Setting up new M1 Macbook Air

Boudoir Guitar

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New computer is arriving later today, so maybe I'll kill the time waiting by documenting thought process a bit:

Current computer: I've been running a late 2012 Macbook Mini 2.5Ghz dual-core i5 since before I started posting on these forums circa 2016. In either 2017 I maxed out its RAM to 16 gb. I upgraded the internal harddrive to a 1Tb SSD last fall of 2021. It still works reasonably well for modest recording -- say 1/2 dozen vocal tracks, 3-4 guitar tracks, a bass track, a track of EZ or Superior Drummer; maybe one soft-synth. If I'm not being smart with busses and just slap compressors and EQs on every track and am running 1/2 dozen guitar amp plugins, EZ Bass, Superior Drummer, Logic's Drummer and have Google Chrome and Spotify running in the background it can get a little glitchy. Main point of the upgrade is (1) this machine is stuck on Mac OS 10.15.7 Catalina...which is making it not able to run some software, and also a little more vulnerable to security issues. and (2) I want a more mobile music computer.

Incoming computer: New M1 Macbook Air with 16Gb ram and 512Gb SSD. My initial impulse was to go with the base model, but as I started looking at my current harddrive, I started to become worried 256 MIGHT not be enough. In hindsight, I think it could be fine, but I would definitely need to be pretty diligent about immediately moving projects (both musical and photo/videographic) off to external drives.

Associated extra crap:
(1) a Plugable dock: https://plugable.com/products/ud-cam/ Shopping for this was honestly the biggest PITA. Nothing like buying a dongle for all your dongles. Given how many USB-A ports most music making workstations need (I need one for my Helix Rack; one for my FM3; one for my MIDI keyboard; preferably a spair one for when I grab some random other thing that needs to be plugged in for firmware updates from time to time + to be used for occasionally connecting external storage devices.) a dock is required and there are a million to choose from, with various shopping filters being of little assistance. The Thunderbolt ones are $300+. I decided to go USB-C that powers the Macbook Air, leaving the other TB connector on the Macbook Air available to directly connect a fast TB drive to -- I only need fast data transfers from my primary external drive so don't really need a whole dock to be super fast. The one I chose does not have a card reader, so I also had to spend $15 on a USB-A card reader for photo/video stuff. I'm going to hard-mount (i.e., screw) this docking station to the back of my music desk keeping it permanantly wired in without annoying cable-pull-creep, etc.

(2) a 1Tb Sandisk thunderbolt SSD. This will hold all sample libraries and as noted above will connect directly to the Macbook Air rather than going through the dock. My feeling was no matter what the dock spec was, data transfer would be slower thorugh the dock than by plugging the drive directly into the computer, and not having this drive plugged into the dock allowed me to spec a lower grade dock since everything else would be fine at USB-C dock speeds.

(3) Not really computer-related, but purpose-related, I just ordered a Native Instruments M32 MIDI controller to leave in the house. My main music work space is detached from my house and during winter can require some motivation to make it out to (see below). I wanted the new computer to be a laptop so I could do some basic idea sketching in the house at night/on weekends without having to trek out to the office/music room. My only concern is whether this thing will work with a USB-B to USB-C cable, or whether I'm going to need ANOTHER dongle-for-a-dongle. For that very reason, I also strongly considered the Korg battery-powered Bluetooth 37-key microkey controller. Sweetwater says the $140 M32 comes with the $200 Komplete Select software package, so that is what tipped the scales towards it.

Goal for today is to get Logic installed, with all content chucked off to the external SSD and get Superior Drummer and the smalles amount of its library necessary for it to run installed on the internal SSD. Will worry about getting other plugins and sample libraries installed later in the week.

Will report back with any hiccups, etc.
 
Current Office/Studio Commute:
PXL_20230123_211155392.jpg
 
Goal for today is to get Logic installed, with all content chucked off to the external SSD

I would possibly rethink that - at least in case you don't always want to connect your external SSD. Sure, it's a rather large lump, but just with that library you can get plenty of things done already. Without it however, Logic will barely work properly (Drummer, Alchemy, DMD, Sampler, etc. - plenty of instruments are relying on the library. But then, as said, it'll be no issue in case you always connect your external drive.
 
I would possibly rethink that - at least in case you don't always want to connect your external SSD. Sure, it's a rather large lump, but just with that library you can get plenty of things done already. Without it however, Logic will barely work properly (Drummer, Alchemy, DMD, Sampler, etc. - plenty of instruments are relying on the library. But then, as said, it'll be no issue in case you always connect your external drive.
Any thoughts on whether its easier to move content from internal to external drive after installation vs moving content from external to internal after installation?
 
Any thoughts on whether its easier to move content from internal to external drive after installation vs moving content from external to internal after installation?

I think these days either move should be working fine (has been a hassle when that option was introduced, but that's been some years ago already). Don't necessarily take my word on it, though, never had to do it myself. But the worst that could happen would be that you'd have to reinstall the library, not exactly that much of an issue on a fast line.
 
To put things into perspective: On my old Mac Pro, I'm still only using a 512GB system SSD, it's absolutely cluttered (download folder is around 120GB or so, several hundreds of plugins installed, desktop filled with whatever it might be, etc...), and yet there's around 100GB space left. With the entire Logic library installed.
 
Fwiw, please report how well that dock is working. Depending on some things, I might be able to buy a MB Air somewhen this year, too - and as you, I don't need any fancy features and would as well use the free port for an external drive.
 
Congrats on the new computer and studio shed!

I replaced my 2014 Mac Mini with a base model Macbook Air M1 summer of 2021. It's been working great even though it's only got 8 gigs of RAM. I bet you'll be set for a long time with that computer.

Like you, I also found very little good information on hubs. I've tried two so far and am not in love with either. First one was a pretty basic hub like this one which basically just gives a few more USB ports. Worked okay for adding a couple things while traveling but not really for full time desktop use. Second one added a power through, so I could at least charge my laptop while plugged in. I have used it either stowed away or on the desk and it works fine.

My desk setup (full time WFH) has a work laptop (PC) into a dock into my 4k monitor, and a personal laptop (Mac) into the hub into the same monitor. I also have a Logitech wireless keyboard/mouse that can switch to different inputs, so I can use the same display and controls for everything.

Anyways, for hubs if I ever get a better desk setup I'll likely get a more robust hub. I want a few more ins/outs but to keep charging and 4k monitor support. The big question I have is if I unplug the computer, will my interface (USB powered) shut off or stay on? I'd rather the latter.

For interface, I really like the MOTU M4 which I've reviewed elsewhere here.

For the controller, I was really close to getting that Native Instruments M32 but they were out of stock locally. I ended up with the Novation Launchkey 37 which is similar, but adds some pad functionality and full size keys (in a bigger box though).

I haven't figured out the second HDD issue yet, which I probably need to do. I have iCloud backup of stuff but haven't got it working as well as on my old computer. On that one I had it local with a cloud backup, but now it seems to be cloud only. Also I don't have an external SSD, just an HDD. So that's just storage of old files at this point.
 
I know, would be the same here (no real need, either). That's why I'm interested in your findings regarding the one you ordered.
Here are preliminary results of the Plugable dock:

(1) internet speed -- I'm showing slightly faster download speeds and roughly comparable upload speeds on the Macbook Air connected to the Plugable dock, with an ethernet connected into a splitter hardwired into my home network as compared to my Mac Mini that has an ethernet cable coming from same splitter directly into it (300ish and 10ish MBps download/upload respectively).

(2) My Helix works as audio interface into any of the USB-A ports. HX Edit is able to communicate with it via any of the USB-A ports.

(3) Only the front face USB-A port is able to power either my Arturia keyboard or my USB-A external harddrive. Boo. On the positive, the dock does not need to be plugged into the Macbook Air to provide power to those devices -- so the dock standalone, with its power on (it has a power button) and no computer connected should continue to power your audio interface @Jarick

haven't tried the FM3 yet.
 
Thanks, that's pretty decent then I think (yeah, a little "boo" for insufficient bus power is likely appropriate).
Do you have any plans to connect a monitor? Because that's something I'd defenitely need to do, aging eyes and all that...
 
Thanks, that's pretty decent then I think (yeah, a little "boo" for insufficient bus power is likely appropriate).
Do you have any plans to connect a monitor? Because that's something I'd defenitely need to do, aging eyes and all that...
Oh, yeah, it connected to my TV over HDMI just fine. I just run a big ass 40-something inch 1080p TV as the monitor for my music workstation. My eyes don't need fine resolution, just hugeness.
 
Thanks, that's pretty decent then I think (yeah, a little "boo" for insufficient bus power is likely appropriate).
Do you have any plans to connect a monitor? Because that's something I'd defenitely need to do, aging eyes and all that...
Also, ai don't think it's insufficient power, it's just for whatever reason they only setup the front panel USB-A as one that provides power. I mean, the thing can kick out 85 watts of juice...they just didn't wanna route bus power to all of the USB-A jacks. The one on front is the only one with a lightening-bolt label and is described as one to use to charge your phone, etc.
 
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