Quite a few years ago Avid acquired Digidesign, the company that makes Pro Tools. M-Audio was acquired by Avid about ten years ago as it's "consumer" audio division (Pro Tools M-Powered). You can run an "ultra-light" version of Pro Tools using M-Audio interfaces, and the M-Audio product line has expanded to include an extensive line of ultra low budget (when compared to PT/HD*) speakers, mics, handheld digital recorders, keyboards, etc.
M-Audio gear is almost exclusively aimed at musicians, though this has been changing recently.
* A basic Pro Tools HD system starts at about $15,000, a basic Pro Tools LE system starts at about $1,000, a basic Pro Tools M-Powered system starts at about $120. Before you get too excited PT MP only does 16bit/44.1kHz and currently does not work reliably with QuickTime video files.
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06-13-2010 09:41 AM
Last edited by unclebob6958; 06-13-2010 at 12:33 PM.Filmmaking is the art of being invisible; if anyone notices your work you haven't done your job right.
11-14-2010 11:19 AM
- Join Date
- Nov 2010
I came across this thread and wanted to clear up some important misconceptions.
That was the primary reason I chose it for my own use over the Zoom when it launched: to be able to use it with gear that the Zoom did not support at all.
So far so good. It's mostly accurate, although M-Audio (both then and now) is just as relevant outside Pro Tools environments as within them, previously being one of the lowest-priced solutions for sampling in the early Windows XP GigaStudio days.
The word "system" here refers to several different things but even so, but none of them were entirely accurate. Here's an attempt to standardize and compare.
We'll use the term "system" to refer to the cost of adding Pro Tools support to a computer rather than buying a full computer with existing Pro Tools support. That means a combination of hardware and software (which is sometimes bundled and sometimes an additional purchase).
Entry points (as of mid-2010 based on US MSRP, not street price)
Pro Tools HD: MSRP ca. $11,900 for a system including Digidesign 192 I/O (192 KHz max) or ca. $9,900 for the 96 I/O (96 KHz max), though the latter was already largely absent from the market
Pro Tools LE: MSRP ca. $899 for Mbox 2 Pro (96 KHz max) and ca. $329 for a system with the Digidesign Mbox 2 Mini (48 KHz max) or $279 with playback only Digidesign Mbox 2 Micro (48 KHz max)
Pro Tools M-Powered: MSRP ca. $400 for systems using M-Audio Audiophile 2496 (96 KHz), as well as other similarly priced offerings.
So, going by the MSRP, LE was cheaper at that point if you wanted to work at 48 KHz or below than M-Powered, M-Powered provided the cheapest 96 KHz option and HD was still consistently more expensive than either one by thousands of dollars. The largest part of the price for the M-Powered systems mentioned above was the price of buying Pro Tools M-Powered, which was not typically bundled with the interfaces (unlike LE or HD).
At the time of the referenced post, running Pro Tools HD 8 required two pieces of hardware: a card to run the software (that came bundled with Pro Tools HD software) and additionally an audio interface. Let's assume the post was not concerned with buying significantly older hardware since much of it is no longer compatible.
The cheapest Pro Tools HD card and software bundle was the Pro Tools HD1 Core System. (Sold for $7995 at the time of referenced post).
The cheapest Pro Tools HD audio interface was the Digidesign 96 I/O (MSRP $1995.00) which supported 96 KHz, but the cheapest "current" interface was the Digidesign 192 I/O (MSRP $3995) and the 96 I/O has been phased out.
Even assuming that UncleBob6958 was referring to the Digidesign 192 I/O (as opposed to the 96 I/O) that adds up to $11,900, which is still roughly 20% less than the price originally quoted as the entry level (and the difference is even more pronounced if we include the 96 I/O).
The "ultra-light" versions of Pro Tools were actually called "Pro Tools M-Powered Essential" and "Pro Tools SE", both of which had far more limitations than either LE or M-Powered. The primary differences between Pro Tools LE 8 and M-Powered 8 (other than hardware support) had to do with what add-ons you could get, but the software itself maxed out at 24-bit, 96 KHz recording (unlike 192 KHz with HD) but was more often limited by hardware than software. LE supported more first-party add-ons, including the ability to max out at a higher track count than with the add-ons for M-Powered, but if you were only comparing the two pieces of software (without add-ons) LE and M-Powered were essentially equivalent. I can tell you that from thousands of hours of shuttling between M-Powered, LE and HD systems, though more of that time was spent in version 7 than 8 as well as having gone through the official documentation several times. The distinction between LE and M-Powered is obsolete as of Pro Tools 9.
I've used a variety of audio interfaces, converters and recorders and I always think it's important for people to accurately understand the distinctions rather than paying for hardware they don't need. It used to be (with the Mbox 1) that you payed more for low sample-rate LE combo (with some of the worst converters in the industry as can be seen on real-world ADC/DAC graphs) than the entry level contemporary M-Audio Audiophile 2496 and a copy of M-Powered. The 2496 was already cheaper and decreased in cost to only a fraction of the price if you didn't need to buy Pro Tools M-Powered to go with it, an option you didn't have with the MBox. Things are a bit more balanced now, but you still tend to get better converters at the same price point with the M-Audio line than the Digidesign one (as well as better support for non-Pro Tools software).
As an example, the $1,295+ MSRP of the Digi 003 Rack (LE interface) still didn't make it easy to use most of the inputs and outputs outside of Pro Tools, so on one project we installed an M-Audio Audiophile 2496 mainly to be able to monitor SPDIF output under other OS X applications (even though the Digi 003 already has easy to use SPDIF within Pro Tools).
That said all of the Pro Tools talk has been rendered largely obsolete by the changes to software and hardware introduced in the last few months, including cheaper HD options and the consolidation of LE and M-Powered into a single product line with Pro Tools 9, which is no longer limited to audio interfaces by Avid-owned companies. However, the older hardware and gear is still around, so the points were worth clarifying.
Last edited by Per Lichtman; 11-15-2010 at 03:30 PM.