Buying a Legacy Pro Tools system. Good Idea?

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Mklein
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Buying a Legacy Pro Tools system. Good Idea?

Post by Mklein » Sat Jan 24, 2009 3:19 pm

Hey everyone. So, I'm in the market for a new DAW/converter to coincide with the upgrading of my studio. Before you read any further, I think it's important for me to state:

I need/want Pro Tools compatibility.
I mix out of the box, so I don't need a ton of processing power, as plug-ins will be kept to a minimum

I also want as much I/O as possible, as I'll be doing a fair amount of tracking, and all of my mixing will be out of the box. As it stands right now, an HD rig is overkill, and very much out of reach. On the other hand, a used Digi 002 ($500-600) or Digi 003 ($750-$1000) is comparatively expensive for what you get, and caps me at 16 i/o, assuming I purchase an additional piece of gear for the lightpipe I/O. And on a more shallow level, It's also a pro-sumer piece of gear that doesn't exactly scream "quality studio". This is where I began to think

What about a Mix system?

A cursory glance around ebay shows that a Mix core card runs around $350, while the 8 channel 888 24-bit converter boxes run around $225 a piece, often including the necessary cable (otherwise the cable can be had for $75 or so).

As far as a computer, it looks as if a solid dual-core G4 powermac, period correct for the mix systems, can be had for $300-$350. If I were to sell my Macbook in the process of downgrading computers, This would put me at a $350-$400 surplus. So here's how I figure it:

Mix Core card --------------------------- $350
3x Digi 888 i/o boxes @ $225---------- $675
Powermac G4 --------- ---------------- $350
Mac downgrade surplus ---------------- -$400
________________________________________
Total $975


So for less then a grand, I'll have myself a Pro level Pro tools system with 24 i/o and a matching powermac. As far as I know, the Pro Tools sessions are compatible in both directions, so I can track somewhere with an HD rig and mix at my place. Is there something I'm forgetting? Is this a bad idea? Is there a better alternative that I haven't considering?

Thanks for any/all input!

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Re: Buying a Legacy Pro Tools system. Good Idea?

Post by chris harris » Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:23 pm

Mklein wrote:I need/want Pro Tools compatibility.

....doesn't exactly scream "quality studio"....
It doesn't exactly scream "quality studio" when you tell you clients that they'll have to save their session in some legacy format so that it will open on your old ass version of PT either.

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Re: Buying a Legacy Pro Tools system. Good Idea?

Post by Mklein » Sat Jan 24, 2009 5:32 pm

subatomic pieces wrote:
Mklein wrote:I need/want Pro Tools compatibility.

....doesn't exactly scream "quality studio"....
It doesn't exactly scream "quality studio" when you tell you clients that they'll have to save their session in some legacy format so that it will open on your old ass version of PT either.
What legacy format is that? Does that imply that sessions done on a mix system are NOT cross compatible with HD/LE sessions, and vice versa? Thanks.

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Post by roscoenyc » Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:39 pm

digital is the one place where 'vintage' isn't cool.

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Post by firesine » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:19 pm

I have no problem with 888s, I'm doing a mix right now on a PT6.4 rig with 4 of them and it sounds great. I think the other links in your chain will make a bigger difference in your sound. I'm talking instruments, mics, outboard, etc. However, you need to have an Mbox lying around so you can open all the PT7 sessions you will be getting and save a copy in whatever version of PT you are running. I don't thing there is such a thing as a PT7 Mix Plus system.
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Re: Buying a Legacy Pro Tools system. Good Idea?

Post by firesine » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:24 pm

Mklein wrote: What legacy format is that? Does that imply that sessions done on a mix system are NOT cross compatible with HD/LE sessions, and vice versa? Thanks.
Just to clarify, the problem is not Mix vs. HD/LE it is PT version 5 or 6 vs. PT version 7. They are completely different session file formats and a PT6 rig will not recognize nor open a PT7 session. Same goes for 4 vs. 5 and so forth.
Mmm, lung butter.

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Post by Bro Shark » Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:29 am

You're in for a world of hurt if you try and go that route.

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Post by Gentleman Jim » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:54 am

Keep in mind that the availability of parts for a G4 is going to dwindle over time. I imagine the same is true for 888's, if not more so. Yeah, for now they're cheap, but it's going to be a real hassle if you need one of them repaired and the tech isn't able to source the parts.

If you're looking to use ProTools as basically a tape deck, have you considered an Alesis HD 24? Check eBay, they're going for 700-1100 right about now. You could track to that then dump it into ProTools with one of their $250 LE or M-Powered deals.

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Post by farview » Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:49 am

Protools compatability is out the window because you won't be able to open sessions from newer versions of Protools.

I just got done recording a project on an HD system out in LA, I get it back to Chicago and borrow a friends M-box to open the sessions...SNAG! The M-box has version 6.x and the HD system had version 7.x.

So I loaded all the wave files into Nuendo and got on with my life.

Oh, and not being a Protools guy, the little bit of work I've done on 6.x and the M-box was useless with the 7.x HD system. Stuff was in a different spot, etc... There were other problems I was trying to overcome (PC vs. mac, trackball vs. mouse, left handed vs. right handed setup, etc...), so I had to have the assistant do most everything.

Being stuck in 2002 is no way to run a studio. You would be so much better off with Cubase and a Motu. And the Motu would even be 24 bit...

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firesine
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Post by firesine » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:14 am

farview wrote: And the Motu would even be 24 bit...
...Just like the 888s.

But you are right about the differences in PT6 and 7. There will be some stuff to relearn, at least the key commands are the same, I think.
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Post by trodden » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:16 pm

*is stuck in 2000 with digi 001*


I don't man, i've considered doing the same thing.. piecing together a mix plus system and be done with all the latency b.s. i have with the 001. There is a great studio in town still running mix plus with protools 5. What's so hard on converting back and forth between protools 5/6 and 7? it happens a lot.

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Post by Gentleman Jim » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:25 pm

farview wrote:
So I loaded all the wave files into Nuendo and got on with my life.
I'm amazed at how many people I've had to explain this idea to. I get that most people aren't as interested in the subject as I am, since they have talents and interests in other areas. But some of the people I've told that I use Logic look at me like I just said I insist on getting paid in Japanese Yen; it's obviously never, ever going to work, their friend who works at Sam Ash told them that it's ProTools or nothing.

Then when I point out that I can give them 24/48 wav's or aiff's that they can import into ProTools and do whatever they want with, it takes a few minutes to convince them. I've even had people who really should know better tell me they thought if a recording wasn't done on ProTools that they might run into problems getting a cd pressed, as if Sonar, DP, or Cubase recordings are incompatible with cd players.

Mind you, I'm talking about location recording. I point out that if I'm mixing then the final result is what's important, and that Logic is perfectly suitable. If I'm not mixing then it really doesn't matter what program gets the tracks to hard drive, it matters that I have more than 18 available simultaneous inputs.

To the OP: It might be worth asking yourself why you're focused on ProTools. I'm not bashing ProTools, there are plenty of good reasons to go that way... (not the least of which is the public perception I'm moaning about above!), but other programs might be perfectly suited for your needs as well.

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Post by tubetapexfmr » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:33 pm

I agree with Trodden, don't listen to these other naysayers. With a Mix System you get reliability, stability, no latency and professional sound. The average band has no idea what the difference between a Mix or HD system is, they just want Pro Tools. Heck even most of them won't care that much, they just don't want glitches slowing them down. If your front end feeding the 888/24 units and back end mixing from them is solid, you will have exactly what you need. I would agree with picking up one of those new Mbox units for converting sessions if you do a lot of projects that started on version 7 or 8. When you get those 888 units be sure they are the 888/24 units, you really want the 24 bits. By the way, I happen to have two G4/Pro Tools rigs myself and would be willing to trade one of them if you're interested. I sent you a PM about it.

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Post by firesine » Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:02 pm

jessemesasavage wrote:With a Mix System you get reliability, stability, no latency and professional sound. The average band has no idea what the difference between a Mix or HD system is, they just want Pro Tools.
I agree with all of this except for the latency part. Mix doesn't have ADC like HD so inserting plugins will most definitely cause latency and comb filtering.
Mmm, lung butter.

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Post by farview » Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:33 pm

firesine wrote:
farview wrote: And the Motu would even be 24 bit...
...Just like the 888s.
Only if they are 888/24's. The original 888's were 16 bit and started to distort at -4dbfs.

Another issue is plugin compatability. Some newer plugins will not work in older versions. Plugins that people take for granted like Drumagog never had a version that would work on a mix system. You will hit a wall pretty quickly and end up obviously behind the times.

The lack of ADC would drive me up the wall. It's insane that LE doesn't have it (reaper does and cost's $50 for pete's sake) and I can't imagine working with anything in this day and age that doesn't.

Believe me, I held on to the DA88 rig in my studio too long, it doesn't pay to start out 8 years behind.

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