The Digi 002, both in control surface and rack versions, has gotten its successor in the form of the Digi 003. The new release largely updates the control surface functionality Digi’s mid-range line. These units run Pro Tools LE, just like their lower-end counterparts, but with greater control and audio I/O. And, most importantly, Digidesign has gone from charcoal trim to far-groovier white.

Digidesign 003 Family

Pricing: 003 US$2,495 USD with factory bundle. 003 Rack US$1695 with factory bundle, $US1295 without. (The 003 only comes with the extra software, not without.)
Availability: “Soon” (What’s with these vague ship dates, Digi?)

Other than cosmetic, the main differences here are relatively subtle:

  1. Jog/shuttle wheel
  2. Dedicated automation mode buttons for per-track automation (handy as you’re writing mix automation as you work)
  3. Assign plug-ins and sends directly from the control surface
  4. Dedicated studio monitor output, plus alternate control room output (002 had only the studio monitor out)

Oddly, Digidesign’s product manager claims the shuttle wheel “offers session navigation functions previously only found on high-end consoles.” Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m fairly certain you can navigate sessions in lots of audio and video software with shuttle wheels without a high-end console.

That said, though, the redesign looks decent. More info and comparison shots with the 002 after the jump.

Like the 002, the 003 includes eight faders and rotaries for mixing, and dedicated transport controls. The 003 adds extra controls, however, including a badly-needed jog/shuttle wheel. Also like the 002, the 003 has digital and analog audio with 24-bit/96kHz support. That’s 8×8 analog, 4 mic pres, 8-channel ADAT and 2-channel S/PDIF digital, plus (apparently new on the 003, though 002 users can confirm this) BNC word clock. Curiously, there’s no mention of the 003 functioning as a standalone mixer, only as a standalone MIDI controller; hopefully they didn’t nix that feature.

I don’t see nearly enough here for existing 002 users to upgrade, but if you’ve been looking for a way to upgrade lower-end or older, incompatible Digi gear, now’s the time: Digi will have a new upgrade program called the Turbocharge Exchange program. They’ll also crossgrade owners of Nuendo, Cubase, and SONAR who also have an audio interface, though knowing how loyal DAW users are, we’ll see how many people take them up on it.

Updated: Digi 003 vs. M-Audio’s ProjectMix I/O. idreaminsound points out that, sexy as the new 003 is, M-Audio’s ProjectMix I/O compares nicely. I agree: four more mic pres, and compatibility not only with Pro Tools M-Powered but lots of other software, as well, from Ableton Live to SONAR. There may be subtler differences that would make you choose the 003, but I think the 003 is largely for people who want to invest heavily in Digidesign software; the ProjectMix I/O is a better choice for those working in a mixed environment or sans Pro Tools at all. On the other hand, if you don’t need all those bundled plug-ins, you can save several hundred dollars and still get Pro Tools M-Powered — nearly identical to LE — plus the M-Audio box.

The other news from Digidesign is that the factory bundle itself has expanded with the new Ignition Pack 2. There’s quite a lot of stuff, even if the word “lite” comes up a few times, especially with the new instruments Digidesign has been working on since the acquisition of Wizoo.

Ableton Live Lite 6 Digidesign Edition
Propellerhead Software Reason Adapted 3
IK Multimedia AmpliTube LE
FXpansion BFD Lite
Celemony Melodyne uno essential
Digidesign Xpand!™ by Advanced Instrument Research (A.I.R.)
Digidesign Synchronic™ (Pro Tools Ignition Pack 2 Pro only)
M-Audio® ProSessions™ SE sound library
Sound libraries from Big Fish Audio, Cycling ’74, Sonic Reality, and Zero-G (Pro Tools Ignition Pack 2 Pro only)
Way Out Ware TimewARP 2600 Lite
Arturia Analog Factory SE
iZotope effects: Ozone 3 Lite, Trash Lite, and Spectron Lite
Trillium Lane Labs® TL EveryPhase™ (Pro Tools Ignition Pack 2 Pro only)
Trillium Lane Labs TL Utilities™ (Pro Tools Ignition Pack 2 Pro only)
Pro Tools Method One instructional DVD
One-year membership to Broadjam.com
One-year subscription to Sonicbids.com
Free GarageBand.com contest entries (one free entry with Ignition Pack 2, three free entries with Ignition Pack 2 Pro)
Free Digidesign plug-in with Pro Tools education

  • bobby

    From what I understand, the new 003 now has a dedicated monitor outputs and a real deal aux input.

    I know this is a big deal for some friends of mine who use various outboard gear (moogerfoogers and whatnot)…

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Thanks, Bobby. Both had an "alternate input", but the 002 specifies consumer -10dBV; could that be one they mean?

    The dedicated monitor outs do seem to be new; there was a simple monitor out but now there's a control room out. Subtle but important points, though I still imagine no existing 002 user would likely dump their current gear just yet.

  • http://www.andrewswihart.net Andrew Swihart

    I don't know, if you would have told me the Digi 002 was the new version, I would have believed you. In a way the 003 looks more industrial and even bleh…boring

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, this always happens. Everyone goes white for a while. Then every goes gray. Then black. Then brown. Then beige. It's definitely white now. Of course, if this were consumer electronics, we'd occasionally see a hot pink furry 003.

  • http://www.onlyhousemusic.com Nicholas Vegas

    The redesign looks definitly ways better

    than its "oldschool early 90 design"

    Unfortunatly i deeply falled in love with the all new ( now with USb XD ) Mackie Control Universal PRO.

    Also im not that professional to swap to Pro Tools now that they swap to PC Platform too.

    Btw: i can explain why they did it in white.

    They try to eliminate the Behringer BCF 2000

    competition that also cames in white, way more suitable for selling in Apple Shops.

    BCF 2000 in white here :
    http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2007/02/01/namm

  • http://www.milezero.org Thomas

    The 002 did not have word clock. That was introduced, as far as I know, only with the MBox 2 Pro for LE systems.

    Damn, we just bought the 002 a year ago. Definitely not enough new to upgrade, but the shuttle is a very nice touch.

  • http://www.daveahl.com dave ahl

    hey thomas: if you want the shuttle, get a powermate by griffen technologies.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    There's also the Shuttle Pro by Contour. The advantage of this is also that you can stick it by your mouse, which depending on how you work might be more convenient than having it on the control surface. (Depends on how your physical workspace is configured.) But it'll certainly do the trick, and for <$100.

  • http://www.milezero.org Thomas

    We have the Contour Pro at work–actually several sitting around in various parts of the office. I just haven't been bothered to hook one up yet. We bought them for the Final Cut Pro editors, but they all seem to have forgotten now.

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  • Antonis Tectonidis

    What about the audio quality?

    I've read in Digi's site the specs and it looks much the THD and the mic pres are imporeved.

    To me that counts more than the white looks….

    Ciao,

    Antonis

  • http://www.andrewswihart.net Andrew Swihart

    Yeah, I've been a converter and jitter snob since I got my LynxOne, I haven't heard anything that comes close to it quality-wise.

    If a company isn't specific about how they are implementing jitter-reduction and high-quality conversion, I avoid the product like the plague. Seems like a lot of companies spend the least amount of time on these things, and spend way more time and money on marketing and advertising.

  • Downpressor

    This seems to be somewhere in the swampland between the pits of Behringer and the plateaus of Mackie. $2500 for a ProToolsLE dongle with less functionality than a MCU? Color me bored.

  • Marv

    A bit rough calling it just a dongle. Pray tell, how does one input and output actual real sound using a Mackie MCU? Oh right… you also buy an audio interface… how much is one of those + an MCU?

  • Downpressor

    Marv,

    I'm just incredibly skeptical about the entire thing. I'm sure they offer a HUI emulation mode to get it to work with other packages and sure they shovel in a bunch of software, but I dont like the idea of tying my non expandable control surface to my audio interface which is also a hardware dongle.

  • rooliorama

    im not getting anything new from digi, since they ditched the focusrite preamps…im keeping my 002R, thanks

  • http://www.kriskristymusic.com Kris Kristy

    The upgrade looks good, o not anticipate that the users in Jamaica are gonna switch immediately, but its move in the right direction.

    Thumbs up digi 003

  • Jason

    I can't believe this is it. I just found this site not too long ago and have found it very useful in my line of work. Thanks guys for all your help and hard work!

    RM to iPod
    http://www.rm-converter.net

  • http://www.highergroundgear.com Mark

    I just had the unfortunate happening of my mackie 32-8 bus console getting soaked and trashed from an overflowed toilet in my upstairs. I am now considering departing from a mixer altogether (I have patchbays for my racks of gear) and going with either the 003 or the Project Mix. I am all Mac based and use Logic and Reason. I'm not sure how important ProTools is to me right now…so that is not an issue. With regard to quality (pre-amps, A/D, D/A converters,etc) and long term longevity which would you recommend? Is one layout any better than another? What about touch and feel of the units?

  • http://www.thethugnation.com Rusty Nails

    Digidesign is a modern day snake oil vendor.They are selling a product that they don't even want to support, look at the support they provide. 30 days out of which they are available roughly 20 and out of those days only 8hrs a day. Those are good hours for the support techs im sure, how many people use this equipment during those hours, very few im sure. When you do reach them they arehelpful in finding a way to pass it on to another company, they will even give you the number to the other company. Im not certain why they are eager to get you off the ohine, i mean its a long distance number not like they have a 1-800 number like a real company. I can make a 001 do everything tjis 003 does and it is much simpler to set up, and fewer problems. Digidesign im sure will continue to add useless items to it on the next go around, I cant wait.

  • Bob Saget

    I wish if digi had introduced more features on the digi 003, considering the time taken to manufacture it, I would have expected more at least to include DV toolkit, which will at least separate it from M Audio's project mix.

    when recording with both units, it's hardly any difference. I wish to see a step forward on the DIGI 004 such a card that could instaled on your CPU based on HD concepts.

  • Hugh

    anyone running the 003 on win xp 64 bit or know if it is compatible?

  • Anthony Pittarelli

    I know im a little late to chime in, but after looking around, this seems like a pretty decent option. Does anyone know if you can use an Mbox 2 to connect via spdif for 2 extra pres?

    Thanks,

    Anthony Pittarelli