A Musicians Review: The New 12" Macbook Rings True
My first couple of albums were created on a 13" Macbook Pro back in 2009 with Logic Pro 9 and an Apogee Duet, since then I've recorded everything on an 21.5" iMac. It wasn't until last year when I started recording "Unknown Futures" (the next album) that I realized I was starting to feel the sluggishness of an underpowered 2010 iMac. I went back and forth in my head what I was going to do...Should I buy another iMac or should I buy a Macbook Pro? (those were my options) It wasn't until I saw the new 12" Macbook that came out earlier last year (2015) that I finally thought of the possibilities.
I went to my local Apple Store and saw it in person played around with it for a bit. (interesting I thought) I took a look at the feel of the design, weight, screen and was instantly sold on it. When I took it home to finally install Logic Pro X and the necessary Apogee software (for my interface) I was blown away immediately.
Here are a few things I noticed.
- It is fast I mean really Fast. I knew that having an SSD drive and 8GBs of Ram & OS X El Capitan was going to mean fast but I was really surprised by just home much speed came into such a small form factor (especially since I read from almost every tech blog that it was a very underpowered Intel Chip that Apple used, to me it was the right one to use.) Most song projects that I've been working on in my iMac (in Logic Pro X) lead to a bunch of hang ups with system error prompts during playback (especially once I loaded more than a 12-16 track project.) But this Macbook had no problems loading that same project and barely hitting a quarter of the cpu cycle speed. A Quarter! (I couldn't believe it.) To me this was unbelievable it was like I finally discovered a Tascam 4 Track again but on a totally different scale!
1 USB-C Works for Me. I insert my Apogee One and that is all I need on this device to work on song projects. Everything else plugs into from there (Guitar/Bass/Vox/Cans.) Then I thought wait a second...well what about my battery? After the first 5 hours working on a song project in Logic Pro X (not plugged into a wall socket) I quickly dismissed that notion from my head. The battery will last you longer than your ears trust me (my ears tend to fatigue after about a few hours editing/mixing.) Also I recently just received (like this week) a nice accessory from Juiced Systems that makes this even easier to handle (I will explain in future post.) But honestly being a musician gave me an edge. I always have to deal with work arounds, constantly adjusting to (sounds/equipment/faulty cords/broken gear..etc.) so I tend to take it in stride, so I knew this wasn't going to be a problem.
Retina Screen/Force Touch trackpad/Butterfly Keyboard. I love this Retina Screen. I mean I really love this screen more so than my HDTV. It is just gorgeous to look at and an absolute must for all the sliders, knobs and triggers in Logic Pro X. Also the little things like no glare and being able to see the screen at any angle are the absolute unsung heroes about this Macbook. This TrackPad makes all the difference. Clicking on this capacitive glass feels good like "feeling the strings on your acoustic guitar" good, especially when your splicing, muting, positioning, looping back and forth. Add Read/Write Automation to this and its an absolute must to have a responsive trackpad. The new keyboard is the only thing on this Macbook that felt strange instantly at first. After typing on it for a few weeks now it feels normal and makes typing on other keyboards feel weird and clanky. The days of hovering over keys and clicking are done. Now my fingertips just tend to glide over everything easier.
Honestly I had kinda pretty low expectations from this machine especially from the loads of negative reviews I read about how the 12" Macbook CPU performance doesn't deliver. Through most of these first few weeks I've ran my own set of tests regarding this very issue and I must say I'm impressed with how this performs for me on a daily basis with recording, mixing & editing in Logic Pro X. Also let me at least mention the obvious as well, the portability of this machine is phenomenal. It is so light, compact and light to the touch putting it inside my sleeve case makes it feel like nothing is in there. Also an interesting tidbit the audio that comes from these internal speakers are some of the best laptop speakers I've ever heard (it gets really loud too.) Its the best Mac I've ever purchased!
If your a musician who is looking for something to take on tour to work on songs amid all the chaos of the road, This is the Macbook for you! (either/or) If your someone like me that has very little time to actually sit down and tinker with song projects that you've laid down and recorded but only have few minutes here and there in a day to actually craft a song. This is the Macbook for you too!