Taking The Plunge: 32-bit To 64-bit With Cubase 8

Image of the Cubase 8 logo, as seen on the product's box.

The Background

I’ve used 32-bit versions of Steinberg’s Cubase on Windows machines for over 15 years, and have come to rely on a fairly stable setup with all my favourite plugins to hand. I’d dabbled with the idea of going 64-bit before, but was limited by my trusty Tascam US-122, which never had dedicated 64-bit drivers written for it, and was generally poorly-supported after Windows XP (a ‘Vista-compatible’ driver was released, but it was pretty buggy).

Only recently have I upgraded my machine to a lovely i7 with 16GB RAM, so it seemed a crying shame to stick with a version of Cubase that can only address a maximum of 2.5GB (or there about) of it. I saw a great deal over at GAK that included Cubase Pro 8 and a shiny new UR22 for under £370, so snapped it up straight away!

Initial Setup

Driver installation for the UR22 was a breeze, and after many attempts at downloading Cubase 8 from My Steinberg (I ended up downloading and installing Free Download Manager, as the download kept ‘completing’ after only 450MB of the 9GB file), I was watching the many progress indicators of the Cubase 8 installation routine whizz by.

Next up was my trusty list of plugins. Installing plugins en mass is always a time-consuming task, but I like to use it as an opportunity to throw out any plugins that I don’t use any more, check for updates with ones I want to continue to use, and install any new ones I wanted to try out. I knew that the vast majority of my plugins were 32-bit only, so after consulting an article on installing 32-bit plugins in a 64-bit environment, I decided to install 64-bit in C:/Program Files/Steinberg/VSTPlugins/ and 32-bit in C:/Program Files/Steinberg/VSTPlugins (bridged)/.

First Run

The first run of Cubase after installing a load of plugins is always a bit tentative, as there’s plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong. This time was no exception, with Cubase stalling twice. Eventually everything loaded as expected, and it was time to open a project. I had a particular project in mind that I wanted to continue working on, created with Cubase 4.5.2. This probably wasn’t the smarted move, as again, there’s always the risk of things going wrong when opening from one version another. The first few attempts I got the following error message:

VSTBridge connection lost. Please load previous version of this project to restore lost settings of bridged plug-ins. Disable incompatible plug-ins if possible.

Not good. On the next attempt I got a Blue Screen Of Death (much more pleasant on the eye with Windows 8.1 I must say!), and then I was back to error messages. The problem seemed to stem from Drumagog attempting to find a file that didn’t exist on the current system; once the ‘missing file’ dialog appeared, VSTBridge died.

Enter jBridge

For those who don’t know, VSTBridge is a Steinberg program bundled with Cubase that allows 32-bit plugins to run within the 64-bit environment. It’s also not very good. However, there is a better program named jBridge that does the job just fine. The demo is free to download (timing out after 20 minutes of use) with the full version priced at a very reasonable €15. In a nutshell, jBridge creates a mirror of your VST plugin folder(s), creating ‘bridged’ 64-bit versions of your 32-bit plugins. It’s then up to you to tell Cubase to use the new folder instead of the old one, using the VST Plugin Manager dialog box. I chose C:/Program Files/Steinberg/VSTPlugins (bridged)/ and C:/Program Files/Steinberg/VSTPlugins (jbridged)/. I fired up Cubase and was still confronted with errors.

Screenshot of the lower section of Cubase 8's Plugin Manager dialog.
Screenshot of the lower section of Cubase 8’s Plugin Manager dialog.

The Solution

And so I played around with settings and moved files around until I got everything working properly. Here’s what I did:

  • Set both jBridge and Cubase to run with Administrator privileges
  • Move my 32-bit VST folder to C:/Program Files (x86)/Steinberg/VSTPlugins/ (away from the 64-bit stuff)
  • Run jBridge again, and specify C:/Program Files (x86)/Steinberg/VSTPlugins (bridged)/ as the destination folder
  • Check ‘Don’t add .32./.64. in the file names in the destination folder’ (the renaming was preventing some Native Instruments plugins from initialising)
Screenshot of jBridger Tool and its default settings.
Screenshot of jBridger Tool and its default settings.

Firing up Cubase was then error-free, and opening up my project was almost error-free (although very slow; I imagine jBridge is having to initialise on every 32-bit plugin). It uses the long-retired DoubleDelay plugin, which threw the strange error message ‘Nuendo 2.x required’. As it worked without being wrapped, I’ll probably just move it to a separate folder.

Lessons Learned

After further experimentation, I can offer the following advice:

  1. If you’re thinking of opening up a mature project (by this I mean either fully or partly mixed, or with a large number of plugins) and you want everything to sound as it did previously, use the version of Cubase it was created with. Steinberg’s dongle licences allow you to download and use previous versions of Cubase, so head over to their website and grab the most suitable version.
  2. If you need to open up a mature project (to use functionality not available in previous versions of Cubase for example), use the 32-bit version of Cubase. I’ve since installed the 32-bit version of Cubase 8 alongside the 64-bit version, and have found it to be a whole lot more stable (and faster) when dealing with older projects. This makes sense, as VSTBridge or jBridge aren’t having to run.
  3. Only use 64-bit Cubase for new projects. Starting fresh means no bugs lurking from project conversions, which will lead to a much more stable system.

Please feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve had any other experiences when taking the plunge between 32-bit and 64-bit Cubase versions.

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