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Music, Audio, and Podcasting Do you use your Mac to create music? This is the place for discussions on creating and editing music on the Mac!

Looking for advice on which mac to buy for a new home studio

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Member Since: Jul 02, 2009
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I'm a musician/songwriter who hasn't recorded anything in years - my equipment, which is packed away, is analog/cassette-based (Fostex) and I'm finally ready to enter the 21st century and build a new, small, mac-based home studio. I talked recently with a very knowledgeable friend who is a professional mac consultant and longtime mastering engineer. He recommended that I buy the new 13-inch MacBook Pro (the higher end one with the 2.53 GHz processor), and then buy a larger external monitor, like the the $800 Apple 24-inch monitor (I'd be using my laptop for the studio, as well as every day use on the road and at my office), and then presumably, get started with Garage Band. Another friend, who is a sound engineer, thinks I should go directly for Pro Tools LE with either an Mbox 2 or Mbox 2 Mini and is offering me unlimited, free lessons, to boot. Finally, another friend, who does TV and film scoring, insisted that I needed a Mac Pro. With all of that in mind, I want to make sure that I buy a mac that is going to be appropriate for the type of hardware and software I'm going to be using, my complete lack of both knowledge and confidence with any of this, and a fairly limited budget of $3,000 - $5,000. I don't need overkill but I also don't want an underpowered system that can't handle the work load.

I'd really appreciate some advice on what computer I should buy. One concern I have about the 13-inch MacBook Pro is the fact that you can only buy it - or order it - with a 5400 rpm hard drive. Everyone I've ever talked to, accept for my mac consultant friend who recommended this setup, insisted that I needed a 7200 rpm hard drive. Both the 15 and 17-inch models can be configured with a 7200 rpm drive. Both are great machines, but I sure like the portability of the 13-inch model. Finally, there's the issue of latency. This is, I believe why the Mac Pro is the ultimate choice...

Lastly, I understand that the 24 inch monitor for the MacBook Pro only has a mini adapter, rather than a DVI, so it can only be used with the mac mini or the MacBook Pro. Does this make this monitor a foolish option? It's incredibly expensive for having this limitation, but with a 13-inch laptop, an external monitor seems like a good idea for home studio work. Of course, if I went for the 17-inch model (with the mat screen!) I could lose the add-on display, but I'd also be throwing portability out the window. Again, I'd love to get as much advice as possible regarding these issues - and others I haven't thought of...

In the end, I'd love to get advice on one or two possible configurations. Of course, any input at all would be GREATLY appreciated.

Many thanks,

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Mac Specs: MBP 2.3 Ghz 4GB RAM 860 GB SSD, iMac 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 32GB RAM, Fusion Drive 1TB

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You can always upgrade the HDD and the RAM yourself on the MBPs. Just buy the appropriate one. You can't upgrade the CPU or the GPU so you need to plan accordingly.

The 17" is an option but it's more of a desktop replacement than anything else. It's very cumbersome to carry around something that large.

If I was in your situation I would get an iMac, and the 13" MBP.
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