So for the second day of AES, I focused mainly on Avid and Portable recorders. Let’s talk about Avid first.
So ProTools 9 and tons of new fancy interfaces. This has probably been the most talked about topic amongst sound professionals for the past month. TONS of rumors floating around (many of them surprisingly true). So what’s the biggest news about PT9? No more LE and no more hardware! No hardware you say? YES! Shockingly (because I know Avid, not because of common sense), you don’t need to own ANY Avid (or Digi) hardware to run Pro Tools. Actually, you don’t need any hardware at all… you can run it straight off your laptop’s internal mic and headphones output if you’d like. It’s just that easy now.
Other cool news? You can have (almost) all of the functionality of PTHD in PT9 when you add on the CPTK (Complete Production Toolkit), which is a $2000 option. The CPTK does a number of useful things, including increasing your audio track count to 192, instrument tracks to 128, video tracks to 64 (why?), adds up to 7.1 surround mixing (yes, they took surround mixing away from the lower version of PT again…), VCA mixing, advanced automation, more TC options and a few other cools things.
PT9 adds a SMPTE timeline, OMF support, auto delay comp, 192k sampling rates, of course the universal hardware deal I’ve already mentioned, and a bunch of other nifty features. Finally, Pro Tools seems to be a piece of software that can meet (almost all of) my needs and doesn’t force me to use their hardware. I’ve been waiting for this one for a while.
Also – Eucon support. All Euphonix surfaces work delightfully well with Pro Tools (natively – not through HUI anymore.) Just be prepared to upgrade firmware and such to get the surfaces to play nice – but once they do – all is fine and dandy from there on out!
Now, is it stable? It appears to be so far. Despite the rush to deliver before AES and reports of a very buggy PT9 just weeks before shipping, I’ve heard very few complaints. Still, I would give it a few weeks at least to see if they keep that up.
So lets talk hardware. Obviously you know about the Avid Omni already – that was announced months ago, so I won’t spend too much time talking about it. Let’s talk about the new Mbox 3s though. They were announced a little big ago, but until now, not too many people had seen them. First thing I noticed – they are incredibly heavy! Avid has changed from the polycarbonate body to a 1/4″ metal body. I don’t exactly know why – but I was told by an Avid rep that it was customer preference. Although he also mentioned that the older style polycarbonate ones were more durable… I know the whole thing about “the heavier the audio gear is, the better it must be!” but I don’t think that really applies to wrapping the gear in a thick metal casing… So, while I was very excited about the prospect of buying a new Mbox 3, I’m now slightly less excited because I’ve realized it weighs 7 pounds… not as easily portable anymore. But it’ll do 192k, and sounds MUCH better than version 2. The Mbox 3 and Mini are the same deal – they sound better, but are heavier than their predecessors. I might add that the buttons and switches / pots are much more solid though. Also the Mbox 3 can do 96k now, and the 3 and 3 Pro have random things like a built-in guitar tuner, on-board DSP, etc…
My only gripe is that they all ship with PT8LE and you have to pay $250 to get into PT9. Lame.
I spent a few hours asking questions about and playing with the new hardware and software, so please, if there is something you’d like to know, ask in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer it!
Here’s the Avid Pro Tools Post Production demonstration from AES 129 in SF last week. Disclaimer: this is very much a scripted demo and it feels like an infomercial. I take no responsibility to how this effects your emotions!
More posts on AES to come later today and tomorrow!