Completing the Picture: Avid Introduces Pro Tools 9

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Audio professionals would have had to be hiding in a cave to avoid the news that Avid announced the immediate availability of Pro Tools version 9 during November’s AES Convention.
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Audio professionals would have had to be hiding in a cave to avoid the news that Avid announced the immediate availability of Pro Tools version 9 during November’s AES Convention. Pro Tools 9 replaces Pro Tools LE and offers broad hardware I/O support, EUCON control protocol integration and collaboration enhancing features. Pro Tools HD and HD Native software were simultaneously upgraded to version 9— the software for the first time being unified for all types of systems.

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Avid pro segment marketing manager, Tony Cariddi, tells Pro Sound News that “more professional features” are now standard to the software. “By far, the most requested feature from Pro Tools LE customers was to include Automatic Delay Compensation,” he offers as by way of example, internal ADC is standard in the Pro Tools 9 feature set, along with a track count doubling to 96 mono or stereo voices, an Internal bus count increased by a factor of eight from 32 to 256, 160 aux track capability, Beat Detective as well as the components of the formerly optional Music Production and DV toolkits including the time-code ruler and AAF/OMF/MXF interchange, and an oft-requested MP3 export capability.

Pro Tools 9 is a native system with ASIO and Core Audio support, allowing it to function with Avid I/O hardware, third-party I/O devices and on computers with only built-in audio interfaces (with ASIO drivers for Windows computers). Cariddi calls Pro Tools 9 the “first ever software option for Pro Tools that gives customers a really open and flexible workflow,” adding that it also “enables collaboration more than ever.” The focus on facilitating collaboration, allowing customers to share session files and information more readily to suit the new paradigms of production, is substantiated by the inclusion of the DigiBase Pro file management tool and a full Import Session Data dialog as part of Pro Tools 9.

Pro Tools 9 is a native system with ASIO and Core Audio support, allowing it to function with Avid I/O hardware, third-party I/O devices and on computers with only built-in audio interfaces (with ASIO drivers for Windows computers). Cariddi calls Pro Tools 9 the “first ever software option for Pro Tools that gives customers a really open and flexible workflow,” adding that it also “enables collaboration more than ever.” The focus on facilitating collaboration, allowing customers to share session files and information more readily to suit the new paradigms of production, is substantiated by the inclusion of the DigiBase Pro file management tool and a full Import Session Data dialog as part of Pro Tools 9.

Kicking off the Pro Tools 9 press conference at AES, Avid COO Kirk Arnold proclaimed, “This announcement is the capstone of a series of announcements that we have been working on...the culmination of an incredible amount of work,” that work including collaboration with Avid’s customers. Foeckler then took the stage, reemphasizing the latter point: “The number-one thing in the strategy at Avid is customer focus. The customer is absolutely number one. Our job is to listen to customers and make sure we do exactly what they need to be successful. Period. That is it. And I can tell you, that back in the ‘Evil Empire’ era, that we were not listening to customers as well as we should have at Digidesign.” Foeckler offered Pro Tools 9, as well as Avid’s recently announced HD series interface hardware and the Pro Tools|HD Native platform as examples of giving customers what they were asking for. “Innovation, not iteration” is the foundation of Avid’s strategy, he said. “We need to be vigilant about innovating for our customers, really delighting them with what those innovations are.”

As Avid rolled out the various pieces in what is now fully revealed as the simplified, streamlined Pro Tools 9 family of products, there was some internal angst at Avid over the marketplace reaction to the individual announcements, Arnold told Pro Sound News, as they knew that the full picture remained unexposed. The final piece of the puzzle, Arnold’s “capstone” element, Pro Tools 9, is indeed the key missing piece necessary to complete the picture. Pro Tools 9 “creates a new baseline for Pro Tools that we feel meets our customers’ expectations for the performance, features and flexibility that they’ve been asking us for,” said Foeckler.

The early sales success of Pro Tools 9, praise from early adopters and beta testers, and the enthusiasm of the flocks of customers attending AES’ exhibition floor demos, are evidence that customers are embracing the commitment to quality and openness avowed by Avid in 2008 as they began to phase out the Digidesign name, rebranding and retooling the company. Where once an ‘Evil Empire’ or ‘800 lb Gorilla’ persona was a prevalent theme in discussion of Digidesign and its products, Avid is turning the conversation positive and product focused with the new cohesiveness of the Pro Tools family elements, the price effectiveness of the feature-rich Pro Tools 9 and the responsiveness of Avid to customer input and market and workflow realities.

Pro Tools 9 is available at a retail price of $599. Pro Tools HD 9 software will be included in the various Pro Tools|HD system bundles at current prices. For Pro Tools|HD users that need to take more advanced features to alternate computer platforms or Pro Tools 9 power users, the Avid Complete Production Toolkit 2 (CPTK2) option gives Pro Tools 9 users access to the full feature set of Pro Tools HD including the capability of 192 internal tracks, VCA mixing and full 7.1 surround support ($1,995.). Upgrade and cross-grade paths will be available for existing Pro Tools users. Pro Tools M-Powered remains in the lineup as a low-cost entry system with a smaller feature set (at version 8 for the immediate future).

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