Archive for November, 2009

AVID Shifts Stance on Legacy Gear

I just received a note from Avid/Digidesign Product Manager Steve Siacotos saying that Avid has decided to change their mind in reference to shutting the door on legacy gear in their upcoming Pro Tools 8.0.3 Snow Leopard release (see full email below). This is great news for legacy gear owners who were afraid they’d be left out of any future software upgrades.

After a quick search on Digidesign’s website, I found DigiSteve’s DUC post from 10/15/09, however as of today, the old info was still posted on Digidesign’s website. This was cleared up in a subsequent email from Steve stating: “The info on the page you referenced is actually correct. Mix Peripheral support is not in the Pre-release of 8.0.3 but will be in the actual release when it comes out.  Hope that clears things up a bit.”

Despite the altered game plan, the company left themselves an out with this statement: “While I hope that this is good news for most of you, please understand that there are no guarantees as to how long we will be able to maintain support for these and other legacy hardware products.” This is understandable in light of the difficulties in coding software to maintain support for older gear. Bottom line: Digi is listening to their user base and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Hi, Kevin,

Back on 11/20, you had an entry on your blog announcing that Avid/Digidesign would be ending support for Pro Tools Mix-era Peripherals (888|24 I/O, 882|20 I/O, 1622 I/O and 24-Bit ADAT Bridge I/O) in a forthcoming release.  While that had been our plan initially, we reconsidered our position based on overwhelming user demand and have decided to maintain support for these devices (please see my post to the Digidesign User Community page dated 10/15:  We would appreciate it if you could correct this information as soon as possible. Thanks much.


Steve Siacotos
Product Manager

UPDATE 11/28

Jon Connolly from Digidesign further clarified what’s supported and what’s not in this email:

To be clear, there is no such thing as PPC or Intel Pro Tools HD hardware. There is PCI (aka PCIx) and PCIe Pro Tools HD hardware.

Apple, not Digidesign/Avid, made the decision no PPC Mac support in Snow Leopard OS.

Pro Tools 8.0.3 will not support PPC Macs because it is a Snow Leopard release. Digidesign does not have the resources to concurrently support two flavors of Mac OS versions of Pro Tools if the Mac OS doesn’t  support two.

There are three Expansion chassis in question here…

- Expansion HD. Made by Digidesign a few years back. Ethernet connected between host card and expansion chassis. This chassis is no longer made and is not only NOT Supported but will not work in Snow Leopard.

- PE6R4. This Chassis is made by Magma. Was previously available through Digidesign and had the Digidesign name on it. It has a PCIe host card (for Intel Macs) and PCI (or PCIx) slots for PCI(x) Pro Tools HD cards. This is no longer SOLD by Digidesign but is available through Magma (your local Pro Tools dealer). It is currently supported and will continue to be supported in Snow Leopard and indefinitely into the future.

- Magma PCIe to PCIe chassis (I don’t know the model number off hand). This chassis is made by Magma and can be currently purchased through Digidesign (Pro Tools dealers) with the Digidesign name on it or directly through Magma (specifically your local Pro Tools dealer). This chassis is currently supported, will be supported in Snow Leopard and indefinitely into the future.

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AVID Shuts Out Legacy Hardware With Pro Tools 8.0.3

If you’re a Pro Tools TDM user running a pre-Intel Mac with PCI/PCI-X cards, your path to future Pro Tools upgrades is closed. The current software (8.0.1) will be the last to support the Legacy Port, 888|24 I/O, 882|20 I/O, 1622 I/O, 24-Bit ADAT Bridge I/O, PowerPC-based Macs, Mbox (original model) and Expansion|HD Chassis. But don’t fret, there are options that will save you $$$, improve performance, keep you current and offer a clear upgrade path in the years to come.

Your Apple computer upgrade options include a MacPRO 4 or 8 core system (we’re not addressing PC options in this feature). Our search found a macpro.gifnew MacPRO single Quad-Core with 3GB of RAM for under $2300 while a dual Quad-Core with 6GB of RAM came in just under $3100. Buying used will save you more. Our source says that because of Pro Tools code upgrades bowing next year, the 8 core is your best bet. The new code promises more efficient PT operation on multi-core native DSP and the more cores you have, the bigger difference you’ll see in system performance.

Now for the cards. A straight PCI to PCIe swap of three cards (1 Core/2 Accel) will set you back about $3600. This brings the total for this upgrade to $6700 on an 8 core computer.

A solid, money-saving Plan B comes from Magma, the expansion solution company. By purchasing the Magma PE6R4 expansion chassis ($2199), you can keep your legacy cards, still run a MacPRO and keep the door open for Mac OS X picture-2.jpgand Pro Tools software upgrades. The chassis has six slots that support PCI and PCI-X, including pre-Accel Farm cards which are a real bargain now. Total cost with an 8 core MacPRO would be $5299 saving you $1400. According to Avid, the PE6R4 will be supported in the soon-to-be-officially-released Pro Tools 8.0.3 software and beyond making this an upgrade path with a future.

Magma Chassis Option

Upside: Upgrade your computer to MacPRO, Mac OS X to Snow Leopard and Pro Tools software beyond 8.0.1, save $1400 or more, keep your old cards and even add inexpensive legacy cards to your system. Benefit from MacPRO’s increased processing power allowing more instances of RTAS plugins and faster operation.

Downside: While system performance will improve, it won’t be as fast as upgraded PCIe cards from AVID

Card Swap Option:

Upside: Same upgrade paths as the Magma option. No chassis necessary provided you don’t use more than 3 cards. PCIe is the current state of the art in data transfer

Downside: Will cost you more $$$$

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Three Plugins We Like

1. iZotope’s Alloy offers a great set of tools at a killer price ($249). Check out the demo video at the bottom of this post.

2. Decapitator and Panman from SoundToys turn up the fun factor providing solutions for mixing not found in other packages. Follow them on Facebook

3. Melodyne with DNA (Direct Note Access) has been two years in the making. The DNA addition allows single note tuning even on complex waveforms. Watch for the Mix review soon.

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Nurture Your Inner Hendrix

acousticfeedback_rtas-screenshot.jpgAlthough this has been around for a while, it’s the first I’ve heard of the Acoustic Feedback plug-in from Softube. By instantiating the plug before your amp simulator, you can add a bit of natural flavor that’s often lacking with hardware amp wannabes. For a quick listen, check out our audio demo which starts raw, then adds a PodFarm amp simulator then has two examples with the feedback plugin.  The third lick is with all controls in the normal recommended operating range and the fourth drops the tolerance and raises the feedback control. You can really hear it at the ends of the phrase. For a more in depth view, watch the YouTube video at the bottom of the post.

I really liked how you could mix the original track and feedback via a wet/dry control. All the way wet renders some eery guitar pads that are unlike anything I’ve heard out of any simulator. You can also map it to an expression pedal which lets you mix the feedback as you’d like. This might be cool as a vocal or acoustic instrument effect.

Acoustic Feedback is $100 (a bit steep I think) and comes bundled with a limited version of the White amp from Vintage Amp Room.

Features include:

  • Realistic simulation (physical modeling) of guitar feedback
  • Fully responsive to vibratos, bends, slides, tremolo and player’s style
  • Controls for Feedback and Tolerance
  • Compatible with foot controls via MIDI
  • Available in native VST, AU and RTAS format for both Mac and PC

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Scott Singer, RIP

I was having a pretty good San Francisco audio Monday. The Bay Bridge had reopened, the temps were unseasonably warm, and I had just finished a nice dinner with Michael Romanowski, the Bay Area mastering engineer who will be featured on the December cover. Then I got home, opened my email and learned that Scott Singer had passed away. Damn.

Scott was a true San Francisco character. A studio owner of 24 years, a four-time Emmy winner, a composer, bandleader, opera fan, monster piano player, environmentalist. A big guy with a zest for life and an ever-present smile. A true man about town. He was a longtime friend of Mix, going back to the ‘80s. About a year back I had the pleasure of hanging with him at Singer Productions, where he showed off his Oram console and Oram monitors, took me through all his prized analog gear, and ended up belting out Billy Joel tunes at the baby grand. There’s a whole crew from last year’s AES convention that will remember his Universal Audio party.

Scott lived for music and sound, and he lived life to the fullest. San Francisco is a little quieter today without him. Fare thee well, Scott.

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