Big Day

I finally bit the bullet and bought a full copy of Pro Tools 10 yesterday. Mr. Smartypants also inadvertently bought a second iLok license dongle. Apparently there was already one in the box but I didn’t realize that. Whoops. Please see me if you need an extra dongle.

So what prompted the purchase? I’ve badly wanted to be able to run Pro Tools on my laptop without needing any of the hardware plugged in. Pro Tools finally added this feature in version 9. Prior to that, you always had to have an official Digidesign audio device tethered to the computer, which made portability a real drag. The audio device essentially acted like a license dongle. Although I wouldn’t typically record audio using the laptop’s line-in jack, it sure would be nice to just work on mixes while on the road. And I will be going to New York next week, so that’s a perfect opportunity!

The price for version 10 is pretty steep, and so I’ve been waffling over this decision for at least a year now. I found some guy on eBay selling copies for $275, which is half the price that you can find it anywhere else. But it felt kind of sketchy. Actually, it was very sketchy. I think he was laundering educational copies of the program. The idea of buying an educational copy had tempted me already. I could probably get my little brother to do the deed for me. But over the last few years, my conscience has grown heavier and heavier about software piracy, etc. Maybe it’s because my job has to do with building software (albeit not really the consumer-type) that I’m more sympathetic to actually paying for software. At any rate, I decided to just do the right thing and buy the real copy.

I realize I still haven’t really explained why this came about. I’ve had an Mbox and a copy of Pro Tools 7 for years. The Mbox only has two inputs and outputs, which makes it really awkward to send a couple recorded tracks through outboard effects while I’m also monitoring the song. Earlier this year, a friend lent/sold me a Digi003 rack. I’ve been really happy with it, and the 8 input/outputs are great. But a couple weeks ago, it started acting up on me. Pro Tools would freeze up and wouldn’t respond to the mouse or keyboard. The MIDI stopped working on it. After that happened enough times, I unplugged it and went back to the Mbox. But going from 8 to 2 outputs is really difficult. So I’ve slowly begun admitting to myself that it’s time to buy a new audio interface. Moving to version 10 is the first step, since that will let me use anything on the market instead of being stuck with using Digidesign’s increasingly suspect hardware.

Oh, I should have just gone with Cakewalk years ago…

2 thoughts on “Big Day

  1. I started with Pro Tools in 1998. Paid 1,800 big ones on closeout. It was an 8-track with no MIDI. I used it as a 2 track recorder with another mac running Performer, playing my synths live mixed on a little Mackie. I loved the AudioMedia III interface. Slowly the software became a full 24 track studio with MIDI. I recorded 2 projects with that interface, and then one day the AudioMedia III stopped launching. For no reason.

    So I get an M-Box USB used on Ebay for 250. It works for 2 weeks. So I say “screw Poor Tools”, and go out and buy a Mackie XD-2 USB interface with Tracktion. XD2 was an RF noise factory. Utterly useless. So I took the interface back and kept Tracktion. Brilliant interface, but a huge processor hog. They don’t update it anymore.

    I get a firewire M-Audio 410. It sounds pretty good. But Tracktion doesn’t run well, so I buy Cubase. Okay, but I have 8 years of projects in Pro Tools I can’t access now. A year goes by with this frustrating situation, and then, lo! And Behold! Digi buys M-Audio! So I upgrade to Pro Tools 7 for 350.

    This works for a long time, only it crashes constantly, because Avid never did develop the drivers properly. Never will. Do I really want to get PT 10 after spending 2400 big ones for no support?

    So I do the logical thing. I get Logic for $200. And the M-Audio 410? It works perfectly. IDK, I’ll probably get pro tools again someday, I like its simplicity. But now I can finally automate system exclusive strings again, something I haven’t done since the 90s in my Performer days. So ends my DAW saga. The end.

    • Wow. I have to congratulate you on your endurance! I feel like there are a lot of Pro Tools stories that go somewhat like that. It seems the company had some real growing pains…never totally sure how they wanted to treat the cheaper Pro Tools LE line. I also started out on the Audiomedia III cards! I was a freshman and totally strapped for cash, but I really had my heart set on Pro Tools. I think the Digi 001 was the big new thing, but it was way outside my price range. Then one day I stumbled across the Audiomedia III cards for only about $100 on eBay. Between that an a $50 (legit!) copy of Pro Tools 5 from Digidesign, I put together the whole system. Had it running on a homemade Windows 98 computer that I built. Amazingly, this turned out to be a rock-solid setup. My school’s studio (with its Mac and Digi 001) crashed way more often than my configuration. Of course, I had to upgrade the computer a couple years later, and the stability went right out the window. Spent years, like you, trying to get back to a workable system. Anyway, glad you’re enjoying Logic. You’ve got some good songs!

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