More thoughts on recording studio hardware

Now that the new M1 Pro/Max MacBooks are out and are getting real-world reviews, I have a bit more information about what I should consider in terms of computer upgrades.

This particular video is pretty helpful:

In pretty much all of the side-by-side tests, the M1 Pro is only negligibly faster, aside from encoding H.265 video from RED or ProRes sources — none of which I ever do.

So I’m thinking that for my studio, a plain old M1 is fine. The limited Thunderbolt ports aren’t that big of a deal when I only need one or two (for external storage and maybe a second monitor), and while the 16GB limit is annoying it’s also not that big of a deal for me when making music.

In my current setup I have the 15" MacBook Pro sitting on an old-school laptop riser and a 27" 4K monitor, both on my narrow custom studio desk. Having the two screens side-by-side is a bit annoying, but it’s also nice to have the second display for Twitch streaming purposes, which I haven’t done any of yet but I plan to be doing a lot of over the next month (what with Novembeat).

What I’m really tempted to do right now is to move my M1 mini (currently in the office) into the studio, and get a rackmount enclosure/shelf for it and the dual NVMe thunderbolt enclosure, and just have the single 27" monitor on it for now, and maybe add a second smaller monitor for my Twitch console (or just go back to using an iPad or some other tablet for that stuff). Then for the office, either get another M1 mini or a MacBook Air, but in the interim just use the old MacBook Pro for my work setup. And, I don’t know, actually keep my desk clean so that I have somewhere to put a laptop?

Eventually I do want to have a newer M1-based machine in the office again and then cycle the 2016 MacBook Pro back into the living room. For the interim I’ve been using a crappy HP laptop running Debian for my living room casual-hangout needs but it’s been a bit obnoxious; it has an excruciatingly slow hard drive in it, and the keyboard is painful after not very much typing. But on the other hand I don’t even really need a laptop in the living room, now that I have a secondary monitor on my streaming/gaming PC; I could just be using that secondary monitor for my couch-based computing stuff. So maybe I just get a better monitor arm for that display and stop being so excessive with my technology.

Anyway, it’s kind of funny, my original intent with this M1 mini was that it’d be my dedicated studio computer and that its use as a frontend for my work machine would only be secondary (and I’d intended to just hook my work computer directly up to my monitor), but I guess I lost track of that plan in all the kerfuffle of moving house and realigning my priorities.

Regardless, I won’t be buying any of the M1 Pro/Max machines at this time. They just don’t fit a need that I have just yet.


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