figured it should run everything just fine considering that to a certain point, I'd transfer everything over to my mini. I don't even know if I'd install most of my third party plug ins on the Air. I would just use it to sketch out ideas then transfer it. For that and something light that can handle live shows is all I really need the Air for. Ideally I'd want one with 8GB RAM, but I may settle for a 4 GB version

joefrost01
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:54 pm

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by joefrost01 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 9:39 am

I have a 2013 11" MacBook Air, dual core i7, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD which I use as my primary production machine.

My tracks are usually a mix of audio and Omnisphere, I also use Echoboy, Valhalla Vintage Verb, PSP Vintage Warmer, Guitar Rig (for the Traktor's 12 stuff) and most of the Sonic Charge plugins and IK ARC II.

Typically a track will have at least 12 Omnisphere instances and rarely less than 20 tracks in totals and I rarely freeze tracks.

When at home I plug into a large monitor to get more screen space, when travelling I have something that weighs little more than an iPad and has more devices, better sound and better timing than I ever could have dreamed of when I used to have music hardware (Virus, JV1080, AN1x, e6400 Ultra, Microwave etc).

In terms of playing DJ sets, it is rock solid. For that I use an NI Z1 and a Launchpad Mini with Live or just the Z1 with Traktor. No stutter, no problems, great sound.

Here are some rough cuts of tracks that were done entirely ITB on the 11" Air, they're not properly mastered, just pushed quickly through Ozone to give them a little bit of sheen: http://soundcloud.com/joefrost01

To be fair, I'm also considering picking up a second hand 12 core Mac Pro at some stage with the intention of never having to think about CPU usage again but really, the MacBook Air does a great job and I carry it with me everywhere I go. Takes a few seconds to wake up while I stick in a pair of headphones and then even ten minutes on the train becomes useful production time.

Dingo20
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:11 am

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by Dingo20 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:23 pm

joefrost01 wrote:I have a 2013 11" MacBook Air, dual core i7, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD which I use as my primary production machine.

My tracks are usually a mix of audio and Omnisphere, I also use Echoboy, Valhalla Vintage Verb, PSP Vintage Warmer, Guitar Rig (for the Traktor's 12 stuff) and most of the Sonic Charge plugins and IK ARC II.

Typically a track will have at least 12 Omnisphere instances and rarely less than 20 tracks in totals and I rarely freeze tracks.

When at home I plug into a large monitor to get more screen space, when travelling I have something that weighs little more than an iPad and has more devices, better sound and better timing than I ever could have dreamed of when I used to have music hardware (Virus, JV1080, AN1x, e6400 Ultra, Microwave etc).

In terms of playing DJ sets, it is rock solid. For that I use an NI Z1 and a Launchpad Mini with Live or just the Z1 with Traktor. No stutter, no problems, great sound.

Here are some rough cuts of tracks that were done entirely ITB on the 11" Air, they're not properly mastered, just pushed quickly through Ozone to give them a little bit of sheen: http://soundcloud.com/joefrost01

To be fair, I'm also considering picking up a second hand 12 core Mac Pro at some stage with the intention of never having to think about CPU usage again but really, the MacBook Air does a great job and I carry it with me everywhere I go. Takes a few seconds to wake up while I stick in a pair of headphones and then even ten minutes on the train becomes useful production time.

Thanks for the reply! That re-assures me when it comes to buying the 11.6 MacBook Air. Have you had any issues with the screen size will performing live?

joefrost01
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:54 pm

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by joefrost01 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 5:07 pm

Not really issues as such, it's just a bit small :)

Dingo20
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:11 am

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by Dingo20 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 6:31 pm

joefrost01 wrote:Not really issues as such, it's just a bit small :)
Sweet. I have a Launchpad mk2 for my ableton based gigs so the RGB pads would take care of any screen issues I'd have there, but Traktor is a different story. That's good to know!

Do you have another mac you bounce stuff to with your Air or is the Air your only computer? When I get my Air, I'll probably get the base model for storage and hopefully 8 GB RAM since I already have a Mac Mini that I use for my heavy processing and such.

Dingo20
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:11 am

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by Dingo20 » Sat Jan 30, 2016 5:28 pm

joefrost01 wrote:I have a 2013 11" MacBook Air, dual core i7, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD which I use as my primary production machine.

My tracks are usually a mix of audio and Omnisphere, I also use Echoboy, Valhalla Vintage Verb, PSP Vintage Warmer, Guitar Rig (for the Traktor's 12 stuff) and most of the Sonic Charge plugins and IK ARC II.

Typically a track will have at least 12 Omnisphere instances and rarely less than 20 tracks in totals and I rarely freeze tracks.

When at home I plug into a large monitor to get more screen space, when travelling I have something that weighs little more than an iPad and has more devices, better sound and better timing than I ever could have dreamed of when I used to have music hardware (Virus, JV1080, AN1x, e6400 Ultra, Microwave etc).

In terms of playing DJ sets, it is rock solid. For that I use an NI Z1 and a Launchpad Mini with Live or just the Z1 with Traktor. No stutter, no problems, great sound.

Here are some rough cuts of tracks that were done entirely ITB on the 11" Air, they're not properly mastered, just pushed quickly through Ozone to give them a little bit of sheen: http://soundcloud.com/joefrost01

To be fair, I'm also considering picking up a second hand 12 core Mac Pro at some stage with the intention of never having to think about CPU usage again but really, the MacBook Air does a great job and I carry it with me everywhere I go. Takes a few seconds to wake up while I stick in a pair of headphones and then even ten minutes on the train becomes useful production time.
On average, how many tracks would you have on each song? I'm considering trading in my mini for apple store credit and getting an upgraded air like the one you have and use it as my all in one production/live show computer.

Dingo20
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:11 am

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by Dingo20 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:06 am

Dingo20 wrote:
joefrost01 wrote:I have a 2013 11" MacBook Air, dual core i7, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD which I use as my primary production machine.

My tracks are usually a mix of audio and Omnisphere, I also use Echoboy, Valhalla Vintage Verb, PSP Vintage Warmer, Guitar Rig (for the Traktor's 12 stuff) and most of the Sonic Charge plugins and IK ARC II.

Typically a track will have at least 12 Omnisphere instances and rarely less than 20 tracks in totals and I rarely freeze tracks.

When at home I plug into a large monitor to get more screen space, when travelling I have something that weighs little more than an iPad and has more devices, better sound and better timing than I ever could have dreamed of when I used to have music hardware (Virus, JV1080, AN1x, e6400 Ultra, Microwave etc).

In terms of playing DJ sets, it is rock solid. For that I use an NI Z1 and a Launchpad Mini with Live or just the Z1 with Traktor. No stutter, no problems, great sound.

Here are some rough cuts of tracks that were done entirely ITB on the 11" Air, they're not properly mastered, just pushed quickly through Ozone to give them a little bit of sheen: http://soundcloud.com/joefrost01

To be fair, I'm also considering picking up a second hand 12 core Mac Pro at some stage with the intention of never having to think about CPU usage again but really, the MacBook Air does a great job and I carry it with me everywhere I go. Takes a few seconds to wake up while I stick in a pair of headphones and then even ten minutes on the train becomes useful production time.
On average, how many tracks would you have on each song? I'm considering trading in my mini for apple store credit and getting an upgraded air like the one you have and use it as my all in one production/live show computer.


With 8GB RAM and an upgraded processor, I may be better off with getting an upgraded Air and selling my mini instead of trying to transfer between both. Did you get the 512 gb version out of necessity or did you just prefer to get more storage instead of relying on an external drive?

joefrost01
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:54 pm

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by joefrost01 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:26 am

I also have a 2011 MacBook Pro 17" with quad core i7, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD but since I got the air I never bother to use it. If I want to work on a large screen I just use the Air plus my external monitor.

On average most songs have around 20 tracks, usually with 3 return tracks (VintageVerb, Echoboy and Guitar Rig), with Glue and ARC II running on the master bus. All of the tracks will have an EQ 8 on, some also with NI Transient Designer (or whatever it's called), maybe a couple of Vintage Warmers, Cable Guys Volume Shaper, Nicky Romero Kick, up to 10 Omnispheres plus maybe a couple more Soundtoys plugins. Depending on the Omnisphere patches used I might freeze (or even freeze and flatten) one or two of the heavier ones.

I sometimes use other plugins, instrument and FX, but the above is typical.

I went for 512GB SSD out of necessity. The Omnisphere install is very large plus I have a few Kontakt libraries that I like to use. I also have a 128GB flash drive (tiny little Sandisk thing that barely even sticks out) with all of my most used audio samples on there. So actually it's got 640GB storage. I'd prefer 1TB but it wasn't a config option.

Dingo20
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:11 am

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by Dingo20 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 3:36 pm

joefrost01 wrote:I also have a 2011 MacBook Pro 17" with quad core i7, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD but since I got the air I never bother to use it. If I want to work on a large screen I just use the Air plus my external monitor.

On average most songs have around 20 tracks, usually with 3 return tracks (VintageVerb, Echoboy and Guitar Rig), with Glue and ARC II running on the master bus. All of the tracks will have an EQ 8 on, some also with NI Transient Designer (or whatever it's called), maybe a couple of Vintage Warmers, Cable Guys Volume Shaper, Nicky Romero Kick, up to 10 Omnispheres plus maybe a couple more Soundtoys plugins. Depending on the Omnisphere patches used I might freeze (or even freeze and flatten) one or two of the heavier ones.

I sometimes use other plugins, instrument and FX, but the above is typical.

I went for 512GB SSD out of necessity. The Omnisphere install is very large plus I have a few Kontakt libraries that I like to use. I also have a 128GB flash drive (tiny little Sandisk thing that barely even sticks out) with all of my most used audio samples on there. So actually it's got 640GB storage. I'd prefer 1TB but it wasn't a config option.

Awesome. So you never had Ableton freeze up or quit on you with all of the different things you had going on in a project?

joefrost01
Posts: 67
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:54 pm

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by joefrost01 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 4:23 pm

Yes, it quits out on me sometimes but not because I'm running a lot of stuff, just because a plugin crashes it. Just like it has on every other computer I've owned and just like Logic does :)

Dingo20
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:11 am

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by Dingo20 » Tue Feb 02, 2016 1:04 am

joefrost01 wrote:Yes, it quits out on me sometimes but not because I'm running a lot of stuff, just because a plugin crashes it. Just like it has on every other computer I've owned and just like Logic does :)

Gotcha. Considering you use a cpu and storage heavy vst like Omnisphere, that's not too surprising. Razor has become my main synth, which isn't nearly as exhausting on storage or CPU. I'm debating whether I should go for an 11.6 MacBook air with 8GB RAM, 2.2 ghz i7 processor and 128 gb storage or a 13.3 MacBook Pro with retina display with a 2.7 ghz i5 processor 8GB RAM and 128 gb storage. I know most people will tell me that I will get better performance with the Pro, but I really love the form factor with the 11.6 Air and if it can handle all of my needs just fine, I'd rather go with that.

At the end of the day, I'm going with whatever will be more powerful and reliable. Just wanna get as many opinions as possible before I make a decision.

Guillermo Barrancos
Posts: 290
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:05 am

Re: 11.6 inch Macbook Air

Post by Guillermo Barrancos » Tue Feb 02, 2016 8:46 am

I would definitely go With 8 GB of RAM and an absolute minimum of 256 GB SSD! Or you end up dragging around an external harddrive all the time.
128 GB is nothing and fills up really quickly.

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