Considering between a 2019 Macbook Pro or Air for Renoise. Any hands-on experience?

Hello all. I am a heavy Renoise user, and utilize a lot of instrument and effect plugins in my tunes as well. I’m considering either a Macbook Air or a Macbook Pro for Renoise, and am curious if anyone here has experience with the lesser powerful Air for heavy usage. Thanks in advance!

I’d get the Macbook Pro - thinking ahead for future usage. Renoise will run great on either, but as the years go on, which one would be able to push further? The Macbook Air is fine for most stuff, but you might be able to wring a year or two more out of the Pro - just my thoughts as a Mac user since the 80’s. More Better = More Longer.

Good insights, thanks! Honestly there’s not a huge price difference between the two, so might as well spend another couple hundred and get the longevity.

My first Mac was a 2011 MacBook Air. It ran Renoise great, but when I upgraded to a 2013 MacBook Pro, the difference in performance was HUGE and I was able to use it for much longer because the CPU was much more powerful. The weight difference really isn’t that much these days, the 13" Pro’s are actually quite light.

That’s a fair point Niklas. Unfortunately most of my plugins are built for OSX so I’m kinda stuck in that ecosystem for now. My first few years of Renoise song making I was using Windows but switched to OSX about 10 years ago. I suppose I could slowly switch back, but I’ve also been in MacOS for quite a while for work (companies in my line of work seem to supply MacBooks to employees for whatever reason) as well so my muscle memory and workflows are invested in that OS as well now. So it doesn’t have anything to do with a label or what have you. It’s just what I’m invested in currently.


Yes sorry for the comment (but I had to)
I guess if you let yourself in with the devil there is no going back…
I’ll delete the comment as it doesn’t contribute to solving your question
I understand that windows isn’t an alternative

I am using macOS since 2006 now, using real mac and also Hackintosh (after a bunch of very expensive Macs broke), since I found OSX so much more convincing and time saving in daily work and maintenance.

Sadly I have to say the Apple puts a lot of effort into making macOS unusable for me. Every version they not only try to break some important compatibility, now they are even preparing this monopole lock-in, they call “notarisation”.

Starting with with macOS Catalina, apps need to be notarised. If the DAW is then notarised, all plugins need to be also notarised / updated. I think it is pretty clear that quite a bunch of free / old plugins will not be updated at all, or fail the notarisation. And this will take years.

So Apple creates again a lot of incompatibility and a lot of effort for me as ecosystem user, managing the system, for a really questionable concept. This system of forced notarisation also pretty much looks to me like a really bad, unhealthy und unfair monopole structure. It will prevent developers in the future to continue their work. They are now heavily dependent on this extremely unreliable company. The bad about Apple really is, that they do not care at all about their users and also are extremely unreliable for developers and users. Developers also cannot plan for the future and have to do a lot of additional effort only to fulfil Apple’s recent caprice.

Notarisation also brings no additional security, but takes the control away from the users and developers, just as in iOS. The aren’t any real trojans or viruses on macOS, and if you use a proper firewall, you are very safe. I also wonder why the EU even allows this monopolistic behaviour at all. An OS vendor always should be forced to stay open, or a lot of users and developers are extremely dependent on the despotism of the company.

I think it is very reasonable to prepare now a switch back to Windows. I really don’t like Windows, but it has one important advantage: It is very reliable and stays compatible. It will be a lot of work for me.

I also watched Catalina videos, and have to say I am quite shocked about the lack of strict design. The dark mode looks like a mess to me, and the layout, too. They seem now try to copy bad design from Windows. So also this benefit of macOS seems to dissolve slowly.

So maybe you should think twice before you really buy a new Mac. Not even talked about their unreliable hardware, all those annoying and very expensive hardware flaws, that are normal now for Apple.

Or let’s say it in an analogy: Microsoft ecosystem is much like democracy, Apple ecosystem is a dictatorship.

Just my two cents.

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I didn’t even know about the recent notarisation stuff. That’s fucked up. Thanks for the insights. Seriously something to consider there.

Have you thought about using Parallels with a copy of Windows? I’ve done Parallels in the past but never for any serious production work. Thoughts?

Not really yet. If I could run parallels on a really installed windows partition (so later directly boot from it), not trapped in a VM mechanism, it would be surely very helpful. I read that VMWare Fusion seems to be much more performant.

Haven’t tried VMWare Fusion but I’ve looked into it. What about just Boot Camp (which I’ve never used)? I used to dual-boot Windows/Linux years ago, but I’d hate to shut down and reboot just for production work.

Bootcamp works normally, but I don’t know about the touchpad support. I wasn’t able to find any good or official driver for my bluetooth magic trackpad at least.

Ugh, 64GB partition?!

I have an old copy of Parallels and a Windows 7 serial #. I’ll get around to installing it and try it out and report back on current performance with Parallels.

I used to program and I haven’t ever done LUA scripting, but it would be nice if it were possible to run some automated scripts to convert AU to VST for effects inserts while keeping automation and settings. Don’t even know if that would be possible…

No, you can’t convert AU to VST, because the preset structure is incompatible. You will first have to switch to the VST version of the plugin, using the plugin provided preset system, if there is any. In the long run, it always is better to not use AU, IMHO.

I think you also can boot now any Mac using the Clover (hackintosh) bootloader, but I never have done that. If that is possible, there shouldn’t be any limitation at all.

Generally I think it is much better not to put Windows onto a partition, but instead onto a separate drive. Though I think Windows is pretty fucked up when it comes to portability. AFAIK you cannot boot Windows from a USB drive, and even later move the whole USB drive contents to another (internal) drive. I think you even cannot put the usb drive directly into a computer as internal drive, because Windows then seem to have mechanisms to prevent / bluescreen the boot. The were registry hacks a decade ago, I don’t know how it works today.

macos is really neat in this regard, you can install it on any USB drive and later move the whole contents to any other drive using Carbon Copy Cloner. It makes a lot installation scenarios very easy and comfortable. Also it makes 1:1 bootable backups possible, which is a huge timesaver in the long run. Can some experienced Windows user provide infos here?

Back when I professionally built and sold custom Windows systems (Windows 98 era), I remember that the entire Windows install is tied to the motherboard hardware specifically (all chips and all controllers written into the registry and never re-read during boot). The only reliable Windows on new hardware (not RAM, CPU upgrades) is to wipe and reinstall. Sometimes it was so bad that only an actual zero wipe worked. It was a nightmare.

Not sure how it works nowadays with Win10, so someone with more experience might know better than me.

Haven’t tried Clover or done a hackintosh at all, but for now I’m looking at all options.

Best result for me would be to stay entirely in macOS.

All of my music since 2013 til two days ago were made on a Macbook Air.

I used Renoise, Reaper, and Ableton Live. I’ve used a lot of onboard, and VST/AU plugins.

My macbook air had only 8 gig of ram and I squeezed every bit of ram out of that machine. As time passed and OS updates appeared, the MB Air wasn’t as snappy as it used to be as more resources demanded the memory.

The MB Air is a capable machine, but since this is a choice between the two, I’d say go for the pro. Get the highest CPU and Ram you can afford and go on to make music.

any newer macbook pro users having issues with 8gb? a new 13" MBP on amazon is 1199 vs the same MPB with the 16gb upgrade from the apple store being 1657 after tax. i’d love to play it safe and get the 16gb but that will wipe me out. if i could save the money and be ok with 8gb i’d be pretty happy about that. i dont use many plug ins… mainly just plogue chipsounds for processing breaks and eq on some stuff. other than that its all samples.

i’d switch from osx but im not rich and dont want to re-purchase software, accessories, ect. plus been on osx for over a decade and its just what im comfortable with. its a love hate thing with apple for sure.

16GB will give you a lot more breathing room, but I’d say you are better off with CPU power. Apple has released quad-core CPUs this year and you are much better off with a low-end 8GB MacBook Pro with a quad-core processor than splurging for 16GB. That being said, 16GB will get you a few more years mileage down the road, but a math-heavy program like Renoise with tons of plugins will benefit more from a CPU. RAM gives you better access to multiple programs running concurrently. I would shut down all other applications while running Renoise on 8GB. Also, you are going to free up the need for a lot of extra CPU cycles using the new HiDPI mode in Renoise 3.2.0. My two cents…

right on man, thanks for the solid advice. i appreciate it.

Spend as much as you can (and maybe more than you can afford within reason). The payoff in the future will be felt when you don’t have to don’t have to upgrade, because you’ll still have plenty of juice to carry on. The only hit with new mbp’s are Apple’s inane decisions around ports - you’ll need dongles, so factor that in. So as much ram, ssd, cpu as you can afford, cuz you can’t upgrade it down the line :wink: