As reported here last week, Apple’s 7.2.1 update to Logic Pro and Express adds ReWire support to Intel Macs. Logic 7.2 also revamped the way ReWire works on all machines, so it’ll benefit all Logic users, not just Intel Mac owners. But the addition of ReWire means you can now fire up a Core Solo or Core Duo Mac and ReWire the Intel-native Live into Logic.
And what a sweet combination it is.
Finally, you can add ReWire tracks to a Logic project using the Create Multiple Tracks command (or use one of the updated ReWire templates), and since 7.2 added better labeling and stereo support for ReWire, interconnecting the two is truly plug and play. Load up Live, and you have both apps working together beautifully — just blazingly faster than anything you’d see on a G4-based Mac. As I found with Logic Pro, Ableton Live runs almost as fast on the dual 2.0 MacBook Pro I tested as it does on my dual-2.7 G5 tower. The iMac and mini aren’t slouches, either.
The Ableton user forum has already extensively benchmarked each new Intel Mac machine, and the results are impressive. Since Live is especially popular onstage, you’ll be happy to see you can tote just about any complex project, even on the single-core Mac mini. The dual-core machines should get even faster with the next release of Live, since Ableton is promising more extensive multithreading, among other optimizations.
There is one detail that’s troubling the Ableton users: Live still appears to run more efficiently under Windows than Mac, based on the indication from the CPU meter running the forum’s benchmark project on the same Mac on OS X and Windows XP under Boot Camp. I’d take those results with a grain of salt, however. The CPU Meter is not the most efficient way to benchmark a system, because it’s not an entirely reliable or objective measure. Also, it’s difficult to say with just one project what might be causing a discrepency, especially since the gap is now fairly small. Theoretically, based on the numbers coming from the tests by forum users, real-world performance should be close enough on the two systems to make the platforms essentially equal. (In other words, your decision is really more about which OS you prefer than anything else.) Neither the Windows nor Mac build of Live is taking full advantage of the dual-core machines, either, so the results should get more interesting in the next release (they’re still well within high-end desktop-class performance, on both Mac and Windows, even now).
Back on the Logic front, some readers here have suggested a runoff between Logic 7.2 for Mac and Logic 5 for Windows on the new machine, but that seems unfair: Logic has advanced quite a lot since 5.x, so it would be hard to know how to interpret the results.
This point is up for debate, of course, but I think it comes down to this: if you want a system that will keep up with live performance demands, you should be happy with any of the new Intel Core machines, whether you prefer Mac OS X or Windows XP as your operating system. PC users have a more complex choice, given competitive chips from AMD, and Mac users still have to consider the very fine Power Mac G5 in the desktop space, but the new CPUs are delivering the kind of performance they promised.