Any experience with macbook 12-inch + monome?

Hello everyone. I’ve been considering getting a macbook 12-inch and a monome grid. The programming posibilities seem to be so exciting with a monome but, living in Mexico, macbook pros are cost prohibitive, not only because of the dollar price now (the Trump thing) but also because Apple decided to raise their prices after the touch bar presentation; anyway…

I was wondering if any of you have experience with a laptop like this one (you know, mobile processor, passive cooling, etc.). I think Max or Puredata could run just fine but I wondered if a monome could be powered by this machine. I’ve read about some people not being able to power their USB drives (although I have to say they talked about powering more than one at the same time).

What do you think? Is it worth it to get a setup like this? I don’t know how it is in the “first world” but here this is sort of a big investment, so adding a more powerful computer device could get a lot harder.



which specific model/year are you looking at?

in general, they should all be fine. we’ve been making monome patches on apple things for 10 years now.


I was thinking on the base model: M3 processor at 1.1 Ghz (2.2 Ghz on turbo boost), 8GB RAM. It would be the 2016 model which I’ve read is a lot better than the 2015 model. But I was also wondering if the monome is powered by the USB port or does it have its own power supply?

Most are USB powered, I believe there are some older ones which have a separate power supply (like the very first one, maybe?). I have both a 64 and 128 ‘greyscale’ and they work fine with my 2013 MPB, and work both connected directly to the Mac and over a hub.

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Is that a “Pro” you’re talking about? Because I’m thinking about the “regular” macbook. I think they call it the retina macbook.

I have a pro. The thing you should concern yourself with is the software you’re going to run with the monome. The monome itself is no partiular problem or draw.

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paging @hypnosapien, who had experience running a grid on a 2015 retina macbook.

edit: i echo @Toaster on the workload. if you want to use any softsynths or plan on doing some heavy lifting with max, i don’t recommend the m3 line. i have a 2012 MBP (non retina), which has better processing benchmarks than the m3 and runs around 30% just with a complex aalto patch. depends on your anticipated usage, but the air is a way better bang for your peso.

edit 2: took out the incorrect usage of “clock speed”.

while we’re on the subject - anyone have experience running grid + mlr (and other max stuff) smoothly on an 11.6 macbook air? used prices are getting down there…


Got it, thanks. I was worried about the macbook because of the one port situation. I know I need an adapter to use the old USB port (this one being USB-C) but I had these concerns because of the massive amount of negative comments. I’ve thought about the software, of course. This processor is a new thing for laptops but written/video reviews have made me consider this machine as an option.

Like I said some people report problems powering (several) things. Also, Apple gave more details about some pro models (I think the 13") having different outage in the left and right ports… that made me wonder.

Man, I hope my english is not that bad.

Thanks man! And what about the m5 or m7? Is it just as bad?

If the air is better I’d have to reconsider everything. This new design has some attractive things for me (display, portability, etc.)

The difference between the ports on some of the lower-end pros is just whether or not they are USB-C or Thunderbolt 3. The high end pros have Thunderbolt 3 everywhere, but the lower end ones just have USB-C on half the ports. Any of them should work with everything up to USB 3 through.

I have a new 15" pro and I’ve had no problem using any kind of USB devices with the inexpensive dongles.

the m5 hits above the basline air, but then you’re $100 USD higher than the 2015 Macbook Pro Retina with 256gb. i’d say if you can order the 2015 Pro model (depending on availability in mexico), that’s the way to go. or if you can coordinate with friends in the US to order for pickup in Texas?

Yeah, availability might be a problem. Maybe coordinating with someone in Texas like you said. Man, these recent Apple changes/prices (under the dollar adjustments excuse) are killers.

I recently sold my macbook to pick up an ipad pro and a mac mini, but I didn’t run into any issues using it with with Ableton, the grid, and a usb audio interface. I would often run OSCillot, along with some Ableton synths, and never ran into cpu issues. I was generally running with a buffer of 128 or 256, though, not 64.


My main rig right now is 11" macbook air (mid 2013) with a 1.7GHz i7 and 8GB ram.

It’s not a ‘workhorse’ in the traditional sense (ok, or at all), but after ripping the combine bits out of BlockParty, it can drive a 40 minute set without dropping frames.

I’m doing all of my DSP on an Universal Audio Apollo though, and I would suspect that I wouldn’t be able to run half as much in terms of effects as I do now on the CPU alone

On topic to the original post, I’ve been debating whether to upgrade to a Pro, or to switch to a ThinkPad, primarily because the cost of the hardware is so much lower. I’m on the fence about being stuck in Windows-or-Linux land, so it’s a tough call for me, but @inrascable, depending on what software you’re planning to run (or write), that might also be a consideration?

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That sounds good! I was also wondering about running Ableton and an audio interface. Was your macbook the 2016 model?

Yeah man, I know. I’m also considering a windows-linux alternative. The truth is I enjoy working in macos and find it so productive… in general apple’s hardware/software combination rocks for me and the investment has paid off. I’m still using a 2010 macbook pro so the money I spent 7 years ago was worth it, I just feel I need to upgrade for many different reasons.

2015 model, 1.1ghz, 8GB ram.

Great, thanks man. So it sounds like the recent model wouldn’t have hiccups with a similar setup. I’m basically thinking of a grid connected to it, DSP software and some visual stuff done in Processing but it’s not easy to find someone who got one of this computers to do audio.

I’ve played many sets using mlrv and re:mix within Ableton Live with my 11" Mid-2013 1.7Ghz i7 8GB Macbook Air, no hardware related problems. It’s fine for that. Where I notice it struggling is complex plugins within Ableton that quickly zap all the CPU (I’m looking at you, @randy)