We live in a time where you can just make music anywhere on the computer (PC, Mac & Linux). Connect a MIDI keyboard, open your favourite DAW, launch your favourite instrument plugin and you are ready for making music. If you use your setup for a few years now and have changed almost nothing, you will surely notice something that happen in today’s computer-based music environment. In addition to better and better sounding plugins with top notch innovative technologies, the main plugin standard for music software for the last years shifts from 32 bit to 64 bit architectures. Many software company publish currently only 64 bit plugins and decide to stop the development of existing 32 bit software.
The latest example is Ableton, which has announced last month that they will continue to develop Live 9 only in 64 bit in the future. In a time where most musicians have very powerful computers in their home or professional studios, it’s for me a logical and understandable decision from the developers. That certainly has many advantages for the companies. Less development time, fewer beta phases, they can focus on a modern architecture and make the most of the resources they have.
Even though 64 bit is becoming the new standard, there is a problem for many musicians. Many producers don’t want to miss their great 32 bit plugins in their 64 bit only DAW environment. Many DAW’s doesn’t have build-in bridges and producers can’t anymore use older plugins. One exception per example is here Bitwig Studio from Berlin that support 32 & 64 bit plugins. If you are not a Bitwig user but maybe a Ableton users, there are two possible solutions that can help here. On the one hand, developers could further develop the 32 bit plugins and offer them in the newer 64 bit format. All this possible but certainly the whole thing cost money and consume time that freeware developer doesn’t receive a revenue for. On the other hand, you can work with a 32 to 64 bit converter from a third party developer that is a simpler solution.
There are currently two popular plugin converters on the market. J-Bridge is a converter from an indie-developer that allows you to use again your favourite old and un-supported plugins in your current setup. J-Bridge is available for Windows and Mac for a very affordable price of 15€. A more professional converter is 32lives from Sound Radix, a plugin developer that is known for excellent mixing and masting software. One downside for 32 lives is that it’s only available for Mac. Since I’m use my music software on a mac system with Mac OS 10.11.6, I will focus this review on the 32 lives converter from Sound Radix.
The conversion process is straightforward and made in few minutes
32 Lives is a standalone application that can be installed like a normal program on your Mac OS system. Important to know here is that you can only convert Mac Audio Unit’s and VST plugins with this software. AAX plugins from ProTools can not be transformed by the 32 lives application. With the latest major new v.2 version, the development team enhanced a lot the application and added VST support.
To get access to the conversion process, just open first the application and scan your plugin folder. Very handy is that the software only list the plugins that supports only the 32-bit architecture. On my current system, I have quite old free plugins per example from Togu Audio Line (TAL and other excellent effects from indie-developers. To transform this plugins now in fully functional 64 bit plugins, you must only select all your plugins and press on the top left the button “ressurect”. The ressurect button injected a magical code in your plugins and revive them. If everything runs smoothly, this procedure takes less than 5 minutes and the password must also be entered here. When that’s done, the plugins have been transform and can be used again. The new versions will be inserted in the same plugin folder as the old ones. That’s the way it should look after the process