I have just posted an article on our Partner Deals page that Avid are running a promotion on their Eleven Rack interface with Eleven Rack software and a 12 month Pro Tools subscription with the line “While supplies last”.
This got me thinking, is this Avid selling off the remaining stock of the last interface they have for Pro Tools Vanilla? As a result, are they finally getting out of the non HD interface market and leaving it to 3rd party manufacturers?
The Eleven Rack - The Last Interface In The Avid Product line For Pro Tools Standard
In our History Of Pro Tools series in 2009 we came to the release of the Eleven Rack and discovered that it was not just a multi-effects unit, or an amp modeller, or just a Pro Tools interface. It was actually all three of these and more.
The Eleven Rack could be used as a stand-alone guitar processor, without the need for a computer, for live applications. It included emulations of classic guitar amps, cabinets and stompboxes, as well as a collection of rackmount effects processors and microphone emulations. You could incorporate your favourite stompboxes and effects into the Eleven Rack with the integrated effects loop that could be assigned and moved almost anywhere within the signal chain.
The Eleven Rack was also a high-quality interface for Digidesign Pro Tools. The interface itself was dual-DSP powered, which meant you didn't have to worry about latency issues when recording, it was effectively a DSP interface for Pro Tools Vanilla software. There were 8 simultaneous recording channels at 24-bit/96 kHz, with a wide range of ins and outs, including S/PDIF, AES/EBU, XLR, and 1/4" outputs, a mic input, and two 1/4" line level inputs.
Digidesign created a system called ‘True Z’, which matched the input impedance of the emulated amplifier’s hardware counterpart. The input impedance of a guitar amplifier can be an important factor in determining its sound, as the input places an electrical load on the pickups, changing how both the amp and the guitar react to playing. The Eleven Rack allowed a guitarist to use exactly the same sounds live as in recording and allowed the recording of the clean DI signal at the same time as the processed sound, all with zero latency.
Some time ago our very own Eleven Rack guru James Ivey created a series of free video tutorials showing how to get iconic guitar sounds from top artists. They are completely free, no strings attached... well not to the videos anyway. You can find them in our article - Get Signature Sounds In Eleven Rack - Free Video Tutorials.
Mbox Third Generation
Let’s take a look at the most recent Avid manufactured Pro Tools Interfaces. As you can see from the table below the 3rd generation Mbox series, which were the last Avid manufactured interfaces for Pro Tools Standard were discontinued between 2013 and 2015 despite having been released in 2010 just one year after the Eleven Rack.
Pro Tools Duet And Quartet
Then we move onto the first Avid badged interfaces, the Pro Tools Duet and Pro Tools Quartet released in 2014, which perhaps gave us a sign of things to come. This was a collaboration with Apogee Electronics and Avid and helped to provide two mid-ranges interfaces to the Avid range without a huge and expensive development process. Both were Avid-branded versions of Apogee’s Duet and Quartet audio interfaces, paired with Pro Tools 11 software at the time for both Mac and Windows customers, unlike the Apogee units which were Mac only at the time. The other feature exclusive to the Avid versions was EUCON-enabled Pro Tools I/O Control software so that you could take direct control of your recording and monitoring.
Despite this, it has transpired that this partnership was short-lived as you can see from the table below, Avid added both the Pro Tools Duet and Pro Tools Quartet interfaces to their end of life list with effect from the end of 2016, making the Duet and Quartet current products for less than 18 months
|Product / Model||Final Sale Date||End of Support Date|
|Mbox Mini (third generation)||4/22/2013||4/22/2018|
|Mbox (third generation)||8/30/2014||8/30/2019|
|Mbox Pro (third generation)||3/1/2015||3/1/2020|
|Pro Tools Duet and Quartet||12/31/2016||12/31/2021|
Despite, the loss of the 3rd generation Mboxes and the Duet and Quartet being discontinued the Eleven Rack soldiered on as the only Avid manufactured interface for Pro Tools Standard. But the announcement of an Avid Eleven Rack special offer tagged with “While supplies last” maybe, and we have no evidence one way or the other, Avid are looking to sell off their remaining stock of the longest serving Pro Tools interface and finally exit stage right the Pro Tools Standard interface market.
What About The Sub $1000 Interface With Audio Over IP?
If Avid are winding up the Eleven Rack where does this leave the sub $1,000 interface referred to in the ACA survey?
Back in February 2017 Avid set up the Avid Customer Association Survey and one of the items in that survey was a “New low cost hardware audio interface with network capabilities and sync - Adding a new hardware interface for Pro Tools that would retail under $1K US and include DANTE and up to 16 I/O”. I said at the time…
It is very interesting that they are looking at a low cost hardware audio interface with Dante support and sync that would retail under $1K. We have been saying that there has been a hole in Avid's product portfolio for a sub $1k interface and for it to have sync and dante would be a very interesting product, so could this be an outcome of the Avid Focusrite collaboration, especially now Tim Carroll has moved from Avid to Focusrite?
Then at the Avid Connect event just before NAB 2017 in Las Vegas Avid announced some of the results from this survey and the “New low cost hardware audio interface with network capabilities and sync” was posted as “Under Investigation”.
Moving on to the end of December 2017 Avid started another ACA survey the “Lower Cost Audio I/O” was in the survey again.
When it came to round 2 of the 2018 poll Avid were still asking about the “Lower Cost Audio I/O” even though it was the 2nd most popular option in the 2017 survey.
In the results for the 2018 poll again announced at the Avid Connect event held just before NAB 2018 in Las Vegas, the “Lower Cost Audio I/O” was ranked 3rd across all the voters even though it was ranked 2nd in every category except for the Individual Creative Professional in the Music Production section and was left “Under Investigation” again.
It will be interesting to see if the “Lower Cost Audio I/O” remains an option in the 2019 ACA poll, we will wait and see, but if Avid drops it, then we can be pretty sure that Avid are out of the Pro Tools Interface business for Pro Tools Standard.
While Supplies Last?
Of course the “While supplies last” tag on the current offer from Avid for the Eleven Rack bundle may just be no more than a marketing line to encourage us to take advantage of this offer, but they will surely want to ‘end-of-life’ the longest running audio interface at some point and this offer from Avid maybe the start of the end of The Eleven Rack.
The Big Question - Does It Matter?
Since Avid removed the hardware dongle from Pro Tools Native, the case for an Avid interface has been less compelling. Other companies have made great strides in creating high quality low price hardware. With that in mind one has to ask if it matters?
What about you? Let us know what you think.