I've always felt that Pro Tools specific hardware, especially Digidesign control surfaces for Pro Tools, were second to none. Take a good look at the article header image again... Are you feeling nostalgic yet? I know I am! Each of those items were pretty amazing back in the day, it's insane to think that many of those "top-of-line" Pro Tools products that many of us used to lust over (myself included) in Pro Audio magazines can now be picked up on the second-hand market for practically peanuts.
In this article, we list six used Pro Tools Bargains that you can buy second-hand today for a fraction of what they would have cost you new. The article gives you information on support and compatibility with Pro Tools, technical faults to watch out for when buying one of these units secondhand, along with ballpark values based on units that are currently listed on eBay.
C24 - Released In 2007
The C24 control surface for Pro Tools has always been a serious board for serious mix engineers. 24 motorised faders, deep integration with Pro Tools, fast action, hands-on fun... what else could you possibly want from a medium-sized control surface? If you bought a brand new C24 you luckily didn't need to remortgage your house, unlike the larger format Pro Tools control surfaces available at the time like the Icon series, the C24 was considered affordable to buy.
What made the C24 popular with Pro Tools users both in the recording industry and the educational sector was that these units could be used with Pro Tools in several configurations:
- As a control surface only for Pro Tools LE or HD (connected via Ethernet)
- As a control surface, monitor controller and 16 pre-amp input stage for Pro Tools HD systems with Avid I/O
- As a control surface coupled with a Digi 003 factory (Pro Tools LE) giving users up to 32 hands-on faders
For information on the Avid C24:
- Read: Farewell Avid C24 - You Have Served Us Well. This Pro Tools Control Surface Is Approaching End Of Life Or Is It?
- Watch: Video Tutorial - Using An Avid C24 Pro Tools Control Surface
Is The C24 Compatible With Current Versions Of Pro Tools?
The short answer is yes. Avid has only just ceased production of the C24 but support from Avid will continue to December 31st 2022. If you are planning on buying a used C24 then fear not, there's plenty of life left in the old gal for many years to come, but there are some things to look out for if you are considering to buy a used C24...
Things To Look Out For When Buying A Used C24
- Transport: The 5 transport buttons are the most used buttons on C24 control surfaces. If the symbols have worn off the used C24 you are looking at (especially the Play and Stop buttons) then this will indicate how much use the device has had in its lifetime. These symbols typically fade after five years of regular usage.
- Fader Check: Check that all of the faders are working smoothly and respond to touch. There should be a positive feel throughout the travel of the fader and the action should be smooth without erratic juddering. All the faders can be tested together in the Utility section on the desk under Test > Fader > Group
- Vegas: There are lots of lights, buttons and pots on the C24. Run Vegas mode to ensure all the LEDs are lighting up and that there are not any dead spots on the desk.
Cost new: £7,000
Used cost: Between £2,000 to £3,500 depending on condition
Avid HD I/O
Avid's flagship interface, the Avid HD I/O, is the beating heart of many Pro Tools HD systems. It is offered in three specifications:
- HD I/O 8x8x8
- HD I/O 16x16 Digital
- HD I/O 16x16 Analog
If you are currently running a Pro Tools HDX system with one of these HD I/O interfaces then at some point in the future you may need to expand your system I/O with an additional unit. More and more of these HD I/O boxes, including the previous blue face 192 I/O units, are appearing on eBay these days at very tempting prices. One reason as to why the second-hand prices for these units are dropping is because of people selling them to buy one of a growing number of 3rd Party DigiLink enabled interfaces that will work with Pro Tools HD HD Native and HDX cards.
Are Avid HD I/O Interfaces Compatible With Current Versions Of Pro Tools?
The current grey face models are compatible and supported as these interfaces are still available to buy new today. The previous generation blue face interfaces (that can be bought used for stupidly low prices on eBay) still work even though they are no longer supported by Avid.
Things To Look Out For When Buying A Used Avid I/O
- General Wear & Tear: If the seller of the used AVID HD I/O states that the unit was only used in their studio throughout the time they have owned it then it stands to reason that the rack holes shouldn't be that worn in. If the device has lots of scratches and dings then there's a good chance the unit was used a lot for location recording.
Cost new: £3,000 - 4,000
Used cost: Used prices vary between £800 to £2,000 for the current 16x16 and 8x8x8 models and whether it is an analog I/O or digital I/O device. The previous blue face Avid Digidesign 192 I/O usually lists on eBay for anything between £400 - £800 depending on condition.
Digi 003 Factory - Released In 2007
The Digi 003 Factory control surface, with built-in audio/MIDI interface, was a truly awesome recording and mixing tool. It was affordable, was bundled with Pro Tools LE along with a bunch of cool third-party plug-ins and was deeply integrated into the Pro Tools application. I feel that the Digi 003 was the last truly great motorized 8 fader control surface for Pro Tools, no other 8 fader control surface that has been released since comes close to the Digi 003 in terms of flawless design, build quality, functionality and price.
Is The Digi 003 Compatible With Current Versions Of Pro Tools?
The Digi 003 is listed as an audio interface or peripheral that is not officially supported (Untested) by Avid for Pro Tools 2018. The Digi 003 works perfectly with previous versions of Pro Tools 12, 11 & 10. You will need to download drivers from the Avid website in order to get the Digi 003 working. The latest set of drivers for the Digi 003 were released in January 2018 on the Avid website supporting MacOS up to Sierra 10.12 / Windows 10 and Pro Tools 12.5.
But... does the Digi 003 work with Pro Tools 2018? We have tested a Digi 003 Factory with Pro Tools 2018 running Mac OS High Sierra and can report that it still is fully compatible. The audio interface, fully control surface control, MIDI all work as expected - great news!
The status of the Digi 003 compatibility with future versions of Pro Tools is unknown. There is a chance that a future Pro Tools update will kill the communication between the Digi 003 and Pro Tools, if that happens then that will be a very sad day indeed but this kind of thing happens with old tech.
Things To Look Out For When Buying A Used Digi 003
- Crackly Volume Pot: The pots used in the 003 family are sealed units. Contact cleaner cannot penetrate the component. A replacement pot will need to be sourced in order to fix this.
- Fader Alignment: Run some fader tests using the built-in UTILITY function. Check to see if the faders line up at unity and that they all respond to touch. Replacement motorised faders cost between £30 - £50 each and take some skill and bravery to replace.
- Transport Button Wear: The transport buttons are not very strong and can wear out over time working intermittently, especially popular buttons such as play and record.
Cost new: £1,800
Used cost: Between £200 - £400 (hardware only) depending on condition with used Digi 003 Factory consoles frequently listed on eBay.
Digidesign Command 8 - Released In 2004
The Digidesign Command 8 isn't too dissimilar in design the Digi 002. Unlike the Digi 002 Factory which was Firewire, the Command 8 is USB and is only a control surface unlike the 002 which was an interface and control surface in one unit.
The Command 8 was a very popular control surface as it had a small footprint and so was popular for the growing trend of people who were working from home and needed faders in a small space.
Is The Command 8 Compatible With Current Versions Of Pro Tools?
None of us on the Pro Tools Expert Team has access to a Command 8 for testing with current versions of Pro Tools. The most up to date Command 8 drivers available on the Avid website were posted back in 2010 which alludes to the Command 8 not being compatible with Pro Tools 2018.
If you own a Command 8 please let us know in the comments below what version of Pro Tools you are using your Command 8 with.
Things To Look Out For When Buying A Used Command 8
- You should be looking for similar faults that are common in used Digi 003 factory control surfaces that we stated earlier in this article.
Cost new: £999
Used cost: Between £100 - £250 depending on condition
Mbox Pro 3rd Gen Released in 2011
The Pro Tools Mbox family of audio interfaces were hugely popular. The best of the Mbox bunch was the 8x8 Mbox Pro 3rd Generation which was claimed to share some internal DNA with the mightly expensive grey faced Avid HD I/O interfaces of the time. The mic pre-amps in all the Mbox models within this generation sounded amazing and they were rock solid with Pro Tools. It's a real shame that the Mbox product line ended in 2015.
Is The Mbox Pro 3rd Gen Compatible With Current Versions Of Pro Tools?
Yes. The Mbox final sale date was March 1st 2015 with support from Avid to continue until March 1st 2020. Up to date drivers can be downloaded from the Avid website.
Things To Look Out For When Buying A Used Mbox Pro 3rd Gen
- Nothing: These devices are bulletproof. I owned one for years, it was dropped many times without developing any faults.
Cost new: £999
Used cost: Between £300 - £400 (hardware only) depending on condition
Control 24 - Released in 2001
The Digidesign Control 24 was a real masterpiece. The upward wedge-like design, Focusrite pres, visual & tactile feedback... oh yes, The Control 24 should go down in history as one of the greatest motorised fader control surfaces for Pro Tools of all time. It was so good that the general control layout and feature set hardly change when its successor, the C24, was developed.
Is The Control 24 Compatible With Current Versions Of Pro Tools?
Officially speaking, no. Avid announced the end of support for the Control 24 around the time of the Pro Tools 11 launch. Control 24 users, and indeed Pro Control users as well (as those control surfaces had their support ceased at the same time) were understandably upset. However, this year Neyrinck, the makers of V-Control, announced a solution that will see both Control 24 and Pro Control surfaces rise from the ashes and work again in Pro Tools, even possibly with other DAWs as well.
Things To Look Out For When Buying A Used Control 24
- Power Supply: The power supplies in Control 24s had a nasty habit of dying. These were no easy fixes so check if the used Control 24 you are enquiring about has had this fault or not.
Cost new: $7995
Used cost: Between £700 - £1,500 depending on condition
Used Control 24s are currently going for around £1,000 at the moment and we believe their second-hand value could start to rise slightly in the future thanks to Neyrinck working hard on supporting these devices in future versions of Pro Tools and other DAWs.