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Joined: Apr 2017
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I recently purchased an Arturia Keylab 88 MKII which I love. Along with all of the included software, I also use Omnisphere and Keyscape and will be looking to also integrate a DAW (i.e. some big files and need for reasonably powerful processing capabilities). I recently upgraded my approximately 10-year-old Windows 10-based laptop with an i7 processor to 16GB ram and a 1TB SSD and have made all of the adjustments (disabling internet, power settings, etc.) but it just doesn't seem powerful enough at times. I am seriously considering upgrading to a more powerful Mac-based laptop since I use this every day. I have been looking at refurbished models to save as much money as possible but I am frankly overwhelmed by all of the differences since I am not really a Mac guy (yet). I have read all of the MINIMUM requirements for my software, but I am looking for real-world recommendations as to what will be powerful enough to run fairly demanding software but will also not be overkill as this will be dedicated to my music workspace only. Any recommendations on xGHz vs. xcore vs. xRAM, etc. would be greatly appreciated!

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As always when it comes to computers, the more, the better. Price is the only consideration. For “ fairly demanding software” 16 gb RAM is the minimum.


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If you already have keyboard/monitor/mouse you could go with a mac mini (M1 or intel based).
M1 seems to be quite powerful ( I do have an 2018 intel based mac mini i7) but important are memory (16GB) and disk (1TB) as audio apps and plugins can take lot of space. You can alway add an external disk, but the internal nvme are very fast and load projects quickly.
I would say that an i5 intel would work too, but it depends on how complex are your projects.
Same applies for imac.
I typically run either garageband or logic pro but also the Arturia V-synths stand alone with a scarlett 2i2 audio interface.
Hope this helps.

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I would go with a refurb imac pro or macbook pro with at least 32GB ram. Apple almost always has plenty of refurb of both of these.

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If you go with the M1, beware that a lot of software, hardware and drivers are not compatible yet with M1. I had a iMac 2007 with Pianoteq 7, iReal and Band in a Box, it broke last week. I'm waiting for the M2 or M3 before moving to Apple Silicon.



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Thanks for all of the input. I have seen some higher RAM refurbished MACs, but honestly upgrading my current RAM to 16GB from 8GB led to no appreciable difference whatsoever which makes me think the processor is the key piece for running demanding DAW software and larger acoustic piano/"multi" files. This is why I was inquiring mostly about the processors found in the refurbished MACs on Apple, Best Buy, etc. websites (no M1 processors are on there yet). I feel like some of these slightly older processors will be more than adequate but I'm not sure which ones. I am currently using my Behringer power mixer as my interface as my Apogee One had major problems with stuttering/crackling despite spending a lot of time tweaking settings to get rid of this problem (including with Sweetwater tech support). Wondering if I need to upgrade the interface to something like the scarlett 2i2 as well...

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Originally Posted by Serge88
If you go with the M1, beware that a lot of software, hardware and drivers are not compatible yet with M1. I had a iMac 2007 with Pianoteq 7, iReal and Band in a Box, it broke last week. I'm waiting for the M2 or M3 before moving to Apple Silicon.

FYI, the current versions of Pianoteq 7, iReal Pro, and Band in a Box are all not only compatible with the new M1 Macs, but have versions optimized for the M1 processor.

The Mac Mini M1 is discounted to $600 right now, there may never have been that much power for that little money in history of computers: https://www.engadget.com/apple-mac-mini-amazon-deal-113519395.html

I think many people are just thinking, "Wow, the M1's are new, better wait until software is ported to suppport the M1". There are two problems with thinking this way. First, most software will run on the M1's even if it hasn't been compiled specifically for M1, using Apple's Rosetta technology. Second, much of the most widely used software has already appeared with M1 specific versions (I think people are overestimating how long it takes to make an M1-specific version), and more will surely follow soon.

A caveat: Yes, if you've been using music production software on previous Macs and you have a crucial piece that won't work on an M1 (be sure to check), then, yes, don't get an M1. But for people who are new to music production and thinking of getting a computer, an M1 Mac is likely the best choice. You can get along well. For example, I've been downloading synth VST's galore and have yet to find one that doesn't work.

Also, with the M1 Macs, toss out the idea some have offered in this thread that 16GB RAM is minimum needed for music production. The 8GB RAM M1 Macs all fly on music production software, they're faster than non-M1 Macs with 16GB or 32GB RAM. This has been documented by many, here's a little article on it, for example: https://www.lifewire.com/how-8gb-ram-overperforms-in-m1-macs-5091929

Last edited by hes; 02/21/21 03:26 AM.
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Originally Posted by Sebs
I would go with a refurb imac pro or macbook pro with at least 32GB ram. Apple almost always has plenty of refurb of both of these.


This is the worst time to buy a MacBook Pro or iMac. They are all about to get a big update soon and the old architecture's price will definitely drop.

https://buyersguide.macrumors.com/#mac


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From all I can see the new M1 Macs are really good for production. I don't think you can go wrong there. The prices for used Macs will drop significantly though as soon as more with that architecture are on the market.

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I bought an M1 Macbook Air (16gb) at the end of last year as a Christmas present to myself, and am extremely impressed with the performance and stability.

With that said, I did encounter issues related to temporary freezing in Adobe Indesign while attempting to work on the train last weekend. Adobe has already prepared native M1 CPU builds of several Creative Cloud apps (albeit still in beta), however InDesign is unfortunately not one of them...yet. In addition, the Yamaha UX-16 USB-MIDI interface does not have a driver that is compatible with macOS 11 and/or the M1 CPU, so I'm having to use Bluetooth MIDI (Quiccosound mi.1 II) for the time being.

Still, if I was considering a Mac for music production, an M1 Mac Mini or MacBook Air would certainly fit the bill, however as others have noted, Apple will release more updated models using the even faster "M1X" CPU in the coming weeks/months, so you may wish to hold off for that announcement.

Cheers,
James
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An M1 won't work as well since I need an "all-in-one" laptop model; my MIDI keyboard even has a built-in attachment to physically hold a laptop. I'm sure newer models will be faster; however, since this will only be used to power my DAW/keyboard software and not as my primary computer, I'm betting that these processors will be much faster and more efficient (not to mention cheaper) than what I am currently using as noted above.

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Originally Posted by ArtVandalay7
An M1 won't work as well since I need an "all-in-one" laptop model...

Note that the M1 CPU is currently used in three Mac models:

- Mac Mini (small form factor desktop)
- MacBook Pro (laptop)
- MacBook Air (laptop)

So I believe either the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air will be suitable for your needs.

Kind regards,
James
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What model i7 CPU are you using that you're dissatisfied with it? And what audio interface?


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I am using a HP M4 Envy i7 processor-based laptop that is about 10 years old. I was using Apogee One but was having significant audio problems with crackling/audio dropouts so, with the assistance of Sweetwater, am using my Behringer mixer as the interface.

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Well.. I'd say that's your problem right there alright. This isn't an Intel vs Mac thing, your CPU is 10 years old and for a laptop and your interface is totally the wrong choice. The ASIO4ALL driver is what usually comes with Beheringer Mixer/Interfaces, if that's yours, that thing is an all software free driver not made even by Behringer they just are including it and saving money on software development. You can use that driver without a mixer/interface, it's the bottom of the barrel. It works for some with minimal requirements but your hardware is doing no lifting whatsover.


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I am using the ASIO4ALL driver, I was surprised the Apogee One with its own driver performed so much worse. What is your recommendation? I thought upgrading to a MAC would take all of this out of the equation and I could still feed into my mixer as well.

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Sorry I can't help you much with recommendations regarding laptops, as I'm neither a laptop or a MAC guy, it's a cost thing, paying the premium for MACs is something I can't justify right now I'm a real bargain hunter, cutting costs all I can. Regarding audio interfaces I do hear good things about MOTUs as audio interfaces for MACs. I use an RME interface myself for my PC and it is about as reliable as it gets. I did pay extra for that but it was worth it after returning two other audio interfaces to just get it over with and have something without snap, crackle, and pop.

If you're getting a MAC, basically most people's first choice of DAW would be Logic Pro. It is MAC centric though so if you ever go back to PC, you'll not be using it. I find Studio One the easiest DAW to use, very nice workflow.


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You can check also for a laptop with a AMD Ryzen 4000 cpu , they are superior compared to the intel ones.


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