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Legacy audio plugins and Apple Silicon


I got my previous studio computer more than ten years ago. It has done a great number of projects. I'd have loved for it to keep going but 10 year old hardware is energy-inefficient, and on macOS, increasingly incompatible.

So I upgraded, somehow accepting the costs of losing a bunch of software plugins. Unfortunately they were very cool plugins:

Native Instruments Kore Player

I had some cool libraries for this somewhat strange player, most notably Acoustic Refractions, which was very sound-design-y and never failed to provide inspiration when I hit the wall against a fast approaching deadline. Sadly, NI seem to have ditched it altogether and didn't bother exporting the library to separate instruments Link

Native Instruments Super 8

A cool retro-sounding synth which bizarrely lost its host plugin. At least it's still available as a Reaktor ensemble. Dumb move on part of NI not to support it.

FXPansion Tremor

This is by far my favourite drum machine. Powerful, flexible, inspiring, with a great sequencer, and infinite sound options. Discontinued. Unavailable. Link

Air Music Technology Loom

Loom is a phenomenal synth just for sound design alone. Sadly, it and Loom II are both unavailable for Apple Silicon. Loom Classic is simply no go on macOS 13. And try as I might, I couldn't make Loom II pass AU Validation either. Knowing all this, I still bought v2 on sale. I emailed AIR about it. They replied in 100% InMusic style, basically an AI-like "sorry not sorry" reply that was exactly 0% helpful. Link. Basically do not buy this.

Spectrasonics Omnisphere

It took me years before finally deciding to buy Omnisphere 1, mostly because of the price tag. Having only explored about 10% of it, I was in no rush to upgrade to Omnisphere 2. Somewhat expectedly, v1.5 does not run on a modern Mac, and v2 costs moar money. I also lost scores/ratings I had assigned to a rather large number of library instruments (same with Logic Alchemy actually), not to mention saved patches. If you do a bunch of things just right, Omnisphere opens in Logic. On the next reboot it's gone again. On the plus side, Omnisphere 2 installs with the same ID as v1, and seems to have picked up my ratings and favourites from v1. On the minus side, as v1 was disabled in Logic, v2 was disabled too, until I looked. Link

The Mangle

This little plugin is a pure inspiration machine. Sadly, it is now lost to the sands of time. The copies I still have would open but become unresponsive almost straight away. Link

Audio Damage Quanta

This granular audio processor has a very nice interface. Sadly, it fails to install its own factory content library. (Of course,) Quanta 2 is available for $$. Link

Audiorealism Bassline ABL

I think I've now bought ABL1, ABL2.. and ABL3 over the years. It's frustrating not to be able to find my own old ABL2 license code, which is somewhere on my old machine, but nowhere in my searchable emails (looking at you, Yahoo). Plus ABL2 (or ABL2x) simply fails to turn up anywhere in the system - Rosetta or not - I've not been able to instantiate it at all. Confusingly, I was also able to find at least three versions of ABL2 on my system - one fat binary with three architectures, one with just i386, one for x86_64. Alas no arm64

Plugin Alliance Unfiltered Audio SpecOps

This plugin can't authorise itself even though it created the folder where the license file should go. I was able to trick it by downloading a license and placing it in the folder. This is stupid. Audiounit detection and validation (and caching) is bad enough on macOS 13, and asking to hack around in cryptic ~/Library paths makes things worse.


There's a bunch of other plugins I'm yet to check - C700, Digits, Synth 1. Not sure what to expect but these days it takes me absolutely no time to feel tired and wishing not to bother.

It's not all bad news - GRM Tools, Absynth, Synplant, Aalto, Kaivo, Granite, Nuance, Michael Norris's plugins, Soundhack Spectral Shapers, are all available, and most cost nothing to update to arm64. It's nice to see plugins with heritage continue getting support. Like the above, those aren't easy to replace.

All in all, I'm in two minds about reinstalling a large number of plugins I used to have, since i simply don't need them, or I don't trust that I could commit to using them going further (Cumulus, Quanta, Curve, RayBlaster). Those in the list above, however, are proper sound design tools, making for interesting sounds, and interesting sounds inspire the sort of music I later like releasing.

It does feel unfair that there's more than just a hidden cost to upgrading. I literally won't be able to run these plugins again, unless some lucky day, via some bridge, I'm currently unaware of. I wouldn't want to rely on them for new projects anyway.

Shrug 🤷

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