64 bits of head wreck

One would imagine having 64 bit computing as a physical possibility for the past 6 years would have meant that software makers would be on top of this opportunity but, remarkably, in the power-needs world of music production nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ve recently started work on a new film project and felt that now might be the time to consider moving to a 64 bit version of Windows in order to take advantage of a system with 12Gb of RAM – something that could greatly benefit the use of the Vienna Symphonic Library – however I couldn’t have anticipated just how complicated such a move could be.


It’s remarkable how unprepared some of the software makers are. I’ve been testing on a spare machine and so far I’ve found:

  • Propellerheads Reason will not work with Cubase 5 64-bit, but will work when Cubase is running in 32-bit mode;
  • Apple Quicktime will also not work with Cubase 5 64-bit;
  • It appears that the Waves plug-ins won’t work if the OS is 64-bit.

I haven’t even gotten round to testing a few other crucial items. What amazes me though has been some of the responses from software vendors, including one who point blank didn’t know whether their software would work when Cubase was running in the 32 bit emulation environment on a Windows x64 OS. I tested it for them and reported back – um, is there a reason we shell out hundreds and hundreds of Euro for your software?

It appears that I’d be foolish to even contemplate switching to a 64-bit OS for the foreseeable future. I really do want to embrace this as the way forward but there’s just too many potential pitfalls that it seems like a bad idea. This means that I’ll have to drop this fresh install of Windows 7 RC from the laptop and then I have to try and work out whether I’m going to go with Vista32 or XP. It also means that there’s crap all point in me purchasing more than 4Gb of RAM for my new machine (and of course I’d still only have about 3Gb of addressable RAM because my graphics cards will take up some of that addressable space). Arse and feck anyway.

Of course, as everything barring Waves will run in the 32 bit emulation mode, perhaps it still would be worthwhile..

Perhaps I’m just wrecking my own head – but I keep going round in circles on this.

Fair play to the guys at VSL though for pushing forward on the 64 bit end of things, including their new plugin bundle, the Vienna Suite.


  • steve
  • I know, I'm just talking about general consumer usage.

    I've already talked about this over on Pixelapes, when in 2003 the average punter like you or me could realistically get a 64bit chip with "the launch of AMD's 64-bit x86-64 extension to the x86 architecture, processors based on this architecture" became common in high-end PCs.

    Anyway, the main point is that it's not like they couldn't have seen it coming..

  • Interestingly on linux it's gone the other way. Since many of the developers use 64 bit systems, 32 bit support can be a little buggy these days.

    • Certainly things seem very solid on Linux 64 bit. I was running Xubuntu on my laptop for a good while there and the 64 bit factor is completely transparent – you just don't notice issues with running a 64 bit OS.

      I really would love to be able to give Windows the shove, but unfortunately from a music production point of view it really isn't an option. I have enough trouble with people bemoaning the fact that I'm not using Mac and ProTools..

  • Spewey Walshe

    You should probably just get a mac so. Sure it may not be able to handle 64 bit stuff any better but it'll look pretty.

  • Aye, I don't think the 64 bit handling is particularly better – just because the software makers are behind (in my eyes).

  • spectac

    Not audio related however, we use 64bit vista machines in work for AutoCAD 3D projects. AutoCAD crashes everytime you close a drawing. Autodesk's answer: "We don't really klnow what that's about, sure it's the 64bit version of windows and quite frankly not many use it so we don't care"…not in so many words, but you get the picture.

    • That's lovely. It's great how companies embrace improvements and change so much. Waves were the same – super high-end, high-cost plugins and they actually didn't know if they'd work in 32 bit emulation mode. Great.

      You'd think when it gets to some of the bigger convolutions etc that having lots of RAM and working in the 64 bit domain would make a lot of sense..

      It's all very confusing. I'm still confused.