Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pro Tools 8

Back in late December, I was one of the first of the general public to download Pro Tools M-Powered 8.0 for Windows XP. Here's a quick rundown on its functionality (you may have to figure out your own issues if you have a different PT build [LE or HD], operating system [Vista 32 or OS X Leopard], and/or recording interface [Digidesign or M-Audio; PCIe, Firewire, or USB):

Pros: Xpand2 has better sounding samples (subjectively, of course) and more options. Boom is a cool new virtual instrument (an emulated "analog" drum machine). The other AIR effects are cool, getting Maxim to use without an iLok license is cool too, and the "teaser" plugins (the emulated guitar amp) are sufficient to get creative. FXpansion's wrapper still works in PT8 (so far), so that many VST and VSTi plugins are still there for production use.

Cons: There was confusion about Mooger-Fooger effects not having the correct license, but a quick trip to DUC and some savvy will help you reinstall the PT7 version of the plugin - then you'll be good to go. I had to upgrade my operating system from XP SP2 to XP SP3, which provided some tricky problems with my M-Audio PMIO and that specific interface's issues with SP3. If you're a PTMP user, go to M-Audio's forums for some help for the hardware side of things.

You might have your own issues when it comes to PT8 and your specific OS and hardware interface. PT8 rewards those working with lots of RAM and lots of processor power, so keep that in mind. Firewire technology often has better bandwidth capabilities than USB, so keep that in mind when choosing interfaces and external hard disk drives.

Downloading the entire upgrade (4 GB, including extras that I haven't gotten around to using yet) took me several chunks of time over a few days. The upgrade DVD costs around $30.

The added options in PT8 are great for PT7 veterans who want more, but all the various non-default intricacies might not be as friendly for newbies.

Bottom line: If you have self-confidence, savvy, and most of all - patience - PT8 is a good upgrade. On the other hand, a less frustrating PT8.1 (or even a PT8.0.x) might be around the corner for those who want to keep productive with PT7.4 and not deal with upgrade issues.

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