MOTU Ships Final 828 Drivers, but OS X Neighborhood Still Has Vacancies

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Date: Thursday, December 19th, 2002, 08:02
Category: Archive

MOTU’s OS X drivers for its 828 multichannel FireWire interface (8 in/ 8 out, S/PDIF I/O, ADAT, 2 mic pres) have gone from beta to final release 1.0 as of this week. For the record, though, there’s still not even beta support for the 828’s older sibling, the 896, or any of MOTU’s popular PCI-based audio interfaces (though MIDI support is completely ported to X). Nor is there any sign of MOTU’s flagship software, Digital Performer, which MOTU promised this quarter. Let’s hope the waning days on the December calendar mean something is imminent.

Then again, OS X is still looking a little thin on the audio side from other vendors: Apple subsidiary Emagic still doesn’t support ReWire applications like Reason and has actually pledged never to support the popular VST plug-in format, in favor of Apple’s AU format. (I think ReWire support is probably something Emagic is working on, like initial lack of REX support, but it’s still important to note that most high-end Logic 5 users are still using this fantastic upgrade — under OS 9.) Months after Emagic’s AU announcement, there are still barely any AU plug-ins and even development tools appear to still be evolving. So, uh, Apple and Emagic, we’re getting a little tired of hearing how life was so miserable with multiple plug-in formats. Yes, we’re glad to have built-in OS drivers and a single OS-level MIDI format, but why do we now have to give up plug-in compatibility as a result? Meanwhile, Digidesign, which initially promised limited Pro Tools support in December seems to have quietly revised that to an amorphous “early in 2003.” (At least Digidesign hardware will support Logic.)

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been using and loving Ableton Live since the spring (as regular readers know), Emagic rival Steinberg has done a fantastic job with Cubase SX with full VST/VSTi and ReWire support, Reason is a joy, Logic 5 is a wonderful app under 9 and has great potential under X, and Cycling 74 has released a very workable beta of the ultra-powerful MAX/MSP, not to mention the indispensible BIAS Peak and TC Works Spark wave editors. But audio users with intensive needs are still forced to boot into OS 9. OS X is supposed to be better than OS 9, not a sketchy, incomplete version of 9. Much attention has been paid to frustrated Quark users, but we still need more attention in the audio community, too. And it’s not helping that an Apple-controlled Emagic is being hard-headed about the AU versus VST battle. This is a tough transition, one that will be worth it in the end, but like other elements of the OS X transition, users seem to be constantly having to pull Apple’s head out of the clouds and remind them that users have actual work to get done.

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