M1 Macbook Pro In-Depth Review For Musicians

In his latest Sonic Lab video, host Nick Batt takes a look at the recently introduced M1 Pro/M1 Max MacBook Pro computers and reviews the base model 14″ MacBook Pro, with a focus specifically on the needs of musicians.

Along the way, he also takes a look at the new version of Logic and its ATMOS surround support.

Batt notes that, for many musicians, the 14″ & 16″ MacBook Pro laptops may currently be overkill, because you can get such good performance from the base models of the M1 Mac Mini, MacBook Air or 13″ Macbook Pro. He cites expanded I/O and better screens as the key benefits of the 14″ and 16″ models, unless you’re doing video or using large sound libraries, where additional RAM and more powerful processors become more critical.

Check out the review and share your thoughts on the new MacBook Pro laptops in the comments!

Video Summary:

“Apple recently added to their range of SOC (system on a chip) M1 range with the new Mac Book Pro 14 and 16 inch models. Each feature the option to include the new M1 Pro and M1 Max CPUs, more base memory and up to 8TB of blazing fast storage. Apple sent us a base model unit, we take a look and see what the high specc’ed and higher priced unit has to offer.”

Topics Covered:

00:00 Intro and packaging
02:15 Ports and hardware
04:45 Storage speed
06:00 Plugging in and the screen
8:30 Moving to Monterey
09:40 Audio and video
12:37 Logic Session test with u-he native
15:50 Logic Native ATMOS Example (use headphones)
21:30 Conclusions and impressions

9 thoughts on “M1 Macbook Pro In-Depth Review For Musicians

  1. As Nick explains the M1 is more than enough for most people.
    I’m running the Mac Mini M1 base model and it does all I need for music production.
    Will probably buy a MacBook Air M1 for cheap when the next model comes out.
    That’s less money than buying the 14″ MacBook Pro base model alone!

    1. I also bought a base 8/256 M1 mini, and it’s excellent for everything I need in a home music rig. I also have an M1 MacBook Air, but it is crippled by a lack of ports. The mini at least has a power jack, hdmi output and 4 USB ports.

      1. How is your mini for fan noise? Do(es) the fan(s) come on easily? Or do they only rev up with really heavy work? Are they fairly quiet/slow?

  2. It’s especially nice that if you are just doing easy things like recording a few tracks at a time you might not even have the fans engage. That means you can do some pretty quite recording/sampling without having to jump through hoops.

  3. I own the Macbook Pro 16in M1 Max. Every time I fire up Bitwig studio or Logic Pro, im amazed at how the performance has improved from my 2019 souped up Macbook Pro. All the hype isnt just hype and I didnt even want to believe it, I just wanted a new Macbook before my older model lost all of its trade in value. Before I traded in my older model, I tried to throw a ton of Instrument plugins, FX and tracks at both DAW’s to see what it could handle, definitely had those fans going way before i expected. It was like 50 tracks with different audio loops, 10 instrument tracks with Pigments, that Arturia Elec Piano (stage 73? or is that NI) and a few other tough instruments and about 4-5 FX per track. Did the same on the MI Macbook, didnt blink. I’ll never even reach those limits with my normal production, just wanted to be my own tester.
    Its crazy so no complaints from me.

    I’ve had Windows laptops in the past that were always ruined by… windows updates. Since PC, I’ve had 3 personal macbooks and my work macbook and the only issue I ever ran into was a dying battery and lack of ports. Got a surface pro a few months ago for drawing and design, after installing all my programs, using it for a week. Windows update….. sent me through a ton of driver updates and third party stylus configuration apps just to continue using affinity designer, photoshop and aseprite. So….. Go OSX.

  4. The base M1 is astonishing in what it can do with Logic Pro. It outperforms the prior top-end Intel MBP on loaded Logic sessions (Audio/MIDI/Virtual Instruments/ EFX, etc), and talks to UAD HW well. Thanks to some very effective emulation behind the scenes, non-native hardware and plugins are performing well (NI, Arturia, UAD). Whenever Apple changes hardware and software like this, it’s a long and painful transition. For the first time (ever?), this was an easy move. Kudos to Apple for getting it right.

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