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When talking about free plugins, many people have asked me why I don't recommend (or even seem to dislike) certain "obvious" freebies like the Variety of Sound plugs etc. The reason is of course that they're 32 bit (x86) only. I know that this might seem trivial to a lot of people -- the most common counterargument I've seen is "but I'm on an 32 bit system and they work fine", the second most common is "they run fine on my x64 system using an x86 host". Right. But...

The problem is, 32 bit systems are going the way of the dodo and it's been a long time coming. Even though I personally didn't move to x64 until 2010, I got my first x64-capable processor as early as 2005 (and it wasn't even a fancy bleeding edge one) so the hardware has been there for a loooong time. The big and final transition to x64 will be happening within the next few years and the sooner you manage to phase out as much of your 32 bit stuff as possible, the less problems you will face when that change finally comes. Right now Windows and its plethora of DAW's and other software has a pretty robust way of dealing with non x64-stuff, for backwards compatibility. We can't expect that to last forever (especially not with the unpredictable dynamic model of Windows 10). Yes, there's a 32 bit version of Windows 10 as well (for now), but I think that one's aimed more at ARM processors and platforms where you wouldn't normally want to run a full-fledged DAW anyway.

So basically... x86 offers NOTHING over x64 and there is NO reason not to start thinking about finding x64 alternatives to whatever x86 plugins you're still using regularly. Sounds a bit alarmist, but just saying. Unless you plan on staying with your Core 2 Duo/2GB/Win XP machine indefinitely... start planning ahead or be prepared for a major shock the day that you find yourself having to move to a new machine. 

Just a heads up.
I don't really worry about it. I use VOS because they're good and readily available but I don't exactly rely on any plugin to make my stuff sound good. I'll find something just as good when I have to switch to 64 bit.

Composition and arrangement will always be king, software is only software and effects are only effects.

32bit Linux will be around for a LONG time to come and runs readily on 64bit hardware, too. What's Windows 10?

More important I think are formats; save your stuff in a format that's gonna work with DAWs 20 years from now (or paper...). Redoing music from scratch because hot new DAWs don't read your files sucks.
(03-19-2017, 11:51 PM)kneedeep Wrote: [ -> ]32bit Linux will be around for a LONG time to come and runs readily on 64bit hardware, too. What's Windows 10?

Well... as you have willingly chosen to distance yourself from 99% of the music software out there, I can see why you're not worried about this Wink

But yeah. This post was mainly Windows-centric, as it's usually Windows users who ask me these questions.
This is exactly why I have a Win XP under my desk next to my real computer... Yeah, I'm totally that guy complaining at Bigcat about VSCO 2 not working on XP! XD

(just kidding)

I have a feeling in a few years we'll all be saying the same about VST2. I've been noticing another big push for VST3 lately, but I don't know if that's just me.
(03-20-2017, 12:09 AM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ] you have willingly chosen to distance yourself from 99% of the music software out there...

Think of it as... er... embracing constraints! And picking an OS that you have a reasonable assurance won't throw a WinMe or Vista or Win10 at you.
(03-20-2017, 05:18 PM)Michael Willis Wrote: [ -> ]Think of it as... er... embracing constraints! And picking an OS that you have a reasonable assurance won't throw a WinMe or Vista or Win10 at you.

To be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong with using Linux per se. But from what I've seen Linux is extremely clunky for audio work and I find it difficult to see the appeal. What good is a stable, future-proof OS if it has an extremely poor selection of programs and plugins compared to its competitors? It's definitely an option if you're starting out with DAW work and/or you're already running it, but for me -- who already has a fully working setup that I'm used to -- it's simply out of the question. Switching over to Linux would mean weeks and months of downtime and and in the end all I would have is a more limited and less capable music workstation.
I'm not suggesting that anybody should switch to Linux, but as somebody who's already familiar with its ins and outs, I've been poking around with its audio utilities for a number of years now, and over the last few years it has finally gotten to the point that I feel like I can be productive. Ardour started supporting MIDI as of version 3 a few years back, and the support has become progressively better in versions 4 and 5. From what I can tell about Reaper, Ardour seems to finally have (roughly) feature parity. Also, it used to be that you had to run the JACK sound server to do any serious audio production on Linux, but now Ardour will work without it, which eliminates a serious barrier to entry.

As far as plugins go, for orchestral stuff I don't really want much more than a sampler, decent reverb, and stereo width/pan. LinuxSampler is the clear choice for the sampler and the width/panner is built in to Ardour. While I still prefer hibiki (which I can use with the carla-win64-bridge), a combination of TAP reverberator + Invada Early Reflection Reverb works when I want to use only native plugins. For other types of music, there are a number of fun Linux-native plugins an apps like guitarix, rakarrack, bristol, zynaddsubfx, etc.

Linux has also gotten progressively more user friendly over the last decade. While I don't think it's just that I've become more familiar, I will say that the ability to "look under the hood" has been highly valuable to me; when something goes wrong, I can usually figure out how to fix it. When I'm using a Windows computer, and to some extent even Mac, I don't know how to fix things when they're broken, other than reboot, maybe reinstall the app, and possibly even reinstall the OS.

So again, I don't think I'm going to convince anybody to switch to Linux, nor do I think it's a good idea for somebody who already has an established workflow, but I can offer encouragement and some mentoring to anybody who is interested in exploring audio production on Linux.
Re: Linux.

I run Reaper and VST plugins under Linux, as well as a ton of gamedev software and a Wacom tablet.

Steam runs on Linux these days with quite a few games. Graphics drivers are pretty good by now too.

Sound drivers are still a bag of fleas, but audio usually just works out of the box with distros such as Ubuntu, Mint or Arch. Personally I use OSS4 which is rock stable.

Wine ("... is not an emulator") is very good at running Windows programs today. Check out the top 10 Platinum and Gold compatibility lists at winehq. Stuff runs on Linux that you wouldn't believe. You are not limited to native Linux applications.

It's true that some things don't run on Linux (yet). If you need very specific software or hardware that only works on Windows, then well, use Windows. I'm just saying Linux is a real alternative for a few of us and it's very unlikely to go away or change drastically overnight because it's open source.

I was half-joking though, you are of course right that x64 is the way to go in the future. I'm just less worried about it because I can always keep a 32bit Linux running with 32bit wine for those 32bit plugs I desperately need (there aren't really any like I said). There is such a thing as dual booting or even multi booting into however many OSes you want on your computer.

Edit: And I'm not saying this to make anyone use Linux or start an OS war. Just, you know, audio production and even gamedev on Linux are a thing. For some people.

Edit2: And as Michael said, I don't use a lot of plugins anyway. Reverb, compressor, limiter, EQ, delay. Pretty sure I could find 64bit ones I like with a few hours' worth of googling.
(03-21-2017, 09:09 PM)kneedeep Wrote: [ -> ]Edit: And I'm not saying this to make anyone use Linux or start an OS war.

I understand, I never meant to imply that you were. If I sounded grumpy it's because when discussing things like the future and reliability of Windows someone ALWAYS pops up saying "well you can always use Linux instead" which always rubs me the wrong way... because it's not as simple as that. You can't just switch over to a completely different OS without a lot of relearning and mucking about with getting things running and working like you're used to, and that's time and effort I would rather not spend, no matter how good and reliable the OS itself is.

As for the audio capabilities of Linux, it may very well be that they have improved a lot in recent years. I've installed various distros -- both regular and audio-centric -- over the past decade or more just to stay in the loop, but every single time it felt like I was just transported back to the childhood days of DAW's and plugins on Windows. I guess now it's been something like three years since I last checked; I more or less gave up.
Yeah, I understood x32 vs x64 as more of a global issue than a windows specific thing.

If you established a workflow on Windows that you're happy with, there's certainly no reason to abandon it and in that case it's obviously justified to worry about 32bit plugs that aren't future proof from a Windows audio perspective.

Personally I spent that time mucking about with Linux 15 years ago out of interest in computer science and now it's an option that I have that makes some things easier. You might say I could have spent that time in a more productive way :-p

I still think that composition and orchestration is something you can do on any OS or software. Beethoven would probably have made incredible stuff with just SSO and a reverb plugin no matter what his OS or DAW was. I mean people did incredible things with MIDI 20 years ago on an Amiga or whatever. I think hard-and software are a lot less important than putting the notes in the right place.
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