Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) represents the end of a long-running transition of the Mac operating system from 32-bit to 64-bit support. 64-bit computing offers marginal (but measurable) performance improvements, and more importantly the ability to address more RAM — a lot more RAM, currently more than is even physically available in any shipping consumer computer. By contrast, under the current Mac OS, each 32-bit application can access up to 4GB of RAM. A few tools, like Apple’s EXS24 and Native Instruments’ Kontakt samplers, can address greater memory through the use of virtual memory and memory server schemes. But you don’t get native, 64-bit memory – yet.

That should begin to change. Today, Apple quietly released Logic 9.1 and MainStage 2.1, providing 64-bit support. They should be the first of more tools. MOTU confirms they’re working on a 64-bit version of Digital Performer and their plug-ins. (The free Ardour should work, too, in theory – it’s already 64-bit on Linux; sounds like one obstacle may be its UI toolkit on Mac.) Core Audio and Core MIDI have been rewritten as 64-bit-native Cocoa frameworks, with full 64-bit support, as of Snow Leopard. But prior to Apple’s announcement today, you wouldn’t have noticed, outside things like the developer examples and AU Kit host.

Logic Pro, MainStage get 64-bit support [The Loop, a recent Mac blog with a strong music focus]

Of course, today isn’t exactly the dawn of a brave new 64-bit age on the Mac – more like another (important) step in that direction. You’ll still want plug-ins to run in 64-bit mode, or you don’t get to reap the advantages. 32-bit plug-ins will work via a 32-bit Audio Unit Bridge, but that’s not the same as native 64-bit support, and such bridges are likely to require some testing and refinement before they’re ready for prime time. (On Windows, Cakewalk’s BitBridge technology for doing the same thing has gone through a fair bit of iteration and may as a result be more mature.)

There are some gotchas for some users, as noted by Jim in his story: REX file support, ReWire, AKAI file import (bizarrely), and the Vienna Symphonic Library Tool don’t yet work in the 64-bit version of Logic. In short, 64-bit will be terrific, but most users will want to wait a bit before they switch over.

Of course, this makes the number one question for Mac developers at NAMM, when do you anticipate 64-bit support? (I’m sure they’ll love that.)

  • Does the update keep a version of 9.0? I'm a little afraid to update. I use ReWire, MP3 export and firewire video out every day…

  • To answer my own questions:

    Yes, the installer renames the old version to Logic Pro 9.0.2.app.

    When I Get Info on the new app, 32 bit mode is checked by default.

    If I disable it, indeed ReWire doesn't work and I get an error message.

    There is also an additional app that launches, a Logic 32 bit audio unit bridge.

    When I enable 32 bit mode ReWire and mp3 export work again.

  • ed

    i hate when people say ohh 32 bit audio oh 64 BIT audio, THE HIGHEST SAMPLE RATE YOU CAN GO IS 24/192 SO WHERE DOES EVERYBODY COME UP WITH 32 OR 64 WHEN MOST CONSUMER AUDIO INTERFACE'S RUN AT 16 or 24

  • Dan

    yo, ed: most apps translate 24 bit integer to 64 bit floating point these days and spit out audio as 16/24 bit at the end. but that's nothing to do with 64 bit execution support, which is something completely different.

    slightly off topic: just upgraded to win 7 64 bit, and somehow everything is still working via reaper plugin bridge, woo! took me less than 12 hours to get everything installed again from a blank system… yay.

  • Daniel

    ed just got schooled! I'm sure he'll do a little research before displaying his ignorance in caps ever again.

  • apoclypse

    Great! Just in time for my new iMac coming soon.

  • s0undc10ud

    @ Peter. Hey there. (i know this post is kinda out of these borders but…) i am making a new studio pc in a couple of weeks. My only worry is: Putting windows seven 64 bit? or just 32 bit? i am a hardcore ableton user and i really worry about when ableton 64 bit is gonna be released. another worry of mine is: Ok, lets say i put seven 64 bit and run ableton in xp mode (32bit)till ableton 64bit gets released. is it going to run ok in the seven 64 bit? could you give me some advice about this? What would you people do?

  • Windows is a different situation. Since Windows requires a separate 64-bit OS install, as an Ableton Live user you should just install Windows 7 32-bit for now. You can always upgrade later to 64-bit if Ableton comes up with a 64-bit version and there's a specific reason to take advantage of it. In the meantime, 32-bit will be fine and a smoother compatibility situation.

    It's worth installing 64-bit on Windows if you're using big sample libraries and hosts like SONAR, Reaper, and Cubase that will actually support 64-bit. And the other difference on Windows is that it's worth using 64-bit today on those systems, whereas on Mac I expect you'll be waiting a while.

    And, really, even on the Mac, odds are you're going to opt for 32-bit by default.

    The advantage the Mac has at the moment is that it's easier to just choose one OS (Snow Leopard) and wait for the software to work itself out. I wish Microsoft had more intelligent 64-bit/32-bit licensing for that reason.

  • ed


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  • Thanks Peter for that last comment- I've got Ableton on Vista and I was thinking about upgrading to Win 7, but it doesn't really make sense to do that, if Ableton can't handle it, yet. Alas. Perhaps Ableton 9?

    BTW, these are the most random comments of any post I've read on CDM.

  • RayFlower

    This is certainly nice, and to be honest i didn't expect this yet but since I'm using Logic Express i guess i will have to wait a while until/if they decide to release a 64 bit binary for that.

    But certainly a welcome change anyway, though i do wonder, is this a universal binary?

  • @s0undc10ud / Peter

    Ableton Live works FINE under Windows 7 64-bit! There is no point staying with a 32-bit OS any more unless your audio interface has no drivers for it. Live 7 requires Vista SP1 compatibility mode to work without UI issues, but this done it works PERFECTLY WELL. Live 8 works out of the box.

  • Have you got any clue if 64-bit support upgrade is also the case for Logic Express 9? Or, will it be the case?

  • donkey

    Getting pretty annoyed with Apple and their ignorance towards Logic Express users.

    I did *not* know I was buying into an inferior upgrade program when I bought Express, but we did not get the benefit of the 9.0.2 update, and there is no sign of a 9.1 upgrade for Express users.

    Come on.

  • s0undc10ud

    Thank you guys… That was some kind of help! Yes… this post has a lot of random comments, but the main idea is the same… "64bit". So i think i will go for the 32bit Seven and i will keep working on 32 bit till ableton releases ableton 9 (witch i am sure its gonna support 64bit). Thank you all for your help. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • vcd

    ed, you weren't off topic- you basically have no idea what we are talking about.. Did you think all the hype surrounding Snow Leopard and Windows

    7 being 64-bit was about their audio capabilities???????????

    Donkey: I'm pretty sure the 9.02 update addressed issues with features only found in logic pro anyway, which is why that didn't come out for express. And in regard to 9.1, apple probably wanted to get the 64-bit update out to pro users first since they are more likely in need of that much memory. There is no official statement saying that it's never coming out. IMHO, it does sort of make sense as I am sure an equal amount of testing needs to be done for the express release- so this way they are able to focus on them one at a time. While I do think 64 bit is a "pro feature" it sure would suck to miss out on all those bug fixes for the express version.

  • I wouldn't jump to conclusions yet. While Logic Express and Logic Pro share a codebase, updates often don't hit on exactly the same day. And there are fixes in 9.1 beyond just 64-bit support; it only happens that 64-bit support is the banner feature.

    My point about 64-bit Windows was just, because Windows 7 is pretty darned easy to install and dual-boot, there's no real reason to install the 64-bit version until you have something that will run 64-bit. Live will run in 64-bit W7, yes, but … maybe just wait until things are ready.

  • Aaron

    Please excuse my ignorance, I have the new iMac intel that has 4 gigs of ram and 10.6. What would be the benefit of 9.1 for me, the average guy? I have no real knowledge of the whole 64 vs 32 thing.



  • FYI Here are the Logic 9.1 release notes:

    Logic 9.1 release notes

  • what would the capta

    well ive been running windows 7 64 bit for a month of so now. Reaper is working great, especially with that 32 but bridge plugin (vsts only though not direct x) , soundforge 10 works fine, reaktor works fine, fruity loops works fine, with the exception of a few plugins from the same developer.

    the issues seem to be around plugins and minor programmes (things like midi yoke) rather than my main software

    I wont comment on performance as its an entirely new machine, so I cant really compare it to ,y 1.7ghz xp machine from years ago!

  • keats

    Happy Birthday Peter! May the 1s and 0s bless you on this great day!

    I give you a "pass" for not posting today… haha


  • @keats – thanks!

    @whatwouldthecaptaindo — Indeed. But my point is, if you have 4GB of RAM, it's less likely something you'd do in the first place. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  • @Aaron: You would see a marginal performance improvement, but no increase in available RAM whatsoever, because you only have 4GB RAM. The performance improvement probably isn’t worth the accompanying compatibility issues, like the ones mentioned above. So, basically, best advice: keep enjoying your iMac and don’t worry about it. Linux and Windows users have had access to 64-bit systems for some time, but a lot of users stay with 32-bit for this very reason.

  • I wouldn't discount the benefits of a 64 bit version of Logic. Indeed, the benefits are (at least for now) primarily realized by users with > 4 GB RAM. However, I'll argue that this is just the beginning of a new phase in development for Logic that will reap exponential benefits in performance.