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Macbook Air USB Interface?
Old 11th September 2011
Gear Maniac
exit2studios's Avatar

Macbook Air USB Interface?

I am about to move from a PC to an MBA for my non-audio related work and general use. However, after reading a few posts here, I think I would like to add the option to use this machine as a portable daw. My plan is to go 11" for ultimate portability.

I currently run Samplitude on my PC via an older PCI (not PCI-e) E-mu interface, which introduces some compatibility issues with the MBA, obviously.

I will plan to run Win7 via parallels or some other virtual method, so theoretically I can have access to Samp and all my wonderful plugins (minus the PCI UAD-1's I have now), with plans to possibly eventually migrate everything towards the mac side of things if all goes well.

So my first question, what interface would be a good option. MBA doesn't have FW, so the RME Babyface looks pretty good. Going this option would also allow me to upgrade from the E-mu 1820m on my PC setup versus going apogee or something mac-exclusive. Is there anything else without all the bells and whistles (i.e. cheaper) than the BF that would give me comparable sound quality?

Next question (for another thread) will be what DAW to eventually replace Samplitude (unless they ever come out with a mac version). I would really miss the native sampl plug-ins (and workflow, audio engine, etc)

Old 12th September 2011
Gear Addict
Hi There,

It's interesting that you have posted this question as I should have a Mac Book Air 2011 13" by the end of the week myself. I also have an RME Babyface already. I think the two would make a perfect match and the Babyface will complement the MacBook Air nicely as they both have a very sleek design and as you have already mentioned ultimate portability.

I've used the Babyface already on some sessions on a PC and I was running Sequoia 12 beta . It's a very nice piece of kit and I had zero problems. Also the Babyface has the added bonus of having built-in DSP so you can monitor using delay and reverb with zero latency.

Personally I will be setting up a dual boot system using Windows 7 via Boot Camp.The model I have ordered will have a 256 GB SSD drive and I will split it 50-50. I think if you use parallels you may find you get a performance hit and also I'm not sure how parallels works with Asio drivers etc. But then again I've never tried it so maybe somebody else has some information on that.

You mention about replacing Samplitude. Well I have it on good authority that the Mac version will be released next year although I can't give you a date or any details but I'm pretty sure it's going to happen. So hopefully when you are up and running in the Mac world you will still be able to use a version of Samplitude for the Mac with your favorite plug-ins at some time in the not too distant future

Anyway when I have my new setup configured I will let you know how things are working out and give you some real-world performance details.

Old 12th September 2011
Gear Maniac
exit2studios's Avatar

ExpressCard Adapter

Thanks for the response. I'll be anxious to hear how your experience goes.

On a related note, do you think it would be possible to run a UAD2 express card on the MBA with a USB ExpressCard adapter?
Old 12th September 2011
Lives for gear

You won't enjoy the latency of using a DAW running in Parallels. It works surprisingly well but it's nowhere near as responsive as running Windows on the physical rather than virtual hardware. Boot Camp should work just fine.

On the plus side, the 11in Air is a lovely machine and the SSD makes it seem a lot faster than the specs for the processor would have you believe.
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