Buying a Mac for Music Production in 2020

Here's a to the point primer on buying a Mac for Music Production. This is the most up to date info, as of September 2020.

Given that I just went through the process I thought I'd share this with my readers so here goes. 

For making music some macs are good buys others not so much

First off let's start with the obvious first or most popular choice for DJs producers which is the Mac Book Pro.  Right now it's a good time to buy with the 13 inch sizes just getting refreshed with 10th generation Intel processors and I believe bigger hard drives.

To the me the 16inch is nice but I have very little needs as far as portability so it's not worth paying a premium for. 

What About Apples New ARM Based / Silicon Processors?

That's a fair question but it's still too early. 

1. They aren't out yet and are rumored to be this fall.  

2. Even with the release it will be with the latest OS and you don't want to be an early adopter in the music field with Apple's latest and greatest because music software is not instantly available, tested, and fully ready.

If you're making music you don't want to be an early adopter, you're asking for headaches. And this pertains to software, not hardware. Apple expects the shift to be fully on board with their new processors to take 2 years so if you really need a new mac as I did don't hold out.

My mid 2011 iMac is still going strong but I figured it was better to upgrade now and sell it for some $$ than to keep holding on until it won't run.  Besides the new Apple Credit card allows for interest free monthly payments. 

This aside stick to what's currently for sale, but everything for sale isn't worth buying for music production.  There's a bunch to rule out such as the cheapest and most expensive.

The Macbooks and Macbook Airs are fairly under powered. The iMac and Mac Pros are too damn $$, which basically leaves the iMac, Mac Mini, and Macbook Pro. 

Sticking with what's popular you can't go wrong and save money in the process getting a refurbished Mac Book Pro.

Apple Desktops for Music Production

Right here we have the iMac 27 that just got a reboot and is a great way to end the long running external design as well as the last hoorah with Intel processors. 

The iMac has a lot going for it:

  • 10th generation processors
  • User friendly memory upgrades
  • The Value of an all in one
  • Pretty strong GPU (Not that our graphics needs are intense making music)
  • Decent hard drive space

While I love the 21.5 inch model, not sure this will get a similar update.  The RAM is not easy to upgrade on your own, and it's out dated. This is not worth purchasing, you're better off getting the 27.

The 1 drawback of the iMac is the lack of Thunderbolt 3/USB-C Ports with only 2 of them. This doesn't seem very future proof but I'm sure it's workable. 

The Mac Mini 2018 - 2020 for Music Production

There isn't really a Mac Mini 2020 it's the same 2018 but with more hard drive so it's kind of a better deal however it still has the 8th generation Intel processors. 

This is the way I went. While I love my iMac, it's not worth buying the current 21.5.  The 27 is really too damn big, I don't need a 5k screen.  

If I were to get it I'd prefer the i7 with a Terabyte SSD which will run $2,549 with the Magic Trackpad 2. 

To me that's way over budget, my mid 2011 i7 imac was $1750 originally however I did spend $400 on an SSD upgrade 2 years ago. 

While the Mac Mini has slightly outdated processors it's still a beast, it's small and I can get a smaller screen that won't be such a monster on my desk. 

With the iMac, Mini, and MBPro 13s often times the very base model is not the way to go. 

For me I went w/ an i7 Mac Mini w/ a Terabyte drive. I'm not used to running samples and sessions off an external and the base mac mini comes w/ 500 gb so I figured I can spend money on an external and have to figure out how to migrate data over, or spend the same money for a terabyte sized drive and not be bothered with data dilemmas other than a time machine system restore. 

I did have to buy another wireless keyboard for $99, a $220 monitor but it's USB C and has 2 USB A pass thru ports. While the mac mini has a ton of ins and outs, it only has 2 regular USB ports.  I always have 2 in use, maybe more and I like to charge my iphone w/ a lightning cable. 

To me 4 Thunderbolt/USB C ports is future proof, the only drawback is the GPU, while it's fine now how will it be in 5 years? I guess I'll see. There is the option to run and external if needed. 

The Mac Mini was the best option personally. For the money compared to a 27 inch brand new imac I don't get 10th gen processors, but I do get a speedy 8th gen i7 versus the i5 on the iMac. I save money and save space. Plus the mini has a more robust selection of inputs. 

So far it's excellent, one thing I overlooked was that I was on Ableton Live 9 with no plans to upgrade to Live 10. This was forced on me because the Mac Mini ships with Catalina and Live 9 is basically broken and unsupported on this version of OSX. 

Depending on your needs I'd recommend:

i5/i7 Mac Mini (check refurbished)

i5 iMac - any of them - even the cheapest model should be excellent

Macbook Pro 13 - either of the options with 4 Thunderbolt Ports

Macbook Pro 16 

Apple is selling refurbished Macbook Pro 13s and 16s. 

Track Reviews & a Big Shout to John Summit

WOW!  I was just cruising beatport as I have a number of tracks in cart and I want to see which ones are available on bandcamp as BC gives the labels/artists a much higher percent of sales.

Then I saw a familiar name on the home page w/ the No.1 track

Pretty much exactly 3 years ago - John took me up on an offer for a track review. His work at the time was very solid.  We've been connected and I've seen him release on labels like Dirtybird and and Farris Wheel from Chicago's Gene Farris. His latest is on legendary house label Defected at at the moment it holds the No.1 spot on beatport. 

Big congrats on all your hardwork!

Here's John's Soundcloud.

For anyone interested in a proper second opinion on your music, I'm available for reviews on  There you can see examples/reviews.  

Or you can buy a review on this website where John was kind enough to leave a testimonial. 

TM Shuffle: Finnish Dub Techno Master & Purveyor of Black Gold

Hello readers, Eric here.  Over the last couple years I've been really into dub techno sounds - especially some of the material only out on vinyl. It's not everyday one of your favorite new producers pops by for an in-depth Q&A.  So I'm very fortunate to have such talent open up on a ton of topics below.  

His release called "Midnight Dubs" is probably my favorite EP in a long time and it's definitely the favorite piece of vinyl I've added to my collection in the last couple years.

This just got released on Bandcamp for those of you without turntables or those vinyl super fans like me who wanted a digital copy without the hassle of recording vinyl to digital. 

Tell us who you are, where you're from, how long you have been DJ'ing Producing

My real name is Jukka Hänninen and I come from the forests of middle Finland. I produce and dj as Tm Shuffle. I also do/did collaborations being half of Shuffless and Sleazemaster. I got into djing in 1991, first in school discos and local restaurants. Techno got me pretty soon and I stopped playng commercial music.

First it was techno and trance (Harthouse, Rising High records etc) but the moodier techno with dubby and Detroit influences got me around 97. From there on ”the basic sound” has remained somewhat the same. I took a break from about 2004 to 2014 but been pretty active since that. I've stayed pretty much under the radar and that will probably stay so too as I'm not into pushing myself into the spotlights. But I do want to do my best to promote the music I love.

What labels do you represent? Vuo/Ranges Dubs - anything else?

I've been fortunate to have my music released on some pretty cool labels. I've released an ep on Irenic, another on Mouche, also tracks on Ranges, Stardub, Berg Audio and my own Vuo records. As Shuffless we have released on Synchrophone, Feel Raw Audio and HPTY. I'm very proud of all these and every release always feels special. As a vinyl head I value highly especially the vinyl releases. Cant beat the feeling of putting a piece of black gold on your 1200.

What is your signature style or sound?

If needed to pigeonhole it, it would be dub techno. And that does sum it pretty well but then again I dont like to just do the same track over and over again. Sometimes it goes more techno, sometimes more house, sometimes it's nocturnal moods, sometimes beach sounds. But every time there are quite a lot of delays, echos and perhaps a certain trippiness and deepness in there.

The Shuffless tracks are a different story altogether; they derive from the classical techno cities' sounds and are thus more ”organic” than my personal production.

Let's talk about the excellent EP "Midnight Dubs" - initially released only on vinyl and now for sale digitally on bandcamp - what was the concept and thought process?

Thanks, cool that you like it! The concept was first doing a split EP together with my friend Monoder. We listened to each other's fresh production trying to find tracks that would spark ideas for remixes (the idea from the beginning was to do cross-remixes. I somehow love the concept of split EP's a lot). When we finished the remixes we looked at cool labels that release similar-sounding music. We made a list of 3 labels to approach. Ranges was the first on the list and as they loved the tracks, it was clear that the music had found its home.

Who is Monoder - and his interpretation of Dream State is also amazing - thunderous hypnotic and drummy - is this his style in general or how did his variation come about?

Monoder is a longtime friend of mine, Jussi-Pekka Parikka. He has done a lot in the field of music; releasing tens of EP's, playing in Jori Hulkkonen's experimental 303 orchestra, running his labels and so on. Of his productions I always loved the Monoder stuff the most. Its his output for dubby, more technoid experimental stuff. On that alias he has done some serious groovers like the Ikikieriö EP on Statik Entertainment and terrific stuff for Pakkaslevyt.

Nice detail is that I taught him to mix on 1200's sometime around 1994. We have gone quite a long road together...

His remix was what he wanted to do to Dream State. It sure is thunderous and very very powerful – I love it.

The track "Dream State" is the stand out for me - what kind of chord progression is this, can you give a brief music theory lesson to the readers?

The chords are pretty basic, the base is minor E chord. Heh, I almost always go minor. Perhaps its the Slavic musical influence of certain melancholy. I played with the chord, made a few lines around it and selected the one that worked best and then loop, loop, loop with minor modifications. I have a 4-hour rule. It means that when you make a loop and can listen and work on it without pausing for 4 hours, it's powerful enough. In that 4 hours you can do quite a lot of basework for the actual track too.

Do you know how to play piano or do you use various tools or sequencers to play chords and such?

Yeah I have basic piano skills. I can play from notes somewhat and play chords etc. That is the base for all work but still most stuff I produce comes by ear. I also love using samples, and also using them for different things; using just a small bit of a bassdrum sample for a clap, using a chord sample for a bass and so on. Generally misusing samples is a nice way to get tracks started. Also when you sample from vinyl, you get a nice warm sound that might be crucial to the groove of a track. But on Dream State, I played the chords in and only did a bit of quantizing for them. If you quantize it totally, it loses liveliness. So it's gotta be tight enough but not 100%.

And also what about the patch of the chord itself?  Is it a hardware or soft synth?

The chord patch is done on Subtractor of Reason (my one and only Daw). Quite many folks who use Reason nowadays dont touch Subtractor as there are a lot of way more advanced ones available but hey – it's their loss. You have pretty much all that is needed in it and you can make sounds fast. Sometimes you need to be very fast to catch an idea that comes to mind. After the patch plays, it goes to a chamber of different echoes. I like using a lot of different reverbs and delays, they really warp the sound to outer space when (mis)used properly.

I have a thought of having the track pretty simple if written to notes, but on the course of the track the notes just sound very different. Would be cool to have thought of that myself but unfortunately no, heh. When you listen to for example Basic Channel stuff you have it; for example an eternal classic TrakII by Phylups; the notes stay exactly the same for 13 minutes but the moods and atmospheres change so much with the use of effects and slight modifications to the sound. I just love it.

Those spicy 16th note dirty shakers love them!  Are they in fact shakers - never really heard percussion like this and they really stand out - perhaps they are hi hats

Yeah, they do jump on you a bit... They are shakers, played really low and they have a ton of delay and reverb on them. The fx bring back the lost highs. Pretty basic twist but how it sounds alltogether (also mixed pretty upfront) makes the sound.

And the bass - definitely has that walking bass - sing/song vibe - similar to above - are you proficient on the keys or did you program that in?

The bass theme is quite common in dub / dub techno. Heartbeat bass, walking bass, whatever everyone likes to call it. A few extra notes added in there so it doesn't sound too monotonous. It comes from a sequencer but it has some tweaks on it. The patch on this one is also from Subtractor, triangle+sawtooth waves, a bit of detune and filtered real low + some tube damage to make it round but punchy.

Speaking of studio & production - tell us about your approach - is it in the box, hardware, all of the above?

It's all that and none of that... Sometimes it's only Reason, sometimes it's all hardware jammed live in. It depends on mood and feeling of the day. I have a basic way of working in Reason so catching a quick idea is most times done with that. But for the jams I have some trusted pieces of equipment; TR8, Korg Es-1 and ESX samplers, SH-01A, Akai Miniak, Emu XL7 and of course a BX mixer to bring in the warmth.

You mentioned you like to break the rules and have some un-orthodox methods - can you give some examples from this Dream State or the other tune Tracks Name?

Yeah, it sounds a bit cliche but sometimes breaking the rules gets you nice results. No risks – normal outcome and no excitement. On Dream State and Tracks name remix, maybe not so many uncommon tricks besides going all wet on the shaker fx but nice things can be gained for example sending the whole drum machine to a verb or a delay or using a sample for something totally different than it was aimed for.

tm shuffle

Let's talk vinyl - how often are you putting records out? Are they purely vinyl only or do most get reborn sometime later on digital platforms?

It depends quite a lot. I do music all the time and send it to labels I love in bursts. It might take 4 months without sending anything but when I have some nice tracks, I might send more demos in a short time. It's always to labels I love and buy records from. The music has to come naturally and when it does, I check what labels it would suit and approach based on that. I'm definately a vinyl junkie so I'm looking for labels that release vinyl. It's tangible, feels nice, smells nice, you know if your favourite was A1 or B2... and also that is what I always have loved. The music is tied together to the piece of black gold it is on. I have no problem with digital but for me it's just not the same.

Then again, I think the music should be available to everyone so digital release should be included too in the perfect scenario. That's what I do with Vuo records; first the releases come out on wax and after some months digital. I haven't shouted too much of the digital releases of Vuo so far, it's been more so that ”one that seeks, finds”. But Vuo will get more into the digital game too.

What are your thoughts on BandCamp and selling direct to fan?

I like a lot what Bandcamp does. The division of money is pretty fair to me. I also love how they have program for bands and record labels, and in the agreement text of the band program they say ”we know that some record labels use this program but no problem, we wont sue you” or something along the lines of that. So yes, I think they are the good guys.

For people wondering how they can go about putting their own music out on vinyl - how much cash should they have if they want to do a nice 180 gram  disc with a proper sleave?

It all depends a lot but as a rule of thumb; the pressing for 250 records is somewhere in the ballpark of 1100€, mastering some hundred €:S, shipping etc some hunders too and so on. If you want to do business, do something else. But if you are passionate about it, it is the zen-level of things for sure. But, pressing a wax of music that doesnt have passion in it doesnt make it any better. So music first, medium second is my opinion.

Do you find a distributor first who may say "yes" or do you go right to mastering for vinyl and send the distributor test presses and cross your fingers they say yes.

I think it's best to first think the whole thing through pretty well; have an idea of what your label does, who is the music aimed for, have the 3 first releases planned etc. When you have that, you upload the EP's (as private links) along with the gfx and your ”story” and approach the distributors. Again here its important to approach the ones that distribute similar sounds to yours. There is no point whatsover in sending a million mails to random companies and relying on your luck. It's a waste of time for everyone involved. Do your homework and approach the ones that already work with something close to your sound and thing.

Can one expect to make any money or should it be expected to lose/break even?

You can make money of music but I dont think its the way to look at it. If you are passionate about it and would do it for fun anyways, then you should look into it. For making money there are better ways like copiers and greenbacks (I didnt say that...)

Can you let us know about any upcoming events/broadcasts and releases?  

I do a monthly podcast (last Sunday of every month) called Ruutana By Night for Timeline Music. So the next one is on the 26th of April. It is a soundtrack for what the streets of Ruutana sound by night; distant, mellow, nocturnal but on the other hand things might change for at-your-face too. So it's mellow techno if you want to say it simply...

The next release of Vuo records is released on 12” in the beginning of May. It is called Nocturnal Mood Series Vol3. It is the 3rd in the Mood Series and has some serious mindbending, hiptwisting music by Octaedre, Ohm, Halbton and Tm Shuffle. It's dubby and deep but has a lot of ruling power over your hips. I'm very proud to have the incredible tracks from producers whose sound I really love on the release.

I also have some EP's planned for some favourite labels of mine but as there are no release dates, it's best to limit that info to this at this point.

Any last words or parting words of wisdom?

Stay deep, stay real.


Luckily for you readers the Midnight Dubs EP just got released digitally on Bandcamp. Great to have for those of you without decks. 

Follow TM Shuffle on Soundcloud

Jukka's Lable Vuo on Bandcamp

Get the latest release on

Catch his podcasts live at this link.

Reach-Promo.Agency Review (Music Promotion Service

Here's my review of  


First off - they are a legit operation. I appreciate anyone willing to say something is not a fit. That's what happened when I first reached out about a campaign. The song in question just wasn't the right match in terms of genre so it didn't make sense for both parties. 

No harm no foul. At the time I appreciated the response and book marked the site for future use.

This past August I released a bootleg I had been working on and wanted to get it out there. 

Here's the tune.  Also covered in this tutorial 

So I reached out to Reach-Promo. 

This tune was good to go so off it went.

A few things to keep in mind.

The artwork and description of the release is entirely up to you so get writing or find someone to do it. Writing an article about the release isn't needed but a solid paragraph is. Some people specialize in this. Just get it done well before hand. Here's my release.

This will help DJs who get the release want to give it a listen. The words should be factual but also curiosity generating - kinda like a good press release.

Here's what I wrote which got reposted on NoiseGate.

I chose to make a modern interpretation of Nat Monday's Waiting. I borrowed parts from The Creamer and K mix.

This was early 2000s progressive house. Think Tenaglia and Deep Dish. Actually the tune was on one of my favorite compilations ever - GLobal Underground Moscow - mixed by Deepdish - the duo Dubfire was in before going solo. 

Anyhow I got some great feedback - far beyond the guaranteed minimums. 

DJs including

Sahar Z

DJ Boris

Paco Osuna

Chris Fortier

Ian Dillon (Decoded Magazine)

Shmitty (minimal Sessions) 


Gene Farris.

Overall 290 opens and 240 plays 3.8 out of 5.  Some big names got it, listened and gave feedback/support - and by the way the names above genuinely downloaded and left a comment.

"Downloads for Richie Hawtin" don't count. I did get that LOL.

All in all great service this is something the pros use. 

Great for some if you who want real feedback from people other than your Mum or Bros. This service is used by some top labels so you also have access provided it makes sense.

It goes without saying your material should be well mixed and professionally mastered.  If you already have some street-cred and releases behind you all the better. That's not required but helps tell a story and for new artists that story is what helps you get heard.

Metallics (Ableton Template-techno)

Are your grooves stuck in a loop?  Use this template to help you finish your own songs.  "Metallics" brings subterranean kicks and toms, metallic percussion of course, a middle section with a rolling chugging synth line with all elements coming together during the break and drop.  

Deconstruct the arrangement and mix. Uncover how patterns change and evolve over time so you keep your listeners interested in your music. All it takes is a few variations on your main musical patterns over time - see how it works in this template. 

All you need is Ableton Live 9 Standard.  Fully tweak-able as all tracks main elements are sampler instruments with midi and audio. It's very simple to get a demo or club ready master in the box or within Ableton. For best results always have a professional engineer master your tracks.  It will make a world of difference. This track was professionally mastered by Rob Small. The mastering chain in Ableton is get you results you could use to test your material in the DJ booth or to send to labels as demos.  

Copyright belongs to ItsTheDJ - this offering is not affiliated or endorsed by Ableton. This is offered for educational and informational purposes only.


Full Audio Preview

  • Fully mixed in Ableton  - no 3rd party plugins
  • All main elements available as midi - plus audio for effects and atmosphere 
  • Deconstruct the mix, arrangement and mastering chain
  • Full professional master included to hear the difference between a pro and an "In the Box" do it yourself master

Get This Template Today - $29

Finish Higher Quality Music in less Time

100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Stop struggling with mix downs and arrangements when you can deconstruct and borrow from this template.  Replace the elements of this template with your own sounds and you won't have to struggle figuring out where your break down should be, how you'll build energy in your tracks.  You'll even have a very close rough mix barring some additional adjustments.  

Meet Diana May from Berlin

Diana is an in-demand DJ residing in Berlin & beyond.  She does a number of parties, teaches and writes for  Catch her in the mix below. Her new single is out now.

Meet Diana Mau from Berlin - ▼ DJ ▼ Artist Coach @ Music Pool Berlin / Noisy Academy ▼ Producer.

Devil's Bells is her new single which is out now. Check it out on Beatport. 

In her own words, "Devil´s Bells is produced in Ableton, all automations I made with the APC MK 2, main synth with Serum VST.

Main Sounds are the reversed bells, a split hit hat ( which was the actual starting point, every sound is build around that) and the serum synth. 

Name of the track is referring to the bell sound ( original name of the bells is: „cursed bells“), plus my mom used to call me devil´s child - somehow it reminded me of that time 😀

Next release „Murmur" is out on 3rd of Oktober on Kellerbeats."

Diana's Upcoming Events:

19.08 Crack Bellmer - Berlin

06.09 FridayHappiness - Tojeiro Portugal

12.10 Technoklstsche, Oldenberg (DE)

1 2 3 12