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Mac vs Macbook: Making the Best Choice for Music Production

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Mac vs Macbook: Making the Best Choice for Music Production

Does Apple have dominion in terms of music production?

Since the expansion of technology in music in the early 80s, computers have played a part in the way we create music. Early desktop computers such as Atari and Omega were hugely popular with producers for sampling and layering at ease.

Powerful microchips included in drum machines and sequencers kickstarted this movement, and whilst these tools have transcended into modern music, the computer systems have essentially leapfrogged them and become a fundamental part of most recording studios.

The evolution of computer technology has also supported a culture of musicians who can readily obtain hardware to start their production journey whether from their bedroom, on the train, or among classmates. Not only has this gone toward removing the limits of the historical ‘producers in white suits’ but has also contributed to the democratisation of music whilst diversifying what we listen to.

image of an apple mac

The Apple Influence

One of the most popular brands in this revolution is Apple, who acquired Notator Logic in 2003 and renamed it Logic Pro, becoming the second most popular DAW after Ableton Live. It was one the first major DAWs to include a suite of instruments and therefore changed the expectations of what DAWs should offer. Alongside this, Apple’s unique user interface and ergonomic simplicity has made the name synonymous with music production, and here are some pertinent reasons as to ‘why’.

GarageBand

Sometimes referred to as the cousin of Logic Pro X or the ‘gateway’ DAW, GarageBand is included as standard with any Apple product, including iOS (Apple’s operating system for phones and tablets). Although it can be used as a toy, it can be a powerful tool for recording and creating new compositions, and audio can easily be imported into Logic making the production process fluid and mobile.

Solid State Drives

Traditional hard drive technology has been around for a long time. The invention of SSD means your data is more secure due to less moving parts, which is a welcome feature for any budding producer, who may be carrying their laptop between studios. Both portable and desktop Apple systems have SSDs as standard, enabling faster data access and security.

Portability & Durability

In the MacBook range, the ultra-thin design and durable aluminium casing means that your projects can be carried around easily and safely. The yearly improvements to Mac OS mean that memory management, speeds, and system reliability get better all the time.

Plug and Play

There is nothing more thwart than having to set up your new equipment with hours of manuals, manufacturer’s websites, and forums to get started on your project. Then, also needing to sync it to your DAW can be challenging. However, with Mac, it really is as simple as plugging your interface in and your away. Also, with fewer wires and connections, you can work in a much tidier space to boost that creative spark.

Style and Ergonomics

Throughout Apple’s history, they have boasted some of the most intelligent, best-looking, and easy-to-use products that have revolutionised technology in everyday life. This is also true in the computer design, with sleek and elegant shapes and materials, it really can add that aesthetic edge to any studio.

Coupled with multi-touch functions on iPads and accessories such as the Magic Mouse 2 and Magic Trackpad 2, it means creativity can be expressed in new ways. The same can be said for using DAWs, it is now easier than ever to navigate through the extensive windows and menus to access sounds and create music with ease.

image of an apple macbook

So, what do I need?

Now that the technology built into Apple’s computers is so powerful, it is easy to create an ‘in-the-box’ studio to be used anywhere. Hardware can help boost creativity, for some merely having that tactile control over dials, faders, keys, or control knobs affords a direct connection to the music-making process.

1. Apple MacBook/Mac

Depending on where you work, you will know which type of computer you need. If you are an artist or producer on the move, someone who requires a complete set-up at all time, then the MacBook is the one for you. However, if you are studio-based and rarely see the light of day, then an iMac is more your bag.

All Apple computers come a minimum of 8GB RAM providing plenty of processing power, wherever you may be. On the computer, you will also need DAW such as Cubase or Pro Tools to record and edit your music but that is going to come down to personal preference.

Shop Apple Mac and Macbook at Dawsons Music & Sound.

2. Audio Interface

image of an audio interface

 

With so many Audio Interfaces on offer, the choice can be overwhelming, but an interface is essential for capturing audio of the highest quality. There are also plenty of interface bundles that include a microphone and set of headphones for ease. The key things to consider are:

  • I/O configuration – The right number of inputs and outputs
  • Connectivity options – USB 3.0 is fairly standard, and most interfaces can run on USB bus power rather than an external power supply
  • Sample rate – 24-bit is considered the standard professionally as it provides more resolution in the frequency range to capture all nuances of a performance

Recommendations: PreSonus Audio Box 96 (pictured above), Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio Bundle, Solid State Logic SSL 2+

3. Production Controller

image of an audio production controller

Depending on the music you want to create, there are plenty of options that include full-size keyboards, 16x16 grid pads or both. With features such as velocity-sensitive weighted-keys and assignable control knobs, you can customise your controller to control the parameters of your software, or simply control your DAW as you would with a mixing desk.

Recommendations: PreSonus FaderPort V2 (pictured above), Nektar SE49, Novation Launchpad Mini MKII

4. Monitors

image of studio monitors

Well, you need to hear your music! Whether you are a serious audiophile or not, monitors are essential to any production to assess and evaluate, as well as providing a quality sound. The reason why is they provide a flat frequency response which gives a true representation of the mix you create. There are loads of monitors available, so to help in your decision-making process, consider the following:

  • The environment/size/shape of the room you are mixing in – This will change the way you hear the sound
  • Active or Passive – Active speakers have a built-in power unit to boost the signal from the audio interface
  • Frequency response – certain monitors will provide more definition depending on what frequencies you are working in.

Recommendations: PreSonus Eris E4.5 (pictured above), Yamaha HS5, Mackie CR5-X

Conclusion

On the whole, Apple designs their products with the user in mind, and in the creative industries, they are increasingly popular because of their powerful processors and easy-to-use user interface. Paired with the amazing technology in music, the boundaries are removed for any producer whatever their skill level. If you are considering a move to Apple or would like to know more, get in touch with our team and we can assist with any questions you may have.

Head to the Dawsons Music & Sound now to check out our latest Apple range.