13" for music production?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by David58117, Nov 12, 2015.

  1. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    I'm curious if there is a huge difference between using the 13" vs 15" for music production.

    I'm using Logic Pro X, and would have numerous VSTis and large sample libraries running.

    Has anyone used both, or is anyone running into problems with the 13"?
  2. kissyblessedmac macrumors newbie


    Nov 12, 2015
    I 've owned a 13 inc mbp and now a 15in mbp retina. The main differences between the 13 inch and the 15 inch for music production besides the screen of course is the internal aspects. 15 inch mbp is a power horse with no limits. It's mainly good for web designer professionals or movie/video editors.

    A 13 in mbp will do good in Logic Pro x if you choose the i5 model, the i7 even better. I wouldn't suggest a macbook air for instance, although many can argue it can handle Logic Pro X

    Unlike video editors, musicians don't have to rely on macbooks internal hardware for the best capability to handle their work. Logic Pro will work well with an i5 8gb of ram of course more is always better.

    I went along with the 15 inch because I do it all, I use logic pro and final cut pro, photoshop, as well Ia m a full time comp sci student. So I couldn't get anything less. The only con about 15 inch is weight but I prefer power over weight.
  3. fisherking macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
    i live & die by Logic X, and am on a 2011 13"...and suffer, occasionally. am moving to a new 13", it's time. DEF go for the i7. 16gb ram is nice... but the i7 will make a difference. the 13" is def my preference, but the 15" offer more power. still...if i can (mostly) get by on my 2011 macbook pro, the newer ones should crush that...
  4. Queen6 macrumors 604


    Dec 11, 2008
    Flying over the rainforest at dawn - Priceless
    For the cost of the i7 13" with 16Gb you will be far better off with the base 15" Quad Core, it will literally be twice as fast computationally.

    13" i7 Dual Core, 16Gb, 512 SSD = $2,199
    15" i7 Quad Core, 16Gb, 512 SSD = $2,299

    13" i7 Dual Core, 16Gb, 256 SSD = $1,999
    15" i7 Quad Core, 16Gb, 256 SSD = $1,999

    It`s a no brainer, unless portability is absolutely paramount.

    n.b.i7 is worth approx 10% over the i5 at best, and Apple`s margins on in-house upgrades are obscene to say the least.

  5. Durious macrumors 6502

    Apr 11, 2008
    Calgary, Alberta
    yes I had a similar dilemma and ended up going 13" Macbook Pro with i7. Price wise it was near top spec'd but there is a considerable portability difference between the two. If you are more of a stationary person then 15" definitely but if you need to be more portable go with the 13" there isn't too much of a compromise
  6. fisherking macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
    agreed, and as someone who backpacks in nyc with my mac, the 13" has been great, and the newer one (thinner, lighter than my 2011), should be a joy to lug around...)
  7. BoneDaddy Suspended


    Jan 8, 2015
    You must not be informed on the matter. Plugins during composition, AU during mixing and sometimes composition, and them mastering is incredibly taxing. For some musicians or producers, 4 cores is baby food. For me, it's fine. Some musicians will tax a Mac 3 times harder than most video/photographers and graphics designers.
  8. fisherking macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
    yeah, that's some weird advice. the macbook pro is a much more powerful choice over the air, and the i7 a better bet over the i5. the line about 'internal hardware' really does not make sense...
  9. BoneDaddy Suspended


    Jan 8, 2015
    OP. I currently have a 13 and 15" with maxed out specs, both which were bought solely for music production.

    One 13" mid 2014 Retina with 3.0ghz i7, 16gb RAM, 1TB PCIE. One 15" mid 2014 with 2.8ghz quad core, 16gb RAM, 1TB PCIE, with discrete and dedicated graphics, which matters SOME.

    I use Logic Pro X with mostly plugins for installment libraries and AUs for mixing, mastering, and effects. Sometime I use native effects and libraries. With that in mind, I guess I will take on the task to help you in the best way possible, by writing up my experiences with not only these two Macs, but my setup as well. I will start by listing the plugins I use, by brand.

    You will need JBridge, or 32Lives for some of these. I recommend 32Lives.

    LennarDigital Sylenth
    Native Instruments Kontakt/Battery 4
    Spectrasonics Omnisphere
    U-he Zebra
    Xfer Records Serum
    XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2

    Audio Effects:
    Audio Ease
    IK Multimedia
    Native Instruments
    Nugen Audio
    Ohm Force
    Plugin Alliance

    The part of my setup, that matters, consists of two to three monitors (external). The third is almost never used, but comes in handy sometimes. Usually I just have another Mac on that third monitor. The dual monitors are an extended display made possible by the dualhead2go from Matrox. There are advantages to having this setup, for me. If you plan to use your mac with a desktop setup, this matters. If not, it's irrelevant. Regardless, having two monitors, with or without the Matrox, could slow your Mac down. Barely at all, but you must know this. With a 13, it will be more noticeable.

    I bought the 13" first because I needed decent power, with a lot of space (as I hate relying on portable hard drives), but it had to be portable, and powerful enough for a desktop setup. I found it to be fine, for a while. You will need to freeze tracks and keep in mind to run effects on bus as much as possible, depending on your amount of tracks and if you're using native or plugins. For instance, I made one composition with mostly LP instruments and it was more than fine. However it started to tax the machine even with on board EQ. Then, I have a simple composition that is still in it's infancy, but uses several plugins, if I recall, is about 6 tracks, that will run the CPU into the ground.

    In relation, all I need to say for the 15", is that for that same 6 track composition, it's like it's nothing. I ran one of my most intensive and nearly finished pieces on both macs with exact same setting all the way down to the wallpaper, and found that when the 13" CPU was maxed out, the 15 still had more than 60% room to create, and about 80% on the 4 cores created by hyper threading. I can skype, run an intensive composition, and surf the web for tutorials (Sometimes I still need help with some plugins) on the 15". On the 13, I made sure to use the other Mac for skype or internet because there was a lot of conflict if I used it alone.

    What does this mean for you? Almost nothing. Factually, you will be safer and more productive on a 15". Otherwise, it all depends on portability verses what you're doing, musically. My most intensive tasks are writing scores, and my least are simply editing songs from clients to help write lyrics. Most of the time, the 13 was fine even while tracking vocals. The thing that got me, was when I was limited, it was a big deal and it stopped me in my tracks.

    If you get a 13", I wouldn't recommend against it, but KNOW your plugin's CPU requirements and take all necessary steps to maximize your Mac's capabilities. Bus, freezing tracks, closing all apps that are not absolutely required for music production, buffer size... there are many things that can be done to help you on a 13". I made due with a 2.4ghz 16RAM 2010 for a while, but I had to be incredibly alert as to my process (or some would say "work flow").

    Last, I would get the best 13" possible. Some would say that .2ghz won't matter, but it will and you will need all the help you can get.

    I hope this helps, and happy composing.
  10. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote above:
    "I'm curious if there is a huge difference between using the 13" vs 15" for music production"

    For DAW apps, I predict even a 15" display won't be "big enough".

    You're going to want an external display, as well.

    Having said that, I'd suggest getting the 13" and using the money you save towards the external display.

    Then again, if the stuff you're going to be running is very "plugin heavy", you may need both the higher processing power of an i7 -and- the external display as well!
  11. BoneDaddy, Nov 14, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015

    BoneDaddy Suspended


    Jan 8, 2015
    I apologize and do not mean to come off argumentative, but this is bad advice.

    One, many MANY musicians exclusively use Macbooks live, and even on a desk with no external monitor. In standard mode on a Retina, LPX will fit. On higher, it fits all the way. On Retina mode, there is screen room to spare. With SwitchResX one can use their dee ay double U, have room for a plugin, and for something else.

    My main point in all of this, is he should not sacrifice ANY funds for the sake of an external monitor. He needs to spend every last cent of his Mac budget on the best option for him, and look into a monitor later. In fact, in a musician's world, an EM is the last of his worries. He still may need a good interface, speakers (monitors), headphones, mic... So much more. An external monitor simply means he can run LP in one window, while keeping a plugin window up on the other screen. It's a luxury, not a necessity.

    Here's some examples between the options of Macbook screen, one monitor (which is essentially exactly the same as the Mac screen capabilities and resolution), and dual monitors.

    Macbook screen:
    Default and default full screen Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 2.31.11 PM.png
    Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 2.31.36 PM.png

    step up
    Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 2.32.42 PM.png

    Retina Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 2.34.56 PM.png

    One of the SRX options
    Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 2.36.38 PM.png

    Highest SRX option
    Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 2.40.44 PM.png

    One external monitor:
    Default and all else would be the same as Mac screen give or take width or height depending on your screen's res.

    Dual monitors:

    With SRX but not the highest res
    Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.13.45 PM.png

    Of course there are some no brainers, such as one res may be so high it'd be a pain to see some things. But in production, sometimes text can be pushed aside for screen real estate. I personally never use SRX. I'll go full screen on dual monitors for LP and then push plugin windows on screen three, before I do that. But these are the options and a Macbook screen is just as well. It's all the same on one external monitor, but just a bigger or smaller screen.
  12. fisherking macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2010
    ny somewhere
    am getting a new 13" mbp next week, with the i7. still...i do most of my work on my 2011 13". i need more power, but i CAN get everything done now. there's def some scrolling involved, but am fine with that. works great (i do some traveling, and i do a LOT of backpacking/walking in ny). am used to it, and love it. there's something...intimate in working on this scale (i DO use the whole screen up to the menubar...i also have my dock completely locked away...). 13", i7. 16gb ram, and you should be happy...

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11 November 12, 2015