Why DJs Use MacBook Pro [The Ultimate Guide]


It’s no secret that a lot of DJs, and producers for that matter, opt to use an Apple MacBook Pro. Not all DJs use a laptop, but it is very common to see a MacBook being used by a lot of worldwide professional DJs.

Why DJs Use MacBook Pro?

The standard build and quality of an Apple MacBook Pro is very high. High memory, hard disk space, low latency and audio drivers all contribute to high performance and usability for DJs to rely on. Apple update their Operating System regularly and quickly to resolve any bugs or glitches to provide the best user experience.

I personally use a MacBook Pro, so I’ve put this guide together to give you the ultimate guide of why DJs use MacBooks so often. Let’s be honest here, there’s nothing more un-professional than getting half way through a DJ set and the laptop cutting out requiring a re-boot.

Latency

Smoothness of operating DJ software and audio output from a computer is imperative. The MacBook Pro delivers on this for sure.

Not once have I experienced an issue with slow and bitty loading of DJ software.

The main benefit of low latency is that you can crack on being a DJ anywhere without having to worry about whether the computer might cut out or impact the quality of your DJing performance.

The areas that I appreciate the smoothness of using a MacBook are when loading DJ software music tracks and the preview of those tracks. The other benefit I see is the accuracy of the beats playing matching the audio and visuals, there’s not delay whatsoever.

Memory (RAM)

I’ve found since moving to a 16GB RAM on a MacBook Pro has massively helped me out with opening multiple programs at once.

More recent and topical is the increased amount of DJs DJing from home on a live stream.

Live streaming can take up a decent chunk of RAM, mainly due to using OBS, Rekordbox and Chrome to see the live stream on Mixcloud (in my case anyway).

Just to be clear, there’s a basic requirement to even use DJ software such as Rekordbox which is around 4GB minimum.

Hard Disk Drive

The hard disk space on a MacBook Pro can be sufficient enough that you don’t need to plug in any extra disk space, such as a USB memory stick or external hard drive.

This is very good if you’re DJing with a MacBook Pro for sure. No need to buy extra equipment and also less equipment to carry around with you to DJ gigs.

Space

For the MacBook Pro that I use, the hard disk space is 1TB, which is a lot. I just checked now and I only use about 25% of the space. Which is great because I use a lot of space for DJing and music production.

SSD (Solid State Drive)

A lot of MacBook’s come with an SSD as standard. Trust me on this one, the performance of an SSD is superior to other drive types. It’s the speed performance that really drives the massive benefits here.

When DJing you’ll definitely need to be accessing files and software quickly so this is where the SSD gives you a piece of mind. Another thing NOT to worry about.

MIDI Compatibility

Connecting MIDI controllers such as my DJ controller has been easy to do.

With the Mac OS being set up with a vast array of MIDI devices this makes a lot of MacBooks highly compatible with a lot of MIDI devices.

This then makes life as a DJ very smooth and easy when buying new equipment such as a DJ controller or an add on performance pad.

In this modern world of DJing you’ll see a few DJs out there performing their DJ sets live, triggering samples with a Ableton compatible performance pad type controller. All of the DJs I’ve seen that do this live on YouTube are using a MacBook Pro.

Drivers Setup Already

Plug and play springs to mind when thinking of connecting equipment such as external sound cards, DJ controllers, performance pad and effects controllers or similar to a MacBook Pro.

When I used to have a Windows laptop, the amount of time that I’ve spent setting up drivers for specific audio interfaces and music based equipment has been very high compared to the MacBook Pro I now use.

I think this is why an MacBook Pro simply dominates because creative people such as DJs just simply need and want to get stuck in with mixing and playing music. Not setting up equipment.

Reliability & Security

The reliability of a MacBook Pro is very high up there, not only just from a hardware point of view, but a software operating system too.

Apple are very good at updating and releasing a new operating system yearly.

The updates are performance and security led, which massively benefits users of a MacBooks that heavily rely on performance. Security is a given in my opinion but this is something Apple excel at in my opinon.

Due to the performance focus, reliability is THE main reason why I got hold of a MacBook Pro for DJing.

Price and Quality Perception

Another valid reason for DJs choosing Apple over another brand is the price and quality perception of Apple products.

MacBook’s are certainly a premium product, and with high prices one could assume that the quality of a product is going to be superior.

I’d agree with this point in the past, however looking at recent prices of MacBook’s there comes a limit. Potentially even out-pricing certain people.

With Apple becoming more and more expensive, is there ever going to be a stable price?

I’d certainly agree the quality of a MacBook Pro is outstanding, but at a premium price. The quality of a MacBook Pro is clearly the driver for a lot of people and certainly for me hence why I invested in one.

MacBook’s are especially a popular choice of people from the music industry and DJing scene, and there’s a reason for that, largely down to the quality and all of the performance led reasons stated above.

Quality Design & Trendy

The quality of the build and design are very cool in my opinion. Slim and sleek in design, they are mostly quite thin and easy to carry around.

MacBooks to touch feel like a quality product when holding one compared to a windows type laptop which can feel quite plastic and cheap.

In terms of quality design, I’ve used a Lenovo laptop in the past which is very high performance but the laptop got way over heated at times. Plus when the bass in the club got too high, the vibration impacted the connections of my USB devices.

This is not the case with a MacBook Pro, I sort of feel Apple may have stress tested these sorts of scenarios, especially to help musicians and DJs have a better time performing live.

Investment

My first MacBook that I bought was back in 2008 and lasted me up until 2019.

The decision to upgrade to a MacBook Pro was mainly due to getting back into music production again. Also the other motivation was to achieve more hard disk space internally to store all my DJ music.

After a few upgrades to RAM memory I was limited so that was the final straw in making the leap to a new MacBook Pro.

On average, according to Macworld.co.uk, a MacBook lasts around 5 to 8 years. But as you can see mine lasted a lot more than that up until 11 years.

Point to take on board here is that at the time of buying the first MacBook in 2008 I could of bought a higher specification MacBook. I did regret it at the time but that’s all the money that I had at the time. However it could of been possible to get a monthly payment plan to pay the difference.

Right at this moment, I took my advice and invested in a high spec MacBook Pro, although an older model (which took me ages to find online in Black Friday sales).

See the spec below, this MacBook Pro serves me very well for the last year and a bit.

MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016)

  • Processor: 2.9 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3
  • Hard disk: 1TB
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 1536 MB

Music Production

I see my MacBook Pro a bit like a Swiss army knife, there’s actually not much it cannot do or achieve at a high level.

A lot of DJs do seem to dabble or at least make the leap into music production, whether it be making their own edits, remixes or mashups. Using a MacBook seems highly appealing because of it’s natural and easy capabilities to be creative (without the unnecessary setup woes).

I love music production just as much as DJing, so having a MacBook has served me very well for creating music as well as DJing using Rekordbox and a DJ controller.

Tips before buying a MacBook Pro (or any MacBook)

  • Check the amount of ports that you might require, e.g. to plug in USB devices.
  • Check the format of ports, some MacBooks are purely USB-C port
  • Based on the first two points, what accessories do you require, e.g. USB-C port hub for plugging in multiple device types.
  • Consider an Apple MacBook Pro as an option, there are multiple laptops out there more than capable of handling DJ software, streaming and music production. Focus on the quality of the specification in line with the software requirements and the extra space for music files etc.
  • Look out for older models, maybe a few years younger than the current model. I found this to be a winner to get the price down but still at a high level specification for the computing performance I need.
  • Search around on sales websites especially during January sales, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can get a bargain.
  • Talking of price, if you’re a student then you can get a MacBook at a very discounted price.
  • If you have a MacBook already, consider trading it in or selling privately to gain some cash or voucher before buying a new MacBook.

Tips for DJing with Any Laptop

  1. Close unnecessary software when DJing to reduce glitches and slow loading DJ software.
  2. Check the specification of DJ software or music production software in compatibility with the laptop you have.
  3. Make back ups of your music onto an external hard drive, dropbox and USB memory sticks just in case something fatal happens to your laptop. Saves you having to scramble around re-building your music collection again, which could be an expensive exercise.
  4. If you’re having performance issues, look to optimise the performance of the RAM and CPU by closing other programmes in the background helping to free up space for the DJ software you may be using.

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