The new Pro Tools | Quartet from Avid is a great option for recording music but if you want to mix surround then you’ll find you can’t do it.
Whilst the Apogee Quartet is perfectly capable of offering a 5:1 mixing workflow the native version of Pro Tools does not have the 5:1 option available, you have to buy HD for that. In the Avid knowledgeable article Avid state:
“The Quartet interface can support up to three sets of stereo speakers or a single set of 5.1 speakers so it can be used for monitoring in surround with applications that support 5.1. However Pro Tools | Software only supports stereo so this solution can be used for stereo audio post with HD video in the Pro Tools timeline but not 5.1.”
We have to say that this is plain silly, it effectively means that if you want to use an Apogee Quartet for surround mixing then you are better off using a different DAW, one that does not limit surround mixing.
Pro Tools Software Offers Limited Features
Whilst we understand that Avid are trying to protect HD hardware sales surely it would have made more sense if Avid had unlocked surround in this special package. We know this is technically possible as this is exactly how the toolkits worked, the version of Pro Tools you use is based on the iLok asset in your account, not the software you install, Pro Tools is a unified installer.
It is really short sighted and a real shame, it makes an otherwise great idea less attractive, especially for post professionals working in small studios. More and more parts of the film post production workflow are taking place away from big facilities, with specialist dialog, sound effects and music editors working at home on smaller systems. Just take a look at our audio post production workflow series. With the demise of the CPTK option the cost of an HD system is a big ask from Avid especially when you just want to be able to use surround tracks.
It also reinforces the view by many that Avid continue to cripple their products in the most clumsy ways to protect revenue. It might win them some battles but it certainly won’t win them the war of hearts of minds.
Bottom line if you need to mix in 5:1 then don’t buy this, it’s not our opinion it simply won’t work.
We understand that Avid are considering some ideas around this kind of option, where it may be possible to unlock some HD features. These are only ideas they are considering like the Avid Everywhere collaboration features that Avid showed at NAB ad IBC this year. But they are considering at the point when they introduce the collaboration features into a future release, that some kind of set of options to reduce the gap between Pro Tools vanilla and Pro Tools HD may be possible. Again this comes with all the same riders as the Avid Everywhere features and the new plug-ins we showed from IBC that are technology previews, there is no commitment to when, or how, these ideas would be introduced and what prices they may have, but there is a glimmer of good news here.