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Moving to a portable Macbook Pro M1 - Connectivity limitations?

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Moving to a portable Macbook Pro M1 - Connectivity limitations?

Postby james090 » Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:18 pm

After years of a  (now old) desktop iMac, and with the advent of the new M1 Macbook Pro's, I am seriously thinking of going down the 'mobile' Macbook Pro M1 route, whether its this current 16Gb version or any MBP that come in the following months.

I just wanted to ask any mobile / Macbook based studios here, how do you cope with the limited usb ports etc?

I am considering this as I see many users now running just a Macbook Pro, especially with the M1 are now certainly powerful enough, but I was thinking of 2 x usb-c SSD portable Samsung Drives (1 for Kontakt Libraries & Samples, 1 for Recording & Projects)
but I also have a USB Keyboard controller, USB Audio interface, USB QWERTY keyboard etc.

I mainly only use internal plug ins and samples, so dont need to worry about outside recording, pre-amps, mics etc, I am now really ITB but scared to take the leap :headbang:

I don't really have any experience of the newer MBP's and USB -C but is there a good reliable USB hub that travelling musicians use or is there a simpler way to do this, ie: can USB-C portable Samsung drives maybe (daisy chain using 1 usb-c port maybe?) to each other? and I could obviously drop the USB QWERTY obviously and use the laptop keyboard. 

But in general, it was how people scaled down to a powerful portable rig that you could in theory move around easily, with the processing power available today, and the wafer thin SSD drives of 1TB, 2TB, 4TB etc 

Also lastly, anyone with a M1 Macbook, does the Headphone output still operate as Optical Digital output when plugged in with the correct cable? I know Apple dropped this some time ago, but can you believe Apple didn't know when I asked them!

Thank you
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Re: Moving to a portable Macbook Pro M1 - Connectivity limitations?

Postby Guido3 » Sun Apr 11, 2021 9:42 pm

I currently have a very portable rig. My MBP has 4 x TB3/USB C ports. I has an internal 512GB SSD. All my samples are kept on an external 1TB Samsung T5 SSD drive. My audio interface is currently a UAD Arrow. Which is a buss powered TB3 interface (I will be upgrading this to a Apollo X as I need ADAT to pipe in my external keys. I daisy chain a UAD Satallite Octo which gives me loads of external
Processing for my UAD plugins. All this still leaves me 2 x TB3/USB C ports free. There are plenty of cheap docks available to increase the capacity of these. I use an Anker hub which gives me 3 x USB A ports and a USB C port for power.

I have a small pair of Genelec Monitors which I can set up anywhere and if needs be a fairly decent pair of phones (I do need some better ones though)

I do have plans to build a proper studio/tracking room but this setup sounds great and fits in 3 bags.

I would add though that a mobile rig is great but you really can’t beat a fixed setup. Creative juices can be stifled when you have to set your gear up first.
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Re: Moving to a portable Macbook Pro M1 - Connectivity limitations?

Postby fruitcake » Mon Apr 12, 2021 2:46 am

I’ve been trying to get a M1 Mini up and running for audio. It works sporadically. I’m using a MOTU 828es interface connected thru AVB. It will work for awhile then stops working. I haven’t tracked down why yet. The other puzzler is MIDI. I have a MPK mini plugged into USB. It shows up in the AudioMIDI setup app about half the time. It’s supposed to be class compliant so I’m not sure what is going on. My MOTU MIDI interface has never shown up.
Oh, and my M1 crashes often.
Edit: when it is working, I’m getting an occasional sound issue. It’s like a comb filter fades in leaving only a high frequency metallic version of the audio. It goes away after 20 seconds or so.
I don’t think the lack of ports will be the biggest hindrance. It’s the bugginess and lack of 3rd party hardware and software. It will eventually come around though.

And an important note for anyone getting an M1 Mac: if you try to do a clean install and erase the HD, the only way to reinstall the OS is with a second Mac running Configurator.
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Re: Moving to a portable Macbook Pro M1 - Connectivity limitations?

Postby BobTheDog » Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:00 am

The MOTU 828 problems sound like driver issues, along with the mac M1 crashing.

The comb filtering type issue sound like there is a problem with the clock getting out of sync between the M1 and the 828, another driver issue I would think.

Have you tried contacting MOTU about it, their tech support is usually pretty good.
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Re: Moving to a portable Macbook Pro M1 - Connectivity limitations?

Postby RichardT » Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:03 am

What’s your reasoning for wanting two external drives? I have a MBP with one external drive, which I couldn’t avoid because I was running out of space. I would be much happier if I could have everything on the internal drive. It would make moving the rig less hassle, plus from time to time the drive becomes accidentally unplugged.

I connect my AI directly to the MBP, and have keyboard, mouse and dongle on a small hub.
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Re: Moving to a portable Macbook Pro M1 - Connectivity limitations?

Postby james090 » Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:31 am

BobTheDog wrote:The MOTU 828 problems sound like driver issues, along with the mac M1 crashing.

The comb filtering type issue sound like there is a problem with the clock getting out of sync between the M1 and the 828, another driver issue I would think.

Have you tried contacting MOTU about it, their tech support is usually pretty good.

Yes I think I'd have to agree here that it sounds like a MOTU issue messing up your system, as I'm not sure how old the 828 is now?

RichardT wrote:What’s your reasoning for wanting two external drives?.

I wanted my Kontakt and other sample (streaming libraries) on 1 SSD Ext Drive, another 2-4TB Ext SSD for general recording, audio etc, and the internal for projects/programs/general Mac software etc was my thinking.
Just so I had everything covered over the 2 ext SSD's and whatever size int SSD the M1 Mac comes with?
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Re: Moving to a portable Macbook Pro M1 - Connectivity limitations?

Postby RichardT » Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:02 pm

james090 wrote:
BobTheDog wrote:The MOTU 828 problems sound like driver issues, along with the mac M1 crashing.

The comb filtering type issue sound like there is a problem with the clock getting out of sync between the M1 and the 828, another driver issue I would think.

Have you tried contacting MOTU about it, their tech support is usually pretty good.

Yes I think I'd have to agree here that it sounds like a MOTU issue messing up your system, as I'm not sure how old the 828 is now?

RichardT wrote:What’s your reasoning for wanting two external drives?.

I wanted my Kontakt and other sample (streaming libraries) on 1 SSD Ext Drive, another 2-4TB Ext SSD for general recording, audio etc, and the internal for projects/programs/general Mac software etc was my thinking.
Just so I had everything covered over the 2 ext SSD's and whatever size int SSD the M1 Mac comes with?

You can get up to 2TB internally on the M1 MacBook pro. My experience is that having crucial stuff on external drives can be a real pain if you need mobility - if not, it’s not such a big deal of course.
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Re: Moving to a portable Macbook Pro M1 - Connectivity limitations?

Postby fruitcake » Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:42 pm

BobTheDog wrote:The MOTU 828 problems sound like driver issues, along with the mac M1 crashing.

The comb filtering type issue sound like there is a problem with the clock getting out of sync between the M1 and the 828, another driver issue I would think.

Have you tried contacting MOTU about it, their tech support is usually pretty good.

I believe a lot of the issues have to do with the 828es. Although MOTU just released a new driver that’s supposed to be Apple Silicon and Big Sur compatible. When I have more time I plan on trying either TB3 or USB to connect instead of AVB to see if that resolves some issues. I’ve had the sample rate change in the AVB configuration app from 48k to 192k by itself. The frustrating aspect is that various things will work and then not work for no apparent reason. It doesn’t make sense that a class compliant MIDI keyboard would not show up for instance.
There is this app juggling that has to happen between the AVB Configuration, MOTU driver, The Mac AudioMIDI setup, and MOTU’s ProAudio that I haven’t figured out. No plug and play here.
When I have more time I’ll get in touch with MOTU tech support.
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Re: Moving to a portable Macbook Pro M1 - Connectivity limitations?

Postby ManFromGlass » Mon Apr 12, 2021 1:36 pm

MacBook Air M1 here. Not using it for music as I am not the main user. It is a sometimes flaky machine for email but it mostly works well. A few minutes ago I ordered a CalDigit TS3 Plus Dock through the apple site. Expensive but I can connect to an older apple Cinema Display, mouse, keyboard, external drives, Ethernet and it has card readers for the loading in photos from cameras. And it also charges the laptop. I might be forgetting some of the other ports it has.
I wish I could get my hands on it to try music, but I may have to wait until somebody is sleeping!
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