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Ask Max: Best MacBook Specs for Audio Processing

Asked on 11/04/2008:

Currently, I am a PC user with years of endless desktop computer headaches, and I'm looking at switching over to a MacBook Pro. I am wanting to get into instrument recording, sound effects, and composing, and believe that Garageband could be the simplest most-streamlined route to go (rather than putting Pro Tools, Logic Express, and composing software separately, on an inevitably unreliable PC). The portability of a laptop makes the best sense for what I now need.

If I start with Garageband, and possibly add Logic at a later date, can you recommend what size of MacBook would best suit the job (GHz, RAM, HD)? I have heard there have been complications with trying to do too much with demanding software, with a computer that is just not fast or big enough. My understanding is that Garageband has been around for some number of years, and presumably there has always been enough speed and space on these computer models to adequately do the job, but I thought it would be wise to ask your opinion and any suggestions or recommendations.

I've also read that iLife 08 has been plagued with problems - particularly iMovie and iWeb, with iPhoto getting complaints as well. Do you know if there are ways around this, or if Apple has plans to upgrade or update this software to eliminate these problems?



I am glad to help you move over to the Mac computer community. In general, GarageBand will run perfectly on any of the Intel Macs with at least 1GB of RAM. Although GarageBand is a good application, it is geared to simplicity and may leave you wanting more musical options. It is still powerful and you can start with GarageBand and upgrade your projects to Logic Express later.

Depending on what kind of equipment you plan on buying you could get by with a MacBook and not the MacBook Pro. Any of the plastic-cased MacBooks would work for what you are doing, but stay away from the Aluminum MacBooks as they lack FireWire and that is a good interface for studio equipment.

If your budget can afford it, the new Unibody MacBook Pro is an easy choice. In my opinion it is one of the best designs laptops Apple has ever made.

The basic specs of this unit are more than enough power for your audio work at any level, even studio work.

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