13'' MBA as a DAW?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by deadwalrus, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. deadwalrus macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    #1
    My old desktop died a few months ago and I am thinking of moving to an MBA. I am quite drawn to the MBA as I travel a lot and my work-issued laptop is a total POS and weighs about 8 lbs.

    My only hesitation is that I also use my computer as a music workstation. I'm wondering if the MBA could handle that.

    My old desktop really was that -- a 2004 Pentium/single core @ 3.4 ghz, 4 gigs RAM. That being said, it handled my music needs adequately. Typically I have maybe 20 tracks or so at 96/24 bit. I also have effects running -- maybe 1 effect per track (20 total) and a few master effects and some EQ. (Note that this was about the absolute limit that my old machine could handle -- any more effects or tracks and it would start to hiccup or crash).

    So -- would a 2011 MBA be able to handle 20 tracks @ 96/24 bit with 20 to 30 effects running, or do I need a pro? Again, due to travel I would really prefer an air, but if it just can't handle this sort of load then I'll have to really think hard about it.

    Thanks
     
  2. KPOM macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #2
    The Sandy Bridge Core i5 in the base MacBook Air runs circle around that 3.4GHz single core Pentium 4. Remember, it can Turbo Boost to 2.7 GHz with a single core running, and 2.4GHz with both cores running. The Core i5 can also process more in a single clock cycle than the Pentium 4.

    To put it into perspective, the 1.7GHz i5 is akin to a 3.5GHz Core 2 Duo, which is like having a dual-core Pentium 4 system running at over 4GHz.

    Also, the SSD will be much less of a bottleneck than the HDD on your desktop when writing tracks.
     
  3. mopatops macrumors regular

    mopatops

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #3
    I run this setup myself and it easily handles anything I throw at it. You'll have no worries using a current gen MBA.
     
  4. deadwalrus thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2011
    #4
    Awesome -- that's good to hear.

    Out of curiosity, what software are you running? Have you ever hit it with enough tracks/effects that it starts to hiccup?
     
  5. dave12345 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    #5
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    Yep - running 2011 base 13" MBA with logic9 and protools9 and waves plugins here - no problems at all
     
  6. mopatops macrumors regular

    mopatops

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    I'm running Ableton Live 8 for producing my own songs. I've probably only had 20 tracks running at a time with 1-3 effects on each but I've never seen it hiccup.

    EDIT: For reference, I just opened up a set with 12 tracks and 41 effects and the CPU meter hovered around 28-29%.
     

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