Which MacBook should I buy?


the duality of Apple at play


Well after a nightmare of a gig a couple of weeks ago where I had to physically unplug/replug my soundcard throughout the whole day(s) of rehearsal, I went in and see the people at the Apple Store. They created an RTA (some kind of escalated engineering report) and they got back to me with some tools and instructions on creating logs of the problem.

I’ve gone and made examples/logs of each combination of gear I have (RME / MOTU | Logic / Live / Max / Reaper | Input / Output / Input+Output).

Can also force it happening super consistently by disabling/enabling the “set date and time automatically” flag in System Preferences.

Check out this disgusting shit:

Hopefully this gets them closer to being able to fix it, but one take away, RME handles the problem waaaay better. With the RME examples I get a little ‘beep’ for about 300ms at most, and RME + Reaper just interrupts the audio briefly and keeps playing after that. MOTU + Logic is the worst, by far, combination I found, followed by MOTU + Live.

(AND on a side note, my 2011 macMini is acting a fool at the moment. It’s crashing when it wakes from sleep or not finding the boot disk. The new macMinis are waaaay too expensive, particularly for what they are. And I’m unsure if I want to invest any kind of money in another Mac computer given how shit things have been going…)

Wireless speakers

I don’t feel like there is any great option at the moment. Bought a high spec pc this year and its no better. The caldigit dock solved the issues on my Mac, but right now I’m just using the octatrack as a master/daw because I’m fed up with computer challenges. The computer as a tape machine now etc.


I ended up buying a Caldigit dock too and it seems to have solved all my glitches (although I was fine in Class Compliant mode). I connect a Push 2 and UCX to it through thunderbolt.


love your experimental work :wink:


The expense/value proposition of owning a brand new computer for audio is very low. What happened?

My main reason for buying a 2016 MBP last November was a combination of saving $800 and having a newer Mac that could still run Sierra.

It’s scary, when I really think about it. I’m fortunate that my 2012 i5 Sierra iMac gets the job done with an Ultralite MK4, and that I don’t mind the headphone out on the 2016 MBP for monitoring the U-He VSTi work I rely on it for. I use the two in tandem with Ableton Link and am thankful I don’t have to rely on just the laptop.

My eyes were pretty glazed over for a new Quad i7 Mac Mini but they’re also having USB issues with audio interfaces.

The best and least problematic MBP to recommend might still be the 2015 Retina, sadly. I’d revert myself but I love this 2016-2018 trackpad and form factor too much, crappy keyboard and touchbar not withstanding. A good friend of mine bought an XPS 13 i7 last year to save money vs another MBP, and it is giving him crazy noise issues.

There’s no way to win and you still pay out the nose.


that’s unfortunate to hear! While my 2015 retina mbp is still going strong, I did look to see what was next. The 21.5" iMac maxed out (+ user replacing ram which looks to be rather easy) seems like the best “deal” right now (though certainly not cheap) for what I would use it for.



Just to be clear here: the problem is ONLY with USB audio interfaces that are NOT class compliant.

Thunderbolt, Firewire, and class compliant USB audio are not affected at all and continue to work flawlessly.


From my experience, and what I’ve read that’s not the case.

Both the MOTU and RME are class compliant, and can be run as such, but still give audio problems.

From the testing (and reading) I’ve done, there’s a core problem with how time (of all things) is computed, somehow fucking up the audio thread.


Turning that off doesn’t fully fix the problem, though, so that’s not the only thing that’s causing it. And since it doesn’t cause problems with the Caltech solution, I doubt it’s anything but a strange confounding factor, in reality.

I didn’t realize the RME devices still had the problem when put explicitly into CC mode - I had read many times in the thread that that was working fine for people - but of course latency is higher and you can’t use the routing features…

But I mostly meant to say that the class compliant interfaces like Focusrite Scarletts, etc. don’t exhibit this problem (at least, I haven’t seen any reports of that happening yet). If they are also acting up, I’ll amend my original post for clarity.

And of course, it’s still true that Thunderbolt and Firewire audio solutions do work perfectly.


I mean, the closest thing to an “official” response from RME (which is sadly a forum post) is that the problem is hardware based and the only solution is the Thunderbolt dongle:

Here is some info on the current situation with Apple’s Mac Mini 2018 and 10.14.2.

  • USB 2 is not usable for audio on any port.*

  • USB 3 is not usable for audio on the two USB-A sockets.*

  • USB 3 works as expected on all USB-C ports using a USB-C to USB-A adapter**



Oof this is discouraging. I was thinking of purchasing a new mac but now thinking otherwise since my audio interface is UAC2. Thanks for posting this!


My 2012 MacBook Air is reaching the end of its useful lifetime (which has been impressively long given the abuse it has survived), and I will be getting a new MacBook imminently. Just like most of you I’m not quite happy with Apple making increasingly unrepairable products, but the alternative OSs genuinely make me want to scream and tear out my hair, so here I am.

I will be getting either a 2018 13" Pro with an external display or a 2018 15" Pro. For those of you who have these, how are they for sound, graphics, interactive installations, programming, and those kinds of things? I’m not quite sure what I’d prefer between the portability of the 13" and the graphics power of the 15".


I guess its worth keeping this in mind if you’re looking at the 13"

Don’t know if its been fixed/updated since, but article is fairly recent.

Aside from general funny-business like that, the 15" is a pretty good computer. Fast, light, keyboard seems fine (so far). Absolutely useless for USB2 audio-based work at the moment, which can be a deal breaker. But generally a “good” computer. Not worth the cost for sure, and I’ll be looking elsewhere once this reaches the end of its life.


Just to share another experience - I’ve had one of the 15" 2018 MBPs for a couple of months now and have had zero USB audio interface problems. Granted, I’ve mostly used my Apogee Duet 2 at home with a powered TB3 CalDigit hub, but I’ve specifically done a couple of tests at the studio I work at using just an unpowered USB-C dongle and some Focusrite Scarletts (6i6) and an RME Fireface UFX. Again, no problems, although I didn’t do any intricate multichannel setups, mostly just stereo playback…


Did you check macOS console? You may not hear the dropouts, even if they occur.

I also used my RME UC with a normal dongle at first. Using Ableton Live, I didn’t noticed the dropouts, I thought it was all good. Then using Logic Pro, the soft would just stop recording.

You’ll need to test playback or recording for a long period of time. The dropouts will occur every 20-30 minutes. Or try to let your MBP go to sleep and see if it doesn’t crash.

I don’t think that any MBP 18 with a T2 chip is immune to the Bridge OS crash using USB 2 audio interfaces. And I’m not sure it will be fix at all.


FWIW I went through three 2018 MBPs (testing, returning w/in window) that suffered from the T2 crash (2 sec freeze then system rebooting). On the third, I was eventually able to lessen these (they’d happen as often as every 20 mins before) by ditching every bit of MOTU software related to my ultralite Mk4. But they still happened rendering the machine useless for live performance or tight deadline work.
I gave up and settled for a 2017 refurb for audio work, which has been trouble-free. The 2018 is now only used for Davinci Resolve, with onboard audio only.
Had I not needed a portable Resolve system I would have returned the 3rd 2018 and stayed with the 2017 (which isn’t quite up to my video needs for work. )
I’m not an engineer or even close but my suspicion after all the testing and troubleshooting and research is that the 2018s are ok with class compliant audio devices, but will succumb to some version of the errant T2-related behavior (reboots, KPs , it may even be behind the dropout reports, etc) with certain audio device drivers (or similar files) installed. the Ultralite did not need to be connected for the crashes to occur, but with no drivers there were few crashes even with the UL connected (it runs in class compliant mode as a much more basic audio io device with no drivers installed. )
Side note - I’m still in software license hell due to the multiple machines and returns.


After some deliberating, I think I’m going to get a maxed out 2012 “server” mac mini (quad core 2.6 i7, 16gb ram, etc…). It’s a bit of an “old” computer, but everything in that form factor after that is dogshit (or crazy expensive).


For the record (at least I think I asked in this thread or another) - I ended up with a 2018 Mac mini (i7 16gb) and a 4k monitor - using it with my Saffire pro 40 (on a string of dongles - looks ugly but works fine.

Probably is on the expensive end - certainly compared to windows but wasn’t prepared to jump ship, and also I’m working on iOS apps on the side.

Went this route because it gives me a more granular upgrade path and a good while before I need to upgrade again. Pretty pleased with it so far - has loads of grunt etc.