If you watched the video tour of my home studio, then you’ve seen that I currently use a 2-year-old white Macbook in my home studio. Well, the old girl is getting a little slow (can’t handle the video stuff I’m doing for the HSC Production Club material).

So I’m beginning to contemplate an upgrade. My two candidates are the 15″ Macbook Pro or the Quad Core Mac Pro. Obviously the Mac Pro would be more powerful, but I’m torn as to whether I need the portability of the Macbook Pro or not.

Anyway, I want to know what you use in your home studio and why?

Let’s hear it!

  • rene

    i just purchased a 13.3 macbook pro and was wondering if sonar home studio 7 will work on my macbook?. thanks

    • Hi Rene,

      Sonar is a PC-only software. The only way to make it run on your Mac is to run Windows on your Mac using something like Parallels or Bootcamp. You should really just check out Garage Band. It’s got plenty of features. I don’t think you’ll be missing anything from Sonar Home Studio 7.

  • I’m using the new MacBook Pro 13″ and a 2 y.o. iMac 20″, both with 4 GB Ram.
    What can I say: as every Mac, they’re great!

    I upgrade some months ago from a 2005 MacBook (white): with that I did also 8 tracks recording (hours of 8 track with a MOTU Ultralite and FF Octopre), so if you need to switch… no problem with the new MB Pro!

  • Ben

    I’m running a three-year-old 17″ MacBook Pro with dual 2.16ghz processors and just 2GB ram and I’ve been quite happy with it. I due a decent amount of mobile recording where it’s much more handy to be able to throw a laptop in a bag with my M-audio FW1814 instead of bringing a tower with me. I will likely be purchasing a quad-core (possibly octa-core if funds permit) Mac Pro within the next year for my home studio needs.

    I think the key is really focusing on what you need out of the machine. You can still make use of your current laptop for portability and have a Mac Pro for the center of your home studio…

  • Steve

    BTW.. if you have both a Mac Laptop and an IMac you can get them to work cooperatively using MidiviaLAN tecbnology etc. It is all built into a MAC just needs setting up etc.
    Check the internet for how to get it to work. There are numerous articles…

  • Steve

    Well I use a 24″ iMac and love it but occasionally get issues with hard drive speed or bottlenecks. I rather like the all in l one device after using PC’s for many many years.

    I would love however to get the newer 27″ quad core i7 chipset iMAC.. Those look like they smoke . But the price is better than a MacPro – whoch of course would be my ideal device I guess.

    Also the iMAC’s can a have a second screen added so you get lots of screen real estate which I really like to have.

    Sure a laptop is great for portability but I don’t need that as much as a great screen and good ‘puter so the IMac is excellent.. Will get a smaller MacPro laptop one day as my backup/portable device but not as my primary.

    Prefer Mac’s than PC’s now after converting. Doubt I would go back of choise.

  • Sam

    I snapped up the previous model of 15″ MBP just after the new ones were released. I got an express card slot AND a price slash, all with a better graphics card (makes PT 8 look sweet), the same processor, and 4 gigs of RAM. I love it. I’ve definitely bogged it down before, but that’s only after running 20 audio and 20 aux tracks or so, each with a few plug-ins. My LiquidMix 16 is also amazing, and though the outboard DSP benefits are reduced because PT requires the VST wrapper, it still helps relieve the CPU load. Also, there are some really nice little plugs on there… but I digress. My advice: check around and see if anyone is still selling the 15″ with the express card slot. It’s cheaper, just as fast, and much more expandable.

    That said, if you have NO intention of doing anything mobile, get an iMac.

    My $.02!

  • I been using a Mac Pro Quad and, up until August, I used a white Mac Book (I’ve since upgraded to a MacBook Pro). I used the two computers in tandem. I would use MacBook as a sketch pad… you know to program drums, RMX and create all of my synth tracks. Then transfer them to the Mac Pro. This way I can work just about anywhere at least have the time. This system works really for me.


  • MBP. I have the other too, but my 17″ MBP enables me to do *anything* anywhere. Thus, i get at least 5x the usage from a MPB as i do my MP. You will as well.

    The only thing a MP would get a guy like u over a MBP is occassionally what, more plugins? Odds are you recorded it PRETTY poorly if you need more plugins or power than a modern MBP can handle with a 7200RPM drive. 🙂

  • Mike

    Funny, I recently asked you the same question. Macbook or Mac Pro? I ended up going with the Mac Pro (quad core) only because I didn’t need the portability of the laptop. You seem pretty Comfortable with your laptop setup, I can see you going with the macbook. Obviously ya can’t go wrong with either one! Thanks for all your great info Joe. Happy computer shopping!!!


  • Carl

    Greetings –
    It appears that most are all using a MAC product of some sort. Not familiar with MAC although I’ve heard it’s the best product for home based studios. I currently use a Compaq/HP MOD: SR2170NX w/Windows Vista – Home, Intel Pentium 4 CPU, 3.00 GHZ, 2GB RAM, ATI Radeon Express 1100 Series, 32-bit operating system, 160 GB hard and 500 Hard (2ndary). This system is getting old (2 years) Looking to upgrade – However PROBLEMS – I use Protools, and it does not support 64-bit OS. I check Digidesign website every single day to see if they have upgrade software. I’ve called as well with no time frame provided. I’ll stick with Windows as opposed to MAC cuz it’s the primary language I understand most and 3rd party software options seem to support Windows as opposed to MAC OS. Sooo – I sit and wait !!

    • Hi Carl, Pro Tools v8.0.1 (cs1) will indeed run on Win7 x64 but: it will not use more than 3.5gb of RAM. Also, IF your audio interface is Firewire, your system must have a standard Firewire cards such as those listed on Digidesign’s site (stay way from “on-board/motherboard” Firewire cards). If your interface is M-Audio, the Win7 drivers are still “Beta” but most do work.
      Digi won’t have a true 64-bit version out for some time (could be a year or two, and MACs likely will get a 64-bit build first long before Windows). But I just wanted to say, you can indeed get PT8 working on Win7 x64.
      Good luck, I will say that MAC OSX is a pretty easy second-language once you get used to it. 😉

  • Interesting – Laptop fail rate report – Aopple = #4! (Asus, Toshiba, Sony, then Apple)



    • Very interesting…thanks for sharing!!

  • Dave S.

    i’m totally the minority, but i looooove XP. @ work i use a mac mini and it’s slow, has trouble w/ multiple programs opened and in general, you can do no upgrades w/o having to pay Apple and arm/leg (take your pick) to get it upgraded.
    XP? Shoot, man, you can improve on the cheap and i’ve never had a problem… EVER!! XP is the best, IMHO! i know its “hip” to love macs, but they don’t do it for me.
    XPs are easily upgraded and on the cheap; macs are waaaay to expensive and cost tooooo much to improve.

    there…… i have spoken. now, carry on with your bad selves.

    • CamBam

      Mac Minis are horrible (I think), however mac pros are very easy to upgrade/improve. Another option would be to make a Hackintosh for around a grand.

      • I owned a Mac Mini for a couple years. Great computer. It’s no different than a Mac laptop…only you get to choose the screen size.

  • 15″ MacBook Pro 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo 4GB Ram 500GB Hard drive, Snow leopard, Logic Studio 9

    No problems/issues at all running Logic (or Mainstage live)- If I had the $$, I’d love to have a Mac Pro, but the MBP has me covered at home & abroad!!

  • Beware on ALL laptops. Usually there are a few layers of CPU throttling in effect to conserve battery. Also, besides a 5400rpm stock drive heat managememt is always weaker on laptops and takes a hit on your performance. If there is not a specific need for a laptop do not get one. I run Mac, Win7, Linux, XP, and Vista. The only dog meat rig was Vista, then Mac. My current 2 best boxes are Win7 and Linux. The “Mac advantage” is diminishing quickly from a pragmatic point of view. I am not a fan boy of any system, I run them ALL professionally. If you are familiar with Mac more stay there. 

  • Maria Ayerbe

    Hi Joe, I’m currently working with my white Macbook and I absolutelly adore it! It has 160 GB rom and 4 GB ram, 2 GHz Intel Core Duo.

    I open PT sessions everyday, fill them with DAWs and plugins and it won’t ever freeze or get stuck. Plus I work also with Ableton Live and it has never left me hanging for a second.

  • Joe

    I use the same Macbook you do…. Your video issue is because the video card is integrated with the memory. It’s good but not good enough for your growing needs. You can get this thing from Elgato that is essentially an external video processor. This may help your issue for about $100. It’s called the Turbo.264. Haven’t tried it, but only heard good things about it. Also, have you considered a new iMac?

  • jordan

    Get the MacPro.

    You will still have your Macbook for what mobile stuff you are doing now. If you don’t need to do your video tutorials on the ‘road’ then it seems like it would make more sense to go with the MacPro. Having two different types of machines will give you more flexibility than having two laptops which you would be less likely to use at the same time.

  • Will


    I was in the same situation you are in now. I was running a two year old white macbook (probably your generation) and this past summer its lack of power got to me. After working in professional studios with Mac Pros, I just went for it and got the quad core model. I can honestly say that its the best computer I’ve ever had. Pro Tools runs extremely smoothly – running the most intensive session I could find (RTAS, VST, AUDIO, MIDI, 4-5 instances of Izotope Ozone etc.) and my CPU usage graph I have in my menu bar only said 18% of available power used. I’ve yet to have it choke on anything except for a few DAE errors in terms of grabbing multiple audio files from the HD.

    Go for the Mac Pro. You can still use your macbook for portable usages, travel etc. You’ll be extremely pleased.

  • Get the Mac Pro! You’ll still have the Macbook for portable applications. (I imagine it’s fine for tracking lots of tracks, it’s just gonna slow down with plugins…)

  • Wayne

    I use an HP Pavillion Slimline 2.7ghz 4 gigs RAM, No problems no that I have installed XP no freezing or becoming unresponsive like it would with Vista. I use a Liquid mix for lot of my EQ and some compression.I haven’t come close to using that much CPU or causing it to choke. In the near future I will probably build a quad core configuration. No problems with PT with the XP yet and non with Sonar with Vista or XP. I have installed a video card and extra firewire card to support all my firewire devices. I also use dual monitors.

  • I have a home built quad core i7 with 6 GB of RAM running Windows 7 64bit. No problems whatsoever and I can throw almost anything at it (I haven’t hit the limit yet). I don’t use PT though. I use Sonar.

  • I use the 15″ mbp with 4gb ram. To be fair it’s mint. Runs like a dream it’s fast portable and powerful… I run logic and use it extensively for all my projects and I have never run in to problems re processing power etc… You could always beef up with the top end model but mine is mid range (was the best I could afford) and I think apple knew exactly what they were doing when they built this thing. It’s ideal. I can’t say enough good about it. I will stop gushing now, promise. Lol

  • The new 13″ MacBook Pros once again have FireWire, so they’re a viable option now if you want portability.

  • neil

    I’m using two macs — a MacBook 2.0Ghz dual-core (2Gb) for portable stuff, and an iMac 2.93GHz dual-core (4Gb) at home. They both handle Logic really well, although obviously with bigger projects the iMac has a little more oomph.

    If you decide the portability isn’t so critical, maybe think about the new quad-core iMac. It’s got a lot of power, and (if mine is any indicator) is almost silent, whereas those MacPros have the fan that sounds like a jet taking off…

  • Taylor810ce

    I use a quad-core pc and a older toshiba laptop as a plugin slave. go quad-core at minimum.

  • Dell Precision 380 w/ 8GB (old-school pre “Core 2” Intel 3.2ghz 2-core Pentium D), dual-booting Win7 Ultimate x64 & WinXP Pro x86. Planning to add the best of both words this xmas, 4GB MacBook. Maybe add MBox Micro later for mobile editing, who knows?

  • You deserve a quad-core my friend. Go with a 20″ iMac.

    I use quad-core PC for most work at home, and 13″ MacBook Pro. Pretty happy with both. The 13″ is small and light and plenty powerful for most of my work.

  • David

    Apparently i need a MBP!

    I’m using a home-built PC (2.6 GHz dual core, 4GB RAM, Win XP). Decent, but can’t really get the processing power i want out of it. Seems i always have some random problem while recording or playing back recorded audio.

    Never considered switching to Mac until i did some research on recording sites and saw that the vast majority were using some sort of Mac product. I like the idea of using a MBP for its portability and just plugging it into a bigger monitor when i have it at home. Too bad everything Mac costs an arm and a leg.

  • BC Fortenberry

    I went with a 15″ Macbook Pro (2.53 GHz w/4GB of RAM) because I’m moving around a lot these days and trying to pick up small remote gigs. I really wish Apple had kept the express card slot on the 15″ models, but other than that, I couldn’t be more pleased.

    I also have a late 2007 model Mini with 2GB’s of RAM that gets used as an itunes server.

  • MacBook Pro (’08) w/4GB RAM. No hiccups unless I push the RAM limits of Logic with numerous memory-hungry virtual instruments (I’m talkin 24-32 instances).

    My plan is to end up with a Mac Pro in the homebase and maintain the MacBook Pro for remote use. Not technically a mirrored system, but close.

  • Joshua Law

    Well, I’m currently using my MacBook Pro that I just got a month ago for school. I’m currently going to Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL and the MBP is included in the tuition. I really like it so far, but my actual recording computer is Sweetwater’s Rack XT, but that’s back home in Pennsylvania. I have yet to bog down my Rack XT in the slightest. You worked for Sweetwater, you know what I’m talking about. Maybe they’ll give you a good price on it?!