I signed up to the beta program for the new Apple Mac OS Sierra 10.12 a while ago and installed the operating system on my laptop as I was curious to see if it would fix the infamous GUI bug that has been plaguing Pro Tools on Yosemite and El Capitan. If you aren't aware of the issue; Apple tweaked something in those operating systems to restrict the frame rate, something blah blah and it has been affecting many pieces of software not just Pro Tools. To my joy, Mac OS Sierra in its Beta state, had fixed the GUI bug! This morning I received an email notification from Apple for the Final Release version of the operating system and I thought that I would take the plunge and install it on my main studio Mac to see what it would break! So on with the install.......
The install was pretty straight forward as I was just upgrading the OS, I know, I know, always do a clean install! and I normally do but this time I was just testing what, if any, problems the OS has with any of my software or hardware. Below you can see the specs of the mac:
Mac Pro Mid 2010
2 x 2.4gHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
14GB 1066MHz DDR3
ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024 MB
2 x 250GB SSD Drives in Raid 0 (Striped)
UAD Quad PCIe
Avid Pro Tools HD Native 12.5.2
Apogee Symphony IO
FIRST TEST - BOOTING PRO TOOLS:
Once the OS had installed and rebooted it was time to check if Pro Tools would actually load, Fingers crossed!
So to my surprise Pro Tools booted without any hiccups, if anything it seemed to boot quicker? That's my general thought about Sierra on the whole, it feels so much more responsive than Yosemite or El Capitan. Feeling great about pro tools actually booting up I decided to load one of my tracking sessions. This also loaded without any problems and I was able to play and edit the track as I would do normally. I previously mentioned the GUI bug had been fixed in the beta version of the OS and it remains fixed in the final release. It's so refreshing to actually watch the meters moving in realtime to the track, simple things eh? Beat detective seems to be working as it once did; previously the progress meter wouldn't update or it would hang. When using beat detective you often create a lot on clips and fades and this used to make pro tools very laggy when scrolling. I can confirm that this is no longer the case but the zoom function, when there are a lot of clips in view, is still very laggy. This must be down to something on Avid's end and not with Apples OS.
I tried my hardest to force Pro Tools crash or fall over but it seems that its pretty stable. I managed to use buffer settings of 32 samples on a session with just under 100 audio tracks at 48kHz 24bit with no issues. Admittedly the CPU was hitting around 70% and I'm sure if I used it long enough it would fall over but it seems very stable at my usual 64 samples. Offline bounce seems to work normally as does committing or freezing tracks. I went through as many plugins as I could possibly bare testing and it seems that all the plugins that I own are working! All except ONE, please see below! Even the Slate Digital plugins appear not to have any new bugs!
SECOND TEST - MIX SESSION:
With my tracking session working fine it was time to take a look at one of my mixing sessions. As soon as I opened it up, UAD hardware not found!
This seems to be the only issue that I have found with my specific system and unfortunately it's a big one! I use UAD powered plugins on all of my mixes because frankly they sound incredible. I know that UAD have been reporting this bug with Sierra since the beta was released but I was kinda hoping that the Final Release would magically fix the issue, because that always happens, right?
Mac OS Sierra isn't officially released for a few more weeks so hopefully that will give UAD enough time to fix the issue and everyone can enjoy Pro Tools without the laggy graphics!
List of Plugins that I have briefly tested and seem to be working OK (I haven't tested advanced items like automation)
Antares Auto-Tune LIVE
Brainworx BX Meter
Lexicon LXP Reverbs
Native Instruments Absynth
Native Instruments Battery
Native Instruments FM8
Native Instruments Kontakt 5
Native Instruments Massive
Native Instruments Reaktor 5
SSL Duende Native Channel Strip
SSL Duende Native Bus Compressor
Slate Digital Everything Bundle
Slate Trigger 2
SoundToys 5 Complete
Waves (Various Plugins)
Early signs suggest that this might be the rock solid operating system that we have all been waiting for since OSX Mountain Lion was dropped from software developers supported operating systems. Obviously that could all change in the blink of an eye and it also depends on how long it will take Universal Audio to fix the issue with their UAD cards!
So, if you don't have any UAD hardware, it looks pretty promising! I'm not saying you should upgrade as soon as it comes out but hopefully this will give you a small insight into how Sierra might affect your pro tools system.
As always with these things make sure you create a backup if you decide to upgrade!
There have been a few people that have managed to disable the System Integrity Protection (SIP) in order to enable the drivers for their UAD gear. This isn't true in my case. I managed to to disable SIP but it only caused the OS to hang and crash when loading the drivers for the UAD-Quad. It looks like the people that have managed to get this working successfully are using external devices such as the Firewire or Thunderbolt Apollo and UAD Satellite, whereas I am using the PCIe UAD-Quad. If anyone has managed to get their PCIe device working I would love to know!