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Hi all,

I am looking for a little bit of advice on DAWs. I am Mac-based and have exclusively used Logic Studio for my work which, so far, I have found to be sufficient. But I am beginning to wonder whether I should invest in Pro Tools as my main DAW. I cannot afford the full HD version but am looking at Pro Tools M-Powered (I already use a compatible M Audio sound card). Generally I am developing sound design for relatively small productions: editing, Foley (ADR when required) and mixing. Recently I am working more and more with production agencies who produce online content and advertising for TV.

So my questions to you guys out there are:

  • Do you think Pro Tools M-Powered is a worthwhile investment?
  • If not Pro Tools, what DAWs do you use?
  • What is the most compatible DAW for our industry?
  • Are there any obvious advantages to using Pro Tools versus Logic?

I know that most big studios are using Pro Tools HD systems but I am working independently and am not quite at that level yet. From what I can see, one advantage with Pro Tools is that all versions are inter-compatible, therefore if I run Pro Tools M Powered on my system I can open my project on another studio's HD system if required.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Colin

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6 Answers

I used Pro Tools TDM/HD for many years. When I went freelance I bought Protools M-Powered to work with my M-Aaudio interface. It runs nothing like the HD version. I had a host of problems, much of it was related to the interface and how Pro Tools interfaces with it. I've had problems where I open a session and Pro Tools tells me that the interface doesn't support 96K sample rate (yes it does!), other times it has said that the interface doesn't support 48K sample rate (what!?). Once it even told me that it doesn't support 44.1K (WTF?!). I will say that not all of the M-Audio interface/drivers are created equal. The Profire 2626 seems a lot less problematic than the older firewire series.

Add to that, you must have DV Toolkit or Total Production Toolkit if you are doing post. Good luck working with video without one of those. If you really must get Pro Tools, Pro Tools LE was much less problematic than Pro Tools M-Powered for me. I never had issue with the hardware/software playing nice together with LE. But again, you need the toolkits. I've had issues opening sessions from other people, then I installed a toolkit, and the session opened. Might have to do with track count or some other voodoo thing.

In the end, I made made the move to Nuendo. I keep the M-Powered rig around to open old sessions or sessions from other people. If you can, wait it out a bit. Rumor has it that there is a big Pro Tools shake up coming soon. Pro Tools may finally offer an un-crippled native version.

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Thanks for the advice Chuck! The problems you experienced with the different versions of Pro Tools is exactly the kind of info I'm after. I have experience of using Nuendo and did find it a very useful tool. But it's a fairly pricey investment for my current situation. That said, Pro Tools (LE or M-Powered) with the DV Toolkit adds up to about the same cost! I think I'll take your advice and wait to see what happens with the future release of Pro Tools. Thanks once again! –  Colin Hunter May 2 '10 at 20:12
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I use both platforms.

If you plan to work to picture and work with other people, then I'm afraid it's Pro Tools you will need. Pro Tools LE will allow you to explore the platform without investing a huge sum. The other common alternative, Nuendo, is costly right from the start.

However, if you compose music, you might want to go the Logic route. Of the two, Logic got there first for computer-based composition. PT is still ahead for audio editing and productivity.

Have bought a number of M-Audio's products over the years, and while the earlier ones were great, I'm afraid their latest offerings have disappointed me in terms of quality and stability. With M-Powered you will depend on an M-Audio interface (or a Mackie Onyx series mixer!). With Pro Tools you would be in the hands of Digidesign/Avid (not necessarily better, but the support path should be shorter).

Bottomline, there's a clear benefit from investing in PT. But you're likely to stay close with Logic too ;)

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Thanks for the advice Georgi! I think you are right in terms of LE over M-Powered, I don't want to be tied to M Audio forever. In terms of working with picture, I have found that the QT video float window in Logic works very well. I have also never had problems importing omf files and find that the work flow is very good. But I can see that having both PT & Logic can be a good thing. I know it is generally considered that Logic is the choice of the musician and PT the choice of the post-production team but it seems to me that with each release both are coming closer and closer together... –  Colin Hunter May 2 '10 at 20:28
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Hey Colin. I would just add that Chuck is right. To work with the LE systems you really need the DV toolkit. I use PT HD and LE with the Toolkits-but they are pricey and its really not a good time to make that investment-because protools looks like its is finally going native. I would also add that I am a sound designer that loves using logic, but much of what id do is non-reality based stuff. Using Logic for tenuous editorial in my opinion is not ideal because that is not what Logic is about. BUt what alot of people dont realize is that you can sync Logic to pro-tools and run it as a slave synced machine (something I do often). This gives you the power of having a powerful waveform editor (Like PT) and a powerful instrument based sequencer like Logic. So its never really one or the other. And like Chuck you might want to give Nuendo a try. It actually has alot of features I wish pro-tools had and is a very well engineered platform.

In the Film and video world- Pro-tools IS the industry standard. But its about the timing. With Pro-tools on the verge of going native I would just recommend that you wait. There are lots of good alternatives that can tie you over.

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I'm very interested in the technical details of this. How many machines? What interfaces? What (if any) external gear. Slaving Logic to PT is pretty brave in my book. Must be rewarding ;) –  georgi May 3 '10 at 14:53
    
Thanks for the advice Bryan! It definitely sounds like it's best to wait and see what's happening with the future releases of PT before buying anything. –  Colin Hunter May 4 '10 at 12:45
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To me Protools M-Powered is kind of like putting a Porsche sticker on a '79 Yugo. Just because it says "Protools" doesn't mean it's the same as their full blown system. I've been using Nuendo for years and I think it blows away PT when it comes to audio for video. Both platforms certainly have their pros and cons but I think the cons list of Nuendo is far shorter. The initial cost of the software is a little under $2,000 here in the US but you get a lot for that money.

The top two programs in the professional world of audio for video are definitely Protools HD and Nuendo. Logic is used by a lot of music composers but not used on a professional level for ADR, Sound Design, full mixing, etc.

If you are constantly taking sessions to and from another studio then you'll have a smoother time with Protools (unless you're just transferring OMF's and AAF's). However, if you are fairly self-contained and are ingesting OMF's and AAF's and then outputting mix files you have a lot more flexibility on what platform you use.

For what its worth, Protools was, for a long time, a music recording and editing platform that later added video support. Nuendo was built/programmed specifically to do audio for video.

My two cents.

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"The top two programs in the professional world of audio for video are definitely Protools HD and Nuendo. Logic is used by a lot of music composers but not used on a professional level for ADR, Sound Design, full mixing, etc."

I disagree with this statement. I am a sound design AND music composing professional, approximately 50-50 music vs sound design at this point. I have Pro Tools M-Powered and Logic 9, and while I use both depending on the moment, I definitely lean much more heavily on Logic for both music and sound design. I do foley recording and editing, ADR, full mixing, all in Logic and all seamlessly. Both apps have some advantages to the other, but I can do anything with Logic that I need, usually quicker. Granted with PT9 you are now freed to use any hardware you choose, but Logic still has the 255 tracks, the option of offline OR online rendering (come on Avid.....), to me a better workflow, and a lot bigger bang for the buck, and it costs only $499 complete. You do not have to pay extra for a great surround mixer and output capabilities. It is an excellent sound design tool and it handles video very well. Also you can customize the key bindings to your liking, which you cannot do with Pro Tools. I haven't used Nuendo very much, but my initial impressions were good, although it did not make me want to leave Logic. Bottom line, find the app that fits your needs and go with it. Always a good idea to keep Pro Tools on hand for when you need to go into a bigger studio, should that happen.

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guys what do you think about the new Wavelab 7 that comes for MACs also? i am currently using Logic Studio 9 and i am thinking of investing another 550 euros to get Wavelab 7 also. Cause Pro Tools ARE the industry standard now but they come costly with the extra stuff you need to buy to have a decent wave editor!

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Buying WaveLab for just the wave editing functions is kind of unnecessary. But it`s pretty handy if you need to do redbook stuff. –  Michael Manzke Nov 13 '10 at 16:11
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