I got my Mac Studio yesterday, to replace the Mac mini in my office (the mini now replacing the 13" MacBook Pro in my recording studio, the MacBook Pro replacing the frustrating Lenovo laptop in the living room), and I have all my stuff set up on it. I went with the 10-core M1 Max model (with the upgraded GPU) and 2TB of RAM, sticking to the stock 32GB of RAM.
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.
For now I’m just going to stick with my 2016 MacBook Pro, and I bought a 27" 4K monitor for it to alleviate the display-size issue.
It’s a little slow and a little janky but a lot of my music stuff still doesn’t work right on M1 anyway, and in particular Native Instruments is taking their sweet time to update everything to be M1-compatible. Also, I could theoretically use my PreSonus FireStudio with the hacked driver, although it looks like that’ll probably stop working in macOS 12 and I can’t use it with my ADAT preamp anyway, so the only advantage to it is I could put my Scarlett 18i8 back in my office, which is a pretty low priority now.
(I suppose I could also make an aggregate interface of the FireStudio with the 18i8+ADAT, but I already have 14 functional inputs as it is and I barely ever use more than 5 of them at a time. 22 is definitely overkill.)
If I get desperate for an upgrade I suppose I could get a current 27" iMac but that doesn’t feel particularly necessary right now (and it also feels like a waste since Apple will stop supporting it sooner rather than later; I went through the exact same thing with the PowerMac G5 that I bought literally two weeks before they announced the Intel transition).
I also need to give both Reaper and Bitwig another shot because both of them seem like they’d be able to mostly replace Logic for me at this point, and I’m sick of being wedded to macOS. (But right now is not the time for me to learn a new DAW. Or maybe it’s the perfect time. I dunno.)
Or maybe I should see what the pre-trashcan Mac Pros are going for. The 12-core model would still be a pretty decent upgrade from the 2016 MacBook pro, and also has the advantage of having upgradeable SATA storage, plus PCIe slots that could theoretically take an NVMe adapter. On the minus side, no Thunderbolt 3 (not that I’d need it) and I’d also be stuck on macOS 10.14 without some sketchy patching. But it looks like they’re going for under $400 (shipping included), all the same.
Or there’s always Hackintosh.
But nah I’ll wait, the old MacBook Pro is fine for now.