Looking to upgrade MBP (mid 2012) with an SSD and get a thunderbolt dock. Needing suggestions.

I have a little bit of a unique situation that combines tech from the Mac, audiophile, video editor, and music production worlds and I'm looking for some help.

There are several things I am trying to optimize my Mac for:

  • Dual/triple monitor setup
  • MIDI Keyboard recording (currently via GarageBand)
  • Video/photo editing (1080p max right now but would like to upgrade to 4k eventually)
  • Music composition (currently via Sibelius)
  • Podcast recording/editing
  • Gameplay recording
  • Audiophile music playback
  • iOS/Android Development

The situation: I'm a composer and use Sibelius to write scores, often times plugging in my electric MIDI piano to my Mac to speed things up. I also use my MIDI piano as a GarageBand controller and record directly into that live monitoring it with headphones. I'm about to start doing video editing for a "Live Play"—recorded video game gameplay with player commentary—YouTube channel for my friends and possibly doing some playing myself (and thus recording). I also am going to attempt to begin teaching myself programming at some point and use this machine for that.

Desired setup: I want to setup everything with a thunderbolt dock that I plug into my MBP if possible and run the following hardware:

  • 2-3 monitors
  • Digital Audio Converter (DAC) [USB or Firewire]
  • MIDI piano
  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
  • External Hard Drive (USB 3.0) x2
  • USB Printer
  • USB optical drive
  • iPhone charger/dock (Lightning)
  • iPad charger/dock (Lightning)

My biggest huddle is the audio component: Because I'm monitoring through all of that, I need zero latency (or as close to zero as possible) between the MIDI and my headphones. And I know that will with as many pieces of hardware there are in between the MIDI and my headphones (MIDI -> Thunderbolt Dock -> Mac -> MIDI engine [GrarageBand/Sibelius] -> Thunderbolt Dock -> DAC -> Headphones).

I, also, am going to be replacing my optical drive for an SSD (to put the OS and Apps on) and using the stock 512 GB HDD as storage (might upgrade that later to a 1 or 2 TB eventually). I also might partition this SSD to install Windows on it as well.

I need help, suggestions, and critiques of this setup and which dock and which SSD I should get. (Feel free to give suggestions for the other products as well.) The budget for each if the two items is $300 (so $600 in total).

Current specs: MacBook Pro (13-inch mid 2012), 2.5 GHz Intel, 16 GB RAM, stock 512 GB HDD.

After countless hours of research, I'm turning for help from a community. I hope that I'm posting this in the right place. I don't want to have to rebuy a whole new system every time I upgrade one component. Especially because of the importance of audio latency.

TL;DR: I'm a college student with big dreams. I need an SSD for video/audio editing, voice recording, and music production for under $300. I need a Thunderbolt dock with zero or near zero audio latency for under $300.

/r/mac Thread