To many users, it’s been a long time coming, but using Pro Tools software no longer means working exclusively with Pro Tools hardware. Pro Tools 9, announced today, is a “software-only” version. That is, you can use it with your hardware – your audio interface, your DSP tools of choice, even the built-in audio hardware on Macs and PCs when you’re on the go.

Users are likely to remain fiercely loyal to their DAWs of choice, including Logic, DP, Cubase, SONAR, and Ableton Live. But today’s announcement is nonetheless big news for production. It means, on one hand, those tools may have to compete more directly with Pro Tools, at the same time that Pro Tools software has to compete more directly with them.

Now supported:

  • Core Audio (Mac), ASIO (Windows) drivers: Now – as other DAWs do – Pro Tools will work with third-party hardware. Want to connect a MOTU or RME audio interface? On a plane rearranging tracks and want to plug into your MacBook headphone jack? Now you can.
  • Automatic delay compensation The other end of the Pro Tools equation had once been relying on their DSP. Now, with automatic delay compensation included in-box, it should be easier to use outboard DSP effects from other vendors, like the TC PowerCore system or Universal Audio plug-ins.
  • OMF/AAF/XMF interchange should make it easier to share files with users of other DAWs and non-Avid video solutions like Apple’s Final Cut.

Plug-ins in Pro Tools are still RTAS/TDM – no VST or AU support – but, well, that makes some sense. Major plug-ins are available for both, and adding another format would add additional support costs without any major advantages. (Supporting plug-in specs is tricky.)

Naturally, this being the version “9″ release, there are workflow enhancements, as well:

  • More tracks and buses. Previously limited, PT now supports up to 96 mono or stereo-only tracks in the software version, and expands voices, buses, and aux tracks in both the software and HD versions.
  • Time Code Ruler for easier video sync / post.
  • More bundled in-box features (Beat Detective, DigiBase file management, full Import Session).
  • EUCON hands-on control support (along with Avid, third-party options), updated 7.1 surround panner, variable stereo pan depth (closer to what you’d get from an analog console), and other enhancements).

Pricing: US$599 and up.
Availability: November 12.

http://www.avid.com/

If you want some follow-up questions with Avid, please fire away.

Other news: there’s some blurry purple lighting effect action on the box. How about that?

  • http://cflickster.noisepages.com/ Flick

    wow… this kinda changes the game for a lot of people in post production…

  • Aaron

    Pretty cool news, but they took far too long to do it. Everyone seems pretty damn entrenched in their DAW of choice nowadays. If they had done this a few years ago they could've captialized it a bit more to the home studio crowd.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Aaron: maybe, but that implies people were *less* entrenched in their DAW choice earlier? I'm not sure about that. 10, 15 years ago people were pretty entrenched, too. And I still imagine there's a big potential market for people who aren't yet doing music production. I'm not sure this decision will necessarily impact that, but I don't doubt there are potential users up for grabs – whether Avid grabs them or not.

  • Grant

    Anybody else think this is a response to that XVX crack that's been spreading like wild fire? Not to say Avid hasn't planned this for a while, but I feel like that may have accelerated this release. I mean I hadn't even heard rumblings of the next generation of PT coming, nor expected it til maybe next year.

  • Vincent Olivieri

    Does it still require real-time bounce? That’s a dealbreaker for me.

  • Jamsire

    Being at AVID in SF all day – the electricity in the air was awesome. No Offline Bouncing however.

    Pretty cool stuff people.

  • http://www.inoutfest.org Flplsx

    YES!!! I'm not a fan of Pro Tools as a DAW, but work requires it and we're looking at an upgrade within the next year. Thank freaking god for time code support AND OMF import without having to buy a $1200 add-on!

    VST support (not likely ever, but I did say that about hardware independence too, so who knows) would top off my list of wants, as would an improved mix bus (harrison's mix bus?)

  • http://brakmolotov.net Meriol Lehmann

    Big news, indeed. Although I run a full HD system at work, I steered away ProTools for my personal laptop because I couldn't stand their shitty hardware and LE limitations. Guess it's time for a comeback. After all, I've never been able to get as comfortable with Logic or DP as I am with PT.

  • flip

    @Jamsire: Do they have a good reason for this?

  • dar2dar2

    As usual with avid, such a good new s must be taken carefully.

    The core audio support will work up to 32 channels only, so protools HD is still essential to work seriously.

  • poopoo

    I've done a lot of serious work with less than 32 channels. Still it does seem like an arbitrary limit based on a business decision than on a technical decision. It's the same approach that has always put me off pro-tools, disabling things in software to force you to spend more money.

    ASIO support and delay compensation?? About 5 years behind everyone else. Maybe Pro-tools will get VST support in 2015.

  • MagMusicVA

    A $350 "crossgrade" from PT 8 M-Powered…?

  • Lucho

    This is pretty big. Timecode and OMF support – that means there's no longer any need for the DV Toolkit?

    I wonder how easy this will be to pirate :3

  • Martin

    OK ! Finally.

    This is indeed very big news.

    @grant : I dont think this is in direct response to XVX – indeed when XVX happened, people claiming to be 'in the know' were already saying that this was on the way ..

    If you look at the whole new product line including this, PT Native HD and also the $99 PT SE thing as well, it seems to be more like AVID's way of trying to create / reposition different derivations of PT in regard to all the markets out there.

    PT SE -> PT 9 seems like a response to GarageBand -> Logiic

    @Dar2Dar2: Where are you seeing "32 channels only" ? my understanding is this will do 96 "voices" … with up to 32 tracks of concurrent realtime recording … if that is the case, then that is really not too shabby …

  • http://www.tonearm.net Ilia

    Is there a definitive word on the lack of compatibility with XP?

  • james

    this is awesome. don't care if it's late.

    what's the dongle in the picture?

    now i can use the software of my choice with the hardware of my choice.

    not sure if the XVX thing really was an option. i tried really hard to get it working with my Motu 828, pretty sure i did everything correctly. it worked when you loaded a session and hit play, but leave it running for a couple of hours then audio glitches everywhere. now there is a legit option so, cool.

    regarding non-realtime bounce. part of my workflow in pro tools is printing mixes, as in printing mixes like you used to with tape machines. there are so many advantages it's not worth discussing. those who work using non-realtime or offline 'bounce' or 'render' or whatever really don't get it. i am actually listening to the final audio that i am giving my client. those who 'bounce' are missing a vital part of QC and IMO are throwing a vital part of professionalism out the window. if it means that people who must bounce can't use pro tools then i am all for that. avid should loose the 'bounce' option in the file menu anyway….

  • spinner

    The marketing strategy for Avids latest releases seem somewhat peculiar.

    I would feel a little bit miffed if I had shelled out £2500 for HD native just to get the news you could've gotten say an Ensemble instead….

    There's been unsurprisingly a fair amount of "Logic/Cubase (insert fave daw here) killer" comments around the net but I think many will do as myself and get PT9 and use it either as a new part of the workflow (mix) or when doing certain tasks (recording live bands).

    I'm sure that PT9 will grab a bigger market share but I my general feeling is that people who are buying a DAW software for the first time go for things they've heard about, been recommended or seem easy to get in to.

    ADC and the freedom to add a MOTU interface I think weighs less… Although I'm sure it will have a certain impact.

    All around about bloody time :)

  • aje

    This looks to me too much like an ailing company in a quick dash to the bank… Other than removing artificial restrictions what is actually new here?

    what have the devs been up to for the past year?

    For the guy/gal who bought m-powered for 150 and will continue with their M-Audio hardware anyway, what is the incentive to put down 300+ for this upgrade? Just ADC? Seriously?

    it just looks to me that they are reconfiguring existing products for a bigger market stake (to raise bidding value if avid gets broken up and sold off?). And at a time when the price of the new Sonar went down and Logic is already way cheaper, PT9 seems expensive, presumably for the sake of appearances…?

  • http://www.myspace.com/jamesyanisko James Y

    My biggest questions is, does this mimick LE or HD features.

    If it mimicks HD features (like snapshot automation, etc) that this is an amazing thing, and what my coworker and I thought was coming ever since they purchased euphonix.

  • Ken

    @aje

    JUST ADC? are you kidding me? that is the BIGGEST thing holding back PT, outside of the hardware/ilok limitations.

    @Vincent

    Real-time bounces ensures that you're actually listening to your entire track, rather than bits and pieces here and there as you're mixing. Think of it as Quality Control. It saves many people from sending off tracks that arent up to par with what they want to do!

    This is coming soon :D Right in time for my next project… thank god i dont have to lug around my travel interface to do some region editing :D

  • Russ

    @ aje

    Hey aje, this is Russ from the AIR Users Blog, we are an independent PT support site, who, Peter will verify have really taken Avid over the coals in the last few years, pushing on behalf of the community to get Avid to make some changes.

    I say that to contextualize that I'm no Avid fan-boy.

    Now I just want to try and put this into context what PT9 is all about.

    Avid had no choice, they painted themselves into the corner of the room with their historical hardware/software policy. Add to this that PT is a legacy codebase with layers upon layers of stuff that can make the most hardened coder cry – they really had to make a tough choice. What the devs have been doing is trying to make a silk purse out of a pigs ear in legacy code.

    They didn't have the time and money to start from the ground up and at the same time the new kids on the blog such as Record and REAPER were showing PT had some serious deficiencies despite claiming to be the market leader.

    The only thing Avid had was market penetration, the good news for Avid is that in the Pro world, be that music or post it's a serious penetration. I work in the heart of the film and TV industry in London and the only things being used are PT or Fairlight and PT has 90% of that share.

    In some ways Avid could have sat on the ass and done nothing, but I really believe they listened to the user base and this is a clear sign of that listening.

    This is not to excuse Avid, after all they are simply a business, who stand or fall on delivering.

    Pro Tools 9 isn't the end of the story – it's the start. I for one am encouraged.

  • Peter Kirn

    Keep the questions coming… sounds like we'll have material for a decent Q&A with Avid next week.

  • sabbo

    REAL TIME RENDER-let's just say that it's important to hear your final mix version while printing…

    but what about all those those demo versions,rough mixes,or stems bouncing…spent way to much time waiting in Protools…

  • sabbo

    Also…Been using PT since version 3,first at a post production facility and the last ten years also for my own music. i can say that now days using Protools is like navigating a huge spoiled ship while there are many great speedboats to get you where you wanna go…

    Still,it is the best for multi track audio edits.

    For more electronic music based,it outdated and slow workflow.

  • Bendish

    Are they going to update 'Boom'?

    They should change the bounce to x2 slower so we can really hear what

    we are booooo

    uuuuuuuuuuu nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn cccccccccc iiiiii nnnnnnnnnnnn

    gggggggggggggggggggggg……

    Can we all imagine onomatopoeias for the impending Protools 9 release?

    Mine is 'Dooooon'.

  • http://www.edwardloveall.com/ Edward Loveall

    Maybe I'm not seeing it, but I can't find HD 9 pricing. Only upgrade from HD 8 Pricing. What if I've only had LE up to this point and I want to go to HD 9 now?

  • flip

    @james: I'm not sure that I follow your logic that non realtime bounce is somehow unprofessional or that those who use it "don't get it". You can do all of your critical listening before and after a bounce. Plus, a bounce is a bounce, realtime render or not. What you hear during either type of bounce could still end up rendering as a glitched file. That said, I think it's been almost 10 years since I've had a glitched bounce by either bounce method. The best QC is to listen to the bounced mix before sending it off.

  • Charlie Lesoine

    What is the price to upgrade from 6.9.2?

  • Martin

    I think that Ken & James etc are maybe missing the point a little concerning faster than realtime rendering v realtime bouncing.

    No-one ( well not me anyway) is advocating sending a master off to the pressing plant without having listened to it ! …

    When you "rapid render" a master, then if it is at all important, then of course you listen to the master soundfile itself afterwards ! You verify it.

    If you realtime bounce, then in that case too, either you listen to the master soundfile afterwards ( in which case you have gained nothing at all in so called 'quality control', and you have wasted time, or you DON'T listen to it, in which case it takes the same time and your 'quality control' is non-existent, since you haven't checked the bounced file itself.

    So there is real advantage, and no disadvantage of having faster than realtime bounces/ renders here …however the real time saver with fast bounces is when you are recording multiple MIDI tracks to audio, printing effects, bouncing to

    stems etc … if you do a lot of this sort of thing, and many people, myself included do a -massive- amount of this sort of thing, then using Pro Tools can start to feel like swimming in treacle …

    PT is a great program in many respects, but to suggest that this isn't one of its major weak points seems a little disingenious …

  • Martin

    @flip. Exactly … You beat me to it …

  • Pukwudji

    Has there been any news about 64-bit?

  • Bendish

    The argument that it makes us listen to the bounce is a bit on the weird side.

    As if Avid is nannying our bad habits and we don't have the common sense to decide for ourselves.

    If anything its a workflow dream to be able to print fx and process files very quickly…..

  • http://www.inoutfest.org Flplsx

    The purpose of a real-time bounce is if you're using outboard gear which physically cannot be processed in less than real-time. Why they don't have an option for off-line bounces for the rest of us, I don't know.

  • Ilia

    Peter, if you get a change to talk to Avid, please ask them to clarify how strict their hardware compatibility guidelines are. For example, officially they support only NVidia Quadro cards on the PC, which seems rather limiting.

    http://avid.custkb.com/avid/app/selfservice/searc

  • http://antonaudio.com Anton

    Any LE hardware upgrade/crossgrade options coming? I'd very much like to retire my 002 rack but don't see the point unless I can trade it in for some sort of discount.

  • spinner

    @Pukwudji There doesn't seem to be any support for 64bit at the moment

    but I doubt it will be anything but a question of time.

    Avid needs to get on that boat, it's the future and it's only a question of time until operating systems will ditch 32 bit altogether.

    This is the Nubus / PCI scenario all over. Lots of people back then were seriously pissed of about having to upgrade, but of course then there were only bulletin board forums to complain on.

    We've been blessed with a plethora of internet outlets to vent our collective spleens since those dark times ;)

    Now like then, in 6 months time no one is going to remember that PT was once locked into a specific hardware……

    #realtimebounce It's useful for post people and anyone having to bounce really long segments of audio…. In any other scenario, you learn to adapt, plenty of times I've gone to the pub while PT is bouncing – come back an hour later and sent the result of to the client.

    I agree with previous posters, if it's a master you listen through it realtime before sending it anyway.

  • http://www.tsimpountiii.com NikosX

    A question guys!

    On Avid site says that protools 9 full version costs ~650euros, but the Protools 9 HD costs only ~350 euros.

    its a little confusing! that is the price only if you currently have pro tools HD or for the upgrade? and if it is only the upgrade price! how about the complete Protools 9 HD price as a new and stand alone version?

  • http://www.tsimpountiii.com NikosX

    and thats exactly why i am confused! cause of this

    NOTE: Pro Tools HD 9 software is available only as an upgrade or as part of a new Pro Tools|HD or Pro Tools|HD Native core system purchase, but can also be used as standalone software.

    so that means that with 350 euros you can use all the features of protools 9 HD (that already includes the complete production toolkit 2! right?

  • Peter Kirn

    @NikosX: The standalone, software-only version is called simply "Pro Tools."

    "Pro Tools HD" still denotes the version of Pro Tools dependent on Avid hardware, so there is no such thing as a fully "standalone" version of that. It's dependent on the DSP.

  • aje

    @ Russ

    Hey! Thanks for the insight, and I take your points which are well made.

    To give my own context though, I am one of the many who bought an M-Audio interface with the aim of keeping my options open for going down the Pro Tools route. I have been considering getting PT M-P before the financial year end, plus the music production toolkit. I'm specifically interested in the Sibelius integration having used Sibelius since version 1 onwards. It's a neat and unique feature.

    But for me, the UK price of Pro Tools (as an M-Audio customer – part of the same company!) just rose from £170 to £504. Just like that – nearly a threefold increase!!

    And the headline new feature I get for this huge price hike is … the ability to ditch the M-Audio interface I just invested in (based on what now seems a lie).

    Hence the feeling that I have been a little scammed here!

    I guess I was unlucky, but also this has created a relationship with AVID that is unlikely to be positive from here on in.

    I realise of course that your situation is totally different, and I hear where you are coming from. It's impossible to please all the people all the time of course, and I guess the message here is that AVID is trying to turn its attention away from hardware – which is presumably not profitable for the company at this point – to software, which could prove to be. That's all.

  • http://akaimpcnetwork.ning.com/profile/MikeDoubleD MikeDoubleD

    I love REAPER! Every track I have done in the past year, has been done through REAPER. On a P4 2.4 ghz with 1.25 gb of ram, I can do 16 tracks with about 30 effects going, no glitches. Make sure if you try REAPER, that it's on a windows XP system. MAC OS X performance is TERRIBLE, XP is really amazing with it though.

  • http://murderlazer.blogspot.com/ bridgealantee

    I love how they make it open to any interface as soon as they create the amazing MBOX3 Pro, that unit looks amazing!!!!

  • http://cooptrol.com cooptrol

    I’m sorry. There’s no way I will ever use Pro Tools again. To me it’s just crap. No matter how hard they try, they are aeons behind Ableton, DP, Logic, etc. I used PT for 10 years and dropped it definitely when I realized Live is perfectly suited for post-production. And there’s no way a realtime bounce can be a good thing.

  • Tom

    Looks like they just moved the dongle code out of the audio interface and into a iLok USB key. I've already got a couple of MBoxes, it's iffy.

    OMF is the big thing for me. Finally can talk to Final Cut without HD.

  • http://chriscaines.com Chris

    Wow, this is great news. I do all my writing/composing in Ableton these days but can't beat doing all the mixing & fine editing in PT esp for shifting mixes between places but was thinking I'd like to move on from the PT interfaces. I don't mind the realtime master bounces so much but a track freeze type thing would be lovely sometime.

  • Jamsire

    Oh yeah – absolutely no XP support whatsoever – that's straight from the engineers. I have to get a fourth internal drive for dual booting.

    yuk.

  • Peter Kirn

    Well, in fairness — XP support ended from Microsoft. It's a nine-year-old operating system. And Avid officially dropped support prior to this announcement. Of course, yes, there still is music software that supports it.

  • aje

    But Vista support is also gone, right? And that's not old at all (Windows 7 is about a year old IIRC).

    Anyway, a lot of musicians (including me) are still on XP, and looking at the specialist PC suppliers here in the UK many still ship specialist music PCs with XP rather than 7. It's known to be reliable.

    So if AVID are looking for wider uptake of PT they hindered that with this move – I think adoption will be slower in the absence of compatibility with the majority of Windows music PCs.

  • http://www.stepwisesound.com Dave Ahl

    I think this is good news for all music software users: more choices, more competition.

    Note that the iLok hardware dongle is now needed in order to run the software (instead of tying it to Avid's hardware).

    My question: what happens if an iLok is lost or misplaced? Have registered, legitimate purchasers now "lost" the right to use their software or are they entitled to a replacement?

  • http://www.stepwisesound.com Dave Ahl

    Also, yeah, sorry anyone who tries to claim having only "real-time bounces" is a feature (as opposed to a limitation of Avid's outdated software architecture), try working with larger files like feature length movies and then tell me that all those wasted hours somehow resulted in better product and less aggravation. I'm rebouncing a 10 minute file (in Logic) for a client with a slightly different start fade as I am writing this. Yeah, it really would have been better to hear that entire song for the 50th time…

  • Tom

    Hey here's a question. They just removed support for the MBox 1. But surely this adds support for the MBox 1?

  • flip

    @Dave Ahl: Just fell out of my seat laughing…

  • Lucho

    @Dave Ahl: agree completely on the comments about bouncing. If you don't listen to the final product before sending it off, you're being lazy. It shouldn't be the responsibility of the software to ensure you do your job properly.

  • http://joshuasteelemusic.com Todd

    @Dave Ahl: if an ilok is stolen or you lose it then you have lost all your licenses as well. Check out ilok's website. You have to buy some type of insurance plan if you wanted to protect yourself from having to repurchase every software license on your ilok

  • mediawest

    if you have done your job, and have your automation working right, there is no reason if you choose to bounce in realtime…. especially if you work in tv or film and your program time can be 2 hours or more…. all other software i use i can render or bounce if i want…. bounce to disk is a throwback to the older slower cpu's that needed to render sample accurate….. my i7 is scary fast…. and whats up with the new native not ready for win7 64bit?

  • double d

    So if i purchase the mbox3 pro, i have to spend an additional $300 to 'crossgrade' over to protools 9…..wtf is that all about?

  • Brian Williams

    I really don't understand the fuss about protools, its virtually antiquated its a pig to use as is most avid software. I don't understand the pull, cubase, logic ableton, hell I would choose fruity loops over protools.

  • ivvsndvv

    Hahahaha no offline bounce in 2010. Fucking sad.

  • Paul

    Seems to be priced way too high, no?

  • sepiot

    Regarding real time bouncing: 5 years ago the company i work for (spoken word,etc) went for Reaper rather than protools because the lack of offline fast bouncing, and also for the file naming 'protocol/system' used when recording…

    Having myself owned PT LE with the mbox and having used the old PT free for many years, I have slowly but surely moved to reaper and live (kept using logic and maxmsp). I still miss some of ptools' features for detailed audio editing etc, but as I dont use it in a multitrack pro studio context, i dont think i'll go back to it, and will use reaper instead…

  • killasmuv

    protools 9, not compatible with windows xp? Avid must b dilerious! windows xp is in 75 percent of the worlds house holds, frankly, i dont trust windows 7 yet, give it about 3 or 4 more years maybe, big mistake Avid.

  • killasmuv

    Cake walk sonar is a beast real talk, i hear no one even mentioning cake walk sonar, its owned by roland, works flawlessly, has offline bounce to disk and sounds beautiful. Natively runs in 64 bit, audio definantly sounds like it does, i have converted files from sonar to protools and the actuall audio sounds better hands down, the only reason i still use protools is clients i work with sometimes request it. Editing is good i protools but sound quality is not that great,

  • jujuj

    "non real time bouncing = more professional"

    :facepalm: 

  • http://regend.com REGEND

    I GOT PRO TOOLS FREE FOR WINDOWS 98! if you need it let me know REGEND DOT COM

  • http://www.ericia.com CB

    Does Pro Tools work with OLDER Motu 828…working fine with Logic 9..would like to have both onboard.