Hoping for some purchasing advice for an audio person

mjn298

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2011
201
0
Palisades, Washington, DC
Hi, all

I should probably post this in digital audio, but I'm on a bit of a tight time squeeze.

About 2 weeks ago, I bought a 13 inch base 2012 MBA. I found it to be underpowered for running Logic Pro or Pro Tools w/ multitrack audio recording (not software instruments, actual audio recording). I upgraded to the high-spec stock 2012 MBP 13" and am regretting that. I have until this Monday to exchange this machine.

Currently, I'm looking at the classic MBP 15" so I can get that 4 core CPU. Pro Tools hasn't signed up for the SSD revolution (nor the thunderbolt to firewire move) so I'm not sure if the rMBP is the right call. I feel it's inevitable that avid gives the "thumbs up" to SSDs, but it hasn't happened yet. I don't particularly care about the size of my internal storage because I have a good external mass storage setup - USB 3.0 is a godsend in that regard. I will often just carry an external drive around to recording sessions that have their own hardware but I like to perform live through mainstage or Guitar Rig 5.

The rMBP is hot - very hot (I mean appeal-wise, not temperature). I spend most of my time, though, plugged into an external monitor.

If I got a classic 15", I would probably get the base model and upgrade aftermarket to 8 or 16 gb of RAM. I don't see the 2.3 ghz clock speed becoming an issue.

GPU is of almost no importance to me, I have a home-made windows desktop for gaming and I don't do any video/photo editing (nor do I have plans to start.. music is overwhelming enough!).

Another thing about the rMBP that is giving me pause is that I've been burned on buying first-run Apple hardware before. I had the first run of intel MBPs back in 2006 and that was far and away the worst computer I've ever owned.

So, basically - if I got an rMBP I would get the base model as-is, and probably sell it within the year and get whatever comes out. I'm assuming they will hold their value somewhat.

If I get a cMBP I would aftermarket upgrade the RAM, and toss in an SSD when it gets the Avid seal of approval (and prices for larger capacities come down), and subsequently keep it for a few years.


What do you guys think? No matter what I am going to bring this computer back tomorrow and get Apple Store credit for it.

Thanks in advance.
 

stevelam

macrumors 65816
Nov 4, 2010
1,215
3
fat chance getting guitar rig to be retina-optimized. if audio software is your main usage, be prepared to just look at a blurry mess for a long time as none are updated for retina. i doubt applications like pro tools ever will be. just get the regular mbp.
 

mjn298

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2011
201
0
Palisades, Washington, DC
fat chance getting guitar rig to be retina-optimized. if audio software is your main usage, be prepared to just look at a blurry mess for a long time as none are updated for retina. i doubt applications like pro tools ever will be. just get the regular mbp.
Honestly, I don't expect any third-party audio software to ever become retina optimized until this pixel density is achieved (and common) on 27"+ displays because I doubt serious pros are doing much on 15" screens.

On one hand, I don't want to be "left out in the cold" but on the retina I don't see any performance enhancements that I would benefit from (obviously SSD, but I will do that on my own at some point once Avid works out their problems w/ them).

My main sticking points are "wow" factor (I assume I can scale the display to a resolution more amenable to current DAWs and related software) and resale value.
 

mjn298

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2011
201
0
Palisades, Washington, DC
Also, will an SSD have any great latency benefit for doing audio recording through a USB interface? I have an SSD on my desktop but I only use it for the OS and program files, everything else goes to a platter disk.
 

stevelam

macrumors 65816
Nov 4, 2010
1,215
3
Honestly, I don't expect any third-party audio software to ever become retina optimized until this pixel density is achieved (and common) on 27"+ displays because I doubt serious pros are doing much on 15" screens.

On one hand, I don't want to be "left out in the cold" but on the retina I don't see any performance enhancements that I would benefit from (obviously SSD, but I will do that on my own at some point once Avid works out their problems w/ them).

My main sticking points are "wow" factor (I assume I can scale the display to a resolution more amenable to current DAWs and related software) and resale value.
I have the RMBP to use for graphic work and to be honest even in that field the screen isn't much of a help. It's still too small to do real work on (never mind the fact that it will probably take adobe ages to get all their apps updated, if ever).

I haven't tried it with my RMBP yet but I'm kind of worried by the fact that just powering the screen requires extra cpu resources which may affect audio latency. (PS having an SSD drive won't affect recording latency at all as that's more to do with audio driver/CPU/and the softwares IO buffers).

For audio work, retina display seems to be even less worthwhile unless you're always plugged into an external monitor (which I am). I guess if you're using this for live performance with guitar rig (I own 4 but I imagine 5 has the same larger UI live setting) it really doesn't matter if it's going to be slightly fuzzy to look at. You do gain some minor benefits like having a lighter system to haul around.

The only audio application I have installed on my RMBP (my other audio stuff is on my Mac pro hackintosh) is adobe audition and let me tell you, just resizing and dragging UI assets around is dog slow (running at the "like 1920 res" setting).

And I doubt resale value will be any greater than any other Mac, considering next year it's expected the next RMBP is going to dwarf the current one (much like how the initial MBA was relatively horrible and really only got good in the next years iteration).
 

flipnap

macrumors 6502
May 1, 2012
339
0
Im running logic pro and its optimized for retina and looks fantastic. I use a lot of color coding for tracks and its so easy on the eyes. I layed down three songs already using only the retina screen and its very pleasant on the eyes on a 15 inch screen, mostly because the text is so crisp. SSD drive is MUCH better performance than my RAID drives.

USB hasnt caused a single issue for me, I use it for midi, the occasional mic, and my apogee duet (which performs flawlessly on the rMBP). I also use cubase on the windows side and it too has performed flawlessly, both in parallels and on bootcamp straight.

I do a LOT of audio on this machine, and its the main reason I bought it, because of the weight difference and size difference to the classic (dont let anyone tell you differently, it makes a big difference - almost 25 percent thinner and a lot lighter)

Still the choice is yours to decide. The classics screen is a tad brighter and you can opt for matte finish if youre on stage and lights are a problem. I personally could never go back to a non retina screen, it looks that good to me..

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For audio work, retina display seems to be even less worthwhile unless you're always plugged into an external monitor (which I am)
I dont get this. Are you saying that retina isnt good unless its plugged into an external monitor? that doesnt make a lick of sense.
 

flipnap

macrumors 6502
May 1, 2012
339
0
Just a heads up apple's 13" and Retina MacBook Pro's no longer support audio-in functionality.

http://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/specs/

For more info on the matter check out this thread:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1389284&highlight=audio+in
im on a rmbp and i have audio in. I can use an external mic and instrument feed. I only use my apogee duet for recording but i can most definitely use the audio in port form the mini jack on the side. dont know about the 13, but the rmbp 15 no problem here. strange.
 

Serelus

macrumors 6502a
Aug 11, 2009
673
132
Vm9pZA
im on a rmbp and i have audio in. I can use an external mic and instrument feed. I only use my apogee duet for recording but i can most definitely use the audio in port form the mini jack on the side. dont know about the 13, but the rmbp 15 no problem here. strange.
Ah wel I already found it strange, but some people seem to have issues, and the apple specs no longer seem to mention it. But I guess it works fine on rMBP.
 

stevelam

macrumors 65816
Nov 4, 2010
1,215
3
Im running logic pro and its optimized for retina and looks fantastic. I use a lot of color coding for tracks and its so easy on the eyes. I layed down three songs already using only the retina screen and its very pleasant on the eyes on a 15 inch screen, mostly because the text is so crisp. SSD drive is MUCH better performance than my RAID drives.

USB hasnt caused a single issue for me, I use it for midi, the occasional mic, and my apogee duet (which performs flawlessly on the rMBP). I also use cubase on the windows side and it too has performed flawlessly, both in parallels and on bootcamp straight.

I do a LOT of audio on this machine, and its the main reason I bought it, because of the weight difference and size difference to the classic (dont let anyone tell you differently, it makes a big difference - almost 25 percent thinner and a lot lighter)

Still the choice is yours to decide. The classics screen is a tad brighter and you can opt for matte finish if youre on stage and lights are a problem. I personally could never go back to a non retina screen, it looks that good to me..

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I dont get this. Are you saying that retina isnt good unless its plugged into an external monitor? that doesnt make a lick of sense.
i'd like to know what magical version of logic pro you're running thats retina optimized. do you have a different version than the one described in this article?

Logic Pro. Everyone’s favorite Mac DAW looks pretty abysmal on the Retina Pro. You can mitigate this somewhat by switching the Retina Pro’s display scaling to “Looks like 1920 x 1200,” and Logic Pro is the kind of app that benefits from the extra screen real estate (like Final Cut Pro, which is already optimized), but hello Apple, Retina support please (or, you know, just shock the DAW-verse by releasing a true 64-bit version of Logic Pro — call it “X”? — with Retina support).
and SSD drive has no affect on latency at all. the only real benefit gained from an audio context is probably faster loading of plugins. so i'd like to know where this "MUCH better performance" rant is coming from.

and yes, the retina screen is practically useless right now since no major productivity apps are available for it. even so, its still a tiny 15" screen. an external larger monitor will always be better unless you're constantly on the go.
 

mjn298

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2011
201
0
Palisades, Washington, DC
I know for sure that Logic isn't, and no one knows when it will be. Seems not to be a priority. I have even less hope for third party software.

I also did some research, and while SSDs definitely rock they have no impact on recording latency (as someone said), and it's not a good idea to write to your main disk anyway.

Really wish there was a 13" quad core.
 

flipnap

macrumors 6502
May 1, 2012
339
0
i'd like to know what magical version of logic pro you're running thats retina optimized
seriously man, couldnt you have just left out the "magical" part? theres no reason to be sarcastic about it. It looks extremely sharp to me and i thought it was optimized.

heres a screengrab of what it looks like to me. if its not retina it looks good enough to me, and not blurry at all.
 

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mjn298

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2011
201
0
Palisades, Washington, DC
seriously man, couldnt you have just left out the "magical" part? theres no reason to be sarcastic about it. It looks extremely sharp to me and i thought it was optimized.

heres a screengrab of what it looks like to me. if its not retina it looks good enough to me, and not blurry at all.
if this is the "fuzziness" that people are complaining about, it doesn't appear to be a problem to me.
 

flipnap

macrumors 6502
May 1, 2012
339
0
if this is the "fuzziness" that people are complaining about, it doesn't appear to be a problem to me.
well, thats why i thought it was optimized. It looks even cleaner than the screen grab. Im running some non retinized apps and they look pretty fuzzy, compared to logic.

Its a tough call as far as which system. But for some reason, others seem to get really angry about the retina macbook in these forums and theres quite a heated division on the pros and cons. Just go with your gut. Only problem ive experienced to date is a bit of stutter from the UI. Producing music on this has been a dream, the I/O is quick quick.

Good luck and keep kickin tunes!!!!
 

mjn298

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2011
201
0
Palisades, Washington, DC
Thanks for the advice!

I will probably go cMBP tbh, so I can throw in a TB SSD when those become reasonably priced in the next 18 months, but I will play around for some time w/ an rMBP in the store today to see if it really enhances my experience.

I'm just SO fond of the unibody design and I'm a little reticent to buy a first-run apple laptop after getting burned in the past.

The ability to eventually move the platter disk to the optical slot is a great option too for having a dump disk in the machine itself.

But the retina's so sexy. The fact that that's what's drawing me to it is probably sufficient evidence for me that it's not something I genuinely want.
 

flipnap

macrumors 6502
May 1, 2012
339
0
So I think i'm going to get the base 15" cMBP as is (not even a screen upgrade), upgrade RAM myself, and upgrade to an SSD when Avid supports it.
Sounds like a good choice. Upgrade ram to 16 will be really cheap to do. Thats a really great machine. Just remember 5200 rpm drives can cause some minor issues with recording audio. Have fun!
 

mjn298

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2011
201
0
Palisades, Washington, DC
Sounds like a good choice. Upgrade ram to 16 will be really cheap to do. Thats a really great machine. Just remember 5200 rpm drives can cause some minor issues with recording audio. Have fun!
Thanks!

And so i've heard, luckily being a hardware nerd i have some 7200 rpm platter disks lying around.
 

mjn298

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 25, 2011
201
0
Palisades, Washington, DC
Went w/ the low-tier cMBP 15

wasn't ready to say goodbye to the unibody beast yet! Have 8 gb of replacement ram coming in, throwing in a spare 7200 rpm notebook drive I have lying around, and getting an SSD once Avid steps their game up.

it was tough to keep myself from putting down an order for an rMBP right there, but I just don't have enough faith yet in them to carry around everywhere/bring on stage, etc.

But - it's an amazing machine! If I didn't have a desktop and it was to be my only machine I might have gone for it. Screen is gorgeous.
 

wethackrey

macrumors 6502
Feb 27, 2007
259
17
Redondo Beach, California
Another thing about the rMBP that is giving me pause is that I've been burned on buying first-run Apple hardware before. I had the first run of intel MBPs back in 2006 and that was far and away the worst computer I've ever owned.

So, basically - if I got an rMBP I would get the base model as-is, and probably sell it within the year and get whatever comes out. I'm assuming they will hold their value somewhat.

If I get a cMBP I would aftermarket upgrade the RAM, and toss in an SSD when it gets the Avid seal of approval (and prices for larger capacities come down), and subsequently keep it for a few years.

What do you guys think? No matter what I am going to bring this computer back tomorrow and get Apple Store credit for it.
I'm not sure what Avid's issue may be with regard to approving SSDs. I'd think that would be the perfect solution for digital video. I can tell you I'm getting extraordinary throughput to the 768GB SSD on my MBPr.

As for MBPs retaining their value, yes. I usually buy a new machine every year and sell off the old one on eBay. Usually costs me about $50 per year in price delta. I keep them in good shape, keep the original packaging, and include Applecare.