13'' MBA as a DAW?

deadwalrus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 16, 2011
149
11
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
 

KPOM

macrumors P6
Oct 23, 2010
15,303
3,675
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.
 

mopatops

macrumors regular
Jul 21, 2011
159
32
UK
I run this setup myself and it easily handles anything I throw at it. You'll have no worries using a current gen MBA.
 

deadwalrus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 16, 2011
149
11
I run this setup myself and it easily handles anything I throw at it. You'll have no worries using a current gen MBA.
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?
 

dave12345

macrumors regular
Oct 19, 2008
214
0
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
 

mopatops

macrumors regular
Jul 21, 2011
159
32
UK
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?
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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