Top 5 Questions About The New Avid Pro Tools HD Gear

As you’ve probably heard, Avid has released new Pro Tools HD interfaces and software. This release has been anticipated, to say the least, as Digidesign (now Avid) has not upgraded their IO since the initial release of the products in 2002 then the release of Accel a year later. The release is substantial but their press release leaves some questions unanswered.

  1.  Why not change the cards too?
    Besides the color and new logo, the new HD IO doesn’t look much different on the outside, however the interface has been redesigned from the bare hd_i_o-front.jpgbones. There is a new clock, converters, power supply, filters, lower latency figures and it will support 16 analog ins and outs. It seems Avid has seen improvements third-party companies like Black Lion Audio have made to existing Pro Tools IOs and have stepped up their game. Nonetheless, the HD DSP cards (HD1, Accel etc.) have not changed. This is a bit surprising as chip technology has gone through the roof in the last 8 years. I’m also surprised Avid hasn’t more fully embraced FPGA technology that companies like Fairlight, Calrec, Digico and others have used for some time now. Yes it’s an upgrade, but there’s nothing really groundbreaking here.
  2. What about Sync HD?
    This is a simple answer. New Sync HD units will undergo a cosmetic change only to match the new hardware.
  3. Why doesn’t HEAT offer individual channel controls?
    HEAT ($495) is the new software option co-designed by Crane Song’s Dave Hill who created the similar Phoenix plug-in ($450). HEAT is not a plug-in but a global software add-on that can be individually turned on and off per channel and placed either pre or post insert. There are only two controls, Tone and Drive that manage HEAT changes across multiple tracks. While it’s nice to have this as a Pro Tools built-in, it falls short of the Phoenix plug-ins capabilities and is more expensive.
  4. Does Pro Tools 8.1 fix promised bugs?
    Last October I wrote about some annoying Pro Tools bugs, some of which didn’t make it into 8.0.4. I was promised by a Digi rep that some of the other bugs were put on a fix list for 8.0.5 which was bypassed with this new 8.1 release. One of my pet peeves has to do with Pro Tools and the C24 controller. The Sends buttons on the C24 will not switch the sends view in Pro Tools necessitating a trip back to the mouse. This has been an issue with Pro Tools since the C24 was released in 2008 and especially disappointing since this feature worked on the Control 24 , the surface that the C24 replaced.
  5. What about Euphonix? At the 2010 NAB convention in April, Avid announced they had purchased Euphonix and “will deliver a broad range of audio and video control surfaces and consoles designed to meet the needs of customers ranging from the independent professional to the high-end broadcaster.” So what’s the status? It seems that this release would have been a great opportunity to include Euphonix. Perhaps Pro Tools EUCON compatibility? Hello? Beuller?

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