Digidesign Pro Tools: Rethinking The Industry Standard Mentality

Brandon Drury —  April 10, 2008

Let’s talk about “industry standards” for a minute. Here are a few arbitrary standards for big boy robo studios I just came up with off the top of my head without any real thought put into them.

Bull Crap Industry Standards
Studio Design and Construction $2,000,000
Console $200,000
Studio Monitors $5,000
Mic Collection $100,000
External Mic Preamps $30,000
Compressors $30,000
Pro Tools HD3 Rig $30,000
Coffee Machine $500

These are examples of what you can expect to pay for “pro studio” items. In fact, I’m positive there are studios who tremendously exceed the amount of cash laid out here. The Coffee machine at many big boys studios is in the thousands, for sure! The coffee machine at Soundstage Studios in Nashville is impressive!

Just for a second forget about the studio construction, console, huge mic collection, and all the other stuff you can barely dream of. A full blown Pro Tools HD3 rig by itself without any regard to all the other links in the chain costs about the price of a new car. So is Pro Tools the industry standard for home recording? A bigger question: Should we use what the big boys are doing as a gauge for us home studio guys? Is the pro studio world in any way relevant to what us home recording guys are doing?

What Do Home Studio Guys Have In Common With The Big Boys?
Regardless of the budget of the project, we are all trying to make the most intense recordings we possibly can. It matters not whether we are working in a garage or at Electric Ladyland. Beyond this, the similarities come to a screeching halt. I can list the differences between a big boy recording and a typical home recording, but I’ll save you the burden. Let’s just say I serve my own coffee (no assistant is brewing my coffee), and I use a $40 Mr. Coffee machine. (This coffee pot is a huge upgrade from my $15 generic coffee pot I previously had. This ultra-luxury was given to me as a gift for helping a dude with a website. I would never spent $40 on a coffee maker, let alone the astronomical R2D2 coffeemakers in the average big studio.)

Do Big Boys REALLY Have A Standard?
Before we jump into the issue about Pro Tools being the “industry standard” let’s talk about the big boys and what they are using to record platinum records. No doubt, most of them are using Pro Tools HD, but certainly not all of them. Some guys aren’t using a computer at all. Some big boys are still cranking out hits using analog tape machines. It worked well for decades and there is no real reason you can’t make a hit song using analog tape these days. Many big boys are using RADAR. Many consider it to be a superior way of working. While certainly less common these days, that damn Alanis Morissette album was tracked on ADAT. It’s up there in the top 10 or 20 albums sold of all time. They still play the crap out of it in bars and on the radio. It’s very common to hear about users of Logic, Cubase (Nuendo), and many other recording programs cranking out tunes and albums that end up being hits. You can’t forget digital tape machines that have existed for as long as I’ve been around. Michael Wagener told me he quit using analog tape in 1981 and switched to digital tape. When I attended his workshop, he was using a Euphonix system (I think, my memory is fuzzy.) and he was about to switch to Nuendo. So you can see that there are many, many options out there for cranking out social significant music.

So where does this put us? The way I see it, if a hit song can be recorded on a particular format, that format is ALWAYS capable of cranking out hits. I see absolutely no reason why an incredible album would be any less of an album if it were tracked on an ADAT. If this ADAT technology really did suck the life out of recordings, maybe it could suck Alanis Morissette right off the radio. That doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon, unfortunately. (I’d LOVE to tell you that ADAT sucks and you respond with “Alanis who?” but if the latter isn’t happening, I can’t really say the former is happening either.) Now ADAT is not my weapon of choice for home recording but that has more to do with features and personal preference than the ability to crank out great recordings. I’m positive I could make a very good recording on an ADAT machine. I just don’t want to. I could walk, but sometimes I’d rather ride a bike. You get the idea.

The notion that big boys MUST use Pro Tools to crank out “effective” recordings is baloney. You would be better served to figure out WHY so many big boys lean towards Pro Tools and find out if those reason would benefit you.

Do Home Recorders Need A Standard?
I don’t need a standard. What? Yes, you heard me. I really don’t give a damn what the guy 50 miles away is using. I do almost all of my work in house. When I do track drums elsewhere, it’s not exactly rocket science to get from X format to Y format. The computer is the easiest thing in the world to transfer files to and fro. Making a big deal about this is ridiculous. We could argue that the “world standard” is driving on the left side of the road, but no one in America seems to care. I can’t say that it has ever crossed my mind that my Honda Civic is not approved for driving in the UK. Adhering to foreign driving demands is about as foreign to me as adhering to recording “industry standards”. Why should I care? What is gained from taking a worldly view of my recording software? I can’t even see the sun in my studio!

I tracked drums in a big St. Louis studio with a Neve (Music Creek Studios) and then came back and tracked the rest of the overdubs in Vegas of all things. It was a non issue. I did have to commit to the drum edits we made. Boo hoo! Good! I ALWAYS prefer committing if I have a choice. I don’t have time to think about drum edits down the road. I’M TRYING TO MAKE A RECORD!!! You may not feel the same way, however. This is where it gets interesting. Pretty much every recording software worth it’s salt can save and open OMF files….but one. Pro Tools LE is the only major recording software that I’m aware of that does not come standard with an OMF export option. You can purchase the OMF export option but it’ll set you back 5 smackers. (That’s $500 just in case my vintage gangster lingo is a bit off.) That in itself is insulting enough for me to say to hell with Pro Tools. You may not feel the same way.

Again, making a big point about OMF is really quite futile. Why? Because I don’t care! I can’t remember a time where I’ve lost money because I couldn’t work with some file format. When bands come to me, they generally expect me to do the whole record. I’m there from day one to day infinity.

Because I don’t need a standard or an “industry standard” I’m free to work with tools that do the job I need them to do. These days, my weapon of choice is Cubase SX3. I’m more than content with it’s ability to be equally at home recording folk music, death metal, techno, or even creating hip hop beats. I don’t feel that Pro Tools LE can say this at least not right out of the box. This article is not about why I prefer Cubase over Pro Tools. This article is about rethinking this bull crap known as the “industry standard”. With just a few exceptions (which we’ll get into later on), there is no reason to buy recording software solely because it is the “industry standard”. That’s not much different than voting on a politician because you think they will win, picking out a dress because some whorish celebrity wore it, or wearing shoes because a famous athlete temporarily adds his name to them after being paid millions of dollars. Screw all of that. Pick the recording software that best fits your needs without any record for what E! Entertainment or any other spawn of Satan may have to say about it. If you need help deciding, the home recording forum is here to help. I’m considering putting together a Home Recording Software Wizard to compliment my Soundcard Wizard.

The Exceptions
There are a small minority of people who would probably be best off being intimately familiar with Pro Tools on the merits that it is the most popular big boy format. These are people that plan on working in big studios and interning under big boy producers. As mentioned above, the odds of any one producer using any one format is really a toss up, but a majority of modern hit makers are going the Pro Tools route. It needs to be made very very clearly that this a tiny, tiny portion of the “industry”. The people willing to starve for weeks just for the chance to whipe Mutt Lange’s piss from a urinal is a small percentage. Not exactly what most of think of when flashy phrases like “Industry Standard” are blasted in 4 color gloss magazine print!!

The other exception are those who stand to lose money if they do not have the ability to open Pro Tools sessions. Larger, regional type studios where relatively big bands may stop in to do a vocal overdub in between tour dates would certainly benefit from being able to open just about any file type known to man. It would probably be dumb for these kinds of studios not to be able to open up Pro Tools sessions among all the other formats.

Pro Tools Ain’t Always The Standard
Just because Pro Tools is the overall dominant piece of recording software out there, doesn’t mean it will be in your area. Just ask long time RecordingReview member, Richiebee, about it. After his university shelled out the dough for a high end Pro Tools HD system, they quickly realized that no one around was using Pro Tools. The “industry standard” idea sort of backfired in their case. Then again, they are Canadian. What do they know?

If It’s Good Enough For The Big Boys…..
I think quite a few people jump into home recording and get a little overwhelmed by all the choices out there. I can’t blame them. There is a DISGUSTING amount of options. It makes the process of choosing initial gear very difficult. For those who are completely overwhelmed by the dizzying array of options, there can be comfort found in knowing that Pro Tools is so widely used in the professional community. It’s easy to say “If Pro Tools is good enough for the big boys, surely it’s good enough for me”. There is no debating the “good enough” factor of Pro Tools. With a few expensive gripes aside, Pro Tools is very adequate for recording music.

The problem with this “If it’s good enough for the big boys” mentality is it oversimplifies the process. Instead figuring out exactly what your needs are and find the most economical software that meets those needs, people turn off their brains and pull out their wallets. My biggest gripe about Pro Tools is the price. Pro Tools costs more money to use, upgrade, and add on to than programs like Logic, Cubase, Digital Performer, and Sonar. Pro Tools is infamous for it’s $500 add ons such as the OMF Export or Music Production Toolkit. Ironically, the tools in the $500 Music Production Toolkit are all stock with the big boy Cubase versions and I’d expect the same to be true with Logic.

My point is that simply saying “It’s good enough for X robo producer with 10 billion albums sold” does not help your cause. It makes it worse and you can expect it to cost you money in the long run. If you find that Pro Tools is right for you and you are willing to pay the potential costs, knock yourself out. However, if you are operating on limited funds, you may do better putting less of that cash into your recording software and more into studio monitors, room acoustics, microphones, plugins, or better instruments.

Beyond people attempting to work their way up the studio ladder in big boy land and engineers who run studios where opening Pro Tools sessions is a big deal, I can’t think of a single reason to succumb to the “industry standard” solely because it is the “industry standard”. Again, I’m not trying to get involved in your decision of which recording software you should chose. I just want to make it clear that “industry standard” is not a good reason to go Pro Tools.

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

45 responses to Digidesign Pro Tools: Rethinking The Industry Standard Mentality

  1. Thanks for the article Brandon. The “Home Recording Software Wizard” is a great idea and would really help home recording folks compare the pluses and minuses of each side by side.

    I see your point, but I have mixed emotions about the article and about PT. I think I have to go post a response….

  2. Scott Morrison April 10, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Hey Brandon & everybody,

    Rant mode: ON

    I’m attending film school in LA – post production audio editing for film/tv. (Yeah, I read your article on recording schools, but being associated with “post” is a tad different.) Anyway, Pro Tools HD seems to be the “standard” in the film business, so that’s what I’m having to learn. Ultimately, I had to buy the stripped-down LE version so I could practive the software at home, sans many features. I resented it in a way because I was already using Mackie’s Tracktion software for my home music recording, and I just loved it. Of course even though I already had a Tascam audio interface, Pro Tools requires that you buy THEIR proprietary interface (MBox2 in my case) in order for the software to function – another source of resentment.

    I have my doubts about Pro Tools being the best value even for the Big Boys but it’s become “popular” and therefore a “standard” of sorts. Much of this may have to do with the ease of translating between pro users, teams of whom may be working on the same full-length feature film. However, as you mentioned, OMF or MXF or whatever are useful hand-shaking file-exchange protocols to address this issue. Bottom line, I will say this: I do not believe that Pro Tools is a good value for home recordists or small studios. I only bought and am learning Pro Tools myself because I HAVE TO in order to work in most of the tv/film post production houses.

    I have noticed that the Avid/Digidesign/Pro Tools/M-Audio (all one company) philosophy appears to be one of shameless self-promotion and squeezing every penny from its customers with one add-on after another. (Sort of the “Microsoft” of recording.) Without the expensive “DV Toolkit” or the “Music Production Toolkit”, you are limited to 32 tracks, cannot have a “moving play head” view, are missing countless other features, and cannot even produce an MP3 file for crying out loud. My cheap $80 Mackie Tracktion program has unlimited tracks, moving play head scrolling, tons of amazing included plugins, produces wave or mp3 files, is easy on the CPU, has a great single screen view on a small 15″ laptop display, can drag and drop anything anywhere, and I can use whatever frigging interface I like, not to mention ENJOYING recording. Eighty bucks out the door!

    Granted, in all fairness, Tracktion is not in the same league as Pro Tools or possibly even your Cubase SX3. But you get my point: As a musician, Tracktion or other similar programs will do everything most musicians need in spades. So my advice is to think for yourselves (with of course the help of that GREAT IDEA: a Home Recording Software Wizard). Don’t throw your money away on Pro Tools just because you think it’s some kind of “standard”. It’s not necessarily the most convenient tool for musicians, and it certainly ain’t no bargain.

    Scott Morrison
    Van Nuys, CA

  3. I totally agree. It’s almost as bad as the world of fashion. “Paris Holton decided to dye her hair green and shave the left half of her head, so will I”

    People who aren’t into recording with the trial and error theory are taking whatever the Guitar Center guy said as gospel. “You need Digidesign because that’s what the pro’s use.” No, he needs you to buy it because it’s the most expensive piece of hardware and he works off commission.

    People who learns on Cubase LE have the same chance of getting good as someone learning on Protools HD.

  4. I’m just about to purchase Pro Tools LE7.4 and Digidesign 003. I have been following the debate Pro Tools vs Logic Studio for some time. I’ve heard little about Cubase , Tracktion or RADAR. I decided to go with Pro Tools because everyone that has it seems to like it. The problem that I’ve heard with Logic is Apple is not service oriented. I’ve recorded 3 Album projects in Nashville in some of the big studios when tape was still the norm. A lot has changed sence then. I want the best sound I can get from a “Home” studio environment. A couple thousand dollars one way or the other in the long run does not mean that much to me. I can sell enough CD,s in a year to cover that several times over.
    I guess the question I have is what is the best “Home” studio gear in regard to the learning curve and also for integrating with other musicians? Morgan

  5. That being said, I think Pro Tools is a great tool for making music. Sure you can get results just as good with Cubase and a lot of other less expensive packages.

    There are some advantages to going with an “industry standard”. Digidesign sells a lot of these systems and probably has a nice cash flow. A healthy company like this has money to put into development of their products. They might even be leading the industry with new tools and techniques. Every industry needs their cash cow leader with a nice R&D budget to keep the innovation coming. Everyone benefits as these new innovations trickle down to all of the other packages.

    The other thing I like about an “industry standard” is that there is a huge support system available for it. Because Pro Tools is so popular (for whatever reason) there is a ton of educational material out there for it. I can get 10 books on the same subject, get DVD’s, watch online videos, buy official courseware for certification, jump on youtube and get a ton of free training videos and I can talk to a lot of people in my area that have experience on Pro Tools. It makes it great for us newcomers to learn how to use this stuff.

    Is Pro Tools any better than Cubase or any of the others out there? I have no idea. As a total newbie I had to look around at what was out there, what others were using, what had a lot of educational potential for me and make a decision. I knew Pro Tools was the so called “industry standard”, there were a lot of educational materials out there to help me figure it out and my drum instructor used it in his studio. Some of my decision was based on “if some professionals rely on this to make music, there must be something to it”.

    Had I been a member of these forums for 6 months prior to making a purchase, I may have gone a different direction. For someone just coming into this crazy world, going with a well know brand feels safer than going with a less known one.

  6. I disagree. I love pro tools. As far as post production Digital performer is the way i go. Pro Tools Le is pretty amazing for the price you pay. 16 inputs is enough for anyhome studio. Its just that non Pro tools users see that you have to go digidesign and only digidesign
    any other recording software and forget about pro tools. Which is fine! all the other recording programs are right up to par with pro tools. And are not a waste of time to learn. Personally I have spent BIG BUCKS in learning this craft and getting the proper education an certification. So i think it is only fare that if you want to get a job in a big amazing studio, that you have to learn a certain program to work efficiently with others.
    After all you can’t buy a couple hundred $$$ in tools and go out and start building houses. BUT you can buy some tools and start getting the basics and start building upon learning your craft. So same goes with recording. If you are comfortable using Cubase then use it. But if you want a job at a certain studio, then learn the tools they have!!!! Pro tools IS most likely one of them.
    WHAT I HATE ABOUT DIGIDESIGN is that they try to sell all these pre amps to their LE Users.
    NOTE **** When buying equipment remember you pay for every little thing that THE EQUIPMENT IS CAPEABLE OF. So if you don’t need more pre amps (like in the c24)then spend your money elseware.
    What people need to learn is that just because you can do all these amazing things in a computer doesent mean it is the right way to do it. ITs just another piece of a giant puzzle. BUT On the other hand if someone wants to do 2 albums a year cause it takes them so long to cut and paste a good take. Then Sweet more bands for me to work on.
    Best mic i ever bought/ used. Neumann km 184.
    Just throwing it out there.

  7. The “industry standard” idea sort of backfired in their case. Then again, they are Canadian. What do they know?

    Hey man do you have something gainst Canadians? We do not all live in Igloos….Hell I’m Canadian and pretty much up to date with the rest of the world.


  8. That being said, I think Pro Tools is a great tool for making music.

    Agreed! This was never called into question.

    I disagree. I love pro tools.

    You mean you think that the bandwagon marketing / mob mentality is a solid reason to purchase a given recording system?

    The article wasn’t shooting down Pro Tools. The article was stating that “industry standard” is not a good reason to purchase equipment for most people.

    A healthy company like this has money to put into development of their products. They might even be leading the industry with new tools and techniques. Every industry needs their cash cow leader with a nice R&D budget to keep the innovation coming.

    This is certainly a possibility, but I want to know what “innovations” Pro Tools has came up with beyond the breakthrough of the DAW. That definitely was an innovation and I have to give them credit for that, but the first Pro Tools hit was in 1997. So what new outstanding achievements in musical innovation have they come up with?

    I guess I’m a little hesitant to take the technology approach to music making. I’m a little more old school in my musical beliefs (I’m 27) and I’m not convinced the innovations of the past decade (snapping drums to a grid and Autotune) have done anything to really improve music. They’ve just allowed musicians to spend less time and made me spend MORE time. ha ha

    Personally, I don’t think Pro Tools is innovating anything more than any other company. I think they are taking the cash to the bank. They’ll continue to buy up smaller companies and once they can afford to buy cable TV stations and newspapers, they’ll be doing that do. That may take a while.

    Hey man do you have something gainst Canadians?

    No way! That was a joke. I make fun of every white person I can because that’s the only race I can get away with making fun of. I’d love to make fun of black people, Mexicans, Asians, etc but no one would really like that. I guess I can make fun of Arabs, but that one has been beaten to death. ha ha

  9. I hesitate to jump back into this but…

    I agree with Brandon on this topic. I’m all in favor of personal preference. It’s refreshing to hear someone simply say “I love Pro Tools”. But, sadly, personal preference can also mean the freedom of choosing to blindly follow the flock without doing the research and saying that you “decided to go with Pro Tools because everyone that has it seems to like it”. (I apologize for slamming whoever said that!) Doesn’t look like “freedom” from here. And though I don’t agree with that approach, I still respect a person’s right to, in essence, “choose not to choose” and merely defer to others. There are pitfalls to that kind of “thinking” however, for sometimes these so-called “standards” may simply be nothing more than popular enticements: one can easily be drawn into eating red meat, smoking cigarettes, depending on oil for energy, praying to strange gods, etc., simply because so many other people seem to like it. But just look at the mess we’re in. (Perhaps these are flimsy parallels but maybe you get my point.)

    Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I personally am learning Pro Tools every day and working toward certification, not because I like it (I don’t), but because in order to work in the tv/film sound business, I’m required to know how to use that particular software. If you’re a recording engineer and you want to work in the big studios, the prevalence of Pro Tools in that environment might also justify learning it. Or if you’re a musician and you see that you’re going to be exchanging files with your buddies who all have Pro Tools already, that might be another reason for it. (Though OMF-style file exchange programs work well for this.) But otherwise, if you just want to make music and get it on the internet or on CD’s, it’s my opinion that one can do better than Pro Tools for “friendliness” and value.

  10. OK Scott, so what is that friendlier software and control system that is better than ProTools for less money. I’m all ears. Morgan

  11. Scott Morrison April 17, 2008 at 8:51 am

    I don’t know, Morgan. I’m embarrassingly ignorant on the subject, having very limited personal experience. I too am just dying to know what the “best” software is for musicians in regard to friendliness and value, if there is such a thing due to the subjective nature of the beast. I can only say what [I think] it’s NOT, and that’s Pro Tools. And that’s only my opinion.

    My limited experience (aside from extensive analog recording as an engineer, which means little): I’ve been using Mackie’s Tracktion for years, which I bought for $80 and just loved for all the reasons I mentioned in an earlier post. Recently, I had to move to Pro Tools, which I personally found to be counter-intuitive, clunky, a bit too “technical” for the average musician, a poor value, too proprietary/limited (except for HD systems), and rather poorly-designed. (Doesn’t even talk directly to VST plugins.) Even the mechanical design of the MBox2 is idiotic. (I’m a studio tech, so diodes don’t scare me, but when I put on the musician hat, that technical shit can be a pain in the ass when you’re feeling that creative spark.) Pro Tools is indeed powerful in many regards, but there are trade-offs.

    I hang out with songwriter/musicians and read the forum posts. I’m not necessarily suggesting that Tracktion is the “best” software for serious musicians. Nor am I saying that Pro Tools is the worst – far from it. I’m only saying that it may be advantageous to take into account the pros and cons expressed by other musicians. Ask yourself what features are important to you. Then, and most importantly, try a few demos out for yourself to see which software “clicks” with you. I hear musicians raving about Logic, Digital Performer, Cubase, Reaper, Soundscapes, Tracktion, Pro Tools, and others. I wish there was a “Recording Software Wizard”, as Brandon suggested, to help narrow all this down. Referring to the “polls” on the forums is helpful in finding out what many musicians tend to favor the most. Knowing what I know about Pro Tools, I would be quite surprised if it was the first choice among most musicians, without regard to it being some sort of a damned “standard”.

  12. I’m not sure what “friendlier” is. All recording software has a learning curve. Most people tend to lump “friendly” with “instant gratification” but I’ve yet to come across any recording program that offered that.

    With that said, Pro Tools is enforcing limits in some areas. They define the max tracks you can use. (Last I heard it was 32 with Pro Tools LE but I could be wrong on that one). Pro Tools defines what hardware you can use. If you want to export mp3s, you pay extra. If you want to export OMF, you pay extra. If you want the beat manipulation stuff you are going to shell out $500. Most people will never need these add-ons. However, it’s clear that programs like Logic, Cubase, Sonar, etc do not take as nearly an authoritarian approach.

    With over 10,000 members at RecordingReview now I’ve yet to find a single person who liked the Pro Tools sequencer.

    This isn’t meant to be an anti-Pro Tools post. It’s simply an answer to the question above. It also needs that the a majority of the big boys are using Pro Tools HD. So there is nothing wrong with Pro Tools as a choice. You will simply have to pull out your wallet to remove some of those limits and barriers if you find them limiting.

    If ANYTHING in home recording costs an extra $1 and doesn’t provide any additional value, I don’t recommend it. There are simply too many links in the chain that need improvement to waste money on anything.


  13. Scott and Brandon, Your thoughts and suggestions are much appreciated. You both know more about this subject than I do. Years ago I went the route of recording in Nashville using what I must say were some really great musicians. My good friend who is one of Nashville’s greatest put this all together for me. Although the musicianship was great they really didn’t interpret my music like I wanted it. After doing 4 projects (albums) and about 18,000+ CD sales I’ve decided to do my own music the way concert goers hear me in more (real time). I’ve been researching all the pros and cons on the net, reading books on all the gear and acoustics. I guess I keep coming back to Pro-Tools because the players in my circle of friends all use it and make some awesome music with it. But I’m open to learning about “the best stuff out there” if there is such a thing. Thanks for your help.

  14. By “friendlier” I simply mean that, AFTER the requisite learning curve, one should be able to navigate and perform the desired tasks with relative ease using the appropriate tools. Granted, learning curves alone make trying out different software packages a pain. Not having to buy that company’s proprietary hardware (PT) just to try it out is another issue entirely. A Pro Tools demo? Forget about it.

    Maybe there’s a better word than “user friendly” that takes into account the required learning curve, which to me is a given. Anyway, this “user friendly ergonomic woo-woo GUI factor” directly correlates to the software company’s philosophy – are they listening to their users? True, they’re a business that needs to be mindful of their bottom line, but do they let that completely blind them to what made them successful in the first place – user feedback? I’m sure Pro Tools was a much better listener when they were smaller, not resting on their laurels, and not focused so intently on that bottom line. Also, it’s important to remember that all this LE and M-Powered stuff is more about throwing some crumbs in the general direction of the whiny hobbyists in order to pick up some extra pocket change. The massive HD systems are Pro Tools’ real bread and butter.

    So you’ll know, basic Pro Tools LE and M-Powered systems have a 32-track limit. Actually, to be more precise, they have a “32-VOICE” limit, which translates to 32 MONO tracks, but only 16 STEREO tracks (2 voices per track)! Vewy twicky! Buying the expensive “Tool Kits” gives you “48 STEREO or MONO tracks”, in their words. Not sure how many more voices that actually is, but I’m guessing a total of 96? Give a dog a bone. But, for my money, it’s too little too late. The track count on my cheap-o Tracktion, or even the free Audacity software, is only limited by the computer itself. Why impose these arbitrary track limits in the software in the first place? Could it have anything to do with money?

  15. Sorry, Morgan, I didn’t see your post before I posted my last one. Wish I could be more helpful but when it comes to all these software options, I’m a moron. However, I would be hesitant to go with Pro Tools for the reason you mention. As you know, talented writers, musicians, arrangers, producers, and engineers can make great recordings on just about anything. Often, we’re unaware of certain inconveniences they may be having to work around in order to make their magic happen. It wasn’t that long ago that everybody was recording on linear tape and limited to x number of tracks. (i.e., Sargent Pepper bouncing around on 4 tracks) Just waiting for the tape to rewind with each pass was like watching paint dry. But I digress. Brandon and the other contributors to this forum can be awesome resources on this topic.

  16. It wasn’t that long ago that everybody was recording on linear tape and limited to x number of tracks. (i.e., Sargent Pepper bouncing around on 4 tracks)

    This is why I think it’s INSANE to spend more money than you have to for recording software. Because the actual software being used is such a tiny, tiny, tiny portion of the recording process when compared to the music, the performances, the room, the instruments, the preamps, bla bla bla it just seems silly to pay more.

  17. Amen, brother. There are certain features many of us feel to be important (easy-to-use “takes” or “playlists” tracks for vocal comping, VST/DirectX plugin compatibility, unlimited track count, cost, tech support, etc.) but beyond that it comes down to just gitting-er-done when the red light goes on.

  18. Shields up Scotty!

    Once again, I don’t think PT is the best or the worst. I don’t think it is for everyone. I just happen to like it. I do disagree with some of the stuff I am reading here though.

    As for Digi not listening anymore, they sent me an e-mail the other day inviting me to participate in a survey. That is the 3rd survey I have been invited to in about 1 year because I currently own one of their products and I think I signed up for something at their site. So, I think they are listening. Those surveys ask a series of questions that are aimed at determining what current owners of PT LE systems want from future systems. They are multiple choice in nature with at least one space to write whatever you want. I never got anything like that from Cakewalk during the 2-3 years I was buying different versions of their software.

    Yes, it is relatively expensive compared to other DAWS and you are locked into using the proprietary Digi/Avid/M-Audio hardware and all of these things are true that Brandon said,

    “With that said, Pro Tools is enforcing limits in some areas. They define the max tracks you can use. (Last I heard it was 32 with Pro Tools LE but I could be wrong on that one). Pro Tools defines what hardware you can use. If you want to export mp3s, you pay extra. If you want to export OMF, you pay extra.”

    But the statement that “If you want the beat manipulation stuff you are going to shell out $500″ is not entirely true anymore. Beat Detective came with my PT LE 7.3 and Elastic Time comes with PT LE 7.4. I have not checked Beat Detective out yet. I am trying to get the basic tracks down without doing the time manipulation and pitch manipulation thing. Deep editing like that kills time that I don’t even begin to have to spare.

    Brandon, when you say, “With over 10,000 members at RecordingReview now I’ve yet to find a single person who liked the Pro Tools sequencer.”, what do you mean by “sequencer”? If you mean MIDI editing I agree; if you mean the actual DAW, GUI, recording interface, I completely disagree, or at least I am 1 against 9,999 in my opinion of the software. I love it.

    For the record, the “easiest” DAW I ever used was Cakewalk Guitar Tracks Pro. It looked just like a virtual Portastudio in layout. I really did not have to read the manual. Its editing capabilities didn’t go too deep though.

    The people I know who have used Reaper have nothing but good things to say about it. It is either free or shareware, I forget which. That is probably your best bang for the buck regarding features to price ratio.

    One last point – I don’t get the beef from home recordists about the 32 track limit in PT LE. Project Studios and larger, okay, they have a beef. But show me a PT LE session with all 32 tracks used by a home recordist and I am pretty sure I will show you an example of blatant overproduction and using all the tracks “just because we can.”

    I sure wish this were all being posted in the forum for the topic instead of here….. no bold, italics…. it’s not the same…..


  19. We use Pro Tools in our studio and I use it in mine as well. I like it and have figured out most of the tricks and shortcuts so I can move around pretty quick and smooth. It is a little frustrating that PT LE only allows you to record up to 24 tracks. You can get the Music Production Toolkit for $500, which I did for the main studio, and that will give you 48 tracks to play with. I think that is retarded but was necessary because we had already committed to Pro Tools. Anyway, I am currently exploring Cubase and its abilities and limitations. Perhaps it will be my new “standard”. We’ll see…….

  20. Scott Morrison April 18, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Hey Bilco,

    Yeah, a regular thread would have been nice for this topic, but when you jump in on a blog, it’s courier font city… IF A POOR GUY WANTS TO YELL, HE’S REDUCED TO USING CAPS, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

    I’m glad you like Pro Tools. And that’s great to hear that Digidesign is listening. I personally went through communication-hell with them just this past month trying to get my LE 7.4 installed on Windows Vista Home Premium (Vista Home What? Vista Prairie Home Companion did you say?), though bless their hearts they did try to be helpful in their own way. (I try to be a patient man.) By the way, it really frosts me that with version 7.4, some genius at Pro Tools decided to eliminate support for FAT32 external drives, which Mac OS seems to be ok with. (They already nuked USB because “it’s too slow compared to Firewire”. Gimme a break.) This really paints us into a corner for cross-platform compatibility. But regarding communication, our instructor here at film school actually wrote some of their text books, and even he has expressed frustration in communicating with them on numerous occasions.

    I think whoever made the statement about the “Beat Detective” thing may have gotten it confused with the multi-track version, which is a purchased option. You’re right about the single-track version being included. And it’s a very cool plugin, by the way.

    As they say in Office Space, “I’m going to have to go ahead and sort of disagree with you” on high track counts being equated to overproduction. Hundreds of tracks get chalked up in post production, most of which you never hear at the same time, nor do you want to combine these unrelated track’s “regions” into single tracks for the sake of categorization, not to mention the fact that realtime plugins are track-specific, not region-specific (without getting into a lot of complicated plugin automation within a single track). Music track counts can get high for the same reason. I just did some voiceover stuff, and I maxed out my track voices in a heartbeat.

  21. “As they say in Office Space, “I’m going to have to go ahead and sort of disagree with you” on high track counts being equated to overproduction. Hundreds of tracks get chalked up in post production, most of which you never hear at the same time, nor do you want to combine these unrelated track’s “regions” into single tracks for the sake of categorization, not to mention the fact that realtime plugins are track-specific, not region-specific (without getting into a lot of complicated plugin automation within a single track). Music track counts can get high for the same reason. I just did some voiceover stuff, and I maxed out my track voices in a heartbeat.”

    That’s a good point; I don’t know anything about post production work and I hadn’t thought of that.

    That is a drag about limiting the external drives that it is compatible with…..

    Right now I am wishing I had a DAW program that had notation built into it. I am in the middle of trying to right a worship song that I want to copyright and put out on the web with a lead sheet. My notation skills were never great and now they are completely gone. I can play the melody on a MIDI keyboard and export the MIDI file, then import it into Finale Notepad, but in my perfect world, whatever DAW software I use would have everything PT LE has, plus built in notation…….


  22. Scott Morrison April 18, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Regarding music notation, Avid, which owns Digidesign, Pro Tools, and a number of third-world countries (just kidding), also owns Sibelious, the music notation software company. You may want to contact Digidesign or check the forums. Here’s this:

    …and this:

  23. personally i love to work with pro tools. LE isn’t that bad. i love the layout, being able to drag+drop files into the track windows and it does streamline the whole process nicely. but the hardware…give me a feakin’ break! it’s way way too proprietary for my liking. now i have to go out and spend 1200 bucks just to get some more inputs, when i can find a presonus firepod for under 600…lame. on top of that, i’m just a little peaved that they can’t come out with a new apple 10.5 update in a decent amount of time. perhaps it’s apple’s fault by releasing new os’s at every waking moment of their lives, be it a major or minor release. but seriously, a company with that kind of income should have people working on that sort of thing day and night from the moment it releases. sorry, just hadda vent a little.

  24. Pro results are what pros get no matter how they record, mix, edit or master. That said, PT is probably not the best bargain for most of us: Most of us would rather not pay through the nose for ‘add-ons’ that are stock inclusions with other apps. And really, you can do the same work with Reaper, Sonar, Sam, Cubase or n-Track (n- if you can get by the bugs!!). Myself, I’d rather record to something other than my computer in the first place! But right now I have no choice… things change… anyway the music, the feel for what you’re doing and the technique is in you, not the software. Right? Of course.

    Get what you need, like the man said. What do you want to do? Get what you have to get, and get on with making music (I think I’m quoting Marcus Miller here- whomever, it’s to the point!). Maybe ProTools is the answer if it fits your life and plans. Now that “Wizard” thing is a great idea…

  25. I have mixed feelings about PT….although it is the system I primarily use for recording, it has a number of serious shortcomings, most glaring being the track limitation and the stupidity of having to shell out 500 bucks for more tracks, mp3 capability,being forced to buy thier interface etc…however, i still think it has the most efficient editing capability of the DAW’s I have used (I am fluent with Cubase, Sonar and Performer also)and I have never noticed any significant differences in audio quality between any of the programs. I also agree that the sequencer in PT is not the best, and I long ago switched to Reason to handle that task. If I had to do it over again, I would think long and hard about making PT my primary platform, and I frankly don’t think that it offers the best value in this competitive field, especially for the recording novice. It will be interesting to see if Digidesign/Avid responds to these obvious challenges. I realize they are still probably #1 around the world, but to maintain that position I feel they really need to respond to the competetion offering far more bang for the buck than they currently do. I think offering unlimited tracks (for both new users and as a free upgrade for previous versions)would be a huge step in the right direction. If the price of Logic for example, can be cut in half, with a significant UPGRADE in features, I cannot see how this could pose much difficulty at all, and would create an enormous amount of goodwill. Is anyone at Digi listening?


  26. A great article…since I am new to this field, I would absolutely love a “Home Recording Software Wizard” to help me choose. I look forward to hearing more.


  27. Richard Wolff May 5, 2008 at 6:43 am

    Thanks for your article!!!

    To the pro tools religious followers….

    I´ve been working with DAWS for more than 10 years and I know pretty well almost every major software and I´m positive about this : Pro tools is an arrogant piece of software. They called themselves “the Industry standard” but if you really know something about DAWS, you will see how the “intuitive Pro tools interface” is really OLD, no intuitive at all, and the WORST and most abrupt thing for me: the disabled OMF function. How can be restricted a function themselves created so many years ago? that is nothing else but an obscure intent to deny to the blinded pro tools users, a really obvious thing: THERE ARE MANY THINGS BETTER OUTSIDE PRO TOOLS WORLD.
    Pro tools WAS great… yes, WAS, but the world has changed a lot since the the time Pro tool was almost the only “PRO” software on stage.

    You can fool yourself spending more than $1000 bucks buying a really LIMITED version of Pro Tools or you can be wise and RE-THINK about what you really NEED and what you´ll really GET with the “LE” VERSION of a company with the worst costumer service in the industry. (that is their true standard… ask your friends in “need” if you think I don´t like pro tools for free)

    Final thought: the great sound resides in your knowledge about every step in your “sound chain”, your vision of what you want and, in your ears, finally. If you think the good sound is only the sub-product of a software, please think again about your career.



  28. Robert Fenton May 19, 2008 at 10:24 am

    good article, makes me even happier with cubase!

  29. As a Pro tools M powered customer I find myself eternally frustrated with Avid/Digidesign.

    Because Digidesign limits the hardware you can use from digidesign or m-audio, your choices for a moderately effective live recording studio at modern sample rates are very limited unless you want to spend $20 grand for an HD3 system.

    Although CD’s are recorded at 16bit 44.1 the nyquist laws and most any decent mastering studio will tell you to record at a minimum of 24bit/96khz so that all those nice digital effects that do bit dropping and wave averaging have a higher quality signal to work with before dither. Don’t you think there is a reason they make interfaces going up to 192khz….most will agree 96k is the ideal minimum sampling rate to capture optimal data while keeping track size & count managable for modern computing systems.

    protools le/mpowered is limited to 24/96 ah, but how to do it…read on.

    If you want to record a band live in the studio you need at 4-8 mics for drums , 2-4 for guitar, maybee 2 for vocals one for analog keys, 1 for bass so 16 -18 simultaneous inputs are about right. You also need the ability to monitor the inputs with minimal latency.

    If you go Protool LE you must use the 002/003 series which is only 8 preamps… yes you can expand via adat but there is only a single adat permitting your additional 8 channels at a max resolution of 48khz so even though the first 8 channel A/d’s can do 96k if you want to use all 16 inputs simultaniously your max sample rate will be 48k which won’t get you the quality.

    If you go Protools M powered, and use any of their mbox series forget about more than 1 or 2 inputs…. so your going to have to move up to their new Profire 2626 or Profire Lightbridge.

    The Profire 2626 has your first 8 channels covered for preamps & A/d up to 192khz (96k max in pro tools)…. but it only has 2 adat inputs which in Smux mode will allow 8 channel inputs @96k output from another A/d with smux out like a mackie 800r or Digimax FS or another Profire 2626 so this WILL allow you to get your maximum 16 simultaneous inputs@96 and possibly one more via spidf making 17.

    The other option is the Profire Lightbridge which has 4adat inputs and will permit 16 channels of 24/96 in smux letting you choose your own preamps/ad and 1 more channel via smux so 17 if your lucky (the mixer matrix on mine won’t let me select the smux output option without causing other problems)

    Oh, By the way the LE systems offer low latency monitoring…the Mpowered do not so if you want the drummer to hear himself better run him through a seperate mixer as the slightest latency by monitoring through the computer will throw the drummers time off since he’s dealing with fast transients.

    OK so now that i’ve proven how expensive and difficult it is to setup a lousy project studio to record a live band…. next is the fact that to export to OMF is extra, if you want more than 32 tracks you need to drop anothr $500 on their DV toolkit for LE or Music Production Tool Kit for Mpowered…oh and you must use expensive RTAS plugins unless you buy a wrapper program….. and your system will only come with a limited amount of effects or instruments and almost no sound samples.

    Oh, did I mention there is no auto latency compensation….so your gonna have to sync up your tracks manually….. Even though every other major software has it….and to top it all off if you mix for movies forget it, you can’t do dolby 5.1 in either LE or M powered.

    Then there’s support… after your first 30 days your gonna pay what some ungodly fee like $6bucks a minute for telephonic support or you can attempt to navigate the Avid Website for support but navigating that mess is Gods personal mystery…. they have so many releases and so many hardware configs and so many updates that you need a degree to figure out how to navigate their website or upgrade your Ilok (the monstrosity of a security system dongel they use for mpowered products)…. Oh and if you ever want to buy a used system look out, a $25 registration transfer fee for most programs from digidesign and another $25 Ilok transfer fee to transfer a license to your dongle key.

    Well if your still reading boys and girls I would say go buy if you have an apple buy LOGIC STUDIO for $500 bucks you get world class software, gigs of sound samples, free didgital instruments, tons of plugins and more band for your buck and no limit as to what hardware you can choose or be limited to 32 tracks.

    And to Avid…if you actually read these blogs….. few people go straight to the top…the majority do it in stages as time/money permits. If you don’t create a smooth transition from home studio to project studio to high end studio and continue to have so many products that you lose focus and continue to create an ongoing nightmare, if you continue to deprecate your software then you deserve to lose your market share.

    Happy Recording….

    Ray Allin

  30. I think your article is really good. I’m an Audio Engineer with I’d say… experience. When I was starting with the “recordings” I used Cakewalk’s Sonar that is an amazing tool and it was for me back then.

    About industry standards, Pro Tools is the industry standard for one reason (these days) everybody uses it and because it perfectly integrates with the Avid system (obviously). Back in the day Pro Tools gain it’s name because of the DSP cards that made possible the early digital recordings.

    Well about this article: Is Pro Tools the “must go” for HOME RECORDING? My answer is NO!, why do I say NO? because it’s too expensive. First of all let’s say you go for a Pro Tools LE system (M-Powered is a different story). You decide to buy a nice Digi 003 (comes with the Pro Tools LE soft included), so it’s around $1500, but that only allows you to have 32 tracks and no mp3 export function, so you buy yourself the Music Production Toolkit… another $500 but hey wait! that only allows you to have up to 48 tracks, and there are many useful functions that are not included in LE, like: Snapshot Function, Trim Automation Function, work with Feet+Frames (you need the DV Toolkit another $1300), no OMF AAF import (need DV Toolkit or DigiTranslator as well), no Voice Assignment (in case you run out of tracks and you can make 2 tracks share the same voice), CPU hungry, plugins only in RTAS or AudioSuite (so you need to buy new plugins or to get “VST to RTAS”) and many others… not to good eh?

    Well it’s certainly not good for home recording if you are trying to do big recordings and you need those tools. The HD system it’s perfect for big studios because: integration, functions, Control Surfaces designed for Pro Tools, resources, great customer service, etc.

    For the money that you can get a “ready” LE system you can get an Apple Mac Quad Core, a DAW (Logic, Sonar, Cubase whatever you choose) and a nice set of plugins and you’ll be fine. I’ve seen 100 tracks in Logic running without any problems and most of them had plugins on them.

    But if you have the money to get an HD3 go for it!!! just make sure to have the clients to compensate what you’re going to spend before you spend it!!!

    Anyway enjoy recording and mixing!!! and remember you only need to know the tools that you’re going to use. There’s no point on buying hundreds of stuff if you don’t know how to use them.


  31. Consider this:

    For Cubase SX3, close to $500.

    Then you need a good sound card, which displaces another $500.

    DigiDesign has a great solution:
    MBOX 2 or MBOX 2 Pro

    Comes with Hardware (Soundcard) AND Pro Tools LE 7.4 Software!!!

    So you get all you need for $699 (or $799 if you want a host of Factory Plugins with MBOX 2 PRO FACTORY BUNDLE).

    The sound quality in MBox/Pro Tools Combo is Unmatched.
    I had Cubase Studio 4 + Edirol UA-101 Soundcard.

    The same songs i did are so different with ProTools!
    The plugins are insanely good and the support system with DigiDesign keeps the innovation flowing through the years as they have more money power to do more R&D!

    There’s MBOX Mini for $300 that comes with a hardware and software(pro tools LE7.4) solution for beginners!

    Just dont succumb to sales people and keep buying more protools addons before you do one good song!

  32. Okay, I see they got another one……

    “The sound quality in MBox/Pro Tools Combo is Unmatched.”

    Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated

    Eleven of 003

  33. The sound quality of an mBox, if it’s anything like my old 002, sucks. Crappy chinese preamps and CONVERTERS. I run a commercial space and got into an HD1 for dirt cheap and added an Aurora converter which sounds great… My main beefs w/ LE are the voice limit, the lack of DELAY COMPENSATION (!) and the fact that you can’t get 16 channels of good conversion plugged into an 002/003 (i.e. Aurora, Apogee, etc.). These are the blocks they will probably never remove from their LE line. If I were starting over, I might have used Audacity on the cheap side, or maybe Pyramix (merging technologies) on the expensive side.

  34. Upfront, I am a Pro Tools user. I use LE on an almost daily basis, but I learned on Pro Tools HD in school and in the $5 Million studio I interned at after college.

    Now that’s out of the way. Let me just chime in real briefly: I can honestly understand why someone can think it is a bad idea to purchase a Pro Tools system (I’m talking LE and M-Powered here) solely based on the fact that it is called the “industry standard”. That should never be the ONLY reason you buy a tool.

    Instead you should buy and learn a recording platform that you enjoy, that delivers the results you need, that has room for the possible expansion you may see in the future, that fits your budget. Pro Tools LE is exactly all those things for me. That is why I use it.

    I love the interface (simplicity), I love the powerful and intuitive audio editing (smart tool, beat detective, elastic-time, region grouping, audiosuite plugins, etc.) and I love the included mixing plugins (EQs and Compressor are great, as well as the delays….but let’s be honest the reverb isn’t up to par). And I love that it truly feels like I’m using a mixing console and recording transport controls. It’s intuitive for me coming from the 4-track days.

    It is a fact that Pro Tools HD is the most popular platform for recording and mixing music in professional studios these days. It is a fast, good sounding, and rock solid (read stable) recording system that get’s out of your way and let’s you just slap together a killer analog signal chain and feed it into the computer, letting you just make music. But of course as a home user this really shouldn’t sway you to use Pro Tools as your DAW of choice. Instead you should look at your needs.

    I happen to agree with an above poster, that Pro Tools LE is the most affordable and quality system to get into: Mbox 2 Mini. You get a good sounding, simple USB audio interface with 2 inputs, one mic pre with phantom power, headphone and monitor outs. It comes with Pro Tools LE 7.4 (and soon to be 8) which gives you ALL YOU NEED to make quality music. You also get virtual instruments that are useable (Xpand, Reason Adapted, Sampletank) as well as extra plugins (T-Racks EQ, Bombfactor 1176) and pitch correction software (Melodyne Uno)….you get all of this for under $300 (I’ve seen them on Ebay for $220). To me that is a great bargain and a perfectly suitable setup for a singer/songwriter/composer who wants to get into recording.

    On top of all that, I feel that Pro Tools is the most intuitive and easy to use DAW for a beginner. Like I always tell my students when I’m teaching Pro Tools: “It’s easy as you need it to be, and as deep as you want it to be!”

    In the end, choose what platform you want to work on, then pick an audio interface that suits your needs. For me I chose Pro Tools, and therefore my next choice was simple, go with Digidesign hardware (this was before M-Powered). Once those choices are made, learn the heck out of your system and GO MAKE GREAT MUSIC :-)

  35. Digidesign listens more than some folks are giving them credit for. I have beefed on the DUC about wanting:

    1. an interface with more than 4 preamps builtin to record a band live without having to patch external preamps in via lightpipe or line in

    They did it; it is called the Digi 003+

    2. notation capability. They are doing it. It will be built into PT LE 8, soon to be released, along with pitch correction capability and increased track count.

    Maybe they are slow to offer these things compared to the competition, but they did come around.

    About the “because it’s the industry standard” argument. I don’t think people should buy it just because X amount of pro studios use it.
    If you are going to record and edit and mix yourself, then use whatever DAW works for you. I liked n-Track, Cool Edit Pro, Sound Forge and Guitar Tracks Pro and I actually really like the clean, simplistic, minimalist layout of Audacity. If I were going to mix these songs myself, I could be happy using any of those DAWS.
    But if you plan to record at home and take it to another studio to have it mixed, well, Pro Tools DOES pretty much seem to be the industry standard in Austin, (along with Nuendo and tape.) I have been taking my sessions to a studio to have them mixed and being a basically lazy person, with no extra time to spare anyway, it is so much easier to take a firewire drive in that they can open up and have it be PERFECTLY COMPATIBLE WITH REAL PRO TOOLS GEAR. I have taken multiple wave files from other DAWS to have mixed before. Yes, it can be done, no it’s not that hard, but it is one more tedious thing to have to do when I just don’t have extra time. Running these sessions back and forth between my PT LE setup and a PT HD studio and an engineer with skills and ears is absolutely seamless. I love it.

  36. man, I wish i’d come across this a few months ago!..
    Great article Brandon…

    Oh well, I’m currently vested in a PT 8.0 system..
    The learning curve is gnarly, but I’m happy with my decision.
    Thanks to your site, I’m finding like-minded people agonizing over the beast that is PT..

  37. Hi Brandon. Well as you know from many posts on your site i am using Pro tools Le7.3.1I know all about the upgrades as i had problems and lost my music over upgrading and having to go back due to the so called upgrades.

    I bought pro tools le as the name guitar center sold etc. and yes hey made plenty from me non stop buying of digi 002 console style into “i need a better sound etc buying thousands of dollars of waves plug ins and all their extras.

    The 002 dig LE has its own sound meaning a flat sound. now don’t get me wrong i like it and i know it. I had my board mode at black lion audio. it was worth it only about $600.00 new pres , masterclock ,just about equal to a big ben plus.

    well i got used to it . It did and still gives me way more head room as i can now pump and push this little board never letting me down at all.

    now i feel the digi 002 stock was unk compaired to the mode. but i wanted more.

    I had to stack on top of iy a ADL600 presonus stereo/ mono pre amp/ with a Neumann U 87 and i had the tlc etc and fw. all became another step. my pre gave me better sound and clarity all around as i can use it on bass, gut, and voc its reat. not using any outboard pices over rides the mode so some i waisted money. i had to also stack a avalon stereo compressor on it to.

    Now i still want more. What i want is an HD set up but with a family so far i am up to thousand and thousand between instrument and plug ins nwell all is known.

    I am not really impressed with the LE. Although i won’t get rid of it at all unless the day comes when this depression picks up as i have a contracting job outside my music. i dod not record for money. all is for my own music.
    As to nashville i have heard a recording from one place as a friend recorded there. they used pro tools LE then totally went to a large board i forget the name but RADAR and the sound is real pro. now, my pro tools with using all the good waves plug ins outside pre amps good mics just can’t touch it.

    I have been on this thing as to the AB test of LE vrs HD only to know the difference but never “personally” have files in my hand to compare.

    The HD set up is a far bigger cost. Is it really worth the sound for the money.

    My mind keeps knowing i won’t stop until i either get radar on this LE which they said it can be done or getting HD

    Once again i really like my pt LE as it took a lot of time and still i have so many other things to learn but i fell that in the recording parts i made it to knowing my limit of what PT LE is really gonna do.

    I just don’t think it can keep up with the sound of a large studio. I have a friend now recording some pop music in a phila studio using pt HD . i am gonna get a copy of the song and import it and try to duplicat the sound.

    But the pro tools LE as i have seen many videos saying flat sound bla. bla .bla. i used to say come on. they arte just out to sell something eles well all i had to do to get it totally and i mean totally above the stock digi 002 took thousands. And next is to hook up my lyny aurorra 8 with card as it was sitting hear for a month. it is a AD DA convertor.

    That is a real know thing to really help talk the LE board into a whole step toward the so called HD ”’sound ”

    I have read that the sounds are so close. i have to still personally do the test before i really know as it will be me to know if i can hear the difference in the finished sound. all the talk over LE AND HD are so close.

    I am happy with 24 tracks . if recorded right 24 tracks can totally be enough.

    As to the upgrade to 8 the only 2 things i like and would use ie “elastic audio and the tempo change of a whole song” I am not into all ha midi stuff. i like playing real instrument . iam not too goo on keyboard and personally like playing the instruments over making a song with a ll those computer programs.

    Pro tools LE just has a flat sound to it when put up against the big studio mixes. and that is no matter what well say what i have tried to bring the system up to and i think i really took it totally into another sound closer to a goal of getting on top or lets say close to a HD set up from a LE set up .

    but the time i reach a HD set up sound i will have spent the $ 10 grand in out board pieces to do so.

    Well the Avalon compressor needed, ADL pre amp Lynx aurrora 8 and card welli am at about $ solid 7,500 plus about 500 in real good cables .

    So all i can do is hope this world gets back together because my next major thing is a hd set up and card or fining out if the radar is giving that real top quality sound over and above the HD.

    My only thing i am waiting for is a mastered song from a super mastering house to really see if the LE can sound as good as a HD when real final steps of real mastering has been done.

  38. Good Article! People should be encouraged to think…lol… As you noted there are so many choices out there, one needs to know their goals and objectives, budget, space and size limitations, then custom tailor their choice of gear/daw to best suit their personal needs.
    It’s also been my experience that if you commit to a certain software, the more proficient you become at using it. My studio has stuck with Reason and Pro Tools for over 4 years now. I’m not interested in switching based merely on the time I have invested in learning these programs, which I now know like the back of my hand.

    I think, therefore I am dangerous :-)

  39. Several years ago, I invested $5,000 in a Digi 002 system and custom-built computer, based on the Digidesign recommended computer components publised on their User Forum (the information isn’t in their Instruction Book- can you believe it?). It took over a year and several techs to figure out why the system continued to crash and generate ERROR codes almost every time we tried using the system. Digidesign has made an enormous error by not selling compatible recording computers along with their DAW’s. Calling their Tech Support at $2.50 per MINUTE is ridiculous, especially when no one there can configure the hundreds of permutations of mother boards, chip sets, video cards, hard drives, etc. available when you’re attempting to build the computer. DIGIDESIGN is a joke. Don’t buy this product, as I know of hundreds of people that bought the 002 and had nothing but trouble with it.
    For instance, the internal power harness cable fails on a continuous basis, causing the system to malfunction, and it turns out that Digidesign had this cable made in
    China for pennies! The metal contacts on the power harness cable corrodes within months of buying the unit, which is unacceptable- even Chinese portable CD players that retail for $15 don’t have these problems.
    The 003 is a replacement that supposedly corrects all of the faults of the 002 version, but there is still the lingering problem of computer incompatibility, which Digidesign has STILL not addressed! They expect the average musician to go out and buy the necessary computer parts, based on some incorrect and incomplete list of hardware they publish on their Forum. WHAT A JOKE!
    Does anyone here know of a mixer and software combination that can be purchased as a unit and will ACTUALLY WORK EVERY TIME IT IS TURNED ON?

  40. I have been following this thread for a while. It’s amazing what you can learn through the various blogs on the internet. Back in early 2008 I did purchase Pro-Tools LE along with Digidesign 003. Along with those I also purchased two Focusrite Liquid Channels and an Apogee Rosetta converter. I bought the Sweetwater Creation Station computer.I have some great mics as well. I did have a few issues with the 003 but it seems to be fine now. When I bought my gear I did some research and talked to one of my old producers in Nashville. He actually suggested Pro Tools. I also have a few musician friends that use PT as well. I was able to complete my Christmas album using PT and some WAVES plug-ins. I’m extremely happy with the results.You can check it out at my site if you would like at I realize now that you can achieve a great end product with any of the great softwares out there. For me, its Pro-Tools.

  41. Frankly, many of us are forced to use Pro Tools if we are engineering professionally, if for no other reason than clients expect it…actually Pro Tools has entered the lexicon as a verb (i.e. “can you Pro Tools my vocals man?”)
    but having said that, I agree with most of the stated criticism of the software…I am running HD at work, so I don’t run into many of the problems LE owners face, but let me tell you, we faced NUMEROUS problems when we first installed version 8. I do have LE installed on my home computers, but rarely use it…I am a firm SONAR devotee, and Producer 8.5 is my weapon of choice. In my opinion, it is coded far more robustly than PT, I have heard similar opinions voiced about Cubase, Logic etc….my advice is to do as much research as you can, and find the DAW that best fits your method of working, luckily, you can often download limited demos that will give you an idea of how the software works.



  42. By the way, Brandon, here in the UK the government is much more relaxed about vehicles. You can drive a rusty Camaro at 70 miles per hour (UK speed limit) regardless of where you steering wheel is (and I’ve seen it), as long as you keep on the proper side of the road, there are even dealers specialising in non-UK drive cars. I think it just reinforces your point about the stupidity of restrictions…

    Bizzarrely, a side-car has to be on a certain side, which non-UK bikes wouldn’t have then….

    I rather like the sound and workflow of Reaper, I don’t think it falls below Cubase or Sonar. My favourite is Ableton – it’s got a particular colour to the sound that makes it easier to blend tracks…


  43. Guys,I’m a total neophite here,but so far with protools ess. 8 Ive been very disappointed with all the extra crap gotta get just to record acoustuc guitar and vocals.every time I turn around I need to buy something else.Ive had it for 6 months and between the utter complexity and not having the right external hard drive or whatever the hell else they keep tellin me I gotta have,I’m sick to death of the Industry standard.And still haven’t figured out how to record note one.thnx

  44. Hey Lloyd!

    Ive been very disappointed with all the extra crap gotta get just to record acoustuc guitar and vocals.

    I call you guys the Johnny Cash Recorders. All you need is an acoustic guitar and a vocal to blow someone’s head off.

    The problem is music has evolved to the point that if a person wants to record you one day, make a movie score orchestra the next day, and then a techno dance song the next they need software that can do all of it.

    The good news is the refrigerator at Norad works the same as your’s at home. In other words, you can ignore all the nuclear detonation buttons and focus on just the stuff to get audio in, routed to your track, and then recorded. The good thing is when you feel the need to maybe wipe an island from existence (and this may come up more…or less than you think) you’ve got it.

    Lloyd, I highly recommend my free book:Killer Home Recording: Setting Up I think it will help tremendously. If you run into problems make a forum post and email me the link. I’ll help you.

  45. Lloyd, I agree that Pro Tools is a big learning curve, but they all are. It took me months to learn it and I’m still learning, but I love it now. It’s been rewarding and very profitable. Get a DVD on PT, it will be a big help. learn as you watch the DVD. In general recording tips this site is also good, Brandon seems to know his stuff! I like PT because I have a lot of other musician friends who use it so it is easy to integrate with them. Keep at it, you’ll get it!