Considering migrating from Windows to MAc

Sorry if this question has been beaten to death, but it’s possible things have changed with the new Mac Mini, so here goes.

I’m getting just a tad frustrated with Cubase being somewhat fragile with Windows 11 (latest update and all), and my Waves plugins just totally not working any more (a whole nuther story for another day). I’ve been wondering about the pros and cons of going with a Mac Mini Pro (hopefully not the Studio). I’d be very curious about the ramifications, and not necessarily just the licensing, because I assume that is easily solvable.

My Intel chip is currently an i9-10900, and I have 32 GB RAM, and most benchmarks I’ve seen show the M2 (let alone the M2 Pro) chip smoking that particular i9.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and advice!

Srini

Cubase and actual Waves plugins running fine on Windows 11. If you have set up problems, the Mac could solve some, but I guess it will introduce new problems. It’s a total different world.

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True, the Mac is a different world. The Cubase issue with Windows is really not a setup problem, because I’ve been through every avenue; it turns out in that my computer at least, I have to unplug my USB hub before I can use Cubase, and even then, every once in a while, Windows will just crash completely and when I fire it up again (I’m talking about a hard boot), I usually lose some of my Cubase work, and I always lose my audio interface settings. This leaves me feeling like I’m walking on eggshells every time I use Cubase.

Waves just quit working, and I went through weeks of support involvement and they discovered that the only thing I could do was to do a complete re-install of Windows (even a regular in-place reinstall didn’t work). This means reformatting the drive, reinstalling everything…it ain’t pretty.

I’m glad your setup works fine, but believe me, I’m doing this as a last resort.

Thanks, though, for your valuable input.

Srini

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Using a different hardware and OS could solve your current issues.

If you are looking to investigate a bit more on what is causing the problems with your setup you could look at:

  • Updating your BIOS, there could be a known fix.
  • Redistributing your USB devices among different ports, the internal USB controller could be having issues.
  • Reviewing Windows Event Log (Event Viewer), to know the cause of the crash. Critical, Error or Warning level logs might show something.

Believe me, I’ve spent more time with Windows support and Waves support that I ever wanted to. A total Windows reinstall after re-formatting the drive is the best they could come up with. At the moment, I’m less interested in fixing a Windows issue (that doesn’t manifest anywhere else).

The intent of my question here was to find out from Mac users if they have any issues with Cubase and Waves (and other VST) plugins.

Thanks, but fixing Windows? Nah!!

I moved from a Win11 MSI laptop to a 16" Macbook Pro M1 in November and it’s been brilliant. Very solid with Cubase, but I sold my Waves plugins back around v11, so can’t say how they perform.

I just can’t bare their update plans and how you can only use on one machine if you’re not paying for it - Going between a desktop and laptop I think it takes the piss a bit.

I mainly use Arturia, IK and NI suites as a basis, and then a scattering of other plugs on top of that.

Wish my main desktop machine was a Mac, really. After using the M1 Pro, I think i’d be plenty fine with a base M2 model, but I’m waiting for them to get HDMI 2.1.

As I’m going through a large TV I would miss the 120hz that my PC runs at currently, so it’s an important factor for me.

In regards to using Cubase I don’t really notice a great deal of difference, it’s the hardware and the overall o/s that differs. i.e. you don’t have to optimise a Mac, and it won’t decide to restart if you accidentally leave it on one evening.

I also find that cubase fonts and menus look nicer on MacOS, and plugins are snappier - particularly to open, feels more secure, and just a nicer experience overall for me.

Really not much in it when it comes to usage though.

Thank you so much - this is what I was looking for!

I hear you about the Waves update plans. I can’t use any of them now anyway, so if they come back alive on the Mac, that would be a bonus. Based on your experience with the others, it looks encouraging. At the moment, I have mostly Brainworx , a couple of IK and a couple of SSL native plugins.

Of course, if I go through with it, my next challenge will be to decide on which one. So far it seems like the Mini M2 Pro might work very well, although 16 GB RAM seems a bit low to me. But then, they say that Windows RAM vs Apple RAM is apples and oranges, so it may be unnecessary to upgrade to 32GB - I don’t know. Maybe another method would be to get the mid level Mini M2, and upgrade that to 24 GB, although the CPU is a bit slower; but it may not matter for Cubase.

I currently run an i9 10900, and they say that the base M2 smokes the i9 - and I don’t have CPU performance issues with Cubase or any of the plugins right now. I should also mention that my current setup uses a regular 1TB hard drive, and I’m not experiencing any performance issues there either. So I’m guessing that an external 1TB drive for the M2 (or M2 Pro) should work just fine.

Good! Thanks again! Needless to say, I’ll have to learn a new OS, but hopefully it won’t be too onerous!

Srini

I would be skeptical or at least a bit careful with auch generalized statements, especially if they are base on some synthetic benchmarks that are not fully relevant to the very specific realtime requirements of audio processing. And of course we all know that Apple is rather good at marketing…
Doesn’t mean that it won’t outperform the i9 - I just don’t know -, I just tend to get a bit wary when reading such hyperbole statements…
Regarding Waves plugin: Apple has a tendency to obsolete things and make breaking changes with new OS releases, which means that you might be more dependent on plugin developers adapting the mac versions to the new OS. In the case of Waves that could mean that you need a valid WUP to be able to update. Cubase itself doesn’t run VST2 plugins anymore in native mode, so if you still rely on some of those, you need to run in Rosetta.
Not to keep you from buying (was thinking about getting a Mac mini, too, but the price for a configuration I wanted was just way to high, the upgrade prices for RAM and SSD are pure highway robbery… ), only some things to consider and be aware of.

It’s an impossibility to compare really. And I’ve said in other topics, if you go Mac it’s for the operating system and fact that you don’t need to tweak, optimise and worry about DPC latency, driver inefficiencies, hacking registry to prevent restarts, and of course the whole issue around privacy and security.

As I’m coming from the experience of a move to macbook , the benefits of M1/M2 are just massive in my experience. Powerful, very quiet, runs for hours and hours, great display, and amazing speakers (if needed).

However, I don’t know how valid my experience is for someone swapping from a Windows desktop to a Mac Mini and how much of the ‘wow’ factor translates.

But I do find myself plugging the Macbook into my Windows desktops display more and more, as it’s a much more enjoyable experience - I think the trackpad is also a big part that though, and as I said before the general display, menus and text just seems better within Cubase to me.

In regards to power/performance comparisons, I think the other point that needs to be made is how much snappier Silicon on MacOS feels. Loading plugins, and re-opening plugins just seem less laboured, which I put down to MacOS just being less bloated.

As I tend to work on new projects and song-write, for me that’s a really big bonus and affects every track in the project and getting to ideas and sounds as fluid as possible. Someone who’s bringing in massive orchestral projects, or works with many stems in CPU intensive sessions may have a completely different experience.

I say go with your heart, we’re in the creative sphere and as great as being logical is and seeking best bang for buck purchases. Having something you love and cherish is really important. For some people it’s having a large powerhouse with flashing RGB lights, for others it’s something small efficient and quiet.

I really don’t think it’s a bad thing if people can use a 50W machine for equal creativity, rather than 500-650W, either. Not just for eco reasons, but it can save you hundreds over the course of a year or two.

PC’s lose value quickly, at least with a Mac if you get a nice spec and don’t gel with it, it’ll hold value for many years. That’s another big part of me not selling my PC and getting a Mini, I just stand to lose too much money on it.

Thanks very much. Your point about benchmarks is well taken, but considering my 19 is more than a few years old, I’d be surprised if the M2 (or M2 Pro) doesn’t at least match it.

Regarding VST plugins, I’m a bit confused because I have a handful of VST 2.X plugins that work fine so far. Does Windows not use native mode? I do know that Cubase doesn’t support 32-bit plugins any more. That said, the bulk of my plugins are VST 3.X, and only really important one is EZKeys, but I could upgrade to EZKeys 2, which is VST 3.X, something I was planning to do anyway Thanks for pointing that out!

There’s two modes of Cubase that you can run on Mac. (It’s only one install though)

If you use the Rosetta version VST2 will work, if you use silicon/ARM version then it won’t. That’s a Steinberg decision, as they will be stopping VST2 for all versions within a year or so.

You’ve basically captured my sense of why I’m thinking of migrating. I’m essentially tired of Windows having to be tweaked every time there’s an update, or every time you plug something into a USB port and it messes everything else up.

For me it’s stability and the “experience”, which you seem to have articulated very well.

Thanks also for clarifying the VST 2.X question. I’m really wondering if it matters, because EZKeys seems to be the only significant one for now. I do have EZ Mix as well, which I very rarely use.

There’s no telling if Cubase 13 will have VST2.x support either, as this is a Steinberg move, not a Mac ‘thing’. i.e. Studio One, Reaper, Bitwig etc. all run VST2 fine on Mac Silicon in my experience.

On Mac you also have the native AU/AudioUnit plugin format, which gets installed too and I tend to use those versions rather than VST2.x in other DAWs if I really needed to. But everything I have is VST3 now.

Personally I think Cubase 13 will drop VST2 across the board. As that will be within the 24 month period mentioned in the original statement (Jan 2022):

So you need to have a think about EZ Keys for sure, the longer you have the higher chance of picking it up in a promotion too, of course. :slight_smile:

Considering all the forum complaints about Mac OS upgrades breaking Waves, therefore you need a paid WUP for a year, are you sure?

Waves and Windows users can use very old versions. It seems often when Mac releases an OS you need to re-purchase Waves or WUP what you have. In past times even at BF there may not be much difference between a WUP and re-purchase.

It’s worth noting that OS updates are not forced on to you, you can run a 5 year old MacOS and Apple online services will work, browsers are fine etc.

I think that many windows users fail to comprehend that there’s no forced updating/restarts going on behind your back, and you update when you feel the need to. For people wanting a stable system that doesn’t have the rug pulled from underneath this is really important.

It’s also worth mentioning that you can run Cubase 12 on Big Sur which released in 2020 and is still supported, whereas with Windows you need version 21H2 which released in 2021 and support already dropped.

Really? The below has been crossed out:

Of course you don’t have to update. However feel free to read endless Waves and WUP complaints about Mac users unhappy…probably because they didn’t know in advance that, unlike most developers, Waves wouldn’t work.

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I’m sorry if I gave the impression that the Waves problem was caused by lack of support due to Windows updates. The plugins stopped working for no explicable reason. Waves support had me try all kinds things - really, too numerous to list here - and nothing worked. Then they suggested that it might be corrupted redistributable files, but the problem persisted even after they were repaired. So, as a last step, they said to contact Microsoft. Microsoft said to do an in-place reinstall of Windows, which did nothing to fix the problem. So, they finally said, back everything up and re-format the drive and re-install Windows from scratch.

That’s when I gave up.

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Very true. Right now, it’s a $99 upgrade from EZ Keys to EZ Keys 2, something I was going to do anyway. In any case, as you pointed out, I’d have do it even if I stayed with Windows, because the next version of Cubase won’t support VST 2.X.

By then, I’m sure Toontrack will release a VST 3.X version of EZ Mix, but I don’t use it much anyway.

As far as the Waves plugins go, if they work that will be the icing on the cake. If they don’t I haven’t lost anything, because they don’t work now!

Wow, yes you went the entire route!

My statement was just general about Waves & Windows vs. Waves and Mac. You can find endless Waves complaints in forums because Waves business paradigm is quite unique in that they don’t operate the conventional way.

I’m not sure these days, but Waves used to provide excellent phone & Team Viewer support. I’m sorry to hear that nothing helped.

Yup…I tried! I must say, also, that Windows itself is none too stable, occasionally giving me the BSOD finger at the most inopportune moments. Hence my looking at Macs, even though I’ve never used a Mac and realize that I have to learn to navigate a new OS.