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Pro Tools8 Upgrade Review

I've been using PT6.9 Le for a long time. It was doing what I wanted it to do. I am aware of the drawbacks of both the hardware and the software, but rather than move to another DAW and upgrade my interface, I decided to stand pat with PT and the 002Rack and keep improving my mic and preamp collection. I figured (and still figure) that at some point I will make a major upgrade and move away from Digi products, but I kept the DAW that I bought a few years ago intact, said to heck with software upgrades, and worked on other areas.

So a week ago I broke down and bought PT8. I've used it in only one serious recording session, so I can't really give a well informed review. But I am very pleased. Well worth the $150 to upgrade.

First, the obvious thing is the look of the interface. Much easier to look at and work with for a long time (at least to me). You can change more things and make the changes more easily. Just a more pleasant environment in general.

Second, more inputs, more sends, more tracks. All good.

Third, at least for me, they did well on the plugin s. Upgraded the compressor/limiter and expander/gate (at least in their interface). Added basic effects like chorus, phaser, etc. Added the Sansamp plugin . At the very least these are going to give a reasonable headphone sound when I am recording direct with the idea of reamping (and they may end up being good enough to keep without reamping). Added a drum machine. (Wish they had put better sounds on their click. I guess the drum machine was a substitute.) Kept all the plugins that were advertised as "extras" with 6.9 (Maxim, Amplitude).

Finally, they have added some "obvious" functionality that will save me a lot of time. They have automated making and saving templates. (It wasn't hard the old way, but this is so much faster and easier.) They have created a "playlist view" that allows you to view all takes of a track simultaneously.

Now there are a ton of changes that I have not explored and there are a ton of PT features that I don't use. (In particular, I don't use midi right now. Only know enough to create a click track on a drum machine. That is where they have made a lot of changes. My daughter will probably play with that (and maybe teach me) some more when she comes home from college. Maybe I'll review that in 6 months.)

There are still big drawbacks. Can't burn directly to CD, etc. But this will probably keep me in check until college tuition is paid off.


hueseph Thu, 02/12/2009 - 20:26
I'm with you. It's unfortunate that so many are having problems with 8. I have yet to experience any glitches. Power consumption is a bit higher but performance overall is still quite good.

You forgot to mention the other plugins:

Eleven: an amp sim which I have yet to try.

Mini Grand: Piano virtual instrument

Air Structure Free: Sample player

Xpand 2

DB-33: A Hammond B3 virtual instrument with a virtual Leslie which can be used as a plugin effect(nice touch. sounds great)

Vacuum virtual synth

Boom drum "machine".

A huge improvement on the midi front. I was reluctant to move back to ProTools but I'm glad I did.

BobRogers Fri, 02/13/2009 - 02:49

Good points. The only one of those plugins that I have tried in a serious way so far is the Leslie sim in the DB-33, which I used on a guitar track. I agree with you, it's a very nice effect.

While it requires more resources, I have not had any problems with it as yet. We were tracking drums, bass, acoustic guitar and vocals last night. I was using low latency monitoring which turns off most of the plugins while tracking. I run a single reverb bus - only one instance of the reverb per session. No delays on these sessions. So what I'm doing is not the toughest test of the system, but no problems. Knock wood.

BobRogers Fri, 02/13/2009 - 03:58
hueseph wrote: ...A huge improvement on the midi front. I was reluctant to move back to ProTools but I'm glad I did.
I've never used Cubase. The conventional wisdom is that it is much better than PT for midi. Does PT8 close the gap? (This is directed a hueseph and anyone else who can compare PT8 to Cubase or any other competitor.)

hueseph Fri, 02/13/2009 - 21:10
cfaalm wrote: I haven't done much midi in PT7, but surpas Cubase you say? Make me a believer.

Yeah instrument tracks are great, but they both have that.

Well I may be a little over enthusiastic.

I like what Digi are doing with ProTools. The bottom line is, I don't think ProTools suffers with midi anymore. I don't think they have in a while. I like the fact that I can edit midi right in the edit window without opening up another window. I know you can do this in other applications but I like the way it's done in PT. It "looks" good and there's lot's of room to work. Resizing the track is very quick so you can go from jumbo to micro in two clicks.

It's just my opinion. I like it.

Yes there are problems for some people but there were as many problems with Cubase 4 when it came out and a patch was soon released as the case has been with PT8.

BobRogers Sat, 02/14/2009 - 05:10
Yeah, I think it's hard (and probably undesirable) for any one review to "make someone a believer" when so many of the questions about software involve subjective aesthetic and workflow issues. Once you get past a few obvious specs like track counts and descriptions of plugins it comes down to how the software "feels." At that point you just have to collect a lot of reactions to see if it is worth going to the ultimate test of trying it yourself.