Favorite Albums of 2023

At the end of each year, I compile a list of my favorite music albums, mainly to document what I enjoyed listening to but also to share with others.

Just like 2022, 2023 was a huge year for music releases, and just like last year, I had a difficult time cutting down my list to just 10 albums. My process for hunting for new music remains mostly unchanged, except for one addition. I still use Marcos Tanaka’s wonderful Music Harbor and Adam Linder’s Albums app to find new music releases each week.

The one change I made to my listening process was the addition of MusicBox, another app by Marcos Tanaka. MusicBox lets me save albums to a list for listening to at a later time. It also allows me to organize albums with tags. I love this app because it gives me a way to keep track of albums that I want to listen to without adding them to my Apple Music catalog. In this way, MusicBox has become my “potential music to listen to” list. When I’m ready to listen to an album, I select it in MusicBox, and it opens the album directly in Apple Music. If I really enjoy an album, I can add it to my Apple Music catalog. If I decide that an album isn’t for me, I simply remove it from MusicBox. The app also has the ability to add tags to albums, which made it really easy to keep track of what I listened to during the year without adding it to my Apple Music catalog.

However, MusicBox can be a double-edged sword. Although I save a lot of music into the app, it takes a lot of time to actually go through all of the music I save. On the plus side, I do find a lot of new artists this way.

The following are the albums and artists that I’ve spent the most time with and/or connected with over the past year. There are more than a few albums that didn’t make the cut, but I’ve added them as either Honorable Mentions or into the Moar Music sections.

Also, I’ve compiled these albums on the Album Whale service to make it easier to get to other streaming and purchasing services.

Full disclosure: Purchasing any of the music using some of the links below will give a small percentage of the sale to my wife.


Mayer Hawthorne - For All Time album cover

10. Mayer Hawthorne - For All Time

Mayer Hawthorne (aka Andrew Cohen) is back with his sixth album, For All Time. For All Time soaks the sound of the 70’s into the grooves, and the vibe is perfection. Try not to take Hawthorne’s swanky tunes too seriously, because it’s obvious that Cohen doesn’t. I mean, with tracks like “The Pool,” a soulful tribute to getting your skin fried in the sun, it’s just Hawthorne grooving and having fun! If you’re looking for smokey, funky, horn-filled R&B grooves, check this out.

Hot Tracks: Physical Touch, For All Time, The Pool

Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon


Metallica - 72 Seasons  album cover

9. Metallica - 72 Seasons

It’s been 8 years since their last studio release, so when new Metallica is unleashed into the world, it’s time to celebrate! I don’t mind waiting if it means we get an album like 72 Seasons. Just when I thought they’d done everything possible in the metal genre, they changed it up and came out with something inventive and new. Frontman James Hetfield got the title from a book he was reading: 72 seasons is the first 18 years of your life. Let’s hope we won’t have to wait 72 seasons for more music!

Hot Tracks: All of it.

Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: iTunes | Amazon


8. Tommy Guerrero and Mark Barrott both had new releases this year, and it was really difficult to choose between these two ambient albums as they’re quite different from each other. I listened to both quite a bit and enjoyed each of them for different reasons.

Mark Barrott - Johatsu album cover

Mark Barrott - Jōhatsu (蒸発)

Barrott mentioned on his Bandcamp page that Jōhatsu (蒸発) was originally commissioned as a soundtrack for a documentary. The documentary was never finished, but at least Barrott was able to release the music. From the pulsating opening of Kyoto that leads into the stillness of the singular piano in Shinrin-Yoku (森林浴), Jōhatsu feels like a sonic journey through different phases of life.

Hot Tracks: Kyoto (京都), Shinrin - Yoku (森林浴), Icarus (イカロス)

Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon

Tommy Guerroro - Amber of Memory album cover

Tommy Guerrero - Amber of Memory

Guerrero wrote Amber of Memory during the COVID lockdown of 2020—2021. He says the music is a departure from his normal style, and I would agree. The chilled-out ambient sounds created with just guitar, a little delay, vibrato, and drum machines sometimes feel endless.

Hot Tracks: Holding the Ocean, Floating in Shadows

Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon


Alan Paloma - World of Hasssle album cover

7. Alan Paloma - World of Hassle

I gave World of Hassle a listen after hearing an interview Alan Paloma did on NPR, and I’m glad I did. Paloma’s use of classic 80’s synths, drums, and sax gives the album the feel of city pop nostalgia that drew me in, but it’s the finely crafted hooks and songwriting that really won me over. Even though some of the tracks have lyrics in French or Spanish, they transcended the language barrier and had me bouncing my head and groovin’ along.

Hot tracks: Meutrière, La Madrileña, Stay-At-Home DJ

Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon


Cory Wong - The Lucky One album cover

6. Cory Wong - The Lucky One

Can Wong do no wrong? Cory Wong has been on a tear, putting out an album (sometimes more than one) a year. I’ve always known that he can groove and funk it, but I was never sure if he could do the ripping guitar hero solo thing that so many of his peers do. I’ve always seen him as a funky rhythm guitarist. So, can this cat solo? He finally answers that with a resounding “Hell yes, he can” on the tracks The Grid Generation with a burning hot end solo and the melodic Separado. If you’ve never experienced the Cory Wong sound of funk and pop, this is a great introduction.

Hot tracks: The Grid Generation, Seperado, Anonymous, Brooklyn Bop

Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon


Depeche Moder - Memento Mori album cover

5. Depeche Mode - Memento Mori

Similar to Metallica, Depeche Mode’s release schedule has become quite rare, so when they finally have a new release, I pay attention. Arriving six years after their last release, Spirit, I was very curious if anything musically would change since co-founder and keyboardist Andy Fletcher passed away in 2022. Thankfully, as Martin Gore has always been the principal songwriter and David Gahan is the voice of the band, Memento Mori is still a solid Depeche Mode album. Written mostly during the pandemic, the collection is moody and at times melancholy, but ultimately life-affirming.

Hot tracks: My Cosmos Is Mine, Ghosts Again, Don’t Say You Love Me

Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: iTunes | Amazon


4. ATARASHII GAKKO!, my favorite Japanese group, hasn’t released a full-length album in a while, but it’s probably because they were busy taking over Japan as one of the hottest groups of 2023! This year, they released two separate EPs with new tracks along with tie-ins to TV shows and singles that were never in a collection. In just the first two months of 2024, ATARASHII GAKKO! has already released two singles. If this is any indication, I hope a full-length album will arrive sometime later in the year.

ATARASHII GAKKO! - Ichijikikoku album cover

ATARASHII GAKKO! - Ichijikikoku

Hot tracks: All of it.

Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: iTunes | Amazon

ATARAHSHII GAKKO - Maningen album cover

ATARASHII GAKKO! - Maningen - EP

Hot tracks: All of it.

Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: iTunes | Amazon


Metic - Thoughts on Home and Symemetry album cover

3. Metic - Thoughts on Home and Symmetry

Metic (aka Jonny Ma), who is no stranger to this list, started releasing tracks from Thoughts on Home and Symmetry as singles in June 2023 and released the entire album in October 2023. Each tune drop was wonderful, but it always left me wanting more. But the wait was worth it. Using live instrumentation, self-made loops, and various types of samples, Metic weaves together the sonic duality of living in New York and traveling to his home town of Hong Kong. Tunes flow from funky grooves into meditative loops; others showcase his knack for sprinkling tasty guitar licks between those grooves and placing solos where they can soar. The use of subtle vocal and background samples expertly interlaced into many tunes (check out the tracks Beef Brisket, Hometown Calls, and Dirty Horchata) gives the tracks a feeling of place and shows Metic’s production prowess. I highly suggest listening with headphones for the best experience.

Hot tracks: Bodega Minute, We Outside, Prunella Tea, Dirty Horchata

Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon


Kurena Ishikawa - Kurena album cover

2. Kurena Ishikawa - Kurena

Finding Kurena Ishikawa’s music was a revelation! I’m not even sure how this album got onto my playlist, but I’m so glad it did. Kurena is a collection of originals and covers in a jazz setting, with Ishikawa’s double bass and vocals as the highlights of each track. The arrangements are sparse, but they give all of the instruments room to breathe. The guitar solo on the track Sea Wasp was so Metheny-esque, I had to look up who was playing (it was performed by Taka Nawashiro). Her cover of Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, featuring just double bass and solo vocals, was another surprise and something you just have to experience. I have a fond memory of playing Kurena on the hotel room sound system while I was staying in Karuizawa, Japan. Every time I listen to this album, it brings back that special moment for me.

Hot tracks: Sea Wasp, Olea, Off The Wall

Listen: Apple Music | Amazon Music
Buy: iTunes | Amazon


Steve Lukather - Bridges album cover

1. Steve Lukather - Bridges

As I get older, I’m realizing that the amount of new music from my musical heroes is slowing down, and soon the music might come to a stop. So when Steve Lukather (of Toto fame) releases new music, I celebrate! His latest album, Bridges, follows up on 2021’s I Found the Sun Again, with eight all-original tunes. David Paich and Joseph Williams are featured as writers and musicians throughout, so this feels sort of like a Toto album, but with Lukather doing all the vocals. When it comes to staying in the music game, maybe the closest we’ll get to an answer from Lukather is in the opening track, Far from Over:

“I’m not giving it up, even though I’m getting older.
Far from over,
Don’t count me out until I’m six feet underground.”

Hot tracks: Far from Over, Not My Kind of People, When I See You Again

Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon

Honorable Mentions

Yoko Kuzuya - MIDNIGHT DRIVIN’ - KUZUYA YOKO MUSIC GREETINGS 1999-2021

This was released as a hit collection back in 2021, but I only discovered it in 2023. MIDNIGHT DRIVIN’ is such a great collection of songs with a city pop feel. I can imagine putting this on and taking a long, late-night cruise.

Hot tracks: midnight drivin’, TRUE LIES, All Night
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon

Kuna Maze - Night Shift
This is producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Kuna Maze’s first album. The collection of electronic dance tunes evokes the feeling of venturing into the nightlife of the club scene.

Hot tracks: On the Way, Reflections (feat. Reinel Bakole), Smoke Break, Late Night Tales
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon

Brandee Younger - Brand New Life
Harpist extraordinaire Brandee Younger pays tribute to pioneering harpist Dorothy Ashby and throws in a contemporary twist. I didn’t think I’d be into harp at all, but this album kicks ass.

Hot tracks: You’re A Girl For One Man Only, Brand New Life (feat. Mumu Fresh), Livin’ And Lovin’ In My Own Way (feat. Pete Rock)

Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: iTunes | Amazon

Cornelius - Dream in Dream
I look forward to every new album that Cornelius (aka Keigo Oyamada) releases. Dream in Dream seems to bookend his previous release, 2017’s Mellow Waves, and sounds very much like a continuation of the music. While his earlier releases were quite ground-breaking and at times avant-garde, Cornelius seems to enjoy a more minimalistic focus and has become (dare I say) more pop on his recent albums. Sound design is still a huge part of his music, and I really enjoy the soundscapes he creates. Listening with headphones is a must.

Hot tracks: Sparks, Out of Time, Night Heron

Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: iTunes | Amazon

Anemoia - A Muser!

This Miami trio combines funk, rock riffs, and fusion to create a collection of tunes that will keep you grooving.

Hot tracks: Curiosity, Ghost Town, Flow

Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon

Kahoru Kohiruimaki - Call My Name
Although Call My Name came out in 1985, I only found it recently while digging through Apple Music’s 80’s J-Pop recommendations. I love the sound of those 80’s synths, electronic drums, guitars, and, of course, sax! The collection features many of L.A.’s top studio musicians, as so many of Japan’s top artists produced their albums overseas. I was surprised to hear a cover of the Carole King and Gerry Goffin tune, Keep Your Hands Off My Baby.

Hot tracks: Never Say Goodbye, The Ivy, Lover To Lover, Hold Me
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: iTunes | Amazon

Nicolas Britell and Robert Glasper - The Winning Time Sessions: Season One (Soundtrack from the HBO® Original Series)

While I haven’t seen this series, I enjoyed Robert Glasper’s funk, hip hop, R&B, and soundtrack soundscape work on both albums.

Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Buy: Bandcamp | iTunes | Amazon

Jeff Beal and Robert Glasper - The Winning Time Sessions: Season 2 (Soundtrack from the HBO® Original Series)

Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: iTunes | Amazon

Ryuichi Sakamoto - 12
Released two months before Ryuichi Sakamoto’s passing, 12 is his fifteenth and final studio album. Sakamoto chose 12 of his favorite tracks for this collection, each named after the date of its creation. The minimalistic piano, synthesizers, and other electronic soundscapes are calming and comforting.

Listen: Apple Music | Spotify
Buy: iTunes | Amazon

Even Moar Music

These are other albums I spent time with during 2023 that you might also enjoy.

Rock and Blues

William DuVall - 11.12.21 Live-in-Studio Nashville
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

City Pop

ryusenkei - City Music -Remastering-
Listen: Apple Music

Sugiyama Kiyotaka - FREEDOM
Listen: Apple Music

Electronic

Timecop1983 - Searching for Tomorrow
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Joy Orbison - Archive 09-10 - EP
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Mac DeMarco - One Wayne G
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Teen Daze - Interior
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Teen Daze - The Wind Surfer - EP
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Festen - Replicant: Musical Odyssey
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Ambient

Brian Eno - 77 Million Paintings
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Brian Eno - I Dormeienti - EP Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Brian Eno - Top Boy (Score from the Original Series)
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Astropilot - Stellar Stream - EP
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Whatever the Weather - Whatever the Weather
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Jogging House - Because
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Gigi Masin and Greg Foat - Dolphin
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

House / Dance

Eli Escobar - The Beach Album
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Bored Lord - 3213123
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Downtempo

Serebii - Inside
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Moonchild - Reflections - EP
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

ROHO - Footsteps - EP
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Anthony Naples - Orbs
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

DrewsThatDude and J Nics - Less Is More (Instrumentals) - EP
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Claude Money - Midnight Specialist
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Mogwaa - Hazy Dreams
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Lofi

Kiefer - It’s Ok, B U
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Bokoya and FloFilz - Yurika
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Bokoya and FloFilz - Reaching Out / Stalagtight - EP
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Koresma - Compass
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Four Tet - Live at Alexandra Palace London, 24th May 2023
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

lophiile - The Good Days Between
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Casiio, Dontcry and Sleepermane - Wants & Needs - EP
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Sara, the Illstrumentalist - the universe is watching
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Jazz / Fusion

Mongoloid Union - Drowning
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Fumarika Asari - Thanks For Emily
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

John Scofield - Uncle John’s Band
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Léon Phal - Stress Killer
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

TRIX - PARADE
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Laufey - Bewitched
Listen: Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

Brian Simpson - Soul Connection
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

Joe Sample - Spellbound
Listen: Apple Music | Spotify

See my Favorite albums of 2022 here.


“Scary Fast” Apple Event Predictions

This is a very unusual event as it’s happening at night, and I don’t think Apple has ever done a release event at night. I speculate they’re doing it so that folks in Asia will be able to live stream it at 9am in their time zone. I don’t think this event will be a live, although I’ve heard Gruber say that he got an invite by Apple…

Here are my hopes and predictions for tonight’s Apple event:

  • Updated (finally) 24” iMac with M3
  • Debut of the 32” iMac with M3
  • New 12” M3 MacBook Ultra book (I can only hope they do this one day…)
  • USB-C for Apple Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse
  • Some kind of gaming tie in with a top tier game producer
  • If there are any iPads announced, they won’t be Pro iPads
  • Tim Cook will say “Good Evening!”

Apple September 12 Event Predictions

Here are my quick hopes and predictions for tomorrow’s Apple iPhone Event:

  • Bye bye Lightning port, hello USB-C port
  • iPhone Pro will have a new industrial design and use different materials other than aluminum. Hopefully this leads to the Pro phones being lighter.
  • Better cameras (duh?)
  • Better zoom range for both Pro models
  • Less aggressive photo processing
  • AirPods Pro USB-C case released
  • iOS 17 launch, macOS 14 later
  • Phones will go on sale this Friday
  • No iPads or Macs for this event…

Weekender #121: Still Hanging Out

  • Birb watch: Beating the odds, baby myna is still hanging around, and it seems like there’s nothing that Handsome and Matey myna (parents) can do to get them to stay away. They continue to chase him away from the area, with Matey doing most of the work. Handsome tolerates baby myna for the most part and will only chase them away when they get too close to his food. I’m getting a bit worried that baby myna is spending too much time in our driveway waiting to be fed instead of wandering the neighborhood and learning about the world.

  • Thanks to Pyrmont for sending the Apple Support document with the information on Mac mini power consumption and thermal output (BTU). I knew that my new Mac Mini M2 Pro server was more efficient than my 2012 Mac Mini, but I didn’t have the specs. 7 W at idle vs. 11 W for the 2012 model. I still recall migrating my home server from an early 2008 Mac Pro to the 2012 Mac Mini and being shocked at how much lower my electricity bill was just by doing that.

This week’s Link List

Design

  • Pixabay is a searchable repository of over 4 million royalty-free stock images, videos, and music. Read their content license for more information.

  • Color and Contrast is a “comprehensive guide for exploring and learning about the theory, science, and perception of color and contrast.” A fantastic deep dive for anyone interested in this subject.

Fediverse

Software and hardware

  • Want more control of your Mac’s mouse or trackpad? Give LinearMouse a try. It offers customization for mouse and trackpad scrolling, pointer acceleration and modifier keys.

  • If you’re one of the folks that got an invite to Bluesky, Sky.app is a client for the service for MacOS, featuring keyboard shortcuts, Dark Mode, Sync, and notification badges.

  • Following up on last week’s mention of advanced macOS command-line tools, I present Mac Commands, a searchable website for exactly that.

  • bigWav.app is a free to use, completely private, audio transcription and annotation tool. Yet another “AI” powered annotation tool.

  • If you use FFmpeg for manipulating video files, you might be interested in checking out ffmprovisr. It helps users through the command generation process to make it easier to use FFmpeg.

  • Speaking of video files, I found yt-dlp, a youtube-dl fork with additional features and fixes. Use this formulae to install if you’re using Homebrew.

Miscellaneous

  • Megan Barker answers a question on the 1Password blog I’ve had for a while: is it safe to store passwords and 2FA codes together? TL;DR: “For the majority of people, storing TOTP in 1Password is well within their risk tolerance. There will always be those of you who will trade that convenience because you want or require the added protection of true 2FA.”

Media consumption

L​ü​ften is the latest album from ambient music person, Jogging House. It’s described as “A sonic stroll through the woods. By yourself, but not alone. Take your time!” and I agree! It was exactly the soundtrack I needed to get through this work week. Listen on Bandcamp and Apple Music.


Weekender #120: Birbs, Bluesky and Indy

  • Birb watch: Amazingly, baby myna is still hanging around, much to the chagrin of Handsome and Matey myna (parents). The duo is constantly flying at baby myna, and sometimes will attack them. Nothing seems to be scaring baby away, and they seem intent on learning Handsome and Matey’s tactics of getting us to come to the door and give them food.

  • Audubon has created a guide to a very important topic that is near and dear to my heart called “When Is a Bird a ‘Birb’?”

  • I finally made time to do a short write-up about installing a VESA mount on my wife’s iMac 5K external display. I skipped showing the details of gutting the display and installing the driver card since I already wrote about it earlier.

    • I did a few things differently when converting her iMac to an external display. I used a different driver board, the R1811, and added the ability to power off the driver board by using the built-in power button on the iMac.
  • A long-time online friend sent me an invite code to Bluesky. I’m @kimonostereo.bsky.social if you’d like to follow me there. As usual, most of my posts are syndicated to Mastodon, Bluesky and soon to be discontinued on Twitter from my micro.blog feed.

This week’s Link List

Machine Learning

  • The Verge did a deep dive into how people are really using AI (and what they’re afraid of). Polling 2000 people to see how they’re using “AI”, the article covers who’s using it and asks a lot of great questions of the participants. If you’re short on time, the beautifully done infographics will give you a lot of information quickly.

Design

  • CallToInspiration is a collection of UI/UX screenshots that someone put into categories. I suppose it could be used for inspiring your next project.

Fediverse

  • As Reddit burns itself down, I found another alternative called Squabbles which seems to be a cross between Reddit and Twitter. An interesting way of merging the two types of communities into one platform.

  • Lemmymap gives an overview of the alternative, federated Reddit alternative.

  • Darius Kazemi has created a simple Twitter archiver that makes the archive public and searchable.

Software and hardware

Miscellaneous

Media consumption


VESA Mounting the iMac 5K External Display

My wife recently upgraded to a new Mac Mini M2 Pro from her 27” iMac (2109). Apple wasn’t offering much for her iMac on trade-in, so we decided to convert it into an external 5K display, just like I did for my display work.

The iMac (2109) 5K display is slightly different from the iMac (2014) 5K that I converted previously. The 2019 is capable of DCI P3 Color so I wanted to try a different driver board than the one I worked with previously which required two DisplayPort cables in order to achieve 10 bit color. This will be her main display for specifically for design work, so I decided to go with the R1811 driver board which also required a separate constant power board, DZ-LP0818 to maximize display brightness.

Disclaimer: While I do have experience building electronic stuff and taking apart electronic equipment, I’m no expert. If you decide to move forward with this project, understand that you may irreparably damage your iMac in the process. I accept no responsibility for any damage that occurs to you, your iMac, or any other parts or tools you might use for this project. You accept any and all risk to yourself and your equipment by following the guide below.

Full disclosure: Purchasing any of the items using some of the links below will give a small percentage of the sale to my wife.

Note: This guide isn’t the only way to VESA mount a converted iMac external display. There are many others that have successfully done this have shared their advice, configurations, and builds using 5K iMac and LG Ultra Fine displays, so be sure to do your research before starting1.

All of this seemed easy enough, but she also wanted the iMac display mounted on her existing Ergotron VESA arm. So I needed to figure out how to convert the iMac so that it could be VESA mounted. I quickly learned that there isn’t any kit to convert the iMac (2019) to a VESA mount (although the iMac Pro has one for some reason).

I perused the MacRumors forums and saw some creative ways others were able to VESA mount their converted iMacs. One forum member did it by using a K&M VESA plate, but when I went to purchase one, it seemed like no one on the planet had them in stock. I searched everywhere and even (gasp) called shops to see if it was available. Most said it would take three months to get them in. I was just about ready to give up on this, until I had a revelation. After staring at a photo of the K&M mount (see below), I realized that I could make something similar if I could find a VESA plate that had some holes in the middle of it. The key for this to work is the two protruding bolts on the plate that need to go through the rear slot of the iMac display once all of its guts have been removed.

km-vesa-adapter.jpg

The unobtainum K&M VESA adapter plate.

After a lot of searching, measuring things out in my head, and consulting my friend who does engineering, I settled on the HumanCentric VESA Mount Adapter that was originally designed for the iMac 24 Inch (Aluminum) and iMac 27 Inch (2009, 2010, 2011). Normally, this mount wouldn’t work with iMacs made from 2012—2019 because Apple changed the way the stand connects to the display. But since I’m gutting the iMac and keeping only the chassis and display, this mount would probably work. I needed to consult my engineer friend to make sure the bolts would support the display. After explaining what I was going to do, she felt it would be fine. It had what I was looking for: it looked nice, it had some structure to it, and most importantly, it had two holes in the center of the VESA plate that I could put long bolts into.

101-1007-parts_2048x.jpg

Human Centric VESA mount for older iMacs.

Once it arrived, I took some measurements of the two holes in the middle of the VESA plate and found that they lined up and fit perfectly into the slot where the iMac stand used to be. I went to my local hardware store and picked up two long stainless steel bolts, a pair of washers, and lock nuts. Installing the mount to the back of the iMac was very easy, and the finished product looks like it was made for the iMac.

Here are some photos of the Human Centric VESA mount being installed.

VESA-01-remove-the-stand.jpg

This is the inside of the iMac chassis, where the stand is attached. The entire contraption that has three torx screws on each side was removed.

The Human Centric VESA mount lined up perfectly and allowed two bolts to pass through the chassis.

VESA-02-human-centric.jpg

I placed the Human Centric VESA mount onto the back of the iMac, then passed two long bolts through the slot of the chassis where the iMac stand used to be.

VESA-03-bolts-through.jpg

You can see the bolts passing through the chassis.

VESA-04-bolts-through.jpg

A better angle.

Here’s how the VESA mount is bolted in through the slot where the iMac stand used to be. I used two wide washers and locking nuts to secure the VESA mount to the chassis. Be careful not to over tighten the nuts or you may dent the chassis! Tighten it just enough so that it will not move.

VESA-05-bolts-inside.jpg

I used a wide washer and locking nuts to secure the VESA mount to the chassis.

VESA-06-bolts-inside2.jpg

Another view.

Here’s what the iMac display looks like attached to the Ergotron arm.

VESA-07-mounted.jpg

A little messy, but this was taken right after attaching it to the arm.

Some considerations if you’re planning to VESA mount an iMac

If you want to do something similar to this, be sure that the VESA arm you have can support the extra weight of the iMac chassis. Most displays are made of plastic and are much lighter. My wife previously purchased the Ergotron arm to use with a Wacom Cintiq, so it was made to hold a lot of weight.

After doing this, I believe you can use just about any VESA mount adapter plate that matches the VESA pattern of your arm. You could probably even make your own if you have a drill press. The most important thing is to ensure that you’re able to secure it to the iMac chassis using hardware that will hold the plate firmly.


  1. There is a lot of information and inspiration on the MacRumors Forums. Also check out Mykola’s blog for driver board and 5K screen comparisons and Luke Miani’s video. ↩︎︎


If you find this helpful and want to support me, consider buying me a coffee

Buy Me A Coffee


Weekender #119: TL;DR and Mac Mini M2 Pro

  • Birb watch: Continuing the drama from last week, poor baby myna is now getting chased away by both Handsome and Matey mynah (its parents). Baby myna is learning to dodge and maneuver in flight really well because of their attacks. I suspect that the baby will be gone by the end of the week since the parents aren’t willing to share any food anymore.

  • I finally got off my butt and turned one of my ideas into reality! I’ve had this idea for a rock and roll-inspired TL;DR logo since about 2012. Now it’s available for sale as a sticker. Check it out here, along with Audra’s stickers too.

  • After 10 years of 24/7 service, I retired my home server, a Mac Mini (Late 2012). It was purchased from Apple as a refurb back in April 2013, and it’s been plugged in and running ever since. From what I can recall, this was the last Mac Mini that was upgradeable, so I beefed up the stock configuration with more RAM and added an internal SSD. While it was still functioning fine and doing all of the duties I needed it to do, it was time for an upgrade, as I couldn’t upgrade macOS any longer.

    • A few weeks ago, Apple began selling refurbished Mac Mini M2 Pros, so I decided that it was time to upgrade. I opted for the M2 Pro over the standard M2, mostly for the additional Thunderbolt 4 ports. It arrived this past week, and I like it. It’s very fast and quiet, and it will run the latest version of macOS for a long time. Although it has a lot of ports, I need a couple more USB-A ports (I’ll dig up an old USB 3 hub for this), and I wish it had an SD card reader. I’m fairly certain the M2 Pro will use less power than the Intel Mac Mini as well.

This week’s Link List

Machine Learning

Design

  • The good line-height is a webpage that will help you calculate the optimum line-height based on the font size and grid of your project.

  • Jacob ‘Kurt’ Groß has a good write-up on the modern way of serving images.

  • I didn’t even know it was possible, but apparently you can style your RSS feed.

  • Free Faces is a curated collection of typefaces that are available under a variety of free licenses.

  • This GitHub repository features a set of dot matrix fonts in the style of TfL’s London Underground arrivals board.

Mastodonish

  • The Reddit debacle continued this week, and it seems like some Redditors are looking for alternatives to Reddit communities. Check out the Reddit Migration Directory and sub.rehab if you’re looking at abandoning Reddit.

Software and hardware

Miscellaneous

  • No Vehicles In The Park is an interesting game/quiz that allows you to compare your results to those of others who have taken the test.

Media consumption

  • Audra and I went to the opening night of the new Wes Anderson film, Asteroid City. I think Wes Anderson out-Wes Anderson’d himself with this film. As always, the cast was packed with great talent and surprises. I loved the colors and cinematography as well as the quirky story that went along with it.

  • Luke’s back with a new album! Steve Lukather’s ninth solo album, Bridges, could pass for a Toto album judging from the credits. Joseph Williams, Simon Philips, and David Paich all contributed to the tracks. Compared to his previous solo album, I Found the Sun Again, from 2021, Bridges takes Luke back to the heavier riffs his solo albums are known for. All eight tracks are amazing! Listen on Bandcamp and Apple Music.