How to get set up in Pro Tools

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Michaelm, Sep 11, 2003.

  1. Michaelm

    Michaelm Guest

    Okay, I've thought about it a long time and I may actually dump the idea of a Roland VS2480 or Akai DPS24 and actually jump to Pro Tools. I'm really surprised at this move, but there's too much noise being made and why fight it?
    Can anyone please help me with the following: How do I get set up in Pro Tools? What do I need? What are all the components? Sure I have a PC, but do I need a different one? I still don't understand what it all entails besides the software and a computer. So if someone could baby talk me a list of stuff I need, that would be very appreciated!

    Michael M
  2. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Lots of controversy will pop up here. Anyway, I will give you my opinion based in my own daily experience and knowledge:
    a) Buy an used G4;

    b) Pick an used PT Mix system. Probably you will receive a bundle of plugs;

    c) If you plan to to everything inside the box, pick an 888/24, 882/20 or an adat bridge 24.You can use a regular adat xt to do the a/d.

    d) Do not waste your money with a crap ofplug-ins Plan before hand, pick just what really matters to your sound. I would suggest Compressor Banks, Filterbanks, Amp Farm, Q6, TC Chorus, C1, Ren Collection. You do not need much more than this.

    e) If budget is very limited, you can go with a digi 001 or PT24, with 5.1.1 at least.

    f) Remember, these systems have already gone out of the market. It means that nice new stuff isnot being developed for these systems more and more.

    g) PT24, PT Mix* and PT HD* accept RTAS/TDM/HTDM* Audio suite plugs while Digi 001/002 only accepts RTAS/Audio suite directly into the DAE decks.

    h) do not cry because planned obsolescence is a reality. They also need to sell their fish.

    You can have more info about plugs going to theplug-insroom. David and I, as well as very cool smart guys are there to help.

    Hope it helped ya. Now PC guys, throw the first stone a6t me -lol
  3. Michaelm

    Michaelm Guest

    Hey, thanks a lot for taking the time to reply! Now let me expose just how stupid I am by responding to your post: What?
    Yes, that's how stupid I am. Actually, here's the gist: That's the kind of stuff I've been getting when googling for answers. Your post is saved on my computer and looks like it will help a lot when I get through level 1.
    I wasn't clear enough. Level 1: What is hard disc recording and how is it done? Don't worry, I'm not a complete idiot. I've at least been using Roland VS stations for years and know them inside and out. I'm trying to understand what PC recording is.
    Okay, you have a computer I imagine, with software on it that records. It sounds like you're talking about a piece of hardware on the outside that interfaces with the computer? Pro Tools would be the software? Plug ins would be stuff like EQ, reverb, etc? I would imagine the hardware would be a mixer with I/O's also?
    So there you are. That's how stupid I am. What I need is a basis to understand the basics here and then I can make use of the post above and go online to find out all the rest myself.
    Please help me out of my stupidom!
  4. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Yes, Michael you are in the right direction.
    Pt is just a software. let us say, your virtual mixer/console with a nice (!!) GUI where you can see waveforms, apply processing ( inserts, aux sends, etc) and lots of other data.

    It is very similar to your VS. I started with 2 Roland Dm800´s. They are stand alone machines, you add internal or external HDs so you have a very big non-stop "tape" to record.

    VS styled standalone machines have the xlr/mic line in/outs, digital in.outs also bundled with the same product.

    PT needs external interfaces, which can be just digital ( like adat bridges models 24, 20, OF) or with a/d like the new 96 i/o, the older 888/24, 888, etc.

    Also, you need to hook up a midi/usb interface so you can distribute midi data. Vs, for example, has a midi in/out/thru where you can perform simple/limited midi patching, like sending external SPP/MTC.

    Although very cost effective, you can not upgrade very much with these machines. You can pick a new operating system or new efx boards, but...
  5. pandamonkey

    pandamonkey Active Member

    Dec 28, 2001
    Please don't call yourself stupid, we all have to start somewhere! (Besides, I've already claimed that name for my neighbour!) Let me try to give you some info. in a nutshell.... I don't know what calibre of equipment you are willing to invest in, but since you have worked with basic hard disk recorders in the past, I'll assume that this will be for a home studio user.
    At any given time, when working with audio and your pc, if you want to record anything into your computer, you need an interface of some sort to plug your signal into. This, as you prob. know can be something as simple as the 1/8" i/p jack on your motherboard's built in soundcard or as elaborate as multiple outboard interfaces all linked together allowing you to record many incoming audio signals at once to your hard drive. Most people don't need the latter option but most of us into audio would prefer something better than the i/p on our motherboards as well. To use any P.T.s software (except the free version), you must buy an external hardware interface to go with it. This is unique mainly to P.T.s and is surely anti-piracy related as well as for efficiency purposes. Digidesign sells many different kinds of interfaces depending on what you need and what version of their software you want. Those of us who are more "basic" then the big studios tend to go with the Mbox (me), the 001 or the 002 (also avail. in rack version) I'll assume that one of these will work for you so check them out at Anytime you buy P.T.s, you buy both the software and hardware together so if you already have an audio card, you might want to consider selling it to make room for your new Digi hardware. As far as your computer is concerned, I don't agree with Alecio's suggestion. Yes, a G4 would be nice but if you're like me and have a pc already, use your pc and invest later if you still want one. I have a pc P3 900Mhz with 512MB ram, Windows XP. Yes, that's it. I would love a bigger and badder computer but mine works fine, even a pc! (keep in mind that him and I work on different scales!)
    If you have a PC or a Mac, invest in RAM and hard drive space at very least. Digi suggests the following as a minimum pc setup...

    "Intel Pentium 4 or Xeon Processor
    Laptops — Intel Centrino processor highly recommended, or Pentium 4, 4-M machines running faster than 2ghz
    AMD Athlon XP with pure VIA chipset
    Performance and the number ofplug-inswill vary from PC to PC; however, faster processor speeds produce better results
    Total System RAM: 384 MB minimum, 512 MB (or higher) highly recommended
    File System (all drives): FAT32 or NTFS
    Also note that we have seen better performance on computers that have less components attached and non-custom versions of the BIOS or Windows XP"

    I would really suggest floating around Digi's website as it is quite informative... Also, poke around their user's forum and ask P.T.s specific questions. If there is anything else that we can help you with here, PLEASE ASK! If this was way to simple for you, sorry but I just wanted too make sure that you had the basics covered.
    Best regards,

    [ September 11, 2003, 11:40 PM: Message edited by: mIchAElpEdErsEn ]
  6. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Digidesing is as much, at LEAST, in the HARDWARE business as the software business.
    You can NOT use ProToos without at least some of their hardware (with the exception fo ProTools Free whcih is more of a demo than anything else).

    you can spring for the full blown "pro" TDM version of for one of the (largely compatible) ProTools LE versions (the discontinued 001, the 002 , 002R or MBox).

    i would highly recommend an 002 to a newcomer although if you care to spend the momey obviously TDM is the top of the line.
    a 32 track 002 system with 4 quite decent mic pres and moving faders runs about $2000.
    it's af ine way to get into the world of PT and get yourself some practise.
    and if you were happy with a Roland VS, it may be all you ever need.
  7. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member

    Jan 27, 2002

    Here's my pick at the subject:

    As all of the others have already posted, Pro Tools is a system composed by Hardware and software, both produced by the same company, Digidesign, and engineered to work together; you can run several other softwares on Digi's hardware (in both native and TDM versions, like Logic, Digital Performer, Vegas, Nuendo, Wavelab), by using the appropriate drivers, but you cannot run the PT software on non-Digi's hardware, that's it.

    Depending on the caliber of work you are in to do you can go from native Pro Tools systems (those that rely on your computer's horsepower to manage audio processing and playback/recording operations) like the Toolbox XP, 001, 002 or 002Rack or TDM/HD systems; the pros of native configurations are: less expensive than a TDM system, allow pro results if used by a smart operator, almost plug & play (with a bit of optimization of the computer); the cons are limited features (like track count and A/V sync options) compared to TDM, no way to expand I/O (you cannot add interfaces to go beyond the phisical limit of say the 18 I/Os of a 001 or 002), some plug ins (not much though) are only available in TDM version and not RTAS (Real Time Audio Suite, the plug-in format for the native platform).

    TDM/HDTDM systems are modular, so you can configure one to fit your own situations, starting from just the CPU, a DSP card and one interface to full blown 128 tracks - 96 I/O.
    The biggest difference (apart from cost, a HDTDM rig starts at $12.000 without computer, Hard drives and various options) is that TDM systems rely on DSP cards to process and handle audio (and MIDI) with no hit on the computer's CPU, this can be an andvantage when dealing with large sessions with lots of tracks/plug ins; the more DSP (now called process cards) you add the more power you have, but power hat ist cost (and it's not low).

    My advice would be as suggested by Michael to log on the Digidesign website and check each product out to understand which one can fit you needs/budget.

    I currently work in my project studio with a 001 setup and I'm able to transfer session to a nerby TDM equipped studio where I can complete the projects on their bigger rig if I need to.
    I have to say that for the majority of the projects I do the 32 tracks of the Pro Tools LE 5.3.1 version I'm using are pretty much all that I need, and with the DSP of my Athlon PC I rarely run out of power for plug ins, and this brings me to the next issue:

    It's now possible to say that Pro Tools can be efficiently run on a PC Windows XP machine too: I self built mine (using the invaluable help and info from many of the guys on the forum at Digi, BTW you can find me there too) and I can have the same power of a Mac G4 that would've cost me twice as much, DON'T GET ME WRONG, Macs are great, I'm not shredding, but you can definitely have an alternative on them provided that you have the patience to do some research on the right configuration (see the forum at Digi, check THIS THREAD out) and are willing/able to put one together and maintain it (no rocket science, I did it so can you); you can't just get a run of the mill PC and have it working as a DAW without problems; if you don't want to do that get a Mac (an used G4 466 should be OK) which comes almost set right out of the box; either way you'll be fine ; the feature is almost equal now between Macs and PCs, and evenplug-insdeveloper are writing PC versions of theirplug-ins

    I hope this helps, and excuse me if I've been a bit long but such a topic can't be explained in two words.

    L.G. :)
  8. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2003
    Kansas City, KS
    Home Page:
    Ok lets go a different route:

    1. Go to Check out the products section. Also sign up for a demo in your area. The best way to find out about it is to go see it. If you can't do that, they will send you a DVD if you ask.

    2. Do NOT buy a used PT systen, as there are a bunch of hoops to go through to get ownership of plugs and software transfered, and you are not going to be getting free support from Digi. You will pay. It is for this reason that you should get an 002 or 002R first and then move up from there. Get used to the lesser versions before getting yourself in over your head with a used TDM rig. Besides, Digi offers trade-in rebates when moving up.

    3. IF you have the money to buy a basic HD system, then you should go back to the website and use the System Configurator and it will let you design a Mac or PC system, down to the cable. In that, it will tell you what your computer requirements are, and what motherboards/OS's to avoid.

    4. Now the PC and Apple issue is irrelavent as far as Digi is concerned. ProTools 6.1 is the same on PC or Mac. The features are now the same, etc. The issue is still with the plug-in designers. You will still faind better, more functionalplug-insfor Mac. And, with a Mac, you don't have to worry about dialing in your system, etc. OS X takes care of all of that crap for you. It is simple! So, buy a new G4. They are going cheap right now. Probably cheaper than what you could buy a used one for, IF you can find a used one. If you surf the web, you won't have to worry about virus/worms/etc on a Mac like you would a PC.

    5. Either way, call Al Priest at Studio Tech in Buchanon, TX and he will hook you up. He gives great service!

    6. The day is coming when we will be doing processing and recording in RAM alone with no TDM cards. Until that day comes, TDM is the ONLY viable alternative to near real-time, no-latency processing and mixing.
  9. Michaelm

    Michaelm Guest

    "If this was way to simple for you, sorry but I just wanted too make sure that you had the basics covered.
    Best regards,

    Trust me, it was JUST simple enough to keep my head treading water - but thanks to everyone's comments, the framework is making itself known to me now. I guess I'll just surf from here, go to digidesign's website, etc.
    I must say though, now I'm beginning to wonder if this IS a good idea after all. I'm willing to spend about $3500 or so right now (would be a lot more if I hadn't just bought Roland TD10 drums which I COULD sell..) and it sounds like I could get set up, but man the learning curve sounds a bit steep. I just spent the last two years learning how to record, so I really want to get to it.
    I might be better off just doing what I was going to do, record on VS2480 or even VS1824, get it professionally mixed and professionally mastered, as I never intended on doing that by myself anyway. I'm beginning to think it might be better to dump my mix into Pro Tools and watch someone mix it for me to get an idea of what it's really all about.
    Still, this has been the first time I've ever understood what PT IS, so I'll definitely look around before spending!

    Thanks to everyone.
    Michael M.
  10. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2003
    Kansas City, KS
    Home Page:
    My 12 year old knows how to do a quick punch on PT. Unless you are scared from computer-mares, there is no reason not to pick it up. It is simple.
  11. r0x0r

    r0x0r Guest

    I have been reading up on pro tools as well, thinking about perhaps diving into this as well. I'm still not very clear though on the components of a pro tools system. I have been looking on ebay, and there are some extremely cheap interfaces, like the 442, which was 25 bucks. I know that it was mentioned that getting this stuff used was not advisable, but for 25 bucks... My main question though, is what are the other components of the full system? I assume that some interface card is required to plug this thing into the computer, but I dont have any idea what this would be called. Also, do you need a card for every itnerface, or could you plug trwo of these things into one card? I'm not necesarily gonna get a 442 btw, but I am just using it as an example.
  12. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    PT24: D24 + DSP FArm. If you go with a G4, be sure the DSP Farm is the QC revised V2, to provide ya compatibility. Up to 24 in/outs. Too little power. If you mix inside the box it might be ok, but if you do in line mixing with an external digital/analog board, you will need to buy more interfaces like adat bridges, 888´s, 888/24, 882 etc and your available plugin usage gets pretty limited!!

    PT24MIx: Mix core. Up to 16in/outs. More powerful than the PT 24.

    PT24Mix plus: Mix core + Mix farm. Up to 32 in/outs.

    PT24 Mix plus cubed: Mix core + 2 mix farms. Up to 64 in/outs.

    You can also make a combi of d24+Mix farm+ DSP farms or Mix core + Mix farm + DSp Farms.

    D24´s and Mix cores can not exist in the same system.

    DSP FArms are cheaper and sometimes they are useful to acomodate plugs like the Waves TDM bundle or digirack stuff.

    I myself have been using a combi of D24 + Mix farm + Dsp Farm V2 with 2 adat bridges, light piped to an 02R and things have been pretty fine up to 32 tracks.

    You do not need to waste your money with expensive SCSI stuff. MAaxtor and Western digital are nice brands of HD´s.

    A 80GB IDE ATA , 7200 RPM is all you need if you are doing sessions up to 32 tracks. Also important: An original copy of Norton and Disk Warrior. Defragmenting your HD´s will make your studio life much easier.

    You need at least one iterface so as to perform in/out patching. If you already have a digital board I would recommend you an adat bridge ( Ab24, Ab20). If going analog, you can choose between 888/24, 882/20, 888, etc.

    There is also the 1622 that lets you patch sound modules, keyboards, etc into your PT environment and do 16 analog in/outs.

    Hope it helped ya
    Nice wekend to all
  13. r0x0r

    r0x0r Guest

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the core seems to be by far the most costly component. Looking on ebay, they seem to be in the $1-3k range. Am I looking at the right thing?
  14. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Sure Roxor. That is why I build my system based on the D24, starting with a PT24.
    But $3000 is too much for an used mix core in the USA!
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