Since transitioning from Atari computers to PCs and Windows, I’ve consistently assembled and fine-tuned my own machines for music production. My current setup features a first-generation Intel i7 CPU, 32GB of RAM, water cooling, and 8 hard drives. I initially opted for water cooling to achieve optimal performance and minimize noise.
Despite my efforts, the system remains somewhat noisy, especially when I’m gaming, causing the video card to generate excessive heat. Initially, I configured it as a dual-boot system to economize on costs and space, with two Windows installations and dedicated drives for each. However, I eventually simplified it into a single, standard Windows PC.
As this aging system might fail at any moment, I’ve started exploring the possibility of building a new, high-end machine. When the Mac Mini M1 was released, I considered it but decided to extend the lifespan of my Windows PC. However, with the introduction of the Mac Mini M2 PRO, my curiosity was piqued about its performance compared to a Windows machine.
I must confess that a powerful PC equipped with a Ryzen 9 processor, a robust graphics card, and other enhancements can be considerably more expensive than even the Mac M2. Moreover, the compact size and low noise levels of the Mac Mini M2 appeal to me.
I’ve acquired a Mac Mini M2 PRO with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB drive, and accompanying Mac Keyboard and Magic Mouse. I opted to make the purchase directly from the Apple store because no local retailers could provide the specific configuration I desired. Impressively, the product journey from China to my doorstep in Denmark took a mere 24 hours, which left me pleasantly surprised.
Given my three-monitor setup, I had to invest in some new HDMI cables to ensure seamless connectivity.
Later on I decided that two monitors might be enough at the moment. My older Focusrite 2i2 soundcard, operating via USB, seamlessly integrated into the system. Additionally, I connected an Ableton Push 3 and a Behringer Xtouch mixer to complete my setup. Connecting various peripherals also went as a breeze.
I originally intended to procure a hub with additional space for an NVMe WD_Black SN770 2TB drive and a 2.5″ Samsung SSD. After extensive research, I settled on the Qwiizlab UH25 Max. Regrettably, despite also originating from China, it took a full 14 days for it to reach me, delaying the finalization of my setup.
In the interim, I used an external 2TB drive to house various sizable libraries. These data have since been migrated to the new NVMe, culminating in the perfect setup that meets my requirements.
Data Migration and Software Set-Up
During the process of transferring my 1TB Native Instruments Kontakt library from the external drive to the new NVMe Hub, I encountered some challenges with a few libraries. This necessitated redownloading and reactivating them. Additionally, a minor hiccup occurred when moving my sizable Spectrasonics Omnisphere library, prompting me to perform an update of the program, which resolved the issue effectively.
Regrettably, my collection of Waves plugins had to be relinquished since many were either outdated or required license renewals. I might reconsider renewing some of them if I find myself missing their functionality.
Furthermore, a few of my AIR synth libraries had to be removed due to compatibility issues.
Fortunately, migrating and configuring Ableton Live 11 posed no major issues. However, while setting up Cockos Reaper, I encountered difficulties when attempting to install the SWS extension due to Mac’s security settings. Fortunately, I found a solution on the Reaper blog
I’m currently in the process of searching for a viable solution to transmit audio and MIDI directly from Ableton Live to Cockos Reaper. It appears that Reaper Rearoute doesn’t function as expected on Mac. I’ve also experimented with Satellite from Mixed in Key, which seems to operate only in Rosetta mode when used with Live.
In my pursuit of an audio interface solution, I experimented with Blackhole in the Mac audio interface settings, but I haven’t achieved the desired results yet.
One significant advantage of constructing an entirely new setup is the opportunity it afforded me to eliminate unnecessary elements. This involved uninstalling free or trial plugins that had accumulated over the past decade, along with various plugins, applications, samples, and Kontakt libraries that I had never actually utilized.
As a result, I’ve streamlined my setup to include only the essential tools I frequently use. I’ve made a personal commitment to either delete any free or trial plugins that go untouched for a month or make a permanent purchase, ensuring a more efficient and purposeful arrangement.
After nearly three decades of using Windows, I’ve encountered certain tasks such as copying and pasting, single-click actions, window management (minimizing and maximizing), and program installations that require a bit more time for my muscle memory to adapt to.
The Magic Mouse, especially following my experience with a high DPI gaming mouse from Logitech, doesn’t align perfectly with my preferences and needs. However, I must say that I have developed a fondness for the Mac keyboard – it’s a standout feature in my transition to this new platform.
What to consider?
The process of transferring a substantial volume of data and licenses from one system to another demands both time and careful thought. This is particularly true in my case, as I’ve been operating with the same setup for a decade, accumulating a vast array of files and folders.
Interestingly, a number of my custom-made snapshots for Kontakt inexplicably found their way into various folders on my PC, necessitating a significant amount of manual organization and sorting.
Furthermore, since expanding the RAM and internal drive size is restricted, it’s essential not to opt for a too-small initial configuration. Thus, a well-devised plan before embarking on the migration is crucial. Additionally, maintaining a backup of the old system, whenever feasible, is a wise precaution.