Early 2006 brought us the blockbuster Intel Mac ports — Logic, Live, Reason, and (most recently) Pro Tools LE — but now, finally, plug-ins are flooding in with Universal Intel versions. Just in over the last week:
BIAS Peak 5.2 brings Intel-native support to the old standby Mac audio editor. With Soundtrack Pro now available only as an upgrade for existing customers or as part of the Final Cut Studio bundle, Peak is likely to be many Mac users’ stereo waveform editor of choice. See my review for Macworld. Cost: Free.
Celemony’s Melodyne Software suite is up to 3.1, bringing not only Intel Mac-native support but some significant bugfixes and ReWire enhancements, as well. I got to speak to these folks at NAMM in January, and the new Melodyne is an incredible piece of software: it truly delivers on being able to stretch and re-pitch audio in a musical way. Cost: Free.
Last year, we got used to the idea of superstar Windows developer Cakewalk being “Mac guys,” just as we were getting used to the idea of Macs shipping with Intel processors. Now you get both in a single app: Cakewalk just announced they’ve updated their superb Rapture soft synth for Intel Macs. Rapture is a lot of fun, with an extensive but accessible modulation section and great-sounding anti-aliasing. It’s amusing to see Cakewalk beat a lot of long-time Mac developers to the punch. Cost: Free.
In addition to the full versions of these software, the “Lite” bundled versions of all the software included in the Pro Tools Ignition Pack are now all also Intel-ready. Cost: Free.
The message to developers here is clear: give people Intel-native versions free so they don’t have to pay for your software all over again.
So, how are Apple’s MacBooks and MacBook Pros doing for musicians? The interesting thing I’m hearing is that almost every PC user I know plans to make their next laptop a Mac. I don’t blame them; while I love the new desktop PC I built, Macs are still by far the most hassle-free mobile machines. A lot of us are waiting for the inevitable first revision to these machines, but in the meantime, people who have sprung for new Macs seem pretty happy. DJ Miles Maeda was playing on a set with me last night at Monkeytown in Brooklyn, and I got to check out his machine. He opted for the glossy 17″ display, and it looked fantastic. The extra screen real estate made it easy to monitor Ableton Live sessions on the go. He was pleased, as I have been, with how fast the Core Duo machines are. Notably, too, his computer doesn’t exhibit the high-pitched whine some of the early production-build MacBook Pros had.
Let us know your experiences if you pick one up. Software is rapidly approaching critical mass for many people to make the switch.