Pro Tools 10 Announced: First Look
So, in a surprise move, AVID have managed to jump ahead of other things in the queue and made themselves the subject of my first real post for the UniqueSquared blog. How did they do this? By dropping Pro Tools version 10, seemingly hot on the heels of last year’s release of version 9. From what I’m looking at, it appears November is AVID’s decided month of choice for dropping upgrades . I’m only looking at the release information we’ve been given, so I’ll tell you what I know so far.
It appears the standalone purchase price of Pro Tools is going up to $699 from the current $599. Well, that’s the standard price, as opposed to our current price. That said, it looks as though you can save money on Pro Tools 10 by picking up a copy of Pro Tools 9. You’ll definitely want to get on that if you’ve been on the fence, because once those versions leave the shelves, it would seem that train has pulled out of the station. That isn’t, however, the only opportunity to save a few clams on the upgrade before the New Price is the Only Price. The upgrade/cross grade will be honoring a grace period that will go back to the 1st of October and through the 23rd- so those who jump(ed) on that won’t be left high and dry. Not so lucky, I suppose, for those who upgraded on September 30th. Sadly, that’s just kind of how that goes. Trust me, I’ve been on the wrong side of that equation before, I’m not at all unsympathetic.
As of the announcement, the gist of the “free upgrade” policy seems to be that all purchases/ registrations / cross grades of Pro Tools 9 on or after October 1st will be eligible for free upgrade. As far as the final word on all of the upgrade matters/ your personal situation goes, it’s probably best to check here.
Probably the best bargain on the table is picking up an Mbox Mini 3 + Pro Tools 9 Software at the $629 MAP (again, check out our price). The upshot of this is that, as long as you’re buying in, you might as well get an extra interface. Even if you’re an Apogee loyalist, or something to that effect, it never hurts to have an extra sound card lying around. You know, in case you end up traveling and want a “just in case” interface. I always like to imagine myself doing some DJ set where I use an older laptop I have and an interface that isn’t my main for the sake of having some big rock star style finish where I dump Jell-O over everything, set fire to my gear or just beat the whole rig to death with a baseball bat or crappy guitar. Outside of these pointlessly destructive urges, I personally never have trouble finding a use around the house for extra interfaces. It isn’t just the Mbox Mini either- all of the current iterations of the Mbox series hardware that include Pro Tools 9 will be eligible for the free upgrade. At any rate, Pro Tools 9 will be bundled with them through the end of the year, so it could be a pretty Pro Tools oriented Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/Festivus for those who are so inclined.
Now, with all the dollars and cents out of the way, we can get down to what exactly is different about the updates to the software. The one that has my eyebrows raising the most is the new Channel Strip. As I write this I have yet to lay eyes or ears on the thing, but it’s toting the “System 5 EQ” and a “Compression Modeler,” so it sounds like a channel strip alright. If this thing performs as well as the SSL emulation currently appearing in Reason 6/ Essentials/ previous versions of Record, it could easily open Pro Tools up as a one stop solution for bands trying to figure out the quickest way to get a decent studio together.
So that’s pretty cool, especially added in with the rest of the bundle of virtual instruments included. Among the highlights of these are the Boom drum machine/sequencer, the DB-33 tonewheel organ (yes, with a rotary), the Mini Grand, the Vacuum tube synth and the Xpand 2 synth and sample workstation. The Pro Tools effects bundle has swollen quite a bit over the years as well, now including over 70 effects, processing and utility plug ins. With Channel Strip on the channels and Maxim on the master bus, Pro Tools has seriously brought its A-Game to the mixer section. The flat gray routing matrix of a few years ago is a quickly fading memory.
The next feature that’s caught my eye addresses a situation that had really hampered the work flow of those of us drawn to incorporating samples, found sounds and cut up loops. Pro Tools 10 brings the ability to deal with multiple file formats and bit depth to the table. Better yet, it is doing so without any file duplication in the process- so project bloat will not be the immediate consequence of taking advantage of the feature. On top of this, Pro Tools is now supporting 32-bit floating point file formats- meaning higher resolution sound for recording and importing and more headroom for your tracks. This is all a very big deal and just might win back the hearts of more electronic oriented producers who had drifted away over the past few years to programs like Ableton that allowed them to quickly and easily pull audio into their project for mangling.
It is worth mentioning, because I am focusing on the Native system as far as it goes, mainly because we aren’t selling HD systems and also because the compare contrast between the two is tedious. As far as the native specs go, I would be remiss if I didn’t address them. Pro Tools 10 will support 96/48/24 tracks at 48/96/192 Khz respectively. Depending on hardware capabilities, it will be possible to record 32 tracks of audio simultaneously- which is by no means a limited count. Alongside your tracks, you’ll also be capable of running 160 aux tracks and up to 256 busses. These numbers are, in my studio, just more than I can possibly think of needing. I’m pretty sure that I could handle a small orchestra on these specs, and if I did somehow need more, well, that’s when I would make the leap to an HD system and take advantage of their large expansions on the above numbers. I would also require at least 2 engineers to deal with such a prospect. This might also lead me to develop some kind of system for getting coffee in on an endless intravenous injection. Just thinking about it gives me a headache and makes me wonder what it’s like to be Hans Zimmer or Danny Elfman. Actually, a lot of things, like bills, make me wonder what it’s like to be Hans Zimmer or Danny Elfman. I’ll save elaborating on such musings for a rainy day. The bottom line is that the Native specs are impressive and the HD specs are intimidating.
There’s been a lot of talk among certain quarters that, as much as it may be “industry standard,” PT has really fallen behind over the years. Typically these complaints revolve around keeping up with the other DAWs on the market regarding some of the modern features users are coming to expect. The efforts made between versions 9 and 10 to escape the hardware dependency have done a lot to address the most unavoidable complaint about previous versions. The instrument and effects suite updates have made leaps and bounds towards addressing gripes about bang for the buck. It seems that in recent years AVID have made a solid effort to listen to their users and that will go a long way toward Pro Tools maintaining an enviable position in the market as a name synonymous with computer based recording.
This is a pretty good deal, overall, and though I have yet to take the new version for a spin myself, it’s certainly on my to do list. I can’t help but think it might be a great time to finally pick up that summing DAW for some Ableton or Reason based users who had been looking for a reason to choose PT over Logic for somewhere to finish off tracks. It’s also a hell of a post production solution for users of DAWs that don’t have the facilities, like the above mentioned Ableton and Reason. Yes, Ableton does have some video support, but it is hardly built for spot type edits and the video support in Live is shaky at best. Pro tools has long excelled at such tasks and remains one of the best audio editors out there today. If you’ve turned away in the past, AVID is giving you more than a few reasons to reconsider. If you’re a long time user, it looks like they are trying to keep your requests met, so hopefully there’s something in the new version you would have traded your first born for. While they haven’t specifically said anything in press releases yet, I believe AVID are letting you keep your children for the time being. We’ll keep our eye out for more details on the new version and try to keep you posted. By the time this posts, AVID should have formally announced the release and the data I lack will be available to me. So, if you guys have some questions, fire away.