Replace My 2012 MacBook Pro and ProTools

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by J Posega, Jun 4, 2020.

  1. J Posega

    J Posega Cat Dad and Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Portland, OR
    I’ve been relying on this workhorse of a non-Retine MBP for a few years now—bought it used, upgraded it to 16gb RAM and added a second SSD so now it’s got 1.25TB of storage.

    Problem is that it’s outdated as far as connectivity, OS support, and tech support. The battery barely holds a charge, the screen is starting to give me problems, and sometimes the USB ports just don’t recognize what’s plugged into them. It also weighs a ton compared to newer laptops.

    I’ve always done my recording/editing/mixing in ProTools and really only use Logic because of the Drummer function as a sketch pad for quick ideas. I’ve contemplated jumping ship on ProTools even though I’m comfortable editing and mixing with it, maybe to something like Cubase or Reaper but do either of these compare to PT as far as editing?.

    I’m at a crossroads now—do I pony up for a new or newish Mac with Thunderbolt 3 (the only feature I feel is mandatory since I just ordered a UAD Arrow) or do I spec out a Windows PC for cheaper?

    While I love OSX, this new machine is solely going to be for music production, and since I’m not a Logic pro (heh heh pun intended), I don’t feel like I’m tied to the Mac environment.

    I don’t need portability, so I’ll probably be going with a desktop. I’m tired of editing on a little laptop screen, so I’ll be investing in a dual monitor setup or maybe an ultrawide display.

    Is Windows stable now or will I be dealing with constant BSODs like the early 2000s? Any brands that you gravitate towards or ones that should be avoided? Which DAW did you go to if you ditched ProTools?

    Budget for the machine is around $500 to $1000.
  2. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    I'm a heavy Logic user and bit the bullet on a new MBP earlier this year to replace my completely trashed 2011 MBP. Using it almost exclusively for mobile recording applications (not much happening there at the moment)! I have an iMac that I used for my fixed studio - it's got all the processing plug-ins I use for post-production, so the MBP is solely for tracking. And some of my old hardware (StudioLive 16.4.2 mixer...FireWire only) is now obsolete with the MBP. That's why I invested in a Presonus SL16R at the same time. I *really* should have looked for a older refurb MBP with a FireWire port - if I wanted to save cash, that is....

    Pretty happy with it and it performs as it should. For mobile recording, it's got enough horsepower to record 16 tracks at once (with the Presonus SL16R). My only real issue with it is that the model I bought only has two USB-C ports. I wish I would have bought the one with four USB-C ports. One is used by power and one by the interface in my setup right now. I'm SOL if I want to run an external terabyte drive to supplement the internal HD. Haven't run out of space yet, but the housekeeping of audio files (xfer off MBP and onto HD) is laborious and I have to be relentless about it.

    A buddy and I set up Ubuntu Studio (with Ardour) on an old PC laptop of mine so that we were 100% interoperable in terms of collaborative recording. Worked OK but I prefer working in Logic. We now just trade stems instead of Ardour projects.
  3. Aloe


    Apr 10, 2016
    I've recently switched my studio machines from Mac to Windows, as my old hardware was dying. two things to say:
    1. modern Windows is way better than old one with BSODs that you remember
    2. getting decent audio performance is much easier on Mac: it just works out of the box

    I've got my Thunderbolt interfaces running under Windows, one of my Windows boxes works perfectly, other has periodic DPC spikes (i.e. garbled recordings). but mine are both laptops, on laptops this DPC latency stuff is more pronounced than on desktops, I believe. haven't owned a Windows desktop in more than 10 years, but it should be like this.

    this all said, I'm getting a Mac to replace one of Windows boxes. reason for that is that software I use in studio is more stable and more polished on Macs, as I found out.

    if you want to experiment and don't need a laptop, get something like Intel NUC, which you can use for Windows and Hackintosh.
  4. If you're going desktop, build it from scratch instead of buying a brand name. The great thing about Windows is you can build to suit your needs, and you can upgrade/replace individual parts as needed. I've had "the same desktop" for many years. But none of the components are the same as when I bought it.

    Keep it as a dedicated production box. No internet, no Office, etc. Only the things that you need for audio production, and optimize the settings for audio production. PC Optimization Guide for Windows 10 | Sweetwater
    seamonkey likes this.
  5. Building your own is good, fun, and can actually save money.

    Next best is if you're near a Costo, they are a great place to buy a tower. You can buy it online, try it out for 90 days and if it doesn't work out return it. You'd know in 90 days if it's going to work out. Some of Costco's tower aren't much more than what you can build yourself, and they too can be upgraded over time.

    +1 on dedicating it to Music. And don't forget a good backup plan. Cloud or NAS.

    I have a Macbook and a few PCs and Linux. Everything is very stable. Mac and Linux are very similar. PC is still used by many businesses. They wouldn't if it wasn't stable.
    RumbleBot and Frank Tuesday like this.
  6. I run a local RAID array on my computer, and back it up to NAS with a RAID.
  7. 4Mal

    4Mal Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I'm running Presonus StudioOne 4 on an older MBP -2013 with it's memory maxed. Works great. I messed with S1.4 on a Dell i7 with SSD and 40gb. That one is my Power BI dev machine. I was hoping to carry 1 laptop on a fall trip last year. I took the MBP and the Dell to be productive, stay in touch with clients and also mix in the hotel room...