Threecircles Recording Studio - 32 or 64 Bit?

Studio Upgrade to 64 Bit

The wait is finally over – Threecircles Recording Studio has finally upgraded to 64Bit!

“A bit late?” I hear you cry? Well I subscribe to the old adage of “If it ain’t broke….”

My system was moving along quite nicely on relatively old Mac OS (10.5 – Leopard) and I didn’t want to rock the boat.

Upgrading the OS of a studio computer usually means a lot of down-time while you check every plugin and combination to make sure that you won’t face a crash during a session (not cool!). Upgrades came and went and I couldn’t see the point in upgrading as I never really stressed out the machine when running fairly heavy arrangements and the potential benefits were small.

The main problem with NOT upgrading was that there was a 4Gb ceiling on Logic when running at 32 bit – meaning that any processor-hungry plugins or software instruments would hog system resources and crash or slow-down sessions. With a 64-Bit system, the ceiling of 4Gb goes away meaning that you are free to utilise however much RAM you have in your system.

Threecircles Recording Studio - Apogee Symphony CardThankyou eBay – a mint condition 64-Bit Apogee symphony card from only £121 delivered, instead of £900!

The card is also half the length of the 32-Bit card, meaning fitting it in the PCI chassis is much easier!

The main issue was that my Apogee Symphony card was 32-Bit only and could only run up to OSX 10.6.7 – not good if I wanted to upgrade to the latest versions of UAD for example – to make use of the new plugin offerings like the API and 1176 bundles. Upgrading past this OS would mean installing the 64-Bit Symphony card – at £900 a pop. Ouch!

eBay comes to the rescue again!

I managed to get hold of a 64-Bit Symphony card for only £121 delivered – Win!

I also had a Mac Pro machine sitting at home with a fresh install of Mountain Lion (10.8.5) on a fusion drive waiting for me to test the new card. I then came round to the idea of simply switching the macs over – meaning that I wouldn’t have any downtime in the studio while I made the switch.

First I switched out the Apogee card and checked whether this would work with the Rosetta 800 AD convertors and run sessions. All went swimmingly so I started adding things one at a time – checking compatibility before moving on. The UAD card was next which went as well as I expect from a company which has excellent support – the new 7.4 installer worked perfectly first time and after downloading my plugin authorisation key the plugs were up and running. The upgrade process was speeded up no end by my downloading all the 64-Bit plugins upgrades beforehand. Most plugins were available at no extra charge – although there were one or two exceptions:

Melodyne Plugin is no longer supported so I had to pay €180 for the new version – Melodyne Editor (not such a bad thing as it is now polyphonic!)

The one upgrade that slightly irked me was from Sonnox – whereby I had to pay a £15 + tax fee for every plugin I owned (6 of them) – adding up to a £108 fee just to download the new plugins – not impressed!

Threecircles Recording Studio - RAM upgradedThe new studio mac now has double the RAM of the old one – I may even upgrade this to more as and when I can but this should keep me going!

The good thing about this whole process is that I can still run 32-Bit plugins from Logic 9.1.8 (I have no desire to upgrade to Logic X just yet and face losing 32-Bit plugs) – meaning that I still have access to the lovely reverbs on offer from my TC Electronic Powercore.

Once all the new plugins were installed it was then a case of switching across the HD caddies and then putting more RAM in the new studio Mac – now upgraded to 10Gb! The new machine runs very smoothly and the fusion drive means that programs boot quickly and are very responsive and I now have a slimmed-down Mac Pro for photo and video work at home!

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