So it turns out ProTools 8 might run on Lion

You may remember this post from a few days about about Pro Tools 9’s incompatibility with Apple OSX Lion at this time. (For a refresher, According to Avid, “As of this writing Pro Tools 9 and all earlier versions of Pro Tools software are not compatible and will not work with OS X Lion.”

Well here’s a piece of good potentially good news for at least some of us: it turns out Pro Tools 8.0.3 works fine on my 2007 Intel iMac running Lion. I can’t vouch for other systems, but if you happen to be a ProTools 8 user and you’ve already installed Lion and found ProTools 9 doesn’t work, maybe it’s worth installing ProTools 8 again to see if it’ll work on your system.

I guess my next move is to install Lion and ProTools 8 on my 2010 Macbook Pro to see if they will play nicely together. If not, I guess I’ll be doing all my recording on my iMac for a while.


ProTools not (yet) compatible with OSX Lion

As an Apple geek it breaks my heart to say this, but I’m not upgrading to OSX Lion yet because as of right now, ProTools and Lion are not compatible.

According to Avid:

Mac OS X Lion Compatibility Alert July 20, 2011

Apple has released OS X Lion (Mac OS X 10.7). As of this writing Pro Tools 9 and all earlier versions of Pro Tools software are not compatible and will not work with OS X Lion. We are currently working with Apple in order to provide a compatible release of Pro Tools and will notify you as soon as this work has completed.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this one and I’ll be sure to post again (using Lion) when compatibility is achieved.


I’ve been using ProTools for years now and there have been all sorts of updates in that time, some minimal, some sweeping, but none so big as the behemoth that is ProTools 9. Along with the recently-released new Mbox line, ProTools 9 redefines ProTools and does away with the old LE level of software altogether. The most revolutionary, or perhaps evolutionary, aspect of ProTools 9 is that you no longer need to hook up an Mbox or a ProTools M-Powered unit to run the program. That’s a first for this series, and it’s something users have been asking for ever since ProTools first came out. For folks like you and I that means we can now drag our laptops around to edit audio in ProTools without having to lug our Mbox as well – all you need is your computer and your iLok with your ProTools licence. ProTools 9 will run standalone on Avid hardware, or on third-party audio interfaces, and it includes an enhanced feature set including automatic delay compensation, higher track counts, EUCON open Ethernet protocol support, which allows users to include Avid’s Pro Series and Artist Series controllers and consoles. Oh and get this: there are no feature or functional differences between ProTools HD 9 software and ProTools 9 software with the added Complete Production Toolkit 2 option.

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REVIEW: AVID Mbox Mini & Mbox

Pro Tools is, of course, the industry standard recording platform, and for good reason. It’s extremely flexible and it facilitates the creative process by being only as complicated as you want it to be. The new Mbox line-up is the first to be released under the name of AVID, the company which recently acquired Digidesign, and this is the third complete overhaul of the Mbox range. As you might expect, the new-look Mbox line-up features several key hardware differences over the previous version, as well as a cosmetic makeover that brings the look more up-to-date. There are three units in the series (Mbox Mini, Mbox and Mbox Pro), all designed by the same engineering team behind the top-of-the-line ProToolsHD systems. I checked out the first two, and compared them to my trusty Mbox 2 Pro, which I’ve had for about four years now.

Both the Mbox Mini and the Mbox interfaces feature premium analog signal paths and high-performance analog-to-digital converters. The mic preamps are of a higher quality standard than the previous incarnation too – an important point, as the one real criticism I’ve heard levelled at previous versions is that the mic pres are perhaps a little lacking and occasionally require backup from the occasional outboard preamp.

The Mbox Mini’s converters deliver 24-bit, 48kHz sound while the Mbox ups this to 24-bit, 96kHz. The Mbox Pro goes all the way up to 24-bit, 192kHz with ProTools HD, or up to 96kHz with Pro Tools LE. Pro Tools 8.0.4 is included with whichever package you purchase, and it’s contained on a single DVD (Pro Tools 9 is released later this week though). The two new Mboxes on review are connected via USB, although the Mbox Pro is still FireWire capable.

The Mbox Mini interface is compatible with other major recording applications too, with drivers for Logic, Live, Record, Reason, Fruity Loops, Cubase, Nuendo, Sonar, and more. You can also use it as a CoreAudio device with your Mac. It also includes one XLR mic/line combo input with 48 V phantom power; two 1/4-inch instrument inputs (one DI, one switchable line/DI); two balanced 1/4-inch monitor outputs and one 1/4-inch stereo headphone output.

The Mbox interface has the same professional-grade soft-clip limiter circuit found in the high-end Pro Tools|HD 192 I/O audio interface, so you can track much hotter signals without overloading the inputs and clipping. This really makes it easier to get great-sounding tracks in the recording stage, and that’s super-good news for those of us who like to use amp sim software or reamping. The Mbox also includes built-in reverb, echo and delay effects (accessible through the driver settings in Pro Tools) which you can use during tracking – many singers and guitarists will find this very beneficial, and since the reverb is generated within the Mbox itself instead of your computer, it won’t tax resources quite so much. There’s also – gasp! – an integrated guitar tuner (also accessible through the driver settings or by holding down the Pad and Mute buttons), and a Pro Tools multi-function button for accessing various common software parameters like tap session tempo, start/stop record, and create a new track, right there on the front of the interface. It also includes two XLR mic/line combo inputs with 48 V phantom power; two 1/4-inch DI inputs; two balanced 1/4-inch monitor outputs; and one 1/4-inch stereo headphone output with volume control.

In operation, Mbox Mini and Mbox are similar in many ways, although you have more resolution available with the latter’s higher quality converters, as well as a few more more routing options. You can plug more instruments into Mbox and leave them plugged in compared to Mbox Mini. I’d definitely lean towards Mbox rather than Mbox Mini if you’re looking for more of a desktop studio setup with the added ability to cart it around when needed (and doubly so for the even more kitted out new Mbox Pro). It sounds great and is very easy to use. The Mbox’s soft limiter also also extremely transparent and musical – you won’t really know it’s on until you turn it off and hear the obnoxious peaks it’d been preventing.

The Mbox Mini is more for those who only need to record one instrument at a time and aren’t so fussy with needing to connect everything at once. This makes Mbox Mini a great in-the-field unit, especially for those who tend to work in-the-box more than with acoustic instruments, but who might need to lay down the occasional analog instrument or vocal line. Sound quality is great no matter which unit you choose, and I could hear a lot more headroom and dynamic range screaming out of the headphones of each compared to my old Mbox 2 Pro. This goes for my recordings as well as using Mbox as a CoreAudio device for iTunes.

It’s great to see the Mbox line overhauled for 2010, and especially in such a sturdy, high-quality series of units. The overhaul brings the Mbox family into line with the HD series and the visual overhaul to Pro Tools itself, and it’s cool to see AVID take the Digidesign legacy into such a confident new direction. This will become especially apparent once users get their hands on Pro Tools 9 in combination with the new hardware.

LINK: Avid

REVIEW: AVID Eleven Rack

AVID’s Eleven amp modelling software is well prized for its ability to emulate the response of real-world amps. Eleven Rack is an ingenious piece of gear which builds on the strengths of its software ancestor: part recording interface, part guitar preamp, part mic preamp, part effects unit, part amp sim – and perhaps most exciting of all, it’s capable of transporting your recorded tones directly to the stage.

Eleven’s amp models are based on such classics as the Bassman, Tweed Deluxe, Dual Reverb, AC30 Top Boost, Black Face Twin Reverb, 1959 Plexi, JCM800 2203, Mark IIC+, SLO100, Dual Rectifier, and two of AVID’s own modes: Custom Vintage Crunch and Custom Modern Overdrive. There are various matching speaker cabinets, microphone models including SM57, MD 409 and 421, U67 and U87; C 414 EB and 121 Ribbon. The speaker and mic models are convolution-based, and were designed with the help of legendary producer/engineer John Cuniberti, inventor of the Reamp and Joe Satriani’s right-hand man in the studio.

Eleven Rack also bares Cuniberti’s influence in its reamping capabilities. It records a clean, unprocessed signal as well as your processed one, so you can feed that sound out toEleven Rack later for further processing. This is great for if you’re happy with a sound as you’re recording it but are aware that maybe later the mix might call for something different that can’t be achieved with simple EQ changes. For example, did you record a part with modelled amp distortion but you later realise it calls for a clean amp setting with a fuzz pedal on top? Well then, just call up the clean track, reamp it through Eleven Rack, and there you go! You can also use the reamping capability to layer different tones, then spread them out in the stereo spectrum during mixdown.

Part of the beauty of the Eleven Rack system is that it also acts as a standalone amp modeller, so those sounds you worked so hard on in the studio can come with you to the stage. You can even put your own physical pedals or rack units into the effects loop, and move the loop around within each patch, then can use MIDI controller and expression pedals to keep your sounds at your feet.

Perhaps most important of all for the majority of users, Eleven Rack includes a high-impedance guitar input (in addition to a mic input with phantom power and gain control) soEleven Rack (or any other amp sims you run in your DAW while using Eleven Rack as your interface) will react with your guitar just like a real guitar amp would. The influence of this simple little addition really hit home when I plugged in my Mbox 2 Pro and created an identical patch in Eleven SE. The Eleven Rack version just ‘felt’ right, whereas the Mbox version felt slightly overblown – too loud and over-reactive. It’s the kind of thing you might not notice if you’ve only ever used interfaces without impedance matching, but once you do, you’ll have a hard time going back.

One of my main tests for any amp sim is to see how it handles the classic JCM800-plus-Tube-Screamer setup. I plugged my new Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster Reissue in, dialled in the relevant models and let it rip. There was just the right amount of sweet JCM800 roar and TS smoothness, but above and beyond that I could hear something else happening, especially when I cranked the amp model volume up. At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Was I crazy? Then I realised what I was hearing:Eleven is so advanced that it even mimics the resonance of the speaker cabinet itself, so when you push the master volume past a certain level, you get the same ghost notes and cabinet noise you’d get with a real amp. You can use this to your advantage for ultra-realism. You can use a slider control to dial in any amount of this sag, from nothing to utter overkill.

By the way, the Custom Modern Overdrive model is pretty phenomenal. After about 5 minutes of experimentation I was able to nail the Richie Kotzen Strat tone I’ve been after for a couple of years. It’s a very hard sound for digital technology to even approximate yet Eleven slams it out of the park.

Part amp sim, part effects unit, part recording interface, Eleven has carved out a unique niche for itself while simultaneously stomping over all sorts of units that offer just one of its many aspects. Although a few more effect variations would be nice, the realism afforded by Eleven Rack really has to be heard and, more importantly felt, to be believed.