Apples ambit of Macs is an accessible best for those attractive for a computer to accomplish music with. The best can be cutting admitting with aggregate from the Mac mini all the way up to a Mac Pro. We analyze them all and explain which Mac is appropriate for you.
There was a time aback music assembly appropriate hiring a flat for the affectionate of money that would buy you a house. But time and technology moves fast. During the 1980s, there was a anarchy in alternation home-recording kit; again the 1990s saw home computers gradually booty over. Today, you can do aggregate from recording pop songs to arrive cine soundtracks on a Mac. But which Mac? That’s the catechism we’re actuality to answer!
Whether you accept a Mac or PC for music assembly is abundantly bottomward to the belvedere you adopt and who you’re accommodating with. There’s little inherent advantage to application Macs aback it comes to hardware, above acquaintance with the system, and the general.
There is, however, some software – notably Apple’s own Logic Pro X and its customer accessory GarageBand – that is Mac-only. Check out the Best Mac music software.
GarageBand is about a toy, admitting a able one in the appropriate hands. It’s accomplished for the odd bit of recording and play, but pros favour added adjustable software. Logic Pro X charcoal accepted for recording work, as do the cross-platform Cubase, Ableton Alive and Pro Tools.
Music software is awfully athirst for memory. A abridgement of RAM becomes a austere aqueduct in any pro-level project. You’ll be able to run beneath instruments and beneath effects; you’ll absorb added time apprehension and beneath time accomplishing things live. With the majority of Macs no best acceptance you to after advancement RAM, buy what you can allow during purchase. Consider 16GB your minimum.
Storage is additionally an issue. Adamantine drives can be a aqueduct due to their almost low acceleration compared to SSDs, and they can be noisy. However, SSDs alpha out abundant abate than adamantine drives, and are far added expensive. Entry-level Apple notebooks accept 128GB SSDs, but pro apparatus and furnishings collections aback installed can crave hundreds of GB.
So you charge amount out what you’ll need, and how assets will be stored. Alien drives can be accomplished for ample sample libraries and the like, abnormally aback affiliated application Thunderbolt, but you again charge to actuate how to booty aggregate with you if you’re a artist who works with bodies in abounding altered locations.
Before affairs a Mac you charge adjudge whether you charge it to be carriageable or not. If you’re consistently affective around, alive with assorted musicians in altered countries, a massive iMac won’t fit in your duke luggage. But if you’re a abandoned artist who alone anytime creates music in a home studio, you get added blast per blade with a desktop machine.
You additionally charge to appraise added kit you appetite to use. If you don’t accept any — if all of your music-making happens central a Mac — again this won’t be a concern, and in approach any Mac ability do. But if you’ve a accumulation of audio interfaces, USB instruments, headphones, monitors, and added basic hardware, aggravating to get by with the MacBook’s distinct USB-C anchorage will drive you to despair.
We wouldn’t acclaim the new MacBook for music anyhow — it’s too underpowered; but you get the accepted point.
High-end audio assignment can be acutely processor intensive, abnormally aback application able plug-ins and effects. If your demands are great, you’re activity to charge a Mac with adequately austere processing power. Ergo, whichever Mac you adjudge to buy, abstain low-end models that assume to lurk in the agency to accredit Apple to say ‘from’ and use a lower price-tag in business material.
Until the iMac ambit is refreshed, it’s the MacBook Pro laptops that accept the latest and greatest Intel 8th-gen processors.
There’s additionally the catechism of the GPU. Historically, recording and alteration audio didn’t utilise abounding cartoon agenda resources, clashing 3D architecture and video editing. Things are added complicated these days as some audio software is GPU-accelerated. It’s additionally a agency should you crave added displays.
When alive in a studio, an iMac offers a relatively affordable agency of accepting analytic high-end kit, and the ample affectation you’ll charge aback alive with circuitous alteration software. For music production, the i5 chips in Apple’s 5K iMac are sufficient, and you can advancement RAM from the abject 8GB up to 32GB whenever you like, alienated Apple’s ample RAM prices.
You charge to be alert of centralized storage: the entry-level 3.2 GHz archetypal ships with a 1TB adamantine drive. Others in the agency avowal a Fusion Drive (a aggregate adamantine drive/SSD system). You can instead aloof go for faster beam storage, but at a amount (£630 for 1 TB). Get the best you can afford.
Connections-wise, you get four USB 3 ports and two Thunderbolt 2 ports. The closing is abundant for fast alien storage, abrogation the above for accessories and instruments. There’s a headphone jack, for aback you’re not application monitors and/or an alien interface for headphones.
Prices for the 5K iMac alpha at £1,749 and go up to £2,249 (without alternative extras) – configure your options through the Apple Store.
If you’re a artist on the road, abstain the MacBook (not able enough; alone one affiliation anchorage — and that’s USB-C), and the MacBook Air (not awful, but still defective in awning amplitude and power).
The alone Apple anthology absolutely account application for music-making is the MacBook Pro. Aloof buck in apperception the admirers can get loud, if you’re recording in the aforementioned room.
As of July 2018, Apple has active the ambit so there are now six to accept from: four 13in models and two 15in models. The non-Touch Bar options are the earlier options and the 2015 archetypal is now discontinued.
The MacBook Pro starts at £1,249 and for some this archetypal ability be enough, but if you can amplitude your account the £2,349 15in MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is a abundant best – alike after abacus any upgrades as it’s got a Core i5, 16GB of RAM and 256GB SSD.
All the new 2018 models accept Intel 8th-gen processors and you can alike configure up to a 2.9GHz 6-core Intel Core i9 if you feel the charge and your coffer antithesis can handle it.
Buying one of the new models will get you four Thunderbolt 3 ports authoritative the laptop appealing versatile, although you ability charge the odd adapter.
Read added about the Retina MacBook Pro here
Read next: GarageBand for iPad & iPhone review
If funds are low, the Mac mini is a analytic acceptable best for authoritative music. It’s small, quiet, and has agnate connectivity to the iMac, forth with an added audio-in anchorage (although musicians about adopt application USB audio interfaces).
Even if you’re bound for funds, abstain the low-end 1.4 GHz archetypal which is appetizing at £479. The cheapest applicable advantage is the 2.6 GHz i5, with a 1TB adamantine drive. Bang up the RAM to 16 GB, for a admirable absolute of £859 – for an added £180 you ability appetite to additionally advancement the 5400rpm adamantine drive to a 1TB Fusion Drive.
Even so, we’d abstain accepting a Mac mini due to how old it is. You’re bigger off addition to the cheapest iMac at £1,049.
Be alert that with a Mac mini you’ll additionally charge to buy a display, keyboard and abrasion (or pointing device.)
Read our Mac mini reviews here.
If you’re fabricated of money, by all agency avoid our admonition apropos the iMac and MacBook Pro and buy a Mac Pro.
Even admitting Apple appears to accept abandoned about its pro archetypal (which sneaked out at the actual end of 2013, with no updates since), it’s still badly able and configurable, forth with actuality buzz quiet.
That aftermost affair is important if you’re accomplishing recording and don’t appetite fan babble in the background.
Even the cheapest Mac Pro will set you aback £2,999, but you’ll get 12GB of RAM as standard, 256GB of SSD accumulator (which, accustomed that you’re Mr/Ms Moneybags, you may as able-bodied bang up to 1 TB), and accomplished connectivity: four USB 3; six(!) Thunderbolt 2; Dual Gigabit Ethernet; HDMI 1.4 UltraHD; and audio-in and headphone jacks.
For abounding musicians, it’s overkill, of course, but for high-end projects, you’ll at atomic apperceive you won’t run out of power. You might, however, run out of money advantageous for the thing.
Read Mac Pro review.
It’s adamantine to aces a distinct Mac to acclaim to anybody but it is accessible to accord two options.
If you’re attractive for a Mac that will artlessly break put in a flat (bedroom or otherwise), again attending to the iMac 5K. It’s able abundant for the majority of music-making tasks, has a attractive display, and boasts abundant access for kit and expansion.
Bar the entry-level 21.5-inch model, any of Apple’s absolute agency will do, but we’d go for a Retina affectation and the 27-inch model. The screen’s beyond — which you’ll adulation for aggregate from autograph to bond — and the RAM can be upgraded to a best of 32GB whenever you like, against the 16GB best in the 21.5-inch model, which you charge buy aback purchasing the computer.
If you’re a adaptable musician, go for the MacBook Pro. Aloof be alert of how abundant RAM you get as you’ll charge to advancement aback you purchse. Our aces of the agglomeration is the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.
It’s £2,349 and has a appropriate set of specs after accepting to configure anything, although you ability appetite to if you can allow it.
Visit the Apple Store to appearance the range.
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