Hi, and welcome back to my blog. Today’s post is something a bit different. I was approached by Elizabeth who wanted to host her thoughts on using the new Macbook Pro for music production.
Mac vs Windows had always been an ongoing debate, particularly for producers. Personally, I’ve been a steadfast Windows user as I’ve revelled in the ability to build and customise for a better price, and so with such bias its with open arms I welcome a different perspective. Take it away, Elizabeth.
Is a MacBook Pro good for music production?
What’s up guys? 7 months ago I purchased the 2017 MacBook Pro i5 for music production- one of the best Macs for music production. Over the months, I’ve run this machine through the paces GarageBand, Ableton 9, Ableton 10, external hard drives, external music hardware, and plugins from Native Instruments all the way to Serum.
I’ve used this MacBook Pro to record many videos in 4k. In this post, I’ll cover the four things I love about the MacBook Pro. Also, I’ll cover some of the accessories that will make the MacBook Pro better for your music production.
For starters, this MacBook Pro i5 has a touch bar, 3.1 GHZ processor, 8GB of RAM and 512 GB of hard disk space. First up, the touch bar – I truly love it for GarageBand and Logic. Definitely, these are apple products and thus the company have built unique functionality into the touch bar for better performance. Therefore, you can simply adjust different things. Also, it has faders which feel a lot more natural compared to a mouse or a touchpad.
For Ableton users, you can download some amazing free MIDI touch bar. Therefore, depending on the track that’s active, you’ll notice different controls that you can adjust fader, pan. Also, you can access to the control you have. For example, with the Ableton's piano delicacy, I click on it and see controls such as spectrum EQ low, EQ mid, highs delay amount, and reverb tone.
Also, for something like the drum kit, you can get the controls for filters and delay – all which are built into the touch bar. Therefore, the touch bar will be amazing if you don’t have a hardware controller or you’re travelling and don’t want to carry the hardware controller around with you.
Runs multiple plugins
MacBook Pro has enough power to run multiple plugins seamlessly with no clicks or pops. For instance, at one time in the studio I run drum lab, UNA Corda, emotive strings, session strings, equator for Seaboard rise with multiple tracks and yet only use about 18% of the CPU.
Low fan noise
No music producer loves fan noise in their studio. The MacBook Pro has no fan noise, which is great when one is recording audio. When you have your mic hooked up and you’re ready to record the vocals you’ll hate having loud fan noise in the background. I can attest that, so far, with MacBook Pro I’ve not had to deal with fan noise.
MIDI over Bluetooth
MacBook pro offers MIDI over Bluetooth. With Roli instruments, I’ll use light pads and Seaboard. Therefore, the light pads and Seaboard will readily run the MIDI over Bluetooth – a feature only available for Macs! Thus for Windows computers, such a set won’t work. For instance, you may have a equator plug-in in a song playing the choir with zero latency.
Finally, you can record your vocals with the internal mic. However, if you have another mic, kindly use it. However, if you’re on a budget then the internal mic sounds great.
If you’re losing a lot of space for your sample libraries and the contact library, you might need to purchase a portable SSD that’s like 500GB – which you can simply put into your pocket. You might need to purchase an adapter for USB C ports.
Also, you can get a 4k monitor to get the screen view to look crisp on your Ableton. For Serum and Waves plugins, you’ll notice some latency. So, yes, MacBook Pro is worth the investment for your music production tasks.
Thanks Elizabeth, some interesting ideas on suing the touchbar for MIDI there. I realize it’s been sometimes since this blogs last post and I think it's time I wrote about my experience with some of the hardware I’ve had exposure to in the last 18 months at Focusrite/Novation. Stay tuned.