I have had several issues getting the "Waves NX System" to work on my old 2010 Mac Pro 5.1 "cheese grater" because of two compatibility issues - the first obvious problem was lack of webcam, the second being unsupported internal Bluetooth. After a week or so of research I have managed to get the entire Waves NX system working.
We ran a poll recently asking What Apple Mac Do You Use For Pro Tools?, the results show that nearly 30% of the Pro Tools Expert community use a Mac Pro similar to the one I use.
This article shows you how to get the Waves NX Bluetooth Head Tracker working on older Mac Pro computers.
Camera Tracker Using Webcam
My display doesn't have a built-in webcam. I had to purchase a Mac compatible USB webcam from Amazon for £25 and it worked straight out of the box - plug and play. For best results, Waves recommend good lighting conditions so that the frame rate of the webcam can perform at around 25 fps. The framing of the head should be centred as well. Getting the Camera Tracker working was the easy part, the Bluetooth Head Tracker component was more challenging.
Bluetooth Head Tracker Setup
Firstly, I must point out that Waves do state very clearly on their website that the Nx Head Tracker "Requires Bluetooth 4.0 BLE" - I just assumed my old Mac Pro 5.1 had that version of Bluetooth hardware. I found it very easy getting the Head Tracker to work with the Waves NX iOS App on my iPhone 6 and my wife's iPhone 7 so I knew that there wasn't a fault with the Head Tracker device itself, I had to get the Bluetooth on my Mac Pro up to date.
How To Check Mac Bluetooth
Apple > About This Mac > System Report > Bluetooth > LMP Version
The Waves NX Bluetooth Head Trackers requires Bluetooth 4.0. If the LMP Version shows 0x6 then your Mac will support the Tracker. Anything lower than LMP Version 0x6 is an older version of Bluetooth.
USB Bluetooth Dongle
I searched the net for a Mac compatible USB Bluetooth receiver, again this was an Amazon find for less than £10. Problem was, the dongle didn't come with any drivers or software. I had to find a way of turning off the internal Bluetooth chip in my Mac Pro so that the OS could use the new USB dongle exclusively for Bluetooth.
Here's how to force a Mac Pro into using a USB Bluetooth dongle:
- Get a spare USB wired mouse and plug into Mac
- Unpair all Bluetooth devices such as Magic Mouse and wireless Keyboard
- Insert new Bluetooth USB dongle into an available rear USB port on Mac Pro. The front 2 USB ports didn't work too well with this on my machine.
- Open Applications > Utilities > Terminal
- Paste the following code (Disclaimer - use Mac Terminal at your own risk)
sudo nvram bluetoothHostControllerSwitchBehavior=always
- Reboot computer
- Use the wired mouse and go to Bluetooth settings and re-pair wireless keyboard and mouse
- No need to pair NX Head Tracker in Mac OS Bluetooth manager
If you need to revert back to the original built-in Bluetooth chip then use the following in Terminal:
sudo nvram -d bluetoothHostControllerSwitchBehavior
When I loaded the Waves NX plug-in in Pro Tools the Nx Bluetooth Head Tracker now showed a connection and that a firmware update was available.
What Do I Think Of Waves NX?
As this article suggests I've only just got the NX system running smoothly on my Mac Pro. Last year I wasn't keen on the Camera Tracking aspect of NX as I felt it was a bit clunky. With the Bluetooth Head Tracker working with the webcam I can now report that the clunky vibe I got from the software is gone. I'll be testing this over the next few weeks so watch this space for a Pro Tools Expert review of Waves NX Bluetooth Head Tracker and the Waves NX Virtual Mix Room plug-in over the coming weeks.