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FL Studio 20.8.4 introduced native support for Apple Silicon CPUs. When running FL Studio on an Apple Silicon (M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max CPUs) you have two options as described below.  

 

NOTE:  FL Studio can run in Apple Silicon native mode or Rosetta 2 mode. 3rd party plugins similarly may run in Rosetta 2, native or for VST plugins, under a Process Bridge in native mode. If this sounds complex, it is. In short - pay careful attention to what mode FL Studio is in AND what mode your 3rd party plugins are operating in (see below). Otherwise, its easy to end up with badly behaving 3rd party plugins. 

 

  1. Try to keep FL Studio and all plugins operating in the same mode (e.g. Apple Silicon or Rosetta 2)
  2. Limit the number of VST plugins running in the process bridge under Apple Silicon mode. 

 

FL STUDIO OPTION 1 APPLE SILICON NATIVE MODE

 

Run in native mode. This will have the best CPU performance on your Apple Silicon Mac, but has some disadvantages when working with VST plugins that are not Apple Silicon compliant  (see below). 

 

NOTE: The first time you install an Apple Silicon compliant version of FL Studio it will start in native mode. This can be changed, see below.

 

 

FL STUDIO OPTION 2 ROSETTA 2 INTEL MODE

 

Run the Intel version under Rosetta 2. This has some advantages when using VST plugins that are not Apple Silicon compliant (see below).

 

When software compiled for Intel CPUs is installed on an Apple silicon Mac,  Rosetta 2 background-translates code from x64 instructions to ARM. This is essentially an automated 'search and replace' operation that creates a new run-time binary file. Rosetta 2 works remarkably well. FL Studio 20.8.2 and higher translate correctly under Rosetta 2. In short, expect good performance with FL Studio. 

 

 

HOW TO SWITCH BETWEEN APPLE SILICON AND ROSETTA MODE

 

FL Studio 20.8.4, and higher, can easily be switched back and forth between Apple Silicon or Rosetta 2 (Intel) modes before startup.    

 

To check if you are running in Intel or Apple Silicon mode, open the FL Studio Help > About Panel and it will list Intel or Apple Silicon as the running version. If you need to switch modes after installation see below:

 

  1. Open the Finder to Macintosh HD > Applications and Right-click FL Studio.
  2. Click 'Get Info' on the pop-up.
  3. Check the box, 'Open using Rosetta' to run the Intel version of FL Studio under Rosetta 2.
  4. OR uncheck the box to run the Native version of FL Studio (See the note below on VST plugins).

 

NOTES:

 

  1. The first time you install an Apple Silicon compatible version of FL Studio it will run in native Apple Silicon mode. See the section below on VST compatibility.
  2. If you switch the installation to Rosetta mode, subsequent FL Studio installations will respect the Rosetta mode setting.

 

 

ABOUT RUNNING FL STUDIO IN APPLE SILICON MODE WITH ROSETTA 2 / INTEL VST PLUGINS  

 

FL Studio 20.9 and later (includes process bridge)

 

When FL Studio is used on an Apple Silicon CPU it can run in one of two modes. Native Apple Silicon or Rosetta 2. In short, VST plugins developed for Intel CPUs must be run inside a process-bridge when used under Apple Silicon. Apple will handle AU format plugins and these do not need to be bridged. If FL Studio is in Rosetta 2 mode, then Apple handles both VST and AU format plugins. Below are some notes about how to proceed ...

 

  1. FL Studio Apple Silicon - If you are using FL Studio in native Apple Silicon mode, Intel VST plugins will be automatically bridged by FL Studio. AU Intel plugins will be handled by macOS and appear as if they were native Apple Silicon. Bridged plugins will use more CPU than an Apple Silicon native plugin. Use bridging wisely!
  2. FL Studio Rosetta 2 - If you are running FL Studio under Rosetta 2 Apple will handle VST and AU Intel plugins. FL Studio won't bridge any plugins.
  3. Mixing Plugin Runtime Formats - Bridging VST plugins can use more CPU than using FL Studio under Rosetta 2 mode with Intel VST Plugins. Bridged plugins will almost certainly use more CPU than their Apple Silicon version (if it is available).
  4. Changing FL Studio Runtime Mode - You can set FL Studio to start in Apple Silicon or Rosetta 2 mode by following the procedure here.
  5. macOS <> Windows Project Compatibility - If you want to share projects with Windows installations and you are using 3rd party plugins, you must use VST format since this is the only way to maintain cross-platform project compatibility. Stay with Rosetta 2 FL Studio until all your VSTs are compatible. 

 

FL Studio 20.8 and older 

 

If you are using the Rosetta 2 / Intel version of FL Studio you can use all VST and AU plugins. If you are using the Native Apple Silicon version of FL Studio the following rules apply:

 

  1. VST Plugins - You must use Apple Silicon compatible VST plugins, otherwise the plugins will report as missing. Start by updating all your VST plugins to the latest versions that support Apple Silicon. All VST plugins must run natively on Apple Silicon before you can use them in the native version of FL Studio. This results from a process conflict mixing Apple Silicon and Intel code inside the same application. 
  2. AU plugins - AU plugins will open in a Rosetta <> Apple silicon process-bridge provided by Apple. This is automatic in the same way Rosetta 2 works automatically. However, we recommend updating all AU plugins to Apple Silicon compliant as the bridging can cause issues in some cases. Apple did not provide this functionality for VST plugins.
  3. macOS <> Windows Project Compatibility - If you want to share projects with Windows installations and you are using 3rd party plugins, you must use VST format since this is the only way to maintain cross-platform project compatibility. Updating to FL Studio 20.9 or later will allow you to use Intel format VST plugins.

 

If you have problems opening VST plugins under Apple Silicon, update to a version of FL Studio newer than 20.8 or swap to Rosetta 2 mode (shown above) and try again.

 

 

INSTALLING & SCANNING FOR PLUGINS 

 

The Plugin Manager uses the current FL Studio mode. If you run the Plugin Manager under Rosetta 2 version it only scans for Intel compatible plugins. If you open the Plugin Manager from under Apple Silicon mode it only scans for Apple Silicon compatible plugins. This means after switching to or from an Apple Silicon installation for the first time you must rescan for plugins. Use the following settings -  Verify plugins + Rescan previously verified plugins + Rescan plugins with errors.

 

 

MICROPHONE PERMISSIONS

 

If the Microphone input is not available. Make sure FL Studio has the permission to access the Microphone. Open System settings > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Microphone - and set a tick for FL Studio. As normal. See here.

 

If FL Studio is not listed, switch to Rosetta 2 mode (shown above) and start FL Studio, macOS will ask you for Microphone permission on startup. Then switch back to Apple Silicon mode if that is what you are using.

 

 

FILE ACCESS PERMISSIONS

 

Make sure FL Studio has the permission to access the Documents folder. Open System settings > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Files and Folders then set a mark at (or add) FL Studio. You can also open the Plugin Manger from the Options menu, then macOS should ask you to give FL Studio permission to the Documents folder.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

Apple began migrating its laptop and desktop Mac computers to run on 'Apple silicon' in late 2020. Starting with the M1 CPU, this processor family is based on what is more technically known as ARM ( Advanced RISC Machine) architecture. This is the same CPU architecture as used in their iPhone and iPad products. Since ARM is a complete change from the Intel (x64) CPUs previously used in Mac computers, software written for Intel CPUs does not run 'natively' on 'Apple silicon'.

 

 

 

ABOUT SWITCHING TO THE APPLE SILICON PLATFORM

 

All DAW, plugin (VST/AU), and peripheral device manufacturers were impacted by the sudden change from Intel to ARM CPUs. If you are using or considering making the switch to Apple Silicon devices, it is important to understand that software compatibility, stability, and performance will be patchy across device and software manufacturers. Apple has tipped software and hardware development into a completely new architecture and it will take several years for native Apple silicon support to become commonplace. In the case of plugins and hardware, and specifically for anything no longer in development, this may mean greatly increased risk of crashes and end of life on the macOS platform. 

 

See a list of Apple silicon compatible software here

 

We look forward to the future and seeing where Apple silicon can take the competition amongst CPU vendors. The more CPU performance you have, the more you can do. However, we appreciate your patience while we work through the issues and deliver the FL Studio performance you expect.

 

Image-Line Support Team