- Why create music using a Mac?
- The ideal Mac setup for music production
- Display assistance
- Comparison Table:
- Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022)
- Apple 14in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro (2021)
- MacBook Air M2 (2022)
- Apple Mac mini (2020) M1
- Mac Studio (M1 Max, 2022)
We are going to discuss about Apple M1 for Music Production. The Mac is an obvious choice if you’re looking for a computer to produce music on. However, the selection might be daunting, with gadgets costing anything from a few hundred dollars or pounds to thousands more than you may spend on a car. We compare them in this article and explain which Mac is best for you.
A studio had to be rented in the past for music production, but technology has advanced quickly. Analog home recording equipment revolutionized in the 1980s and gradually gave way to home computers in the 1990s. Nowadays, you can use a Mac to record pop songs to perfect movie soundtracks. Which Mac, apple m1 for music production though? We’re here to provide an answer to that query!
Why create music using a Mac?
The platform you choose and the people you’re working with will primarily determine whether you choose a Mac or PC for music production. The adoption of Macs by artists is motivated by a few factors, though. One explanation is that Macs are so simple to use that artists focus on setting up equipment or troubleshooting issues. Apple’s recently added M-series CPUs are extremely powerful and frequently beat identical PCs with Intel hardware. Mac laptops are also skinny, light, and well-built, which is advantageous if you take them with you to gigs and use them in a studio.
The ideal Mac setup for music production
Consider several factors if you plan to create music on a Mac. To assist you in making your choice, we’ll go through each of these in more detail below.
It is debatable if the software you use, or your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), is more significant than the machine you select. You can learn more about the many options available on macOS in our roundup of the top music recording apps for Mac. Apple’s own Logic Pro X and its enthusiast-focused cousin GarageBand are two outstanding programs that are only available on Macs.
GarageBand is a complete audio notebook in the right hands. With lots of plugin compatibility, it’s perfect for quickly getting down the essential elements of songs or compositions. Many professional musicians we know use it to demonstrate their concepts, which they may present to other musicians as they begin writing. The best part is that every Mac has free access to GarageBand, which is another reason to use Apple’s machines to make music.
Music-related software is notoriously memory-hungry. Any professional-level project experiences major bottlenecks due to RAM shortages. Fewer instruments and effects will be available, and more time will be spent rendering rather than performing live. Think of 16GB as the minimum. Since all Macs and MacBooks may have 16GB of RAM installed, this shouldn’t be a problem. We advise that you set your Mac’s RAM configuration to at least this amount, if not more. Some M2 and M1 Macs come with 8GB of RAM (called Universal Memory by Apple).
While M1 Macs could only support up to 16GB RAM, the M2 Macs can be upgraded to 24GB RAM. If you anticipate needing 32GB of RAM, the M1 Pro is necessary (see the MacBook Pro). You need the M1 Max to get 64GB of RAM (an option for the MacBook Pro or Mac Studio). And the M1 Ultra is where you need to seek 128GB RAM (in the Mac Studio). The maximum RAM for the Mac Pro is 1.5TB, but it is relatively expensive, and Apple still needs to update it to use its brand of processors.
You should consider storage before making your choice. Fortunately, all Apple Macs use SSDs, which is advantageous because hard drives, which are slower than SSDs and can be noisy, can be a bottleneck. However, the cost per GB of SSDs is much higher than that of hard discs. Apple’s entry-level laptops have 256GB SSDs. Still, professional instrument and effects libraries may take up hundreds of GB when installed, and that’s before you even start to add your music files. Therefore, choose a Mac with at least a 512GB SSD.
It would help if you decided what you’ll need and how to store your assets. Large sample libraries can be stored on external drives, especially when linked via Thunderbolt. Still, if you’re a musician who collaborates with people worldwide, you’ll need to figure out how to bring everything. Check out our list of the Best Cloud Storage Services for Mac if cloud storage would be a good choice.
It would help if you determined whether a Mac needs to be portable before purchasing one. A Mac Studio undoubtedly will only fit in your hand luggage if you travel frequently and collaborate with musicians from different nations. However, a desktop computer would be a better investment if you’re a solitary artist who only ever writes music in your home studio.
If you work in a studio, you might need an iMac to benefit from the large display. However, every Mac can be equipped with an external monitor, so even if you only have a laptop Mac, you could utilize it at your workstation with a 30″ screen.
Examine any additional equipment you intend to utilize. This will be fine if you don’t have any other equipment and make all your music on a Mac; in theory, any Mac might work. However, trying to fit via the two USB-C ports available on the MacBook Air and base MacBook Pro models will make you give up if you have a mountain of audio interfaces, USB tools, headphones, monitors, and other essential stuff. (In that case, a USB hub would be helpful to utilize with your new Mac.)
You can discover SDXC, Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, and more connections on the side of the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros thanks to Apple’s recent addition of more connectors to its newest Mac computers. A good number of ports are also available on the Mac mini and Mac Studio.
High-end audio work can be incredibly processor-intensive when using professional plugins and effects. If your demands are high, you will require a Mac with considerable processing power. To prevent Apple from using the word “from” and a lower price in marketing materials, avoid low-end models that appear to be lurking in the lineup of Macs, regardless of which one you choose to purchase. However, it is tough for the new generation of entry-level Macs with their M2 Chips. Don’t forget about the M1 models either, which are still readily accessible and still have enough power.
The M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra in the MacBook Pro or Mac Studio are your best bets for the best. Notably, we anticipate Apple to update the M1 Pro and M1 Max in the spring of 2023, suggesting that new professional models may be coming soon.
The GPU is another matter to consider. Contrary to 3D design and video editing, audio recording and editing historically only used a few graphics card resources. These days, because specific audio software is GPU-accelerated, things are more complex. It also comes into play if you need more displays. With seven or 8-core GPUs and a track record of outperforming Intel integrated graphics, Apple’s M1 and M2 Macs should be enough in most situations.
Consider the 14- or 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro (14- or 16-graphics-core processor) or the M1 Max if you believe you will benefit from greater graphics power (24 or 32 graphics cores). The Mac Studio takes a step further by delivering a 64-core GPU for the M1 Ultra.
Speaking of external monitors, be aware that the regular M1 and M2 MacBooks only officially support one additional display when you plug in additional screens (although there are ways around this, see: How to connect two or more external displays to Apple M1 or M2 Macs). The MacBooks, Mac Studio, and M1 Mac mini support several external monitors. This may be important if you want to accompany your music with graphics.
Last update on 2023-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro (M2, 2022)
The MacBook Pro is the only Apple laptop worth considering if you’re a traveling musician. Although different MacBook Pro models are available and not all made equal, the best choice for you will depend on your unique demands. Apple’s M-series processors, the M2, are used in the 13-inch MacBook Pro M2. Due to its excellent performance, it should easily handle projects with numerous layered tracks, effects, and VSTs and provide lag-free playback without overwhelming the system. True, the entry-level model only has 8GB of RAM; however, since these aren’t upgradeable and you can’t change them afterward, we advise upgrading to 16GB or 24GB at the time of purchase.
The Touch Bar, which helps change settings or navigate a timeline, is only included on the M2 MacBook Pro. Although you only get a few USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB-C hub can be used to increase these ports if you require different connections for external peripherals or discs. The 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 is a serious workhorse if you need power and portability.
Apple 14in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro (2021)
The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros are great choices if you want a bigger screen, more horsepower, and more connections. Both are pre-equipped with the M1 Pro CPU and 16GB of RAM (which can be upgraded at the point of sale). Additionally, there is greater capacity with 512GB or 1TB range versions. With additional GPU cores that may be used to crunch the numbers required when using a tonne of plugins, VSTs, or rendering multi-channel compositions onscreen, the M1 Pro makes the most significant difference in this situation. The 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Max is a beast that also comes with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage as standard, making it the most potent MacBook Pro you can purchase. To learn more about what these powerful laptops offer, check our 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro reviews.
MacBook Air M2 (2022)
Another Mac laptop that you may consider for your DAW is the MacBook Air M2. It is the lightest of the current crop in terms of weight (1.24kg), but it doesn’t mean it performs poorly. Apple claims the M2 model is 1.4 times faster than the M1 model. The display size has increased from 13.3 to 13.6 inches, giving you a little extra screen for real estate. Because of Air’s power efficiency, the laptop doesn’t have a fan, which may be a blessing if you record close to it. Additionally, a 3.5mm headphone connector is provided so you may edit while on the road without being concerned about latency.
Despite having a lower processing power than the MacBook Pro, you may choose a model with 512GB of storage and increase the RAM to 16GB or 24GB, as we advise. It’s not cheap, but Apple’s 512GB MacBook Air with 16GB of RAM costs $1,699/£1,749. A less expensive variant available for $1,199/£1,249 has 8GB of RAM and 256GB, but it might work for you if your workload is modest. You may choose the M1 version to save even more money; it is still priced at $999/£999 for the 8GB/256GB configuration and can be upgraded to 16GB for an extra $200/£200.
Apple Mac mini (2020) M1
The Mac mini is a good option if you only need a platform to create music and already have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. It is compact, quiet, and offers excellent connectivity possibilities, in addition to an extra audio-in port that can be handy for older items.
For only £699/$699, the Mac mini is offered with the M1 processor and 256GB SSD. A 512GB variant is also available for £899/$899. For an additional £200/$200, increase the RAM to 16GB. The Mac mini is an excellent option for music production if the money is tight.
Mac Studio (M1 Max, 2022)
The new Mac Studio is an excellent option for those who wish to produce professional-caliber music at home or in a studio. This upgraded Mac mini, which targets the professional market while being reasonably priced, features the M1 Max SoC, which has a 10-Core CPU and 24-Core GPU, or the M1 Ultra, which has a 20-Core CPU and up to 64-Core GPU. Both alternatives offer admirable performance.
This Mac is mighty and can handle anything you throw at it. Add up to 64GB RAM for the M1 Mac or 128GB RAM for the M1 Ultra and up to 8TB of storage (all of which can be increased at the point of sale). The Mac Studio has many connectors, including 4 Thunderbolt 4, 2 USB-C, and 2 USB-A, so all of your outboard equipment should be able to plug in without any issues. You must provide your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers, just like the Mac mini. Read our complete review of the Mac Studio to see just how impressive this tiny device is, and if you’re interested in purchasing one, prices start at $1,999/£1,999.
Apple has a history of providing minimal support for first-generation gadgets, such as the original iPad and Apple Watch. Being an early adopter makes you a beta tester. I suggest holding off on switching to M1 Mac. Wait for the second generation, or perhaps the third, and then get on board.
Apple had time to work out the kinks in the M1s of the first generation. DAW and plugin software developers have had time to catch up during this interim period. The book offers a distinctive viewpoint on the world of DJs and music producers and information about the fundamentals of music production and computers for music production.