Curious in using a MacBook Air as a digital sound recorder (will it get too hot?)

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by littlejim84, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. littlejim84 macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2008

    I'm a budding sound designer/recorder and have been looking at high quality digital sound recording devices. Thing is, for a decent one, I have to spend a lot of money.

    I already have an Apogee Duet II which is very high quality and sounds fantastic when recording microphones. I currently have an old MacBook Pro (with a normal disk harddrive) and was thinking, what if I got a MacBook Air with an SSD (so there are no moving parts).

    That way, I can have my MacBook Air and my Apogee Duet in my audio bag and use that to record microphones. This seems to make more sense to me than buying another device with decent mic preamps.

    Anyhow, my question is, is it possible to run a MacBook Air even when the lid is closed? Will the laptop get too hot if it's running closed lid inside a bag? I've heard that the computer's heat is released from the keyboard so the lid needs to be open. Is that correct?

    Any information or experience with this sort of thing would help greatly!
    Thanks, James
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Yes. Apple Portables: How to use your computer in closed clamshell (display closed) mode with an external display
    Yes, it likely will overheat. You shouldn't run it inside a bag. Having the lid closed is fine, but having it in a bag will block the air vents.
    There is no air intake or exhaust through the keyboard on any Mac notebook, and there never has been. Both intake and exhaust is through the vents in the rear near the hinge, which allows venting with the lid open or closed (for operating in clamshell mode). There is a solid panel under the keyboard, preventing any meaningful airflow.
  3. littlejim84 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2008
    Thanks for the great reply.

    If I had some sort of shoulder bag with no covering, so the Air could sit snuggly with the back of it (where the vents are) is pointing up into the fresh air... Would that be ok you think? As long as the back bit where the vents are getting fresh air?

    I only ask this, because a lot of my sound recording will be indoors with a proper setup. Rarely I'll be going around town (only on a sunny day with no chance of rain) is the situation I'd imagine having my laptop in a situation like this. As long as the vents at the back of the laptop have constant access to fresh air (so basically a topless shoulder bag with the laptop's back pointing up) this may be ok?

    Thanks again, James
  4. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    I wouldn't recommend it. That's not what the MBA is designed for. There are other devices that are better designed for your purposes.
  5. ooans macrumors 6502

    Jun 4, 2011
    I've recently started having problems with the battery on my bluetooth headphones, and only way to use them is to keep them charged on. I will buy a new battery as soon as I can afford one, but to get around the problem I've temporarily used them plugged into my MBA. I've put my MBA into insomnia-mode, and kept it running in my shoulder bag with its airvents pointing upwards (with the headphones plugged into the USB port.)

    So far I havent got any problems using it this way, however I wouldnt do this if I was doing something which would heat up the computer a lot.

    I could imagine that doing some audio recording would not be a problem seeing that it doesnt require much of the processor. I'd give it a shot!

    And you could always control the MBA with your iphone via VNC? ;)
  6. littlejim84 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2008
    This is what I imagined see. Even on my old Mac, with Apogee Duet, recording two channels, it seems to take up about 15%-20% CPU. I'm so it would be much less on a brand new Air. And yes, I was thinking of controlling the MBA from my iPhone using VNC! :)

    I dunno, I haven't worked it all out yet. I'm sure if I customise a shoulder bag to ensure the Air had plenty of ... air... then maybe it would be ok? Like I say, most of the time, I'd be inside recording. Seems silly I have to spend 2/3rds of a MBA to have something I'd use only 10% of the time, whilst recording sounds.

    Hmm... the thoughts continue.
  7. SchwartzSound macrumors newbie

    Apr 2, 2012
    Not sure if you ever tried out your MacBook Air rig, but I would agree with GGJstudios and also suggest using a dedicated digital audio recorder over attempting to use a laptop in this way. Some pros of a digital recorder over a laptop:

    1. Dedicated device = more reliable. Your laptop (software) is more likely to potentially crash over a dedicated hardware device.
    2. Smaller and more portable than a laptop. While your creative shoulder rig is intriguing, it would be difficult to carry a boom mic around while holding a laptop... Also it would be very difficult to monitor your recording progress/level and make gain or other adjustments like you would want to
    3. One small piece of equipment, no extra data cables, power cables, etc. In your setup you'd have to find a way to secure your audio interface to your shoulder rig as well, and FireWire/USB are not the most solid of connections.
    4. Better battery life / replaceable batteries.
    5. Less external noise, particularly with PC laptops (not that anyone reading this uses a PC...), but the fan noise can be loud enough to interfere with recordings.

    I could go on, but these are the major issues. For the price, ease of use/portability, and level of quality, dropping a couple hundred dollars on a dedicated audio recorder like the popular Zoom H4n would be the way to go here, particularly if you're serious about sound. I have a feeling once you get one, you'll find you will actually end up using it much more than you think.
  8. littlejim84 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2008
    Thank you. That was a very good reply. And everything you say there is a very valid point.

    I suppose the reason why I thought about this so much was I've had the Tascams and the Zooms of the digital recorders and the quality, though very good, aren't great. To get greatness in a handy portable device you're talking more like £700-800 or even £1500+. I've got to know my Apogee Duet audio interface very well and I have to say the microphone preamps in them are excellent. Better than anything I'd get in a portable recorder, unless I spend a lot of money.

    But you are right, I know deep down it wouldn't be ideal. But with the smaller, lighter, solid state MacBook Airs ... I just wondered if I could get away with using that with my Apogee Duet. But I do think you're right.

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