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|
||No VCA||No VCA|
Let’s go through the list.
- 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
- 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.
- More audio tracks. Never needed the 64 I had, my busiest mix had 60 including plenty of aux tracks.
- MP3 option. No change, I’ve already paid for this feature
- Import Session Data options are unlocked, this is nice and would save a few steps when mixing multi-song projects.
- Beat Detective. No change, I’ve already paid for this feature
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I still need an iLok. Doesn’t bother me that much because I need it for many plugin licenses anyway.
- 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).
- OMF. Not really needed.
- Timecode. Only needed this a few years ago in school for 2 projects. Don’t care now.
- 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!
- Route to new track function. A time saver for sure, but not as useful as something like “Folders” in Reaper which I use often.
- 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.