Ardour on new chip M1 and MacOs 11 Big Sur / Rosetta 2

I would like to purchase a new Macbook Air.
On the new models, the Intel processor (x86) is replaced by the Apple M1 chip and runs on MacOs 11 Big Sur.
If I understand correctly, Rosetta 2, an interface integrated into the operating system, would make applications coded for X86 processors compatible with the M1 chip.

Has anyone already tested the precompiled software for MacOs on x86 with the new MacOs 11 Big sytème on M1 chip?

What do you think about it?
Thank you for your answers.

There has been initial testing on a dev box done with Ardour compiled for ARM (We already had an ARM package for RPi), though I personally don’t want to go into to much detail on the results of that at this time as it was far from normal testing.

I have a M1 Mac Mini on order that will get here about Christmas, and will likely set up a dev environment on and do my own testing including using Mixbus and/or Ardour for a filmed theatrical project in the spring for music, ADR, and SFX. So lots to go around on, but I am going to be aiming to really push things and see how it does before that project begins in mid January.


I will be interested in your tests. One of the major things drawing me toward the Macbook Air is its completely silent design (is Mini also essentially silent under regular load?) so I can have my equipment close to the action as I’m often wearing two hats as engineer and musical advisor. It would beat running back and forth from one end of the church to the other, reduction in exercise withstanding :wink:

This is exactly why I’ve been eyeing the new Macbook Air as well. I currently use a Thinkpad as a “bit bucket” for recording music (using Reaper, since it’s so reliable) and then transfer the audio files to my desktop machine (a Mac) for editing and mixing in Ardour and/or Mixbus. But the Thinkpad has a fan; I’ve almost never heard it and recording isn’t a very taxing process so I probably never will, but there’s always that little worry in my head that it might come on during a good take (and I’m almost always one of the musicians I’m recording, so the laptop is in the room with me, close by).

I’ve used my Sound Devices MixPre 6, with the musician plugin, as a substitute for laptop-based recording and it’s brilliant, especially if you add an external control surface (so you can set gain, pan, and other parameters with dedicated knobs; use regular faders for mixing instead of the MixPre’s front dials; and have dedicated buttons for dropping markers and navigating instantly from one marker to the next). And I like having Wingman running on a tablet so I get a larger view of the meters (and I can name my tracks with Wingman). But there are still advantages to laptop recording, including adding notes to markers and tracks, and in general it’s a more ergonomic solution than dealing with the MixPre’s tiny screen.

A fanless Macbook Air is tempting. As for the Mini, I have a 2014 Mini and have heard the fan maybe twice in all these years; I don’t know if it would run more frequently with the M1 but it’s probably the other way 'round…you’d probably hear it even less. I’ve never heard it when working with audio, only video.

The mini does have a fan, but the reviews I have seen so far on it, even rendering out 4k video for extended period of time, people have problems hearing it from right next to it. I will be testing this as well obviously, but given I have had audio consoles with louder fans than that, I am less worried about that if it proves to be even remotely true.

What control surface are you using for the Mixpre-6? I have a MP6-II, the right control surface support might interest me.


@seablade I am using the Korg Nanokontrol Studio. The build quality on the Novation is much better (the Korg is a slab of plastic), but I like the Korg because it has dedicated, labeled buttons and knobs. The Novation’s buttons and knobs are mostly unlabeled to accommodate user-designated controls, but given that I don’t use the control surface all the time I don’t want to have to carry around a diagram (or print out the page from the manual) to remember what’s what. The Korg has several “scenes” to choose from that vary the functions of the knobs: the knob that controls gain in Scene 1 becomes the knob that controls the low cut filter in Scene 2, and the same knob controls panning in Scene 3. I bought mine refurbished and it’s been totally reliable. Some people have complained about the lack of motorized faders on these control surfaces, but the MixPre remembers your fader settings so if you go back to a session later and your fader settings are off the knobs on the front of the MixPre will blink at you; if you nudge a fader on the control surface the MixPre will tell you how far off you are and whether you need to move the fader up or down to go back to its previous position. That works well for me and is one of those “they thought of everything” features that makes me love the MixPre.

I love my MP6-II for concert recording but for session recording having a laptop I could trust would be great for immediately lining up takes and it would be a piece of cake for directors to listen back to any part of the recording they wished. Given the sound and build quality, it would be tempting to use the MP6-II as the USB device unless I needed more inputs.

Agreed, but I will say that if I had to do it over again I would have bought the MixPre 10 (and I may end up getting it anyway). Having those additional inputs, plus the TA3 outs, makes it a more universal solution for anything that I am personally likely to encounter, and in the “heat of battle” it’s easier to have all the inputs available and matched one-to-one to the faders on the control surface, than to have to switch fader banks and reassign inputs to different channels.

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