MacBook Pros, 64-bit, all. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Benjamin Nagel.

I’m not one to post every single minor software update, but with the latest handful of free upgrades for Native Instruments software, I think it’s safe to say the 64-bit age has come to the Mac musician. Windows developer Cakewalk heralded just this sort of advance for years on the PC side, with largely little company (even beyond the music world), but today, the technology is finally a reality for average users.

64-bit computing means a marginal performance boost on capable machines and more flexible memory usage. The 32-bit Mac has had an edge over a 32-bit PC – each application can access up to 4 GB, provided available physical memory. But with Snow Leopard and a 64-bit Mac, you can finally, say, take advantage of all of the 8GB or more you might have on your machine. And Windows users, likewise, can load up their machines and fly past the crushing limit – slightly below 4GB – that impacted their entire system. (Linux users can run 64-bit, too, or a PAE kernel that nets the same result as that 32-bit Mac.)

Back to the updates: both Mac and Windows users should benefit from bug fixes to FM8, Massive, Guitar Rig, and Absynth. You’ll find the free update on NI’s Service Center utility, or heading to the updater on the website.

But the 64-bit aspect is the biggest news here. Since standalone mode is supported, you don’t even need a 64-bit capable host like Logic or Cubase (cough, 32-bit-only Ableton). That brings the current roster of NI products with 64-bit products to the latest versions of:

Battery, Guitar Rig, Kontakt, Maschine, Massive, FM8, Absynth

…and drivers for all the Audio DJ line and Traktor Kontrol hardware. Unfortunately, that does leave a lot of 32-bit only stuff, especially if you haven’t upgraded lately, but you still have a significant number of choices.

Now, the collective wisdom of the readership of this site is far greater than my own. Any particular software you wish was 64-bit that isn’t? Has 64-bit software meant any real-world improvements in music production for you? Let us know.

  • So, will Traktor Pro 2 be 64 bit when it launches on April 1st?

  • Matthew

    Ableton Please

  • I'm guessing Ableton Live 9 and MaxMSP 6.

  • …however, the real world of hurt will be legacy plugins; I rely on the Korg Digital and Analogue Editions and the PPG Waves; I doubt the former will make the jump.

    As for MaxMSP, there's a whole pile (many years' worth) of 32-bit third-party natively-coded objects out there.

  • Peter Kirn

    Right, but you can do what Windows users have already been doing for a couple of years and mix-and-match 64-bit and 32-bit plug-ins. What you can't do is take advantage of a 64-bit plug in a 32-bit host, even though the reverse is true. So we still need more 64-bit hosts — which is why this is news, because it adds added incentive to add support to the remaining hosts.

    The one thing that really doesn't work, incidentally, in 64-bit is ReWire. But JACK does… which could be a reason to switch from ReWire to JACK. 😉

  • Agreed. I also know of shims for hosting 32-bit plugins in 64-bit hosts, but don't know how well they work.

    It will be interesting to see whether Ableton can jump without Cycling '74 jumping too – I don't know how tightly coupled Live and Max are inside Max for Live. (I believe Live loads a Max runtime as a dynamic library.)

    As for ReWire: it constantly breaks for me. I'm a recent convert to Jack on OS X – the configuration UI is a bit cranky, but it seems to work well.

  • Peter Kirn

    ReWire has absolutely served its purpose, but here's a not-too-risky prediction: we'll see it go away in favor of something like JACK.

  • Aaron

    So heres my question, pardon my ignorance.
     Right now I run Logic Pro 9 in 32bit, but with the upgrade, I can now run Komplete 7 in Logic 64bit. However, I only have 4 gigs ram in my iMac. Would there be any benefit outside of ram to run in 64? All my software is current and up to date.


  • Peter Kirn

    @Aaron: There won't be *any* advantage in terms of available memory. The next question would be, what OS and CPU do you have? If you have a 64-bit CPU like the Core 2 Duo, then yes, there should be a marginal benefit to  processing efficiency.

  • Yes absolutely 64-bit has been a massive gain for me.  As a composer I often use Logic and Notion for my composition, and I often have large orchestral templates with many VSL instances, VSL ensembles and Kontakt instances.  So 64-bit has been super handy in being able to load all the libraries that I need in one go and have a more streamlined work process. 
    I'm using a late 2008 dual quad core 2.8 GHz.

    And full OSC support Will be a dream!


  • Aaron

    @Peter Kirn
    Yes, I have a 1 year old iMac running 10.6 that is 64 capable . I have run Logic Pro in 64, but my AU manager failed the NI plugins as they weren't 64 at the time.
    Perhaps ill invest in more ram for my machine.

  • mcpepe

    So…Is my white Imac with Core Duo not 64bit?. Its from Core 2 Duo that the 64 bit starts?

  • One doesn't hit the memory limit with it in most cases but I suppose it's possible that a 64-bit Renoise might be nice.

  • waves diamond bundle 😀

  • The obvious programme that is lagging behind is Reaktor. Who cares about plugins… for stand-alone use Reaktor absolutely needs to be 64-bit and multi-core enabled.

  • Kore definitely needs a 64-bit multiprocessor update; I'm guessing Reaktor will come first. I wouldn't mind a Renoise x64 Windows version either, however the x86 version plays nicely with Reaper's x64 ReWire implementation.

  • Peter Kirn

    Renoise of course does have a 64-bit version on Linux — and Linux makes things a little easier, in that you do have native JACK support so can run that at 64-bit and forget about ReWire, albeit with fewer software choices to begin with.

    Here's a good reminder of why 64-bit computing doesn't impact audio quality:

    I still think that, short of using big sample libraries, for pure computation it falls in the "nice to have" rather than the "must have" category. But yes, you do get some performance gain.

  • Random Chance

    As my system only has 4GiB of RAM I don't see the need yet to make the jump to 64-bit with every single application I use (Logic comes to mind which I still use in 32-bit). But I'm very pleased to see that most of the software I use and where memory might matter is 64-bit capable already or will be in the near future. That means whenever I go shopping for a Mac Pro I can safely install 16GiB RAM and don't worry about wasting it. Finally, running many programs and having massive sample libraries in main memory won't be a problem anymore. 

  • when ableton (and possibly maxMSP) go 64 bit, I'll think of upgrading my system and everything. right now, I'm content with my 2006 model macbook pro.
    to think, it's 5 years old and still manages to keep up. amazing…

  • EastWest's PLAY engine; Altiverb; Ivory; all Waves plug-ins.

    Basically, anything that uses an iLok on the Mac. Thanks, Pace.

  • tad ghostal

    "What you can’t do is take advantage of a 64-bit plug in a 32-bit host"
    Not true (according to Sound on Sound), you can use jBridge as it runs as a seperate process. They tested 64-bit Trilian in Ableton and could use 8 GB of RAM. Here's the article (you need to be a subscriber to read it all)

  • Jeff Brown

    How would I determine whether my MBP is 32 or 64-bit?

  • Peter Kirn

    @tad: I should have said "on the Mac." jBridge is Windows only, and I don't know of a Mac equivalent. What you could do is skip the plug-in approach entirely and run JACK between your host and a standalone music app.

    Since SOS puts the information behind a paywall, here are the details of jBridge:

  • felipe paniago

    But Snow Leopard starts in 32 bits by default – acess "About this mac" and see "More info", go to "Software" tab and see info about "64 bit Kernel" – in all machines it will be in 32 bit unless you turned on the system by holding "6" and "4".
    Just this way logic loads in 64bit.

  • asdf

    uhh Hellgi, isn't Ivory II 64-bits now?? coulda sworn it was.. maybe i'm wrong. but if not, definitely ivory. maybe #1 on my list as it's a resource hog (albeit fking amazing!)

    Kore 2 Definitely on that list!! i love kore.

    probably an ignorant/stupid question…. but, would it ever be possible to develop 'external' ram? like something that could pop into the EC34 slot? this would be bad-ass for machines with limited slots, if even possible (obv given i/o through-put concerns)

    what about Access' Virus? that 64 yet? that's another one that def needs to be.

    while i'm daydreaming i would also like the virus' processors to process my other plugins or mac os or logic processes similar to Node. probably never happen & probably a bit contrary to their own interests but damn something like that would be amazing.

    then again computers are getting faster…

  • plasmatron

    64Bit …and Thunderbolt … I want less than milisecond buffers ! 

    Hi all My first Post here ! Take care !

  • 64Bit …and Thunderbolt … I want less than milisecond buffers ! Hi all My first Post here ! Take care !

  • Have to give Native Intruments for going 64bit for Macs. But it troubles me that Rewire has not updated to 64bit. Have read so many forums with users requesting from Propellerhead to go 64bit. Now that NI has done it can we see an update foe REWIRE? I think it would be great to be able to utilize everything in a 64bit environment. Now its not possible.

  • loydb

    Ableton needs to get off their ass and get 64-bit support out.

  • Felipe : You don't need to run the whole OS in 64bit to start Logic in 64 bit. Just go to the Application folder, locate your Logic application icon, open the "Get Info" window, and make sure "Open in 32-bit mode" is unchecked.

  • Renoise, Reaktor, Reason, Kore, Ableton
    These all need to go 64 bit.