VST & Logic Pro X on the new 12" MacBook

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Libertine Lush, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. Libertine Lush, Mar 9, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015

    Libertine Lush macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2009
    Hi everyone,

    This is coming from the perspective of someone new to music production and with, at least initially, very minimal technical needs--my setup will be comprised of just Komplete 10 (VST library), Komplete Kontrol S25 (MIDI keyboard), Logic Pro X and an audio interface.

    1) Does anyone know or can make an educated opinion on how a laptop with the 12" MacBook's specs (1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M, Intel HD Graphics 5300) would run the setup I mentioned? To reiterate, as a beginner, my demands are minimal: if processing an effect takes 10 seconds on a mobile i5 and this Core M takes 45 seconds, I can tolerate it. Maybe.

    In case benchmark data for the exact CPU would help make some educated opinions: https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+M-5Y71+@+1.20GHz&id=2465

    There is a few Windows laptops running the same CPU as this new MacBook. If anyone happens to do music production on those, your experience would be particularily helpful.

    (Intel has compared Core M to a four-year-old Core i5 laptop chip)

    2) Could you provide an example of where the CPU or the GPU (does that matter?) would be noticeably handicapping?

    3) Komplete 10 requires a "Intel Core 2 Duo.” Does this new dual-core Intel Core M meet that minimum prerequisite?

    4) This MacBook has only 1 port: a USB-C. I would need, presumably, a USB-C hub or Adaptor. There may be only one available at the moment, made by Apple (http://store.apple.com/us/product/M...5786d6137f9e64fb277700f9e78889558&fs=s=newest). Would connecting the audio interface to an USB-C adapter adversely affect performance and sound quality, as it can when connecting to a USB hub or do adapters and hubs behave totally differently?

    I’ve read that it’s best to get a “powered” USB hub to minimize latency with audio interfaces. Does that mean that the hub requires it’s own AC charger?

    Thank you for any help!
  2. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    I've seen video of the 11" air running logic on YouTube..it did much better than I would of thought.

    I imagine you're not going to use many tracks, so I would think it can manage some of the work load..

    However, - why?

    The 13" retina would be much better, and is priced pretty similar. It's very portable as is, and has ports.

    I would get that..
  3. threezero macrumors 6502

    Aug 22, 2008
    off topic post coming up

    i'm new to music production too (i specialize in live sound) i have to say i'm incredible jealous at the fact that you have both komplete 10 and the S25. would you say its a good way to spend $1000? is this the only plugin suite you have invested in?

    and a on topic comment.

    can't say about spec but the thought of trying it mix on a 12 inch screen makes me have a major headache.
  4. Libertine Lush thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2009
    The setup I mentioned is what I will have--waiting until I decide on the 12" MacBook or 13" rMBP--so I'm not qualified to offer an informed opinion. Though if you read articles on Komplete 10, it's regarded as one of the best, if not the best, and most comprehensive suite.

    Yes, it'll be my only VST library initially, but given the size and versatility, it will probably be my only one for a long time.

    I agree if you use it at its native resolution, but it can be scaled to 1440x900. It'll be crucial to learn if the integrated GPU in it will be able to run scaled 1440x900 smoothly. If it can, it'll be one less concern.
  5. jblongz, Apr 13, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015

    jblongz macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2013
    1) 12" Macbook performance will be horrible

    2) GPU matters when processing video, plugging external monitor(s).

    3) Intel M has the same instruction set as i7 series

    4) In theory is should work fine. Early adopters with pro audio equipment will be among the first to test real world performance.

    A powered usb hub uses an AC adapter...this is highly recommended for audio interfaces. I use 10-port USB3 Orico hub. Remember, on a single USB3 bus, your fastest device will run at the speed of the slowest connected device. So, if your interface is USB 2.0 standard, a USB3 drive on the same bus will run at 2.0 speed.

    Again, as others have said, a better option is the MacBook Air. That is as thin as it gets with good performance.

    Another important limitation of the MacBook....its fanless. This is a bad situation for CPU intensive work. VSTs will need a computer with a decent airflow.
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    About the powered hub. That's bunk. They are NOT faster. But still you may need one. Powered hubs are able to supply power to devices that are powered over USB. For example you could charge your cell phone with a lowered hub.

    So if you have many power hungry devices you would want a powered hub.

    Latency is determined by the sample rate and the size of the sample buffer, that's it.

    Would the "air" be fast enough for you? That depends on what yo do with all that software. How many tracks of MINI are you recordings and how many virtual instruments are you running.

    One problem I have is with smaller screens. Logic is a screen space hog. My 27" iMac is big enough but every notebook size screen is just to small. You need a monitor.

    Again CPU speed is not much of an issue if you only record a couple tracks.


    Do you even need Kontact? Buy Logic it comes with quite a lot and it will take you months to learn how to use it. Logic comes with a pretty big library. You might not need more. Wait until you have a project that needs something then buy just that.

    For example, you may not like the grand pianos that come with Logic. I think they are OK for some uses but certainly not for solo piano performances but work good in a mix. But Kontackt's pianos, some of them are better they are not close to the best.

    In any case you will need STORAGE and more STORAGE and disks for backups and more backups. DOn't forget to budget at least four external disk drives.
  7. Libertine Lush thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2009
    I've read in numerous forums that using a USB hub introduced latency and powered hubs do not--not that they are inherently faster. So non-powered USB hubs shouldn't be introducing latency?

    For my initial setup, I wanted synthesizer and beat making capabilities. Read a great deal about hardware versus software synthesizers. Komplete 10 happens to have synthesizers and beat making covered, amongst a world of everything else. Additionally, they released a powerful line of keyboards (with Fatar keybeds) to be used with Komplete; the vertical integration there is particularily appealing as an Apple user.

    Would you say to the average listener the best Logic pianos are indistuinguishable from the real thing in a multitrack song? I'm a classically trained pianist and the couple Logic pianos I checked certainly don't deceive me.

    Are there VST/sampled/virtual instrument--what would the correct term be?--pianos that are reasonably close to the real thing?

    Thank you!
  8. ChrisA, Apr 22, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015

    ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I would like to hear an explanation. Hubs are never the cause of latency. To cause any latency at all a device needs some kind of memory. To cause 1 mSec latency on 48K SPS audio the hub would need some memory to hold 48 samples. Hubs don't do that. What causes latency is buffering.

    that sid, you might want a powered hub for other reasons or you may not need one at all.

    MIDI integrates well across brands You can use any keyboard with any virtual piano. MIDI only sends the key down and velocity data

    I am not surprised. The Logic piano would not fool many pianists. But when I said "in a mix" I meant not playing a leading part, not a solo instrument.

    But you can add a sampled grand piano from say "Sample Tek" and play it with Logic'sbuilt-in sampler and it's pretty good. But no electronic piano sounds just like a real live concert grand. Even a real Steinway does not sound like a real piano after to record it and play it back on speakers

    Reasonably, yes.

    Not bad for $49

    here is another that is not expensive

    This one is also cheap. Pianoteq's Steinway D This is a "modeled piano" not sampled. It's a simulation. The others are samples of real pianos.

    Kontact offers a huge collection of samples but I don't think they are better than the companies who specialize in just doing pianos. But notice the NI does offer single instruments too.

    EDIT: SampleTek seems to have a sale going on now. Half price. Buy their "Rain Piano" for $24 and use it for "ragtime" or for a soundtrack for an old western movie.

    Sampletek offers version that run inside Logic's sample "ESX24" or inside Kontakt. But ESX24 is free from Apple.
  9. Libertine Lush thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2009
    Thanks for the links. Looking at them now.

    I actually happened upon the Synthogy one recently. That one astounds me. I'm not sure if I would know any better if I wasn't told it's a VST.
  10. vladobizik macrumors 6502

    Aug 21, 2012
    I agree that the Logic pianos are terrible for solo piano work, they're fine only when you use them in an arrangement with other instruments, buried in the mix.

    There was a time when I searched for the perfect, ultimate acoustic piano library. Eventually I found mine. It's Alicia's Keys by Native Instruments. Actually, if you own Komplete, is should be a part of it. It's by far the best sounding virtual piano I have ever used or heard. It's basically a sampled Yamaha C3 Neo and it's unfortunate that NI markets it as a signature library for Alicia Keys wannabies and people who want to pursue a different musical path and style may ignore it from the get go. I have been using it almost exclusively for years in my solo piano work. If you want to take a listen to how it sounds in my music, here's a couple of songs:

    Then, in the recent years, I have been drawn to another sample library, the only one that comes close to Alicia's Keys in my book. It's Emotional Piano by Tonehammer (AFAIK, its development was later picked up by another company). It's much more atmospheric, "full" and certainly not for every kind of music. But when I want to record more intimate-sounding piano music, I choose Emotional Piano more and more these days. Again, here's a sample song by me:

    You may give these two a try. Just my two cents and sorry for keeping the discussion off topic.
  11. jblongz macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2013
  12. polaris20 macrumors 68020

    Jul 13, 2008
    My main machine is a 2013 MBA13 with the i7, and 8GB RAM. Running the "Evan's Logic Benchmark", I get 38 tracks at 128 buffer, which, given the intensity of this test, is more than I'll ever need.

    Even a 2011 MBP13 i5 gets 28 tracks with this test.

    That being said, I'd still rather go Air than the retina Macbook. Besides the processor, there are just too many other compromises that aren't worth it.
  13. Libertine Lush thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2009
    jblongz and vladobizik, thanks for the links. I'll take a look through them. Indeed, vladobizik, I dismissed NI's Alicia Keys' VST as her association with the product put me off--assumed it was somehow inferior.

    That benchmark info is extremely illuminating. Looking at the OP post, I can't tell if the test is running VSTs or live recordings for the tracks. Is it the former? (I imagine the former takes more CPU power.)
  14. polaris20 macrumors 68020

    Jul 13, 2008
    Are you referring to Passmark? That's a synthetic benchmark, and isn't going to be directly relevant to audio recording.

    The Evan test, on the other hand, most definitely is, because while the project isn't something anyone would actually use, it's using real instruments, real plugins.
  15. Libertine Lush thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2009
    Yea, I mean the Evan test. Are real instruments more or less demanding on the CPU than VSTs?
  16. polaris20 macrumors 68020

    Jul 13, 2008
    Sorry, I just saw this now; I don't come around here often anymore. Real instruments are less demanding (in my experience) than software instruments.
  17. Libertine Lush thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2009
    Thank you :)
  18. Sackvillenb macrumors 6502a


    Mar 1, 2011
    Canada! \m/
    Hey I'm kinda late to this party, but I wanted to add a few cents. I would definitely get a computer with a better processor. I use komplete 9 among other things, it's demanding enough, and I definitely run into CPU bottlenecks from time to time even with logic's own plug ins (e.g. real time EQ anaylsis, etc.). I'm running production on a 2.6 GHz 13" retina with SSD. And it does mostly work fine, but certain things will tax the CPU pretty hard... so if I was using a slower processor like the new macbook, I imagine things would be much worse...
  19. robertosh macrumors 6502a


    Mar 2, 2011
    Komplete is a very resource-hungry software, I don't think that it is a good way to start. I've gave up on NI, cause of size of the libraries and the stability of their software. Even sold my audio interface cause of his bad drivers (and non-existan customer support). You can try AAS (Applied Acoustics Systems), they have amazing software with the size of a few megabytes. Audio Analog VA-2, which is amazing, is only 21.9Mb weight, cause they don't use Libraries. I'm still using my 8 year old iMac for audio production so the new macbook has to run very well.

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18 March 9, 2015