A New Server

Picked up the new MacBook Pro on Monday. It’s a 13″ model with all the base options and no frills whatever. After bringing it home, then running through System Update three times, I loaded up Pure Music, moved the cables for the firewire drive and the USB-S/PDIF converter from the old G5 over to the laptop, pointed iTunes at the external drive (and waited an hour while it indexed and loaded it), and I’m now playing my music through it.

First impressions? As good as my G5. Very promising!

I think the laptop is probably not as tweaked as it could be. Yes, I’m running it off the battery during playback, so that helps. But while I’ve turned off Bluetooth, the WLAN adapter, and Spotlight, I haven’t done any of the following.

To do list:

  1. More OS tweaking! Need to do more research here and see if there’s anything else that might help me. Porting over my re-nice script might be a good idea.
  2. Upgrade the RAM. Came with 4GB, but it supports 8GB, so that’s where we’ll take it. The more RAM, the more larger a playlist I can load into memory, so “the more the merrier”. I’m a bit worried about this as there seems to be some issues with some brands, so I may have to pay a bit more for RAM that has the best user ratings.
  3. New external drive. My current rig wasn’t really meant for audio — it was meant to be big. At 2TB, it’s nothing to sneeze at, but it’s certainly been bypassed in the last year (surprise, surprise). Anyway, I need something that is going to be “bus-powered” so that I can eliminate yet another SMPS from the wall. Ted_B suggests that I look at an Oyen, which can be powered either via firewire or USB and can also get up to 1TB using a laptop drive. Not awesome, but about 2x what I currently need, so there’d be some headroom there while I continue to grow the library.
  4. Swap the hard drive for an SSD. This computer sports an SATAII interface, so I should be able to take advantage of the faster drives than my SATA-only G5 was able to. I’m thinking about the OCZ Agility 2 drives — I’ll only need about 50GB (or so), so this shouldn’t be terribly expensive. And a DIY here should totally void the warranty. Nice! Honestly, I’m not sure I really need this, hence it’s low ranking on this list. An SSD drive used to be de rigeur for all computer audio rigs, but that was before all the off-board, galvanically isolated USB converters. Now, with my Legato in place, I’m not sure of the gains in audio performance. Sure, the system might have snappier responsiveness, but while that’s great and all, it isn’t really what I’m shooting for.

Not sure if I’ll need to go any more out than this. The 13″ MacBook Pro is small enough to tuck somewhere out of the way, has enough interfaces to connect stuff too, and has a 10 hour battery life (more like 5, but hey, who’s counting) which hopefully won’t degrade too much when I go to the battery-powered external drive. We’ll see.

Sounds pretty good right now, though!