Pro Tools 9: First Look

2010 Nov 08, 2010

Well, the rumors came true last week. On Thursday, Avid announced (and began selling) the long hoped for latest version of their popular DAW, Pro Tools. Version 9 is here and it’s a big one. Not just more stuff included, but a whole shift of business model and direction. I for one think it’s all for the better, but only time will tell.

I watched the Avid AES press conference last Thursday night and it was really exciting. I’ve posted it here for your viewing pleasure if you have an hour of time. If not, skip below for my summary.


A New Direction (And Name)

Pro Tools LE no longer exists. It is simply called Pro Tools. That’s right, Avid has dropped the LE distinction and more importantly they have decoupled their native DAW from the hardware. That’s right, Pro Tools 9 is a stand alone software package; just like most other DAWs.

This means two big things:

  1. Pro Tools now works with any hardware interface you like, not just Avid products. For obvious reasons this is big. Now you have even more choice of hardware as a Pro Tools user, and owners of other audio interfaces can now consider Pro Tools as a DAW purchase without the redundancy of buying a second interface.
  2. This also means that Pro Tools technically needs NO hardware to run. You can finally open (and USE) Pro Tools on your laptop, without anything other than an iLok attached. Finally.

Top Requested Features Are Here

Pro Tools 9 includes a host of highly anticipated features and upgrades. The most requested has always been ADC (Automatic Delay Compensation), and it is now included with Pro Tools. This is huge for a lot of  reasons, but considering every other major DAW has it, it’s about time Avid re-coded native Pro Tools to handle it. Also, the audio track limitation doubled to 96. The buss count went from 32 to 256. The instrument track count increased as well. Features from Pro Tools HD are now standard: multitrack beat detective, MP3 and OMF export, and even up to 32 tracks of I/O depending on your interface.

Let’s Talk Money

As of today, anyone can now purchase a full copy of Pro Tools 9 for $599 US. You can use it with any audio interface you like. This is a great opportunity for those of you who’ve been interested in PT but didn’t want a bundled hardware package. It might be worth looking into if you need a new DAW. For current LE users, the “crossgrade” will cost you $249. M-Powered users will have to pay $349 to get their hands on PT 9.

For the remainder of the year, the current line of 003 and Mbox interfaces from Avid will come bundled with Pro Tools LE version 8, but you can upgrade to 9 for only $99. Supposedly after January 1, Avid will bundle their “LE” hardware with Pro Tools 9 but the price will go up, understandably.

My Thoughts?

Not that it really matters what I think, but my overall opinion like I mentioned above is that Avid has made the right move. They finally “opened” up their amazing industry standard DAW to play nice with any hardware. And they even made it a better program! Being a Pro Tools LE user since version 6, I can tell you that what you get for the money today is insane compared to what you got back in 2003.

Pro Tools 8 is already an incredible DAW and I use it to produce music for a living. I think 9, though, is moving in an even better direction that bodes well for EVERYONE in the industry. Just think, the biggest gripes anyone ever had about Pro Tools was the lack of tracks, ADC, and hardware requirement. Those are all non issues now, so it’s truly an option for some previous doubters.

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