MacBook Air vs Pro 13" (2020) for Music Production?

Hi Everyone,

Looking for some input on this…

I need a very small notebook to fit into my music case, and I just ordered a 2020 Macbook Air, and now I’m having some doubts.

My daughter has the 2019 Macbook Air, and I tested BitWig Studio on it, and it ran fantastic.
In fact it was actually faster than my current 15" Windows notebook, which is quite large and heavy.

But as I read more I’m hearing that the Air is not meant for “real workloads”, which is odd as it seems to run VSTs and DAWs really well.

Is anyone using a Macbook Air with a DAW, and having a good or bad experience?

If it’s the wrong choice, I will cancel my order.

Edit: I did cancel my order for the MBA and went with the 2020 13 inch MacBook Pro.
It will be my first Mac, and while I’m feeling sick to my stomach spending that much (the $1800 model) Iplan to use it for a very very long time!

Best regards,

Gino

I’m currently using a 2017 MacBook Air and it’s absolutely fine. Don’t worry about it. If you need extra power you’re probably using too many plug-ins unnecessarily anyway haha :slight_smile:

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Thanks!

That put my mind more at ease :slight_smile:

I’m going to follow through with it, and work within the limits.

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The 2020 airs are quite fast.

Just keep your peripheral needs in mind.

If you’re going DAW only with an audio interface, the (only) two TB3 ports will get you by.

But if you need to add MIDI, Overbridge, external hard drives, etc., it’s best to look at adding the (unfortunately more expensive) TB3 docks over USB-C docks, for bandwidth purposes.

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To slightly counter that - I’ve been using standard USB C hubs on my MBP and all have been fine. My audio interface is plugged in to a hub with my HDMI and ethernet connections too actually. Only cost a tenner. So no need for huge expense though may be hit and miss. My other standard USB hub drops my external HDD from time to time but I think it’s a dodgey connection more than anything.

Are you using Overbridge devices?

Which usb-c hub are you having success with?

I would stay away from Macbook Air

Mbp 16 is a good workhorse as well as the coming soon new mbp13

Honestly the air should be fine until you start really loading it up, it all depends on what you do.

I used a 12” MacBook with a few VSTs and an audio interface when my desktop was out of commission, and that’s a mobile processor. It worked surprisingly well.

All of this really depends on how intensive the VSTs are, of course. On one side you have a couple of VSTs and a stream from an audio interface. On the other, you have trying to run VCV rack with more than a handful of modules. That last use case may choke a bit on your air.

Too many people overvalue the higher end machines when the basics are more than sufficient - I’ve seen plenty of people talk themselves into the higher end laptops when they really didn’t need it, and they just ended up having heavier shit to carry around. You will know if you are going over the limits of the air.

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Sure the others are better but then the price goes up. MacBook Air is more than fine for a couple of instruments, a bunch of audio and midi tracks and around 4-5 plugins on each channel. At least in my experience that’s been the case and I’ve never had to freeze tracks in Ableton Live to free up processing power. RAM is the most important thing, so 8GBs or more is recommended. Look how ‘low powered’ mine is for example:

image

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Running ableton and Logic on an old 2010 iMac with no problem whatsoever. It has an SSD.

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I was using OB when I had supported Devices but only ever one at a time. One is made by Novoo and the other Dodocool. Never heard of them before but I was just after cheap and cheerful. Couldn’t bring myself to spend £50+ on these things!

Wow yes i can see

My iMac from 2013 is running very slow it is a shame i don’t want to get rid of it but it is also 7 years old- it has 24 gb ram and 1tb- hence i was thinking to get a MBp16

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Cool.

Yea whenever I use more than one MK1 OB device simultaneously with USB hubs, even some MTT hubs I get issues with my system, sadly.
Using a TB2 dock on my iMac and the issues went away.

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Good old Apple baked in obsolescence :frowning: Maybe you could breathe new life back into it by backing it up and formatting the thing?

There’s no benchmark for music production performance, but maybe the geekbench comparisons for Mac may be useful to at least have an idea of the relative performance of different models for the single and multi core benchmarks.

Have you tried the classic SMC and PRAM/NVRAM reset procedures? Also, tools like Onyx can help you with typical Mac cleanup procedures like fixing file permissions and such.

The 2020 airs are a lot more powerful with quad core 10th gen processors and especially with the 16gb

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Also important which plug-ins you plan on running. I’ve found that if I’m mainly recording even quite old machines work great (core duo 2!) - it’s really plugin synths that start killing it for me. Same for mastering plugins like ozone but I assume you’ll run that separate later after rendering.

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The 2020 Air sounds promising.

This type of thread usually results in too many people pushing a machine more costly and overpowered for some users’ needs. How refreshing to see well-informed responses.

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