Need Pro Tools help/advice (buying a new setup-r)

DJ_EnkiDJ_Enki 6,471 Posts
edited July 2012 in Strut Central
So the moment I feared has finally come, and my Pro Tools rig has died. It was an old G5 iMac running Pro Tools 6.4 LE through an original Mbox. According to Apple--and several other folks--since the new Macs have a whole new chipset, I can't even take my hard drive out of my now-dead computer and put it in a new one because the new chips don't even recognize my OS (10.3.6).

So I have to buy a new computer. Fair enough, I knew that would happen eventually. But I also need to buy Pro Tools again (not eligible for an upgrade, and I need a new interface anyway), and I have to admit, I've done fuck-all as far as keeping up with the new technology and such. Mbox still a good interface? I don't have anything too complicated going on here--my only inputs are a Rane 56 mixer and an SP-1200, and my only outputs are a pair of monitors.

Also, as far as plugins go, I had a crack of a Waves bundle that will no longer work once I upgrade. I see on Waves' site that I can buy plugins a la carte, which is cool because I don't need the entire bundle at all. But on the site, you can download plugins, or you can buy them as either TDM or Native. Is there an appreciable difference among these things? What's the difference between TDM and Native? Downloading would seem like the easiest way to go, but is there some downside to it that they aren't telling me?

Any advice/insight/knowledge/whatever would be much appreciated!


  • finelikewinefinelikewine "ONCE UPON A TIME, I HAD A VINYL." 1,416 Posts
    Recently I had to replace my emu usb 0404 interface for something else, because I had a lot of problems with it's drivers.
    Being on a budget I had to investigate what gives me the best quality for my money.
    My demands for the the interface were almost the same like yours: 2 line-ins, 2 line outs, midi support, high quality d/a - a/d converters.
    I did a lot of research on messageboards like gearslutz. The following ones where recommended the most:

    If you have a bigger budget than I have these two are obviously the best you can buy:

    If your pockets arn't deep enough for those, you should consider these:

    I ended up buying the roland interface. It works like a charm: Rock solid drivers, fantastic audio and built quality.
    Certainly the best interface I ever had.

  • soupsoup 69 Posts
    The Mbox got killed off by Avid and no longer works with current Pro Tools setups but since Pro Tools 9 you are no longer restricted to using Avid/Digi hardware so there are a lot of choices. The new Mbox's are supposedly pretty good but I got tired of Avid killing off their hardware for no good reason while other folks shit still works fine and prefer to spend my money elsewhere. On a mac MOTU has a lot of inexpensive options and their drivers work really well, I'd start there. On the lower end of things not all the other manufacturers have as good drivers and some of their interfaces have trouble with OSX Lion. But If you have the money the Apogee Duet2 is great and has similar form/function to the old Mbox while being a big step up sound quality wise.

    Native is what you want plugin wise. TDM ran off the DSP chips in the higher end Pro Tools hardware. RTAS plugins are a lot more widely available than they used to be on PT6 so there are often cheaper/better alternatives to Waves depending on which plugins you need.

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,947 Posts
    The pro tools conundrum is deep, as the software, though the not only the industry standard but the only one i personally use, is deeply flawed. They are having a hard time facing the impending transition to 64 bit architecture. As such, PT9 was probabyl the last full release of the old format, and the one I am stuck using. Literally months after they released 9, there was a quick transition to PT10, as basically AVID is moving very quickly to abandon the old platform and 10 is going to be the transitional ,with users who own 10 being allowed to upgrade forward. With 10 they introduced AAX, a completely new plug-in platform intended to take advantage of the new processors that can exist natively. That said, I can guarantee that PT11 (a full revamp) is probably right around the corner, and when that happens, RTAS and TDM will be dead in the water. As such, its a really shitty time to invest in a serious PT rig.

    What i would do is this - get a really great Mac, used or new, and buy 10, NOT 9. DO NOT BUY 9 (it doesn't run on the new mac os anyways). You will be eligible to go forward then and upgrade when the bomb that is 11 or 12 drops (full 64 bit).

    As far as interfaces goes, the ones listed in this thread are all great, it really depends on how much you need. I've heard good things about the Apollo 8 channel as well, but again, it all depends on what you need.

    Just be aware that PT is in a very transitional moment so don't get tied to whatever you by, see it as a upgradeable stepping stone.

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,947 Posts
    Oh, and the earlier mboxes are eons away from the current ones as far as I understand. I have heard that the new avid convertors are very good.

  • soupsoup 69 Posts
    Also EVERY piece of Avid/Digi hardware that is not currently available on their site (Mbox1,2 00x etc.) has been end of life'd and will not work with Pro Tools 11 so don't go their either but core audio (what you use on a mac if you are not using Avid/Digi hardware) works great assuming the drivers for the device are solid.

    I'm actually going through this issue right now...imagine a 2001 G4 running OS 9 and Pro Tools 5 on the original digi001 hardware with all the cracked RTAS plug-ins. It still works, but it's a dinosaur rig, and a fleabag low-rent one at that. It's great to go back and edit/spit out my old tracks, but I'd really like to upgrade to a modern system with reasonable sound quality that'll work on my current laptop.

    I did much of the same research outlined above and came to many of the same conclusions--I wanted to have some *potential* to open up old sessions in new software, even if it meant re-tracking/mastering with new plug-ins (doh!). But I also wanted to have more than 2 simultaneous inputs for recording (MPC/SP1200 outs)--which is the biggest limitation of the apogee duet. Then again, maybe the requirement of deliberate, systematic tracking is the price you pay for good, (somewhat) affordable sound quality?

    Soup/4YG is correct though, I think the verdict is pretty favorable on the 3rd generation of Mboxes...and in a funny twist, the guy who did the "expert review" for it is Craig Anderton, who originally wrote the SP1200 user manual(!) and is currently HarmonyCentral's EiC:

    I'm still on the fence, especially with the 64-bit PT re-work right around the corner, so I'm waiting...but if you don't have a choice (i.e., dead box), I agree...definitely go 10 for upgrade purposes and get the best interface you can afford. I do think Avid has some sort of mind control thing going on because I feel like I always get tricked into believing the Mbox was/is a good deal because it comes bundled with Pro Tools...but PT10 + Roland interface probably still comes out ahead pricewise.

    Anyway, not a great deal of help, but if nothing else I can definitely provide you with some empathy.

  • DJ_EnkiDJ_Enki 6,471 Posts
    4YearGraduate said:
    its a really shitty time to invest in a serious PT rig.

    Just like it was the last time I invested in a PT rig! Evidently, it was at the height of lock-in--even upgrading from Mac OS 10.3.6. to 10.3.9 made everything go haywire and stop working. What a nightmare. But that's why I just stuck with what I had and rode it until the wheels fell off--changing anything made it freak out.

    At any rate, thanks a bunch for all the info, guys. This shit got really confusing in a hurry, so I'm grateful that I could call on the Strut resident experts. I'm definitely looking at Pro Tools 10 and not 9--it's good to know that I'll be on the upgrade path then (of course, my version of Pro Tools is ineligible for an upgrade to 10--I have to buy it brand new. Damn...). I admit that I only went with the Mbox in the first place because of the ease of the Pro Tools/Mbox bundle, and it worked pretty well for me (having only two inputs was a bummer, though--every time I tracked stuff from the SP, I dreamed of the day I would have 8 inputs and could track every channel all at once), but these other interface recommendations look really good. I definitely need to shop around a bit, and thankfully, I have a little bit of time to do so.

    Oddly enough, this is happening right as I'm moving, so my whole studio setup is in the process of being torn down and boxed up, anyway. While it's kinda crappy to have to shell out all this cash right as I'm already shelling out a shitload of cash (goddamn, buying a house is expensive!), I figure it's actually a great opportunity to get a high-quality setup that will last me a long time, and I can put the whole thing together from scratch so I (hopefully) won't have to fuck with it again for a long time.
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