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The latest M2-based Apple computers were evaluated with Logic Pro, the first popular music and audio application to support Apple Silicon, and the performance results were impressive. Logic Pro uses the Apple Silicon code, employing the concept of 'bridges' for running Intel-based Audio Units, which makes the software operation virtually transparent. However, the efficiency of Logic Pro's performance on the new M2 models relies heavily on the user's control over the application's use of Processing Threads in the Audio Devices Preferences window. The performance of these threads differs between Intel-based Macs and Apple Silicon Macs due to the asymmetric nature of the CPU cores.

With the M2 Pro-based system, the number of Processing Threads determines whether efficiency cores get used as well as performance cores. For instance, on a 12-core M2 Pro system with eight performance and four efficiency cores, setting the number of Processing Threads between two and eight means only the performance cores get used. On the other hand, setting this to 10 or 12 employs efficiency cores as well, improving the audio engine's performance substantially.

In terms of offline performance, using the Montero Spatial Project as a reference, the M2 Pro-based Mac Mini managed to execute the bounce twice as fast as an M1-based iMac and quicker than both a previous-generation 16-inch MacBook Pro and a Mac Studio with an M1 Max chip. However, these bounce times varied depending on the Processing Threads setting.

Steinberg also introduced native support for Apple Silicon in Cubase 12, fully embracing many key Apple technologies to provide Mac users a first-class experience. For example, it supports Apple's Metal hardware-accelerated graphics framework for drawing the user interface, significantly reducing CPU resources for graphics processing.

While Logic Pro provides user control over performance cores, Cubase does not, due to a technology Steinberg uses called ASIO Guard. This prefetch system enables the system to look ahead from the current playback position and deploy any free processing resources to speculatively pre-render audio as it might be needed.

Performance with Pro Tools was also assessed, with the M2 Pro-based Mac Mini showing a healthy improvement over Pro Tools running under Rosetta 2. A notable achievement was the smooth playback of Netflix's Sol Levante final mix session on the M2 Pro-equipped Macs, even when running alongside Dolby's Atmos Renderer, which still requires Rosetta 2.

The M2-based Mac Mini has become more affordable and more powerful, solidifying its position as an excellent option for those who don't require the pricier Mac Studio.

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