Thinking about getting a mac to make beats? Here are 7 Things to consider before buying a mac for beat production.
- Buying new or used
- System Requirements
- Software choice
- Mobile or Stationary
- Known Issues
- Ease of use
Buying A Mac Used Or New
Todays computers are very powerful. On that same note, computers of yesterday were, and are still very powerful. The amount of power is of course relative to the end user. A person that works in video game graphics design will no doubt scoff at the specifications needed by those of a beat maker. Now every MacBook pro made since about 2008 or so, looks mostly about the same on the outside. But obviously, just like us humans, its whats on the inside that really counts.
Should you buy used or new? Well, in my personal opinion, used is a very great and reliable option with MacBooks as long as you know some things to watch out for. The machines last a very long time and will work rock solid for years! My brother still uses his 2009 version as a primary computer for both DJ’ing for hours and beat making. That doesn’t mean you should get a 2009 though! And one thing to note that is great about Macs, is that they usually have their year listed in the specs. This is great for both finding the version of the MacBook and knowing how old it is. In this case though, age is kind of nothing but a number!
You could always buy new if you are balling out of control and ready to slap down $1499 – $2999! I mean, who am I to stop you? I have done it myself! But I have owned considerably a lot of used MacBook pros over the years. The main things in the following sections below will help you decide more if you would like to buy used or new. If you are going used, Craigslist, Apple Resellers, Apple’s Refurbs Site, and even pawn shops are great places to look for a lonely MacBook ready to find a new home. I’ve bought many of mine through Craigslist. I have run into a few bad eggs which I will get into later in the knowing about “known issues” section. But there are some things to check before buying a used mac.
You want to know whats inside that thing! Not just the shiny pictures. They need to click on the apple and select “about this mac” and show you the details. What you want to know is the year it was made, the type of processor, the amount of RAM, and the hard drive size. Does that sound foreign to you? That is okay, just know that the higher the number, the better for now. In fact, lets talk about the system requirements to look for when you are making your purchase.
Also you want to be on the look out for signs of tampering when buying a used mac. Many of these are repaired and resold many times, and that is not a bad thing, but the more its been tampered with, the more likely something could go wrong. Usually its just a matter of making sure it looks okay by looking at the bottom to make sure all of the screws are there. Missing screws are a sign of someone working on the computer and not being professional enough to at least put all of the screws back in. Thats not really a good thing. Also make sure to test the keys out to make sure they all feel the same and work. Make sure the sound works and CD drive as well if you have something to test it. Usually most of us don’t. Its not a bad idea to check the USB ports with a phone charger to make sure they work. If that and the specs check out, then it could be a great buy. Read below for some known issues to watch for, as some models you may want to avoid.
System Requirements Needed To Make Beats
In the screenshot above, I have listed the minimum requirements of running Logic Pro X. That is not to say that that is the software that you are deciding to use, but this will give you a good basis on where to start. Go to the website of the DAW that you plan to use and find their system requirements to make sure to get enough for what you need. For instance, Logic Pro X needs 63GB for its sound library, but you may also plan to get Native Instruments Komplete which uses upwards to 120GB of space. So This is where those numbers come into play. Mostly the RAM and hard drive sizes, but the processor plays an important part as well.
Just by this alone it could help you start making a choice on a mac for making beats with. I would suggest to plan a bit for the future, so if a program says it requires 4GB of RAM, I would get the next step up at least which is 8GB of RAM. That way in case the software updates and wants to unlock some more dopeness, you will have the power needed if it requires it. RAM is one thing, usually you will get it in 4, 8 or 16 gigabytes. So thats pretty simple to figure out.
As far as hard drive size, I will always say, you want as much hard drive as you can get! Now, not if it increases the price a ton though. One thing to note is that a lot of software can be installed onto external hard drives, freeing up your internal space. So that 63GB of sounds that Logic wants to install can go on the external drive, where as the 6GB of software programming will go onto your internal drive. That can be confusing a bit, but just know, it can allow you to not have to pay so much for a computer just for the storage, when you can expand that storage later.
What software should I use on my Mac for making beats?
Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Fruity Loops, Garageband, Native Instruments, Reason, Cubase, Sony Acid,,,,,,,I mean the list literally goes on and freaking on. They all do mostly the same things, but some do things better then others. Some just have better user interfaces, more options, better sounds, etc. It really just depends on what you are looking for. A lot of times, when you buy some hardware like a keyboard or drum machine, it may come with a free version of software to use. That does not mean that you have to use it with that software in many cases, its just a sales tactic to get you to buy the full version. For Macs, I personally love Logic Pro X. Its one of the best interfaces that I love to use, and its made by Apple themselves. Garageband is another great choice as its is more of a lite version of Logic Pro X. Its also usually preinstalled or free in the app stores its cheap to get and get started with. So if you just laid out some cash for a mac to make beats and just want to start having fun until your next paycheck, grab Garageband and give it a go. Logic Pro X on the other hand will set you back $199, but its well worth it over time!
Fruity Loops is another user friendly application that has came into the game and because of its ease of use has created a wave of new producers. For years it was never available for a Mac, but that has changed and they now have a version for it. It is also pretty expensive also at $199 for the producers bundle and up to $899 for the full version. Pro Tools was once one of those “industry standard” programs that had a lot of clout back in the day. But with the competition from others software over the years, its kind of taken a seat back although it is still a choice used by many professionals in the game. Pro Tools has many options for pricing from monthly costs of $29.99 a month, on up to $599 to own it out right.
I could go on and on about software as I haven’t even scratched the surface, but the main thing to know is that all of these applications have a free trial. No one can tell you which one of these will work best for YOU! Only you can discover that for yourself. So the best thing is to download each of them and play with them until you find the one that best suits what you are looking for and that inspires you to create.
Do you want a Mac to make beats in a studio, on the go, or both?
Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, Imac, or Mac Mini? You probably never heard of the Mac Mini before huh? Many have not as it does not get hardly any advertising, but its a small box that is the heart of the Mac, and you just add a monitor and keyboard to it, just like a computer tower. Why would you go with something like that? Or even why would you go for an iMac over a MacBook? Two main things to consider about this is price and power. Maybe you never plan on being mobile when making beats and don’t really want to carry around a laptop, well you could go with an iMac instead to be stationary. Why would one not just get a MacBook pro to have the best of both worlds you ask? Well, price and power.
iMacs are a bit cheaper then MacBook Pros since they do not have a battery and slim design. This allows the money spent to either be saved, or to go towards more features like more RAM, Hard Drive, etc. Also you can get bigger screen sizes with an iMac if that is something you are going for. And also just to save money as used iMacs go for considerably less money then MacBook Pros. So if you are in the market for a mac and you want to save some money but still want some power and don’t need to really be mobile with it, grab you an iMac now and maybe grab a MacBook Pro after you have learned your way around a mac and are progressing in your passion. You can think of the Mac Mini and iMacs as really good cheap machines you can get into to start making beats.
Used MacBook pros are not hard to find either and won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. Many of us mac heads just love sitting some where out in nature or at a place to eat with our MacBooks in front of us inspiring us to put in work on some type of project. Also, when you get to a certain point, you may want to have the ability to be mobile in order to collaborate with others in person outside of your home. You could always pack up the iMac or Mac Mini as well since they are usually easy to transport, but not as easy as a MacBook Pro!
How much are you looking to spend you your beat making Mac?
Even if you are a baller, should you still drop $1300+ on a new MacBook Pro? I mean, don’t let me deter you from snatching up one of those touchpad beauties! I for one love powerful macs, and great technology. But, I have mostly worked on used MacBooks for the longest. The price difference of a brand new one for $1300 where as for used you can get a decent one for around $450-$600 is very important. In many cases you can use that extra money spent on overkill processing and RAM (as you know, you can never have enough hard drive space) and get something with more hard drive space, and use the money towards software and hardware. You could buy a used Mac for $600, Logic for $199, a keyboard controller for $100, and Native Instruments Maschine Mikro for $269 and STILL have $130 left over for more sounds!
You might think that by buying the newer macs that you are future proofing yourself, but many of the MacBooks from before can accept updates to RAM up to 16GB, and support hard drives at large sizes and Solid State Drives. So really, audio production will take a super long time to have a need for specs stronger then what some of these macs can top out at. So rest assured that a used Mac purchase is still a good purchase for sure. iMacs and Mac Minis go for even cheaper, maybe in the $250-$450 range. Don’t let the cheap price deter you, its whats inside that counts. The prices are generally cheaper because they are less in demand then MacBooks.
Known Issues With Some Macs
Now, before you go out buying a used mac, you should know that a few of them have issues that are widely known that you want to avoid since they are no longer covered under a warranty. A story from my past is I had a 15 inch 2012 MacBook Pro that had eventually died on me by booting to a grey screen and overheating. I bought another of the same exact model and months later had the same thing happen to it. I then knew it was more then bad luck and started searching the web and found that the AMD graphics card in that model overheats and causes that issue. I was able to fix them temporarily by watching some youtube vids on how to use a heat gun to fix it, but it would eventually happen over and over.
So that being said, looking at the current issues now, I would likely say to stay away from ALL 15 inch models from any year. The current 2019 models have a battery issue causing people not to be able to take them on planes. I also heard it overheats a bit too. The retina display 15 inch versions have issues, but some are still covered under warranty. And the 2011-2015 15 inch MacBooks for sure have issues. So, not to scare you, but mostly to direct you towards the 13 inch version. 13 inches is plenty of screen although I do love the 15 inch version, I rather have something that works. There are very few known issues with the 13 inch versions, so I would say you are usually safe when going that route. You can always check the Apple website for their known issues, but they do not own up to everything, so Google it as well to see if others in forums are reporting the same issues.
Macs Are Easy To Use Despite What Others May Tell You
Plug and play! I cannot stress enough how great Macs are at plugging in new items and playing right away without any system configurations. Macs have less chances of crashes and viruses on average then windows computers also. Generally they are powerful and are dedicated for media applications. Some people think they are hard to use just because they are different from what they are used to. Don’t let that deter you, many people are just not great with learning new things. Once you have started using a mac, you will never want to use a PC again. In fact, when you do use a PC again, that when you will be reminded of all of the issues like installing drivers, setting up settings so hardware can work with certain software, approving stupid licenses, turning off something dumb called S mode, and more things that just gets in the way of making beats.
Now You Can Make A Decision On What Mac To Get For Making Beats
Hopefully this information has helped you be able to find out which Mac is best for you and for what reason. The main reason for this is to help remove the thoughts in your head of it being expensive to get a mac. Yes, it is if you want a brand new one, but buying a used mac surely beats buying a new PC around the same price brand new any day.
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