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-   -   New Pro-tools setup advice needed! (https://duc.avid.com/showthread.php?t=414917)

sleeplessoasis 04-10-2021 09:55 AM

New Pro-tools setup advice needed!
Hi All,
Thanks very much in advance to anyone who attempts to help me by replying with advice, much appreciated.

So the situation is this... my Dad and I have a Pro-tools home studio setup that's essentially 10 years old. Essentially the studio is these things...
* iMac - 21.5 inch late 2009 / 3.06 Intel Core 2 Duo / 8GB RAM / OS Mavericks
* Pro-tools LE 8
* Digidesign 003 Factory

We've been using it like this for over 10 years - we just mess around, nothing serious. We love it, it generally speaking still works fine, but we are well aware that it is becoming very outdated and we also can't risk updating the iMac OS anymore either in case PT LE 8 isn't supported! So we just need to update the entire setup, but would like to do it cost effectively.

So, with that in mind we were thinking a new up to date iMac (or Mac Mini perhaps instead) and new Pro-tools software are the initial things we need. So the 3 questions are...

1. Do we need to buy Pro-tools Perpetual (£500 approx) to put on the new iMac or is there a more affordable "upgrade" option that enable us to go from PT LE 8 to the latest version (PT 2020 I'm guessing...)?

2. Assuming we buy a new iMac with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, can I just buy a USB-C to Firewire adaptor and carry on using the Digidesign 003 Factory mixing desk? Will it work with the latest version of Pro-tools? We love using it and don't want to have to invest in a new desk if we don't have to!

3. Will our older PT LE 8 projects all open up on the new version of Pro-tools ok? Obviously we don't want 10 years worth of projects not accessible... We have one 3rd party plug-in, which is EZ Drummer, it's used on most projects. From some quick googling and other forum posts, I've discovered our EZ Drummer plug in is "RTAS"? And that newer plugins for Pro-tools need to be "AAX"? I've no idea what this means, but essentially just need to know can this issue be overcome? Will we need to buy EZ Drummer again?

Open to all thoughts and advice!

Kind regards,

DISCLAIMER - I'm really really really not a very technical person, so it would be greatly appreciated if answers could be kept extremely basic! If you're replying and thinking you may have gotten too technical for me, you probably have...! lol

Ben Jenssen 04-10-2021 05:06 PM

Re: New Pro-tools setup advice needed!
Just some thoughts.
A bit random.
You say it's outdated and you want to move on.
What do you want to have that you don't have now?
Is something wrong with how it's working now?
(This is something you should be asking yourselves, and something we should know to be able to give good advice.)

I'm no expert, but I don't think you can get the 003 to work with a modern mac and mac os. I can understand that you like it with the faders and ins and outs and you're familiar with it, but if you want to go current with mac and PT, it's out.

The good news is that audio interfaces nowadays are SO much better sounding that they leave the 003 in the dust, and they're cheap.

So, either you stay with what you have if it's working, or you go all the way. That's how I see it. You get a mac that handles a current Mac OS and Pro Tools 2021, and buy a perpetual license or go subscription. I don't think there is an upgrade path from PT8LE.

Perhaps like this:
Get a used mac mini, like $500.
A small interface, maybe $250.
Cheap screen, a old TV, cost almost nothing.
If you have money left, there are lots of cheap controllers out there if you want to have faders.
You'll have a modern up to date mac, and subscribe and pay monthly for your usage of the latest Pro Tools.

Oh, and the latest PT can open sessions from 20 years ago here. But I have experienced some that don't. Haven't finished investigating. I have lots of stuff from way back PT5-6-7-8.

albee1952 04-11-2021 11:56 AM

Re: New Pro-tools setup advice needed!
Just one users 2 cents:
If you really feel the need to upgrade, I would upgrade everything, and there are a few reasons for this approach.
#1-it leaves the old rig fully functional(handy for multiple reasons)
#2-it allows you time to get used to all the new stuff before moving the old setup to a closet(or craigslist:o)
#3-you avoid the pitfalls of trying to get some old stuff(like the 003) to work with some new stuff(like a new computer.

As said, its a crapshoot as to whether the 003 is going to work(its way past its end of support). Then, there are plenty of new interface options that will sound better, and use Thunderbolt 3 for very low latency(assuming a low buffer setting). I would suggest either a 27" iMac quad core or MacMini(fastest clock speed you can get), 16GB of RAM and a TB3 interface. Of course, a recent(or new) OS is going to require the latest Pro Tools*. And depending on how much you need the surface functions of the 003, there are a few options. For me, transport controls are most important, so the original Presonus Faderport covers that nicely, and I like the buttons for switching between EDIT and MIX windows(and I hate that the left those off of the new Faderport:eek:). Stepping up, a DOCK(with tablet) is great, as is the S1.

*just an FYI, since you are used to LE8, be aware that your old sessions SHOULD open fine on a new setup, but new sessions will NOT open on the old setup unless you save a copy in the older PT7>9 for format. And, if you are working with SD II audio, its time to convert everything to wave format:o

Re EZdrummer, you probably will need to upgrade to EZdrummer 2(which will run in AAX 64). If you own any EZX expansion packs, those should still work(if budget allows, Superior Drummer 3 is even better). All your old Instrument tracks will probably playback fine with the newer TT plugin

Last word of advice, when shopping for a new(er) Mac, avoid the Fusion drive. Get the biggest SSD you can afford.

sleeplessoasis 04-21-2021 11:19 AM

Re: New Pro-tools setup advice needed!
Thanks for the replies guys. I posted elsewhere and found similar comments, so that's reassuring.
I'm thinking of having this as my new setup...

M1 Mac Mini (16GB upgrade) - £900
Pro tools - £540
2 x 24” Full HD monitors - £260 approx
Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 - £240
EZ Drummer 2 - £130
1TB Hard Drive - £40
USB-C to HDMI adapter - £10

Total - £2120

We already have a MIDI keyboard that we can use, so that's not something se need to buy.

Any thoughts or suggestions on the kit I've listed?


Ben Jenssen 04-21-2021 11:35 AM

Re: New Pro-tools setup advice needed!
That sounds smashing.
About sounding, with no info, I assume you're happy with how you are listening now, I mean speakers/headphones.
And microphones, you're all set?

And mac minis still don't come with mouse/keyboard, do they? But I guess you're covered with some old wired devices? (I don't know about the M1 mini's, but there's a well known issue with bluetooth not working good on the latest mini's, so wired is sometimes the solution.)

And of course you're aware that most apps and plugins are still not M1 native, so there might be bumps in the road. But all reports are that most stuff is working well with the Rosetta translation.

sleeplessoasis 05-04-2021 02:57 AM

Re: New Pro-tools setup advice needed!
Yeah speakers, amp, headphones etc all carry over from previous setup, no issues there.
May get the new iMac instead with 16gb ram instead of a Mac Mini, which would solve the potential bluetooth issue.
Yes I'v been trying to research the whole M1 native apps issues, I think it'll be ok with the whole Rosetta thing. Like you say, some bumps in the road ahead, but ultimately it'll be fine I think.
Thanks for the reply.

sleeplessoasis 05-04-2021 02:58 AM

Re: New Pro-tools setup advice needed!
Hi Guys,

Follow up question...

When buying an external hard drive for the Pro Tools projects to go on, should I specifcially go for a mains powered drive, or will a USB bus powered drive be ok? Is there any link to Pro Tools crashing with USB bus powered drives?



Ben Jenssen 05-04-2021 06:49 AM

Re: New Pro-tools setup advice needed!

Originally Posted by sleeplessoasis (Post 2601250)
Hi Guys,

Follow up question...

When buying an external hard drive for the Pro Tools projects to go on, should I specifcially go for a mains powered drive, or will a USB bus powered drive be ok? Is there any link to Pro Tools crashing with USB bus powered drives?



I've been using usb powered drives, mostly two at a time, with imacs and minis the last couple of years, slow ones and fast ones, with no issues whatsoever. The fast ones may get a bit hot with hard work, that's all.

PS: I had a very strange and worrying thing with a Mac Mini M1 testing the last week though, a thunderbolt-connected sata ssd that I had been using for a long time without problems actually started to make interference noise on my speakers when it was working, like with backups. Never did this before. I switched its connection from a apple thunderbolt adapter to direct mini port and it was gone. I haven't had time to investigate.

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