What software will you use and how will you use it?
I've integrated a few new MB Airs into music systems over the last week. Very nice computer. It's definitely snappy and responsive. Overall it should work for your needs, but be aware of a couple issues....
1. It does not have a mini toslink optical output like the other MacBooks and Macs. The audio jack is only analog.
2. I haven't tested the USB ports yet. Sometimes USB jacks don't have enough power to allow use of some USB adaptors and converters. For example, the HagUSB USB to SPDIF converter requires a fully powered USB output, and some of the USB ports on MacBooks don't power these devices correctly. Hopefully the new MB Air has fully powered USB jacks.
Has anyone tested the USB jacks on the new McBook Air for audio applications?
I am using the hi2tech (??) usb/spdif converter. I do not have a firewire dac and really have no plans of purchasing one as i still like silver disks and will keep my cd player(i think..).
Pros of the AIR:
small, absolutely noise free (no fans)
Cons: would need optional external cd/burner drive, small storage capacity- max of 256GB internal- this would probably be OK for a while. No remote capability to my knowledge.
Macbook pro Pros:
Faster (this may or may not be an issue with what I am doing with the machine), firewire out, upgradable RAM and storage, can use Iphone as remote.
Cons: price, fan noise, heavier, not as pretty.
I really do not know enough about computers to judge which is a more stable platform.
The MacBook Air will allow you to use the iPhone and the Apple Remote app. (I assume you are using iTunes.)
You might want to take a serious look at the Apple Time Capsule. Not only does it allow automatic and wireless backup with Time Machine, but it can act as a wireless hard drive. This would allow you to have access to a large hard drive without external boxes and cables, and noisy spinning platters which can "tax" the power supply of the Air. What's the use in having solid state storage, if your going to directly connect a "spinning platter" drive? Time Capsules and NASs allow more flexibility and quality when setup correctly. This especially has merit since you are using a USB audio connection. It's usually best to keep the audio connection and storage connection on different protocols.
I would also recommend testing your USB to SPDIF converter to make sure it will be powered correctly by the Air. I don't think your converter requires much, if any, power.
Your thinking is right, you just need to make sure you do it correctly to benefit from what the Air can offer.
I just read the specs on the usb outs at apple.com
says it provides up to 1100 mA @ 5v basically upon need otherwise it is 500mA @ 5v all the time.
The according to M2tech the converter requires 5v from usb 2.0. No other info is given.
I thought I read somewhere that the air will not function with iphone remote..... I'll have to dig a little deeper.
Good, it looks like your USB converter will work.
The Apple Remote "app" will work, without a doubt. I've set a few of the new Airs up and they work fine with the Remote "app".
The new Air does not have an IR receiver, so the "physical" Apple Remote will not work. Note, there is a difference between the Remote "app" and the "physical" Remote.
Apple Remote for iTunes, an Apple app, does work for the new ( 2010 ) MB Air.
I do like the MBA very much however, personally, I would buy a Logitech Squeezebox Touch, use the iPeng remote-control app, and put the computer in some other room.
If you still need an additional computer for music storage I would get a mac mini ( possibly used on ebay, I see some for around $385 right now ) and plug a firewire/usb external disk into it and store your music on the external disk ( for portability ).
This may not be the optimal solution for you however, it is what I would do.
I haven't done this because I think that SACD DSD recordings are just this year maturing and are nothing short of incredible.
Hessec, I do own the Air with optional SSD. It is one darn sexy little number, but I will never download/store music. Hmmm...(reminds me of when I bought a used B&O 5000 25+yrs ago, no TT, then their first linier tracking table came out. Bought it new with m3 cartridge $500. Loved it! Next their first CDP came out, 5500.. I inquired the price..$1000.!! Hey, I loved LP's...I will never get into CD's, I said!!). Well...I recently bought a Naim cd555/ps555 and am building a CD collection...I will NEVER say NEVER again, really this time! Oh, Mac Pro is so much more in performance than Air. This is one example where a little more $ buys alot more. Enjoy
well, I just reworked the pricing and the top of the line Air w/external disc drive is $1779- 4gRAM 256GB Storage, 1.86Ghz processor.... 15"Macbook pro w/ 4g RAM 500GB 7200RPM hard drive and 2.53Ghz i5 processor is $2149....... closer than I thought.
I guess I just question whether I need the features of the Pro to do what I am going to do with it. I.E. I will never make videos, make my own music or anything else that really uses all of the CPU.
I would like the internal cd drive and firewire. But I like the size of the Air. Apple products are annoying in that it seems there is always a compromise. Such is life.
The Air will work with most iLife apps, including iMovie and GarageBand, just fine. Even though it has a "slower" processor, the way it's designed with solid state storage and an integrated GPU allows it to perform just fine with what most of us use a Mac for. The only reason to have concern would be if you are using "pro" apps such as Final Cut and Logic.
I'm dealing with the same issue, and helping some clients decide which is best for them, so this is something that is fresh in my thought process. It really comes down to whether or not your willing to pay for the sleekness of the Air. The solid state storage also has some benefits, both with performance and sound quality. I'm a big believer that SSDs allow a Mac to sound better for music playback, and most people who have used (listened) to an SSD Mac find it difficult to go back to a standard hard drive. Adding a SSD to a MacBook Pro is not cheap, so in that regard, the Air isn't as expensive. Decisions, decisions, decisions....
I'd consider getting an Apple certified refurb Macbook Pro. They are cheaper and have the same warranty - 1 year. You have to buy the Applecare protection plan to get coverage for years 2 and 3 and this applies to new and refurb alike. I am a longtime Macbook Pro user and am considering the 13" MBA or a 15" 2.8 i7. I find my 17" notebook too bulky to lug around.
I also agree with Isochronism, a Mac Pro is outstanding if you only need a home based unit. I use an 8-core for my home office (used in research). You could put it on your network and have terabytes of data and also run Mac and Windows concurrently.
The other option is a Mac Mini, dedicated to the AV system. This is my third option - it has hdmi and can thus stream video directly.
I second the refurb option, I always buy all my apple products refurbed. There is absolutely no difference between a refurbed unit an a new one other than the box they come in. Now is actually a great time to get the previous generation, they have two models refurbished for 849 and 1099 which is almost half of what they were when they were fist introduced.