Apple has released macOS Sonoma 14.4.1. As verified by some plug-in developers, this includes fixes for an issue that could cause plug-ins to fail. It also includes important fixes for USB hubs and Java.

Sonoma is the latest version of macOS, and honestly, apart from this issue, it is the version I’d recommend for modern Mac hardware. (Older systems or studio machines where you need compatibility with particular sets of legacy plug-ins or hardware, of course, you should leave alone.)

As described by Apple, there are sets of fixes in 14.4.1 for the following issues:

• USB hubs connected to external displays may not be recognized

• Copy protected Audio Unit plug-ins designed for professional music apps may not open or pass validation

• Apps that include Java may quit unexpectedly

That covers all three issues that had been widely reported about this release. Plug-in compatibility has been a particularly major issue for users. By “copy protection,” all the reports I’ve seen have been related to PACE’s iLok. That’s the most popular third-party form of copy protection, so anything that hits iLok tends to impact a lot of people. Notably, not all developers using iLok reported any issues, and not being a developer working with PACE copy protection, I can’t really respond to the source. But Universal Audio has confirmed to me that the 14.4.1 fix works, for example. Metric Halo has also confirmed that 14.4.1 resolves previous issues. (Newfangled Audio, whose plug-ins are distributed by Eventide and use iLok, tells me they never had a problem – including with 14.4 – for what it’s worth.)

 Nick Batzdorf over at Synth and Software beat me to this one; they’ve been on top of the issue.

I would recommend you reinstall iLok License Manager along with the update. It may not be necessary, but it’ll ensure you have a clean install of the latest version, and it’s a quick process. Doing that, as I said before, corrected another issue I had with all iLok-based plug-ins (including those from Newfangled Audio) to crash on load or validation when updating to Ableton Live 12 stable. I was never able to track down the source of that, but I did hear sporadically from other people with what sound like the same issue or a related one.

The USB and Java issues were also widespread, though not necessarily universal, so it’s good to see those addressed.

What’s new in the updates for macOS Sonoma [Apple support]

Anyway, that’s it. There’s still no rush to upgrade – Sonoma 14.2.1 works for me, and while 14.4 included some security fixes, none was labeled critical. But it does make sense to use the latest security updates for whichever version of macOS you’re using, and you do get other fixes and performance improvements by staying up to date.

My concerns about iLok remain – this happens too often. The response to these reports indicates that it can be really disruptive. But I also don’t want to put the blame exclusively on PACE. There have been ongoing headaches with Apple’s AU validation process, including in Logic Pro. For their part, Cherry Audio reports that 14.4.1 squashed an issue they had with validation in Voltage Modular since Ventura 13.3.

I’ll be really curious to install this and see if it irons out other validation issues in Logic and Final Cut. But yeah, Apple, PACE, as I said, it’s been the two of you coming up since the 1990s, so we’re still watching. Can you, like, not break things for a while? kthxbye.

I guess we can celebrate now with… some pinot?

Completely unrelated to this, it looks like there are now more Space Designer presets in Final Cut Pro X? I think I should just once to a news round-up vlog where it sounds like I’m at the end of the nave of a cathedral.