When I first started Location Recordings my mobile recording business over 20 years ago, I used to have to take a 12U shock mounted rack around with me to house the computer (a very old school Apple Mac G3) my interface (a MOTU 2408 mk 1) and my mic preamps. Fast-forward 20 or so years and my rig with the same I/O count has shrunk down to a 3U rack case and a laptop bag. However, where it still gets interesting, or maybe I should say frustrating, is that you have to carry fist full of different adaptors and connectors in order to make my nice shiny new Apple MacBook Pro laptop talk to any of my mobile studio hardware. So here are our list of some of the best troubleshooters and lifesaver converters that are available today for your MacBook Pro or other USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 equipped computer to avoid having to carry a pile of little white converter cables that can cost over £50 each.
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock
This is actually the version 2 Thunderbolt 3 Dock into which OWC have crammed even more ports and connectivity. Simply connect a single USB-C cable between your Mac and your Dock and get access to both SD and Micro SD card slots, an 1/8” mini jack for headphones, a high power USB-3 (A) port for charging and data and a high power USB-C for charging and data and that’s just around the front. Around the back we get 4 USB 3.1 ports (one of which is high power for charging) an SPDIF optical I/O, a standard RJ45 network port, 2 USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports. One is for connecting to your computer and the other to feed drive bays or other TB3 kit. You get a 4K 60Hz rated Displayport output and finally the power supply input. It’s worth noting that the PSU for the Thunderbolt 3 dock is powerful enough to charge your computer (MacBook Pro in my case) so there is no need cary around an external Apple power supply as well. This is great news as Mac laptop power supplies really don’t last as long as you might think they should. When you used your machine a lot, the cable gland near the PSU often gets hot, goes brittle and then packs up.
Check out our review of the original version of the Thunderbolt 3 dock . The latest version is available now for around the £320 mark depending on where you shop.
iHaper 7 into 2 Limpet Block
The Limpet Block may not be the official title for this unit but you can see where it comes from. The 2 USB-C ports attached to the Limpet mate and cling onto the side of your MacBook to offer you both SD and Micro SD card slots, three USB 3 ports, a USB-C port and on the end an HDMI output. The connection to the Mac is really solid however, the only issue I have with this style of connection block is that if you (like me) use a protective Clam Shell style case, to protect your investment while on the move, the block does not fit nicely around the case, without some DIY tweaks to the case (the Clam Shell, not the MacBook Pro).
The iHaper 7 to 2 Hub is available from many different stores on Amazon for around £30.
Letscom 8 into 1 USB-C Converter
The Letscom 8 into 1 converter is a very handy little device giving us 2 USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, a USB-C Power Delivery port for charging your Mac, so you don’t eat up another valuable USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port on your machine. You will still need to plugin your conventional MacBook Pro PSU to the mains to charge your machine. You also get a 4K supported HDMI port, RJ-45 port for networking and both SD and Micro SD card slots.
The Letscom 8 into 1 converter hub is available from many different stores on Amazon for around £35.
If you have found any really handy little adaptors for your mobile/portable machines please do let us know about them by adding them in the comments section below.