El Capitan Breaking Your Audio Unit Plugins? Try This Fix.

I had a pleasant surprise after updating to El Capitan [dripping sarcasm]. First, let’s get this out of the way:

If you are involved in audio engineering, recording, mixing/mastering, and rely on ANYTHING third party (i.e. not built-in to your DAW software), do not update your operating system or DAW software without first ensuring that your mission-critical plugins will still work!

That having been said, I’m a software developer. Not updating to the latest systems (even beta versions) really isn’t an option for me. So I took the plunge. Unfortunately, El Capitan’s Audio Unit validator tool is failing to validate a lot of different plugins. Here is an extensive list of compatibility issues with audio software and El Capitan. Take a close look to see if you rely on any of these.

One fix I’ve found that solves the problem for the plugins I use (Native Instruments plugins including Massive and Maschine, iZotope plugins, and Nektar) involves replacing the El Capitan “auvaltool” with one from Yosemite. Unfortunately, to do this, you need to disable the new System Integrity Protection feature of El Capitan (more info about SIP here).

Here are the full steps:

  1. Boot into recovery mode (hold Command+R immediately after the boot-up chime)
  2. Select Utilities > Terminal to open a Terminal window
  3. Type in csrutil disable and press return.
  4. Type reboot and press return.
  5. When your Mac reboots, select Go > Go To Folder in the Finder. Type in /usr/bin and click Go.
  6. Scroll down until you find the auvaltool file. Drag this to the trash, and then replace it with the Yosemite version (download link)

Now you can open your DAW and your plugins should verify and be available. Happy happy joy joy!

After you’ve resurrected your plugins from the dead, it is probably a good idea to re-enable System Integrity Protection. Follow these steps to do so:

  1. Boot into recovery mode (hold Command+R immediately after the boot-up chime)
  2. Select Utilities > Terminal to open a Terminal window
  3. Type in csrutil enable and press return.
  4. Type reboot and press return.
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