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Apple M1 iMac 24″: The perfect studio setup?

Apple adds the M1 chip to a new iMac 24
Could these new Apple Silicon iMac 24"desktops be a viable setup for guitarists wanting to record?

Apple’s announcement this evening introduced a new brightly coloured M1 chip iMac 24″ model. Could these new Apple Silicon desktops be a viable setup for guitarists?

Apple M1 Mac 24″

Today’s announcement from Apple included new iPad Pro models, Apple TV, Apple AirTags and the highly anticipated new M1-powered iMacs, which now have a 24″ with a 4.5k Retina Screen that is capable of 11.3 million pixels, 500 nits of brightness and over a billion colours!

Along with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, studio-quality mics, a six-speaker sound system and Touch ID. The latter is provided by an updated version of the Magic Keyboard, plus you can add a Magic Trackpad and/or Mouse to the package as well.

They now have a magnetic connection on the power supply, which feels a little redundant when you are using a desktop. However, they are also making a big deal about how thin and lightweight they are, so maybe they expect users to carry them around with them.

Does anyone remember trying to carry the original Bondi Blue iMac by its built-in handle? Err, just no, not happening.

The colour options include Blue, Green, Pink, Silver, Yellow, Orange and Purple.

Apple’s new M1 iMac 24″ in Yellow

Will it handle my DAW?

The base model is an 8-Core CPU and 8GB unified memory as standard, on the Apple Silicon M1 processor, which is the same setup as my M1 Mac mini, which I wrote about last week. With this in mind, I would say that, yes, these new models one paper should be more than capable of handling multi-track audio within a DAW, running alongside virtual instruments and your favourite plugins. But, there is a caveat.

Logic Pro X

Potentially, if you want the full power from a DAW on these new Apple M1 powered Macs, then you will need a DAW that is compatible. Currently, I’ve found that Apple’s own Logic Pro X will handle just about anything you can throw at it, and this includes third-party plugins. Another potential ‘safe’ DAW to use is Reaper, which closely follows the heels of Logic for compatibility with Apple Silicon-based machines.

However, many other DAWs aren’t as happy yet, so your mileage may vary. I’m hearing good things about Pro Tools, for example, but I have seen a few issues arise with Studio One regarding third-party plugins.

What should I buy?

My advice would be to look at your whole budget and remember you might need a few extras, like for example, USB-C adapters or hubs, and potentially an external SSD hard drive etc

Remember that you may need to buy an audio interface, plus DAWs, and it all adds up.

Two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports


The entry-level iMac starts at $1,299/£1,249 and comes with only two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports, and there’s also a more expensive version starting at $1,499/£1,449 with Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and also two USB 3 ports, plus Gigabit Ethernet.

Two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports and two USB 3 ports

Essentially, these models all come with 8GB of unified memory (RAM) and the same M1 processor, so for musicians, there isn’t a massive difference in performance yet. However, for some bizarre reason, the entry-level model has a 7-core GPU, whereas the models above have an 8-core GPU. But this shouldn’t really ‘in theory’ be an issue for music production.

You can buy various internal storage sizes on the new iMac 24″, but be prepared to pay the ‘Apple Tax’ on these upgrades, which are ridiculously overpriced. This is especially true compared to buying an external USB-C SSD drive for a fraction of the cost.

You may want to wait and see if Apple produces a larger-screen M1X version, which has been rumoured to be imminent.

The official Apple video below covers the whole Spring-loaded event and includes all the full specifications and details on these new models.

 They can all be ordered from April 30, 2021 – delivery will start in mid-May.





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