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In need of advices regarding the last MacBook Pro 16’' (to be used with Cubase, Dorico, VSL)

Hi everyone,

I’m about buying a new laptop as, because of the virus situation, I won’t be home near my main computer (an iMac) for a good while and I need to work on a few projects (the only computer I took with me is a MBP end of 2013, only 8 Go of RAM).

Knowing for the last 10 years I have been used to Mac and don’t see myself going back to PC world, despite all the good reasons for it (mainly the price)-besides I wouldn’t know what to choose, and I can not go in shops to ask as they are closed, etc.

I know there may be quite a few Apple haters on this forum, and I won't blame them. I just wish some Apple users can share their experience with me on recent products.

When I look on the Internet, they are many warnings regarding recent Mac products. It goes from problem of heating (and of keyboard) on the MacBook Pro 15’’, which was released middle of last year or so, to the T2 chipset which is on Mac computer since 2018 if I’m right and would cause issues in audio, not to mention a security upgrade which seems to have made one of the Thunderbolt ports unusable, and not to mention also many report of issues with Catalina and the e-licenser.

I really don't know if these reports are representative of a majority of users, or only exceptions.

I wanted to know if some of you guys have tried the last MacBook Pro 16’’. It seems better than the 15’’ (better keyboard, heating issue seemingly fixed), but remains the fact it is Thunderbolt I/O only, that the T2 chipset is still in it, and the Catalina system (apparently impossible to downgrade to another OS).

The machine I may buy is the MBP 16’’ with Intel Core i9, 8 cores @ 2,4 GHz, 64 Go RAM, AMD Raderon Pro 5500 M (8 Go Ram), SSD 1 To. It is very expensive, but for once I would have the budget for it.

So my questions are:

Have you experiences any problems with this machine or an equivalent (A Mac created after the introduction of the T2 with 8 cores and Catalina OS) with Cubase, Dorico, or 3rd party plug-ins (I use VSL and Kontakt products)?

How have you managed with the Thunderbolt I/O? Which kind of adaptators or hubs to USB work (for the elicenser, the soundcard - mine is a RME Fireface, the midi keyboard, etc.)? Would you recommend some products, some brands?

Once connected, was there any issue with the elicenser?

Once I'll be back home, could I use this MacBook as a slave to my iMac and run on it the Vienna Ensemble Pro? I know at some point I might have to come to this Master/Slave setup...

Or do you really advise me not to make this choice (but, with confinement etc., I don’t know where I could easily get a product I more or less know to be delivered in my temporary home).

Hope some of you can help,

Thanks,

Benjamin
 
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BenjaminParis

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Anyone ? Really ?

Would also consider looking at a laptop pc with the same RAM and power, if someone has an idea... but it should be a laptop...

Thanks,

B.
 

gst98

Senior Member
Try not to get upset if someone doesn't reply, people might not have seen it yet.

anyway...


I owned a 15 inch for 3 years, and it was the worst ownership of any mac ever. Crashed anywhere from 2-10 times a day. After 3 years Apple gave me a full refund.

The 15 inch laptop is probably the worst product Apple has ever made (at least recently) and you can see how Apple are trying to erase it from history and move on from it. it's hugely embarrissing to them, but hopefully they have learnt from it. Its so embarrissing to them they won't even sell off the old stock, they would rather recycle hem for parts. it defineately is not something you want to own out of warranty.

So I bought a new 16 inch as soon as they came out. Overall it is a lot better. I (personally) am havng a really bad ownership experience with it, but most people's are doing really well. Certainly much more powerful than the old one.

Mine overheats a lot, and my speakers are very gltichy. But I think this is just a lemon. If you want a an Apple latop it's your only choice though, so either you go with the 16 inch or you get a PC. avoid the 15 inch like the plague (unless you can get one on ebay for next to nothing and accpet you'll never be able to sell it again)
 
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BenjaminParis

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Thanks a lot gst98-and sorry, I didn't want to sound like I was upset... Just refreshed the thread a little... Maybe the confinement makes me (sound) more nervous than I think!

I'm aware if I want a laptop and I want an Apple one, I don't really have a choice... The speakers I don't really mind so much as I will use headphones (even though it is sort of a shame if they make problem, as Apple insists a lot on them). Over heating, well... I'm more concerned about the compatibility with Steinberg and VSL products... Have you tried them?

I'm looking for a portable solution, this won't be my main computer... And as it is mainly to use with VST, the fan sound wouldn't be so problematic.... Still, if anyone else can add their experience it will be super welcome... Or (even though that would be strange for me now) suggesting a strong laptop PC...

Thank you guys!

B.
 

gst98

Senior Member
Thanks a lot gst98-and sorry, I didn't want to sound like I was upset... Just refreshed the thread a little... Maybe the confinement makes me (sound) more nervous than I think!

I'm aware if I want a laptop and I want an Apple one, I don't really have a choice... The speakers I don't really mind so much as I will use headphones (even though it is sort of a shame if they make problem, as Apple insists a lot on them). Over heating, well... I'm more concerned about the compatibility with Steinberg and VSL products... Have you tried them?

I'm looking for a portable solution, this won't be my main computer... And as it is mainly to use with VST, the fan sound wouldn't be so problematic.... Still, if anyone else can add their experience it will be super welcome... Or (even though that would be strange for me now) suggesting a strong laptop PC...

Thank you guys!

B.
No worries.:)

By the way the speaker is just software bug they haven't patched yet.

My theory on over heating is my that intel chip is a dud, and shouldn't have made it out of Intel. Most people don't seem to have this problem.

All I can say really is why not get one, then you have 30 days to see if it works out. If you have problems then Apple are very good at returns.

I'm a logic guy so no steinberg, but VEPro is running fine on Catalina. Afraid I have very little knowlegde on PC's other than the new AMD stuff looks great. I saw some stuff about a new AMD Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 laptop that was a reasonable price and offered gaming performance without the gaming latop inch-think size.
 

mcovarrubiasi

New Member
I am having a very good experience with thr 16 inches. I got the 8 core but not the most powerful (2.3 vs 2.4 ghz per core or something lime that) and i do find it limiting. It does overload cpu very fast ud you use the latest plugin. I cannot really use acustica audio nor IK tape without bouncing inmediately. I am not sure if upgrading to 2.4 wouñd habeen enough.
With your budget, you may get close to a more powerful i mac.
 

gst98

Senior Member
I am having a very good experience with thr 16 inches. I got the 8 core but not the most powerful (2.3 vs 2.4 ghz per core or something lime that) and i do find it limiting. It does overload cpu very fast ud you use the latest plugin. I cannot really use acustica audio nor IK tape without bouncing inmediately. I am not sure if upgrading to 2.4 wouñd habeen enough.
With your budget, you may get close to a more powerful i mac.

I ended up getting the top spec one, but as far as CPUs you'll barely notice a difference. I think what you'll is it is the pugins fault. I have a couple IK plugins and they hog CPU. It's just bad coding is all. I don't have Acoustica, but I know they do funny things that inherintly introduce latency. When I got the 16 I did some test on how many plugins I could load and I was blown away - but not all plugins are equal.
 
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BenjaminParis

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Thanks a lot gst98 and mcovarrubiasi. Yes, I could have an iMac, but I'm looking for a portable solution at the moment... I don't know about IK or Acoustica, I use VSL plugs, so as long as they (and Kontakt) work... I may follow your advice, gst98, and order one, and in case of problems I will return it. In France, you have 14 days to declare you want to return an item, then 14 more days to send it back, so it is more or less de 30 days you mentioned... I just need to have, at the moment when I will get the computer, the adapter from Thunderbolt to USB to run the dongles... Thank you guys! B.
 

Gil

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Hello from Paris, Benjamin!
I have the same problematic wanting to update my MacBook Pro 15" Mid-2012 to something faster: I'm using VEP, VSL instruments with MIRx and Vienna Suite Pro and soon MIR Pro, so I'm very interested in your experience with the new MacBook Pro 16"!
The small difference with you is that I'm using mostly Sibelius (and soon Dorico) and sometimes Logic Pro X.
Are you gonna use Dimension Strings or Brass and MIR Pro (I do believe that these are resources intensive things) ?
Take care!
 
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BenjaminParis

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Hi Gil,

Thanks for your message.

I'm about buying the 16 inch, I talked to a guy at Apple who confirmed the 14 days of try before sending back the computer if it doesn't fix-my only concern being I also have to buy a Thunderbolt desk to plug the dongles and SSD, and if the setup is no good I will have to send it back too to Amazon, etc.

Dorico is great, I can only recommend it, except there are some issues with the playback, in particular with VSL, which is not at all well integrated, but there's this thing called NotePerformer, not too expensive, which can bring you quite good playback if you sketch.

Yes, I hope Dimension Strings can at last give their full potential-I will let your know. What's the specs of your old MBP? I tried in the past Mir Pro, and it was so heavy, I could hardly deal with it on my iMac...

All best,

Benjamin
 
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gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
All good over there. i use a small hub for usb and hdmi. you can get usb-c to usb a for all the normal usb stuff and then another input for hard drive and external monitor.
i got a protetive care for the laptop and i glued the hub and ssd drive there.

u can save some money by using the educational discount (they want ask). and choosing the lower spec and upping it to your spec so that way you can use the lower priced video card which we dont need but its not available if u choose right away the hi priced model 1st.
and also the apple card cash back 3%.

i use a u-phoria interface which is surpisingly good. i also have the RME FF800 and they both sound and performa the same. the RME does have a LOT more inputs and outputs of course.


the only thing with the MacBook is the fan noise. and it revs up in random places like passing the AU validation tool but then i load a logic project with 30+ Uhe diva and zebra tracks plus some kontakt libraries and nothing. barely touching the cpu meter.

if u have 64gb of ram i doubt youll need a slave setup i think.
 

Michael Antrum

Only the good die young....
I recently jumped from an Apple laptop to PC., and I still have mixed feelings over it. I bougot a Razer Blade Advanced 15” new from ebay, and upgraded it to 64gb and 2Tb SSD. It cost me approximately half of what the Apple would have cost me.

So, am I happy ? - well yes and no. Battery life is poor (2.5 hours), but the machine is nice and compact, and well made. The killer thing for me is that it has lots of lovely ports, including TB3. It has an Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics card which is very, very quick and it does everything I ask of it. The inbuilt speakers are pants, but the keyboard is fine. The facial recognition software is great too.

I even put an Occulus Rift headset on it and it flies...

Windows 10 isn’t as bad as you would think, and I’m getting used to it, but I do miss OSX. But probably not as much as I’d miss the difference in price.

I’m a Cubase and Dorico user, and Cubase is very good on Windows - much better than OSX, but that’s hardly news.

So, if I were buying it again now, would I do it differently ? Well, honestly, no I wouldn’t. I’d do the same again. The cost differential is just too much to be worth it for me, and I’m a real Mac lover.

To put it in perspective - the difference in price would get me a new iPad Pro 12.9” and a copy of Staffpad and a selection of Staffpad libraries.

It’s a personal choice of course - but if you are like me and do go PC, you will instantly regret it for a week or two, and it will slowly grow on you, as it has on me.

For me the MacBook Pro is not a pro machine anymore - ports and upgradability are the marks of a pro machine for me. I’d rather have it 2 mm thicker than a designer hat stand.

But that’s just me.

Edit: Just a thought, but would a Mac mini be a practical solution for you, as it would make a great VSL slave afterwards and save a lot of money....
 
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Nick Batzdorf

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i use a u-phoria interface which is surpisingly good. i also have the RME FF800 and they both sound and performa the same. the RME does have a LOT more inputs and outputs of course.

Really? I'd have to hear that.

A few years ago - quite a few - I did a subjective comparison review of several audio interfaces, and I lived with them all for about a month.

One thing I learned about the brain is that subtle differences are only clear over very short times (like < 40 seconds) and over a long time, like days; in between it's not so easy to tell them apart. And your ears aren't the same every time.

At first I had to strain to hear the difference between the very cheap interfaces and the higher-end ones (which were the RME Fireface 400, Metric Halo 2882, and Apogee Ensemble Firewire). But after maybe three days I'd trained myself so I could pick them out a good percentage of the time - notwithstanding what I just wrote about it being easier to hear differences right away and over time.

I'm not disputing what you're saying about the cheapo and RME interfaces sounding the same, by the way. This was 15 years ago.
 
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BenjaminParis

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Thanks for the report, gsilbers! @Michael Antrum, thank you too. I see exactly what you mean regarding switching back to PC. I may do as you do some time. This time I will follow the Apple like Eve, hoping I won't regret it! (But in that case: back to the sender...)
 
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BenjaminParis

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Really? I'd have to hear that.

A few years ago - quite a few - I did a subjective comparison review of several audio interfaces, and I lived with them all for about a month.

One thing I learned about the brain is that subtle differences are only clear over very short times (like < 40 seconds) and over a long time, like days; in between it's not so easy to tell them apart. And your ears aren't the same every time.

At first I had to strain to hear the difference between the very cheap interfaces and the higher-end ones (which were the RME Fireface 400, Metric Halo 2882, and Apogee Ensemble Firewire). But after maybe three days I'd trained myself so I could pick them out a good percentage of the time - notwithstanding what I just wrote about it being easier to hear differences right away and over time.

I'm not disputing what you're saying about the cheapo and RME interfaces sounding the same, by the way. This was 15 years ago.
Very interesting psycho-acoustics remarks, thanks for sharing!
 
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