As an independent recording engineer, I have been using pro audio applications in my home recording studio since 2003. Over the years, I have recorded with just about everything under the sun. From Quartz Audio, Cakewalk, Sonar & Digital Studio Recorder Boards. In 2011, I made the digital transition when I finally upgraded my outdated gear & settled at Pro Tools LE application. At first, I had a hard time adjusting to the program, but after briefly studying Radio & Television Broadcast Production I quickly learned the ropes & I soon devloped a unique style of recording & editing. The things I learned in school about Pro Tools completely blew my mind. Not only was there a new world of possibilities but most of these possibilities was brought to the light when using additional pieces of equipment such as control surfaces & peripherals. Having Pro Tools hardware is one thing but using control surfaces with Pro Tools will unlock a multitude of features that can't be achieved by using hardware alone. In this article, I will review Pro Tools software & hardware. I will start with the versions of Pro Tools that I have used & then I will review the Pro Tools hardware that I have used in my home recording setup. I will list the pros, the cons & then I will give an overall rating of the product.
Pro Tools: Pro Tools is a widely used recording Daw that is widely used by recording enthusiast & independent studios, alike. Due to it's popularity, the software has been deemed to be an industry standard for many years. Many well known mainstream artists in the industry have used this application to produce the timeless hits of today. What I like so much about this application, is it's so easy to use. It brings the power of recording/editing into any environment & when you are ready, you can take the project into any Pro Tools powered recording studio to complete the project. Since 2011, I have used versions 6.4, 7.4, 8.0.1 & 9. With each version comes a grocery list of cool features ranging from factory presets to audio/video manipulation tools. With each release comes a new set of features that aren't available in the older versions. But with these new releases come a larger cost as the application demand much powerful computer systems with more internal resources such as ram, processors & graphic cards. I will outline these within this review.
- Pros: The pros of using Pro Tools is a no brainer, not only can you record & edit in any setting but when you're done, you can take the project into a professional recording studio to pick up where you left off. In addition, Pro Tools factory presets can act as a temporary replacement to having traditional hardware (like: eq's, compessors, limiters & samplers) to process your audio recordings. Lastly Pro Tools can edit, correct & manipulate your recordings to master your recordings. With a few clicks of the mouse you can punch out the mistakes, punch in the replacement, drag & drop audio recordings into its rightful place to result in picture perfect recordings that sounds as if it was recorded perfectly from the start.
- Cons: The cons of using Pro Tools is "it has it's drawbacks" for those of you who are on a budget. Each version of Pro Tools has it's system requirements. With that being said, Avid/Digidesign has taken the liberty to internally test it's products in which they drafted a laundry list of Windows/Mac based computer systems that they deemed to be either qualified or not compatible with Pro Tools. Each release of Pro Tools calls for newer computers with higher & stronger system resources. Which means, if you decide to purchase the latest Pro Tools upgrade, you may end up shopping for a new computer to meet the demands of it resource hungry requirements & hardware. Which means, if your pc or mac wasn't manufactured between 2009-Present; the bus ends at Pro Tools 9 for recording enthusiasts who's on a budget. The older the Pro Tools version, the more stable it is but it will surely lack availability of the newer features that it's predecessors have.
- Rating: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best, (On my personal experience) I rate the Pro Tools Application a solid 9.25 of 10.
Digidesign Digi 001 Hardware: The Digi 001 is one of Digidesign older interfaces that I have personally used. it has 8 inputs, 8 outputs, 1 SPDIF i/o, 1 midi in, 1 midi out, 1 Digi port, Digi cable & Digi PCI card. When this device was introduced in 2001, it was considered to be on the higher end of Digidesign interfaces due to it's multiple inputs/outputs & fancy computer connection cables & cards. It has a sample rate ranging from 41,100KHz to 48,000KHz in 16-24 bitrates.
- Pros: Multiple inputs, multiple outputs, midi sync. The sound quality is great (for a 2001 model). Resource friendly, doesn't require a gang of ram, ultra stable on Pentium 4 processor.
- Cons: Latency isn't up to par with today's standards, lack of plugins that yield the quality of today's standards, doesn't support hyper threading technology & the bus officially ended at Pro Tools LE 6.4.
- Rating: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best, (On my personal experience) I rate the Digi 001 a solid 6.75 of 10. If it were 2003 I would have gave this interface a higher rating but based off the fact that the 001 is 12 yrs old, it gets the job done but you can not possibly produce a hit of today's standard using this hardware.
Digidesign mBox Hardware: The mBox series is also one of Digidesign older interfaces. I have personally used both the mBox 1 & mBox 2 systems, & in my humbled opinion, this piece of hardware is great for independent artists who's seeking to record their own music. The mBox 1 mBox 2 mini interfaces has 2 inputs, 2 outputs & 1 SPDIF i/o connectors. The larger Mbox 2 has 2 line input, 2 XLR inputs, 2 outputs, 2 sends midi in/out & 1 SPDIF connectors. The mBox 2 pro has 4 line inputs 2 XLR mic inputs, 4 outputs, 4 sends, midi in/out & SPDIF
- Pros: Great for entry level artists, engineers & producers. Doesn't require alot of resources to be used in a home recording studio & the sound quality is just enough to get the job done for something recorded for radio play.
- Cons: Latency isn't the best, this device is on the lower end of the pro tools spectrum. It is not designed to be used by serious enthusiasts inside a professional recording environment. The bus officially ends at Pro Tools 9. If you are seeking to upgrade to Pro Tools 9+, you will need to upgrade your hardware.
- Rating: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best, (On my personal experience) I rate the mBox series a solid 8.75 of 10. If it were 2008 I would have gave this interface a higher rating but based off the fact that the mBox 2 series is 5 yrs old, it gets the job done but you can not possibly produce a hit of today's standard using low end hardware.
Digidesign Digi 002 Hardware: The Digidesign 002 Rack is a bit on the higher end of the Pro Tools spectrum, there are units that are further up the ladder but this interface is smack dead in the middle of being mid-high grade hardware. Based on my own personal experience, this peice of hardware is just right for serious enthusiasts who run professional recording facilities. The Digi 002 Rack has a grand total of 8 inputs, 8 outputs, 4XLR inputs, RCA optical i/o, RCA ALT out, SPDIF, 1 midi in 2 midi out. support 16-24bit recordings in 41,48 & 96KHz bitrates.
- Pros: Multiple inputs, multiple outputs, midi sync. The sound quality is better than any of the earlier digidesign hardware. Great fopr use in professional recording facilities.
- Cons: Latency is very flexible as it can be adjusted to suit the needs of any particular recording project.
- Rating: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best, (On my personal experience) I rate the Digi 002 a solid 9.50 of 10.
As a serious recording enthusiast, I personally enjoy using Pro Tools software/hardware. I use my Digi 002 Rack system for hardcore recording, mixing & editing. When on the go, I take my Macbook/mBox 2/Pro Tools LE 8 setup on the go to record anywhere the job takes me. When it's time for me to upgrade, I am climbing to ladder & go with a HD rig.