Best Mac for audio production? Retina MBP or iMac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by masterz13, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. masterz13 macrumors newbie

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    Nov 5, 2014
    #1
    I have recently gotten the opportunity to purchase a Mac computer with a discount. I will be using it for grad school work as a music composition/theory major, so I need it for Logic Pro X, Finale, and other music programs. I have narrowed it down between the 21" iMac (3.5ghz quad core CPU, 8gb RAM, 1TB hard drive) and the retina 13" MBP (2.6ghz dual core CPU, 8gb RAM, 256GB SSD). I love that the MacBook is portable, has the retina screen, and uses solid state memory, but the iMac gives me much more bang for the buck with the quad core CPU and 1TB of storage.

    Any advice from fellow Logic users? I really wish I could get the 15" MBP (2ghz quad core CPU, 16gb RAM, 256gb SSD) but it's simply too much money. :(
     
  2. Zwhaler macrumors 603

    Zwhaler

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    Jun 10, 2006
    #2
    Will the iMac be used in a studio? If not, go with the MacBook Pro. I know someone that uses a 13" 2013 specced up and he does serious work on it. If you go bananas with plugins it could choke but unless you are doing upwards of 150 tracks with lots of busy channel strips and synthesizers you should be okay. I vote MacBook Pro, you can adapt to producing on the go and it will change your whole workflow and productivity. If you can afford 512GB it is worth it, 256GB will probably run out faster than you think.
     
  3. spyguy10709 macrumors 6502a

    spyguy10709

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    #3
    Have you looked into the Apple refurb store? I recently (like 5 months ago at this point, really) got myself a retina 15" - and I have to say, it was brand new out of the box. Apple doesn't kid around - they give their machines a new battery, and outer shell - so the only thing that's really used is the mainboard and perhaps the LCD. You can get a quad core 2.0 i7 with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for 1489. Personally, I think that's a steal, and what you should go for. But that's my $0.02.
     
  4. Alimar macrumors 6502a

    Alimar

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    #4
    I was a music theory and composition major. I used a 17" MacBook Pro for four years with LogicPro 9 and Notion 3/4. In February I got a 27" iMac i7. I prefer the iMac for several reasons. Larger screen shows more menue's, tracks and staves! Another reason was fan noise when recording vocals. The MBPro was so noisy! The iMac rarely makes a peep, if any noise at all. Portability over larger screen, and no noise. Good luck in your choice.
     
  5. BenTrovato macrumors 68020

    BenTrovato

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    Canada
    #5
    Brand new is always nice but the value you get from a refurb is fantastic. If you're looking for tech at a lower price with full warranty this is the way to go.
     
  6. masterz13 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 5, 2014
    #6
    Unfortunately my discount does not work on refurb products or I would definitely consider a refurb 15". I guess it comes down to portabliity. I want to use the computer for schoolwork as well though, so maybe the MacBook Pro 13 would be the best choice. Is the 256gb model the sweet spot?
     
  7. CmdrLaForge macrumors 601

    CmdrLaForge

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    #7
    Noise during Recording is always a big issue for me. What's really cool is the remote logic app for the iPad and I assume iPhone(not sure). What this you can remotely control Logic or GarageBand. Basically you need long wires to your microphone or the recording interface and have the computer in the other room. Of course this requires an iPad.
     
  8. Alimar macrumors 6502a

    Alimar

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    #8
    The LogicPro app is universal.:)
     
  9. tevion5 macrumors 68000

    tevion5

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    Ireland
    #9
    I know a professional recording studio that uses a 2011 27" iMac with a swing arm mount. Its brilliant as it hovers nicely over the large mixing desk. Very elegant and practical.
     
  10. calaverasgrande macrumors 65816

    calaverasgrande

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    Brooklyn, New York.
    #10
    I've been a musician for golly, about 32 years now? Damn I got old all the sudden. I've also been on the DAW thing since the 90's.
    I'd say go with the laptop. All of the current Macbook Pros will run Live, Logic, Sibelious etc. And it is very very nice to be able to grab your production environment and walk out the door with it. I've written whole compositions on the flight to NYC from SF before. For a few years I rented a studio space in a warehouse and carried my laptop out there, pluggin in a firewire, USB and power was all it took to fire up my whole studio.

    Personally I'd advise you to shoot for a quad core 15" rMBP. It makes quite a bit of difference to have the larger screen real estate and it has a quad core CPU.

    Also the speakers on the 15" are actually some of the better speakers I've ever experienced on a laptop. The 13" is just okay in that regard.

    The iMac is pretty decent, but again the real power is in the larger model. Though maybe you can get quadcore on the 21" model now?

    As another poster said, check the refurb store, and also check out B&H Photo for deals on new and refurb Macs.

    The Mac universe is really where you want to be for making music. Besides it being a bit easier to get your stuff installed and off the ground, there is an enourmous community of musicians and composers who have blazed this path. If you run into any problems, someone else has with the exact same setup as you, and found the solution.

    ----------

    "System Requirements
    Compatible with iPad 2 or later and iPad mini. Requires iOS 7 or later and Logic Pro X, MainStage v3.0.2 or GarageBand v10.0"
    If you have that running on your iphone I'd love to know how.
     
  11. spyguy10709 macrumors 6502a

    spyguy10709

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    #11
    Even if your discount doesn't work on refurb, it's still probably cheaper to buy the refurb without the discount than to buy new with.
     
  12. Alimar macrumors 6502a

    Alimar

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    #12
    Sorry, my bad, the lpTouch for Logic Pro ($6.99), not Logic Remote (Free) is universal.
     
  13. calaverasgrande macrumors 65816

    calaverasgrande

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    #13
    No worries, I wish it was universal!
    I'd be able to keep my phone perched on my synth and start and stop record from there. The ipad mini works, but it is a precarious balance. And I've also been leaning more towards using it for actual music creation with some of the nifty apps that are on it.
     
  14. masterz13 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 5, 2014
    #14
    Do you guys recommend the 256gb model or the 512gb? I guess I'm just finding it hard to justify another $200-300 bucks for the jump. I do have a couple hundred gigs of music though, and I'll be using Logic Pro so sample libraries will take up space. Should I use an external drive or what?
     
  15. MrViking macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    #15
    I have a 27" imac and 13" rMBP.

    The imac is a bit smoother and I really enjoy the screen estate.

    If you can; add a monitor to your Macbook setup. If you use a lot of VST's I'd recommend a lot of ram and quad core.

    Specs:

    Imac 2011 quad core, 12gb ram, ssd + had
    2013 (late) rMBP with upgraded ram to 8gb
     
  16. calaverasgrande macrumors 65816

    calaverasgrande

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    Oct 18, 2010
    Location:
    Brooklyn, New York.
    #16
    in most cases a 512gb SSD is actually not just larger but faster.
    That said, current 7200TPM external drives are blazing fast and huge. More than a good fit for sample libs and other project files.
    I think it is a very good idea to keep your music projects on an external.
    It makes it simple to plug in to another Mac at a studio, instead of dropboxing them over or somesuch and having to rebuild file associations.
    Besides, that is one part you CAN update later if you so desire.
    Ram and CPU not so much.
     
  17. masterz13 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Nov 5, 2014
    #17
    Thanks for the help guys. I went with the 13" MBP with retina, 512gb model. I got a REALLY nice deal on it, so I am pretty happy overall. Can't wait to do some work in Logic Pro.
     

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