AES: Will Pro Tools for X Finally Switch OS 9 Users?

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Date: Friday, October 11th, 2002, 00:00
Category: Archive

We’ve known since OS X’s 10.0 release that Pro Tools was coming for OS X. Finally, as expected, Digidesign made a formal announcement last week at AES. With developers initially lukewarm about the new operating system, it’s comforting to hear industry giant Digidesign, and not just Apple, saying things like “you’ll experience a completely new level of efficiency and effectiveness” about life in the Great Aqua OS. If the Mac’s most loyal community is the creative production world, there couldn’t be a bigger symbolic moment for OS X. Pro Tools is the audio world’s Photoshop. Even those of us who user Emagic Logic or MOTU Digital Performer will find switching to OS X easier on our minds just knowing Digi has made the leap.

Let’s start with when Pro Tools will become available. Not all support will ship at once. Users of TDM systems like Pro Tools | HD, Pro Tools | 24 MIX, and Pro Tools | 24, and LE systems (Digi 001, Audiomedia III, and Toolbox) will be up and running on OS X by the end of the year. So, folks, you can be mixing your new Christmas album on OS X. Rumors of Digidesign dropping support for its older systems were simply wrong. Digidesign is supporting every piece of hardware it has introduced since its first PCI cards shipped and replaced its NuBus-based systems in the first Clinton Administration. Owners of newer low-end and mid-range hardware are the ones who will have to wait: Mbox and Digi 002 support will “follow” the initial release. But who will have to wait the longest? Windows XP users, until second quarter 2003. (Permission to smirk, granted.)

What’s new in 6.0? Plenty: finally, a streamlined and upgraded interface, multi-user login capability (fitting for OS X), DigiBase file management utility which supports custom catalogs and network/offline media in TDM, enhanced MIDI functionality including long-awaited groove quantize and groove templates plus non-destructive “restore performance” MIDI revert capability, Beat Detective for TDM that creates groove templates from audio performances to apply elsewhere, some digital groove templates to get you started, enhanced Import Session and track-only importing, plug-in enhancements, and MachineControl additions. Digidesign lists more details. The changes are definitely evolutionary, not revolutionary, but it’s nice to see Digidesign adding the enhancements users have begged them for, and MIDI in particular is finally usable. MIDI mavens won’t be throwing away their copies of DP, Cubase, and Logic just yet, but at least they won’t have to leave Pro Tools for every MIDI project they want to do.

As for specifics of Mac OS X support, the nitty gritty details still aren’t out yet. Digidesign’s support of Mac OS X’s Core MIDI Services, at least, means that Pro Tools will have sample-accurate MIDI timing via MIDI Time Stamping (MTS), and sub-millisecond-accurate MIDI with MTS-capable interfaces. And hey, as for interoperability, check out the screenshot in the v6 announcement next to “More MIDI and Beat Detective” — looks like they’re extracting an audio groove from a Logic Audio file! Here’s to competition on the Mac!

Pricing is not yet announced. Oh, and don’t expect Pro Tools Free on OS X — I’d place that in the “when dogcows fly” department. Stay tuned.

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