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View Full Version : MacBook v. MB Pro, Duet v. 0404, etc.




etemkin
Nov 12, 2008, 03:23 AM
Hi Everyone,

I'm new at Macrumors, to the world of Macs, and to the world of digital audio. I've got some questions I seek advice on and folks over at head-fi.org recommended this as another good forum to discuss Mac-specific digital audio topics. So here I am. And, without further ado, here are my questions...

So, I'm about to get a new notebook and I'm weighing between the new MacBook and the new MacBook Pro. For the most part I'm not a real power-intensive computer user, but I'm planning to make a fairly serious foray into the world of digital audio, both in terms of recording and listening. For recording, I'm only doing guitar (acoustic and electric) and vocals, so I don't need something that will do 8 channels, but I would like high quality. Preferably, whatever digital audio interface I go with will also do well for listening purposes, both through monitors and headphones. So, here are my dilemmas...

First, what computer should I get - MacBook or MacBook Pro? Can a regular MacBook handle serious recording, editing, mixing, etc? I know I'll want to get up to 4gb of RAM on either one, but can the smaller computer really handle Logic or Pro Tools well? I prefer the form factor of the MacBook and definitely the cost, but I'll bite the bullet if it's worth it. Plus, there's that whole issue with the missing FireWire port, which brings us to...

Second, what digital audio interface should I use? I've been reading through these forums for a while and thought I had it all nailed down with the Apogee Duet. It does a couple channels of recording, has excellent sound quality, is reasonably affordable (a friend is trying to convince me to get a Black Lion Audio Signature Modded 003R, so it's all relative), and is beautifully designed. Plus, it's quite highly regarded around here. But, then Apple decided to remove the FireWire port from the MacBook and that pairing is impossible. So, are there good USB alternatives? I've heard good things about the E-MU 0404 USB, but can that really compete with the Duet? Are there other places I should be looking? Should I stick with the Duet and have that guide me towards the MacBook Pro? Are there other important considerations that I haven't even accounted for?

So, I have a couple entangled decisions to make, and I'm doing so with very little experience with both Macs and digital audio work. Thus, I come begging for advice. I'm hoping to buy a computer in the next couple weeks, try and survive the holidays, and then get the audio interface once the coffers have recharged a bit. But, I need to have a good direction on the audio side soon so I can make an informed decision buying the computer. I'm flexible with software - not much experience with either Logic or Pro Tools, so I'd be learning either one and I gather they're both more than capable for what I want to do. Your thoughts?

Any advice you have would be much appreciated - thanks in advance for your help!

Regards,
ET



CalumC
Nov 12, 2008, 04:54 AM
As far as the macbook having the power, more than enough. At my university we run Pro Tools LE 7.4 on a G4 with a dual core 1.4ghz and 1GB ram and its absolutely fine. Admittedly its about to be upgraded, but i've already done a few sessions with it (DMX digital desk) and its been fine. Even though part of the processing is done by the digidesign rack (002) i think, the ram and internal processor also has bearing. So if you mean the new macbook, then theres more than enough power there, the 4GB would certainly boost it along.

The pro tools - Logic argument is ongoing, and will determine your interface. I think you'll be happiest with Logic, if you're only recording guitar and vocals, youll benefit from the extensive midi instruments in logic, I asssume you have a midi (usb midi whatever) keyboard, if not I recommend getting one, it will give you a lot of flexibility. Of course that also means you're free to buy whatever interface you want, i've heard good things about the EMU 0404, but theres plenty of 2-4 track usb interfaces. Others could be the Edirol UA25, or maybe the focusrite saffire range.

Hope that helps.

etemkin
Nov 13, 2008, 07:35 PM
Thanks for the advice! From what I hear, it sounds like FireWire is really the way you want to go for recording at least. So, I think I'll wait 'til Black Friday, hope there are some good sales on the MacBook Pro, and go ahead and suck it up and get one. Then I'll start with the Duet - if I decide later I don't like the sound, I can always look at a different DAC/Amp then.
Thanks Again,
ET

CalumC
Nov 13, 2008, 09:06 PM
Firewire is certainly a godsend for professional recording, and if you're going to be doing some serious stuff then yes, you'll be wanting firewire as an option. As you seem to have recognised, you'd have to get a macbook pro.

What price range are you looking at for the interface? Don't forget that you're going to want a fairly serious set of monitors for listening, if you've got a general budget in mind, make sure you factor in the monitors/headphones.

MowingDevil
Nov 14, 2008, 06:15 AM
Thanks for the advice! From what I hear, it sounds like FireWire is really the way you want to go for recording at least. So, I think I'll wait 'til Black Friday, hope there are some good sales on the MacBook Pro, and go ahead and suck it up and get one.

Firewire is certainly a godsend for professional recording, and if you're going to be doing some serious stuff then yes, you'll be wanting firewire as an option. As you seem to have recognised, you'd have to get a macbook pro.

What people seem to forget is that not *all* the MacBooks have had FireWire taken away, there's still this model: White MacBook WITH Firewire 400 (http://store.apple.com/us/configure/MB402LL/B?mco=MTkzOTI0Nw)

I know its kind of the forgotten son in the family but its still a great computer! It comes in at just under a grand so its REALLY in your budget range, bump up the RAM and you're all set!

What I would do if you can afford it is get a really fast portable external HD for recording the audio to so it doesn't go to your internal drive. I got a PortaGig 200gb @ 7200 and am daisy chaining it w/ my Duet. No problem.

I'm sure you can find a decent USB interface, I've got the Duet myself. I haven't done a direct comparison but from what I've heard its as good as it gets for the money.

CalumC
Nov 14, 2008, 06:27 AM
What people seem to forget is that not *all* the MacBooks have had FireWire taken away, there's still this model: White MacBook WITH Firewire 400 (http://store.apple.com/us/configure/MB402LL/B?mco=MTkzOTI0Nw)


Absolutely true, I'm seriously considering one fairly soon for using logic on the go.