If you’ve been DJing or producing for a while, chances are you’ve been sucked into a Mac vs Windows debate!
The truth is both have their benefits, particularly if you’re keeping cost in mind. You’ll likely find you save a lot of money purchasing a Windows laptop over a MacBook Pro (or any of the latest MacBooks).
But there is a lot more to consider aside from simply cost. More and more DJs are using MacBooks for a variety of reasons. In this article, we’ll take a look at why this is so!
(If you’re in the market for a new MacBook then check out Sweetwater’s range of MacBook Pros.)
With an expanded Retina screen, redesigned keyboard and the best audio equipment ever installed in an Apple laptop, the 16” MacBook Pro is designed to meet your professional needs no matter where you go.
If we move aside from the fancy marketing and the fact that Apple products are no doubt stylish, a MacBook is a fantastic music-making machine.
We’ve already mentioned the cost associated with buying a MacBook but purchasing a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air should very much be looked at as an investment that will last many years. If you’re DJ’ing regularly then you want to know your equipment is top-notch.
There are some very valid reasons why choosing Apple can be much more favorable than a Windows laptop.
If you’re going from gig to gig and regularly using your MacBook Pro then you want to know it’s going to be up to the task.
Luckily MacBooks have a good reputation for being sturdy and long-lasting so it’s no surprise to see professional DJs using them a lot, particularly as Apple’s standard of build quality tends to be really high.
Features a 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors, 128GB PCIe-based flash storage | 8GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 onboard memory and 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor.
MacBooks incorporate an aluminum casing, which vastly differs from the plastic shell often used in Windows laptops.
We all know that feeling of a shiny piece of gear getting its first little dent or scratch, but if this does happen at least you know it is only impacting the MacBook aesthetically!
Apple’s customer support tends to be pretty good too, with Apple stores on most high streets being able to help with any issues or diagnose any faults with your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.
We won’t say that a fault won’t be costly, this is one downside to choosing Apple, but if you do get into a situation where you’re having issues it can be super convenient to head to the nearest Apple store.
Simply put, MacBooks have been optimized by Apple through rigorous tests to make sure they offer the best performance possible.
The software and hardware have been fully designed by Apple as well, meaning you’re buying a piece of gear that is both unique and specifically designed to create a powerful, functional, and intuitive experience.
Anyone who has experienced a piece of equipment failing at a gig knows the absolute terror as you scramble to find the issue with a whole crowded room looking directly at you.
Aside from the build quality, a MacBook tends to offer more reliability internally as well, with less chance of crashing mid-gig than that of a Windows laptop.
This is something that can even affect beginner DJs, so it’s great knowing that the chances of a catastrophic failure mid-way through your set are minimized!
Whether it’s a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air you want to use, the Mac operating system works really well with MIDI controllers.
The plug and play functionality of MacBook computers means MIDI controllers can often be used without any software setup, which is super handy for MIDI keyboards, controllers, or anyone who regularly plays live.
Latency is frustrating even when you aren’t performing. For a DJ, a delay in the audio signal can really have a negative impact on the overall set quality.
Luckily, the processing power of a MacBook Pro or even a MacBook Air is solid enough to eliminate most latency issues.
That’s not to say that a Windows laptop can’t compete, but Apple computers certainly handle this issue with less fuss.
This goes across the board, with many people opting to use Apple products for their ease of use. The same applies to DJing and music production.
Apple computers have a long history of use in the creative industries. If you go into any random animation studio, film editing suite, music studio, or any business associated with the creative arts, there’s a good chance you’ll see Macs in use.
On the other hand, Microsoft knows that most Windows computers will be used for work, video calls, internet browsing, or gaming.
There’s also something to be said for the fact that Apple make their own computers as well as their own OS. This makes for a more streamlined user experience as you are not at the mercy of random hardware incompatibilities or apps that don’t work properly on your system for whatever reason.
When you buy a Windows machine, you also need to factor in the reputation of the brand you’re buying from. This can make the process a bit more complicated, so the very simplicity of Apple’s own product line is a plus in this area.
Of course, the one downside is if you were to switch from a Windows laptop to a Mac, there will likely be a bit of a learning curve as you get used to the new system, shortcuts, functions, and – most importantly – the jargon.
If you’re at a gig, you really should be making sure your MacBook is plugged into a reliable power source, that goes for both beginner and professional DJs!
That said, there will be times you need to use the battery of your MacBook. With modern music production being as convenient as it is you could be mixing on the go with a set of headphones, or maybe you want to work on something when there is no power source nearby.
The battery life of a MacBook tends to last longer than most other laptops which is a huge plus for DJs.
Apple computers are well known for their Retina Displays, which are designed so that individual pixels are never distinguishable from a typical viewing distance.
Having a retina display isn’t going to make you a better DJ. But Apple’s unique screen makes things appear crisper, cleaner, and clearer.
While you can find Windows laptops with superb displays, this will raise the price significantly.
How Much SSD Storage Do I Need For DJing With My MacBook?
Firstly, make sure the computer you’re buying has a solid state drive (SSD) and not a hard disk drive (HDD). HDDs are slow and unreliable for system disk usage and are almost completely phased out at this point anyway.
We’d recommend opting for the most storage you can get, and that your wallet can afford!
This does entirely depend on your usage, however. If you are going to be storing large files and lots of music then definitely opt for a minimum of 512GB or you’ll run out of space pretty soon.
It’s very easy to tally up (and underestimate) how much SSD storage you’ll need before purchasing but keep in mind that a large amount will be taken up by system storage plus files used by Apps that accumulate over time.
You should still have at least one external drive that you use for backups and storing large files (like sample libraries). This drive should be at least 1TB big, and you need to make sure it’s from a trusted brand if you’re going to be backing up your projects.
Another crucial aspect to think about is your RAM usage. Much like SSD storage, purchasing a brand new MacBook means you can customize your RAM options to fit your needs.
Luckily you don’t need a huge amount of RAM for DJing. 4GB would normally suffice but again we’d recommend upgrading to 8GB just to be safe.
Also factor in your other uses. If you are going to be using a DAW such as Logic Pro or Ableton then you need 8GB of RAM at the very least.
What Is The Best MacBook Screen Size For DJing?
There isn’t a hard and fast rule for this. Stating the obvious, a bigger screen will mean you can see more but ultimately this is going to increase the cost. So this is one trade-off to consider.
The screen size usually ranges from 13 to 16 inches but many are happy to work on a 13-inch and save on upgrading to the larger models!
Consider portability too. A smaller screen size means the MacBook will be slightly easier to transport in a rucksack or bag, however, this is a marginal difference in the grand scheme of things and shouldn’t put you off if you’re really set on a bigger model.
Ultimately it may come down to your budget. First you should prioritise performance and storage, then consider the screen size. At the end of the day, you can always plug into an external monitor.
Are Refurbished MacBooks Good For DJing?
Purchasing a refurbished MacBook can be a great way of getting a top-performing machine without having to spend the same amount as you would for a brand new model.
It’s definitely worth investigating the MacBook you intend to buy. Make sure you are purchasing from a reputable retailer (check reviews and scores online).
Also, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind about your refurbished MacBook:
Condition. Chances are your refurbished MacBook won’t be in mint condition, whether that’s from fair wear and tear from the previous owner or through any tasks that needed completing during the refurbishing process.
Warranty. Opt for a refurbished MacBook that comes with a warranty but expect it to be shorter than if you were to purchase a brand new model.
OldData. A small risk, but make sure the old user’s data is completely wiped from the machine. This will eliminate any lingering malware and free up storage space.
Should I Purchase Apple Care With My MacBook?
If you’re using your MacBook for DJing and this is your sole source of income, then you should absolutely ensure you’re covered in case something goes wrong.
Apple Care starts at around $35 annually, but don’t expect it to be this cheap for your MacBook. Factored in with other costs such as DJ Pool subscriptions it won’t cost the earth and is well worth the investment if you care enough about your computer and can afford it.
If you can’t, at least you can rely on an Apple Genius in store to point you in the right direction if something does go wrong.
Because Apple stores are solely dedicated to their products, this means their customer care is generally top-notch. However, consider that you may need to book an appointment to be seen (often there can be a wait for this) and it can be costly.
Where possible, we’d recommend opting for an Apple Care plan, particularly if you are relying on your MacBook for income.