MacHow2 uses affiliate links. Please check our Advertising Disclosure for more info.

If you’re wondering which Mac is best for making music on your Mac, we’ve taken a closer look at the best Macs for music production in 2022 including the latest M1 and M2 Macs.

Whether you want a touring laptop or a studio machine, we’ve looked at the best Macs for audio production of all kinds.

We think that Macs are by far the best computers for using music production software and all of the best DJ software now work on Macs.

Macs are the computer of choice for creatives and professional music producers due to their fast and reliable performance, ease of use and sleek design.

However, with so many Macs on the markets including MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini and Mac Pro plus the new Apple Silicon M1 and M2 chips, it can be difficult to know which is the best setup for music producers.

In our extensive research, we found the best Mac for music production is the incredible M1 MacBook Pro especially for live performers.

Best Macs For Music Production: M1 & M2 vs Intel

It’s important to be aware that at the moment there are two types of Mac on the market: older Macs that have Intel chips and the latest Macs with Apple Silicon M1 chips and more recently M2 chips.

The Apple Silicon M1 and M2 chip is made by Apple and is much faster than the Intel chip especially the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.

Most new Macs sold by Apple now come with either the M1 or M2 processor and the fastest models such as the amazing Mac Studio have the incredible M1 Ultra chip.

All Apple Silicon Macs also support spatial audio for a more immersive music listening experience.

We therefore strongly recommend choosing an M1 or M2 Mac over buying an older Intel Mac.

Older Intel Macs have anything ranging from an Intel Core i5 to i9 all of which are still suitable for music production on macOS.

However, it’s only a matter of time before all music production software runs natively on Apple Silicon and gradually drop support for older Intel chips because the M1 and M2 chips deliver much better performance.

However, some music production software or Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) haven’t released an M1 or M2 compatible version yet.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t use them on Apple Silicon Macs as macOS uses a clever system called Rosetta to translate them to work on M1 and M2 Macs.

It does however mean that you may encounter problems from time to time and slower performance compared to using music production software that has been built to work specifically with the M1 and M2 chips, especially when using plugins.

Notable music production software that currently do not have an M1 or M2 compatible version include Cubase, Ableton Live and Adobe Audition.

Others such as Avid Pro Tools, Apple’s Logic Pro X and GarageBand all support M1 and M2 chips natively so you’ll enjoy the full performance benefits of the M1 & M2 chip with them and add as many plugins as you like without affecting performance.

External Monitors For Music Production

Another thing to consider is that if you require multiple displays or monitors, the 2020 base model M1 Macs and M2 Macs can only support a maximum of 2 displays at once although there are still ways to connect multiple monitors to M1 Macs.

This is not a problem with the 2021 M1 MacBook Pro with M1 Pro or M1 Max chip which can support up to 4 external monitors.

It’s also definitely not a limitation with the Mac Studio which can also support up to 5 monitors (4 via Thunderbolt/USB-C and 1 via HDMI) and has the latest M1 Ultra chip.

External Hard Drives For Music Producing

Many professional music producers require external hard drive space not only to store large audio files on but also to edit tracks from instead of the Mac’s internal drive.

To edit music directly from an external hard drive requires at least an external SSD drive, preferably one with a Thunderbolt  connection like the Samsung X5.

SSD drives are much faster than mechanical HDD drives and music editing software requires high-speed read-write capabilities that usually only internal hard drives can offer.

For more on this, check out our guide to the best external SSD drives for Mac and best thunderbolt drives for Mac.

eGPUs For Music Production

There is still one benefit to Intel Macs compared to M1 and M2 Macs – eGPUs.

You can boost the performance of an Intel Mac with an External Graphics Unit or eGPUs as they are commonly known.

eGPUs are able to process graphics much faster than your Mac and many musicians use them as a cost effective way to enhance Intel Macs for music production.

At the moment, eGPUs do not work with M1 or M2 Macs so if you’re thinking of getting an eGPU for making music on your Mac, you’ll definitely need an Intel Mac.

You May Also Like:

With this in mind, here then are the best Macs for music production in 2022.

1. M1 MacBook Pro (Best For Live Performers)

best mac for music production

The Apple Silicon M1 MacBook Pro is by far the best Mac for music production due to a combination of power, performance and reliability.

The MacBook Pro provides a powerful and portable music production studio that’s good enough for even professional music production on a Mac.

Apple has obviously already updated its own music production software Logic Pro X to work with the M1 chip and the M1 MacBook Pro is the best Mac for Logic Pro X on the market.

However, even non-Apple software like Pro Tools are now M1 compatible making the M1 MacBook Pro the best Mac for Pro Tools on the market.

The 13 inch MacBook Pro was the first MacBook Pro to have the M1 chip but now the bigger 14 and 16 inch MacBook Pros have switched from the old Intel Core i9 processors to the M1 chip.

We recommend going for the 16 inch model for creating music as you really need the screen estate unless you’re going to connect an external monitor to it.

The 13 and 14 inch models are however more compact for live music production as they’re lighter.

You can customize the storage capacity of the M1 MacBook Pro up to 8TB which is incredible for a compact laptop.

The M1 MacBook Pro is also the first to have an incredible Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED which offers incredible clarity and resolution.

Bear in mind that the 13 inch model only has two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports compared to four on the 16 inch model which is worth bearing in mind if you need to connect lots of external devices such as DJ controllers and external hard drives.

Note that since the 2021 M1 MacBook Pro was released, Apple has released a 13 inch M2 MacBook Pro with the latest M2 chip.

However, the M2 MacBook Pro costs more than the 2021 M1 MacBook Pro and the performance enhancements are marginal so we recommend going with the M1 MacBook Pro for the needs of most music producers.

You can read more about this amazing machine in our M1 MacBook Pro review.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • Powerful mobile music production machine
  • Incredible Liquid Retina XDR display
  • Ideal for music producers that travel between studios
  • Best Mac for Logic Pro X
  • Very high specs
  • Huge storage capacity for a laptop of up to 8TB

Cons:

  • Not upgradable after purchase
  • Similar price range to more powerful iMac

2. Mac Mini (Best Budget)

best mac for music production

The Mac Mini is the smallest Mac you can get but it packs an incredible punch. It’s also the cheapest Mac for music production with the basic model starting at just $699.

Unlike MacBooks, the Mac Mini also has the advantage of an audio-in port for those that want to connect an instrument to it without a USB audio interface.

The other great advantage of the Mac Mini is that you can easily upgrade the RAM on it. You can choose up to 32GB of Ram with the Mac Mini with storage of up to 2TB.

However, since it has no monitor, keyboard or mouse, you’ll have to buy them separately although you can use any monitor, keyboard or mouse with it.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • Beginners or Amateur Musicians
  • Logic Pro X or GarageBand users
  • Musicians or Producers on a Budget
  • Can support 2 displays simultaneously

Cons:

  • Not available with premium specs
  • Requires purchasing of keyboard, monitor and mouse

3. MacBook Air (Best Portability)

best mac for music production

Although the MacBook Air is the least powerful MacBook on the market, it’s also the cheapest MacBook for music production and offers the ultimate in lightweight portability.

The MacBook Air is only available with the M1 and M2 chip however so while GarageBand and Logic Pro X will be able to perform amazingly fast on it, you may not experience the best results with non native Apple Silicon M1/M2 chip music production software.

One advantage of the MacBook Air is that it has no fan so if you’re recording in a studio and need total silence, then it may be a better option for you than the MacBook Pro.

However, the small 13-inch screen size isn’t ideal for music production and you may want to consider getting an external monitor for when you’re in a studio or using it at home.

Note that since the 2021 M1 MacBook Air was released, Apple has released a 13 inch M2 MacBook Air with the latest M2 chip.

However, the M2 MacBook Air costs considerably more than the 2021 M1 MacBook Air and there’s very little difference in performance so we recommend M1 MacBook Air for a great combination for performance and value for money.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • Incredibly light and portable
  • No fans makes it totally silent
  • Good value for money

Cons:

  • Lacks power and spec of the MacBook Pro
  • Not upgradable after purchase

4. iMac (Best For Home Studios)

best mac for music production

If you’re going to be making music professionally mainly in a studio or at home, then look no further than the iMac.

The iMac is a far superior option to the Mac Mini if you need more RAM, better graphics and of course, an amazing 5K display with the 27 inch model.

In fact, any iMac is good enough for music production although we recommend avoiding the 21 inch model unless your budget really won’t stretch.

All processors in iMacs support what’s known has Hyper Threading which means more than one core processor can handle instructions threads at the same time.

The iMac comes with silent SSD drives and the latest iMacs have the M1 chip. The 24 inch and 27 inch iMacs also have a mic input for recording vocals directly into it.

The iMac also comes with 3 USB ports and 2 Thunderbolt ports so there’s plenty of room for connecting peripherals.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • Ideal for recording artists and engineers
  • Amazing 5K display
  • High specs for professional music production

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not portable

5. iMac Pro (Best For Pros)

best mac for music production

The iMac Pro is Apple’s high end iMac and is really only suitable for professional studio producers, engineers or artists that need an incredibly powerful DAW.

The iMac Pro looks just like the regular iMac but inside is supercharged with a 10-core Intel Xeon W CPU (3.5 GHz), an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics card with 8GB of HBM2 memory, 32GB of DDR4 RAM and support for either two 5k or two Pro Display XDRs.

In terms of connectivity, it doesn’t get better than the iMac Pro either with four Thunderbolt 4 ports.

The amazing thing is that even when performing at its limits, the iMac Pro is incredibly cool and quiet and this is all without an M1 chip which isn’t available in the iMac Pro yet.

The iMac Pro is definitely more than most people looking for a computer to produce music on their Mac need but for those with a big unlimited budget, it’s the ultimate iMac.

Buy on Amazon

Pros:

  • Unbelievably fast and powerful
  • All the advantages of the regular iMac and more
  • Silent performance

Cons:

  • Very expensive

6. M1 Mac Studio (Best For Pro Studios)

 

best mac for making music - mac studio

The Mac Studio is Apple’s latest Mac aimed at creative professionals such as music producers and was released alongside a new monitor the 27 inch 5K Apple Studio Display.

The Mac Studio is basically a mix between the Mac Mini and M1 MacBook Pro with an incredibly powerful M1 Max or new M1 Ultra chip with 20-core or 64-core performance.

Apple calls the M1 Ultra chip “the worlds most powerful chip for a personal computer” and it’s certainly hard to beat with up to 64-core performance.

The Mac Studio also includes 128GB of unified memory, 800GB/s or memory bandwidth and an 8TB SSD which dwarfs the processing power of both the Mac Mini and MacBook Pro.

It’s also jam packed with ports for connectivity including four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 10GB ethernet port, two USB-A ports, HDMI and a Pro audio jack.

If you’re recording music in a professional studio but don’t have the budget for a Mac Pro, the Mac Studio is an excellent alternative although like the Mac Mini, you will need to buy an external monitor, mouse and keyboard.

Pricing for the Mac Studio starts at $1,999 (£1,999) for the M1 Max with the M1 Ultra starting at $3,999 (£3,999) If you bought a top of the range Mac Studio with M1 Ultra chip, 8TB of SSD it would cost $7,999 (£6,100).

On top of this is the new 27 inch 5K Apple Studio Display which costs $1599 (£1499). However, you could also use a cheaper alternative external display for the Mac Studio instead.

You can also check out our full Mac Studio review for a closer look at this amazing Mac.

Pros:

  • The most powerful Mac on the market with M1 Ultra chip
  • Up to 64-core processing power
  • Up to 8TB internal SSD
  • Supports up to 5 external monitors
  • Incredibly high quality images when paired with Apple Studio Display

Cons:

  • Price
  • Not upgradable after purchase

Best Macs For Music Production Compared

If after these reviews you’re still not sure which Mac to go for to produce music, here’s a side-by-side comparison of our top 5 to help.

2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Space Gray
Apple BTO Mac Mini Desktop Computer, M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1TB SSD, Gigabit Ethernet, Late 2020
2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, FaceTime HD Camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; Silver
2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 8‑core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB) - Silver
Apple iMac Pro 27in All-in-One Desktop, Space Gray (MQ2Y2LL/A) (Renewed)
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Space Gray
Apple BTO Mac Mini Desktop Computer, M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1TB SSD, Gigabit Ethernet, Late 2020
2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, FaceTime HD Camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; Silver
2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 8‑core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB) - Silver
Apple iMac Pro 27in All-in-One Desktop, Space Gray (MQ2Y2LL/A) (Renewed)
$1,999.99
$1,289.96
$799.00
$1,549.99
$1,445.00
-
-
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Space Gray
2021 Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, Apple M1 Pro chip with 10‑core CPU and 16‑core GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD) - Space Gray
$1,999.99
Apple BTO Mac Mini Desktop Computer, M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1TB SSD, Gigabit Ethernet, Late 2020
Apple BTO Mac Mini Desktop Computer, M1 Chip with 8-Core CPU and 8-Core GPU, 16GB Memory, 1TB SSD, Gigabit Ethernet, Late 2020
$1,289.96
-
2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, FaceTime HD Camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; Silver
2020 Apple MacBook Air Laptop: Apple M1 Chip, 13” Retina Display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage, Backlit Keyboard, FaceTime HD Camera, Touch ID. Works with iPhone/iPad; Silver
$799.00
2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 8‑core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB) - Silver
2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU and 8‑core GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB) - Silver
$1,549.99
Apple iMac Pro 27in All-in-One Desktop, Space Gray (MQ2Y2LL/A) (Renewed)
Apple iMac Pro 27in All-in-One Desktop, Space Gray (MQ2Y2LL/A) (Renewed)
$1,445.00
-

Is The MacBook Pro or Air Better For Music Production?

The MacBook Pro is better than the MacBook Air for music production because it’s more powerful than the MacBook Air.

The only advantage the MacBook Air has over the Pro when it comes to music production is that it has no fans so it’s completely silent and being lighter, it’s more portable.

Is The Mac Pro Good For Music Production?

The Mac Pro is supposed to be the most powerful Mac on the market so you’d expect it to make this list of the best Macs for music production.

However, the reason the Mac Pro hasn’t made it is because Apple still hasn’t released an Apple Silicon chip version of it yet.

For the money, we think the iMac Pro is actually better for music production at this stage but that may change once the Mac Pro has an M1 chip.

It’s expected that by the end of 2022 the Mac Pro will have an M1 chip but since the M1 chip delivers performance beyond what the Mac Pro can do.

Best Music Production Setup For Macs

Apart from your choice of Mac, here are some other things to consider when creating the best music production setup on your Mac.

  • Music Production Software

The music production software or Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) you use is probably more important than the actual Mac you choose to run it on.

Apple has its own M1 chip compatible music production software for professionals Logic Pro X as well as GarageBand which is aimed more at beginners to music production in macOS.

Depending on your level of expertise, there are many music creation software available for Mac nowadays including Cubase, Adobe Audition and Ableton Live.

As mentioned earlier though, although all of them run on the latest M1 Macs, not all will be able to harness the full power of the M1 chip and if this is important to you, it will dictate whether you go for an Intel or M1 chip Mac.

Note that you can’t enhance the performance of an M1 Mac or M2 Mac with an eGPU but you can get an eGPU for Intel Macs which will speed-up the graphic handling capabilities of your Mac when using music production software.

  • RAM

Like video editing software, music production requires a lot of RAM and so the more RAM your Mac has the better.

If you’re handling long, multi-track songs, you’ll definitely need a lot of RAM in your Mac.

The more RAM you have, the more instruments, effects, plugins and layers of sound your Mac can handle. Not to mention, everything will run much faster and smoother.

At the very minimum you need 16GB of RAM although M1 chip Macs only have a maximum of 16GB of RAM and there’s no way to upgrade it later.

In this respect, some Intel Macs may sound like a better choice for music production because Intel Macs like the older 27 inch iMac and 16 inch MacBook Pro can be upgraded with up to 128GB of RAM.

However, because the M1 processor is faster and utilizes the RAM far more efficiently, they are quicker and we’d still recommend going for an M1 chip Mac over an Intel Mac despite the lower RAM available on most models.

  • Hard Drive Space

As well as needing lots of RAM, music production software also requires lots of hard drive space.

Nowadays, all new Macs have Solid State Drives (SSDs) which are the fastest because they have no moving parts like mechanical drives do.

However, most new base model Macs only come with a few hundred GB of space although unlike RAM, you can customize this when you purchase a Mac including on the new M1 Macs.

We recommend getting a minimum of at least 512GB with your new Mac for music production although if you’re producing music professionally on your Mac you’ll need a lot a more than this and depending on the Mac you purchase, you can add anything up to 8TB of SDD hard drive space.

The good news is that you can also extend your Mac’s storage capacity with an external hard drive.

Nowadays, with Thunderbolt connections, your Mac can transfer data almost as fast from an external SSD as it can from the internal drive so you don’t necessarily have to upgrade internally either.

Check out our guide to the best SSDs for Mac and best Thunderbolt external drives for reviews of the best ones for music production.

About The Author

Author

MacHow2 is devoted to helping you get the most of of your Mac. We're passionate about all things Mac whether it's helping users with software recommendations or solving technical problems. If you've got any comments about this article, get involved by leaving a comment below. You can also contact us directly using the contact form at the top of the site. Please note that in the interests of transparency, MacHow2 may sometimes receive compensation from link clicks or vendors.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to MacHow2!

Sign up to get reviews, tutorials and special offers on Mac software!

error:

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close