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would this work?

Discussion in 'Mac OS' started by ryguy76, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. ryguy76

    ryguy76 Member

    I am really eyeing up the new 11" macbook air. I was going to pull the trigger on an iPad for use surfing/emailing etc, but the air seems to be a better idea based on its power over an ipad... It got me to thinking, that I wonder if it would work as a portable recording computer for relatively small projects. I wouldn't be buying it for a primary recording computer, but as a secondary/portable computer.

    Is there any reason to NOT use this computer for recording? Can you think of any "gotchas" that I'd run into if it were a virtual instrument session with moderate fx, a few guitars, and a few vocal tracks?

  3. slirak

    slirak Member

    I just got myself an 11.6" Air w/1.6 GHz/4GB/128GB. A bit more expensive than the base model of course. I'd say the RAM upgrade is more or less mandatory but it's not too expensive - being an Apple memory upgrade... :rolleyes:

    Anyway, I'm quite amazed by this little thing!

    I just got it so I haven't been able to try it out all that much, but I loaded up a Logic 9 project with one Kontakt Player with about 500 MB of samples, three instances of Amplitube 3 (in HiQ mode), a couple of IKM CSR Reverb's, about a dozen of native Logic plug-ins and 16 tracks of 24 bit/44.1 kHz audio, 64 samples latency buffer (Apogee One USB interface) - not a glitch! And the fan wasn't even audible... :)

    I had to freeze one of the Amplitube tracks when I opened up a fourth instance, but that's a pretty CPU intense plug-in. I actually used to freeze every Amplitube track even with my 2.4GHz C2D MBP (first-gen unibody).

    Not sure about the internal sound card though, haven't tried using that with Logic.
  4. ryguy76

    ryguy76 Member

    thanks for the reply.

    I pulled the trigger on the 13" MBA, (1.86Ghz, 4Gb ram, 128Gb drive).

    Am I safe assuming you have Logic and the OS running off the internal drive and you're recording to it as well?

    I was wondering if a USB flash drive or an SD card would be fast enough to store the sample libs on as to not take up HD space... thoughts on this?

    I'll likely use an Apogee One interface, plus my axiom 49 controller connected to 1 of the usb ports via a hub, leaving the 2nd port for an Ex. HD, when needed. Sound ok?
  5. slirak

    slirak Member

    Haven't tried that yet, but I can't see why that wouldn't work. Just a single mono channel from the Apogee won't stress the system much.

    They're not very fast, but I guess performance would depend on how much you preload into RAM. Would be interesting to hear your experiences with this when you get your Air!

    I've tried my One with four different USB hubs and they all added latency (as reported by Logic). Three of them added 2 ms. My current hub adds a mere 0.6 ms. So, depending on your needs and your hub, you might find it better to use a dedicated port for the One.
  6. ryguy76

    ryguy76 Member

    I was looking at getting an OWC 7200 mini drive (powered by the usb bus) for use with the air, so I may just record to that if it's fast enough through USB 2.0

    Where you recording to an external drive on your air? if so, what kinda specs?

    The SD thing was just trying to find a use for the SD slot and a work around for the limited drive space onboard.

    I can definitely plug the ONE into a dedicated port if it'll cause latency. I won't ever need the midi controller at the same time as the ONE so I'll probably end up swapping them out for each other.

    Whats the threshold for where latency becomes an issue when recording? Are they any post recording adjustments that need to be made? Having never dealt with it with my previous recording rig, just not sure how to best deal with it. I'm used to no latency issues.

  7. slirak

    slirak Member

    Well, the internal drive isn't the fastest of SSD drives, but it's still really fast. I will certainly use it as my main recording drive.

    I don't know how the OWC scores when used over USB, but my Western Digital Scorpio Black (a very fast 7200 rpm 2.5" hard disk) only give me about half of its speed when used over USB, as compared to have it installed as an internal drive (this was on a 2.4GHz C2D MBP).

    I also just ran XBench on the same drive over USB, hooked up to my Air, and compared it to the Air's internal SSD. The Air's internal SSD was more than five times as fast, on the average.

    I can't tell you exactly when latency becomes an issue. Some people are more sensitive to latency than others. It will also depend on the situation: I find that I can stand a lot more latency if I record stuff like soft synths than I can if I record a drum performance. But the 7.2 ms (roundtrip) I get at 64 samples with my Apogee is OK for me even when I record drums, a couple of more ms isn't.

    I use Logic's default latency settings and that works for me. You shouldn't need to make any post recording compensations if your audio interface reports its latency correctly to Logic (and you have latency compensation enabled in Logic - it's enabled by default).

    All of the above is only true if you record soft synths or monitor external audio via Logic of course. Else, you won't run into any noticeable latency.
  8. ryguy76

    ryguy76 Member

    thanks for all your help, Slirak.

    I do have one more thing I'm not too clear on.

    You said that you are going to use the internal SSD to record to, but also mentioned that you hadn't tried recording to it yet. Is this correct?

    I am just confused about how you ran your test projects you originally mentioned in your first post. Was it all done from with the Air? No extra HDD's being used?
  9. slirak

    slirak Member

    No extra HDD being used, I just copied an old project from an external drive onto the Air's SSD, then played it back from there.

    Not only did it play back without a glitch, it loaded much faster than on my MBP (the MBP used a fast 7200 rpm internal drive). The project loads about 500MB of samples into memory and used to take ages to open, almost five minutes. It now opens in about one minute.

    The Air's SSD should be much faster than any traditional hard drive of course, but I must say this exceeded my expectations.

    The slower CPU will surely force me to freeze tracks more often, but except for that, it's much snappier than my MBP.

    SSD FTW! :)

    I'll probably record some tracks later today. Will get back with a report.
  10. ryguy76

    ryguy76 Member

    Ahhh... makes perfect sense now.

    Sounds good to me. I don't mind freezing at all. you can still balance and pan after freezing as I recall, so shouldn't be an issue for me as far as I can tell.

    I appreciate all your help thus far, and look forward to your recording report when you get around to it.

    I should get my MBA around Wednesday, and can't get my mind of it, really. :)
    Did you reinstall OSX without all the languages, or just leave it the way it came? I found a program that strips the languages cleanly, which I'll probably use, to save the hassle of installing the OS and Logic again.

    Got any ideas for good reverbs, as logic express doesn't have space designer?

  11. slirak

    slirak Member

    I've spent a couple of hours recording soft synths, vocals and guitars now and everything worked perfectly fine.

    I've left it as is. According to this article, it may not always be safe to strip out languages.

    Well, I use IK Multimedia's CSR, but it's not a Space Designer replacement - it's not an impulse reverb. (Anyway, you should probably open a new thread for this, in the Logic 9 forum.)

  12. ryguy76

    ryguy76 Member

    I'm happy to hear all went well with the recording.
    My sessions would consist of ezdrummer, 3-4 softsynths, 5 vocals, 4 guitars and bass... On average. Plus FX of course. So I should be good to go.

    Are you referring to the complications with MS office and adobe products with regards to stripping the languages? I didn't find any other significant reasons. Maybe I missed something, or just misread it.
  13. slirak

    slirak Member

    That's what I'm referring to. Also, have a look at the comments here. If products from MS, Adobe and Apple are affected, it's a no go for me. I just don't find a couple of hundred MB's worth the risk.

  14. ryguy76

    ryguy76 Member

    I read the first 2 comments from your provided link and that was enough for me. Languages will stay!! :)

    Did you determine your latency with the I/O utility's ping feature?
  15. slirak

    slirak Member

    Nope. I just quoted what's reported in Logic's audio preferences, just below where you select the driver.

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