Pro Tools Rant: I’m 4 Years Behind

In 2010, Avid released Pro Tools 8.1, and I haven’t updated since. There have been 3 new versions since, but it’s only in recent months that my older software is starting to be a problem. I’m getting more and more sessions in PT10/11 format, which means I have to go back and ask them to save it again for the older versions. Not the worst thing ever, but I’m starting to feel the pressure to upgrade as plugins and hardware keep moving forward at a rapid  pace. My Mac OSX is also outdated as a result, and my Digidesign hardware is moving closer and closer to obscurity.

I certainly wish I had all the features Avid has introduced since PT8, such as MP3 export, Clip Gain, easy routing, and other workflow improvements. So why haven’t I upgraded yet?

cw_700x700_protools10software

When PT 9 was released, there were some compatibility issues with plugins that I use a lot, namely Vocalign. I wasn’t ready to live without it, plus the update pandered to non-HD users, so there was no good reason to upgrade. I’ve found that with every update, new bugs are introduced. There’s nothing worse than having new issues and crashes when you’re working in the studio every single day with clients that you don’t want to disappoint or hold up.

Then came PT10, and Avid announced that it was the last version that would support TDM-based setups.

I bought my PT 7 HD rig in 2007 for around $7500. I’ve since added another Accel card, a 192 i/o, and upgraded plugins and Pro Tools a couple of times. In total, I’ve spent well over $10,000 on my Pro Tools rig.

My cost to update to PT HD 10? $1499. And that will only get me so far, since PT 11 and future versions will not support my hardware. After all the money I’ve spent on Pro Tools, I’m supposed to pay $1500 to upgrade to software that’s already scheduled for obsolescence? 

Adding to that headache is the fact that upgrading to PT 10 means updating my OSX, which means updating all of my plugins. Thanks to Waves‘ greedy WUP, this means paying again to update my bundles for compatibility. At least another $300.

I’ve already “upgraded” my Mac Pro (i.e. bought a slightly newer, but still 4-years-old) to be compatible with new Mac OS’s and Pro Tools software. The computer is still screaming fast despite its age running PT HD.

That brings my total upgrade cost close to $3000.

For a system that is already no longer supported. In a couple more years I’ll be forced to move on to HDX (probably over $10k in new hardware) or transition to a native setup, which is scary for someone who has relied on the DSP processing of PT HD for years. I also use HEAT on all of my mixes, and that feature is now only supported on TDM or HDX systems. That means that if I move to a native setup, I can’t recall any mix I’ve done in the past 3 years.

The biggest dilemma? I love Pro Tools. I’m a busy guy and the last thing I want, even worse than buying software upgrades, would be learning a new DAW. Oh, and I’m perfectly happy with my conversion and mix quality, so the upgrade feels forced, rather than being based on improving my services. But I also feel ripped off by Avid and feel like they’re isolating their HD users who have invested 10’s of thousands into their systems and are loyal customers.

So… What would you do? Are you running a PT 11 native setup? If so, I’d love to hear about your rig and any advantages and disadvantages.