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Why Do DJs Use Macs?

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Why Do DJs Use Macs

Put your hands up in the (MacBook) air!

It’s a familiar scene these days in clubs and festivals worldwide; you make your way to the front of the stage and find the DJ poised behind a glowing Apple logo as they pump out tunes from a MacBook.

It’s certainly no coincidence that the world’s best DJs use Macbooks for DJing, but why do DJs use Macs more than other brands?

In short, DJs use Macs due to their ease of use, performance, and compatibility with DJ equipment and MIDI devices. Also, thanks to the simplistic file structure of macOS, Apple laptops are extremely secure, making them an ideal laptop for DJs looking for reliability as well as performance. 

So, without further ado, let’s dig into the most common reasons why DJs use Macs and why Macs are the best laptop for DJing.

 

Why Do DJs Use Macs

Here are our top 5 reasons why DJs use macs:

 

DJing With MacBooks

 

1. Processing Power

The most common reason DJs use Macs for their DJing and live sets is the audio processor quality and

Another reason that many DJs use MacBooks for DJing and live sets is because of the superior processing power that comes straight out of the box.

The newest base-level MacBook Pro comes packed with 2.6GHz 6‑core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz, with 12MB shared L3 cache…

In other words, these machines are very, very fast and more than capable of operating DJ software without putting strain on its CPU (central processing unit).

 

2. MIDI Compatibility

DJs and audio engineers worldwide are attracted to the simple plug-and-play compatibility that Macs offer with external MIDI controllers and DJ software.

This means that you don’t need to install separate drivers or secondary software to get started, as you do with a PC, as you can simply plug a mac straight into most modern DJ equipment.

 

3. Memory (RAM)

Using a laptop for DJing also allows DJs to bring their entire music collection on the road with them.

The internal memory capabilities have been a strong selling point for Mac users, as the entry-level 16-inch MacBook Pro boasts 512GB (Gigabyte), which can be configured up to 8TB (Terabyte) if necessary.

With the average mp3 file being around 4-6MB (Megabyte), that’s a lot of music at your fingertips!

 

4. Quality & Reputation

Historically, Macs were far more compatible with DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) and used by the Audio / Video community far more as a result.

This was due to Mac’s superior audio quality and video processing abilities which led to many audio engineers, musicians, and DJs using Macs from the onset.

Universities and music schools also predominantly used Macs, which led to students feeling more comfortable with the Mac operating system.

In turn, they created a legacy of loyal Mac users, from graduating musicians and DJs to audio engineers who now continue to work in Mac-based studios.

Nowadays, Macs still retain a loyal following of audio engineers, musicians, music producers, and DJs, and it’s very common for professional studios to be kitted out with Apple computers.

Macs still retain the advantage of being able to be compatible with instruments and MIDI controllers from the get-go, meaning they require no additional drivers or software to be installed.

 

5. Portability

It’s far easier for a DJ to use a laptop for DJing than a traditional tower computer.

Many international DJs regularly travel to gigs and festivals, so a small compact laptop is simply a more convenient and hassle-free choice but still powerful enough to get the job done.

 

Using A MacBook Pro For DJing

Two DJs Using MacBook Pros

With such superior processing power, that allows you to have your MacBook Pro turned on and ready for DJing in a matter of seconds.

While DJing, you will also have reduced latency levels as your Mac’s CPU won’t be working hard to run DJ software.

 

Why Latency Is Important

Latency is the time it takes for software to generate audio, and this is a very important factor when DJing with laptops.

As a DJ, you want instant playback from when you cue or play a track so that beat-matching is easier to control.

The best way to achieve zero (or minimal) latency is by having a computer with excellent processing power, and a MacBook Pro for DJing is a perfect choice.

 

Reliability And Compatibility

DJing software such as Traktor, Serato, and Ableton are all compatible on both macOS and PC operating systems, but Macs have far fewer issues regarding reliability.

They are regarded as far more stable and less likely to crash during intensive CPU use, and this is very important as nothing kills the dancefloor vibe quicker than having to reboot your computer halfway through your DJ set!

The reason why Macs are more stable is due to the uncomplicated file structure of macOS.

There are also fewer external driver issues (less moving parts) as all Macs are compatible and can simply plug-and-play with DJing equipment, such as DJ controllers and DJ mixers.

 

Functionality And Design

Another reason why Macs are great for DJs is due to their overall built-in functionality and design features.

Straight out of the box, Macs are designed to operate seamlessly without additional drivers for MIDI controllers and MIDI devices.

 

What Are The Best MacBooks For DJing?

A DJ Using A MacBook For DJing

Ok, so by now, it should come as no surprise why Macs are so commonly used by DJs, but which is the best MacBook for DJing?

This obviously comes down to a range of factors like screen size, portability, memory size, and of course, one of the most prominent deciding factors, budget.

Consider the following factors before purchasing a MacBook for DJing:

  • Budget
  • Laptop & Screen Size
  • Weight & Portability
  • Processor & Memory (RAM)

 

Budget

The most recent 16-inch laptop for DJing for the entry-level model, which is not cheap in anyone’s language, but even the entry-level MacBook Pro is loaded with features that are ideal as a laptop for DJing.

Some more affordable options are the smaller 13.3-inch MacBook Pro which starts at $1399, or if you’re really on a budget, you could consider the MacBook Air, which also has a 13.3-inch screen and is priced from $999.

 

Laptop & Screen Size

Another consideration is what size laptop you want to use while DJing.

It’s not uncommon when DJing that your laptop will be an arm’s reach away from you as the immediate space within easy reach will be reserved for your DJ controller or MIDI devices.

Usually, most DJs will use their laptops to cue tracks and have a visual feed of beats and effects available on-screen, and with this in mind, it is worth considering the screen size.

Most touring DJs use a 16-inch laptop, as this is a good balance of screen size, portability, and performance.

 

Weight & Portability

It’s also worth considering how portable your laptop is and how far you’ll be traveling to DJ.

With most airlines now charging for luggage, many DJs will travel as light as possible, meaning hand luggage space (and weight) is an important consideration.

Of course, Apple has considered this too, creating the MacBook Air in 2008.

The Air is Apple’s thinnest and lightest laptop to date, and the newest model now comes with the M1 chip that allows for DJing software to operate with relative ease.

According to Apple’s website, the M1 chip performs at least two times the CPU performance compared to the latest PC laptop chip and goes a long way to answering why DJs use MacBooks more often than PCs.

While saving on space, there are sacrifices when compared to the more powerful MacBook Pro models, such as a slower CPU, less memory, and RAM, but the MacBook Air would still make an excellent choice for an entry-level DJ who doesn’t need top specs, to begin with.

 

Processor & Memory (RAM)

The final consideration is more about future-proofing your purchase of a Mac.

Apple laptops tend to last longer than PC laptops, so it’s worth getting a Mac with the best specifications you can afford.

This will allow you to expand your DJ career (and store more tracks!) and avoid the hassle of having to upgrade your Mac all the time, which is commonly what happens with PC laptops.

 

What DJ Software Do You Use?

DJ Software On A MacBook Pro

Another consideration is the type of DJ software you are going to use. You’ll want to check that the software’s operating system requirements at least match what performance and specifications your computer can provide.

Here’s a table of the most common DJ software used and their minimum recommended system requirements.

Software Brands OS (minimum) Processor (minimum) Memory Free Hard Drive Space Screen Resolution (minimum)
Traktor Pro 3 Mac 10.1.2 / Windows 7 Intel Core i5 Processor 4GB RAM 1 GB 1280 x 800
Ableton Live 11 Mac OS 10.1.3/ Window 10 (build 909 or later) i5 processor 8GB RAM 8 GB (76 GB recommended for additional audio content) 1280 x 800
Serato DJ Pro 2.0 Mac 10.1.1/ Windows 7 i3- 1.07 GHz 4Gb RAM 5 GB 1280 x 720
Pioneer Rekordbox DJ Mac OS 10.1.3/ Windows 10 i3 processor 4 GB RAM

(8 GB RAM with video function)

2 GB 1280 x 768
Virtual DJ 8 Mac OS 10.7/ Windows XP SP3 Windows Pentium 4, Mac Intel Processor 2GB (recommended) 200 MB (recommended) Not Specified

 

Summary

There’s no denying that using a MacBook for DJing is the best way to DJ in the modern era.

MacBooks offer style, superior performance, compatibility, and ease of use that, in our opinion, is incomparable to any other laptop brand on the market.

Having said that, there are plenty of other laptops suitable for beginners, but keep in mind that MacBooks really are the best and only option if you’re looking to take your DJing to the next level.

What’s your favorite MacBook for DJing? Leave a comment below.

Matt's the guy behind Audio Captain. He's a qualified sound engineer and self-confessed music nut who's passionate about electronic dance music. When he's not writing about all things audio, you'll find him in the gym or working on his next EDM track.