Propellerhead has just unveiled three updates, Reason 3.05 for Mac, and ReWire 1.7 and an updated REX library for Mac and Windows. The big story is native compatibility of Intel-native Macs for Reason, but that’s not the only story. Just about everyone will benefit from the new versions, on PowerPC and Intel Macs, and Windows PCs, possibly even if you don’t run Reason itself. This general trend could be enough to make 2006 the Year of Music Software That Finally Runs Faster.
If you have an Intel Mac and Reason, you now have an Intel-native Reason application, version 3.05. (While beta builds were separate for Intel and PowerPC, this build is fully Universal for both processors.)
If you have an Intel Mac, even if you don’t have Reason, the updated REX and ReWire libraries are also Intel-native for use with other applications that rely on those applications (like Ableton Live and Apple Logic Pro).
If you have a PowerPC-based Mac, you’ll still get boosted performance out of the new Reason and ReWire.
If you have a Windows machine, you’ll get improved performance from ReWire 1.7.
Or, to put it more simply, Intel Mac users are no longer waiting and everyone, regardless of machine, gets improved performance, even if all you’re doing is running ReWire with another application. So go download thus updates, everyone! (I think — so far, no word on whether there are any compatibility issues with the update and other software. As always, proceed with caution, back up your old version, and let us know how it goes.)
You can add Intel-native ReWire to the other major technology on the Mac for routing audio between applications, Jack OS X, which is also Intel-native. Not everyone will be ready to make the jump — you can’t run non-Intel plug-ins inside an Intel-native application — but if your studio setup is Live + Reason, for instance, you may be ready to take the plunge.
And for Windows users, Reason isn’t the only app that’s promising simultaneous advantages on the Mac and PC. I think that’s not only because the two platforms share Intel chips: even with AMD processors, what appears to be happening at a lot of software houses this year is a general house-cleaning of code. If you have to add Intel Mac compatibility (or x64 and Vista compatibility on Windows), why not have a little spring cleaning in some other areas? That appears to be the thinking, and the truth is that many performance optimizations work on all platforms, regardless of whose brand-name is on the CPU, especially when you’re talking about multithreading for the increasing number of dual-processor and dual-CPU machines.