Adventures In Audio with Audio Masterclass
Is 32-bit computing a barrier to success?

Is 32-bit computing a barrier to success?


Here is an interesting question received by…

“I have worked with PC computers which were built from the ground up and all have been Windows XP and Vista Ultimate. I have used Pro Tools 003 with very little problems. Written over 300 songs. After recording over 15 to 24 tracks my plug-ins are coming in slow. However, When I use the plug-in Omnisphere I run out of memory.

I only have 4 gigs and Fryers computer store says I can only go up to 3 gigs on my 32 bit board. I have a 250 gig hard drive and a backup one and a half terabit with an Intel dual core processor. I've had and still do good recording with minor problems. However, I want better performance. To prove my point go to Reverbnation and search Raleigh Simmons and take a listen to the music I have recorded with Protools on a rebuilt Windows Vista Ultimate system. Please let me know what you think about the recording. I need your opinions and help to do a better job.

Well it's time to build another Windows PC. I've priced everything. $787. out the door. Up to 32 gigs of ram. AMD Phenom 2 Quad processor, 500 watts power supply and a good sound card. The problem now is 003 can not run on a 64 bit board. You tell me…What do you do next ?”

Among the correspondence we receive both at Audio Masterclass and, a common theme is that somehow it is the writer's equipment or software that is holding them back from success.

You don't have to search the Internet for more than a few minutes to find that 64-bit computing is considered a big issue in audio. “64-bit Pro Tools 10 is coming. This is HUGE!” is the title of a popular thread on one forum.

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But does this mean that anyone who is still in the land of 32-bit computing cannot succeed in music or audio?

The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. You don't need 64 bits to succeed. You need a good song, well-performed, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered. Oh, and well-marketed.

You can do this on a 10-year old computer. The endless quest for having the latest equipment and software is much more likely to result in wasted time and effort than a hit record.

Having said that, improvements in hardware and software are always welcome. The correspondent above is having problems using sufficient plug-ins for his requirements, and with one of his software instruments. These are exactly the problems that 64-bit computing will solve. It has to be said though that on listening to his music, there is nothing so musically or technically demanding that it couldn't be done on a 32-bit system.

In my view, 64-bit computing hasn't quite 'arrived' yet. Pro Tools 10 isn't 64-bit for example, although it will work with a 64-bit computer and 64-bit OS. In a year's time things will have settled down and 64-bit will be the norm.

So in my view, if you are making great music with a 32-bit system, then you can quite easily stick with it for a while. If you run out of steam plug-in-wise, then print effects to disk to free up processing power.

The place to be in the lead is in the quality of your music and audio. No-one who is likely to buy your music cares in the slightest how many bits you used to make it.

By the way, Avid's Pro Tools 10 FAQ seems to indicate that the 003 interface is still supported. It is worth bearing in mind however that Pro Tools 8 and 9 are still perfectly capable of turning out work of fully professional quality.

David Mellor

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David Mellor