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Digidesign Pro Tools Next Move Audio Interfaces
Old 14th November 2009
  #1
Gear Guru
 
Kenny Gioia's Avatar
 

Digidesign Pro Tools Next Move

Obviously, I have no inside information but I got into an interesting
conversation the other day with a friend and we were really puzzled by
what could or should be Digidesign's next move.

With Logic 8 and now 9, Apple has clearly tried to do what they did with
Final Cut Pro and even what Microsoft did to Netscape back in the day…

Make the software cheap enough that their competitors couldn't stay in
business. Squeeze 'em out. Years ago this wouldn't have mattered as a
native system couldn't really keep up. But the gap has certainly narrowed
dramatically these days.

Now Digidesign is in the Native game too but do they really want to be?
That's a game they can't control. Is Pro Tools LE really better than Logic?
At best, it's a matter of opinion. No longer a fact.

And Digidesign built it's reputation as being the standard, but as more and
more novices jump into the water (and they are at an alarming rate) that
could and probably will change. Which means Pro Tools feature set will have
to keep up with all other software as the "studio standard" badge they've
been wearing for so long will no longer be a selling point.

For now, the HD systems will still be home for the situations where budget
is not an issue. If you're doing post for a $350 million dollar movie, do you
care about blowing 30k on a system? Probably not. So Digidesign can probably
hold these clients as an HD9 system running on a Mac Pro 8 core will still kick
any native system's butt.

And at it's price point, Pro Tools LE is still in the game. With just about any
level of native system you can afford, being available. So they can "compete"
there. But can they "dominate"?

Where they are really getting squeezed is in the middle. The HD users who are
quite happy with their system but can't afford to buy another 8k -15k system.
But they may have to. Or switch.

Why? Snow Leopard. Snow Leopard is the new Mac OS and it's Mac Intel-only.
So if you have a PPC Mac, you're left out. Not the biggest problem for the LE
user. Sell your computer and get a newer one. ($2,500 minus what you sell
your older one for). But for the HD user, who is still using a Mac G5 because
it has PCI slots (instead of PCIe cards), you have to buy a new computer plus
get a crossgrade for all your cards. (about $5,000 more for an HD 3 owner like me).

And Digidesign has announced that they are no longer supporting PPC macs in
their next major software update. I assume because they don't want to write
code for Snow Leopard and old Leopard. Can't blame them. It's Apple that keeps
changing their OS quicker than the animals they keep naming them after. :•)

So a major part of their core user base will have to make the decision:
(I say "core" because this is the base that made them the "studio standard".)

1. Spend 3 times as much as a Native user to upgrade and keep current with
little extra benefit.
2. Stick with your older machine and hope that Pro Tools 9 isn't something that
you really need, as you watch the Mbox guys get to use it for a $99 upgrade price.
3. Make the switch to a Native system and cash in those cards to buy a Mac Pro 8
core and pocket the difference.

It's an interesting time in the DAW world with programs like Reaper also changing
the game. I don't envy Digidesign's place in this game at this point.

Although they could always WOW us with something new. It wouldn't be the first time.

Cheers.
Old 14th November 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 

I don't see them as having much choice but to do what everyone else is doing: make the existing TDM card a DSP-accelerated i/o card much like the SSL MX4, and have the audio engine run native.

This would allow them to have only one audio engine up and down the line, which they could make do offline bounce, accelerated freeze, full ADC without a 4000 sample limit, unlimited tracks, etc. etc. And it wouldn't take away the benefit of low-latency DSP plugins, because when you input monitored a track all its TDM-capable plugins would be made TDM and those would apply to a fast foldback just like they do today, with the native audio engine playing the rest of the tracks back early enough to be in sync with the fast foldback.

It would also relieve them of the need to port stuff from TDM to something else, and everyone's legacy peripherals would still work.

Since the audio engine was now taken off the cards, the cards would actually have plenty of DSP available for foldback purposes. Sure, some plugins could stay resident on the cards if you want them to, in which case they'd be just like UAD plugs. What that means is all you'll need is an HD1 for tracking and there won't be limits on tracks and voices.

I would think they would also release new hardware, with I hope MADI i/o (like the MX4 again, whose design is cutting edge but whose reality is quarter-baked). Thus they could upsell you with new converter boxes that handle 32 analog and 32 digital i/os off a single MADI pair. MADI is the future.

I think that's about all they need to do, and that's probably about all they can do. I think that would be fairly welcome, as effectively everyone will be getting an upgrade, and people who own HD6's will just boast about how many TDM plugins they can run at low latency, not that that particularly will matter.

The major question is with all the layoffs and offshoring have they pissed off the core talent enough that too many of them have left to get something great out anymore. The entire executive suite and board has no one left with any familiarity with music production afaics. Quite a change from having veteran session keyboardist Dave LeBolt running the audio side.
Old 14th November 2009
  #3
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markus enochson's Avatar
 

been debating this myself as a g5 pthd owner myself.

been nursing this g5 of mine along its from 04 so its earned its money back so to speak. for plain recording it still works great but its not that good on vi's.

was acctually contemplating using a second computer for vi but its just too much hassle

so i'm acctually biting the bullet today and doing the crossgrade since i'm going to LA for work monday and my studio has some downtime...

so by the time i return i'll have a brand new mac pro with my new pthd cards ready to roll
Old 14th November 2009
  #4
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tamasdragon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spicemix View Post
The entire executive suite and board has no one left with any familiarity with music production afaics. Quite a change from having veteran session keyboardist Dave LeBolt running the audio side.
I can be easily wrong, but I have heard from multiple sources that Mr. LeBolt was the man behind many artificial limitations strategy.

To answer the thread. I think digi(err.avid) is coming with something serious. On both sides of the road, so both hardware wise, and software wise. At least I hope so.heh

I think the best move would be to melt the software versions. I mean, to do only one pro tools software, so everyone would get the whole knowledge of hd. Now that would be a move where almost every other native daw would fall behind, far behind.
With pro tools 8, they are getting into the vi game, and to be hones, they are doing right. The vi's from air are very good ones, now it is digi's turn to code the software for being much more efficient in that territory.

I really do not think that there aren't enough talent left there. I don't think that there is a shortage at that department. The real question for me, will avid leave digi to do their job? I really, honestly hope that the answer is yes. There are many reasons why they are successfully become the industry standard. And if, only if they are able to deliver spectacular things in the near future, this status can be even more stable.
Of course with a wrong strategie, they can change this...

Tamas Dragon
Old 14th November 2009
  #5
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voidtunes's Avatar
 

Another good post Kenny

Sometimes I wonder_is technology really helping us, or are we simply slaves to it?

PS. I hate MP3's
Old 14th November 2009
  #6
Gear Nut
 

I was speaking to a guy I know who has friends that work at Digidesign and they just recently laid off a bunch of people. They've been hit pretty hard with the state of the economy. If I were running Digi/Avid, I'd try and invest in the future by coming up with a product that offered something new.

Two great features they've come out with recently are elastic time (amazing) and the playlist feature (being able to quickly and easily comp tracks) From working extensively with Pro Tools, I can say one feature it sorely misses is being able to run two sessions at once. That would be sweet...but perhaps the processing power needed to run two at once would be too great.

Also, moving more towards the hardware side of the equation, I'd put out a higher quality option in the interface catagory. Maybe bundle in some outboard effects on the Digi 004 or something like that (compressor, EQ, effects maybe?) But keep the price in the consumer range.

I don't know, it seems like Apple just knows how to beat everybody in quality and affordability. Kind of like Toyota, but a Mac Pro is definently the Mercedes of computers. I think Digidesign and Pro Tools still have the edge in program quality (especially for mixing) but Logic and others are closing in fast, primarily because of the increase in computer power so that running a native system is more sustainable. If the economy turns around, I'd expect the next generation of recording software to offer some interesting features we might not have expected.
Old 14th November 2009
  #7
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It's not only the low end Digi has to worry about as Fairlight has the higher end. If you have the money and are doing Film/Post for the big projects it would be foolish to overlook how much more Fairlight brings to the table.
Old 14th November 2009
  #8
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hepcat View Post
I don't know, it seems like Apple just knows how to beat everybody in quality and affordability. Kind of like Toyota, but a Mac Pro is definently the Mercedes of computers. I think Digidesign and Pro Tools still have the edge in program quality (especially for mixing) but Logic and others are closing in fast, primarily because of the increase in computer power so that running a native system is more sustainable. If the economy turns around, I'd expect the next generation of recording software to offer some interesting features we might not have expected.
Affordability? Im not saying Apple doesnt make great products but for the price of a new Mac Pro you can get a brand new Dell with the same exact specs plus a used HD1 system. Apple may be quality but affordability.... not really. Their computers, their monitors etc... are way overpriced compared to the competition. Once the Apple "cool" factor wears off I think things will come back down to earth. Sorry sorta off topic just my 2 cents.
Old 14th November 2009
  #9
Lives for gear
The JoeCo Blackbox is the one to watch.

( JoeCo )

It is ridiculously cheap and it is totally transparent to any DAW software, without all that fuss about opening projects and exporting files. It means that you can be fiddling with MIDI in Logic and editing in ProTools.

I would expect other manufacturers to go down the same path and nobody will give a hang about which software or DAW or whatever. You could be editing one track in Nero Wave Editor and another in Logic Pro and a third in God-knows-what!

All this discussion about which high-end editing package to buy, neglects to remember that no manufacturer makes a big profit from professional audio - Digidesign makes its money on the consumer products like the Lite series and that is where you can expect to see significant movement.
Old 14th November 2009
  #10
Registered User
 

Protools Version 9...

IS going to blow you away ....
Old 14th November 2009
  #11
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kurt's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DP40oz View Post
Affordability? Im not saying Apple doesnt make great products but for the price of a new Mac Pro you can get a brand new Dell with the same exact specs plus a used HD1 system.
Nobody is forcing you to run HD on Mac.
Old 14th November 2009
  #12
Gear Nut
 

How long do you think it will be until Pro Tools 9 is out? 8.0 hasn't been out for that even a year yet, and Digi hasn't even turned out a new version that is Snow Leopard compatible yet. I wasn't expecting logic 9 to come packed with all of the editing features it did, because that was always the main complaint I heard from Logic users, but now that I've seen what can be done in 9, its unbelievable and even a little bit frightening.
Old 14th November 2009
  #13
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DP40oz View Post
Affordability? Im not saying Apple doesnt make great products but for the price of a new Mac Pro you can get a brand new Dell with the same exact specs plus a used HD1 system. Apple may be quality but affordability.... not really. Their computers, their monitors etc... are way overpriced compared to the competition. Once the Apple "cool" factor wears off I think things will come back down to earth. Sorry sorta off topic just my 2 cents.
I meant that more along the lines of quality versus affordability. The computers are pricer, but you get what you pay for. In relative terms, the price of a Mac, how many features and the versatility it provides, and how long it will last you all factor in to deciding whether to drop the top dime on a Mac or just get a much cheaper and less reliable PC. And this comes from someone who did the majority of his recording/mixing on a PC until I found out how amazing Mac's run Pro Tools.
Old 14th November 2009
  #14
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kurt's Avatar
+12
Old 14th November 2009
  #15
Registered User
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenny Gioia View Post
But for the HD user, who is still using a Mac G5 because
it has PCI slots (instead of PCIe cards), you have to buy a new computer plus
get a crossgrade for all your cards. (about $5,000 more for an HD 3 owner like me).
I put 6 of my cards into a Magma PE6R4 cost less than $2200.00 ( I've seem them on ebay for $1800)
Then bought a Mac Pro - PCI-X cards are still fully supported by a Mac Pro (with a PE6R4)
Old 14th November 2009
  #16
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by hipass View Post
Protools Version 9...

IS going to blow you away ....
Sure it will, just like Logic 9 did LOL
Old 14th November 2009
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hipass View Post
I put 6 of my cards into a Magma PE6R4 cost less than $2200.00 ( I've seem them on ebay for $1800)
Then bought a Mac Pro - PCI-X cards are still fully supported by a Mac Pro (with a PE6R4)
I did the same, and the cool thing is a have 2 computers each with a host card so I can take it back and forth between work and home. Unhook 3 cables in 10 seconds to move it around, and it is fairly light weight, way better than bringing the computer back and forth.
Old 14th November 2009
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamasdragon View Post
I can be easily wrong, but I have heard from multiple sources that Mr. LeBolt was the man behind many artificial limitations strategy.
I don't consider you a reliable source, but if it's true that Dave Lebolt was the architect of the crippleware strategy that has earned Pro Tools the Most Hated DAW status, then yes he should have been summarily fired and I have no idea why Apple would hire him. But this is speculation, if that sickness spreads to Apple I'll be shocked.
Old 14th November 2009
  #19
Registered User
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spicemix View Post
I don't consider you a reliable source, but if it's true that Dave Lebolt was the architect of the crippleware strategy that has earned Pro Tools the Most Hated DAW status, then yes he should have been summarily fired and I have no idea why Apple would hire him. But this is speculation, if that sickness spreads to Apple I'll be shocked.
So your one of these people that want to pay the dealer for a Chevy Cavalier and want to drive off the the lot with a Maserati.
It's pretty simply
Protools LE is an entry level program with starter home user features with a small price tag.
Protools HD is the flagship product with professional level features and support with a premium price tag.
It's simple market plan that every company does.
FWIW if you know Dave Lebolt then you would have some idea why Apple would hire him instead of you.
Old 14th November 2009
  #20
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tamasdragon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spicemix View Post
I don't consider you a reliable source, but if it's true that Dave Lebolt was the architect of the crippleware strategy that has earned Pro Tools the Most Hated DAW status, then yes he should have been summarily fired and I have no idea why Apple would hire him. But this is speculation, if that sickness spreads to Apple I'll be shocked.
In this regard you are absolutely right, that is why I wrote heard, and not know. Most hated daw? I really see this as a fashion thing. Nowadays it is trendy to bash digi. There were times where many bashed apple (some still).
What we can read on these forums about how **** is something, well, you know I rather do my own research. It somehow always amazes me that real credible people never ever bash just for the sake of. The other type, well, you know that.

I think logic 9 at least switched on avid's alarm to do something. And still think that avid is the real brake which keeps digi back. Of course, this is speculation too. heh
TD
Old 14th November 2009
  #21
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TheMarqueeYears's Avatar
 

Quote:
If you're doing post for a $350 million dollar movie, do you
care about blowing 30k on a system? Probably not.
LOL .... 30K that's peanuts.

For Tarzan, I think Phil Collins ordered in a couple of huge digital desks, that got sold on ebay! (or something ridiculous like that)

For Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson built a whole post facility in Wellington NZ.

So your totally spot on 30K is a drop in the ocean on a big budget movie.

The bread and butter money is now in the project studio - the whole music industry is in reverse and turning into a Cottage Industry.

It's like a gold rush, the real money is supplying the spades and picks to the wanna be miners who hope to strike gold.

TMY
Old 14th November 2009
  #22
Gear Addict
 

My somewhat educated guess is that they will move to a system that does not require a host computer. Much like with their live consoles, the whole thing comes as a package. You add keyboard, monitor, mouse, and off you go. The amount of dsp, i/o, and the size of the control surface is configured to the user's needs. I am told they will incorporate the recording system into this framework.
Old 14th November 2009
  #23
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surflounge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by hepcat View Post
Kind of like Toyota
i never pull checks out of my mailbox from Toyotas. Way too humble for that kind of commercial biz. But a one chord song placement on network TV with some whining 20 something autotuned robot singing... now that is success!
Old 14th November 2009
  #24
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonraboin View Post
My somewhat educated guess is that they will move to a system that does not require a host computer. Much like with their live consoles, the whole thing comes as a package. You add keyboard, monitor, mouse, and off you go. The amount of dsp, i/o, and the size of the control surface is configured to the user's needs. I am told they will incorporate the recording system into this framework.


You mean I won't be able to surf the web while the band is tracking??!!
Old 14th November 2009
  #25
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jamwerks's Avatar
 

Tough decision for Avid. Their next product line will have to be something that current HD users will want to quickly adopt (to put serveral k$ per head in digi's empty pockets), and also be a leader or at least competetive line for the next 7 years. As for me I can't imagine what that might be...
Old 14th November 2009
  #26
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Whoever thought hipass was a good ambassador to represent Avid was clearly a genius! You're doing God's work hipass, keep it up!


FWIW I can't think of a single other company in the Bay Area that uses crippleware to the degree Avid does and is also considered a success. It's heinous and antisocial, and untenable. What it has done is taken all the competing DAWs, which should all have been given up for dead, and made them look awesome and righteous. Which is good because we have a much healthier industry even if we have an extremely ill leader of it.
Old 14th November 2009
  #27
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kurt View Post
Nobody is forcing you to run HD on Mac.

wow

what a thought tutt

this concept has hit me like a ton of bricks
several of those bricks are: thinking about how I never thought about it.

so, plenty of hot new PCs with the old PCI slots?
Old 14th November 2009
  #28
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Hotstuff's Avatar
 

For us LE users what we really need and want is ADC.

This alone should be the biggest priority for Digidesign on the next release, I think that this alone will determine whether the loyal users will stay or move on.

What I dont understand is the attitude towards Digidesign, its as if the system all of a sudden doesn´t work anymore or is broken, I see programs with a lot of new features but at the same time i hear more and more bad mixes and bad music, the programs have more and more features but it seems that people boast more about there equipment than their ability's to make good mixes or produce great songs.

Aside from the workaround caused by the lack of ADC Protools LE gives you the tools to produce great music as it is.

Hotstuff
Old 14th November 2009
  #29
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zacheus83's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotstuff View Post
For us LE users what we really need and want is ADC.

This alone should be the biggest priority for Digidesign on the next release, I think that this alone will determine whether the loyal users will stay or move on.

What I dont understand is the attitude towards Digidesign, its as if the system all of a sudden doesn´t work anymore or is broken, I see programs with a lot of new features but at the same time i hear more and more bad mixes and bad music, the programs have more and more features but it seems that people boast more about there equipment than their ability's to make good mixes or produce great songs.

Aside from the workaround caused by the lack of ADC Protools LE gives you the tools to produce great music as it is.

Hotstuff
For LE users, I wouldn't trust a better Digidesign ADC. They're never going to make it as good as TDM on purpose. I chose Black Lion signature ($1200). Also look at Apogee, etc... and just use the digital in. Some users claim the BLA gives better results than HD. I can't say since the last I used TDM was in 2004.
Old 14th November 2009
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Lexicon to me showed the route highend DAW companies will walk in the next years.
Release native versions of their legacy hardware at relative high
but non the less affordable price tags.

Think about ethernet based core systems which handle like 48 I/Os standard
and a low latency mixer including the software at around 4k.
Plugin processing and all the rest is being done native on mac pros.

Main business will focus on core systems, additional interfaces,
high end plugins and controllers like ICON.

The time for pci dsp card based systems is clearly over
and I think digidesign is aware of this.

They will also:

* Increase the DAE bandwith up to 48 or even 64 bits.
* Increase the mixer resolution
* Release some absolutely stunning included dynamics + EQ + FX plugins
* Release some stunning new AD/DAs á la prism / lavry etc.

Let´s see at NAMM how close my guess is....
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