Pro Tools HD

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by MuayThaiKid, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. MuayThaiKid

    MuayThaiKid Guest

    This question has been asked by many here and on other forums but never quite answered... so I'll ask it again, rephrased :p

    I pay... whatever... 5-15k for a Pro Tools HD setup. I pay 1k for some other DAW+interface setup. What bonus do I get from PT8HD if I already have a freakin' beast of an audio computer?

    Some of the things people have said on other forums... (1) if you're a recording pro, the expense is just part of the job, (2) it's the industry standard and (3) it suits my needs best. Garrrrrrhhh, the vagueness and non-answers are killing me :D

    Is it a just a different workflow with a nice track count, some DSP cards and industry cred?
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    Well I think that the basic answer is that a "beast of an audio computer" plus the DSP cards can do things that the beast can't do alone. Only you can answer if that additional computing power is worth the money for the things you do.
  3. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Can your beast of a computer run 128+channels of audio? Add to that midi and huge instances of high quality plugins? 96 SIMULTANEOUS I/O channels! I'm not a PT fanboy but HD rigs are highly equipped. I'm not so sure ProTools 8 is worth the hassle yet for HD users. I'm still hearing horror stories but, if you're running 7.4 it's pretty tough to beat.

    Sure you could invest in other dsp cards but, those are also going to be $1500 and up for a comparable system. Each HD Accel card has nine dsp chips. So with an HD3 you're talking 27 chips of dsp power.

    The newer UAD-2 Quads are incredibly powerful and I love the sound I get out of my Uad-1e but, the number of pluginsavailable is limited in comparison. Mind you, I don't know that I would need more than a few plugins for what I do.

    On another note, that $14000 initial investment only gets you the core system, you still need to consider input devices: ie: preamps and A/D conversion with DB25 connectors. And, while you're at it, you might as well get a decent control surface or in this case settle for a C24.

    A lot of people consider PTHD to be a money pit. And, it is. It's also probably the most powerful computer based DAW out there.

    I did see a Fairlight system that I know nothing about. Looked pretty skookum though.
  4. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Apr 9, 2003
    Fairfield County, CT
    Home Page:
    One thing to keep in mind is that Pro Tools was introduced to the market as an Audio Post Production tool for films. Mixing for film requires huge track counts and an incredible amount of real time DSP and automation. I don't know many music projects that require over 250 tracks. (The "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy synced four [4] 256 channel PT systems - one for dialog, two for Foley and sound FX, one for the score.)

    For many music purposes PT can be overkill. Yes, PT is the "standard", but only because it got there first. It is incredibly supported by third party plug-in manufacturers and engineers want access to all of those choices. But more important than the DAW platform is the quality of the material that ends up being recorded both in terms of performance and the gear used to capture the performance.

    If you are going to be opening a commercial studio PT is almost a must although that has been slowly changing. If you are putting together a personal studio your DAW and interface choices are limited only by your finances.
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    As a side note, your computer + interface investment to get close to the low latency and DSP performance of the PTHD will be significantly more than $1k USD. You are looking at more like $3-5K for just the startup. There are other DSP options available that are just as good as PTHD (without the proprietary bs) and in some areas perhaps better to taste but they all cost beau coup bucks too. Check out DSD editors.
  6. MuayThaiKid

    MuayThaiKid Guest

    Ok, I think we have some fairly conclusive answers! Thanks fellas :D

    The PTHD system gives you a certain workflow, the high track counts, the dsp chips and of course, the industry stamp of approval that Avid loves to pimp for all their products :)

    My computer runs tons of DSP, low latency, high sample rate and bit-depth with a gnarly track count, so I'm good on that. I don't see a real concrete reason to invest in the accel cards, the program, the racks, the converters, the pricier plugs, etc. But see about 10-25 thousand reason$ why I shouldn't.

    Once again, you guys (and gals) are awesome. The responses are mucho appreciated-o... er... whatever.
  7. MuayThaiKid

    MuayThaiKid Guest

    PS Every single reply was informative and honest. More than I can say for some other, slightly more stubborn folks out there. Some people can't live without their PTHD. Thankfully, I'm realizing that I CAN, b4 I spend the big bucks.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    Here is my two cents.

    I've been a 30 year pro musician. When I bought my first PT rig 10 years ago I spent at least 25 grand on it and it kept going up. I bought PT for a few reason.

    1.) I felt I was that good that I needed the worlds best DAW

    2.)I felt having the best and most expensive DAW meant I actually had the best system and that clients would also be impressed.

    3.) Having the best meant it was going to stay cutting edge for quite a few years.

    4.) It was an ego trip

    5.) My peers owned PT's so Iit must be the best choice.

    All but one of the above reasons are BS. Clients are impressed.

    It is my honest opinion the PT is a total BS over priced rip-off. It works great but seriously, WTF uses that many tracks. Most of us aren't as big and we think we are when it comes right down to it.

    I have made the switch and am now heading toward Samplitude. There are other DAWs out there as well that are good enough.

    Spend your money gear that hold its value and that becomes part of your flavor. Things like mics, pre-amps and converters will do more for you than PT HD will ever do for your sound. Pro Tools HD will soak you endlessly. Once your in it that deep, you will keep upgrading because you can't face the reality of what you did 18 months prior.

    The bottom line is, if you are truely going full pro , ya, its very cool.

    I really doubt there are many of the big studios left on the planet that will survive whats evolving in the music business. They are all being replaced by DAW musicians and an audience that really doesn't care if it sounds incredible. Every kid that has a computer has the ability to record on it, and WANTS TO! Software is being outdated so fast it really is a terrible investment to put all your cash into a system that has a proven track record of outdating itself. I think its just a matter of time before their rival comes by and we all go... Wow, it can do all that and it only costs a few grand apposed to 20 grand.

    The way I see it. Too many people are buying PT now. My gut feeling is its time switch. When there is this much money to make off of a system like PT, someone else is going to release the next bomb.
  9. MuayThaiKid

    MuayThaiKid Guest

    The recording industry is known to be one of the most reactive entities known to mankind. I was reading a quote from Terry Howard, who was Ray Charles' engineer for 2 decades. For context he's talking about the move from 16-bit to 24-bit digital audio:

    "The math is very simple: 16-bit is 96 dB of your dynamic range. [In 24-bit] you don't have to stay at the top to keep the resolution there. You try to explain this to a record label and they don't know. All they know is that the last guy came in with everything at the top and made a hit record."

    That says it all.

    5 years from now I anticipate that there won't be an arbitrary "industry standard." People will make decisions based on sound logic not clever advertising.

    You're honesty and actual hands on experience with the product is great. I've been talking to a friend of mine about going from our semi-pro studio setup to a pro studio setup. He's dead set on Pro Tools. I'm trying to keep an open mind, but nothing compels me towards PT. I've used it. The workflow is good, but I'm not overly-impressed by any stretch. There's just too many drawbacks.

    Particularly, if I want to record a semi-live situation for a rock band, we're talking easily 12-18 inputs. 12-18 simultaneous inputs is a huge cash investment in PT. I can do 20 simultaneous inputs through the preamps and line-level jacks on my daisy-chained firepods for the hefty price of 0 USD.

    A lot of people stick by what they know... not me. I know Reaper backwards and forwards, but I'll tell you right now I like the workflow on almost any high-end DAW about 100x better. Stubborn thinking is a curse in our industry of constant change.
  10. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    That's so true it makes me sick to my stomach. There was a time when people would hang on to their hardware for as long as possible. These days it seems hardware is constantly getting better so people end up constantly updating.

    That has already happened with Nuendo, Samplitude, Digital Performer and Logic has always been a strong competitor. There's plenty of choices now. All the major DAWs are powerful enough to compete with PT. It's the hardware that's difficult to beat and the plugins are very good. Though I've discovered that there are some very good VST plug ins out there as well. They just cost a bit of money but no more (sometimes much less than) I would spend on the RTAS equivalent.
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
  13. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    that's not the way I remember it

    When Sound Tools went from 2 tracks to 4 tracks and then got the name ProTools ... it was never a film audio editor

    PT16 was never that great as a film audio editor
    it was Mix and post conform that made things better

    most were on the Fairlight back then ... I think
    and those very serious were still linear .. analog or digital with DASH
  14. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    People only bought into ProTools, originally, because it had the moniker of "Pro" in it, for those individuals that wanted to be considered Professional. And I tell people if you are into rap, hip-hop, sample loop based productions, it's cool. I don't do any of that. I'm not quite the prostitute I look like. I could have bought a nice ProTools HD system brand new. But no, I was stupid and bought all of this 20 to 30-year-old junk that requires a 25,000 lb. truck to schlep around in and requires constant maintenance to keep it going, the equipment, not the Mercedes-Benz 1117, it just keeps running and its 25 years old. You got to love that diesel smoke. Nevermind about the high frequency loss when your microphones are going up 500 ft. of cable. It ain't much that it's there. Or rather not there.

    I'm not here.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  15. Logic with Apogees, Cubase/Nuendo with some good high end interface, ditto Samplitude/Sequoia and even Reaper offers more features in the software than ProTools.

    With powerful octacore computers, etc, DSP power has much less of an advantage, and you can easily burn up the DSP power in PTHD if you're not careful how you use it, with voice limitations, and especially if you have RTAS and TDM plugins in the same chain.

    There are plenty of people running 100+ track counts on the Cubase and Nuendo forums with plenty of effects. Latency is much less of an issue if you have a powerful setup, RME and Apogee both offer ultra low latency interfaces which compare to TDM environments.

    The main reason to invest is still the old 'industry standard' and 'you need it to get work'. Which is obviously still a big pull, especially if you have already invested in it - but older PTHD rigs are not worth that much in comparison to new native solutions yet they still cost a fortune to buy new and can't be upgraded. I wish people would be braver and branch out to other systems and make Digidesign have to work for their money instead of bringing the same stuff out in a new colour and charging whatever they feel like every 18 months or so, with no worries about competition.
  16. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    no I didn't
    I already had analog multitrackers and a large Auditronics analog desk and outboard gear
    and did my own servicing and building and construction of gear

    I was also a computer geek that wanted to experiment

    I had a PT set up before Win95 was released
    ... and then also experimented with a working DECK/MAC set up with ADATs

    many ways to get the job done

    do your research, make your choice ... don't whine
    just get on with it
  17. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    Feb 21, 2005
    Home Page:
    As far as I know PT was the first to make non linear editing viable for a professional environment, with a larger trackcount than most host based DAWs, made possible by their proprietary hardware.

    At that time the digital alternatives were digital tapes (e.g. Sony) and harddskrecorders (e.g. Akai, Otari). By that time Windows was not really fit for low latency recording and a lot of competitors were struggling with their drivers. I guess that's where the Mac got its break.

    Steinberg had midi all along and added audio later. PT has been audio from its birth and had to integrate midi in steps. Now that PCs (and Macs) got so much more powerful than during the early PT-days it is really a question of choice. PT had a headstart in audio, but that has eroded now.

    Granted, that (almost) all plugins are available in RTAS format, but lately I think most have been available in VST and AU too, especially the real good ones. I mean, the people that make these plugins are not stupid, they realise that there is life after PT.

    In professional environments people often seek compatabllity and perhaps that makes PT an easy choice. I have only a little experience with translating Cubase - PT and vice versa. Without the Digitranslator (at extra charge). You have to think ahead and realize PT doesn't work in 32-bit float, like most other DAWs out there.

    Some don't like PTs converters . There are PTHD boxes with several digital inputs available so you can choose your own converters.

    In the end you pay through your nose to have everyting you want from a DAW when it is PT. Even with PTLE it is expensive to get what you want. I work with Cubase now and my mbox2 set is for sale.

    I now use mLAN and have 32i/o. When I switch to a soundcard I think it will be an RME. This depends on a yes or no 64-bit mLAN driver by the time I want to upgade to Windows7.
  18. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    Fairlight was a good choice for pros back in the early days

    as with now
    different horses and different courses

    and yes compatibility and a bit of product confidence goes a long way

    early buyers of Digidesign were both Advocates and Critics
    and I still am

    we made early requests for PT16 and Mix AND STILL those requests have not been met

    as with many product leaders in various fields ... there will always be critics and so there should be

    Microsoft was not the first Word processor and not the best
    QDOS (that Sunday morning became DOS) was not the only one
    .... he did have a pretty good spreadsheet (Multiplan I think)

    Beta was better then VHS

    as for Cubase
    I had early Cubase when it was crossplatform
    but I can't work out why my Cubase 3 and 4 is different to everyone else's
    they started their number system again !!!
    I think my Cubase 3 and 4 was purchased over a decade ago
    and they could NOT do the same bounce twice
    a 3 and half minute song was 3:29 and then 3:31 and then 3:30

    DECK was good for it's time ... I haven't played with the latest one

    We love DAWs
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