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Author Topic: pro tools 10 review (march 2010)  (Read 790 times)

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Offline chrisNova777

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pro tools 10 review (march 2010)
« on: October 24, 2018, 02:26:51 AM »

With Pro Tools now catering for such a wide range of users, can the latest version provide both value and satisfaction for everyone?

Pro Tools 10 is a watershed release for Avid's industry-standard music and audio creation system. In addition to offering a host of new features, including a completely new plug-in format, Pro Tools 10 also supports HDX, the long-anticipated DSP hardware successor to HD. And, if this wasn't already enough for existing users to consider, Avid are also taking the opportunity to encourage the adoption of various support and maintenance packages, both new and existing, alongside more traditional upgrade options.

One of the reasons I would describe Pro Tools 10 as a watershed release is that, in Avid parlance, it will be the last "feature release” of Pro Tools to support the now suddenly 'legacy' HD hardware. This means that what will presumably be called Pro Tools 11 won't offer support for Pro Tools HD Accel systems with the old HD Core, Process or Accel cards, nor the older blue-and-silver interfaces. This decision is sure to cause a few raised eyebrows — nay, pitchforks — from existing users, but Avid have at least said they will acknowledge this hardware "through software maintenance updates for the next three years, and offer hardware repair and phone support for the next five years”.

If the previous hardware transition from Mix to HD is any indication, HD systems will continue to be used in studios, both private and commercial, for at least the next three to five years, which means that Pro Tools 10 is a fairly important release for HD users. However, with Pro Tools 9 having added support for completely native systems beyond those previously catered for by Pro Tools LE, there is now an increasing number of people running the software without any Avid hardware at all. This means that Pro Tools 10 is, arguably, a release that's going to represent something different depending on the hardware you're using. For new HDX users, it's the beginning; for HD users it's the end (unless you upgrade to HDX); and for native users, it's the next step.

Given that Pro Tools exists as both a hardware and a software platform, we're going to split the review of Pro Tools 10 and the new HDX cards into two parts. This article is going to focus on the software, while next month's follow-up will cover the new HDX hardware and AAX plug-in format.
The Lion's Share

Pro Tools 10 is the first version of Pro Tools that's officially certified to work with Mac OS 10.7 'Lion', following the 'public beta' support introduced in version 9.0.5. Fortunately, the application remains compatible with Snow Leopard (10.6.7 or 10.6.8), which is a good thing, since I know many musicians and audio engineers who have been hesitant to upgrade to Apple's latest operating system, unless forced by the necessity of new hardware. Windows users need to be running Windows 7 SP1.

Although the software will run on either 32- or 64-bit variants of Mac OS X and Windows, Pro Tools 10 is, to the dismay of many, still a 32-bit application. This is slightly surprising given the climate into which Pro Tools 10 is being released, where many competitors have already introduced 64-bit support, and there is clearly demand from users, especially by those using large, sample-based instruments. However, Avid have at least planted the seed for 64-bit support in Pro Tools 10, as we'll see in a moment.

As is often the case with updates, many of the improvements are numeric, and Pro Tools 10 is no exception, with some users benefiting from increased numbers of voices, tracks and auxiliary input tracks. Out of the box, Pro Tools 10 offers the same quantities as version 9 at 44.1 or 48 kHz: 96 voices, 128 tracks, and 128 aux input tracks. However, with the addition of the Complete Production Toolkit, you now get 256 voices (up from 192), 768 tracks (up from 512), and 512 aux input tracks (up from 160). Pro Tools HD users with an HD Core card get the same figures as with the Toolkit, except that the number of voices remains at 192, since this is hardware dependent — those with an HD Native card enjoy the same improvement of 256 voices. Those with the new Pro Tools HDX hardware get further benefits in this department, which we'll be investigating next month.

To complement the change in numbers, there are also changes in nomenclature in Pro Tools 10, which Avid state is to "ensure optimal compatibility between Pro Tools and Media Composer” (Avid's non-linear video editing system). The change that will have most impact is that regions are henceforth to be known as clips. So gone is the Regions menu: in its place, the Clips menu. Likewise, the Region List is now the Clips List. Most of the other changes are fairly mild: the Edit Selection Start and End Markers are now In and Out Points; Process (as in the off-line Process of Audiosuite plug-ins) is now Render; and, most controversially, Time Code is now Timecode.

Lastly, Avid have taken the opportunity to finally expel all traces of the Digidesign name from Pro Tools, including file names and paths. The only slight reminder of Pro Tools' past is that DigiTest is now called Avid DigiTest. Fare thee well, Digidesign!
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

While you might think it could require some effort to become aroused over Pro Tools 10 having a new disk engine, you would be wrong. All Pro Tools users will benefit from better performance when recording and playing back audio, but Pro Tools HD users and those with the Complete Production Toolkit are in for a particular treat. In addition to support for Network and RAID storage systems, as well as enhanced support for Avid's own shared storage solutions, a new disk cache feature enables session audio files to be loaded into memory. This means that instead of the audio data being played back from disk, where it's stored, it is played back directly from memory.

The advantage of playing back audio data from memory is speed. Playing back and locating different points within the session becomes perceptibly more responsive, since accessing the same data from disk will always be slower, even if you're using solid-state drives. In fact, if all the audio in the current timeline is cached, playback and locating while playing back happens pretty much instantaneously. This will be particularly advantageous when working with large sessions, and especially useful for those running multiple Pro Tools systems in sync with each other, since the caching helps to reduce lock-up times.