Digidesign’s Pro Tools|HD system has finally hit the streets, offering such goodies as sample rates up to 192 kHz, new hardware architecture, higher track counts, and increased I/O capacity. Aside from the new high-resolution HD audio interface and processing cards, there is also a software upgrade, Version 5.3, which is included with the system.
As you would expect, the core card (PCI) is the foundation of any new Pro Tools system. Digidesign is offering three sizes for scaleable needs: Pro Tools|HD 1, HD 2, and HD 3. HD 1 features an HD Core card with 96 audio tracks and up to 32 channels of I/O via proprietary DigiLink cables, which can be up to 100 ft. in length. HD 2 includes the HD Core card and an additional HD Process card with up to 128 audio tracks and 64 channels of I/O. HD 3 features the HD Core card with two additional HD Process cards, supporting up to 128 audio tracks and 96 channels of I/O with Digidesign audio interfaces. Up to six HD Process cards can be added on to your system, offering maximum DSP power. However, working at 96 kHz cuts in half the potential track count of these configurations, and 192 kHz operation halves the count again.
Digidesign has also released two new high-resolution audio interfaces that operate in conjunction with the HD cards. The 192 I/O offers up to 16 channels of 24-bit/192 kHz I/O, 8 channels of analog I/O, 8 channels of AES/EBU, 8 channels of TDIF, 16 channels of ADAT, and 2 extra channels of ADAT or S/PDIF digital I/O. The 192 I/O expansion bay allows for three types of expansion cards; a 192 AD adds 8 more channels of high-def analog input, a 192 DA adds 8 channels of high-def analog outputs, and the 192 Digital expansion card adds 8 channels of AES/EBU, TDIF, and ADAT I/O.
The 192 I/O supports sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192 kHz, provides a soft-clip limiter, and features 118 dB unweighted dynamic range (120 dB A-weighted). There is also an expansion port for direct connection of another 192 I/O or 96 I/O (see below) and a Legacy Peripheral port for connection of older 888|24, 882|20, 1622, or 24-Bit ADAT Bridge I/Os.
The 96 I/O offers a lower cost high-definition interface with 16 channels of I/O at up to 24-bit/96 kHz. There are eight channels of high-def analog I/O, eight channels of ADAT optical I/O, two channels of AES/EBU, S/PDIF I/O, and word clock I/O. An expansion port is also featured for direct connection to another 96 I/O interface, as is the Legacy Peripherals port for connection to the previously mentioned older I/Os (save those 888’s!).
Also new to this system release is TDM II, offering not only twice the number of timeslots as Mix systems, but also more efficient use of those slots. Digidesign has upgraded all their plug-ins to take advantage of HD, offering a free promo HD pack with new system purchases. As you would expect, companies such as Waves, McDSP, and Wave Mechanics have updated their products, and many others are preparing their TDM II releases. Check www.digidevelopers. com for the latest release information.
To soften the blow of upgrading to Pro Tools|HD, Digidesign is offering various trade-up packages in exchange for your old hardware. The company is also releasing several additional new products in conjunction with HD. SYNC I/O is their new synchronization device for HD, featuring support for all timecode formats and clock sources. MIDI I/O is a USB-powered MIDI interface with ten MIDI I/O ports and support for the upcoming Digidesign Time Stamping feature in Pro Tools spftware, and PRE is a remote-controllable 8-channel preamp designed specifically to work with HD.