ProTools 8 LE and “How I learned to translate to Logic 8″…

Posted by Rick Burnett on March 4th, 2009 filed in General News

Anyone with experience in most of the major DAWs today knows that unfortunately, no one application seems to lend itself to working in every situation.  Sadly, I had real hope that ProTools 8 would maybe reduce the number of applications I needed, but instead, it’s really just added another DAW to the list of “Don’t do this in there”.

Where to begin.  First, I did not have a lot of experience with PT7 or any flavor of PT7.  The only observation I can make going backwards is, wow, if this is better MIDI in PT8, I cannot imagine the pain of doing MIDI and worse than what I experienced.  But, we’ll get to that in a second.  After three long days of working in ProTools and then just giving up and converting the project to Logic which went like a breeze, I can say with confidence that ProTools has a long way to go in the world of MIDI.  Don’t get me wrong, there are MANY aspects of ProTools 8 that I really like, especially how track parameters can be edited so easily right in the arrange window, almost making the mixer only necessary at the end when mixing.  This by far works better than any other DAW I use.  That said, here are the things that really made working with ProTools difficult:

MIDI: Zoom in the MIDI editor is broken, after working in a session for a few minutes, I lose the ability to zoom out.  Also, it continues to zoom in on me over time.  This means I have to exit PT and come back in very often.  This probably added the majority of time to the project.  In addition, after I edited say a note in the MIDI editor, the playhead would move all the MIDI notes but NOT redraw the MIDI window, so notes were not where they should have been.  Obviously this causes editing mistakes over and over since I am clicking on things that are not there.

RTAS Performance: Abysmal is the best word I can use here.  I created the same project in Logic and was able to add 4 TIMES the number of instruments.  Getting a play through the whole song was impossible without drop-outs.  It’s sad to say, but the plugin performance was WORSE than Digital Performer, and that was something I was very surprised with.

Memory Handling:  Again, horrible, and I blame this on RTAS or the developers of the RTAS plugins, I am not sure who.  Not only was the performance of the RTAS instruments a problem, they used WAY MORE memory than their AudioUnit versions.  This is a SERIOUS problem when you are using lots of sample libraries.

Plug-in Compatibility: This was just astonishing to me looking at the number of plugins not compatible with PT8 when Digidesign CREATED the RTAS interface.  Honestly, having been involved with LADSPA development on Linux many years ago, this is just POOR coding design for an API interface.  It clearly shows a lack of robustness in terms of keeping programmers writing good plugins for your software in a manner that is not only controllable, but stability predictable.  In fairness, AU and VST plugins do suffer from compatibility issues, NEVER have I seen this many problems.  Given that the majority of Native Instrument plugins I use and how many of them do not work right in PT8 (and may be causing a lot of these other bugs) this is a huge problem that prevents me from writing in PT.

Bounce to Disk Bug:  Because I was trying to use some plugins not fully qualified with PT8, I can only suspect this was causing this problem, but no matter what I did, I could not bounce out tracks.  I had to feed tracks into an Aux bus and then grab the files from disk and convert them with quicktime.  Obviously this is a huge problem.

Digidesign LE Crippling:  This is where I vent about the fact that Digidesign needs to get with the program and realize that pretty soon, their TDM system is going to be obsolete and they are going to get left behind while everyone else is light years down the road with multiprocessor systems once they get that right.  Don’t get me wrong, TDM has been good because with this method of processing, you aren’t fighting for processor, you know how much you have.  The fact that you can only bounce to disk in real-time for say an hour and a half movie with 4 stems means 6 hours of bouncing to disk.  LE is not limited by this problem IF they had included the functionality in the system.  They have not.  Both DP and Logic both have no problem with offline bounce which can be WAY faster.  Second is the fact there is no automatic delay compensation in LE.  This is just unacceptable to me.  Both DP and Logic have had this for a long time and for very complex projects, the hack available just add way too much work to me.  I don’t want to send pings down each of the tracks and a bus.  I don’t have to do this with Logic or DP.  Finally the fact they don’t allow Video Satellite linking with two LE systems is just dumb.  I’m tired of them protecting their antiquated TDM system.

So there you have it.  PT8 has some great potential, but performance, bugs and compatibility really put a damper on it’s usefulness.  Moving forward I will use it for what I intended, and that is final mixing for film (with surround).  Hopefully they’ll get with the program and I can use it for more things.  That said, I don’t see it happening soon.


47 Responses to “ProTools 8 LE and “How I learned to translate to Logic 8″…”

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