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Old 17th February 2018
Lives for gear
End of Windows for Pro production - FLS Limit?

As many people are probably aware, Microsoft introduced a limit to static linked libraries - FLS slots. This limits the number of unique plugins one can run in a DAW to somewhere around 79 slots in Cubase and Nuendo. This can vary depending on how many links the DAW uses itself.

For those not aware of this here is the breakdown:

1 - Each plugin uses at least one FLS slot. If the plugin is written to use dynamically linked libraries, only the first instance uses any FLS slots, with each additional instance using no more.

So if EQ-A uses 1 FLS slot, but is dynamically linked, 50 instances still use only 1 slot.

2 - However, with statically linked plugins, each instance eats up FLS slots. So if EQ-B uses 1 slot, 50 instances use 50 slots.

3 - VIs can vary. Some VIs use 4-5 slots. Arturia's Analog Lab uses 43 - over half the available slots, leaving very little room for additional unique VIs and plugins to mix. Basically, some projects are impossible to run in real time and must be rendered to stems to mix, or even compiled across 2 or more projects.

4 - This limit didn't exist in Windows 7 (as far as I know - never ran into it even on very large mixes). This becomes a big issue for many people is attempting to load projects from an older PC on a Win8/10 PC and having some plugins simply not load (e.g. you end up having to remix with fewer plugins).

So the question is - how many Windows users are running up against this limit? How are you dealing with it, and/or is it serious enough for you consider switching to a Mac?

This is quickly becoming a showstopper for me and others. Since this limit doesn't exist on OSX, I am weighing the many tradeoffs of switching. Given how easily it is to hit the limit, I can't see Windows 10 surviving in the pro market - certainly not post (which is probably 99% Mac/PT anyway), but even for the average music producer, this can be a serious limitation not unlike the old days of managing TDM plugin limits with ProTools. It seems to me that unless Microsoft changes this limit, many of us may have no choice but to switch.