Right off the bat, I have to say that the MacBook Air is not the best computer for music production, due to its inherent limitations, for instance, the amount of RAM and the Processor Speed.
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However, of course, a lot of people love the MacBook Air and insist on buying one for music production, despite what people may tell them.
If you insist on buying a MacBook Air for music production, you want to get the new 13″ MacBook Air with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of Storage.
If you’ve read my other articles on the necessary specifications for music production, you know there are certain requirements of your computer in order for plug-ins and software to run smoothly.
The recommended specifications are the following:
- 16 GB of RAM
- 3 GHz Processor Speed
- 4 Cores
- Solid State Harddrive.
- Graphics Card 2GB
I’ve written about these specifications before in my article on the best iMac for Garageband, but I digress. In brevity, music production is a process that utilizes quite a bit of processing power and memory because each task has to be completed in one core at a time before the computer can then move on to the next task.
This is quite a bit different in comparison to other uses of a computer, like gaming or video editing, where each part of the process is spread across different parts of the computer and different cores simultaneously.
In other words, each part of the process is completed in one core at a time, and the computer’s cores need optimal performance, that way it can get things done so the computer can then move on to the next task.
It’s not like video editing or gaming, where many things are at work at once, including the graphics card and several other cores simultaneously. Plug-ins are a good example of this (by the way, I couldn’t recommend Komplete 13 from ZZounds enough).
If you’ve loaded up 4-5 plug-ins on a MIDI synth, for instance, there is a lot going on on that synth, and each part of that process is probably occurring in one core.
When you press on the MIDI keyboard like the Arturia KeyLab 88 (also from ZZounds), the computer has to make the sound of the synth, in addition to all of the plug-ins that are set up on the instrument. This is one of the reasons why you may notice that some applications or instruments suddenly fail.
Essentially, when an instrument or sound fails, it means that the computer doesn’t have enough processing power within that core to complete all of the tasks at the rate at which the computer needs. Hence, the crash and burning of the application or your computer warning you that something went down.
MacBook Airs Work For Music Production – But It’s Not The Best
With all that said, there are a lot of people out there that will argue that a MacBook Air works just fine for music production, and it will work just fine, especially if you have the best version with the most RAM, the highest processor speed, and the most storage capacity.
Frankly, the MacBook Air is going to serve your needs in the meantime, but as your demands of the CPU become more intense, you’ll start to notice the limitations of the computer.
If you plan on keeping your music quite simple with not a lot of plug-ins or third-party software, your computer will work sufficiently, but if not, it’s not going to be the best option.
For instance, I’m currently using a 2017 MacBook Pro with 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5, 8 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3, and Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 1536 MB.
And it does the job, but I should’ve got this upgraded MacBook Pro with more RAM from Amazon, more storage space, and faster processor speed, because I’ve run into issues before, including not having enough storage space on the computer, or the computer not being powerful enough to run more than one software at a time.
I frequently make YouTube videos using the ScreenFlow Editor, and if I have Garageband running at the same time, I can expect problems while running two softwares simultaneously. This is compounded if Google Chrome is running as well. Furthermore, if you don’t have enough storage capacity on the computer, it’s going to get really annoying, really quick.
I almost always have to do a weekly cleaning on my computer, where I take some of my old tracks and put them on an external hard drive. I guess I could put them in the iCloud, but that just seems shady to me, and I’d rather store them directly on my computer, to be frank with you.
MacBook Pro Versus MacBook Air for Music Production
The proper Macbook Pro out-performs the MacBook Air on a single and multi-core performance, which means that it’s much better for computer processing power and performance.
For instance, let’s compare two of the models right now:
MacBook Air 13″ 2018/2019, 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-8210Y Dual Core:
Single-Core Score: 4006 points
Multi-Core Score: 7393 Points
MacBook Pro 13″ 2019, 1.4 GHz Intel Core i5-8257U Quad-Core”:
Single-Core Score: 4654 Points
Multi-Core Score: 16713 Points
By looking at the two specifications above, you can see that the MacBook Pro outperforms the MacBook Air by a large margin, both in Single-Core performance and also in Multi-Core performance. In other words, the MacBook Pro is going to be a much more powerful and faster machine.
While the MacBook Air will meet your demands in the beginning stages, the MacBook Pro is going to be a much better option as time goes on, especially considering the way that macOS has continued to evolve over-time and demands more from the CPU.
The Importance Of RAM
As I’ve explained before in my article on RAM, RAM is super important for the computer’s processing speed and power, and most people argue that 8GB is the bare minimum of what’s needed, with 16GB being much better.
For instance, my computer has 8GB of RAM, and as I’ve already mentioned, it’s not enough. The computer can’t take more than 2-3 complicated tasks at once. ScreenFlow, Garageband, and Google Chrome are pretty much all it can take at one time, and it even struggles to do that.
Furthermore, it’s definitely worth mentioning that Apple has made it so that nothing can be replaced in them anymore, so the purchase you make in the beginning stage will be final.
All-in-all, the MacBook Pro is going to be the superior option for making music, however, some of you will still want to get the MacBook Air. In that case, just get the absolute best model available and you may get away with it in the meantime.
If you’re really in the market for a music production device, you could actually get the iPad Pro 11 with optimal specifications and that would do a lot better than a MacBook Air. The iPads are slowly becoming a lot better as time goes on, as it seems like Apple is recognizing that mobility is the future. For the price of an upgraded MacBook Air, you could grab the best iPad Pro 11 and you’d probably be the wiser for it.