Mac Mini

witzendoz

Senior Member
Hi,
I usually use windows machines in the studio, not that I am anti mac as I have used macs and windows machines since they turned up. After the Atari 1040 LOL. So I don't want a mac v PC discussion. My moto is that the computer is a box full of components made to do a job.

I recently decided to start an upgrade, costed a new speced PC and started looking at the required new interfaces etc. I was going to stay windows as the software I had was all windows. However recently I had a guy come in to track drums, he brought in his gear, a Mac Mini and a universal interface, basically his whole studio. We had the discussion about new computers, after he stopped rolling around looking at my old computer, and he said mac is the way to go. I gave my usual mac or PC does not matter to me reply.

OK now the real discussion, I priced a new M1 mac mini, it works out 45% cheaper than the speced PC, I do not need a quiet case, do not need a thunderbolt card, etc as it already does this. I only need a Mini with the small SSD as I use external drives, and I have included extra ram. I was thinking of buying a fresh software upgrade anyway so this cost cancels out.

The small problem at present it seems that the M1 with the latest mac update has had compatibility problems with some software, however the software companies are promising a fix soon.

Do you think this is a good move, anyone using mac mini's? Buy the way my old day job I used a mac mini for my work computer for years and it never let me down.

Alan
 
Hi,
I do favour Apple computers and have done for years, but started out on windows from 3.1 through to 7.
My personal experience is that while any system can have quirks or issues, or just break, using Mac has overall been much much smoother.
The day-to-day niggles that seem to be accepted are a lot less frequent.
This is a big part of why mac guys recommend mac.

IMO the M1 Mac Mini is a great idea right now, but with a few things to watch.
You've got thunderbolt right there, as you said, but you also have HDMI and 'regular' USB, ethernet, BT + Wifi.
For most people that's all that's needed.

Performance wise these things are unbelievable.
Last I checked the M1 chip was right at the top of the list of all Apple computers for single core performance, and top 10 for multi.
Considering they released a new Mac Pro 'power house' not that long ago, that's pretty scary!

GPU wise they're very impressive when compared to intel mobile chips, but just OK if compared to 'proper' dedicated GPUs.
That said, I can game on there at good fps and they've been shown to be damn capable with HD+4k video editing and rendering so
I can't see this mattering unless your day job involves really intense GPU loads and, if it did, I guess you'd know.

Software wise Big Sur is pretty new and 32bit applications are completely left behind now (steam library?).
Apple Silicon is arm architecture and, as such, Apple have implemented an invisible translation layer (Rosetta 2) in order to be able to run 'intel' programs,
until all the software developers catch up. (They did the same thing with PPC/Intel transition)
Performance wise it's great - People were doing benchmark comparisons of intel vs m1, watching the m1 win, and then realising that it was translating the app!
As developers release M1/arm tailored builds performance and stability will only improve, but my experience has been that both are damn good already anyway.

The big catch, right now, is that Rosetta 2 translates applications - not kernel extensions,
so if you have any software or hardware which relies on .kexts (drivers) then unless the manufacturer has released something new it's not going to work.
If you're coming from Windows then that's a non issue, except for maybe support for your current audio interface.

Over here I'm running an M1 Macbook Air but, apart form the port configuration and lack of a fan, it's the same computer.
I replaced a 2015 Macbook Pro and 2012 Mac Pro with this one machine and, so far, couldn't be happier.
Latest (intel) version of ProTools runs perfectly and all my existing plugin installs worked just fine.
Soundflower relied on a kext and does not work but I found an alternative easily enough.

Apart from confirming compatibility with the software and devices you intend to use, the only reason I can think of to hold off is that M1 is the 1st gen of Apple Silicon and was only released in November. It's more or less a certainty that Apple are going to release a next-gen or a step-up chip, most likely into portable pro models and iMacs.
If that's something that interests you you might want to hold off - If not, M1 has been brilliant for me, so far.

PS - I wouldn't pay apple for larger storage when you can just hang a USB-C SSD out the back of it for a lot less money,
but I would pay for the 16GB ram.
It's still early days with these machines but I spend a lot of time in 11-12GB used.
 
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Folkcafe

Active member
I was looking for a computer to update my old video editing setup running windows. This was right about the time when the M1 was announced. I had stopped using the Mac back in the early days of Protools LE due to simple performance differences. Up until the M1, I didn't view the Mini as the best price/performance value as you had to go the upper end Intel and still no graphics options.

So I watched as everyone marveled at the M1 performance with 4k for entry level money. Then the audio guys started to chime in. So I pulled the trigger and ordered it at the end of Nov. with it pretty maxed out. I've been really happy with it but have had to be willing to wait for some things to catch up. Some plug ins and instruments were not ready right away. Still mostly everything works and works really well. Definitely go with the 16 gigs of memory.
 

witzendoz

Senior Member
Thanks guys, I think this is the way I am going, just waiting now for my studio income to catch up with my spending LOL, I took a hit with the lockdowns but it's slowly on the recover. I am also waiting for Presonus to catch up with the M1 / Big Sur issues, my new setup is planned to be a M1 and a Presonus Quantum 4848, this gives me 32 channels of digital both in and out. I am planning to run my studio just like I do with the Tascam 2424, but retire the Tascam and the SCSI setup and record direct to the M1, at the moment I record on the Tascam and drop the files into Reaper.

I love working with an Analog / digital setup tracking while I monitor on the console. Basically, the Presonus and M1 replace a tape machine with the added editing functions LOL. This setup also lets me mix in analog if I feel the urge but being able to edit tracks easily.

Cheers
Alan
 
That sounds like a great setup! Hopefully Presonus come through with updates for you.
Might be worth a look to see if they have any time lines or announcements regarding M1.
If they don't, at this stage, that would worry me.
 

Folkcafe

Active member
That sounds like a great setup! Hopefully Presonus come through with updates for you.
Might be worth a look to see if they have any time lines or announcements regarding M1.
If they don't, at this stage, that would worry me.
They had indicated Q1. I've not checked back in over a month as I've been busy with tearing the studio apart and building new acoustic treatments and a new desk and rack. Haven't decided between the 4848 or 2626 but the I/O is so tempting on the 4848 and I have my 24 channel Soundtracs console. Only have 16 channels going out from the control room and don't see myself as needing more. Problem with all the I/O is the gear you'll want to buy to fill it.
 

witzendoz

Senior Member
I am interested in lots of inputs and outputs because I record a lot of bands live in the studio, my favourite recording method. Therefor I often have 16 to 24 channels recording at once. Also during mixing in the computer I am keen to get the Reaper ReaInsert happening so I can use my collection of analogue rack gear involved. So I could have quite a bit of this happening.

The ridiculous part of this is you can use 16 channels of Adat in/out while using the 32 channels of Analog in/out, 48 channels of ins and outs LOL. I can use my old MX2424 with the analogue / Adat card combination as a extra interface. Never run out of inputs and outputs.

Cheers
Alan
 
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