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Digidesign Previews New Audio Tools at AES Show

Pro Tools|HD qualified for G5 systems By Dave Nagel
Digidesign is previewing several new audio tools at the AES convention in New York and also announcing new third-party plugins for Pro Tools systems. The company has also announced that certain Pro Tools|HD and Pro Tools|HD Accel systems have been qualified for use on Apple G5 workstations.

In the category of "now shipping" tools, Digidesign is showing Pro Tools TDM 6.2, Pro Tools|HD Accel, the 96i audio interface and the new Impact mix bus compressor TDM plugin. The Pro Tools|HD Accel is a PCI card designed for Pro Tools|HD systems. According to Digidesign, it offers twice the DSP power of the first-generation Pro Tools|HD systems. Designed to replace previous HD Process cards, the HD Accel is available in two configurations: HD Accel 2 (with the HD Core and one HD Accel card) and HD Accel 3 (with the HD Core and two HD Accel cards). The new systems support the next generation of Pro Tools plugins, including the newly announced Impact mix bus compressor plugin, and provide backward compatibility with previous-generation plugins, with support for TDM, HTDM, RTAS and AudioSuite formats. HD Accel systems also ship with the HDpack plugin bundle.

Digidesign's 96i I/O is the HD version of the 1622 I/O designed for Pro Tools|HD and Pro Tools|HD Accel systems. The 2U 96i is a 96 kHz multiple-channel audio interface that provides 16 analog inputs for balanced and unbalanced A/D conversion using TRS quarter-inch connectors. It also includes a 24-bit S/PDIF I/O port. All of the inputs include software-adjustable level controls. Up to six 96i units can be used together to provide 96 inputs.

Both of the new hardware offerings ship with Pro Tools TDM 6.2 software, which provides enhanced performance for Pro Tools|HD systems, support for HD Accel and 96i and import/export support for Microsoft Windows Media Audio 9. It also provides the ability to use the 96i as a patch bay and provides cross-platform session compatibility with systems running Pro Tools TDM or LE 5.1 software or higher.

Digidesign is also shipping its new Impact console-style mix bus compressor plugin. This is the first plugin optimized for the new HD Accel systems with Pro Tools TDM 6.2. It offers multi-channel track support (up to 7.1), as well as 192 kHz sample rates. Designed to emulate the look of a console mix bus compressor, Impact includes variable controls for four selectable compression ratios for attack, release, threshold and make-up gain, as well as a gain reduction meter and a side-chain input for using any Pro Tools track as an external key.

Digidesign is also previewing new tools and enhancements to existing tools. These include:

  • DigiDelivery, a network appliance for exchanging files over the Internet. It's expected to be available in the fourth quarter of this year.
  • AVoption|V10, a 10-bit video I/O device that offers support for Avid's new Media Composer Adrenaline. Adding AVoption|V10 to a Pro Tools|HD system enables real-time playback of Avid video directly from the Pro Tools application. It supports standard-definition uncompressed video, JFIF, AVR and DV formats and will include component, composite and SDI I/O, along with custom Avid software for automated audio/video capture. It's expected to be available in the second quarter of 2004 for $11,995.
  • FXpansion VST-to-RTAS plugin adapter for Mac OS X and WIndows, which allows Pro Tools TDM and LE users to integrate VST plugins and instruments into their working environment.
  • ReVibe, a new plugin from Digidesign designed for the new HD Accel card. The 96 kHz plugin offers five new reverb algorithms and a collection of room reflections.
  • TrackPunch, a new feature scheduled for release in an upcoming version of Pro Tools software. It's designed for the film and video markets, allowing for punching in and out of individual tracks during playback. It also offers enhanced input monitoring, new support for per-track switching between input sources and playback from disk, the ability to record broken timecode and 23.976 FPS support. TrackPunch and Input Monitoring will be supported on Pro Tools|HD systems only and are expected in the first quarter of 2004.
  • Focusrite Liquid Channel, a professional channel strip designed to replicate any mic pre and any compressor with new preamp technology and convolution techniques. It includes a new multi-tapped Liquid transformer and features a single digital Focusrite EQ. It will be available in the fourth quarter of this year for $3,495.
  • Focusrite ISA 430 Mark II, a single mono channel strip that features the same core elements as the original ISA 430, as well as enhanced, multi-format compression options, improved processing and routing flexibility, variable impedance, instant air and a 192 kHz A/D conversion option. It's expected to be available in the fourth quarter of this year for $2,995. The 192 kHz A/D conversion option will sell for $595.

Finally, Digidesign says it's qualified certain Pro Tools|HD and Pro Tools|HD Accel system configurations with Apple 1.6 GHz and 1.8 GHz Power Mac G5 computers. The company says Apple Power Mac G5 and Mac OS X 10.3 support will be added to the remainder of the Pro Tools product line in two upcoming phases. Pro Tools running on G5 systems gain increased counts for RTAS plugins and enhanced all-around performance. For more information on the new products or further details on Power Mac G5 qualification, visit

Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at

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