Pro Tools has finally entered the world of non-proprietary audio interfaces. Pro Tools 9 introduces a handful of new features, but the biggest bombshell is that you no longer have to have a Pro Tools (or Digidesign or now Avid) interface to run Pro Tools. This is great news, but what about all of the baggage that comes with it?

Buying The Software
Pro Tools users have become somewhat spoiled since they never seem to have to pay for the Pro Tools software. Of course there are upgrades, but the software is basically free when you buy the hardware. Not a bad deal when you pay $299 for an Mbox 2 Mini and get the full version of Pro Tools LE with it. But now that users can use whatever hardware they like, the Pro Tools software comes at a price…$599. That makes it the most expensive of the big 5 software DAWs. Check it out.

Pro Tools 9 – $599
Logic Studio 9 – $499
Cubase 5 – $499
Sonar 8.5 Producer – $349
Digital Performer 7 – $495

Interface Support
One of the benefits in the past of Pro Tools having proprietary hardware is that the software and hardware always worked well together. There weren’t extensive driver issues and mismatches of features and controls. But now Pro Tools has opened themselves up to a world of potential incompatibilities. The forums are already complaining of interfaces not supporting Pro Tools’ “Low Latency Monitoring” and the lack of disabling track monitoring while recording with an external mixer or direct monitoring. These are all issues that every other software DAW has been dealing with for years. Pro Tools now has to open their eyes to work flows and software functions that they haven’t had to deal with in the past.

All Your Eggs in One Basketeggs-basket
Pro Tools has always had a built-in dongle…their hardware. You can’t run Pro Tools without Pro Tools hardware. When M-Powered came along the dongle turned into an iLok authorization, and now all Pro Tools systems requires iLok authorization. That is convenient isn’t it since most users already have iLoks for all of their plug-ins? But what if there are thousands of dollars worth of plug-in authorizations on the iLok? Now you have to carry that small and easy to lose iLok with you when you want to use Pro Tools on your laptop at home. If you lose that, you haven’t just lost your Pro Tools license, but thousands of dollars of plug-ins as well…kind of scary.

Old Player in a New Game
Pro Tools hasn’t dealt with some of these issues in the past because they have been playing a different game from everybody else…proprietary hardware. Now this old and seasoned player is jumping into this new game (non-proprietary hardware) and there will inevitably be some adjusting.

I Like Pro Tools
I have to add this last bit to not sound like such a downer. I like Pro Tools and I am already using Pro Tools 9. I love the new features like automatic delay compensation, Eucon support, and OMF AAF support. I just think that like any change and progression their will be growing pains and some of the issues mentioned above will either be pains for Pro Tools or pains for us.

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