December 26, 2013


by Chris Randall

As you no doubt know, especially if you are a Logic user, there are Big Changes coming down the pike, in the form of a sandboxed version of Logic, most likely before the middle of 2014. Developers have been given a preview copy of Logic X Sandboxed, so we can test our products to see if they will work when the update occurs, and make necessary changes. The current Garageband X is already sandboxed, so you can do a quick test to have a gander at how many of your current AUs will work in Logic X Sandboxed.

The short answer is "hardly any."

There are some very big problems with sandboxing something like Logic, from a developer's perspective, and almost no benefit to the end user. (In actual fact, it harms the end user, because products he was able to use previously, and may have come to rely on, will suddenly cease to work.) We could talk in circles all day long about that sort of nonsense, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.

While this stands a very real chance of having a consumer backlash something on the order of what occurred when Final Cut X was released, that's neither here nor there in the scheme of things. Our concern at Audio Damage is to maintain a seamless transition, so our customers aren't affected. And, let's be honest, there is nothing we like more than dropping everything and spending a couple months re-building our entire product line every time Apple has a fit of the Shinies.

In that light, we had a difficult decision to make. The only thing preventing our products from working in Logic X Sandboxed (and Garageband X, for that matter) is the erstwhile copy protection. For a decade now, we've had the simplest, least intrusive copy protection that we could have and still call it that. It has done very little to prevent piracy, and is the number one (and two and three and four and five and six and seven) source of support problems. It is, in short, a gigantic fucking pain in the ass that doesn't do what it's supposed to. And now it prevents our products from working in the Apple hosts.

So, we're taking it out.

We'll begin rolling out updates next week that will eventually encompass our entire product line, removing the DRM and updating the installers and UIs (and doing some bug fixing along the way), in order of popularity. The license control mechanism in the store will continue as-is, but the current reg codes will basically become serial numbers, and will not be required during the installation process. We'll also be able to deliver the bundles as one-click installs instead of 22 separate packages, which will no doubt please our bundle customers immensely.

This is obviously a pretty big risk for us, but we think it will be a good solution in the long run. We have long been of the opinion that there are people that care about supporting a company and its endeavors, and people that only care about themselves. Both Adam and I make a living on the former sort, and we hope that will continue to be the case. I can't speak for Adam, but I'm really shitty at blanching fries.

Anyhow, my Twitter feed and the Audio Damage RSS feed are the places to watch for updates as they're rolled. If you have a specific bug report that you think we might not know about, email it to [email protected] and I'll put it in the list. We'll be doing the products in order of popularity (with shiny new digitally signed installers, natch!) so expect Dubstation, Eos, Replicant, and Discord3 to be the earliest recipients of this treatment, and so on down to the perpetual tail-end Charlie, Ronin.


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Dec.30.2013 @ 6:12 PM
Space Monkey
I've been thinking of getting back to messing around with electronic music now that I'm out of school again, and this makes me even more certain about my decision to switch to Ableton and ditch Logic, even though it means shelling out a few hundred bucks and learning a new DAW. Logic's interface sucks. It's possible to do just about anything, but it's also a pain in the ass to do every single thing you do do.

Dec.30.2013 @ 6:15 PM
I have heard you speak of this for years Chris re: AU's are VST's in wrappers, and I take your word on it, so I sincerely posit this question: Is there any reason to use AU's over VST's (besides the fact that I have saved my presets and created file heirarchies in that manner and am too lazy or busy/overwhelmed to switch over easily).. probably sheer laziness, but started down one path ten or more years ago with things, and have stayed on it merely because of momentum... Is there anything the AU architecture ADDS? (besides PROBLEMS with midi connectivity etc)?
I use live9 now, but was a little disappointed that most of my workflow presets etc per instrument/effect etc were lost in translation from 8... (and I gooOgled and saw some less then time-satisfactory means to get them back, but again, I am claiming some laziness here)... e.g:, if I saved AU presets of Eos or RoughRider in Ableton 8, their respective user saved presets not showing up in 9... but that is not your problem, an ableton one, and this is a total tangent, so sorry...

just wondering then why the precious existence of AU's (other then Logic won't support VST), and many of us polygamous DAW users are kinda forced to bloat our drives and thus saved work in various formats....

And I realize this problem is far smaller then your moving target of apple compliance! :)

Dec.30.2013 @ 6:19 PM
outside of the obvious answer of keeping things under apple's province (and keeping Steinberg out etc) that is....

Dec.30.2013 @ 8:39 PM
Chris Randall
There are certain features in AudioUnits that aren't available in VST2.4. Or if they are, it's via hackery. (Like sidechaining, for example.) The chief reason for AudioUnits' existence, however, is two-fold.

First, Apple didn't like Steinberg's license for VSTs. Whatever with that.

Second, AUs are, in a round-about way, actually a pair of Things: the plug-in itself, and the GUI. Having the GUI as a separate process enabled Logic Nodes, where you could run plug-ins on a different computer and still access their GUI in the main DAW instance. You can count the number of people that actually ever successfully used Logic Nodes on one hand, so who gives a shit? I don't believe Logic Nodes is available any more.

However, a cross-platform developer needs to develop chiefly for the lowest common denominator amongst the formats he wishes to develop for. When AU came out, the whole group of native formats was RTAS, VST, DirectX, MAS, and AU. Of these, VST had the feature-set that was common to all five, plus it is the only multi-DAW format to be platform-ecumenical. (And incredibly so; if you step back a version to 2.3, which was what we were working with when AU came out, you can get really broad, even with the GUI. VST2.3 and VSTGUI 2.x can build for PPC and Intel OS X, OS 9, all flavors of Windows, MOTIF, and BeOS. No other plug-in format is this broad-reaching, never mind its ability to be wrapped.)

As I said in the linked KvR conversation, we're approaching a new cusp of fragmentation, with Steinberg deprecating VST2.4 in favor of the hideous VST3 kit, and Apple forcing sandboxing for AUs. Hopefully the people that make iPlug and JUCE will stay on the game, because those two middleware kits are becoming the only way you can reasonably be expected to stay ahead of the game for this shit.

TL;DR version: AU is stupid. All commercial devs fucking hate it. It's a bullshit waste of time and a silly power-trip by Apple that we all wish would just go the fuck away. That's why we wrap to it.


Jan.03.2014 @ 7:25 AM
Chris Randall
Aaaaaand... the first one is up. I just put up the Dubstation 1.5.3 installers for all versions. If you're an owner, give it a spin.


Jan.03.2014 @ 12:33 PM
Is Apple also planning to move all plug-in and preset folders from /Library to ~/Music?

Jan.03.2014 @ 12:41 PM
Chris Randall
Well, there's the onion. They haven't quite decided yet.


Jan.03.2014 @ 2:57 PM
Holy shit I just read the KVR dev discussion. The thing that struck me was some actual (if vague) talk of declining OSX plug-in sales due to crazy Apple re-alignment with sandboxing/cloud/finger painting. My opinion seems to match reality, which has always been denied by the hordes of Daring Furballs.

The university where I work is slowly but surely cleaning our dependence on OSX, accelerated by the Final Cut X debacle, but this makes me think we'll try clean out by 2015. Not that Adobe isn't another kind of asshole...

Jan.04.2014 @ 4:40 AM
I haven't bought any new Mac gear in over 3 years, and will refrain from purchasing another Mac until Apple is done force-marching developers and users through the latest round of technological transitions (hardware and software) and arrives at another stable period where you can count on things working the same for a while (like the Tiger through Snow Leopard period - although there were some transitions in there for developers, e.g. 32 to 64 bit, that period was pretty smooth for users.) I'm also cutting back on plugin purchases because a lot of the latest stuff won't work on my older machines, and I've got a bazillion plugins already anyway. By the next time I'm ready to purchase a computer, I'll also have to budget ~$2000 for commercial software upgrades, since I'm running old everything now, so that further de-incentivizes me from buying new hardware until it's absolutely necessary.

The recent period with retina MacBook Pros with fast but minuscule SSDs, and the numerous changes in UI and underlying OS tech, reminds me of the OS 9 - OS X and PPC-Intel transitions where I just stuck with what I already had working for as long as I could. Sometimes using old software and hardware is more productive than trying to keep up with every transitional state of technology anyway. My fear with Apple is always that they will get mired in such constant transition that there won't EVER be another reasonably stable period when you can count on things working and not frequently changing enough to disturb established workflows.

I thought by now I'd be able to purchase a MacBook Pro with internal storage large enough that I could install NI Komplete, Ableton Live Suite, plus tons of other software I use, and carry around my whole personal sample library as well ... The SSD transition really messes that up and suggests I'll need to pair an external drive with any Apple laptop for many years to come. So my dream of having my entire personal production environment in my next laptop with no external drive required is shot ...

This has really got to be sweating companies like NI whose products have large and complex installs. If they don't know something as fundamental as whether future installs will be in /Library or ~/Music, and given that you can't fit their installs on machines with small SSDs anyway, it has to be depressing their sales until all that is sorted out. (I'm still on Komplete 6.)

Once again we are reminded of the very low priority the requirements of audio production have in Apple's scheme of things.

Jan.04.2014 @ 7:02 AM
Chris Randall
Yeah, honestly, to someone starting out, I'd actually recommend them going with a Windows 8 machine at this point. You just have more control over the environment right now.

(This as a Mac user since 1985, with one brief 3-year period where I couldn't take it any more, c. '96 -'99.)

While it's demonstrably true that the Mac is "better" for digital audio work (for values of "better" that include CoreAudio and CoreMidi, anyhow, not necessarily editing or file management) getting to the point where that sort of shit matters to you is a long slog.


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