Category Archives: Apple

Apple M1 Processor Series

Understanding the four Apple M1 Series processors

Apple M1
The M1, Apple’s first system on a chip designed for use in Macs, is manufactured using TSMC’s 5 nm process. Announced on November 10, 2020, it is used in the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), Mac mini (M1, 2020), MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020), iMac (24-inch, M1, 2021), iPad Pro (5th generation) and iPad Air (5th generation). It comes with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, for a total of 8 CPU cores. It comes with up to 8 GPU cores, with the entry level MacBook Air having only 7 GPU cores. The M1 has 16 billion transistors.

Apple M1 Pro
The M1 Pro is a more powerful version of the M1, with six to eight performance cores, two efficiency cores, 14 to 16 GPU cores, 16 Neural Engine cores, up to 32 GB unified RAM with up to 200 GB/s memory bandwidth, and more than double the transistors. It was announced on October 18, 2021, and is used in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple said the CPU performance is about 70% faster than the M1, and that its GPU performance is about double. Apple claims the M1 Pro can deliver up to 20 streams of 4K or 7 streams of 8K ProRes video playback (up from 6 offered by Afterburner card for 2019 Mac Pro).

Apple M1 Max
The M1 Max is a larger version of the M1 Pro chip, with eight performance cores, two efficiency cores, 24 to 32 GPU cores, 16 Neural Engine cores, up to 64 GB unified RAM with up to 400 GB/s memory bandwidth, and more than double the number of transistors. It was announced on October 18, 2021, and is used in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro, as well as the Mac Studio. Apple says it has 57 billion transistors. Apple claims the M1 Max can deliver up to 30 streams of 4K (up from 23 offered by Afterburner card for 2019 Mac Pro) or 7 streams of 8K ProRes video playback.

Apple M1 Ultra
The M1 Ultra consists of two M1 Max dies connected together by a silicon interposer through Apple’s UltraFusion technology. It has 114 billion transistors, 16 performance cores, 4 efficiency cores, 48 to 64 GPU cores and 32 Neural Engine cores; it can be configured with up to 128 GB unified RAM of 800 GB/s memory bandwidth. It was announced on March 8, 2022, as an optional upgrade for the Mac Studio. Apple claims the M1 Ultra can deliver up to 18 streams of 8K ProRes video playback.
Wikipedia

The brilliance of Apple silicon is the components of each one are the same. There are just more or less of them in each type.

* Exception is the M1 does not have the ProRes Encoder/Decoders that the M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra have.

The Apple M1 Processor Series are truly game changing processors. By the end of 2023 all Intel based Macs should be history and replaced by M Series processors. As of Q1 2023, the only Apple system with Intel processors still is the Mac Pro.

The M1 processors are Apple custom ARMv8 processors and based on the TSMC 5nm process.

** If you are browsing this page from a phone, you may want to view the following chart in landscape mode.

ComponentM1M1 ProM1 MaxM1 Ultra
Efficiency CPU Cores4224
Efficiency Clock2.1GHz2.1GHz2.1GHz2.1GHz
Performance CPU Cores46 or 8816
Performance Clock3.2GHz3.2GHz3.2GHz3.2GHz
Neural Engine Cores16161632
GPU Cores7 or 814 or 1624 or 3248 or 64
Unified Memory8GB or 16GB16GB or 32GB32GB or 64GB64GB or 128GB
Memory Bandwidth68.25GB/s200GB/s400GB/s800GB/s
Video Decode Engines1112
Video Encode Engines1124
ProRes Encode-Decode Engines0124

Assuming a 2 year processor upgrade cycle, by the end of 2023 the M1 Series should be history and fully replaced by the Apple M2 Processor Series in newly released products.

Buying an Apple M1 Series computer

Any Apple M1 Series computer will be a joyful experience compared to music and video production on Intel hardware. If you are a musician or creator, it is highly recommended to get at least 16GB of memory and 512GB storage if you select an M1 system. At the other end of the scale, 64 GPU cores and 128GB of memory will probably not make an appreciable difference for the average musician or creator if you select an M1 Ultra system.

There are 7 basic form factors of Apple macOS systems with M1 Series processors, 3 desktops and 4 laptops.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M4 Max & M4 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M4 Pro & M4 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M3 Ultra & M3 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M4 Ultra & M4 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M4 & M4 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M4 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Apple Mac mini M1

Lowest cost desktop option for musicians and creators

Apple Mac mini M1 $1099.00 minimum as recommended below

Do not buy a computer with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD! Why any musician or creator would buy a new system constrained like this in 2024 is beyond me. If properly configured Apple silicon is too expensive for you, buy used or refurbished.

I’m not going to play with you here, or hem and haw like many YouTubers do. 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD are not enough for musicians and creators. Some software will not run. It’s tight now and has a negative future-proofing factor. A 16GB memory upgrade for $200 and a 512GB SSD upgrade for $200 are seriously the minimum of what you need.

My minimum Apple computer recommendation for musicians and creators is 16GB memory and 512GB SSD or more. Any less than this does not make performance or economic sense. You will regret buying an Apple M Series system with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD.

With the above caveats, the Mac mini M1 and its siblings, the MacBook Air M1 and the 24″ iMac M1 make good low cost options for musicians and creators. For some the 13″ MacBook Pro M1 would also be a viable option, but I personally hate the touch bar and find the design/features dated, so they are not for me (or the majority of others).

CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks

I would generally advise to not get too tied up in the minutiae of benchmarks, but they are useful for relative comparisons of processors. It is worth noting that no M Series processors are slouches. Some more than others, but all of them are a noticeable improvement over the Intel processors in previous generation Macs.

CPU single-core performance of the M1 processors in the Mac mini are very similar to all other M1 Series processors, because of course they all share the same CPU single-core.

CPU and GPU multi-core performance is where the differences become more apparent because of the different number of cores.

DAW Benchmarks

To give you a rough idea of DAW performance, these Logic Pro benchmarks come from the ‘Mac Studio vs M1 Mac Mini after 2 Weeks! Real-World Results..’ video located in the YouTube section farther down this page. These are base models. The Mac mini M1 8GB has 8 CPU cores and 8 GPU cores. The Mac Studio M1 Max 32GB has 10 CPU cores and 24 GPU cores.

Note the tracks in this benchmark are not necessarily real world loaded but I think you can see both of these systems will satisfy average DAW performance needs. Real world loaded I would feel very comfortable throwing 60 tracks at the Mac mini M1 8GB model or 115 tracks at the Mac Studio M1 Max 32GB model. No need to completely dog out the CPU, ha! The numbers would be comparable for Ableton Live or other DAWs as well.

DAWs will run on an 8GB Mac mini but you will hit the memory ceiling and feel it. Your call but I recommend 16GB. 256GB is a pointless SSD capacity as well. You will be on external storage very quickly.

Check software compatibilities

It should go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway. M1 series has been out since November 2020 and macOS Monterey since October 2021. I think it’s crazy that any DAW or plugin should have issues or still be running on Rosetta emulation, but not everyone listens to me. Do your homework!

macOS 12 Monterey: Compatibility Guide

Furthermore, in my opinion any major software company that markets to Apple users and hasn’t updated their software to include Apple silicon compatibility deserves to lose your business. It’s been a year and a half, and at this point it’s a real screw you. They obviously don’t care about their customers and should be replaced by a company that cares more about their customers.

All that said, my personal experience has been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Monterey. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

macOS 13 Ventura: Compatibility Guide

My personal experience with Ventura has also been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Ventura. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

Ports are important for musicians & content creators

I am especially glad Mac mini M1s have an Ethernet RJ-45, 2 Thunderbolt/USB-C ports, 2 legacy USB-A ports, and an HDMI port. The Thunderbolt/USB-C and the USB-A ports can also be easily expanded with a hub if you need more. Also an external monitor like the Apple Studio Display has 3 more USB-C ports in addition to the Thunderbolt 3 connection port if you go that route.

You will want to plug your interface directly into USB-C or if you can’t do that, USB-A. The USB-A ports will be useful for legacy hard drives, flash drives, cables to synths, cable to printer etc.

Obviously wise future purchases will be solidly Thunderbolt or USB-C. The HDMI will be very useful for TV, and occasionally most musicians like to plug headphones directly into the system, though most of the time it’s either through an interface or Bluetooth. You can also buy the Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter for an older existing monitor if you need it. This adapter also has a USB-C and a USB-A.

Mac mini hardware upgrades

Remember no internal hardware upgrades can be performed. This is especially true with Apple silicon. SoC or System on Chip as you probably already know, cannot be upgraded. The advantages are more than worth it, but push yourself to adequately configure memory and storage for the future.

External storage alternatives

I recommend backing up all data to the cloud, and supplementing the internal Apple SSD.

See Apple M Series External USB-C SSD Options for a more extensive discussion and specific product recommendations.

The Mac mini M1 has what it takes to last 5+ years

This is why you buy Apple. Realistically with the cost of computers these days, a 1-3 year refresh cycle is not practical for most people. Unlike the majority if not all PC systems, Apple computers are built to last and Apple silicon is state of the art enough to start you at the head of the pack.

Keep coming back

What will be different about this site compared to many Apple sites is over time we will be sharing configuration and electronic music/video recording pertinent information. More soon.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/mac-mini/

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com/

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac mini M1 Series YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac M Series Music Production YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M4 Max & M4 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M4 Pro & M4 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M3 Ultra & M3 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M4 Ultra & M4 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M4 & M4 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M4 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro

Lowest cost desktop option for musicians and creators

Apple Mac mini M2 $999.00 minimum as recommended below
Apple Mac mini M2 Pro $1299.00 minimum as recommended below

Do not buy a computer with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD! Why any musician or creator would buy a new system constrained like this in 2024 is beyond me. If properly configured Apple silicon is too expensive for you, buy used or refurbished.

I’m not going to play with you here, or hem and haw like many YouTubers do. 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD are not enough for musicians and creators. Some software will not run. It’s tight now and has a negative future-proofing factor. A 16GB memory upgrade for $200 and a 512GB SSD upgrade for $200 are seriously the minimum of what you need.

My minimum Apple computer recommendation for musicians and creators is 16GB memory and 512GB SSD or more. Any less than this does not make performance or economic sense. You will regret buying an Apple M Series system with 8GB memory and a 256GB SSD.

Mac mini M2

With the above caveats, the Mac mini M2 and its sibling, the MacBook Air M2, make amazing low cost options for musicians and creators. For some the 13″ MacBook Pro M2 would also be a viable option, but I personally hate the touch bar and find the design/features dated, so they are not for me (or the majority of others).

A Mac mini M2 with 16GB memory and 512GB SSD is $999.00. Leave it at that. If you want more than that, move up to the Mac mini M2 Pro, ok?

P.S. The 256GB SSD is slow, much slower than the 512GB SSD.

The Mac mini M2 has HDMI 2.0, WiFi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3. Otherwise it has the same ports and same number of ports that the Mac mini M1 has (notably 2 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports). Note the Mac mini M2 supports 2 displays, one up to 6K over Thunderbolt, and one up to 5K over Thunderbolt or 4K over HDMI.

Mac mini M2 Pro

Many people feel the Mac mini M2 Pro is one of the best and most important systems Apple has released lately. The Mac mini M2 Pro is really the star of this release. If you are in the $1299.00-$2199.00 budget range, give it serious consideration. Yes it costs more than a Mac mini M2, but you get a lot of bang for your buck.

I will also mention that if you would add more than two options of CPU/GPU cores, memory, or SSD to the $1299.00 Mac mini M2 Pro, you might consider jumping to the Mac Studio M1 Max. Personally, for a primary system I would take the Mac mini M2 Pro in its $1299.00 configuration or bump it up to 32GB memory and a 1TB SSD, making it $1899.00 and that is probably it. Any more upgrades than that and you are firmly in Mac Studio territory. $1299.00 to $1899.00 is the sweet spot for the Mac mini M2 Pro.

If you add the 12 CPU cores, 19 GPU cores option to that, it is $2199.00, the same as a Mac Studio M1 Max with 10 CPU cores, 24 GPU cores and 1TB SSD. The Mac Studio M1 Max also has 10 Gigabit Ethernet, the 2 front USB-C ports, a front SD card slot and more GPU power, but the Mac mini M2 Pro has more CPU power. Better CPU power or better GPU power and form factor, it’s a difficult choice for a DAW user…

Keep in mind, that just like the MacBook Pro M2 Pro, the 512GB SSD on the Mac mini M2/M2 Pro is not slow, it is fast, but the 1TB SSD is as much as twice as fast.

The Mac mini M2 Pro has HDMI 2.1, WiFi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3. It has 4 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports. Otherwise it has the same ports and same number of ports that the Mac mini M1 has. Note the Mac mini M2 Pro supports up to 3 displays, two up to 6K 60Hz over Thunderbolt, and one up to 4K 60Hz over HDMI, OR one up to 6K 60Hz over Thunderbolt and one up to 4K 144Hz over HDMI, OR one up to 8K 60Hz OR one 4K 240Hz. Whew! Read the specs for details.

Information you need to properly digest web sites & especially YouTube.
Updated frequently – Apple Technology YouTube Critique

CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks

I would generally advise to not get too tied up in the minutiae of benchmarks, but they are useful for relative comparisons of processors. It is worth noting that no M Series processors are slouches. Some more than others, but all of them are a noticeable improvement over the Intel processors in previous generation Macs.

CPU single-core performance of the M2 and M2 Pro processors in the Mac mini are very similar to all other M2 Series processors, because of course they all share the same CPU single-core.

CPU and GPU multi-core performance is where the differences become more apparent because of the different number of cores.

DAW Performance Benchmarks

The M2 will handle 70+ tracks. Both versions of the M2 Pro are going to be able to handle double that at 150+ tracks. DAWs are heavy on CPU use, with very little GPU load. This Logic Pro benchmark comes from ‘The TRUTH about New Mac Mini after 1 Month – M2 vs M2 Pro!‘ video located in the YouTube section farther down this page.

I would strongly recommend the M2 Pro 10 core CPU, 16 core GPU or the M2 Pro 12 core CPU, 19 core GPU as perfect processors for the majority of musicians. Not only is your DAW gonna hum like never before, but you will experience great video and graphics processing with the 16 or 19 core GPU.

If you need more CPU horsepower for a DAW, you will need to move into a desktop Mac Studio M1 Ultra. The extra GPU cores of an M1 or M2 Max won’t help a DAW. Video and graphics processing are different issues of course.

Check software compatibilities

It should go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway. M Series has been out since November 2020. I think it’s crazy that any DAW or plugin should have issues or still be running on Rosetta emulation, but not everyone listens to me. Do your homework!

Furthermore, in my opinion any major software company that markets to Apple users and hasn’t updated their software to include Apple silicon compatibility deserves to lose your business. It’s been over 2 years, and at this point it’s a real screw you. They obviously don’t care about their customers and should be replaced by a company that cares more about their customers.

macOS 13 Ventura: Compatibility Guide

My personal experience with Ventura has been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Ventura. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

Ports are important for musicians & content creators

The 2 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports on the Mac mini M2 are a bit tight for musicians and creators, but can also be easily expanded with a hub if you need more. The 4 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports on the Mac mini M2 Pro are better for musicians and creators. Also an external monitor like the Apple Studio Display has 3 more USB-C ports in addition to the Thunderbolt 3 connection port.

You will want to plug your interface directly into USB-C and find the 2 legacy USB-A ports good for USB hard drives, flash drives, cables to synths, cable to printer etc.

Obviously wise future purchases will be solidly Thunderbolt or USB-C. The HDMI will be very useful for TV, and occasionally most musicians like to plug headphones directly into the system, though most of the time it’s either through an interface or Bluetooth. You can also buy the Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter for an older existing monitor if you need it. This adapter also has a USB-C and a USB-A.

Mac mini hardware upgrades

Remember no internal hardware upgrades can be performed. This is especially true with Apple silicon. SoC or System on Chip as you probably already know, cannot be upgraded. The advantages are more than worth it, but push yourself to adequately configure memory and storage for the future or get the appropriate system.

External storage alternatives

I recommend backing up all data to the cloud, and supplementing the internal Apple SSD with an external USB-C or Thunderbolt SSD/HD.

SSD speed needs for music production are similar to photography and video. This video will help you choose external SSD solutions (also in YouTube playlist below).

See Apple M Series External USB-C SSD Options for a more extensive discussion and specific product recommendations.

More soon, check back!

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/mac-mini/

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com/

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac mini M2 Series YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac M Series Music Production YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M4 Max & M4 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M4 Pro & M4 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M3 Ultra & M3 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M4 Ultra & M4 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M4 & M4 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M4 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max

The Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max are Apple’s most powerful 2023 Q1 laptop and the ultimate laptop for musicians/creators

Apple 16″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro $2499.00 – M2 Max $3499.00 minimum per processor type
Apple 14″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro $1999.00 – M2 Max $3099.00 minimum per processor type

If you’re a serious pro or amateur musician, you really want the Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra or the Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max. A large music and/or video recording studio without budget restraints or someone who must have PCIe slot expansion may want to consider the Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra. These are the three best computers for creatives you can buy today.

If you absolutely must spend less than $1999.00, consider buying used, refurbished or consumer level Macs like the Macbook Air, iMac or Mac mini. To suggest buying less than an Apple M Series system is bad advice. Also see notes below in the Unified Memory section.

See: Apple Silicon is the DAW standard.

The MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max were the most powerful Apple laptops you could get and elegantly suited for creatives

The MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max laptops are exactly the same as the MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max versions except for the new processors with different CPU/GPU core counts, HDMI 2.1, WiFi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3.

Models have 10-12 CPU cores, 16-38 GPU cores, 16 Neural Engine cores, 16GB-96GB RAM, media engine enhancements, memory bandwidth of 200GB/sec to 400GB/sec, 3 Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, HDMI, internal display 3024×1964/3456×2234, external display to 8k.

For an easy to view chart of processor differences, see: Apple M2 Processor Series.

The MacBook Pro M2 Pro and M2 Max are the best laptops Apple has produced, and will remain so until the M3 Pro/Max versions are released. If you want a laptop for creative pursuits, the MacBook M2 Pro/Max is the best money can buy. Apple has continued to improve these machines. The design and performance of these machines builds on exquisite.

There are many ways to configure these laptops and everyone’s needs are different. In my opinion, the 14″ is best configured as a M2 Pro system, and the 16″ is best configured as a M2 Max system.

The 16″ MacBook Pro is more of a hybrid laptop/desktop

If you prioritize screen size and/or sustained GPU performance over portability, the 16″ may be for you. Generally, I would characterize the 16″ as more of a hybrid laptop/desktop. It is a bit much for lugging around with you on the go. If you don’t move it a lot though, the screen is very attractive and it is more appropriate for M2 Max high GPU loads.

Realistically, for a performing musician, any laptop DAW’s size/weight are going to be nothing next to guitars, synthesizers, amplifiers, and other gear, and the 16″ screen would be a lot easier to see on stage. But if you are on the move a lot, back and forth from work, customers, clients, coffee shops, or whatever, the 14″ may be more for you.

The 14″ MacBook Pro fits my portability needs

On January 27, 2023 I purchased a 14″ MacBook M2 Pro, with 12 core CPU, 19 core GPU, 16GB of memory and 1TB storage. I paid the extra $9 for same day delivery. I decided that for my portability needs, it didn’t make sense to bump the memory or processor/GPU cores up. For reference sake, note that I have a Mac Studio M1 Ultra for my primary system.

As a secondary system I find the M2 Pro with 16GB to be fully adequate for my needs. After a couple weeks of use, I have yet to see swap use. However, if this was my primary system, I would definitely have gone with the 32GB option. I regularly use 32GB+ on my main system (Mac Studio M1 Ultra).

The 14″/16″ MacBook Pros are almost exactly the same

The 16″ M2 Max does have a high power mode that gives it a very minimal performance edge, but other than that and system/screen size, sustained GPU performance, and a minimal speaker quality difference, the 14″ and 16″ MacBook Pros are exactly the same.

The M2 Pro has 200GB/s memory bandwidth and the M2 Max has 400GB/s memory bandwidth, the same as before. M2 Pro/Max clock speeds are slightly higher than M1 Pro/Max. The M1 Pro/Max efficiency cores clock at 2.1 GHz and the performance cores at 3.2 GHz. The M2 Pro/Max efficiency cores clock at 2.4 GHz and the performance cores at 3.5 GHz.

The M2 Pro has one video encoder, one video decoder, one ProRes encoder/decoder and still goes up to 32GB memory. The M2 Max has two video encoders, one video decoder, two ProRes encoder/decoders and can now go up to 96GB memory instead of 64GB.

In my opinion the M2 Pro/M2 Max MacBooks are equal or improved in almost all ways to the M1 Pro/M1 Max versions. The one exception is the 512GB SSD. It is not slow, but it is a single 512GB storage chip, rather than two chips and half the performance of a 1TB+ SSD in many cases.

Upgrading from an M1 Pro or M1 Max to the exact same model/configuration M2 Pro or M2 Max is probably not something most people would do. M1 Series computers still work great with plenty of power. There isn’t really enough to make the jump for. If you need a different screen size, memory or storage, that could change the equation. If you have a Windows or Intel based Mac don’t hesitate to grab one of these. You will not regret it.

In average use, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between M2 Pro/M2 Max MacBooks and the equivalent M1 versions. And this is a good thing, the M1 Processor Series are great machines and the M2 Processor Series are measurably better. In intensive applications and especially graphics intensive applications, you will see gains, sometimes significant, over the M1 Series.

Unified Memory

One of the beautiful things about M series processors is the memory in the processor chip. The performance and efficiency results of this design are significant and unmistakable. Because of this design, you cannot upgrade the memory later. It is important to get a sufficient amount of memory.

Going backwards for a second, I think getting an M1/M2 with 8GB memory is a mistake for DAW users. People with simple needs do it, but they are not maximizing their performance potential. An M1/M2 or M1 Pro/M2 Pro with 16GB memory is the minimum to me. For many DAW users 16GB is too low as well. An M2 Pro with 16GB-32GB or M2 Max with 32GB will prove quite sufficient for most electronic or rock musicians.

However, if your projects include a lot of sampled instruments, orchestral arrangements or soundtrack work, you really should consider the 64GB or 96GB M2 Max. I would venture very few will need more than 96GB, but if you do, you need a desktop Mac Studio M1 Ultra to go to 128GB. If you need that much memory, you probably already know it.

Desktop vs. Laptop

My bias or transparent needs: Prior to using the Mac Studio M1 Ultra, I had been computing with laptops only (except servers) for over a decade, but at this point in my retired life, I have very little need for major horsepower portability. For me a powerful desktop is more useful than a laptop. My recording studio doesn’t move and I don’t gig either. The Mac Studio makes much more sense for me than a MacBook Pro as a primary computing device. 5% of the time when I do need portable computing, I don’t need the super performance horses, or the weight/bulk of lugging around a 16″ laptop. A 14″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro suits my backpack and travel needs best. I could easily live with nothing but a 14″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro and a 27″ external monitor if I needed to though.

My needs or any opinionated influencer’s needs are meaningless for you though. Pick what you need. If you need or prefer a laptop, then that is the best choice. If you need or prefer a desktop, then that is the best choice. There is no such thing as one all around best computer.

Information you need to properly digest web sites & especially YouTube.
Updated frequently – Apple Technology YouTube Critique

CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks

I would generally advise to not get too tied up in the minutiae of benchmarks, but they are useful for relative comparisons of processors. It is worth noting that no M Series processors are slouches. Some more than others, but all of them are a noticeable improvement over the Intel processors in previous generation Macs.

CPU single-core performance of the M2 Pro and M2 Max processors in the MacBook Pro are very similar to all other M2 Series processors, because of course they all share the same CPU single-core.

CPU and GPU multi-core performance is where the differences become more apparent because of the different number of cores.

SSD Performance Benchmarks

I purchased a 14″ MacBook M2 Pro, with 12 core CPU, 19 core GPU, 16GB of memory and 1TB storage as I mentioned earlier. I can’t speak to all capacities, but the 1TB SSD is a blazing fast SSD as benchmarked by the Black Magic Disk Speed Test. WRITE and READ results are consistently over 5000 MB/s, often significantly so.

Battery

Most of my need for battery power is in the 2-6 hour range, but I was curious how far it would go with my typical use. In my tests so far, this laptop goes 16-18 hours on a charge. I concurrently browse, SSH login to Linux servers, edit images with GIMP, and edit pages on this site in WordPress on non-stop battery with active use more than half the time since 6:00am. At 10pm-midnight, 16-18 hours later, the low battery notification comes on with 10% capacity left.

DAW Performance Benchmarks

The M2 Pro/Max can handle similar tracks/load to the equivalent M1 Pro/Max. The M2 Pro with 16GB handles 155 tracks, the M2 Max with 32GB handles 181 tracks. That said, there is no need to push your DAW to 1 track short of a crash. I would load an M2 Pro up to 103 tracks, and an M2 Max up to 120 tracks. No need to completely dog out the CPU, ha! The numbers would be comparable for Ableton Live or other DAWs as well.

FYI – DAWs are heavy on CPU use, with very little GPU load. The higher track counts achieved by the M2 Max compared to the M2 Pro are more a result of having 32GB of memory instead of 16GB memory. In other words adding memory instead of GPU cores will most benefit a DAW.

I would strongly recommend the M2 Pro 10 core CPU, 16 core GPU or the M2 Pro 12 core CPU, 19 core GPU as perfect processors for the majority of musicians. Not only is your DAW gonna hum like never before, but you will experience great video and graphics processing with the 16 or 19 core GPU.

If you need more CPU horsepower for a DAW, you will need to move into a desktop Mac Studio M1 Ultra. The extra GPU cores of an M1/M2 Max won’t help a DAW. Video and graphics processing are different issues of course.

Check software compatibilities

It should go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway. M Series has been out since November 2020. I think it’s crazy that any DAW or plugin should have issues or still be running on Rosetta emulation, but not everyone listens to me. Do your homework!

Furthermore, in my opinion any major software company that markets to Apple users and hasn’t updated their software to include Apple silicon compatibility deserves to lose your business. It’s been over 2 years, and at this point it’s a real screw you. They obviously don’t care about their customers and should be replaced by a company that cares more about their customers.

macOS 13 Ventura: Compatibility Guide

My personal experience with Ventura has been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Ventura. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

Ports are important for musicians & content creators

The 3 Thunderbolt/USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro are likely adequate for most, and can also be easily expanded with a hub if you need more. Also an external monitor like the Apple Studio Display has 3 more USB-C ports in addition to the Thunderbolt 3 connection port. I would theorize that in portable mode you will not need more ports than are built in the MacBook, but in the studio you may.

You may want a USB-C to Ethernet RJ-45 adapter. You will want to plug your interface directly into USB-C or if you can’t do that, get a hub or adapter also for legacy USB-A hard drives, flash drives, cables to synths, cable to printer etc.

Obviously wise future purchases will be solidly Thunderbolt or USB-C. The HDMI will be very useful for TV, and occasionally most musicians like to plug headphones directly into the system, though most of the time it’s either through an interface or Bluetooth. You can also buy the Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter for an older existing monitor if you need it. This adapter also has a USB-C and a USB-A.

MacBook hardware upgrades

Remember no internal hardware upgrades can be performed. This is especially true with Apple silicon. SoC or System on Chip as you probably already know, cannot be upgraded. The advantages are more than worth it, but push yourself to adequately configure memory and storage for the future.

External storage alternatives

I recommend backing up all data to the cloud, and supplementing the internal Apple SSD with an external USB-C or Thunderbolt SSD/HD.

SSD speed needs for music production are similar to photography and video. This video will help you choose external SSD solutions (also in YouTube playlist below).

See Apple M Series External USB-C SSD Options for a more extensive discussion and specific product recommendations.

The MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max have what it takes to get through the next 5+ years of your music & video productions

This is why you buy Apple. Realistically with the cost of computers these days, a 1-3 year refresh cycle is not practical for most people. Unlike the majority if not all PC systems, Apple computers are built to last and Apple silicon is state of the art enough to start you at the head of the pack.

Keep coming back

What will be different about this site compared to many Apple sites is over time we will be sharing configuration and electronic music/video recording pertinent information. More soon.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-14-and-16

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Apple MacBook Pro M2 Series YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac M Series Music Production YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M4 Max & M4 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M4 Pro & M4 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M3 Ultra & M3 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M4 Ultra & M4 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M4 & M4 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M4 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Apple Studio Display

27-inch 5K Retina display with integrated Apple A13 CPU

Mar 9, 2022: Ordered Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra. Delivery changed a few times, last estimate June 29.
Apr 19, 2022: Ordered Apple Studio Display that should deliver by June 3.
Jun 3, 2022: Apple Studio Display: Delivered! Still, I can’t use it since the Mac Studio has not <sigh>.
Jun 24, 2022: Mac Studio M1 Ultra shipped and could be here tomorrow which will be the 109th day.
Jun 25, 2022: Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra: Delivered!
Oct 3, 2023: Ordered 2nd Apple Studio Display that should deliver next day.
Oct 4. 2023: 2nd Apple Studio Display: Delivered!

Apple Studio Display Tilt $1599.00 – Tilt & Height $1999.00 – VESA $1599.00

Apple Studio Display Features:

  • Immersive 27-inch 5K Retina display with 600 nits of brightness, support for one billion colors, and P3 wide color
  • 12MP Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage for more engaging video calls
  • Studio-quality three-mic array for crystal-clear calls and voice recordings
  • Six-speaker sound system with Spatial Audio for an unbelievable listening experience
  • One Thunderbolt 3 port, three USB-C ports
  • 96W of power delivery to charge your Mac notebook
  • Nano-texture glass option
  • Configurable stand options

Cutting to the chase, I love this display. It is so good. I can visualize that a $3000.00+ display with mini-LED and 120HZ refresh rate would also be very nice, but this $1599.00 display is killer and unmatched by competition.

The solid and stylish aluminum build of the Studio Display is unique. Most if not all other non-Apple displays are plastic. There are not a lot of 5K displays out there, and this resolution means a lot to me. 5210×2880 resolution is to behold. To be able get a 5210×2880 screen print rocks. Pixel perfect with no scaling is amazing thing to see. 600 nits of brightness totally works. The color functions that visual creatives would appreciate are spot on.

The speakers and microphones I am sure are unmatched by any other. As a musical sort though, I have higher quality alternatives more suitable for music and video. I would imagine most people that can afford a $1599.00 display also have better speakers and headphones. Most musicians or video content creators are not looking to their display for speakers and mics. I won’t be listening to albums or watching movies with the Studio Display speakers most of the time either, no matter how good they are.

I usually use pro-level Bluetooth headphones or wired headphones/microphones routed through my interface, but I can see the Studio Display speakers and mics as useful for videoconferencing with FaceTime, Zoom, etc., or viewing something with someone in person without turning on my interface, microphone and powered monitor speakers.

The $1599.00-$2299.00 price depending on the options, eh… the $400 tilt and height adjustable stand is kind of a stab, but OK on the rest. For its top-end dollar outlay, I expect and believe the Studio Display is a top end display unmatched by competition. My perspective is as someone coming from a several hundred dollar 24″ 1920×1080 display. I’m not someone overjoyed with a less expensive offering than the $5998.00 including stand Apple Pro XDR Display. A pair of $1599.00-$2299.00 displays stretches my brain as far as it goes without breaking. For me, $1600.00 for one or $3200 for a pair of 27″ displays took some serious brain gymnastics to get to. I did get there for one Studio Display initially and a second one later.

I think many people were hoping for a display that was and still is unavailable in the market, a Mini LED screen with newer back-lighting technology instead of LED, HDR instead of SDR, and a variable refresh rate up to 120HZ instead of 60HZ. I can imagine the unannounced but expected someday Apple Studio Pro Display could have these specifications, but estimated to be over $3000.00 each, it’s out of my reach.

Truth be told, you can’t get an equal or better 5K Apple quality display with Apple system functionality for a price equal to or less than the Studio Display. You just can’t. If you want better, you’re going to pay handsomely for it, either $3000.00+ for the rumored Studio Pro Display or $6000.00 for the Apple Pro XDR Display.

The real value of the Studio Display comes when paired with an Apple Mac. Creatives and video communicators should appreciate the features of the Studio Display the most. It is not a gaming display. If gaming is your priority and/or lone pursuit, you’d be happier with a higher refresh rate 4k display instead of or in addition to this display. It is not a display for PCs. It will work on a PC with Thunderbolt 3, but you’ll miss all the CPU and software driven features, so why?

So all that said, reported low quality camera functionality and buggy behavior Center Stage behavior on some blogs and YouTube channels really didn’t cloud my purchase interest. For starters, it’s a valid explanation that 1080p webcam video on a 27″ 5K display is always going to look grainy next to the 5K by its very nature and specifications. Second, Apple says there will be improvements for the camera soon in new firmware. Multiple independent sources concur, the A13 CPU is running iOS 15.4 and the camera can be upgraded with software. I’m inclined to think Apple will take care of this quickly. Anyone semi-seasoned in electronic music knows waiting for a specific firmware fix can be risky, time consuming and frustrating, but I expect the fixes will be in and verifiable before the Apple Studio Pro Display is announced.

FYI, the Apple Studio Display replaces the 27″ LG UltraFine 5K monitor in Apple’s lineup and has been removed from Apple.com. When you really look at the quality, specs and reputation of the various pieces of this 6 year old LG monitor, it doesn’t stack up to the Studio Display anyway.

I’ll keep you up to date if anything changes.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/studio-display/

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com/

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Studio Display YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M4 Max & M4 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M4 Pro & M4 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M3 Ultra & M3 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M4 Ultra & M4 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M4 & M4 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M4 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max

The Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro/Max is Apple’s most powerful 2021/2022 laptop and a great choice for musicians/creators

Apple 16″ MacBook Pro M1 Pro $2499.00 – M1 Max $3099.00 minimum per processor type
Apple 14″ MacBook Pro M1 Pro $1999.00 – M1 Max $2899.00 minimum per processor type

If you’re a serious pro or amateur musician, you really want the Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra or the Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max. A large music and/or video recording studio without budget restraints or someone who must have PCIe slot expansion may want to consider the Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra. These are the three best computers for creatives you can buy today.

If you absolutely must spend less than $1999.00, consider buying used, refurbished or consumer level Macs like the Macbook Air, iMac or Mac mini. To suggest buying less than an Apple M Series system is bad advice. Also see notes below in the Unified Memory section.

See: Apple Silicon is the DAW standard.

The MacBook Pro M1 Pro and M1 Max are still among the most powerful and best designed Apple laptops you can get

For creative pursuits, the MacBook M1 Pro/Max laptops really launched a whole new era of portable systems. Apple really achieved something major. The design and performance of these machines is exquisite, to say the least. There are many ways to configure these laptops and everyone’s needs are different. In my opinion, the 14″ is best configured as a M1 Pro system, and the 16″ is best configured as a M1 Max system.

Models have 8-10 CPU cores, 14-32 GPU cores, 16 Neural Engine cores, 16GB-64GB RAM, media engine enhancements, memory bandwidth of 200GB/sec to 400GB/sec, 3 Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, HDMI, internal display 3024×1964/3456×2234, external display to 6k. The MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max are among the best designed laptops Apple has produced.

For an easy to view chart of processor differences, see: Apple M1 Processor Series.

The 14″ M1 Pro fits portability needs

The M1 Pro 16GB with 10 CPU cores, 16 GPU cores and 1TB SSD is the value configuration sweet spot for the 14″ at $2499.00. This is a very high powered system and my preference for a balance of performance and portability. I bought this exact 14″ MacBook Pro M1 Pro configuration for my daughter in July 2022, and later bought a 14″ MacBook Pro M2 Pro to supplement my Mac Studio M1 Ultra in January 2023. I love this configuration!

The M1 Max 32GB with 10 CPU cores, 24 GPU cores and 1TB SSD is the value configuration sweet spot for the 16″ at $3299.00. This is the same value configuration sweet spot I recommend for the Mac Studio. The 16″ is large from a portability perspective, but if you’re going to do high power computing, you really need the bigger battery and better thermals of the 16″ form factor. To keep things in perspective, a 16″ MacBook Pro is large and 4.7 pounds, but this is nothing next to hauling around guitars, full-sized keyboards, drums, amps, PA systems, etc. If you need the greatest performance and/or largest screen size in a portable package, the 16″ MacBook Pro M1 Max is for you.

Aside from portability and power, there is another undeniably strong point for the M1 Series MacBook Pro 14″ and 16″ models: the display. You can’t buy a display as good as the M1 Pro/Max MacBook Pros have currently, it is that good. When an equal display (larger at 27″) does become available, it will cost as much as a whole MacBook Pro. That said, the Apple Studio Display makes a nice compliment available now at a more reasonable cost though still premium. Or wait and save your pennies for the Apple Studio Pro Display.

Unified Memory

One of the beautiful things about M series processors is the memory in the processor chip. The performance and efficiency results of this design are significant and unmistakable. Because of this design, you cannot upgrade the memory later. It is important to get a sufficient amount of memory.

Going backwards for a second, I think getting an M1/M2 with 8GB memory is a mistake for DAW users. People with simple needs do it, but they are not maximizing their performance potential. An M1/M2 or M1 Pro with 16GB memory is the minimum to me. For many DAW users 16GB is too low as well. An M1 Pro with 16GB-32GB or M1 Max with 32GB will prove quite sufficient for most electronic or rock musicians.

However, if your projects include a lot of sampled instruments, orchestral arrangements or soundtrack work, you really should consider the 64GB M1 Max. I would venture very few will need more than 64GB, but if you do, you need a desktop Mac Studio M1 Ultra to go to 128GB. If you need that much memory, you probably already know it.

Desktop vs. Laptop

My bias or transparent needs: Prior to using a Mac Studio, I had been computing with laptops only (except servers) for over a decade, but at this point in my retired life, I have very little need for major horsepower portability. For me a powerful desktop is more useful than a laptop. My recording studio doesn’t move and I don’t gig either. The Mac Studio makes much more sense for me than a MacBook Pro as a primary computing device. 5% of the time when I do need portable computing, I don’t need the super performance horses, or the weight/bulk of lugging around a 16″ laptop. A 13″ MacBook Air M1/M2 or 14″ MacBook Pro M1 Pro suits my backpack and travel needs better. I could easily live with nothing but a 14″ MacBook Pro M1 Pro and a 27″ external monitor if I needed to though.

My needs or any opinionated influencer’s needs are meaningless for you though. Pick what you need. If you need or prefer a laptop, then that is the best choice. If you need or prefer a desktop, then that is the best choice. There is no such thing as one all around best computer.

Information you need to properly digest web sites & especially YouTube.
Updated frequently – Apple Technology YouTube Critique

CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks

I would generally advise to not get too tied up in the minutiae of benchmarks, but they are useful for relative comparisons of processors. It is worth noting that no M Series processors are slouches. Some more than others, but all of them are a noticeable improvement over the Intel processors in previous generation Macs.

CPU single-core performance of the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors in the 14″/16″ MacBook Pros are very similar to all other M1 Series processors, because of course they all share the same CPU single-core.

CPU and GPU multi-core performance is where the differences become more apparent because of the different number of cores.

YouTube Creators often misunderstand technology

Increasing computing resources rarely equals the same increase in performance.

This has been the case since the dawn of information technology. There are many people online that appear to have fundamental misunderstandings of computing technology. Good tech advice prepares people for reality. Reality is you can believe that Apple has done something very special with the entire M1 Series.

Most people understand that since the all M1 Series processors share components, that some things, like single core performance, are going to be the same for the M1 Pro and the M1 Max. Beyond that it can get very complex, depending how well software takes advantage of multiple CPU cores, multiple GPU cores, neural engines, video encode/decode engines, etc.

No benchmark or application is going to be built to optimize for one specific system configuration. There are always going to be generalizations in the software, system overheads, and/or other limiting factors elsewhere in the processing chain.

Believing that increasing one resource should always equally increase system performance makes for great click bait and video drama

However it’s naive and technically inaccurate. It’s wonderful when it does scale perfectly, but there are often diminishing returns as you get more advanced in technology and no reviewer can really say whether it is not worth it or not. Only the end user knows the context and value of what is being done to decide what is worth what.

Still on an average day, software that takes advantage of increased resources is going to see measurable performance gains. Sometimes equal to the resource increase, and sometimes not. M1 Pro is the all around value sweet spot, M1 Max is the all around performance peak for laptops, period. Both the M1 Pro and the M1 Max may be more than average users think they need, at least today. Keep in mind though, when making technology decisions, it’s an extremely rare user that some years down the road says they have too much computing power no matter how much they overbought.

DAW Performance Benchmarks

This next pair of benchmarks will give you a rough idea of DAW performance. Note: DAW performance is impacted by CPU cores and memory. An over-abundance of GPU cores will not help DAW performance. GPU cores will help video, photo and other graphic applications.

The first Logic Pro benchmark comes from ‘Which MacBook Should You Buy in 2022 (Avoid These Ones!)‘ video located in the YouTube section farther down this page. This benchmark shows three different M1 Pro’s performance. The 14″ 8 CPU core model has 14 GPU cores and 16GB memory. The 14″ 10 CPU core model has 16 GPU cores and 16GB memory. The 16″ 10 CPU core model has 16 GPU cores and 16GB memory.

To compare the M1 Max to the M1 Ultra, the second Logic Pro benchmark comes from the ‘The TRUTH about the M1 Ultra Mac Studio vs MacBook Pro..’ video located in the YouTube section farther down this page. The MacBook Pro M1 Max 32GB is a 10 CPU cores, 32 GPU cores model, the Mac Studio M1 Ultra 64GB is a 20 CPU cores, 48 GPU cores model, and the Mac Studio M1 Ultra 128GB is a 20 CPU cores, 64 GPU cores model.

Note the tracks in all these Logic Pro benchmarks are not necessarily real world loaded but I think you can see all of these systems go way beyond Intel DAW performance. All the benchmarks above noted, there is no need to push your DAW to 1 track short of a crash. No need to completely dog out the CPU, ha! Real world loaded, I would feel very comfortable throwing 70 tracks at the MacBook Pro M1 Pro 8 core model, 103 tracks at the MacBook Pro M1 Pro 10 core model, 120 tracks at the MacBook Pro M1 Max 10 core model, or 210 tracks at the Mac Studio M1 Ultra 20 core model. The numbers would be comparable for Ableton Live or other DAWs as well.

Keep in mind, the more non-M Series optimized plugins, apps, drivers or background processes you have running on Rosetta, the less tracks you will be able to run. The processing power is so sufficient, most will not notice the difference. I would still heavily recommend updating your plugins, apps, drivers or background processes to M1 compliant as soon as possible.

Again, for DAW performance any of these configurations will more than satisfy for years to come for the average musician. Still we are talking about technology which everyone knows demands more later, so more is better if you can squeeze it. There are of course some users that need more, and you likely know who you are.

Check software compatibilities

It should go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway. M Series has been out since November 2020 and macOS Monterey since October 2021. I think it’s crazy that any DAW or plugin should have issues or still be running on Rosetta emulation, but not everyone listens to me. Do your homework!

macOS 12 Monterey: Compatibility Guide

Furthermore, in my opinion any major software company that markets to Apple users and hasn’t updated their software to include Apple silicon compatibility deserves to lose your business. It’s been a year and a half, and at this point it’s a real screw you. They obviously don’t care about their customers and should be replaced by a company that cares more about their customers.

All that said, my personal experience has been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Monterey. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

macOS 13 Ventura: Compatibility Guide

My personal experience with Ventura has also been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Ventura. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

Ports are important for musicians & content creators

I do wish these MacBook Pros had an Ethernet RJ-45 and a legacy USB-A port, but that will be probably never. The 3 Thunderbolt/USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro are likely adequate for most, and can also be easily expanded with a hub if you need more. Also an external monitor like the Apple Studio Display has 3 more USB-C ports in addition to the Thunderbolt 3 connection port. I would theorize that in portable mode you will not need more ports than are built in the MacBook, but in the studio you may.

You may want a USB-C to Ethernet RJ-45 adapter. You will want to plug your interface directly into USB-C or if you can’t do that, get a hub or adapter also for legacy USB-A hard drives, flash drives, cables to synths, cable to printer etc.

Obviously wise future purchases will be solidly Thunderbolt or USB-C. The HDMI will be very useful for TV, and occasionally most musicians like to plug headphones directly into the system, though most of the time it’s either through an interface or Bluetooth. You can also buy the Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter for an older existing monitor if you need it. This adapter also has a USB-C and a USB-A.

MacBook hardware upgrades

Remember no internal hardware upgrades can be performed. This is especially true with Apple silicon. SoC or System on Chip as you probably already know, cannot be upgraded. The advantages are more than worth it, but push yourself to adequately configure memory and storage for the future.

External storage alternatives

I recommend backing up all data to the cloud, and supplementing the internal Apple SSD with an external USB-C or Thunderbolt SSD/HD.

SSD speed needs for music production are similar to photography and video. This video will help you choose external SSD solutions (also in YouTube playlist below).

See Apple M Series External USB-C SSD Options for a more extensive discussion and specific product recommendations.

The MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max have what it takes to get through the next 5+ years of your music & video productions

This is why you buy Apple. Realistically with the cost of computers these days, a 1-3 year refresh cycle is not practical for most people. Unlike the majority if not all PC systems, Apple computers are built to last and Apple silicon is state of the art enough to start you at the head of the pack.

Keep coming back

What will be different about this site compared to many Apple sites is over time we will be sharing configuration and electronic music/video recording pertinent information. More soon.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-14-and-16/

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com/

Videos

Yehuda Rothschild Apple MacBook Pro M1 Series YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac M Series Music Production YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M4 Max & M4 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M4 Pro & M4 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M3 Ultra & M3 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M4 Ultra & M4 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M4 & M4 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M4 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Manufacturer Specifications: click to open/close or jump to comments

MacBook Pro 14″

  • Operating System: macOS
  • CPU: Apple M1 Pro chip with 8-core CPU, 14-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    CPU: Apple M1 Pro chip with 10-core CPU, 14-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    CPU: Apple M1 Pro chip with 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    CPU: Apple M1 Max chip with 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    CPU: Apple M1 Max chip with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • Display: 14.2″ Liquid Retina XDR
  • Maximum Resolution: 3024 x 1964 native resolution
  • Graphics/Video: 1080p FaceTime HD camera
  • Memory – Included: M1 Pro 16GB or 32GB, M1 Max 32GB or 64GB
  • Storage – Included: 512GB SSD or 1TB SSD
  • Storage – Expanded: Up to 8TB
  • Thunderbolt Ports: 3 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 4, charging, DisplayPort, USB 4)
  • Bluetooth: v5.0
  • WiFi: 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible
  • Card Slots: 1 x SDXC card slot
  • Video Ports: 1 x HDMI
  • Audio Inputs: 3-mic array
  • Audio Outputs: 1 x 1/8″ (headphones), built-in stereo speakers
  • Touch Features: Touch ID, Force Touch trackpad
  • Battery Life: 70Whr Lithium-polymer battery (up to 11 hours wireless web, up to 17 hours movie playback)
  • Height: 0.61″
  • Width: 12.31″
  • Depth: 8.71″
  • Weight: 3.5 lbs.

MacBook Pro 16″

  • Operating System: macOS
  • CPU: Apple M1 Pro chip with 10-core CPU, 16-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    CPU: Apple M1 Max chip with 10-core CPU, 24-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
    CPU: Apple M1 Max chip with 10-core CPU, 32-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine
  • Display: 16.2″ Liquid Retina XDR
  • Maximum Resolution: 3456 x 2234 native resolution
  • Graphics/Video: 1080p FaceTime HD camera
  • Memory – Included: M1 Pro 16GB or 32GB, M1 Max 32GB or 64GB
  • Storage – Included: 512GB SSD or 1TB SSD
  • Storage – Expanded: Up to 8TB
  • Thunderbolt Ports: 3 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 4, charging, DisplayPort, USB 4)
  • Bluetooth: v5.0
  • WiFi: 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible
  • Card Slots: 1 x SDXC card slot
  • Video Ports: 1 x HDMI
  • Audio Inputs: 3-mic array
  • Audio Outputs: 1 x 1/8″ (headphones), built-in stereo speakers
  • Touch Features: Touch ID, Ambient light sensor, Force Touch trackpad
  • Battery Life: 100Whr Lithium-polymer battery (up to 14 hours wireless web, up to 21 hours movie playback)
  • Height: 0.66″
  • Width: 14.01″
  • Depth: 9.77″
  • Weight: 4.8 lbs.

Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra

The Mac Studio M1 Max/Ultra is Apple’s most powerful 2022 desktop and the ultimate desktop for musicians & creators

Mar 9, 2022: Ordered Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra. Delivery changed a few times, last estimate June 29.
Apr 19, 2022: Ordered Apple Studio Display that should deliver by June 3.
Jun 3, 2022: Studio Display did arrive on time. Still, I couldn’t use it since the Mac Studio had not <sigh>.
Jun 24, 2022: Mac Studio M1 Ultra shipped and could be here tomorrow which will be the 109th day.
Jun 25, 2022: Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra: Delivered!

Apple Mac Studio M1 Max $1999.00 – M1 Ultra $3999.00 minimum per processor type

If you’re a serious pro or amateur musician, you really want the Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra or the Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max. A large music and/or video recording studio without budget restraints or someone who must have PCIe slot expansion may want to consider the Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra. These are the three best computers for creatives you can buy today.

If you absolutely must spend less than $1999.00, consider buying used, refurbished or consumer level Macs like the Macbook Air, iMac or Mac mini. To suggest buying less than an Apple M Series system is bad advice. Also see notes below in the Unified Memory section.

See: Apple Silicon is the DAW standard.

July 2024 note: 2 years in, as expected my Mac Studio M1 Ultra is as beautiful machine as it was day one in 2022. Performance is such that I have no need whatsoever to upgrade. At this point I would think these Mac Studio M1 Series systems would make incredible bargains used or refurbished.

Announced March 8, 2022, the Mac Studio with M1 Max or M1 Ultra is clearly the most exciting Apple product to date

I think the M1 Max 32GB with 10 CPU cores, 24 GPU cores and a 1TB SSD is the value sweet spot for the Mac Studio at $1999.00 plus $200.00 for the highly recommended 1TB SSD upgrade. This is the same value sweet spot I recommend for the MacBook Pro 16″ model.

With experience, I can confidently say this configuration is more than enough for the mass majority of musicians and creatives. In real world usage, it is unlikely you will push this configuration near its CPU, GPU or memory limits for a long time to come. More than this system is overkill for most people including me.

Right off the bat, let me say that even though this configuration is the value sweet spot, value may not be your most prioritized need or even a need at all. You know what you need or just plain want. There is nothing wrong with overkill and extreme future proofing. Ignore specific product recommendations from everyone, including me.

Only you know what applications you run today and what you might run in the future. Only you know how much future proofing you want and what your budget ranges are. So many blog/social media/video influencers ridiculously presume to know what the best system for you is without knowing you. Don’t be influenced.

I bought a base model Mac Studio M1 Ultra

An M1 Ultra is basically two M1 Maxs connected together and presenting as one CPU. The $3999.00 Mac Studio M1 Ultra being twice the price of the $1999.00 Mac Studio M1 Max should surprise no one. It has double the CPU cores (10 to 20), double the GPU cores (24 to 48, there is a 64 cores model for +$1000.00, I’ll pass), double the Neural Engine cores (16 to 32), double the unified memory (32GB to 64GB), double the memory bandwidth (400GB/sec to 800GB/sec), double the media engine enhancements, double the SSD storage, and 6 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports instead of 4 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C + 2 USB-C ports.

I have all the standard browsing, word processing and spreadsheet needs. I build websites with graphics and image editing needs. Music production in Ableton and Logic Pro is very important to me. With this purchase I intend to begin learning video production in Final Cut Pro, like I feel many musicians will soon enough. I often multitask applications concurrently and keep a number of applications open constantly.

For me, the M1 Ultra fit

Make no mistake about it though, I wanted overkill. Doubling the CPU cores, GPU cores, unified memory, memory bandwidth and more Thunderbolt 4 ports were well worth doubling the price to me. It was top of my budget and I am certain it future proofs me well over 5 years.

It is an incredible computing experience to never run out of CPU, GPU or memory. It’s great to never hear the fans. In my opinion, this is how computing should be.

It would have been nice to have more internal storage than 1TB, but the processor and memory are not upgradable, so for me it is better to prioritize those first, and supplement the internal SSD with external SSDs as I need them. The internal 1TB is plenty enough for my highest performance working storage needs. I can archive whatever amount I need to externally.

For an easy to view chart of processor differences, see: Apple M1 Processor Series

It suffices to say the Mac Studio is cutting edge, and an amazing engineering achievement. Just be careful to project your own needs and ignore obvious biases or technical naivete out in the wild.

Unified Memory

One of the beautiful things about M series processors is the memory in the processor chip. The performance and efficiency results of this design are significant and unmistakable. Because of this design, you cannot upgrade the memory later. It is important to get a sufficient amount of memory.

Going backwards for a second, getting any M Series with 8GB memory is a mistake for DAW users. People with basic needs do it, but they are not maximizing their performance potential. They are not going to go 5 years comfortably. An M1/M2 or M1 Pro with 16GB memory is the minimum. For many DAW users 16GB is too low as well. The 32GB base memory of the M1 Max will prove quite sufficient for most electronic or rock musicians.

However, if your projects include a lot of sampled instruments, orchestral arrangements or soundtrack work, you really should consider a 64GB M1 Max or a base model 64GB M1 Ultra. I would venture very few will need the 128GB M1 Ultra option, but if you do, you probably already know it.

An important point about having a minimum of 64GB of unified memory in the M1 Ultra – this is what enables the 800GB/sec memory bandwidth. For instance, you may never use more than 32GB, but having 4 banks of 16GB (or 32GB) each at 200GB/sec means the M1 Ultra is moving memory at twice the rate of M1 Max, 4 times the rate of M1 Pro, 8 times the rate of M2, and nearly 12 times the rate of M1.

Desktop vs. Laptop

My bias or transparent needs: Prior to using a Mac Studio, I had been computing with laptops only (except servers) for over a decade, but at this point in my retired life, I have very little need for major horsepower portability. For me a powerful desktop is more useful than a laptop. My recording studio doesn’t move and I don’t gig either. The Mac Studio makes much more sense for me than a MacBook Pro as a primary computing device. Less than 10% of the time when I do need portable computing, I don’t need the super big performance horses, or the weight/bulk of lugging around a 16″ laptop. A 13″ MacBook Air or 14″ MacBook Pro suits my backpack and travel needs better. I could easily live with nothing but a 14″ MacBook Pro M1 Pro and a 27″ external monitor if I needed to though.

My needs or any opinionated influencer’s needs are meaningless for you though. Pick what you need. If you need or prefer a laptop, then that is the best choice. If you need or prefer a desktop, then that is the best choice. There is no such thing as one all around best computer.

Personal impressions of the Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra

Using the Mac Studio is dreamy to be perfectly clear. I’m totally satisfied with this machine. For my needs, I never run out of memory, CPU or GPU power. 64GB of memory is an incredible experience. 20 CPU cores and 48 GPU cores more than satisfy. More memory or CPU/GPU cores would be wasted on me. 1TB SSD is enough for me. I can’t deny more internal storage would be better, but it really isn’t necessary with cloud/external options.

I never hear the fans, the Mac Studio itself is even cool to the touch. The Mac Studio never seems like it is working hard. It just effortlessly does what it needs to do. In my opinion this is how computing should be.

Information you need to properly digest web sites & especially YouTube.
Updated frequently – Apple Technology YouTube Critique

CPU & GPU Performance Benchmarks

I would generally advise to not get too tied up in the minutiae of benchmarks, but they are useful for relative comparisons of processors. It is worth noting that no M Series processors are slouches. Some more than others, but all of them are a noticeable improvement over the Intel processors in previous generation Macs.

CPU single-core performance of the M1 Max and M1 Ultra processors in the Mac Studio are very similar to all other M1 Series processors, because of course they all share the same CPU single-core.

CPU and GPU multi-core performance is where the differences become more apparent because of the different number of cores.

SSD Performance Benchmarks

I purchased a Mac Studio M1 Ultra, with 20 core CPU, 48 core GPU, 64GB of memory and 1TB storage as I mentioned earlier. I can’t speak to all capacities, but the 1TB SSD is a blazing fast SSD as benchmarked by the Black Magic Disk Speed Test. WRITE and READ results are consistently over 5000 MB/s, often significantly so.

YouTube Creators often misunderstand technology

Increasing computing resources rarely equals the same increase in performance.

This has been the case since the dawn of information technology. There are many people online that appear to have fundamental misunderstandings of computing technology. Good tech advice prepares people for reality. Reality is you can believe that Apple has done something very special with the entire M1 Series.

Most people understand that since the all M1 Series processors share components, that some things, like single core performance, are going to be the same for the M1 Max and the M1 Ultra. Beyond that it can get very complex, depending how well software takes advantage of multiple CPU cores, multiple GPU cores, neural engines, video encode/decode engines, etc.

No benchmark or application is going to be built to optimize for one specific system configuration. There are always going to be generalizations in the software, system overheads, and/or other limiting factors elsewhere in the processing chain.

Believing that increasing one resource should always equally increase system performance makes for great click bait and video drama

However it’s naive and technically inaccurate. It’s wonderful when it does scale perfectly, but there are often diminishing returns as you get more advanced in technology and no reviewer can really say whether it is not worth it or not. Only the end user knows the context and value of what is being done to decide what is worth what.

Still on an average day, software that takes advantage of increased resources is going to see measurable performance gains. Sometimes equal to the resource increase, and sometimes not. M1 Max is the all around value sweet spot, M1 Ultra is the all around performance peak, period. Both the M1 Max and the M1 Ultra may be more than average users think they need, at least today. Keep in mind though, when making technology decisions, it’s an extremely rare user that some years down the road says they have too much computing power no matter how much they overbought.

DAW Performance Benchmarks

This next set of benchmarks will give you a rough idea of DAW performance. Note: DAW performance is impacted by CPU cores and memory. An over-abundance of GPU cores will not help DAW performance. GPU cores will help video, photo and other graphic applications.

These Logic Pro benchmarks come from the ‘Mac Studio Ultimate Comparison – Is M1 Ultra Worth it?!‘ video located in the YouTube section farther down this page. The M1 Max 32GB is a 10 CPU cores, 24 GPU cores model, the M1 Ultra 64GB is a 20 CPU cores, 48 GPU cores model, and the M1 Ultra 128GB is a 20 CPU cores, 64 GPU cores model.

Note the tracks in this benchmark are not necessarily real world loaded but I think you can see all of these systems go way beyond Intel DAW performance. Real world loaded I would feel very comfortable throwing 115 tracks at the Mac Studio M1 Max base model or 210 tracks at the M1 Ultra models. No need to completely dog out the CPU, ha! The numbers would be comparable for Ableton Live and other DAWs as well.

Keep in mind, the more non-M Series optimized plugins, apps, drivers or background processes you have running on Rosetta, the less tracks you will be able to run. The processing power is so sufficient, most will not notice the difference. I would still heavily recommend updating your plugins, apps, drivers or background processes to M Series compliant as soon as possible.

Again, for DAW performance I still think the Mac Studio M1 Max 32GB with 10 CPU cores, 24 GPU cores and 1TB SSD is the value sweet spot and will more than satisfy the average musician for years to come. Still we are talking about technology which everyone knows demands more later, so more is better if you can squeeze it.

There are of course some musicians or studios that need more right at the gate, and you likely know who you are. I don’t really need more than the M1 Max but I wanted it and I chose to err on the side of future-proofing with the M1 Ultra.

Check software compatibilities

It should go without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway. M Series has been out since November 2020. macOS Monterey has been out since October 2021. I think it’s crazy that any DAW or plugin should have issues or still require Rosetta emulation, but not everyone listens to me. Do your homework!

macOS 12 Monterey: Compatibility Guide

Furthermore, in my opinion any major software company that markets to Apple users and hasn’t updated their software to include Apple silicon compatibility deserves to lose your business. It’s been a year and a half, and at this point it’s a real screw you. They obviously don’t care about their customers and should be replaced by a company that cares more about their customers.

All that said, my personal experience has been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Monterey. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

macOS 13 Ventura: Compatibility Guide

macOS 14 Sonoma: Compatibility Guide

macOS 15 Sequoia: Compatibility Guide

My personal experience with Ventura has also been very good. Everything I use runs natively on M Series and is compatible with Ventura. But don’t listen to me, do your homework!

Ports are important for musicians & content creators

You will appreciate the additional ports the Mac Studio offers over a laptop. I appreciate the greater quantity of Thunderbolt/USB-C ports on the Mac Studio, and I totally feel any desktop should have an Ethernet port, and USB-A port(s) which the Mac Studio does have. WiFi is not always an optimum situation and I am certain everyone will have legacy USB for some time to come.

Yeah I know you can get adapters, but the expense and hassle for non-optional connectivity is uncalled for. It makes me very happy to just plug right into my building’s Ethernet network, and I have my Focusrite 18i20 2nd Gen interface that I would highly prefer to permanently occupy a port without an adapter as well as a number of USB hard drives, flash drives, cables to synths, cable to printer etc. that don’t need a continuous port.

Obviously my future purchases will be solidly Thunderbolt or USB-C. The HDMI will be very useful for TV, and occasionally I do like to plug headphones directly into the system, though most of the time it’s either through my interface or Bluetooth. I did buy the Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter for an older existing monitor. This adapter also has a USB-C and a USB-A.

Mac Studio hardware upgrades

Interestingly, in the Mac Studio Full Teardown video it was discovered that there were two SSD slots inside. However, in the What happens if you try to UPGRADE a $5,000 Mac Studio? and Here’s why Apple won’t let YOU upgrade a Mac Studio [Part 2] videos, Luke Miani was unable to upgrade the (Apple proprietary) SSD which is not exactly an SSD, but turns out to be a storage module(s) with the drive controllers on the main logic board. My guess is there is probably a secret command/code that only Apple can reset the ‘SSD’ configuration with, so maybe it is possible for Apple to upgrade it, but at this point in time, don’t get your screwdriver out yet, no one has succeeded in a user upgrade and Apple is not offering upgrades yet either.

Assume no hardware upgrades can be performed. This is especially true with Apple silicon. SoC or System on Chip as you probably already know, cannot be upgraded. The advantages are more than worth it, but push yourself to adequately configure memory and storage for the future. If you can afford 2TB or more of Apple SSD storage, by all means do it. If it pushes your budget, consider the following section.

External storage alternatives

I recommend backing up all data to the cloud, and supplementing the internal Apple SSD with an external USB-C or Thunderbolt SSD/HD.

SSD speed needs for music production are similar to photography and video. This video will help you understand your actual needs and choose external SSD solutions (also in YouTube playlist below).

See Apple M Series External USB-C SSD Options for a more extensive discussion and specific product recommendations.

At the moment, I have a USB-A to SATA adapter with a 250GB SATA SSD that I keep my MP3, FLAC, and video collection on. I also have an old 500GB SATA HD that I can swap in for occasional data backups. This works just fine, the performance of the Mac Studio’s internal SSD is not needed for music/video playback and archival purposes. My important files are backed up to the cloud as well. I do look forward to getting a larger Thunderbolt SSD someday though I really don’t need it.

The Mac Studio has what it takes to get through the next 5+ years of your music & video productions

This is why you buy Apple. Realistically with the cost of computers these days, a 1-3 year refresh cycle is not practical for most people. Unlike the majority if not all PC systems, Apple computers are built to last and Apple silicon is state of the art enough to start you at the head of the pack.

Keep coming back

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Manufacturer’s website
https://www.apple.com/mac-studio/

Product support, downloads
https://support.apple.com/

Videos

Note: I do not always agree with or endorse many of the opinions in these videos, but include them for their perspectives. I believe many video producers push value to the detriment of future proofing too much and are far too presumptive as to what your needs and preferences may actually be. It is good to listen to diverse opinions but you are the best judge for you. For instance, I’m going to grant that you know whether a desktop or laptop is best for you, instead of others personal preference.

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac Studio M1 Series YouTube Playlist

Yehuda Rothschild Apple Mac M Series Music Production YouTube Playlist

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M4 Max & M4 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M4 Pro & M4 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M3 Ultra & M3 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M4 Ultra & M4 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M4 & M4 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M4 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda

This page is subject to content updates/additions. If you think any content should be updated or added, please leave a private comment on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda.

Manufacturer Specifications: click to open/close

Mac Studio M1 Max

  • Operating System: macOS
  • CPU: Apple M1 Max chip with 10-core CPU and 16-core Neural Engine
  • Graphics/Video: 24-core GPU, 32-core GPU option
  • Memory: 32GB unified memory, 64GB unified memory option
  • Storage: 512GB SSD, up to 8TB SSD option
  • Thunderbolt Ports: 4 x Thunderbolt 4 (supports DisplayPort, USB 4, USB 3.1 Gen 2)
  • USB Ports: 2 x USB-C, 2 x USB Type A
  • Card Slots: SDXC card slot
  • Video Ports: 1 x HDMI
  • Ethernet: 1 x RJ45 (Nbase-T Ethernet with 1GB/2.5GB/5GB/10GB support)
  • WiFi: 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible
  • Bluetooth: Yes, v5.0
  • Audio Outputs: 1 x 1/8″ (headphones), built-in speaker
  • Height: 3.7″
  • Width: 7.7″
  • Depth: 7.7″
  • Weight: 5.9 lbs.

Mac Studio M1 Ultra

  • Operating System: macOS
  • CPU: Apple M1 Ultra chip with 20-core CPU and 32-core Neural Engine
  • Graphics/Video: 48-core GPU, 64-core GPU option
  • Memory: 64GB unified memory, 128GB unified memory option
  • Storage: 1TB SSD, up to 8TB SSD option
  • Thunderbolt Ports: 6 x Thunderbolt 4 (supports DisplayPort, USB 4, USB 3.1 Gen 2)
  • USB Ports: 2 x USB Type A
  • Card Slots: SDXC card slot
  • Video Ports: 1 x HDMI
  • Ethernet: 1 x RJ45 (Nbase-T Ethernet with 1GB/2.5GB/5GB/10GB support)
  • WiFi: 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 wireless networking, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compatible
  • Bluetooth: Yes, v5.0
  • Audio Outputs: 1 x 1/8″ (headphones), built-in speaker
  • Height: 3.7″
  • Width: 7.7″
  • Depth: 7.7″
  • Weight: 7.9 lbs.

Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra: Delivered!

Alrighty! Woohoo! Yay! Yeehaw! Yippee!

Mar 9, 2022: Ordered Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra. Delivery changed a few times, last estimate June 29.
Apr 19, 2022: Ordered Apple Studio Display that should deliver by June 3.
Jun 3, 2022: Studio Display did arrive on time. Still, I couldn’t use it since the Mac Studio had not <sigh>.
Jun 24, 2022: Mac Studio M1 Ultra shipped and could be here tomorrow which will be the 109th day.
Jun 25, 2022: Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra: Delivered!

The perfect desktop and studio DAW part 1

Holy Shmoly, the Apple Mac Studio M1 Ultra backorder waiting time was super brutal, especially considering the time I spent waiting for a MacBook Pro M1 Max before I changed the order to this Mac Studio M1 Ultra the day after it was announced. Oh well, the best is worth waiting for, it’s over now!

I will say one thing after using the Mac Studio for the better part of 2 days, it’s a dream to use.

Buying severely constrained Apple products

Supply chain/Covid related product delivery delays have really been a problem with Apple. At this point I think it looks like my experience of 109 days from order placement to delivery for the Mac Studio M1 Ultra is among the worst. Currently Apple is estimating up to 67 days.

The Studio Display took a more palatable 47 days. A MacBook Pro M1 Pro recently ordered is scheduled to take up to 51 days.

Though still bad, product delivery delays appear to be shrinking. Be prepared to have a lot of patience. As a general rule, the more advanced the processor and custom the build, the longer the wait.

My Mac Studio M1 Ultra and Studio Display are here now, amen. Stay tuned for more.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

The next chapter, six months later: Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro joins Mac Studio M1 Ultra

Useful Links

Apple related pages
Updated periodically – Apple Silicon is the DAW standard
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M1 Max & M1 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M2 Max & M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M3 Max & M3 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Studio M4 Max & M4 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M1 Pro & M1 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M2 Pro & M2 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M3 Pro & M3 Max
Updated periodically – Apple MacBook Pro M4 Pro & M4 Max
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M2 Ultra
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M3 Ultra & M3 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac Pro M4 Ultra & M4 Extreme
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M1
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M2 & M2 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M3 & M3 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Mac mini M4 & M4 Pro
Updated periodically – Apple Studio Display
Updated periodically – Apple M1 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M2 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M3 Processor Series
Updated periodically – Apple M4 Processor Series

Follow on Mastodon – TurtleIsland.social/@Yehuda