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Why I'm not upgrading to Pro Tools 9…yet

Warning – This post is completely selfish but something I need to do to keep me from spending money I don’t have. If you’re on the fence about upgrading consider doing the same.
So Pro Tools 9 is out. It’s a major game changer in the DAW world, but for me, is it worth upgrading? I don’t even know if I’ve gotten my money worth on my last upgrade. Just 2 years ago I bought a new interface (Profire 2626), Pro Tools M-Powered 8 and Music Production Toolkit for a total of around $1550. This system is very capable and has worked well for me and should continue to work for some time. Any feature I’ve lacked I just use Reaper for. Getting the upgrade to PT 8 was a no-brainer, Music Production Toolkit I had to get for a job, but came out to only $62/useful feature. Let’s see how much the Pro Tools 9 upgrade is worth to me.

In the chart below I’ve made RED any new feature I would actually use.

Pro Tools M-Powered 8 + Music Production Toolkit 2

$250 + $500

What I’ve already paid for

Pro Tools 9 Upgrade from M-Powered


What I get with upgrade

1 18 Inputs & Outputs 32 Inputs & Outputs
2 32 buses 256 buses
3 64 Audio Tracks 96 Audio Tracks
4 mp3 option mp3 option
5 Basic Import Session Data Options Full Import Session Data Options
6 Multi-track Beat Detective Multi-track Beat Detective
7 Basic Automation options Basic Automation options
8 M-Audio Interfaces only Any audio interface
9 No Delay Compensation Full Automatic Delay Compensation
10 Requires iLok Requires iLok
11 Eleven LE, TL Space Native, Smack!, Hybrid, Structure LE no additional plugins
No OMF OMF import/export
13 No Timecode Timcode options
14 Standard PT Pan Depth Variable Pan Depth Options
15 Basic Routing Easy routing to new track option

Let’s go through the list.

  1. More I/O. I don’t need this at the moment. I’m currently using 5 in (on average) and 9 out with my interface. To actually utilize all 26 my interface is capable of would require a bunch more hardware, cables and I really have no need for more at the moment
  2. More Buses. I don’t tend to run out of buses, but this would allow me some more routing flexibility or organizing ability. I can’t see needing more than 48 though.
  3. More audio tracks. Never needed the 64 I had, my busiest mix had 60 including plenty of aux tracks.
  4. MP3 option. No change, I’ve already paid for this feature
  5. Import Session Data options are unlocked, this is nice and would save a few steps when mixing multi-song projects.
  6. Beat Detective. No change, I’ve already paid for this feature
  7. Automation options. The advanced automation options that I would like to have will require another costly upgrade. Upgrading to PT 9 gives me nothing new in this area.
  8. Open hardware options. Great! As much as I still like my Profire 2626, when I got it I felt forced. That was the best PT interface at the time, and still is of anything made by AVID in my budget. I may go with Lynx or RME or Apogee in the future, or maybe a Duet for my laptop.
  9. Delay Compensation. Great! Too bad I’ve already learned to avoid delay inducing RTAS plugins in my mixing methods. I’m also just as comfortable mixing in Reaper as PT, which has has ADC already.
  10. I still need an iLok. Doesn’t bother me that much because I need it for many plugin licenses anyway.
  11. Plugins. I got all these plugins in my Music Production Toolkit upgrade. These all get used often and when combined with #3, 4, and 6 made the MPT2 upgrade a fantastic deal ($62/feature).
  12. OMF. Not really needed.
  13. Timecode. Only needed this a few years ago in school for 2 projects. Don’t care now.
  14. Pan Depth. I want to play with this feature. Of course if I find I like the default most that’s a waste of money!
  15. Route to new track function. A time saver for sure, but not as useful as something like “Folders” in Reaper which I use often.
  16. VCA faders and automation. I’d love to have this. It’ll cost me big bucks to get it.

So it looks like my options are:
Hold steady with my already working system. I haven’t run into any serious limitations of PT8+MPT2+Reaper. It works, sounds good and makes me money.
Make the upgrade for $50/useful feature.

New code means new bugs. I’ve never had the best of luck with Pro Tools. Bugs seem to find me. The upgrade will also make me tempted to buy a new audio interface, I’m more likely to get a second interface rather than a replacement so the cost is not deferred by selling used gear.

I don’t feel like I really need to upgrade, but I do remember how good it feels to have the latest toy. My mixes likely aren’t going to sound better directly due to the upgrade.

Ugh, I’m no closer to deciding. NOT doing something doesn’t feel like making a decision, just putting it off for another day.


  1. Joe Gilder
    Joe Gilder November 9, 2010

    Yeah, I’m with you. My system works. I don’t have any limitations. PT9 is awesome, but won’t really change anything PRACTICALLY for me.

  2. Devil's Advocate
    Devil's Advocate November 9, 2010

    When you get that Lynx or RME or Apogee, your mixes might sound better because of better converters….

    • Jon
      Jon November 9, 2010

      Of course! Gonna buy me some? šŸ˜‰

  3. Scott Waldrep
    Scott Waldrep November 9, 2010

    Jon, stop punishing yourself. Ha! If you’re happy and it doesn’t seem worthy of your hard earned money then don’t buy it. I was still running Leopard until I upgraded to Pt9. I waited until I could justify the cost and trouble of upgrades. I will say that I’ve had no problems yet. The delay comp is nice. I pulled some old sessions and had to pull all the time adj plugs off the tracks. I upgraded from an 003 so it was a hundred bucks less also then yours would be. Good article bro, make us think about what is needed vs. what is wanted. I’ll admit it….I wanted it.

  4. Michael Turner
    Michael Turner November 9, 2010

    I basically had the same thought, though not nearly as organized as you. I have an MBox2 mini and I just did the upgrade to 8.4. Until I really use that and get comfortable with it, there isn’t a compelling reason to upgrade for me.

  5. Devil's Advocate
    Devil's Advocate November 9, 2010

    >> Of course! Gonna buy me some? šŸ˜‰

    We are indirectly, by clicking your ads…. (when the site isn’t down)!

    homerecordingshow should get some sponsors man

  6. Michael Wisniewski
    Michael Wisniewski November 15, 2010

    The turnoff for me for PT9 is that it requires Windows 7. What about all my other recording related software. Sorry not ready for the headaches or the investment in upgrading everything that won’t work on Windows 7. I am surprised that no one has mentioned this as a major reason for not making the jump.

    • Jon
      Jon November 15, 2010

      Good point. I’ve been on Win 7 64 bit for a couple months now. I haven’t run into any compatibility issues so far, some things run much better actually!
      Getting rid of all the various operating systems they need to support is a good thing IMO. Think about it.
      PT 8 was for XP, Vista, and eventually Win7 32 and 64 bit. OSX 10.5 and 10.6 (total of 6). PT 9 is for Win 7 32 or 64 and OSX 10.6 (Total of 3). PT is going to be a 32 bit app for a while, but the rest of the system can take advantage of the extra RAM for ReWire or other tasks.
      Yeah that upgrade cost can be a bummer, but XP is DEAD. Win 7 is so good I barely use my mac, which forced my wife to learn the mac but that’s another story.

  7. Riley
    Riley December 3, 2010

    ALSO, LE is extinct but at digi conference last night the expert said that PT M-Powered is going to continue to be developed… Should be interesting to see how that turns out…

  8. Jon
    Jon December 3, 2010

    Yeah that’s a really weird thing I’ve seen a couple places and makes little sense. Did you ask why they do that bullshit?

  9. Riley
    Riley December 5, 2010

    They didn’t elaborate at the conference.. maybe their going to go to 3 tier system? With M-Powered as entry level? not sure.. It would make sense because PT9 with hardware runs you up around 1000 dollars now.. Time will tell I guess

  10. Jon
    Jon December 5, 2010

    There’s Pro Tools SE too so entry level is covered.

  11. Riley
    Riley December 5, 2010

    You’re right.. I have no clue

  12. mastering
    mastering March 11, 2011

    The software/hardware industry’s battle with getting us engineers and producers to upgrade does get rather tiring, if something works get your moneys worth out of it. rarely does any new bit of kit revolutionize the end results. You seem to have your head screwed on ! cheers

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