TNSS: Free for All

So before we start our adventure into Logic, a nice little surprise showed up yesterday:

Reaper M1

Our friends at Cockos dropped an update to REAPER with Big Sur capability as well as a Beta for M1 (Apple Silicon) Macs. Of course I downloaded the Beta… It looks really nice (buttons and other items have been rendered to a higher resolution to my eyes), but I haven’t dug deep into it yet. That will come later.

REAPER AS Beta

TAL’s NoiseMaker running as an AU Instrument in REAPER, and again seems to be working fine. 🙂

Let’s start installing Plugins in Logic. I had already installed TAL’s NoiseMaker and Valhalla DSP’s suite of effects in the last post, so today was all about seeing what would work and how resilient Rosetta 2 is. Logic has to Validate Audio Units before they can be used by other programs (like REAPER), so we have to start there anyway.

Magnus and Frederik over at Sonic Charge have had a great reputation for not really needing updates to their plugs once a new OS comes out. I have always been happily surprised that they ‘just work’ when I do an update, and this is no exception. The downloader worked without a hitch, and their online Authorization System didn’t even blink, and Logic happily loaded them. As MicroTonic is my ‘go-to’ plugin for drum synthesis, it’s nice to have it installed. Excellent.

FabFilter updated a post saying that their plugins work fine on Big Sur. I Downloadedtheir combined Installer, and they are correct that they work fine. Its Validation crawl is the pic for this post. I use FF Plugins in pretty much every session, so doing The Happy Dance here.

IK Multimedia dropped a really nice set of effects called MixBox earlier this year. I really like it so even though they say they are still testing I had to try it. TLDR: it works. Below is MixBox treating a MicroTonic drum track.

MixBox

But not everything was a resounding success. I decided to try Dexed – a really smart Yamaha DX emulator (it will even work as a Librarian for the actual hardware…) but the old Logic Bug of refusing to show new Plugins until you Log Out or Restart your computer reared its ugly head – again. How many years has this been going on now…?

After a (very) quick Restart, it loaded and passed Validation properly. Dexed happily loaded all my presets and receives and plays MIDI data as it should. But if you try to edit any parameters on screen, it ‘glitches’ the GUI briefly before updating. This only happens on playback, but is a bit annoying…

In all I installed multiple Plugins from nine different Developers and only Dexed had any kind of issue. I’m going for broke and installing everything I own.

I’m seriously impressed here. I truly believe I could do a lot of my production on Edsel and notice little difference from my current workflow. A few more OS updates will help things along, and obviously native M1 versions of Apps and Plugins will certainly make things better, but at this point I’d say if you’re interested in Apple Silicon I’m not going to dissuade you. These are very powerful machines. Big Sur runs quite smoothly for such early days, and Rosetta 2 is a masterwork of emulation. Chef’s Kiss, Apple. 🙂

But before we go let’s take a walk into Crazytown, shall we?

One of the things the M1 Macs will do is load iOS Apps – so let’s see if we can download one and make it work.

(Cue ominous music…)

When you go to the App Store on Apple Silicon, you will see a new choice on your Purchases page:

AppStore1

Choose that and you can see all of the Apps you’ve acquired on iOS. Most will say ‘Designed for iPhone (or iPad). Not verified for macOS.’ But you can still download them. I have no idea what to do with them, but you never know until you try…

I decided to try Kai Aras’ ShockWave:

AppStore2

It downloaded with no quibbles. I also figured I should grab something else just in case… I went for the Spectrum Synthesizer Bundle, a nice little synth based on Mutable Instruments Eurorack hardware:

AppStore 3

I was pretty limited in what I could choose from, even though I have a lot of iOS Music Junk. Apparently Developers can choose to not allow their Apps to be used ‘cross-platform’ (iOS and Apple Silicon) – a lot of what I have purchased was nowhere to be found. I have a feeling this might change in the future, but I’m betting a lot of issues (both coding- and money-wise) need to be sussed out first. All good – I’m patient. 🙂

Not really sure what I needed to do next, so I just launched Logic on a hunch. AU Validation window pops up on launch…

IOS AUv3 Validation

Surprise! Logic Validates them just like any other AU Plugin…

ShockWave wouldn’t pass the checks (even after trying ‘Reset and Rescan Selection’), but two of the ‘modules’ in the Spectrum Bundle did. Let’s try to load one up:

Modal

It’s available in the AU Instruments menu. Knobs twist and controls move, but no sound, and no MIDI control whatsoever.

(Cue ‘sad trombone’ sound here)

But still – this may be the foreshadowing of some good things to come. I’ll put this on the list of things to check occasionally as we move forward with the Saga.

We’ll end here on another (quasi) high note for this round. There is more to come, but Logic is doing what Logic does, and it seems AU Plugins do too. Stunned at how seamless this has been.

I guarantee it can’t be this easy though… 🙂

TNSS: A. B. And C.

While I’m in Testing Mode I ran across a few things you might like to know. Oh, and I am currently writing this post on Edsel, so the transition to normalcy is off to a flying start – every passing day is another round of Apps with Bur Sur and/or M1 updates, and comparing Clara Jane to Edsel right now shows maybe 4 or 5 Apps (non-musical) I would really like to have. Not bad for about 5 days in!

And with that bright spot, on to the main points of this update:

A. While poking around the Interwebz® for news and updates I ran into this tidbit from Chris over at Audio Damage:

We have begun our port to Apple Silicon, and have already updated some products. We hope to have everything done by the end of November.

Having said that, it should be noted that our testing has shown that native Apple Silicon hosts don’t really seem to care whether the plugin is Intel or ARM. In our testing so far, our own products are indistinguishable in the Apple Silicon native versions of Logic and Mainstage, as are the other plugins we have tried from our friends in the industry.

On the whole, our general opinion is that as a producer you won’t really notice (or even be able to tell) whether a plugin or host is running native ARM or in Rosetta 2. The CPU load should be more or less the same; the ARM version may be slightly lower, but this is difficult to measure consistently.

This is super interesting. The reports I have read about both Apple Silicon and Rosetta 2 performance are showing that The Mothership® is not only going to radically change the whole Macintosh lineup not only moving forward, but that future really is right here, right now. I’m wagering the true ‘Pro’ versions coming in the next year or so are going to push computing to a whole new level, and we may look at Intel-based systems in less than two years like we look at Power PC Macs of Yore – doorstops.

With Chris’ post in mind I decided to do something to test it (and I need some Software Instruments other than the Logic built-in ones), so I popped over to Patrick Kunz’s House of Awesomeness and even though he says they are on the ball with Big Sur, Apple Silicon, and M1 support is coming soon, I grabbed NoiseMaker to see if it would work since I don’t think it’s been updated since the Catalina updates a year or so ago.

Installer called no fouls, and it passed Logic Pro Validation. A quick sequence didn’t break anything, so very impressed. More testing to come…

Validation Passed

Sidebar: TAL’s NoiseMaker is free, and if you like it please support Patrick and Co. by buying a plugin or six. They are worth every penny and you’ll be supporting small developers. I could say this for a lot of Music App Makers, btw… 🙂

Speaking of, the rest of the Audio Software Devs are assumedly busy at work as the news of updates has slowed to a crawl. Again, this is expected and as I live by the Venn diagram I put as the Post Header (and you should too.) I’m fine with it. Take your time and get it right, but if the Rosetta 2/TAL NoiseMaker test is any benchmark I believe the floodgates will open shortly. I’ll test some other small dev plugins as time allows before then.

B. I have had a very odd hardware issue with Edsel – the Apple Magic Mouse I’m using for it randomly loses connection and refuses to reconnect until I hit a key on the accompanying Magic Keyboard. Happens about once or twice a day. I have used the Magic Mouse with other Macs and even iPads with no problems whatsoever.

I personally hate using mice, and really wish there was a way to connect a single Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad to work on multiple Macs. There’s supposedly a trick of turning Bluetooth off on one machine and then on on the other to switch back and forth, but I couldn’t replicate that – Edsel wouldn’t even recognize either of the Bluetooth devices that had already been paired with Clara Jane. So I pulled my old HP Bluetooth mouse out of the ‘computer junk’ drawer and it seems to work as expected. Looks like I’ll have to get another Magic Trackpad, but there really should be a more elegant solution for this other than lining mApple’s pockets a little bit more.

C. The new monitor and arm have arrived and are put into place. Makes a big difference and switching between both computers is easy. Just the constant swapping of Input Devices is a pain in the you-know what, so I’ll just use Clara Jane’s built-in keyboard and trackpad for any two-device testing.

Desk updated

In the pic above Edsel is on the Big Screen, Clara Jane on her own for the Logic comparisons I’ve been doing. The Arturia BeatStep Pro and UA Apollo to the left of it are connected through the CalDigit dock for Clara Jane (you can see it peeking out below the laptop stand). I need to dig out an audio interface and MIDI controller for the Mini so I’m not listening to sounds from its internal speaker while pecking away at Logic’s Musical Typing keyboard. Time for a trip to the Closet of Discarded Wonders to see what’s in there.

That’s all for today, next time we’ll get into Logic – I promise. 🙂

TNSS: The Chimes of Big Ben

When you turn the new Macs on they make the old breathy startup chord sound of Macs of Yore. It even has a reduced sample rate quality that is oh so fashionable every year or so in the Audio Biz. I’m sure there are thousands of videos out there that demonstrate this if you care about such things. In my case I found it slightly…annoying.

Last night was the Software Update to the last Big Sur release. On Clara Jane, a comparable update (3.83 GB in this case) would take about 10 minutes to download and about 40ish minutes to complete. Edsel chewed through everything in about 15 minutes. There is some speed in here, yes.

The App Store updates were surprising – nothing needed to be updated. I did have to ‘authorize’ Pages, Numbers, and a few core apps to work on this machine with a button click, but a recheck for updates produced nothing. Nice.

Next was Logic Pro. A quick download followed by 40 minutes of ‘Additional Sounds’ (yes, I did the full 80GB lot). A box in the bottom left corner displayed downloading times and installing progress while I puttered off to have dinner. I’m not sure if I’ll put Final Cut or Motion on Edsel yet. I use them occasionally but not that often and they can be installed later if need be.

The first ‘3rd Party’ App I put on any new system is 1Password. They had released a Big Sur-compatible version (7.7) just that day so it was off to Agilebits to get the latest installer. Did have a glitch where Edsel refused to install on the first try, but I launched the Installer again and it went off without a hitch. This is foreshadowing or things to come, I’ll bet…

And so ends my first day with The New Shiny-Shiny.

The next morning I ordered a new monitor from scAmazon®. Desk Real Estate is limited and having multiple monitors is not an option. Told you to be prepared to spend more money than you expected. 🙂

Desk3

(Yeah – this ain’t gonna work…)

The rest of the early morning before EduCorp® duties commence is spent scouring the trade sites for info on what issues other users have found with Apple Silicon or Big Sur and hopefully glean a bit of info on Apps I use that have been updated for MacOS 11. 

For the Music Software side G has a running Thread over at MacOS Audio that is updated constantly. A lot of his info is from email dispatches from the Devs so you might have to do a bunch of clicking through to get the latest info. He does this for almost every System Update, btw…

This is one of the main reasons Pros will always tell you you to wait before updating your system. It’s a long game of waiting for everyone to catch up with the newness and work out the bugs and oddities. If you just check your fave websites and cat videos with your computer then you’ll probably be fine with the latest and greatest. For those who rely on Third-Party Developers to get a lot of their work or play done you have to wait until they have everything ready a few months after the tidal wave has crested. 

Strangely, the November 12th updates showed up for GarageBand, Keynote, Numbers, Pages, and iMovie at lunchtime – 6 days after they were released. Go mApple!

Found that a lot of my needed Utilities, Bartender, Hazel, CleanShot X, and Yoink! have Big Sur versions. Keyboard Maestro looks like it works too… Good news. There were some Upgrade fees involved with a few of these apps, but I expected this – about once a year they begin to creep in, and all worth the price of readmission to me.

Downloaded Office 365 before heading back into the fray and frenzy of work. Will test it later. Spoiler Alert: it works.

After dinner were a couple of things I wasn’t sure about. I downloaded the latest version of REAPER. Spoiler Alert: it seems to work – shakedown testing later.

Then to Valhalla DSP, makers of my favorite time-based effect plugins, based on a Tweet that everything was go for Big Sur.

Sean Costello is Awesome

This makes me sooooo happy, and what a perfect place to stop for the evening. Surprisingly, nothing else I installed had issues after the 1Password hiccup. There are lots of trips to System Prefs to make various Utilities work, but if you’re coming from Catalina you are more that used to this. Most of the apps walk you through the steps on first launch.

In the next thrilling episode we’ll start digging into Logic (and maybe REAPER too)  – and I’ll have a new monitor to make things a bit easier (fingers crossed).

TNSS: Arrival

About this time of the year I’m researching Stupid Music Holidaze® Gifts for an end of the year giggle (and we need as many of those as we can get this year) – but nooooooo. I decide to buy a new untested bit of computer hardware and software and walk everyone through the non-parted Rea Sea of lunacy we call ‘planned obsolescence’. Is it too late to end this and post goofy pictures of Vanilla Ice-themed oven mitts or something? Please?????

(Sip of coffee, 30 seconds of breathing exercises, and one last gulp of coffee)

So yes, it arrived as the Delivery App foretold. Head to the Tube of Yous for gazillions of drool-worthy Unboxing videos if you desire. We are proudly a slow media zone here.

Sidebyside

On the left is my 2012 Mac mini. Quad-core i7 with 16 Gig of RAM and 1.5 TB of SSD’s. It’s been a faithful steed for over 8 years, but it can’t upgrade to MacOS 11 which is why I got the MacBook Pro earlier this year. For those tallying stats it’s the 8-core i9 with 16 GB Ram, 1TB SSD model. On the right is Edsel (the Apple M1-chipped, Big Sur’d The New Shiny-Shiny). Yep, I’ve decided Cupertino can smell the glove – I’m calling it Edsel. The MacBook Pro still needs a name – like Clara Jane (you do know we have access to the same Interwebz® right? So do your research.)

For all intents and purposes they are identical (if you ignore the carbon scoring on the 2012.)

2012back

But from the back you can tell the difference. The 2012 has Ethernet, FireWire 800 (wow – memories!), HDMI, Thunderbolt (v2), four USB 3 ports, SD card slot, and separate mic and headphone jacks.

2020back

Edsel has Ethernet, two Thunderbolt (v3)/USB 4 ports (rather sneaky wording you did on this kids), HDMI (2.0), two USB 3 ports, and the headphone out jack. That’s a lot of empty back panel space compared to the 2012, and at the very least an SD slot would have been a nice addition. Hoping a MacFixit teardown will provide clues as to why so much extra space…

So the drill with any card-carrying AppleGeek® acquiring new hardware is thus: plug it in, turn it on, sign in with your Apple ID, then head straight for the Software Update pane to check for System Updates. After about an hour of waiting on these you can now go check for App Store updates. Wait about 20 minutes or so for that to finish, then open every single freakin’ App you downloaded to download the crud they need to work properly (this is mostly for ProApps like Logic and Final Cut, but you’d be amazed at what else wants additional content). By the next day you should be ready to start working, uhhh, I mean testing.

BTW: with new Mothership® Goodies this process will be incessant for the next month or so. You awaken every day to another Nagbox telling you there’s an update to one of the Tetris pieces inside that got broken since the last time you used it. Get used to it and remind yourself this is why you never buy Version 1 of anything from anyone. I am only mildly joking here, of course.

Oh, and if you’ve never set up a new Mac before you have a wonderfully rewarding few days ahead of you. I’d never spoil the fun, so we’ll just skip over this part, mmmkay…

I encountered the first major hurdle during the ‘turn it on’ phase – it doesn’t like my video cable. I had the old Mini connected via HDMI-to-DVI to my old NEC monitor and figured that since there’s also HDMI on Edsel it should ‘just work’. Nope. Edsel is starting to live up to its name.

My NEC also has a DV port, but that is connected to the MacBook Pro (Clara Jane from here onwards). I grabbed the Thunderbolt 3 cable connecting Clara Jane to my CalDigit TB3 dock and inserted it into one of the Mini’s Thunderbolt ports and Edsel garishly came to life on the screen. (Seriously – the default Big Sur color scheme is blinding…) So it works, but apparently not with my cable or DVI or whatever voodoo is baked into the M1 chipset. So now it’s off to do some Interwebz® research and probably to scAmazon® for the needed wiring. Hey – did I mention that you will spend lots of extra $$$$ in addition to what you shelled out for The New Shiny-Shiny? Yes. Yes you will.

In a flash of ‘Holy Cats – did I just outsmart myself?’ I remembered that I bought one of those portable monitors on sale from said scAmazon® just after I got Clara Jane. Dug the box out of a closet and was pleasantly surprised that not only does it have USB-C – it comes with the cables too. Plugged it into one of the Thunderbolt ports on the Mini and was rewarded with a blazing barrage of colors as Edsel’s interior workings could now be seen. 

Settingup

Told you it was garish! (And sorry for the poor quality – quickly snapped from my phone on the old NEC monitor)

In the next Episode we’ll actually do something with this thing and see if Edsel actually does live up to its name. Wish me luck.

The New Shiny-Shiny

Well hello there everyone! Yes, I know it’s been a while – what else is new…? 😀

So anyway, I bought one of the new Mac mini’s with (cue Angelic Choir) Apple Silicon. It will look just like the pic I attached to the top of this post and I will etch ‘New guts. More glory.’ into my desktop when it arrives as to have the full Mothership® experience. Delivery App tells me it will arrive very day as I write this. w00t!

So the new adventure here for a bit is to document this machine from setup to (likely painful) transition into a working member of the APITE family. Since most of what I do is the day-to-day rote of EduCorp® as well as a lot of musical work from creating to finished product, I’m hoping to give you a sense of the difficulties of major studio upgrades like this.

I’ve mentioned before that you should never upgrade a workhorse machine to the latest Shiny-Shiny and with that in mind my trusty Intel-based MacBook Pro will still be running Catalina (MacOS 10.5) and my ever-expanding array of plugins and apps alongside this testbed Apple Silicon wonder running Big Sur (MacOS 11). I’ve been here many times before with not only the PowerPC to Intel transition, but a raft of other Operating System upgrades and Software changes.

Based on my experience with those I’m very tempted to name the new Mini ‘Edsel’, but I dare not jinx the Cupertino Gurus at this time. This will likely change.

So there’s the setup – at least for the next several posts here. Since pretty much nothing (at least pro audio-wise) is working on Big Sur at the moment I’ll be running on the Apple Pro Apps with a smattering of Plugins that say they are cleared for duty on OS 11. I will keep you up to date with what is and how it’s going. Shenanigans will ensue.

Stay tuned!