In the world of computing, the differences between 32-bit and 64-bit anything can be quite confusing. The following article helps to clarify the differences between 32 and 64-bit operating systems as well as between 32 and 64-bit programs. It also explains the reasons for choosing one way or the other and walks through the steps to determine if your current operating system and/or DAW is 32-bit or 64-bit.
There are a number of reasons a user would want 64-bit operating systems and programs. While 64-bit does not add 'power', 'speed', or 'features', it does allow the ability access much more RAM, and therefore a 64-bit program and operating system would have the ability to run more memory-intensive programs that depend on things such as samples, patches, and RAM.
Below you will find more information on 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems and programs.
Quick Fact - There are 32-bit and 64-bit Operating Systems as well as 32-bit and 64-bit Programs.
The terms 32-bit and 64-bit refer to how much of your computer's memory (RAM) can be used by the installed operating system and the applications that run within that operating system.
A 32-bit operating system typically only allows for up to about 4 gigabytes of RAM to be utilized by the OS or any of the installed programs. Therefore, it makes sense to only install 32-bit programs on a 32-bit operating system, as a 64-bit program would not be able to access any more RAM than a 32-bit program on a 32-bit operating system.
A 64-bit operating system allows for much higher RAM access and capacity. See your specific operating system specifications for further information on how much memory (RAM) can be utilized by your specific OS.
Quick Fact - A 64-bit operating system will allow for both 32-bit and 64-bit programs to be installed.
Although both 32-bit and 64-bit programs can be installed on a 64-bit operating system, a 32-bit program will only be able to access up to about the first 4 gigabytes of memory (RAM).
By contrast, a native 64-bit program installed on a 64-bit operating system will be able to utilize a much higher amount of memory (RAM), allowing for much larger projects and more memory-intensive operations.
Quick Fact - A 64-bit plugin can only run in a 64-bit host program.
Although this fact is always true, some 64-bit hosts allow for a "bridge" program enabling the abilty to run a 32-bit plugin in a 64-bit host.
For any potential information on "bridge" programs that may work in the host of your choice, refer to the host program documentation or support.
NOTE: All versions of Ableton Live prior to version 8.4 are 32-bit.
To determine what version of Ableton Live is currently installed and whether or not it is a 32-bit or 64-bit installation, follow the steps suggested below:
Open Ableton Live.
Choose Help > About Live (Windows) or Live > About Live (Mac)
In the window that opens, Ableton lists the specific version number of the software. See below for specific locations:
Ableton Live 8 (pre 8.4)
If the version of Ableton Live is pre version 8.4, it is a 32-bit installation. The version number will show in the About Live splash screen, but there will be no 32-bit or 64-bit reference.
Ableton Live 8 (8.4 or later)
If the version of Ableton Live 8 is 8.4 or later, the About Live splash screen will show both the version number as well as whether it is a 32-bit or 64-bit installation.
Ableton Live 9
If the version of Ableton is Live 9, the About Live splash screen will show both the version number as well as whether it is a 32-bit or 64-bit installation.
Steinberg's Cubase DAW began to offer native 64-bit installation begining with Cubase 4. Most LE versions of the software are 32-bit only. To determine whether the currently installed version is 32-bit or 64-bit, follow the steps below:
Choose Help > About Cubase.
In the window that appears, next to the software version and build information, it will state whether it is a 64-bit or 32-bit installation. If there is no reference to either 32-bit or 64-bit, then it is a 32-bit installation.
With Cubase closed, go to the Applications folder and click once on the Cubase application to select it.
Next, choose File > Get Info.
In the window that opens - near the bottom of the General section - if there is a checkbox that says Open in 32-bit mode, then the installed version of Cubase can be run in either 32-bit or 64-bit. Both are installed on the computer.
If the checkbox titled Open in 32-bit mode is an option,
Select the Open in 32-bit mode checkbox to open Cubase in 32-bit mode.
De-select the Open in 32-bit mode checkbox to open Cubase in 64-bit mode.
You can now open Cubase as you normally would in the mode you have selected!