If you’re an early adopter and bought an Intel iMac or MacBook Pro, and you have “a keen eye and a habit of breaking things,” Propellerhead Software would like to speak to you. They’re beta testing version 3.05 for Intel Macs only, starting some time next week:

Reason for Intel Mac

You don’t even need a registered copy of Reason 3.0 to play. Just as interesting, though, is what’s buried in the announcement: we’re getting an updated ReWire library, and the Universal Binaries may not be the panacea we’ve heard they are — Propellerhead says they avoided them to prevent a big performance hit for existing PowerPC Mac users. More after the jump.

Mo Updates

Reason isn’t the only software getting a refresh: ReWire and REX libraries will become available as Universal Binaries at the same time as 3.05 ships, enabling these technologies on many other Mac apps (provided those apps themselves are Universal for Intel). ReWire 2.5 also includes improved sample loading performance.

Xcode Gripes, PowerPC Slowdowns?

Here’s the plot twist: after all the focus from Apple on Universal Binaries, apps compiled for both PowerPC and Intel processors, Propellerhead is compiling for Intel separately. You’ll have one binary file for Intel, one for PowerPC. (Remember the days when many 68k and PPC apps had separately executables?)

Okay, so, why? Simple: Propellerhead is disappointed with Xcode, at least for PPC apps, versus the tried-and-true Motorola CodeWarrior compiler. That should have no bearing on Intel performance, mind you. But Propellerhead says their tests show compiling with Xcode for PowerPC slows Reason down significantly, though they’re “working with Apple” to fix the problem.

Now, this raises a very significant issue: will we see performance drop on any of our apps when they’re compiled as Universal binaries? My first guess would be no; plenty of PPC apps are already compiled on Xcode. Sounds like this has to do with something particular to Reason. But I do wonder if other apps might be impacted. (Developers? Want to chime in?)

If this gets you down, feel free to read praise of Universal Binaries from our friends at Plasq, Native Instruments, Digidesign, Steinberg, and Ableton, over at Apple’s page. Still, I’m glad Propellerhead is taking their individual situation to heart and putting performance first. In the meantime, it clearly depends on app, because my copy of Logic Pro (Universal now with 7.2, and I strongly suspect compiled with Xcode for some time) is running quite fast on PowerPC.