Avid Pro Tools 9.0.2 and Mbox

July 8, 2011
<p><img alt="img" src="/Portals/0/gp0711_recPro_Tools_nr.jpg" style="width: 450px; height: 346px; float: left; margin-right: 5px; margin-left: 5px;" />The big recording news at the end of 2010 was the introduction of Pro Tools 9 ($599 retail)&mdash;Avid&rsquo;s response to requests by native Pro Tools users for software that is compatible with non-Avid hardware and includes more of the features found in the proprietary Pro Tools HD and HD Native systems. A few of the most significant upgrades are Automatic Delay Compensation for plug-ins, increased track capabilities (96 simultaneous audio at 44.1/48kHz), up to 32 channels of audio I/O (depending on the interface), 64 instrument, 128 aux, and 512 MIDI), additional internal busses (256 total), MP3 Export, DigiTranslator 2 (which allows for OMF/AAF/MXF import/export for collaborating more easily with other audio/video applications), and Multitrack Beat Detective. The optional Complete Production Toolkit 2 ($1,995 retail) adds nearly every feature found in Pro Tools HD, including even more tracks and busses, surround mixing in several formats, advanced audio/video editing and automation capabilities, pitch/time shifting via the X-Form plug-in, and the ability to exchange complete session data with Pro Tools HD systems. Pro Tools 9 runs natively under Core- Audio (Mac) and ASIO (Windows). Copy protection is via iLok, and the boxed version includes a pre-authorized iLok key.</p> <p>In addition to its core recording, editing, and mixing tools, Pro Tools 9 includes a suite of more than 70 plug-ins (effects, dynamics, EQ, etc.) and virtual instruments (synths, sampler, drum machine, organs, pianos). The plug-ins run on Avid&rsquo;s proprietary RTAS/AudioSuite format, which is supported by nearly all major plug-in manufacturers.</p> <p><img style="width: 450px; height: 236px; float: left; margin-right: 5px; margin-left: 5px;" src="/Portals/0/gp0711_recmbox_nr.jpg" alt="img" />I found Pro Tools 9 to be quite similar to Pro Tools HD in most respects, so if you have worked with HD&mdash;or even Pro Tools LE and M-Powered&mdash;you should be able to find your way around with little difficulty. The system installed without a hitch, and I was quickly able to configure it for use in my studio (which is based around a six-core 3.33GHz Apple Mac Pro with 13GB RAM), and to customize a work environment that suited my needs. Pro Tools 9 represents a <em>huge </em>step forward for Avid, and will no doubt make many Pro Tools fans happy and attract myriad new users. [Note: as we were preparing to go to press, Avid introduced Pro Tools MP 9 ($299 retail), which replaces Pro Tools M-Powered, and includes many of the same features found in Pro Tools 9, including Automatic Delay Compensation.]</p> <p>While exploring Pro Tools 9, I also took the new Mbox audio/ MIDI interface ($499 retail/$449 street; $899 retail/$820 street bundled with Pro Tools 9) for a spin. This third generation of the Mbox boasts so many upgrades that it is essentially a different product than its predecessors. The USB 2.0-powered device has two newly designed microphone/instrument preamps with XLR mic/line combo connectors on the rear panel and 1/4" DI inputs up front, coupled with 24-bit/96kHz converters. Also included are S/PDIF digital and MIDI inputs and outputs, stereo 1/4" balanced Monitor Outputs, and a headphone jack with a Volume control. Buttons on the front panel engage Softclip limiters, 48-volt phantom power, volume Dim, and Mono operation. A Multi button engages various functions in Pro Tools, such as auto-creating, record arming, and recording on new tracks without using a mouse or keyboard. A large knob on the far right side controls the overall volume. Drivers are included for interfacing with nearly every recording product from other manufacturers.</p> <p><img alt="img" src="/Portals/0/gp0711_recmboxback_nr.jpg" style="width: 450px; height: 186px; float: left; margin-right: 5px; margin-left: 5px;" />The sturdily constructed Mbox has a nice heft to it, and the feel of the knobs and switches inspires confidence. The mic preamps sounded full yet relatively transparent, and the converters and high-quality signal path produced a crystal clear sound overall when monitoring through JBL LSR28P near-fields. It interfaced flawlessly with Pro Tools 9 (as well as with MOTU Digital Performer 7) for both audio and MIDI, and the easily navigable software monitor console is packed with great features, including a tuner and onboard reverb and delay. The significantly upgraded Mbox is a formidable contender in the mid-sized professional audio/MIDI interface market.</p> <p><strong>More from this Roundup:</strong></p> <a target="_blank" href="http://www.guitarplayer.com/article/Studio-Home-Tools/July-2011/4607">Studio Home Tools</a><br /> <a target="_blank" href="http://www.guitarplayer.com/article/MOTU-Digital-Performer/July-2011/4618">MOTU Digital Performer 7.2.2&rsquo;s Guitar Goodies</a><br /> <a target="_blank" href="http://www.guitarplayer.com/article/Audio-Technica-AT2022/July-2011/4620">Audio-Technica AT2022</a><br /> <a target="_blank" href="http://www.guitarplayer.com/article/Universal-Audio-EP-34/July-2011/4621">Universal Audio EP-34 Tape Echo, Cooper Time Cube Mk II Delay, and EMT 250 Classic Electronic Reverberator Plug-Ins</a><br /> <a target="_blank" href="http://www.guitarplayer.com/article/Telefunken-M80/July-2011/4623">Telefunken M80</a><br /> <a target="_blank" href="http://www.guitarplayer.com/article/Keith-McMillen-Instruments/July-2011/4624">Keith McMillen Instruments SoftStep MIDI Controller</a>
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