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MacBook Pro 15-Inch

Best Laptop For Music Production

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Best Laptop For Music Production

MacBook Pro 15-Inch

  • Don Makoviney
  • Last Updated: September 1, 2016

We only recommend the best music gear. For that reason, the MacBook Pro 15-Inch is the best laptop for music production, songwriting, and live performance. If your desire is to get technology out of the way so you can just create, the MacBook Pro is the one to get. Longtime users will tell you "it just works".


When someone asks me what “the best” music laptop is, without any caveats, the response is always, “Get a MacBook.”

Attention Windows Users:

We didn’t forget about you!

There’s many reasons. First off, you’ll have it for years. If you can avoid “the upgrade syndrome” (hint: you should!), a well maintained MacBook Pro will last you for years. Maybe even 5 years or more. They are solid. They are fast. They run resource intensive, creative software without a hiccup.

They are beautiful, minimal, and rarely get in the way of your creative flow.

It’s not an exciting or unpredictable choice, but our hands down favorite laptop for creating – not just music – but anything, is the Macbook Pro from Apple

If you’re already a Mac user and fan, there’s not much more I can say. If you’ve never enjoyed the Macbook experience, you’ll have to trust us on this one.

Ports on the MacBook Pro

Even if the specs are identical, in spirit, between a MacBook Pro and a Windows laptop, there are other things to consider.

If space is at a premium, go with the 13-inch. Same great specs in a more compact footprint.

Often, the Windows equivalent is a new laptop, from a major manufacturer, and in a year that laptop won’t be around anymore. Sure, they might replace it with something similar, but it will also probably have a bunch of new features, new pre-installed software, and some hardware innovations that don’t always work well.

When you go to buy a Apple MacBook, there is only a couple to choose from, in a couple of sizes. Sure you can add more RAM, HDD/SSD, and some software but every one is the same. There isn’t a glut of bloatware, untested hardware “features” and so forth.

There’s a consistency, a constant, with MacBooks. For the creative person, having a reliable and blank canvas, unencumbered by marketing and bloatware, is always a nice place to start.

You also get Thunderbolt ports, which are faster than any other connector out right now. You can take advantage of the blazing fast speeds and zero latency when tracking with a Thunderbolt Digital Audio Interface.

Should I get the Retina display model or the regular display?

It shouldn’t really matter. The Retina displays look very pretty for most, but many of the software manufacturers haven’t updated their interfaces to take advantage of it. There have been some instances of particular Waves plugins in Reaper showing stretched and pixelated images. If these haven’t been fixed yet, they will soon. A retina display will future-proof you, and if you have the money go for it.

MacBook Air (2016) for audio production?

These work surprisingly well. Apple has updated the latest versions (April 2016 specs) with a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz) with 3MB shared L3 cache. That’s more than adequate for demo recording and then some. Plus, for a little more you can upgrade to the 2.2GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache.

To put that in perspective, Pro Tools 12 minimum technical requirements state recommend the Intel i5. So you’re good there. You can also get your MacBook Air with 8GB RAM, which is also the minimum recommended for Pro Tools.

What to expect from Apple in 2016

Apple has been slowly teasing a complete refresh of the MacBook Pro. Current the rumors point to June 2016 (we’ll update this as new information becomes available) and it seems likely. Right now Apple is slashing the price of the current MacBook Pro, which is what they usually do to liquidate inventory before a new model.

We expect the new MacBook Pro to come out on 13 June during WWDC event.

“But I have this piece of software that only works on Windows!”

One big reason music producers steer away from the Mac platform is the absence of FL Studio for Mac.

For those who demand FL Studio, every new MacBook lets you install and run Windows at native speeds, using a built-in utility called Boot Camp. After you’ve completed the installation, you can boot up your Mac using either OS X or Windows.

If price is not a factor, and you want a reliable machine that also inspires, get the Apple MacBook Pro.

If price is a factor, or PC laptops are your jam, go with our best budget laptop or best Windows laptop picks.

If you need more USB ports, check out our picks for best USB hub for audio production, our favorite $100 studio headphones, and digital audio workstations.

Happy playing!

 


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Best Laptop For Music Production

MacBook Pro 15-Inch

Best Laptop For Music Production

Important Specs

Processor 2.5 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
RAM 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3L RAM
Other 512 GB PCIe-based Flash Storage
Display Size/Resolution 15.4-inch IPS Retina Display/2880-by-1800 resolution
Hard Drive 512 GB
Operating System OS X Mavericks
more specs

Synopsis:

The MacBook Pro is our pick, and not for the reasons you might think. We like it because there's basically only one model, with minimal external changes across versions. If you want hardware consistency, without having to learn the foibles of completely different PC models like you do with a new Windows machine, get a MacBook Pro. Longtime users will tell you "it just works". That's our goal here at MSCGR and that is why the MacBook is our pick for best laptop for audio production.

MacBook 13-inch Laptop

The Smaller Option ...

MacBook 13-inch Laptop

If space is at a premium, go with the 13-inch. Same great specs in a more compact footprint. Intel 5th Generation Core i5, 256GB SSD drive, 8GB RAM, and small footprint make this a lightning fast pick. Since the SSD capacity is small, you'll probably need some external USB flash drives for samples, effects, and virtual instruments.

- M

Sources

  1. Mark Wherry, Sound on Sound, 20110101
    Apple MacBook Air
    “If you really want the beautiful design, you can purchase a new MacBook Air with the confidence that it will be capable of running music and audio software with a decent level of performance. ”
  2. Michael Crider, Digital Trends, 20160426
    Asus' Zenbook UX501 is the budget alternative to Apple's MacBook Pro, but is it better?
    “If high-end specs and value are of more interest to you than general quality, the Zenbook Pro UX501 is hard to ignore. Discreet graphics, a 4K display, a newer processor, and a larger SSD drive give the machine an advantage over the entry-level MacBook, even at the same price. The Zenbook Pro is the easy choice for penny-pinchers.”
Originally published: September 14th, 2014

Important Specs

Processor 2.5 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
RAM 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3L RAM
Other 512 GB PCIe-based Flash Storage
Display Size/Resolution 15.4-inch IPS Retina Display/2880-by-1800 resolution
Hard Drive 512 GB
Operating System OS X Mavericks
more specs



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