Which kind of Macbook pro should I buy for music production and recording?

Can someone give me some suggestions on which kind of Macbook Pro should I buy for music production and recording(mainly)??

I am going to buy a Macbook 2019 and to be a logic user, but I don’t know which setting should I choose, like which processor, how many Memory and Storage… I don’t do big project. Most of the time it does not over 25 tracks. Just for my interest ,like, self recording and producing for fun. The suggestions which I found on google, are not work for me, I think, their for professional producers.(crazy expensive).

Please give me some suggestion under my situation. Thanks a lot.

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If price isn’t a top concern, I’d go with one of the newest 16" MacBook Pros — recent upgrade, pretty much top of the line you can get, and larger screen will be nice (though for any size laptop, an external monitor may come in handy).

Another thing to note is that for the last few years Apple has had a lot of issues w/ the laptop keyboards being not super reliable, and this new 16" MacBook Pro model has apparently a much improved keyboard. If you prefer a smaller / cheaper model, it might be worth waiting a bit as they’ll likely update the keyboards on the rest pretty soon too (see the Wirecutter review for detail)

Personally I’d probably upgrade to 32GB RAM, but you should be fine with 16 GB. Default graphics card and 512 GB SSD likely fine too (though 1 TB a good idea if you can swing it). For the new 16" models you’re looking at $2500-3k for a pretty standard config, definitely not cheap though should last several years.

If price is a main concern I’d check Apple refurbished, some good savings here but still buying directly from Apple: https://www.apple.com/shop/refurbished/mac/macbook-pro

Also, OWC has some great deals on refurb models as well, and considerably cheaper upgrades (they’ll let you configure to add e.g. more RAM at much better prices than Apple): https://eshop.macsales.com/configure-my-mac/macbook-pro

If you do buy direct from Apple I’d recommend getting the extended warrantee (AppleCare) which will be a couple hundred bucks extra, but cover you for 3 years instead of the default 1 year in case you have any hardware issues. If you buy from OWC you’ll still get the standard 1 year coverage I believe.

My final recommendation would be that if you don’t need a laptop, you’ll typically get better bang for your buck with an iMac! The 27" retina 5k iMacs are awesome, and you can often find a pretty sweet refurb of a recent model for considerably cheaper than an equivalent MacBook Pro.



Thankfully mine yet hasn’t yet given up the ghost but I’ll be following this advice when it does.

Thank you for the professional suggestion in detail! Even there are links pasted there. :metal: :heart_eyes: :+1:Really appreciate it!

I need a Laptop for both music and college study purpose (like bring it college for programming class)so I don’t consider iMac, though I think it’s the best for music.
Following your suggestion, I went to the apple Website and find this setting:
(newest MacBook Pro 16’)

It start from a i7, 16gb, 512gb. For 2400
Very expensive for me, but I’ll consider it if necessary.

These are what I usually do:

1, Creat a backing track ( around 10-12 tracks )and create a solo or something else over it (4-6 tracks)
2, use a backing track and do the song cover (around 5-8 tracks)
3, for the mix, well , I don’t really do that because I can’t…don’t know how to do that, I often use vst like ozone 8 to mix automatically…wait…is it called mix…alright…

So, is this MacBook Pro setting enough for me? Or you think I should upgrade any part?(I noticed that in your suggestion it should be 2500-3000, this is 2400)
If I buy this laptop, how big the project I can process? ( sorry for asking these questions, but I am exactly a newbie in those ele-hardware and I have no idea which build is enough for which kind of project…)

I used cubase on windows for three years, but I hear that many professionals prefer apple, though I don’t know why, but I still want to have a try. :thinking: :scream:

I’ll preface by saying that I’m biased against Apple; but regardless of that I personally would avoid MacBooks with T2 chips. They’re less repairable than those without, and they’ve been reported to cause audio issues especially if you have a somewhat old interface.

I think it comes from a time where Windows basically sucked for audio production. XP wasn’t good enough for it, Vista was unstable, 8/8.1 had their issues with UI and user experience overall, and well, Windows 10. So in the early 2000’s to 2010’s, if you wanted to have a very stable audio workstation, MacOS X was the more reliable option. I personally think it’s much less the case nowadays and you can equally work on Windows and MacOS. But if you’re used to Apple, it works for you and you don’t have personal issues with the hardware, why would you switch even almost 20 years after the first release of OSX (yes, it was in 2001).

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Thanks for your reply. I’m in a mess…but that’s good information!

How sold are you on a laptop?

If this is truly as a recording solution and not just an all-around computer where you want to record on occasion, then you’re probably better off getting a desktop - it’s cheaper, and the rest of the recording gear you’ll be using with it (recording interface, speakers, etc) aren’t very portable.

Do you already own a recording interface? The input/output options on a laptop on their own aren’t up to the task (nor are they designed to be) so you’ll want to include some sort of USB or Thunderbolt interface in your budget as well.


I’m considering an all around laptop because the laptop I currently have is 7.5 ibs, which is not work for bringing to college. I can stand it but uncomfortable.

Ok, so that would make a laptop a bit more of a requirement.

I mean, honestly, any Macbook has enough firepower for running relatively simple recording projects - unless you’re running a TON of tracks at once or some very resource-intensive VSTs, you’re probably ok. I record on a… 2012, maybe, iMac desktop via thunderbolt, do occasionally run pretty large mixes with a LOT of plugins active, and while Reaper is supposed to be unusually resource-efficient, I have yet to have issues either tracking or playing back on my computer. Video is a little slower these days on the newest version of Final Cut Pro (which honestly I’m such a beginner with it’s overkill for my needs) but otherwise I haven’t had any real issues.

One of my friend just suggested me to buy a desktop for music and gaming + basic windows Microsoft surface for study, Total price equals to an MacBook Pro, I think that make sense. I know a desktop is far more powerful…
Anyway from you guys suggestions I realized maybe some hardware setting is too much for me as I am not that hardcore project guy.

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Yeah for college when you’re lugging the computer around to class all the time, I actually might suggest the 13" MacBook Pro.

As others have mentioned, for basic music production, really any model should be fine, unless you’re doing really intensive processing (or gaming / graphics-heavy stuff) you don’t need a maxed out processor, graphics card, etc. I’d go with at least 16 GB RAM / 512 GB SSD just to future-proof a bit.

I don’t have much Windows experience so can’t speak to differences but we’re on Mac for all our machines in the office and they work well for us! Note that Apple machines are typically preferred for programming as well (under the hood, much closer to Unix than Windows machines).

So the 13" MBP may be good bang for your buck at a bit under $2k for the mid-range model w/ slight RAM / SSD upgrade if you like. Or for a really good deal, could get a 2017 model refurb for only a little over $1k. I’m seeing some decent discounts on the new model on Amazon / Best Buy too.

Good note from Drew that you’ll probably want to budget for a decent audio interface. The other thing I’d suggest, if you end up getting the 13", an external display could be nice if you have the desk space. You can get a pretty nice 24" for just a couple hundred bucks (24" reviews here) or even a 27" (bit pricier though, see reviews here).

Sounds like a good choice! I think I can wait for a month to see if I can got the update keyboard 13’’ MacBook Pro :crazy_face:

For gaming I presume you need either (1) a Windows PC, (2) the upcoming Xbox, or (3) the upcoming Play Station; as you know, macOS sucks for gaming. If you get a big gaming PC then I believe that you can run Reaper (and other music stuff on it) and skip the Mac entirely.

But if you get a Mac, one laptop is probably fine for you, along with a gaming console. I just have a 15” Mac laptop and 27” 5k display and run everything there, but I don’t game. If you have a good monitor at home then a 13” laptop is likely fine for out and about…

For hardware you might need monitor + mechanical keyboard + display + backup disk + audio interface… it adds up. Also look at used stuff, the resale price of hardware plummets right away.

Each one of you make a lot of sense. I can not disagree with you guys. :thinking:

Depends where your priorities are. If you want to game and don’t care about the performance aspect… pick an used console and flip it when you’re done. As noted by others, we’re a bit less than a year away from the next console generation. To be fair, even Microsoft and Sony are bundling their current hardware for quite cheap to get rid of it, but when you factor in the cost of the online subscription and games… well buying new gives you a warranty I guess. I mean, the console “only” needs to hold out for a year before the next generation, if you even care about the next generation.

Regardless of whether you pick a Windows or Mac laptop, desktop PC or whatever console manufacturer you get, focus on serviceability, repairability and price/perf rather than aesthetics. So as a college student and assuming you don’t have much disposable income, buy used.

That said, after quite a lot of stagnation, perhaps AMD’s new Ryzen 4000 lineup will bring the price of used parts lower. It doesn’t concern MacBooks too much since Apple is most likely still contracted to Intel (just take a look at the Mac Pro). But then you have the issue that there’s never a good time to buy… and you still need to buy something at some point. :neutral_face:

All depends of how much you’re ready to spend. I’m assuming as little as possible, but it seems you haven’t clearly defined your budget yet.

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Lots of good advice here. I’ll give you a slightly different take. To be completely honest, it’s been almost ten years since I’ve even bothered to look at hardware specs for audio. On the Mac side at least, that’s about when the hardware overtook the needs of what I personally do. We’re currently living in basically a computer wonderland where any midlevel machine or better can easily handle anything I want to record. I no longer worry about adding more synth tracks, or reverbs, or anything. The CPU meter on any Macbook I’ve owned for the last maybe seven years never goes above maybe 50% when I’m running Logic.

Obviously this is dependent on what you’re doing, but for reference, the most processor-intensive thing we do in audio is record live drums and guitar, which is about 10-15 simultaneous mics, with effects and software synths, all happening at the same time. Up until this summer I was doing all this on a Macbook from 2012. This was through our Lynx Aurora 16 firewire / thunderbolt 2 interface, with no drivers either. Just plug it into Mac OS without installing anything. Everything “just works” now.

Compare this to the '90s when everything was third party sound cards, third party drivers, and constant crackles, pops, crashes and reboots. By the late '90s / early 2000s when software synths started be a thing, you couldn’t play more than a few simultaneous notes in any software synthesizer before the CPU was pegged at 100%. There are always edge cases, and if you’re running tons of processor intensive plugins or software synths, I’m sure you can still max out your machine if you like. But there is way more room for error now.

As others have noted, this is not the case in video. Editing 4K video, or gaming, still benefits from as much hardware as you can afford. But the difference is that you can still do it on a budget machine — you just have to wait longer and render first, in Final Cut at least. It’s like audio in the '90s, just without the bugs and crashes.

It’s an amazing time for computing.

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Hi Troy, Thank you for sharing your idea and thoughts on this topic. Now I have a roughly but clearer picture on computer for audio in my mind.

I bought a dell laptop on 2015, with 16gb ram, 1tb hdd + 128 ssd, i7-5500U. (Graphic card is terrible) it sounds like pretty enough. But actually it performed not well in 2017,2018. It often reminds me “too many tracks to record” even there are just no more than 15. Also it is very slow when using some vst. Because of this, I might think that windows requires higher level hardware than I think. But as you mentioned your apple can easily run recording project I think maybe apple system does not require as much hardware as windows when run the same project, due to the system improvement.(This is my own opinion without enough data to support)

I was using a 13" MacBook Pro from 2016 and it ran fine, mostly, but if I had too many tracks or plugins, I had to freeze tracks to keep it from dropping out.

Now I have the latest 16" and got the upgraded version with the 2.3GHz i9 and 16 GB of memory, and I haven’t found a limit yet for tracks and plugins, and haven’t frozen a track yet.


I misworded that, slightly. I should have said “too many tracks WITH too many plugins.” It’s the plugins that use resources, not the number of tracks. My 13" MacBook can probably handle all the tracks I might reasonably throw at it. But if you use a lot of plugins, as I do, that’s when you might have to start freezing tracks.

And midi tracks use more resources than audio tracks. So if you use a lot of midi, that’s another thing to consider.


To a degree it’s both, but only to a degree - with even 16gigs at your disposal, you’d have to be running ludicrous numbers of .wav file tracks at even merely conservative prebuffer settings before simply playing back the audio is going to get you into trouble. You’re most likely talking hundreds. If you’re Devin Townsend that could be a problem, but even a heavily layered project for me probably won’t breach 50 tracks (including midi feeding Superior 3 running to about 8 separate outputs for the kick, snare, overheads, etc) so it’s definitely the processing you’re doing that will get you into trouble.

Within most normal project studio ranges, where you’re really going to see the biggest impact of faster processors and more RAM is project load time.

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