Avid has finally delivered the one thing that its users have been looking for. No, it’s not a #1 hit single – you’ll still have to produce that yourself – but this could help: Today Avid announced the arrival of Pro Tools|HD Native.
An integrated system that works off of the new Pro Tools|HD Native PCIe core card and Pro Tools HD software, HD|Native fills a huge gap that previously existed between the LE and M-box lines, and the elite HD systems. Users equipped with the core card, Pro Tools HD software and a supported audio interface now have significantly more affordable access to the full Pro Tools HD feature set: That’s up to 192 tracks of audio, and up to 64 channels of I/O using HD OMNI, HD MADI, and HD I/O interfaces, as well as legacy HD interfaces.
With Pro Tools|HD Native, music and postproduction pros are afforded a 192 kHz system that, according to Avid, offers the best host-based performance available in terms of latency and stability. A range of systems and bundles will be offered. They include:
— Pro Tools|HD Native core ($3,495 Global Retail Price), which includes the Pro Tools HD Native PCIe card and Pro Tools HD 8.5 software.
— The Pro Tools|HD Native + OMNI bundle ($5,995 GRP) includes Pro Tools HD Native PCIe card, Pro Tools HD 8.5 software and HD OMNI interface.
— Also being offered is Pro Tools|HD Native core + HD I/O 8x8x8 bundle ($6,995 GRP) with the Pro Tools HD Native PCIe card, Pro Tools HD 8.5 software and an HD I/O 8x8x8 interface.
— Users can also opt for Pro Tools|HD Native core + HD I/O 16×16 analog bundle ($7,995 GRP), which provides a Pro Tools HD Native PCIe card, Pro Tools HD 8.5 software and an HD I/O 16×16 interface.
There are some additional key features of Pro Tools|HD Native worth noting:
— Third-party DAW support — The system supports Core Audio and ASIO drivers, enabling broad compatibility with third-party audio applications including Apple Logic, Steinberg Cubase, and others.
— Integrated low latency mixer — Eliminates the need for a separate low-latency mixer. The Pro Tools | HD Native PCIe card enables users to efficiently establish a low latency monitor path directly in the Pro Tools system with the push of a button for set-and-forget direct monitoring while tracking.
— Pro Tools HD Series Interface support — users can achieve best possible audio conversion with up to 192 tracks of audio, and up to 64 channels of I/O using HD I/O, HD OMNI, and HD MADI. Flexible configurations that support a variety of analog and open digital formats for seamless integration into any audio environment are possible. The system is also compatible with legacy Avid Pro Tools HD interfaces.
— Broad compatibility — Users can tap their platform of choice, supporting both Windows 7 and Mac Snow Leopard 10.6 or higher.
Pro Tools|HD Native will be available on November 4, and represents the latest installment in Avid’s conscientious effort to become a company that actually listens to its customers. This year’s previous announcements of the new HD I/O Series line, along with the next-generation M-boxes, may be overshadowed by the new Native HD systems, which users have been adamantly requesting for years.
“Our customers were consistently asking, ‘What are you going to do in terms of a professional Native solution?’ and we knew we had to deliver a truly pro audio experience on the host,” says Paul Foeckler, VP Creative Professional Products for Avid. “That’s a challenge, because there are a lot of expectations from our customers on the current DSP systems and what it really means to be in a professional audio environment. For a Native system, it had to be pro, no excuses were going to be acceptable. So with Pro Tools|HD Native, it was all about listening to our customers and getting their feedback.
“Our established customer bases were using Pro Tools|HD, but they were also using LE systems or M-boxes for smaller tasks,” Foeckler continues. “However, they were relatively frustrated because those systems weren’t Pro Tools|HD. So when we were looking at developing a Native system for professional audio, we needed to facilitate a ‘round trip’: same quality as with HD, the feature set had to be the same, nothing left out. Pro Tools|HD Native does that. For established pros, it meets the need for their second, smaller systems.”
Concurrently, Avid figures that HD Native will give their emerging customers who are still at the LE and Toolbox levels a professional place to graduate to. “Earlier this year, we had a promotion where people could exchange their LE systems for Pro Tools|HD, and it beat our expectations,” notes Foeckler. “We realized lots of customers wanted more, but there was a price barrier where LE ended and HD began.
“HD|Native fits into that slot. If you look at what we need to fill that gap and what we need to deliver, it’s a professional system. HD|Native uses our new HD Series I/O’s, has full access to ICON, and is able to use external synchronization devices like SYNC HD. The software is exactly the same, and it has the same feature set as the DSP system – so there are zero software feature limitations. We’re bringing the HD experience to the host. It performs better than the competition in Native solutions for latency. It’s not zero latency, but its close, with the same track and bus counts.
“When you look at where HD|Native fits in, it’s a step up for LE and Toolkit users, but I don’t see it as a replacement for all HD DSP-based systems. Many of our larger customers are asking for more DSP – Native is an option for customers who wouldn’t want or don’t need the additional DSP performance, but needed more than what the LE and Toolkits had to offer.”
Not surprisingly, HD|Native is not intended to be a substitute for a full-blown HD DSP system. “For customers looking to expand past 64 channels, or who want the scalability of a power-on-demand system HD system, Pro Tools|HD is the only solution that provides that scalability,” explains Tony Cariddi, Avid Pro Segment Marketing Manager. “HD|Native is a single-card solution, so if you’re looking to go beyond 64 channels of I/O or want the guaranteed peak performance of dedicated DSP, Pro Tools|HD is the answer. It’s great for integrated workflows, post production, music mixing, and live sound.
“This system is a perfect marriage of hardware and software. While we do support Core audio and ASIO, and continue to support those open architectures, the fact that we design our own audio engine means we can get efficiency and performance well beyond using other drivers.”
Avid is a company that has been long maligned for being an impenetrable fortress, even as an entire industry flocked to its offerings, and they must be sure that they have improved their post-sale customer service as much as their product lines – otherwise the huzzahs won’t last past the first prolonged call to technical support.
Still, Avid may finally prove that it’s on top of things with Pro Tools HD|Native. “This is a system that, performance-wise, is spectacular,” Cariddi says. “Pro Tools HD|Native runs HD software, latency is remarkable, and the integrated workflows for low-latency monitoring are really elegant. They take something we all have to live with in Native workstations – the buffer latency setting – and make it something extremely usable. And sound quality-wise, you’re getting something that sounds really incredible with the HD Series interfaces.