Someone please explain Pro Tools!

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by superleccy, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 31, 2004
    That there big London

    I am curious about Pro Tools.

    I am fairly new to DAWs and have only ever used Logic Pro 8 (and GarageBand 3 before that). I'm very happy with Logic, but I'd like to know a bit more about what PT actually is. The Digidesign website seems a bit to steeped in marketing superlative to answer my questions clearly.

    I don't want to spark another Logic vs PT debate. That's been done to death already.

    1. What are the different versions of the Pro Tools software (HD, LE, M-powered etc), and what's the differences between them?
    2. For each version, can you just buy the software or do you need to buy a hardware/software bundle?
    3. What if you want to use a non-PT audio interface with PT?
    4. Are all the versions compatible with Leopard? Have they gone 'universal'?

  2. macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2008

    1&2. HD is for use with the very expensive outboard bear provided by digidesign and uses on card TDM effect processing, LE is for the cheaper stuff they make i.e. 003/2 and mbox, M-powered can be used with any m-audio gear but you have to pay for it separately
    3. Digi says "go **** yourself". Well you can use the digital inputs on the gear they provide you with and you now have a very expensive dongle!
    4. As far as I'm aware it runs but it's not officially supported.
  3. macrumors 6502

    Jun 7, 2005
    1. LE, considered the consumer version, runs off the host computer's processor and is limited to 32 tracks (48 with the expansion pack) at up to 96. It only runs RTAS plug-ins (but most plug-in companies make an RTAS version of their products). HD, on the other hand, is the "pro" version which has its own processors and can support nearly limitless track counts at the highest bit rates, and supports most plug-in formats. M-powered is basically a watered-down version of LE designed to run on cheap(er) m-audio interfaces.
    2. Digidesign is unique in that you must run pro tools through digi-approved hardware. For LE, this can be an mbox, 003, or any previous variation. For HD, it can be a 96, 192, any of their variants, and they can be stacked together for increased i/o. Many people feel this is a way for Digidesign to screw you out of as much money as possible, but having worked in a huge variety of studios and across a huge variety of platforms, I can tell you it's designed to ensure that the sessions will open correctly no matter where you are (and that's priceless - cliche, but true)
    3. For the most part, see above ^. However, the few exceptions are M-audio interfaces with M-Powered, and there is a small collection of extremely high end interfaces (AD converters) that will work with HD provided you have at least one Digi interface.
    4. Only the very latest version is compatible with leopard, but older ones are not. Be sure to check Digi's compatibility page before making any purchase, as they have very very strict guidelines (and for good reasons!)

    Hope this helps!
  4. macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    it supports TDM and RTAS.
  5. macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2007
    Gold Coast, Australia
    Choosing a system all depends on your budget and want you need it for,
    how many channels do you plan to record? will it be simultaneous? etcetc

    Pro Tools M-Powered is a version of Pro Tools software that is compatible with a wide variety of M-Audio audio interfaces and control surfaces.
    Pro Tools M-Powered and an M-Audio interface you can record up to 18 simultaneous audio tracks.
    However if you go with the MBox you will only have 4 simultaneous channels of input using both analog and digital I/O.
    Pro Tools M-Powered can play back up to 32 tracks of audio at sample rates of up to 96kHz.

    This system can be had from under $1000

    Pro Tools LE and a Digidesign 003 or 003 Rack you can record up to 18 simultaneous audio tracks.
    It can play back up to 32 tracks of audio at sample rates of up to 96kHz, depending on the capability of your Digidesign hardware.
    You can increase your Pro Tools LE track count to 48 with the optional Music Production Toolkit software. This system takes RTAS plugins

    This system can be had for $1600

    Pro Tools|HD is a high definition, fully integrated professional production system with expandable I/O, dedicated processing power.
    HD offers virtually unlimited track counts and the on-board processing power allows you to run a ton of plug-ins and virtual instruments.
    When you buy a Pro Tools|HD system, you buy one of three Core systems (each has progressively more DSP power) and one or more audio interfaces.
    This system handles TDM & RTAS plugins (TDM and alot more expensive)

    HD 1 systems, support for 32 channels of I/O, plus up to 192 simultaneous audio tracks
    HD 2 systems, support for 64 channels of I/O, plus up to 192 simultaneous audio tracks
    HD 3 systems, support for 96 channels of I/O, plus up to 192 simultaneous audio tracks

    These systems can be had for $8000 - $16,00

    You cannot use another interface with Protools LE (002/003), Thou you don't need to worry about it as the software comes
    with the interface and vis versa, its one packaged price with plugins. Obviously you can buy various third-party plugins.

    Yes they have gone universal, but only HD supports Leopard on 10.5.1
  6. thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 31, 2004
    That there big London
    Thanks all for the input - it is hugely appreciated. Digidesign's website makes much more sense to me now.

    Seems like only HD supports Leopard. LE and M-powered are still on Tiger.

    So... you can't actually "just buy' Pro Tools software? You have to buy one of their interfaces and you get the software bundled with it... and then you're locked into Digidesign's hardware?

    Is that right?


    PS: I guess this also means my MOTU 8pre won't work with PT. However, if I use the 8pre in Converter mode and connect it via ADAT to a supported PT box, then that should work, shouldn't it?
  7. macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2007
    Gold Coast, Australia
    No you can't just buy the software, when it comes to LE and HD.

    M Powered however, you can just buy the software (at $250) to go with your
    chosen M-Audio interface (selected).

    Yes you can use your Motu 8pre, for an additional 8 inputs, with the 003, giving
    you a total of 12 inputs. By connecting the MOTU via optical out into the 003 optical in. ;)
  8. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2003
    12 phantom powered inputs plus 4 extra line inputs on the 003 would be an overkill, but it's great.
    As long as the Motu interface works without any software controlling it. Make sure of that before making the leap.
  9. thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Oct 31, 2004
    That there big London
    Not if you're recording live drums!
    Indeed it does! :)

    EDIT: Although, my interest is perfectly theoretical. I can't afford any version of Pro Tools and I'm perfectly happy with Logic.

  10. macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2008
    No, you can't "just buy" PT software. IMO, and there's plenty of room for disagreement on this, but the real value of PT (aside from the aforementioned portability of carrying sessions between studios) is more in the hardware than the software. When you go HD, you've got hardware acceleration which lets you run a lot of instances of truly-frickin'-amazing sounding plugins. Hardware like that, you don't talk about being "locked in to", it's the kind of hardware you want to be locked in to, that you brag about being locked in to. You don't even need the PT software, you can use Logic (or DP, or Peak, or any other PT-compatible software) as a front-end.

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