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Ask – Should I Run 64- or 32-bit Windows?

June 25, 2012

A 64-bit operating system can take advantage of much more RAM than a 32-bit version—there’s 32GB in this PC Audio Labs computer. The window inset at left shows part of Sonar’s Plug-In Manager; Sonar includes BitBridge to load 32-bit plug-ins, but can also “wrap” plug-ins using jBridge.

I’m buying a new Windows computer, and considering going 64-bit. However, a lot of my plug-ins are 32-bit, and I don’t want to lose them. I also use ReWire a lot. I hear that “bridging” 32-bit plugins to work in 64-bit environments is iffy, but I also see that more plug-ins are going 64-bit. Is 64-bit ready for prime time or should I wait?
You might be surprised by how easy it is to blend the 64- and 32-bit worlds. Although you didn’t mention your DAW, if it doesn’t already include a bridge, check out BitBridge or jBridge. Bridging is an interim technology, but it works well and your 32-bit plugins will likely work just fine—even when they’re not supposed to! One manufacturer told us there was absolutely no way their 32- bit plug-in could work with a 64-bit host, but when we installed it as an XP plug-in using Windows’ compatibility mode, it bridged perfectly with 64-bit hosts. ReWire is now 64-bit, and more companies are developing 64-bit plug-ins, so the momentum is building. Most hosts and plug-ins let you install 32- and 64-bit versions if both are available. (The 32-bit versions go in the x86 Program Files folder.) Use the 32- bit host but experiment with the 64-bit one; when everything works and is stable in 64-bit mode, make the switch.

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