Rosetta? Do I Need It?

I’ve been running Nuendo 12.0.30 on my new MacBook Pro M1 Pro for a week now. Everything is working great. But I noticed the “Enable Rosetta” button is not checked. Do I need Rosetta? My VST2 plugins (all of the UAD stuff, etc) are all working fine. (I did have to enable Rosetta to run Wavelab 11 Pro)

If everything is working great, then no

1 Like


You find that it’s mostly plugin dependent these days. N12 , my M1 and most of my plugins play well together.

However, if I want to open an older session, or use many of my Native Instrument plugins, I have to go with Rosetta. I’ve been moving away from NI because of this for awhile. They’ve been slow to adopt VST3 and the entire Komplete Kontrol ecosystem is built upon VST2. It’s going to be a painful transition for many. Arturia has positioned themselves well with the V Collection being M1 native and VST3, I’ve gravitated to them for that reason.

But yeah, if everything is running well, keep it M1 native.

Yes, I use all the Arturia instruments and FX - they work wonderfully in N12. The only NI one I’m using is Kontakt. It seems fine so far, except for not remembering where some of the samples are when I open a new song. I’ve gotten so used to having to reload when I start I don’t even notice it.

Just to give you a technical explanation, since I like doing that:

What you are actually doing when you enable Rosetta is using an Intel emulator built in to macOS. The M1 chip that Apple has made is a completely different architecture from the Intel chips they used to use. It is ARM, the same architecture you find in most cellphones. What that means is effectively the chip speaks a different language than the Intel chips. So programs made for the Intel chips can’t run on it, at all.

Apple’s solution to this, to allow programs to continue to work, was to develop an emulator called Rosetta. You can think of it like a translator you see at the UN: It translates the Intel programs in to ARM so that they can run on the M1. With computer code it is more complicated than that, but that is the basic idea. So you can run old software that does not have an M1 (ARM) version.

For most programs, this is the kind of thing you really wouldn’t think about. If it has an M1 native version, that is what is run, if it doesn’t, then Rosetta is used.

DAWs are special though because of plugins. A plugin is just another piece of software, another program, that is loaded in your DAW. So if the plugin isn’t M1 native, it needs to be translated via Rosetta. Thing is, you can’t just run the plugin in Rosetta and the main program native. There are technical reasons why such a thing just won’t work. You either need to be ALL Rosetta or ALL native.

Thus DAWs that have an M1 version offer you the choice: They ship with both a native M1 version, and an Intel version. You can pick which one to run. The M1 version should be faster, because there’s not the emulation overhead, but it cannot load any plugins that also aren’t M1 native. If you have plugins you need that are Intel only, that’s when you enable Rosetta and load up the Intel version.

At some point, this will become moot and Intel versions will start to go away (on the Mac) and you’ll only have the native versions of things. For now, you run native code when you can, and use Rosetta when it is needed to run something that isn’t native.

1 Like