Questions & Answers

Can I use a MacBook Air with the Studio One and PreSonus products?

+2 votes
asked May 10, 2015 in Computer Based Recording & Production by AlexTinsley (925,190 points)
Can I use a MacBook Air with Studio One and PreSonus products such as the AudioBox USB, AudioBox VSL or any of the 1394 products using the Thunderbolt adapter?

1 Answer

+1 vote
answered May 10, 2015 by AlexTinsley (925,190 points)
Best answer

The Apple Mac Book Air models may experience performance issues with the Studio One, Interface Performance and Device Control Software. 

Apple's Mac Book Air aggressively adopts the lightest lowest voltage core CPU's from Intel to provide a long battery life for executives, students, bloggers, writers, etc. With each new generation comes a lighter processor. 

The CPU on the MacBook Air is a low voltage variant of the regular mobile or desktop versions of the same series CPU. Not all i-5's are created equal. The system as a whole was designed for power conservation, the memory, storage, and over all system power is reduced for portability and maximum battery life. 

For example the Early 2014 Mac Book Air CPU has the following feature: 

  • 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz) with 3MB shared L3 cache
    Configurable to 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz) with 4MB shared L3 cache.

The MacBook Air will boost power to CPU, memory, storage in bursts where it needs it but not for sustained periods of time. 

Studio One (or any DAW or Media editing program) is going to demand more out of the CPU as soon as it starts to record or playback multiple tracks of audio, adding plug-ins will push the CPU into turbo mode and will ramp up to it's maximum speed based on system load. 

However as soon as the CPU starts to overheat, it's automatic safety system will slow the speed down regardless of what program is running. Unlike driving your car in the high RPM's, the computer will not allow itself to overheat. This is when audio degradation will occur. as the program demands the same amount of power as the CPU and system resources throttle back to a slower speed to maintain temperature. Mac Book Air will only be able to play / record a few tracks before this type of error occurs.  

The MacBook Air falls into the same category as a Windows Netbook (Atom Processors, AMD E-Series) and is not a system we can heartily recommend for use with the PreSonus series products for audio recording and production. 

AudioBox USB users may find that the MacBook Air may have trouble holding on to the device because of it's low voltage on the USB bus. 

Customers having issues with this configuration may find better performance by moving to a different mobile Apple system. Selecting a system such as the MacBook Pro, designed for handling multi-channel audio and video processing. 

For information on the 4th Generation MacBook Air see our other article: