Moving over to MacBook--Does the MB Air have enough steam?
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  1. #1
    Tech Guru space monkey's Avatar
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    Default Moving over to MacBook--Does the MB Air have enough steam?

    Looking at my options for a portable DJ only MacBook Pro or Air. For various reasons the PC world just isn't cutting it any longer and I need something that will just work for music.
    I don't have a budget per se but no way in hell I'm forking over 1500 plus for a new MBP considering the specs. A quadcore processor seems a waste of money for Traktor and Maschine and I can upgrade RAM/HD(SSD) in the near future. My biggest concerns are shelf life of at least 3-4 years and the potential to add my own components (RAM...SSD). I also plan (tentative adn not a deal breaker) to get a local shop to put a powder coat of dark grey on the AL body so AppleCare be damned. I don't plan to keep my complete music library on the MB as all purchasing, DL and file conversions will still occur on my PC laptop. I hardly gig anymore but plan to do some special events during my vacation in the Spring and later in the Summer back in the States as i'm not really est. in the UAE. I just want to be able to bring my choicest tracks over to the MB and have an external just in case that odd track would fit into a set.

    Short version:
    Anyone use a MB Air for DJ'ing? I'm not too concerned about screen resolution but the larger res of the MB Air is appealing as the 13" MBP is a tad lacking. 2 USB ports=Just enough.

    thanks

  2. #2
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    Id say the newer models certainly should with their specs. I just got my gf one for xmas.. I shoukd jack it and try cuz ive been thinking about the same thing. They are amazingly thin and light. If nobody confirms, ill try to test this weekend. I think i got the 1300 dollar model from apples site.

  3. #3
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    I use a MacBook Air 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo with 4GB memory, and have had no horse power issue except for when pitch shifting to speeds between -75% and -85% with key-lock HQ / normal mode on in Traktor Pro 2. I have not yet confirmed this but I believe the issue above is present in most laptops out there. My laptop doesn't gradually fail to keep up with the hardcore pitching, but rather, the CPU usage spikes suddenly once entering between those two values and cools down just fine again once slower than -85% - which I have seen happen in several MacBook Pro models as well. Plus, who needs to pitch shift that much on a regular basis anyway.

    I was initially worried about the memory limit of 4GB, but Traktor Pro 2 seems to never use more than 400 MB of memory, no matter what I do with the software. (Four decks, heavy effects, etc..)

    I would expect the newer models to be even better, but maybe if the multi-core support is really primitive a faster clock speed is better - can't give you any concrete advice on that.

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/G0JH0LL/A

    There is the same model as mine at just over 1300 in the refurbished area.

    If the small disk size doesn't bother you, I would definitely recommend Air for DJing.

  4. #4
    Tech Guru space monkey's Avatar
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    Hey thanks for the replies

    Hmmm, key lock was an issue on my last LT (core2 duo circa 2007) and it usually manifest itself in a very laggy waveform display. I don't use KL often though. EFX are somewhat an issue since i'm awaiting the arrival of a MF Pro. But the majority of my EFX are handled by a DB4.

    kevz, I'd really owe you one if you do get an opportunity to jack the missus' air this weekend and post back here the results. I typically play 4+ hours and heat dissipation could be an issue with a passively cooled laptop. RAM I'm not worried so much than I am a 1066MHz bus and if that is sufficient when I wish to use KL and multiple EFX with samples and 2 decks.
    I can get a new (though I have no issue at all refurb'd) 13" with 128GB SSD for 1300USD. I just don't know the OS and app footprint but I need at least 55GB for music. Is opening a MB Air difficult/possible? Upgrade at home? Maybe running my library from an external is a possibility or just another point for failure?

    Thanks for reading.
    Last edited by space monkey; 01-13-2012 at 10:38 AM.

  5. #5
    Tech Guru space monkey's Avatar
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    Well I answered my own question regarding SSD replacement
    http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBo...eardown/6130/1

  6. #6
    Tech Guru deevey's Avatar
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    Macbook Air 13' i5 benchmarks show it to be Twice as Powerful as the 2010 Macbook pro 13'

    Its got PLENTY of steam, and the SSD means even without a huge ram increase you won't lose out on speed too much, I've seen a few big names recently using both the 11' and 13' with ableton/traktor and serato.

    I was pretty blown away with the speed programs were opening (iMovie for example) on a base model 2gig 11' compared to my MBP, pretty sure the SSD was the biggest factor.

    I can see the macbook line getting a refresh much sooner than the Air as well, you should easily get 3+ years outta an Air before selling it on (probably for at least half what you bought it for)

    http://www.macrumors.com/2011/07/20/...0-macbook-pro/

  7. #7
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    Just to clarify, I don't think it's an issue of key lock + MBA, rather, an issue of Traktor meets -80%. There are also zero issues I know of that is non-present in other MB models but present on MBA, so multiple EFX or whatever, wouldn't be a reason to consider an alternative to me.

    I'd say you would have about 100GB of space to use for your apps and musics with a 128GB SSD -- which if you were like me and switched all main activity to MBA would soon fill up!

    Opening up a MBA is possible with a special driver, but you'd have to solder on memory modules to the board to increase physical memory. SSD is about the only thing you'll feel like increasing on your own, but since they are so expensive, I would rather go ahead and upgrade when buying the Mac, but here's the link to the upgrades.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/OWC/Aura_Pro_Express

    The only reason I can think of why the MBA is so fabulously smooth is because it doesn't access an HDD. I am not Mac geek enough to know specific sources to support this but I use several models through my daytime job to be properly blown away with just how smooth everything I do in MBA is compared to other models. Even the hi-end ones. So, just for reference, I wouldn't ever want to hook up an external HDD, and I also don't like the idea of a damn faulty cable messing up my gig, so I am against using an external drive.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by DJ MiCL; 01-13-2012 at 11:53 AM.

  8. #8
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    MBP> all
    don't waste your money on a air. They are more expensive with less power and it doesn't had a cd reader thingy

  9. #9
    Tech Guru space monkey's Avatar
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    DJ MiCL
    Yeah, I got what you meant earlier regarding the KL and forgot to address it. I think that they way KL or time-stretch, and this is pure speculation, works algorithmically is that at certain intervals more data has to be added to the stream or at specific intervals on a relative scale between a (key of one track) and b (key of the target track) the algorithm is taxed more. Or maybe it's magic. Either way or way off mark it's not much an issue for me. Hopefully
    Shatzen,
    They are more expensive with less power
    Hell, you just described to whole Apple line up! :P
    A cd reader thingy is not important to me. I don't intend on watching blueray movies whilst playing out. Hell I haven't installed off of a CD in...two years? 1300USD for a machine that can do what I want it to as opposed to superfluous cores and video card for 1800? Add in a decent HDD (still not an SSD) and I'm looking at 2000USD for a marginally better spec'd machine.

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