It goes without saying that Pro Tools is perhaps Avid's greatest audio achievement, conceived in the early eighties as Sound Designer Pro Tools eventually appeared in 1991 and changed the face of modern recording forever. However it's easy to think Avid equals Pro Tools but they've made some real gems over the last few years that can so easily be overlooked or underrated.
Mike and Russ got taking about this and decided to share 5 Avid products that are often overlooked or underrated but they think are real winners.
Avid Eleven Rack - Russ
If you don't own an Avid Eleven Rack then go and buy one - it's as simple as that, I love mine and wouldn't work without it, in fact every guitarist that comes into the studio uses it and then goes and buys one. This is what Avid say about Eleven Rack...
Pro Tools | Eleven Rack is a hardware/software bundle that provides the ultimate recording and amplifier emulation solution for guitar players. It comes with the high-quality, DSP-accelerated Eleven Rack hardware interface, industry-standard Pro Tools software, standalone Eleven Rack Editor application, and built-in Eleven Rack Expansion Pack, providing everything you need—and more—to showcase your skills. No matter how you use it, you'll always have the right tone at your fingertips—in the studio or on stage.
For those skeptical of marketing, there really is not a lot to argue with there, a lot of the Pro Tools Expert team own the Eleven Rack.
I reach for it almost always when tracking guitar and/or bass as it seems to give the immediacy that VIs don't always offer. It's packed with I/O so you can hook it up both in the studio and live, it also doubles up as a USB interface to use when recording with Pro Tools. There are some serious bargains to be had on places like eBay and from dealers especially as it often comes bundled with Pro Tools, as far as I'm concerned it's one of the best products they've ever made.
Avid Mbox - Mike And Russ
Imagine the surprise of the team when we recently did a shootout of top mic preamps and for a bit of fun we threw in an Avid Mbox as the wildcard. In one of the shootouts it was voted top of the listening test. Avid say this about Mbox:
Mbox was designed by the same team who created our top-of-the-line Pro Tools | HD Series interfaces, giving you the sonic clarity of interfaces costing much more.
So it seems our listening test confirmed that claim, that this little audio interface can hold its own in the company of some of the best hardware out there. Granted the Mbox may not have all the features of some other audio interfaces but when it comes to high quality audio it packs a punch.
Again there are some great bargains to be had with software thrown in so shop around and you may find a really great Mbox and Pro Tools deal.
Avid Pro Series Plugins - Mike And Russ
Recently bundled with the Avid 12 HD plans, the Pro Series plugins are some of the best out there and if you use HDX then they are AAX DSP. Avid said this about the Pro Series plugins;
Design goals for the Pro Series:
- To go beyond the Avid Channel Strip plug-in, which is modeled on the System 5 channel processing, by adding extra control features and new algorithms to enhance the sound
- Support up to 7.1 formats for serious film mixing applications
- No-compromise, high-quality set of plug-ins designed for Pro Tools | HDX systems for ultra low latency and large track counts
- Provide a common feel and user experience between all the plug-ins with simple to use interface and comprehensive visual feedback
- Offer a wide selection of processors to handle the most common tasks found in music and audio post mixing
- Refine the sound of the plug-ins to match the high expectations of our most demanding customers
- Enable you to produce great sounding tracks quickly that help your mixes stand out from the crowd
We've made no secret of our love for these plugins since their introduction, but it still seems that the message isn't always getting through. We hope with their recent inclusion in Pro Tools 12 HD plans that people will start using them and finding out what all the fuss is about.
AIR Creative Instrument Collection - Russ
I've recently secured a new publishing deal and during the process I played the demos to several top producers and writers. Time and again they kept asking me what the piano sound was on the tracks because they loved it... it was Mini Grand. The tracks are also covered in DB33 and Xpand2, not because I don't own other VIs, I own virtually (forgive the pun) every Vi on the planet from top brands, but time and again I keep coming back to the creative collection. As some of you know I do most of my composing in Studio One and mix in Pro Tools, when AIR released the collection as VST/AU so I could use the plugins in both DAWs I was over the moon.
The AIR Creative Collection may not be as sexy as some other VIs or the latest and greatest things to own but when it comes to getting songs down they take some beating. If you've never bothered to download them from your Avid account then do it now - I couldn't work without them.
Someone may want to point out that they are AIR virtual instruments but they were created when AIR was still part of Avid and still come as part of Pro Tools, so you can still use them.
Avid HD Omni - Mike
I love my Avid Pro Tools HDX rig and I wanted something that was surround compatible to use as the monitoring hub in my studios. Russ was changing his interface from an Avid HD Omni so when he told me he was selling it I bit his hand off and got it for a song. This is what Avid say about it:
HD OMNI is an all-in-one professional preamp, I/O, and monitoring interface for Pro Tools | HD family systems. Capture pristine, high-resolution audio through premium mic preamps, connect your gear to a wide array of analog and digital I/O, and monitor your sessions in up to 7.1 surround—with ultra-low latency—all in one compact, cost-effective interface.
The Avid Omni is an excellent interface for the centre of a small post studio. It offers 2 mic inputs at the front/rear of the unit and lots of expansion via ADAT/SPDIF/AES and DB25. However for me its real killer feature is the ability to use it as a monitor controller on my HDX rig, best of all because it offers fold down of the audio stems back to stereo. It also allows you to monitor audio even when your computer is not running.
What Have We Missed?
Are there Avid/Digidesign products we've missed either current or ones no longer made that you think deserve a mention? Let us know in the comments.