Pro Tools 11 - A Month On Would I Still Bother?

07-28-2013 03:46 PM

It was once said that there’s nothing more attractive as something you can’t have, a lot of marketeers depend on desire to entice people to buy their products, but often the chase can be more exciting than the real thing and when all the excitement of owning a product has died down then one can feel somewhat disappointed.
A month or so ago Pro Tools 11 eventually shipped - it had the internet lit up with both die-hard fans and die-hard critics lining up to have their say about it. It wasn’t without issues, shipping on the weekend of the Ilok server problems and also missing many third party plug-ins ready to go. Some other items seemed to be amiss such as Time-Stretch, VI drag and drop and some beloved Avid plug-ins.
Avid tried to make the move to this new 64 bit version of Pro Tools as painless as possible, the smartest of which was to allow users to have both Pro Tools 10 and 11 co-exist on the same machine, this allows users to try Pro Tools 11 whilst switching back to a version that runs all their existing plug-ins and hardware (if they have incompatible HD hardware).
In the month since launch I’ve been able to really put Pro Tools 11 through its paces. Of course as like many people there were quite a few plug-ins not ready, to deal with this I’ve been using the brilliant Vienna Ensemble VEP5 to host VIs I need to run - I’ve also got the option of using REAPER. However as each day passes the list of missing plug-ins gets smaller, although I do need to add that some of the most popular stuff like AIR, UAD, Waves, Slate, NI and Sonnox are still not with me.
With all the losses outlined so far it would take something special to keep one using Pro Tools 11 in preference to previous versions.
Pro Tools 11 offers big power gains, when I say big I’m now regularly using Pro Tools 11 at buffers of 64 and 128 samples on sessions that would have previously thrown up buffer errors more often than I care to remember. In fact it’s so stable at these settings I often forget to push Pro Tools up to 1024 samples when mixing. I do have to say that there is still some weird memory spike (but not a crash) that seems to occur when changing patches in VIs like Trillian, it also seems to occur when opening McDSP plug-ins to make adjustments. The first issue I’m guessing relates to the VI having to grab some horsepower when loading large sample based patches, the second is a mystery, but Colin being the genius he is will be on top of this.
Offline bounce is also a godsend, especially when recording the podcast, or when wanting to create stems. Oddly enough the reason many of us would use offline bounce is to freeze tracks when running out of horsepower - I dreamt of this, but as yet I’ve not had to use offline bounce for this because of the gains of power from the 64 bit engine.
I’m yet to use the video engine in any real projects, but I do like the option to bounce with my preferred options rather than simply the old bounce to QuickTime that we used to have.
Another odd thing is that performance using my HD Native card seems to report higher CPU usage than when I run Pro Tools using the internal Mac Pro sound card. I’m not sure what this is all about and if it’s simply a CPU reporting error and not really an issue of my HD Native card giving me worse performance than my the Mac.
How often am I jumping back to Pro Tools 10? Not as much as I expected, this is partly because I have VEP5 and REAPER so I can run any plug-in I need, but that’s only half the story. The reason I seldom switch back to Pro Tools 10 is because Pro Tools 11 is so much more of a joy to use. What it highlights most of all is what a productivity and creativity killer the endless buffer issues were in previous versions of Pro Tools, if I wasn’t dealing with buffer errors popping up then I was having to find workarounds for the excessive buffer sizes required to keep them from doing so.
There are some bugs, you can find them outlined in posts on this site, there are some plug-ins I still need and things Avid need to put back into Pro Tools that we lost on the way. For HD hardware users of course the pain is somewhat harder with a switch to Pro Tools 11 requiring more than just a software upgrade.
So, a month on would I still bother moving up to Pro Tools 11? A resounding yes, my gains are far outweighing my losses, but every person has a different workflow and so Pro Tools 11 may not have been such a landmark moment. Have you switched or running the trial? If so, then let us know how Pro Tools 11 is working for you.