Macbook Pro vc Macbook Air - Music Production

Hello everyone!

I have doubts about a good Macbook for music production.
I am looking for a good macbook (pro or air), but I really don't know what I choose!

Here is the thing: I have a Mac Mini Server 2011 (2.0 Ghz Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM 1333Mhz, SSD Corsair 128GB + 500GB HD 5400RPM), but it is not good enough to run logic pro or pro tools with waves plugins (there is a lot of heavy stuff in there, like CLA Drums, L3 MultiMaximizer), Altiverb, Amplitube, etc.
Yesteday I borrowed a Macbook Air 2013 from my cousin (which is a 1.3 Ghz i5 Intel Core, 4GB RAM 1600Mhz, 128 GB SSD) and it has been running as a blast! I was like: OH MY GOD HOW CAN IT BE POSSIBLE?!

I used a lot of heavy waves plugins, VI's and almost 30 tracks: not a single cpu/memory/disk problem. Running like it was Safari! lol

Can you explain that and tell me a good mac laptop for what I want (heavy stuff)?

PS: I am from Brazil, I am sorry if I made mistakes in my text. I am doing my best!
PS2: Things here are EXPENSIVE, so if there is a good 2-years-old laptop, it's fine.



  • edited November 2014

    My mid-2012 non-retina Macbook Pro runs logic like a dream, no problems at all even when running lots of plugins and other software simultaneously. I can even use Maschine running Massive directly into Logic without a hiccup, and latency is virtually zero. I also use the free Logic iPad controller for mixdowns. Lovely machine, a thousand times better than the (supposedly) higher specced PC I was using previously. I've got just the basic model from that period, and upgraded the 4gb of RAM to 8gb myself.

    The reason I went for the older model, rather than the new retina which came out at that time, was that the non-retina version has audio inputs and outputs, whereas the retina has a combined audio socket.

  • I'm a pro designer and retoucher, and amateur musician. I'd just like to say I've had the same experience: I thought I would save myself some money and get an Air 2013 instead of a Pro, ...and when I brought my new machine home I simply couldn't believe powerful it is-! The Air is fast enough to do anything I want, and it being nice and lightweight is like a dream. Lol I sound like an apple salesman, but's not just you, those Airs are seriously great and powerful machines. I think the speed comes from it having an SSD instead of a mechanical drive, but whatever it is I'm very glad I bought one.

  • edited November 2014

    I'm using a Macbook pro late 2013 since about 4 months (2,0ghz i7 quad, 8 GB ram). I work with Logic Pro X and i can run many instances of beasts like Omnisphere (also some big multis), Alchemy, Dune 2, Zebra2 etc. I have the 15" retina and it's great so far. The only downside is, even with 15" some plug ins are too small (if they are not resizable) and most plug ins look still blurry and ugly on the retina screen. I wish they would still offer a 17" version and had not removed the headphone jack line in. For me 13" or even 11" is too small when running bigger projects. I would wish developers would start to support HD graphics like our beautiful iPad UI's. Beside this i really love this awesome machine and even OS X Yosemite works unexpected bug free (at least for me and all my plug ins). I would always go for the maximum of CPU and RAM you can afford if you would like to run "heavy" things for the next years on it since new plug-ins using algorithms which can even run my i7 quadcore out of cpu with one patch (DIVA f.e., or Dune2 playing all many thousands of OSC's simultan).
    It depends of course all of the things you want and the tools you use. For some cpu is more important, for some RAM (i think in 2 years i have to upgrade to 16-32 GB).

    Indeed, a modern SSD is relly great and boost the performance and speed a lot. It's also important how much ports (USB, Thunderbolt..etc.) you need. The Macbook Air is very limited here compared to a Macbook pro.

  • My MBP has a standard HD and runs fine. You could probably pick up a mid-2012 MBP like mine for a reasonable price, and you'd have enough USB ports plus audio in and out. Agree with the screen size comment - I hook mine up to an external monitor as 15" is a bit too cramped. I'm getting the new 27" retina iMac soon which will be superb for Logic

  • What about a good Mac-setup to run Ableton (and Logic, and Cubase, and....)?
    I have a perfect running MacAir 2011 with ssd....but I m not sure it can handle easily Ableton Live /Push.

  • edited November 2014

    I found this one for a really good price:

    Macbook Pro 15" - Mid 2011
    Intel Core i7 2.3 Ghz
    SSD 128GB Corsair Force GS + External HD 750GB
    16GB RAM DDR3 1600Mhz
    Intel Graphics 4000 512MB + Radeon 6750M 1024MB

    Is that good enough? Thanks for the answers!

  • Dont go for a Mid 2011, there have been Display issues back in 2011. I got myself a mid 2012 as a replacement for my mac pro 2009.
    More than enough for modern productions.

  • What kind of display issues?

  • razraz
    edited November 2014

    The kind that ended in a class action suit against Apple because they refuse to admit them. If it's out of warranty do not buy that. In fact just don't buy it period :-)

  • Yes, i would definitely not buy a 15-inch or 17-inch Macbook Pro from 2011.

  • How can I "push to the limit" this MBP 2011 to see if it's going to have some problems with it? Or it just happens out of the blue, with no reason? I was really interested in this model. And the 2012 is almost $500 more expensive. Or is there another solution? I really appreciate all the answers. I am new here, and it feels like home! :D

  • Can't speak for the 2011 model, but I had a 2009 MBP which I had to send back for a refund due to display issues. Can definitely recommend the mid-2012 model though.

  • A lot of this may have to do with what else is going on on the computer. More stuff running in the background can slow things down. I am running Logic Pro X on a 2008 MacBook Pro and I need to make sure everything in the background is stopped if I want to avoid issues. I have a separate login I use that has everything in the background turned off when I need to work on a bigger project.

    Start by checking User & Groups -> Login Items in system prefs and sharing. I use the activity monitor with CPU selected and sorted by CPU, high to low, to track whats going on on my system and find unneeded background process.

  • So here is the thing: I did everything BigDawgsByte said, but nothing has changed. So I tried a benchmark test. The SAME Mac Mini Server that I have, has a score of almost 10k. Mine has a score of less than 3k. Probably my Mac Mini Server has CPU issues, right? :s

  • Does your mini have a HDD while the other a SSD? That can make a huge impact.

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