We have spoken on many occasions during podcasts and also in other articles about where we felt both Avid and Apple were going with their audio business strategies.
Now we have both Pro Tools 11 and Logic Pro X shipped it seems clear who both brands regard as their CORE markets. That word core is written is caps for a simple reason, the minute we suggest that Avid Pro Tools is aimed at professional users, some people think we are implying that no professionals use Logic, we are also not suggesting that Pro Tools is not for home or prosumers. What this article is about is who we think both brands regard as their core market. We know there are other DAWS on the market with large user bases on both Mac and PC, but for many Mac users the choice is often between Pro Tools and Logic. What this article is about is what you should expect, if you are considering another DAW, then the principles of this article will still apply.
When Avid jettisoned their M-Audio and other consumer brands it was a clear sign that they were heading to the professional user as their CORE market. Pro Tools is part of a bigger product portfolio for Avid which includes Media Composer and also much more high end broadcast equipment and storage. It makes perfect sense for Avid to concentrate on the requirements of this constituent, which demand industry standard workflow and interoperability.
Apple have clearly made similar decisions and chosen to concentrate on their CORE markets which now largely stem from a consumer base. When Apple chose to drop products like Xserve, Xsan, Final Cut Server and Shake and then release a product like Final Cut X, they too made a clear signal as to where they were heading - consumers and prosumers. Conversely this CORE target group do not need to worry as much about workflow and interoperability. We know a large number of professionals use Apple products (me being one of them) but they are largely small businesses, often one-man bands and not large organisations. I know there are exceptions, a good friend runs a successful post facility in Soho, London built around Final Cut, but I will add he has no intentions of moving to Final Cut X, because of workflow and interoperability.
The best DAW is the one that’s best for you and for Mac users trying to decide between Pro Tools or Logic, that choice may have just got easier.
If you need industry standard software with excellent sonics, workflows and interoperabilty then there is only one choice and that is Pro Tools. Pro Tools can be used as a composition tool if you are willing to do some work and spend money on additional plug-ins, but on the whole that’s not what a large proportion of studios, post houses and broadcasters use it for and despite the constant protestations in forums and social media by a vocal minority Pro Tools is the industry standard - like it or not.
If you need a powerful DAW to compose in then Logic Pro X is without doubt an outstanding value proposition, you can buy it for less than $200 and get everything you need to make amazing compositions, there’s no extra plug-ins or instruments to buy, you even get the iPad controller free - Apple really threw the candy into this release. Yes it can be used an an audio tracking and editing tool, but again you won’t find most professional studios, post houses or broadcasters using Logic for that. In many cases professional music studios and producers have both, Logic for the writing and Pro Tools for the recording and mixing, this is born out in our recent survey results, with over a third of those polled saying they will use both.
Perhaps the biggest issue for both Avid and Apple is managing user expectations.
What I mean by this is don’t expect Avid to treat you like a consumer company will, Avid don’t have the infrastructure for genius bars and free phone support. Professionals are used to paying Sage or Adobe for support plans, so it should come as no surprise when Avid do it too. What a lot of purchasers (especially at the lower price points) fail to appreciate, is that a retailer is your first point of service and support. Sadly this isn’t always the case and so users are driven back to Avid to try and get Apple style consumer support and then get annoyed when they are asked to pay for that support. If you want to direct your anger anywhere then it should be at the dealer who decided to undercut decent dealers that offer the support you need by selling you a cardboard box at the cheapest possible price. What it does create is a proliferation of forums and blogs like ours, essentially taking up the role of free customer support for an organisation illequipped to deal with consumer style support. It also diverts resources from professionals seeking support on an investment that’s 40 times more costly than the average Mbox system.
What you do get is hardware exchange schemes, upgrade paths, pro application specialists and a dealer network. With Apple don’t expect to find dealers to support your App Store purchase, pro application specialists to give you pre-sales advice and technical information on audio interfaces, or upgrade paths for software or hardware, that’s not how consumer retailing works.
In the last few years this distinction wasn’t always as easy to see partly due to both Avid and Apple trying to venture into the respective markets of consumer and professional, so one can’t really be blamed for the confusion it created. Now it may be good that both Avid and Apple have chosen distinctive roads, mostly by necessity than design, but irrespective of why they did, it makes it far easier for buyers to know what to expect from the brand they chose to buy from.
So all the clues are there for those willing to see them; workflows, cost, support and upgrade paths - there are clear differences on all these things for both brands and designed for the CORE markets they are aiming to reach. If you chose to be the exception then don’t expect any special treatment. First decide what features you want, price you want to pay and the kind of after sales support you want, then make your choice.
Pro Tools or Logic? Avid or Apple? It’s up to you. If you want some homework go visit any forum talking about Pro Tools and Logic and you’ll see exactly the same stuff been said, but much of the dissatisfaction users have with both brands is down to unrealistic expectations in the first place. Caveat emptor.