12 January 2014

Home Studio: Migrating to Pro Tools 11. Some Reflexions - Part II


In previous part, I was sharing with you my short experience while migrating from PT 8.0.5 LE to Pro Tools 11. It was clear that some of my foundamental plugins were missing and, I wanted to check if PT 10 (included with PT 11) could be enough and, which are the differences between the one and the other.

I've spent a couple of days installing all my plugings, after installing PT 10 and, this is a lot of software and a lot of time. Before my memory fails, I would like to share my impressions.

Checking Pro Tools 10

After long time downloading last versions and installing everything, it was the time to check PT 10 and, see if my investment in RTAS plugins was ensured.

The first 3 attempts to start the program failed. The program was crashing while loading plugins. Each time in a different spot so, it wasn't an error related to a certain plugin.

The forth time, I was able to open PT 10 and load the demo song that comes with PT 11 (which I've already modified adding some plugins in the master fader).

At a glance, PT 10 seems really similar to PT 8 and, fortunatelly all the bunch of plugins that I were installing were there, available for use and, this includes several 32 bits AAX and RTAS plugins. My loved plugins where there: the Sonnox Elite pack, every IK Multimedia plugin, Massey Plugins, EZDrummer, Superior Drummer 2, Inspector XL, the TT Range Meter and, some free stuff from BlueCat.

Ok. I started the song trying to do a critical hearing but, after half second, the engine stopped with a warning, asking me to increase the number of CPUs in the Engine's menu.
Fine. Number of CPUs was 4 so, I've raised the number to 7 (I've seen a video explaining that you should free at least 1 for system tasks).

After fixing this parameter, I started to play with the several plugins and checking if they were still working.
I can say that everything was working really nice and, the song sounded nice.
Maybe, the small nuances of the song sounded slightly veiled, compared to PT 11 but, overall, results were satisfactory enough.

I had the sensation that the engine was working with a higher load than in PT 11. I've opened the System window and, the CPU load was around a 30%. Memory and disk usage was ridiculous to be considered in this comparison.
But, later, I've checked same file, with same plugins in PT 11 and, the load was more or less the same but, I had the sensation that, while PT 10 seemed to be overloaded, PT 11 worked way smoothly.
I think the new engine is an improvement, for sure and, I would like to check it again with audio tracks, to see how both deliver when disk is involved in the equation.

Before re-checking the song in PT 11, I was surprised with one more goody: PT 10 was hunging on the void when trying to close it. I had to go to the Tasks Manager to delete the process. That made impossible to open PT 11 without re-starting the system.

I had the sensation that PT 10 was highly unestable, at least running under Windows 8.1 64 bits.
4 crashes in a row, just the first day, seems too much, IMHO.

Re-checking PT 11

Before checking again PT 11, I've installed the demo version of BlueCat Meter Pro plugin, to see if such a plugin is a good candidate to substitute both, the TT Dynamic Meter and Inspector XL.
Well, it can cover both meters with ease but, I will miss the mono button  on the TT Dynamic Meter, that was so useful to check the corrective EQ of the individual parts, as well as hidden phase issues.
From Inspector XL, I will miss the rest of meters, useful to check the stereo balance, stereo image, correlation and, frequency analysis tools.
I am so used to the K-System of metering that, I am really happy to have found a real candidate to substitute both meters.

But, BlueCat has a lot of such a tools also so, I think I will end buying those but, in the meanwhile, I can work with their demo versions, which are totally operative but, with the particularity that they are automatically and randomly bypassed, as part of the demo "fee".
That could be a real issue with dynamics processors or EQ processors but, not for their suit of meters.

If you are in PT 11 and you miss your Inspector XL and TT Dynamic Range Meter, try the demo versions from BlueCat. Not so straight forward (lot of buttons to press) as the former ones and, I loved that display of the density clouds of the average and peak RMS. Very interesting.
I am looking forward to check their rest of analysis tools. They seem promising.

Overall, I would say that the mix sounds more airy with PT 11, slightly  (a pinch) better but, difference isn't so dramatical. I would have no doubts on continue using PT 10 and protect my investment but, what really concerns me is the reliability of PT 10. Too much crashes in a very short time.

I dunno, maybe because I am in a 64 bits system, PT 11 works flawless while PT 10 seems highly unestable and, that compromises the possibility to protect my investment in previous plugins.

So, IMHO, you should carefully weight which path do you want to follow, before purchasing PT 11.
If you have a bunch of useful RTAS plugins (even some VST that were wrapped to RTAS) and, their respective manufacturers haven't available a 64 bits AAX version and, they don't have in project to deliver such an upgrade or, if they have it but that means to raise your investment, you should make your maths and take a decision.

If you decide to stay with PT 10, my recommendation is that you work with PT 10 in an estable 32 bits Operating System. Maybe you can have your hardware ready for a 64 bits system but, install the 32 bits version of the Operative System. I bet this would be more estable than running that 32 bits application in a 64 bits system.

In my case, with a 64 bits Operating System, I have no other option than to go ahead with PT 11, after seeing the lack of reliability of PT 10.

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