What the MacBook Pro with Retina Display Means for Musicians

If you haven’t heard the news, Apple just released the new MacBook Pro, and it is quite the fun little toy. I snuck a peek at the Mac store when I was at the mall with Abbie yesterday. The display is amazing, but what does this really mean for the recording/performing musician?

I have a few thoughts on how this impacts the musician in your life:

  • First, the impressive flash drive. No longer will you have to battle fan noise when you’re recording a demo of that new song you wrote. Flash hard drives contain no moving parts, which then produces less heat. This results in your computer not working as hard and your computer fan not needing to work overtime.
  • Second, the retina display. While I love the retina display, I can’t justify paying the extra money for it as I make music. I’m excited that computers, phones, and TV’s are heading in that direction, but I can’t bring myself to pay the extra money for it.
  • Third, the ports available. I love that the new MacBook Pro has 2 thunderbolt ports and 2 USB 3 ports! This is incredible. I’m excited about the potential use for both sets of ports for music in the future. A new laptop with a nice recording interface already has great latency, but the introduction of these two ports into a laptop will lead the way into latencies that are lower than ever! Granted, there are very few–if any–interfaces that take advantage of USB 3 and thunderbolt, but I have a feeling these are coming soon to a Sweetwater agent near you.
  • Finally, the price. The MacBook Pro with Retina Display’s price starts where the original MacBook Pro leaves off. With a starting price of $2,199, most musicians will drool over the piece of metal but hesitate to pull the trigger. And I don’t blame you one bit. Your money will be much better spent buying a traditional MacBook Pro and packing it with RAM and a nice flash hard drive a couple years from now when the prices on flash storage drops.

So, my humble suggestion to the musician looking for a new computer?

Buy the traditional MacBook Pro (assuming you need the laptop portability) and upgrade the parts in that big guy a few years down the road. Or even better, buy a refurbished MacBook Pro. I’m still making music on a 6-year old MacBook (yes, the white one), so you definltely don’t need a computer with a pretty Retina Display to make pretty music. While the MacBook Pro with Retina Display is pretty to look at, I can think of much better things to spend my extra $800 on.

Regardless, I tip my hat to Apple for continuing to lead the way in technology.