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walbassist

Mac suitable for A Level Music Tech and then Uni

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Posted (edited)
Hello folks

My daughter is just starting A Level Music Tech, with a view to going on to uni to study something similar - she has her eye on Music and Sound Recording at York at the moment.

She's been told to think about getting a Macbook running Logic Pro, but new prices are crazy, so I was wondering which older models folk would recommend, and where decent used Macs might be found? Condition is less important than performance in this instance.

Should add that I work in a Uni myself and qualify for the Apple discount, but even then a new basic Pro is coming in at £1124 and an Air at £854!

Thanks

Gareth Edited by walbassist

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At least an i5 processor (i7 if you can stretch to it), and definitely a solid state drive for your software. If it's a MacBook then pop the DVD drive out and install a second SSD for your audio. Lots of RAM too, but again that can be added later.

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Something with a Thunderbolt and USB-C connection will ensure that she fairly well future-proofed for connection with an Interface (which she'll absolutely need).
But as mentioned, something fairly modern so she can keep up with Mac OS updates, but yeah, plenty of RAM, no less than 8gb. A larger screen will also help with mixing etc.

Si

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It might be worth checking what software the uni actually uses before you splurge out either way (apologies if you already have)

ProTools is now on a monthly license and would mean that you're not tied to a mac if you're not that way inclined. Also question whether a laptop is essential, will a desktop potentially work? :)

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As a student, I'd think portability was probably essential? I have a mid 2012 13" Macbook Pro which you could probably get on eBay for around £500ish I would imagine, i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 750GB HDD. I did the upgrades mentioned above and haven't looked back. I replaced the CD Drive with a 2TB HDD in for storage, and replaced the original HDD with an SSD. Works a charm! Upgraded it to 16GB of RAM at the same time. Granted I spent about £350 on the upgrades, but I went with a 1TB SSD and a 2TB HDD which rapidly drove up the price.

To keep the cost down, you could leave the RAM at 8GB for now (I bought my laptop in June 2012, as soon as it was released and only upgraded the RAM last year) and just grab a 128/256GB SSD for it. Replace the internal drive with the SSD and put the old HDD where the CD drive. You can find the parts and tutorials online - I did the upgrades myself in about 20 minutes! As a bonus, you can buy a little optical drive USB enclosure and pop your old CD drive in it so that you don't lose the ability to read or write CDs!

If you shopped about I reckon you could get a top spec laptop for about £600-650. Hope this helps!

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You CANNOT ad more RAM on new Macbooks. It is soldered in. I recently bought an 8 year old Macbook which was certainly not state of the art in any way shape or form. I popped a SSD drive into and it whipped my more recent work machine. A 3 year old with a decent SSD retrofit will be fine and dandy.

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Posted (edited)
[quote name='charic' timestamp='1507291374' post='3384542']
It might be worth checking what software the uni actually uses before you splurge out either way (apologies if you already have)

ProTools is now on a monthly license and would mean that you're not tied to a mac if you're not that way inclined. Also question whether a laptop is essential, will a desktop potentially work? :)
[/quote]

I personally wouldn't touch ProTools with a bargepole until they drop the iLok requirement. I appreciate that copy protection is probably a requirement, but the company behind iLok are simply too unreliable for a supposedly professional piece of software. Edited by BigRedX

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It's pretty ridiculous that you can't upgrade the RAM or SSD yourself.

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Mine is a 2012 model with factory fitted 4gb of RAM, it works perfectly well running Logic Pro X.

I did have a new SSD hard drive fitted after an accident at a gig in April which definitely speeded it up, that cost £200 at my local Mac repair shop, that included a service too.

Apple give fantastic student discount, so just buy secondhand for now, she can always buy new if she needs to when she starts uni. I think I got 40% off my MacBook when I got it.

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[quote name='xgsjx' timestamp='1507573930' post='3386461']
It's pretty ridiculous that you can't upgrade the RAM or SSD yourself.
[/quote]

You can if you know what you're doing. You can buy RAM off Amazon, there are plenty of how to videos on Youtube.

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1507574248' post='3386466']


You can if you know what you're doing. You can buy RAM off Amazon, there are plenty of how to videos on Youtube.
[/quote]

My mate who is an IT bod was very reticent to get stuck into my son's mac to upgrade the soldered RAM. I think replacing the HD is pretty straightforward.

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1507572772' post='3386447']


I personally wouldn't touch ProTools with a bargepole until they drop the iLok requirement. I appreciate that copy protection is probably a requirement, but the company behind iLok are simply too unreliable for a supposedly professional piece of software.
[/quote]

Been running for around 8 years now and never had a problem with iLok... Touch wood!

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1507574248' post='3386466']
You can if you know what you're doing. You can buy RAM off Amazon, there are plenty of how to videos on Youtube.
[/quote]
But would you want to go into a brand new £2k MacBook with a soldering iron?

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[quote name='xgsjx' timestamp='1507578366' post='3386538']
But would you want to go into a brand new £2k MacBook with a soldering iron?
[/quote]

No :)

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1507578737' post='3386545']
No :)
[/quote]
:lol:

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[quote name='xgsjx' timestamp='1507582450' post='3386591']
:lol:
[/quote]

Older ones like mine are apparently quite easy to upgrade, the RAM just clips in. I'm not sure when they started to solder them in place.

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The mid 2012 Macbook Pro I mentioned earlier is the last model with user serviceable RAM. The models with Retina screens are soldered in,

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I appreciate it's a desktop, but whilst the discussion is on Macs and upgrading, I had a 27" iMac - I think late 2011 model. It was an i5 Quad core and as mentioned above was a model that could be upgraded. It ended up with a 1Tb Sandisk SSD inside (in addition to the 1Tb drive it came with) and a whopping 32Gb RAM on board. A very impressive machine which given the price they go for secondhand is a great purchase with the upgrades on board.

Now I need to be mobile so much more I have a MacBook Pro. It's a late 2013 i7. The RAM can't be upgraded and I certainly miss the 32Gb! - There is a kit to do the SSD and I will get round to that one day, but the 1Tb SSD for the MacBook Pro is very expensive!!

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Unless Apple gets their s*** together and gives us back USB3.0 connections, I will never buy a new MacBook again.

I went from a MacBook Air 13" (8gb RAM, 128gb SSD, barely 2gHz processor) which was adequate to learn the basics of ProTools on, then swapped with my wife to a 2015 MacBook Pro 13"(8gb RAM, 500gb SSD, 2.2gHz processor I think).

When I started an MA in studio recording, I did a lot of research and decided to jump in the time machine. I went used and bought a mid-2012 13" MacBook Pro with a 2.5ghz Intel i5, preloaded with 16gb RAM, and a 256gb SSD. I then bought a hard-drive caddy which you mount a drive to and put in place of the DVD drive. I put a 1TB SSD in there and run the two drives together as one Journaled drive for 1.25TB of storage, more than enough to store all the loops and stuff associated with Logic.

The mid-2012 machines were the last Macs that were totally user-serviceable. You can add or replace RAM, the hard drive, battery, fan, you name it... in order to make the machines smaller, they went with pre-soldered RAM and whatnot after this model.

The display isn't nearly as nice as the Retina stuff, and it's a touch heavy, but it cost me just shy of $500 for the used machine (I shopped around and waited to find one with some of the upgrades I wanted already, like the maxed out RAM and a SSD), plus $270ish for the 1TB drive and a bit more for the drive caddy w/tools for replacement. I'm into the machine about $800US (~GBP 600).

The savings of going for one of these older machines can be put into upgrades, an external drive for backups (buy this [b]first[/b]), and a monitor for those really intense mixing and editing sessions.

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[quote name='jposega' timestamp='1509536515' post='3399662']
Unless Apple gets their s*** together and gives us back USB3.0 connections, I will never buy a new MacBook again.
[/quote]

USB3 is old tech. You won't be seeing it on any new Apple products.

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1509541431' post='3399742']
USB3 is old tech. You won't be seeing it on any new Apple products.
[/quote]

It is..? Oh dear; I was just building up to getting USB 2.0 in full use..! S'no fun these days, getting old; it all spins around so fast. Should I be anticipating USB 26.0 already, then..? :unsure:

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[quote name='Dad3353' timestamp='1509541644' post='3399744']
It is..? Oh dear; I was just building up to getting USB 2.0 in full use..! S'no fun these days, getting old; it all spins around so fast. Should I be anticipating USB 26.0 already, then..? :unsure:
[/quote]

USB-C is the new 'standard', but that just refers to the connector type, it's not a protocol unto itself. You can use USB2.0, USB3.0/3.1 & Thunderbolt over that connection. Thunderbolt 3 is only available over USB-C, whereas previously, Thunderbolt 1 & 2 connections have been over 'Display port' connections.
That said, not all USB-C ports/cables support Thunderbolt (be it 1, 2 or 3).
Confused yet?

Si

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[quote name='Sibob' timestamp='1509543000' post='3399762']...
Confused yet?...
[/quote]

I was never really confident with sub-D serial connectors, either, what with baud rates and hand-shaking an' all. Just as well I kept my floppy disks, eh..? ;)

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