A musician’s guide to Apple’s MacOS Catalina: Should you upgrade?

MacOS Catalina

Apple’s latest and greatest operating system, MacOS Catalina, is finally here, bringing with it a number of awesome new features, deeper integration with other Apple products, and more. Safe to say, MacOS 10.15 Catalina has a ton to offer, and as such, you might be looking forward to upgrading.

Not so fast.

New operating systems as notoriously tricky for the music industry. If you’ve done any music production, chances are you’re well aware of the fact that upgrading could simply break support for your plugins and software. As someone who writes in both the tech and the music industry, I’m speaking from experience. I’ve upgraded to MacOS Catalina, and can tell you that it’s not all that pretty right now.

If you have any doubt on whether or not you should upgrade, don’t. That said, we’ve put together this guide to help you find out if your software is compatible with the new operating system. We’ll be updating this guide as we hear more, so check back every week or so if you find that something is incompatible.

Please keep in mind that we’ve tried out best to make this guide as comprehensive as possible — but we can’t possibly cover every single piece of software. If you feel like we’re missing something major, please drop us a note in the comments.

Ableton Live: Partly compatible

Ableton Live 10 is fully compatible with MacOS Catalina, as long as you have the latest update of the software. Just because Ableton Live 10 is compatible with MacOS Catalina, that does not mean that all your plugins will be.

Ableton Live 9 is not compatible with MacOS Catalina, and will never be, according to Ableton. If You’re using Ableton Live 9 and not planning on upgrading, we recommend not updating to MacOS Catalina.

“Live 9 contains certain components which are no longer supported on macOS 10.15. Therefore if you update your operating system to macOS 10.15, Live 9 is not expected to even launch. The last officially supported version of macOS with Live 9 is macOS 10.13 (High Sierra),” said Ableton in a statement.

Ableton products compatible with MacOS Catalina:

  • Ableton Live 10 (10.1.2 or later)

Ableton products incompatible with MacOS Catalina:

  • Ableton Live 10 10.1.1 or earlier
  • Ableton Live 9 or earlier

Apple: Compatible

The latest version of Logic Pro X (10.4.6), as an Apple-built app, is compatible with MacOS Catalina — though that doesn’t mean that all your plugins will be. Logic Pro X 10.3.4 and older is not supported by MacOS Catalina.

The latest version of Garageband is compatible with MacOS Catalina.

Apple products compatible with MacOS Catalina:

  • Logic Pro X 10.4.6 or later

Apple products incompatible with MacOS Catalina:

  • Ableton Live 9 or before

Akai: Incompatible

Akai products are not yet compatible with MacOS Catalina.

“We encourage all of our users to remain on their current OS and iOS until a full statement announcing software compatibility is made. This page will be updated to reflect product compatibility following the release of macOS Catalina,” said Akai on its support website.

Antares: Incompatible

Antares products, including all releases of Auto-Tune, are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina.

Antares products are currently not supported for use with macOS 10.15 Catalina. At this time we recommend that Antares users do not upgrade to Catalina until we’ve verified that our products are fully compatible,” says Antares on its support website.

Apogee: Unknown

Apogee has yet to release a statement regarding MacOS Catalina support, but we recommend not upgrading if you have Apogee products.

Arturia: Incompatible

Arturia advises that it’s products are not currently compatible with MacOS Catalina.

“Our virtual instruments and effects are not yet compatible with macOS 10.15 Catalina. To keep working in safe and trouble free conditions, we strongly advise to wait before updating your OS,” says the company on its support website.

Avid: Incompatible

Pro Tools, Media Compose, Sibelius, and other Avid apps, currently are not supported by MacOS Catalina.

“We are working closely with Apple in order to support macOS 10.15 Catalina as soon as possible. Please check this page or your product’s specifications page regularly to obtain information on the current operating system requirements. In the meantime, we recommend you continue to use macOS Mojave and earlier until further notice,” says Avid on its support website.

Celemony: Partly compatible

Celemony’s Melodyne 4.2.4 (including Melodyne Assistant 4.2.4, Essential 4.2.4) is compatible with MacOS Catalina, however older versions of the software are not compatible. If you do not have Melodyne 4.2.4 or later, we recommend sticking with older versions of MacOS.

Celemony products compatible with MacOS Catalina:

  • Melodyne 4.2.4 or later

Celemony products incompatible with MacOS Catalina:

  • Melodyne 4.2.3 or earlier

Cockos: Unknown

Cockos has yet to announce if products like Reaper are compatible with MacOS Catalina. We recommend not updating if you use Reaper.

Eventide: Incompatible

Eventide products are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina.

“At the moment, our plugins are not currently supported on macOS 10.15. We have been conducting systematic tests, and there are several known issues that we are working on resolving. We hope to officially support macOS 10.15 soon,” says Eventide in a forum post.

FabFilter: Incompatible

FabFilter products are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina. FabFilter says it’s testing support, and will update its products when ready.

IK Multimedia: Incompatible

IK Multimedia products are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina. The company says that it is working on updates that will bring Catalina support.

“We recommend that you do not update your Mac computer to macOS 10.15 Catalina upon release. We will let you know when we have updates that will function fully and when you can make music without issues on macOS 10.15 Catalina,” says the company on a support page.

iZotope: Incompatible

iZotope products are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina.

“We recommend that iZotope users continue to remain on current macOS versions until further notice as iZotope Products are not yet qualified for use in macOS Catalina (Version 10.15),” said the company on its support website.

Native Instruments: Partly compatible

Most Native Instruments products are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina, however some are.

“Most Native Instruments software and hardware products are not supported under macOS 10.15, yet. Please do not install macOS 10.15 if you are using Native Instruments products other than the ones confirmed below,” said the company on a support page.

Native Instruments products compatible with MacOS Catalina:

  • Traktor DJ 2

Numark: Incompatible

Numark products are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina.

“It is important to us that our users can continue to enjoy their Numark hardware and software without any downtime. We encourage all of our users to remain on their current OS and iOS until a full statement announcing software compatibility is made. This page will be updated to reflect product compatibility following the release of macOS 10.15 Catalina,” said the company on a support website.

Plugin Alliance: Incompatible

Plugin Alliance has announced that it’s products are not compatible with MacOS Catalina, however it expects to have updates that add Catalina support by the end of October.

“To avoid any disruption with work you may have ongoing, it is highly suggested by our technicians that you do not update to Catalina until we announce that everything is functioning as it should,” said the company on a support page.

Reason Studios: Incompatible

Reason is currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina. Reason is working on an update to bring support for the new operating system.

“We are currently working hard to ensure full compatibility with macOS Catalina. In the meantime, we recommend that you do not update to macOS 10.15 until we have finished testing and made a full compatibility statement,” said the company in a statement.

Rob Papen: Compatible

Rob Papen has posted a statement on its Twitter page announcing that its software is now compatible with MacOS Catalina, however it is recommended that you download the latest versions of the software for compatibility.

Roland: Incompatible

Roland products are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina. Roland is planning updates for some of its software, however not all 32-bit apps will get an update.

“Compatibility with macOS Catalina (macOS 10.15) will be verified and announced after the release of macOS Catalina (macOS 10.15).
If you are using a Roland product via a USB connection to a Mac computer, please continue to stay with macOS Mojave (macOS 10.14) until the results of verification are announced,” said the company on a support page.

ROLI: Incompatible

ROLI products are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina. ROLI says that it’s working on support for the new operating system.

“Testing so far has revealed that changes introduced in macOS 10.15 may affect the compatibility of ROLI software. We recommend that you wait to update to macOS 10.15 Catalina until we’ve ensured compatibility, and given the all-clear that you’re safe to update,” said the company on a support page.

Slate Digital: Incompatible

Slate Digital products are currently not compatible with MacOS Catalina. The company says that it’s working on updates to its products to add compatibility.

“We are currently in the process of running tests to offer compatibility after the official release and should have more information available in the near future,” said the company on a support page.

Solid State Logic: Partly compatible

Solid State Logic has announced that some of its products are compatible with MacOS Catalina, however not all are. Those that aren’t compatible will get updates in the near future. Here’s a list of compatible SSL products.

Solid State Logic products compatible with MacOS Catalina:

  • Delta Control Plugins (latest versions)
  • Delta Link (with Delta Link 2.00 Firmware)
  • ipMIDI 1.7 and later
  • Sigma Remote 2.1/33 and later
  • Sigma
  • SSL Native Plug-ins V6 and later
  • Nucleus 2 Dante

Solid State Logic products incompatible with MacOS Catalina:

  • Nucleus2
  • Matrix2
  • AWS
  • Duality

Sonarworks: Partly Compatible

Sonarworks has announced that Sonarworks Reference 4.4 is compatible with MacOS Catalina. Previous versions of the software are now.

Sonarworks products compatible with MacOS Catalina:

  • Reference 4.4 and later

Soundtoys: Incompatible

Soundtoys products are not currently compatible with MacOS Catalina.

Steinburg: Incompatible

Steinburg products, including Cubase, are not currently compatible with MacOS Catalina.

“Steinberg is working through issues with Soft-eLicenser and Dorico on macOS Catalina. Due to this situation, we recommend users of Steinberg applications to remain on their current versions of macOS until further notice,” said the company on its support website.

Universal Audio: Incompatible

Universal Audio has announced that its products are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina. The company is currently developing support.

“We recommend that you wait until UAD software compatibility with Catalina is announced before updating to this new operating system,” said the company on its support page.

Waves: Incompatible

Waves has announced that its products are currently incompatible with MacOS Catalina. The company is working on support for the new operating system.

“We are working closely with Apple to ensure that our software is compatible and that your Waves plugins and applications will work properly. However, until we confirm full compatibility, we strongly recommend you remain on your current version of macOS,” said the company on its support website.