Pro Tools LE vs. Pro Tools TDM


Jesse Free

I am highly consiering investing in a MAC G4 simply to use for Pro Tools LE. A concern of mine is whether or not LE really resembles the full blown version of Pro Tools. In other words, if I master LE, will I be able to tranfer my skills to the Pro version?
Also, can you tell me the main difference between LE and the Pro version. I know that LE limits you to 24 tracks, but what else is different

Greg Malcangi

Well-Known Member
Oct 12, 2000
Hi Jesse,

can you tell me the main difference between LE and the Pro version.

The main difference is in the hardware and how the audio proccessing is handled. PTLE is a host based system, which means the CPU of the computer handles all audio processing. This results in quite a bit of delay as the CPU tries to handle everything at once, this delay is called latency. PT TDM on the other hand uses quite expensive plugin cards, each of which contains 6 DSP chips. All audio processing is done by these cards, rather than the CPU and latency is almost eliminated.

In other words, if I master LE, will I be able to tranfer my skills to the Pro version?

Although the underlying hardware and audio processing of PTLE and PT TDM are completely different the software interface sitting on top is essentially identical. There are a couple of extra features on the TDM software but if you learn the PTLE software then move to TDM you will be hard pressed to tell the difference except for the lack of latency and the generally superior TDMplug-ins In other words, the answer to your question is basically "yes".

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Well-Known Member
Sep 10, 2000
For what it's worth...I have never used the TDM version, but have had 001 for almost 2 years now. If you're looking to buy it just for the purpose of becoming familiar with the software interface, that's cool. However, after you use 001 for a very short time, it's limitations are a major drawback.
Being limited to 24 channels isn't a major issue. For a "budget" system, 24 channels is reasonable. However, if you want more than that, you're screwed.
There are only 2 XLR mic pre's on the breakout box, and they're not of very high quality.
Being a host-based sytem, latency is definately an issue. I run it on a Mac G4-400, and it's pretty weak. I'm sure with one of the new, bigger Macs it would be much better. When I bought my 001, it was only available for Mac. Now you have the option of running it on a 2Gig PC that you can build for less money than I spent on my Mac ($1500)!
Another difference between LE and TDM is the plugins. Outboard gear is definately needed to get good end results from the 001.
Bottom line ... If you want 001/LE for the software interface, cool. If you want the best bang for your buck from a low cost system, it would be wise to learn a lot about your other options before dropping $800 on 001 and $1700 - 3500 on a G4.
Have you checked-out the Soundscape R.ed32? It's a step up in terms of cash compared to 001/G4, but if you can afford it, it's a hell of a system for the price! There are people here on RO who can get you a great deal on it!


Oct 6, 2000
Santa Clarita, CA USA
PTLE doesn't have all of the automation features of the TDM version (or auto-fade), either - and, of course, there's no SMPTE timeline.

...and TDM voices vs the LE tracks only is another difference.

They do work very similarly and at a glance, you'd be hard-pressed to tell any difference.

There are just more features in the TDM version.



For what it is worth I love my PTLE setup. I currently run it with a Mac G4 533 w/ 512 MB Ram and it runs great. I also bypass its' covnverters and use an RME ADI-8 Pro which I think sounds great. I know there is a difference in TDM and LE but at the level of work I do I believe that it is very sufficient to get the job done. Granted, I always want more gear and all that but I guess that will come with time.

Also, as a quick note, I first ran the DIGI001 on a PC and I have to say use a runs much better in my opinion. Plus it allows me to put quicktime movies in...a feature that the PC's version would not allow me to do.

P.S. I have recorded bands and mixed a few smaller indie films with the same rig. I highly recommend it.

That is my $0.02... :)