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d4z0mg

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 13, 2020
13
10
Not knowing very much about what goes on inside computers outside of knowing what I need for my specific needs, the switch to ARM has thrown me off a bit as I don't know enough about processors to make an informed decision.

I'll be using FL Studio and numerous VST plugins. My choice is either get the next Intel iMac when (if) it comes out and hope it will last for 5 to 7 years or get an ARM iMac but would that potentially mean current third party software might not work properly for an unknown amount of time?
 

Pressure

macrumors 601
May 30, 2006
4,268
494
Denmark
The switch to Apple Silicon will mean much better optimisation between software and hardware. It's fully customised silicon that can implement whatever feature set they see as needed to enable great user experiences.

Performance and battery life is just part of the story.

The reason Apple has been using the T2 chip in Intel based Macs are simply because they were limited by Intel and needed custom features not present on the CPU.

You would have to ask Image-Line if they intent to port their software to Apple Silicon to know whether or not it is worth sticking around.

What's sure is that a Mac running on Apple Silicon will give you the best user experience going forward as Apple Silicon is much more than an ordinary processor.
 
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DearthnVader

macrumors 65816
Dec 17, 2015
1,290
5,913
Red Springs, NC
Not knowing very much about what goes on inside computers outside of knowing what I need for my specific needs, the switch to ARM has thrown me off a bit as I don't know enough about processors to make an informed decision.

I'll be using FL Studio and numerous VST plugins. My choice is either get the next Intel iMac when (if) it comes out and hope it will last for 5 to 7 years or get an ARM iMac but would that potentially mean current third party software might not work properly for an unknown amount of time?
I don't think you have a great choice at this time, either get an Intel Mac that will work with all your plugins, or wait for and Arm Mac and risk long delays in porting of them.

The downside to the Intel Mac is none of us know how long it will still be supported.

Given you choices, I would say buy the Intel Mac, as it should work with all your plugins, just don't expect it to be able to run the latest/greatest macOS beyond 2-3 years from now. So you may get two or three macOS versions out of it, but, likely the last version it supports will still receive updates for a few more years after that.

That would put you around 5 years of "support".

Wait and buy an Arm Mac and it maybe another 6 months or a year before everything in your workflow works near as well as it would on an Intel Mac.
 
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theluggage

macrumors 603
Jul 29, 2011
5,209
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Not knowing very much about what goes on inside computers outside of knowing what I need for my specific needs, the switch to ARM has thrown me off a bit as I don't know enough about processors to make an informed decision.

For developers, apart from a minority of special cases, producing an ARM version of an app/plugin should be about as much work as the annual testing and patching for the latest version of Intel MacOS, and probably less work than the recent switch from 32 bit to 64 bit. Lots of pundits here are confusing the issue of re-compiling an app for MacOS on ARM with the far more complex job of porting an app from MacOS to iOS (which can mean a major re-write).

Even for the "special cases" it will only usually be a very small part of the code that is Intel-specific. Developers don't lovingly and laboriously hand-craft processor-specific code for the sake of it.

The main reason for software not to get an ARM Mac version will be that it is not actively supported - any "abandonware" will die, and if the developer is already lukewarm about supporting Mac, this could be the last straw. Frankly, though, such cases were just as likely to be killed by the next version of Intel MacOS - if they haven't already been killed by Catalina and the shift to 64 bit (...which will have cleared out a lot of the "dead wood").

...on top of that, we don't yet know how effective Rosetta is going to be at automatically translating x86 apps - I'd be surprised if it works well (if at all) with DAWs and plug-ins, but then Apple showed it apparently running Maya and Rise of the Tomb Raider so - while skeptical - I wouldn't bet against it.

So, really, I'd approach the switch to ARM much the same way as a major MacOS upgrade - i.e. "The early worm gets the bird" - give it 6 months before shifting your main system and be prepared to lose a few older plug-ins.

Just factor that in to how urgently you need a new Mac - and bear in mind that we don't know how long it will be until the ARM replacement for the 5k iMac arrives: it could be up to 2 years (which would explain the rumors about a new Intel iMac this year). We don't even know what shape the line-up will be (I suspect, for instance, that the 5k iMac and the iMac Pro will "merge").
 
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dryjoy

macrumors regular
Mar 19, 2009
152
11
Is there more likelihood that some audio plugins may be using intel specific code than for other non-media types of software?

I wonder this given that for many years, audio developers (excluding those that develop software for both Mac/pc and mobile) have only had to concentrate on one CPU architecture, and audio is one arena in which low level optimisations can make a tangible difference to performance, latency etc.

Many plugins are developed by very small teams, so I do wonder whether this transition may be more challenging for the audio world than the Mac community at large?
 
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theluggage

macrumors 603
Jul 29, 2011
5,209
4,262
Is there more likelihood that some audio plugins may be using intel specific code than for other non-media types of software?

More likely - yes. Very likely - probably not. It's been quite feasible to write audio software in C for some time. Heck, you can write audio-frequency generating software in python.

Linux software like Ardour and VCV Rack build on ARM with modest effort (there's already an iOS fork of VCV Rack for iPad maintained by a small team - including an Intel/MacOS build using catalyst). The main barrier, really, is that the only mass-market ARM systems around now are phones and maker boards (like the Raspberry Pi) that aren't really cut out as audio workstations... The iPhone and iPad, which are pretty powerful, have attracted a shedload of audio software.

Of course there will be some exceptions - you'd have to check on a case-by-case basis - but even if there is (say) some specific use of Intel acceleration instructions that doesn't necessarily turn it into the Manhattan project - and shifting that to standard frameworks that can take advantage of future hardware accelerators is a Good Thing.
 
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thisismyusername

macrumors 6502
Nov 1, 2015
476
729
My choice is either get the next Intel iMac when (if) it comes out and hope it will last for 5 to 7 years or get an ARM iMac but would that potentially mean current third party software might not work properly for an unknown amount of time?

If you need a new computer now, I'd get one now. If you don't and can wait, then I'd wait and see how the music production market plays out before buying anything. Macs are still popular in that industry and I'd expect all the major players still supporting Macs will support ARM Macs. Also keep in mind that this opens up the possibility of running iOS/iPadOS music production apps on an ARM Mac and there's quite a lot of very good apps on that side.
 
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AshleyPomeroy

macrumors member
Dec 27, 2018
87
171
England
I'll be using FL Studio and numerous VST plugins. My choice is either get the next Intel iMac when (if) it comes out and hope it will last for 5 to 7 years or get an ARM iMac but would that potentially mean current third party software might not work properly for an unknown amount of time?

I still have a Power Mac G5 running an old version of Logic; AU / VST availability was an issue during the switch from PowerPC to Intel and then again from 32-bit to 64-bit. In particular there's a great old VST plugin called SupaTrigga that automatically slices up beats. In fact there's a tonne of VST instruments that were developed for early versions of OSX and were not updated since then (MDA's handy plugins, for example).

What would be nice is if future versions of Logic, FL, Ableton can run some kind of emulation wrapped for older plugins. Another solution would be to run the software in a virtual machine. Latency will be an issue but

Beyond that it has to be said that unless you're recording orchestral motion picture soundtracks amateur home audio production isn't particularly CPU-heavy, and there's no reason you couldn't buy a cheap 2012 Mac mini, a quiet external fan, and just use it until the end of time; if you were dead keen on using modern plugins and didn't mind the fuss you could at least master your music on the mini and import the stems into Logic / FL on your modern ARM-powered machine and overdub as necessary.
 
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||\||

macrumors 6502
Nov 21, 2019
387
647
hope it will last for 5 to 7 years

This is about what a user can expect to get out of a current Intel Mac currently, so you have nothing to worry about. OS10 will likely be supported for at least the next five years. You might lose support for a couple of years at the end of that range, but as a creavtive tool, it's unlikely that you will absolutely have to have the latest operating system. You are going to want to wait for a few products revisions into ARM (2022/2023?). Apple is likely going to make some mistakes in the beginning. They are not know for making these big jumps gracefully.
 
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Dave Y

macrumors newbie
Feb 20, 2020
18
7
Personally I'm looking to keep a recent Intel Mac for another few years and see how the transition pans out. Worst case should be good for 5-6 years even if that means not upgrading the OS for the last two.

Wouldn't expect major developers to be slow in updating apps, drivers, etc. Bound to be a few bumps in the road though – 64-bit has been hard enough for some not so small names (e.g. Genelec GLM software).

I'd be more worried about audio being low on Apple's list of priorities, especially in first gen hardware. Loads of audio problems in the last few years with T2 chips, USB audio interfaces, pops and crackles on MBPs.

But optimistic medium-term that ARM brings a big increase in DAW performance and quieter machines.
 
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groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
1,293
1,087
FL Studio has had a wishy-washy desire to operate on the Mac in the past, initially depending on a wrapper (Crossover I believe). They finally release a native version and now they have to develop for AARM. I wouldn't be surprised if it will be some time before you see an AARM version produced.

FYI, any audio interface that is class-compliant (no drivers to install under MacOS) should work under ARM.

Like a lot of other music producers here, I opted to buy an Intel Mac for now as it's going to take a while for DAW developers to get over to AARM. In my opinion, they won't even start developing for AARM until they see what kind of horsepower is under the hood of the released AARM Mac. I feel sorry for Pro Tools users who need a new computer because I suspect they're going to take the longest as Avid typically will take their sweet time. Right now I'm doing most of my projects under Logic for this reason, as well as I feel that Logic is the best value for a DAW (no subscriptions, timely updates vs MacOS releases).

If you need a new computer soon, then buy. If not, then just keep what you have and drag it on for as long as you can. This means you're getting the most out of your Mac hardware anyway.
 
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glindon

macrumors 6502
Jun 9, 2014
385
675
Phoenix
I'm pretty sure as long as plugins are AU3 (for logic) there shouldn't be any issues with compatibility as rosetta will convert them. Also developers will mostly just need to recompile for AS and maybe there are some edge cases that will require more than checking the box in Xcode. As with most audio software it normally takes 6 months from the time a new MacOS comes out before they certify it as compatible.
 
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johngwheeler

macrumors 6502a
Dec 30, 2010
639
211
I come from a land down-under...
Not knowing very much about what goes on inside computers outside of knowing what I need for my specific needs, the switch to ARM has thrown me off a bit as I don't know enough about processors to make an informed decision.

I'll be using FL Studio and numerous VST plugins. My choice is either get the next Intel iMac when (if) it comes out and hope it will last for 5 to 7 years or get an ARM iMac but would that potentially mean current third party software might not work properly for an unknown amount of time?

I would contact the vendors of FL Studio and your VST plugin to get a comment on whether they will support ARM Macs, and when. I understand that many audio plug-ins stopped working when MacOS Catalina become 64-bit only.
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
21,918
8,059
I agree with Dave Y above.

If you need now, buy now, with an eye on "staying with Intel" for the next 5 years or so.

Then you can be assured that "what you have" will still work for the next 5 years.
 
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UBS28

macrumors 68000
Oct 2, 2012
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Considering I have plugins that do not work in Catalina due to the 32-bit restriction, I do not see how all plugins will be ported to ARM, considering that 32-bit to 64-bit should be easier.
 
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dugbug

macrumors 65816
Aug 23, 2008
1,463
903
Somewhere in Florida
Will rosetta+ArmLogicPro support 64-bit intel plugins? I tend to use native instruments ones. THough Ill add, would be surprised if NI didn't have ASilicon updates on day one.
 
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AlphaCentauri

macrumors member
Mar 10, 2019
56
38
Norwich, United Kingdom
2 weeks ago I bought beefed up Mac Mini for the very purpose to wait out until everything will be converted to ARM. I should keep it around 3 to 5 years. By then, everything what is to be ported, will be ported.

Transition to 64 bit/Catalina weeded out those developers who were not taking Mac platform seriously. Whoever is left, they should have no problem with recompiling for ARM.

As a matter of fact, U-He, AudioThing and AudioDamage already declared that they will have universal binaries ready by the time ARM Macs are out. Native Intruments seems to be looking into it, too.
 
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groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
1,293
1,087
Will rosetta+ArmLogicPro support 64-bit intel plugins? I tend to use native instruments ones. THough Ill add, would be surprised if NI didn't have ASilicon updates on day one.

I was reading an interesting article that said that both your DAW and your plugins need to be similarly compiled. This means that if your DAW is native, then your plugins must be native ARM. Likewise, if your x86 DAW is running under Rosetta (which should have a performance hit), your plugins must be x86. You can't mix and match. I feel that it would likely crash your DAW if you try.

Article is here:


What this means is that although you get to decide to run your DAW under Rosetta 2 or Natively on Apple Silicon (if it’s been updated to native) you will not be able to run Intel-based plug-ins under Rosetta 2 in a DAW that is running natively on Apple Silicon (and vice versa). Put even more simply, our developer explains that this means you will not be able to mix and match a Native Apple Silicon DAW with Intel-based plugins. This means all of your plugins will have to be able to run natively on Apple Silicon before you can use them in a DAW running natively. You may even find your plug-ins get updated before your DAW – but the same problem will arise!
 
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jdb8167

macrumors 68000
Nov 17, 2008
1,661
1,012
Will rosetta+ArmLogicPro support 64-bit intel plugins? I tend to use native instruments ones. THough Ill add, would be surprised if NI didn't have ASilicon updates on day one.
It depends on the design of the application. If the application uses a separate process for the plug-in then Rosetta will work in a mixed mode for plug-ins. Native application but x86 plug-ins. But if the plug-in is loaded into the memory space of the application then it has to be all Rosetta or all native ARM.
 
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Boil

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2018
834
630
What I wonder about in regards to Macs & music production, the hardware side.

Some folks have a need for PCIe slots for their Pro Tools HDX cards & such.

With Thunderbolt 4 coming up, I would expect Apple to move to USB4 (TB3) for consumer Macs (MacBook / Mac mini) & the same for the Mac Pro line-up (MacBook Pro / Mac Pro Cube), but add on Thunderbolt 4 ports for the Pros...

Thunderbolt 4 should have enough bandwidth to not slow things down when using a PCIe expansion chassis?
 
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UBS28

macrumors 68000
Oct 2, 2012
1,867
1,163
I was reading an interesting article that said that both your DAW and your plugins need to be similarly compiled. This means that if your DAW is native, then your plugins must be native ARM. Likewise, if your x86 DAW is running under Rosetta (which should have a performance hit), your plugins must be x86. You can't mix and match. I feel that it would likely crash your DAW if you try.

Article is here:


Looks like I will have to go back to Windows and use something like Cubase again.

To me, it looks like OS X is a terrible platform as Apple dictates what software you are allowed to run (32-bit applications are not allowed anymore despite there being nothing wrong with it. And sooner or later, Intel cpu’s will not run on the latest OS anymore). Windows and Linux is much better than OS X in this respect.
 
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groove-agent

macrumors 65816
Jan 13, 2006
1,293
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Looks like I will have to go back to Windows and use something like Cubase again.

Steinberg is fairly quick to update their software so I wouldn't worry too much.

They currently have Cubasis that runs on iPad (AARM) which is fairly true to Cubase in the UI. Of course, Cubasis is no replacement for Cubase Pro, but they already have their feet wet programming for AARM.
 
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UBS28

macrumors 68000
Oct 2, 2012
1,867
1,163
UBS wrote:
"Looks like I will have to go back to Windows and use something like Cubase again."

Cubase still runs fine on the Mac side of things...

What’s the point of using Cubase on Mac when I cannot use my plugins?

Seeing as Apple continues to disable plugins for me, it looks like Windows is the way forward for me.

My Access Virus TI (a $2200 synthesizer) for example does not work with Catalina already when 32-bit was dropped, so it will be even more fun with Mac ARM :)
 
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AlphaCentauri

macrumors member
Mar 10, 2019
56
38
Norwich, United Kingdom
What’s the point of using Cubase on Mac when I cannot use my plugins?

Seeing as Apple continues to disable plugins for me, it looks like Windows is the way forward for me.

My Access Virus TI (a $2200 synthesizer) for example does not work with Catalina already when 32-bit was dropped, so it will be even more fun with Mac ARM :)

Funny how some developers and hardware manufacturers (U-He, NI, RME, Apogee, MOTU, AAS, Synapse, Plogue, Korg, Spectrasonics, etc.) managed to be compatible with 64bit Catalina pretty quickly, while others were just spending time complaining and finding excuses, instead of updating their plugins and drivers as they should (especially that Apple announced the move to 64bit like a year or so before it actually happened)...

For me, if a company is not up-to date with products/drivers on Mac, I'd rather not invest in them at all, cause they do not take the platform seriously enough to be trusted long-term. Some even outright admitted to hate Apple and Apple users on public forums - like MELDA did on KVR.

It is not Apple, who is disabling your plugins, it is lazy or inept developers who can't get their crap together and don't give a damn about Mac platform...
 
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