xlr connections.jpeg

It’s no secret that Pro Tools just came out with a huge update – Pro Tools 9. I haven’t talked about it here on HSC because, to be honest, I’m just not that interested.

That’s not to say it isn’t a HUGE update for Pro Tools, the two big additions being ADC (Automatic Delay Compensation) and compatibility with any audio interface (rather than requiring users to use their proprietary in-house hardware).

I’m currently running Pro Tools 8 on a 003. SO many people have asked me if I’m going to upgrade. Several of the crazy commenters on YouTube are telling me that the 003 is now crap. This logic drives me crazy. Why is it that when a software company releases something, everyone assumes everything that ever existed in the history of the world is now obsolete?

The 003 sounded fine the day before they released PT9, and it sounded fine the day after they released PT9.

There are plenty of engineers still using Pro Tools 6 or 7, and they’re making amazing-sounding recordings.

Is the 003 the best sounding interface in the world? Nah.

Is it a good-sounding interface? Yep.

(And here’s the most important question) Can you make good recordings using a 003? Absolutely.

Please, please, please don’t fall into this trap of believing that you have to have the latest thing to make good recordings. Please.

Pro Tools 9 is a great upgrade, but I’m not in a hurry to get it. Why? Becausemy system is working. Why would I update?

That said, if you’re needing to upgrade your interface, or if you’ve never jumped on Pro Tools before, here are some suggestions for interfaces to use with Pro Tools 9.

The cool thing about Pro Tools 9 is that you can finally seriously look at all those other interfaces that you never gave much attention in the past, since they were incompatible. No you can.

Pro Tools 9 Interfaces

The idea of this post came from my reader Brad, who submitted a question via the Ask Joe form, asking IF I upgraded my interface, what would I get?

This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few of my top picks.

Presonus StudioLive 16.4.2

I actually wrote an article on the StudioLive a while back. It’s a fantastic live digital console, but it also makes a fantastic front end to your recording studio. 16 high-quality mic inputs, all the on-board fancy-ness that you’d expect from a digital console, and firewire connectivity to your computer make this an AWESOME choice if you plan to do live recording, tracking sessions, or if you just want a cool mixer in your studio.

Some folks will complain that it doesn’t have motorized faders, but you’d have to pay a few thousand dollars more to get that functionality.

At $1,999.95, the PreSonus StudioLive isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely worth a serious look.

Presonus Firestudio Project

I’m a big fan of Presonus stuff. Their Firestudio Project is a fantastic, single rackspace, 8-mic input interface. It’s perfect for you if you want to record drums and need more than 2 or 4 inputs.

At $499.95, it’s a great piece. Check it out here.

Apogee Ensemble/Duet

Apogee is a big name in the studio world. They make fantastic converters. They also make fantastic firewire interfaces. Whether you only need two channels (Duet) or a bunch (Ensemble), these are high-end pieces that sound great.

These are my top 3 or 4 picks. IF I was to upgrade or change things around, these are the ones I would look at.

What about you? Leave a comment. Let’s hear what you have to say.

[Photo by Claudio Matsuoka]

  • Ok I have a great question for you. I have a 002 rack and I would like to start using Presonas Studio One. I know it works great with its own products. So Can I use presonus firestudio with my 002 rack and use Studio One? I only want to use my rack as the pre amp and let presonus firestudio studio one be the master… I dont see how I can Daisy Chain my 02 r with presonus firestudio.. Any ideas?

    • I would assume it’ll work. You’ll want to contact Presonus though.

      • ok thanks. I figured it out… I’m using my 002 r with the PreSonus AudioBox 1818VSL USB 2.0 Audio Interface.. The running the Studio One ..

  • Shaun Vuitton

    hello, im soo glad i ran into this blog. i have a focusrite saffire pro 24 dsp interface that firewire port went out on rite at the end of warranty(LOL) so i am looking for another interface. Ive learned that it is best to research before i buy –
    “the hard way” the apogee system sounds good but i need an interface- or in conjuction with it- a device that will allow me to hook up more than two monitors. i have 3 sets. any suggestions ?

    • I don’t really keep up with the latest gear anymore. You should call Sweetwater. (Sweetwater.com). I used to work there, and they know their stuff.

  • How about an interface with more than 8 inputs? I need at least 12 for live studio recording sessions. Any suggestions?

    • You can daisy-chain interfaces together, like the Presonus Firestudio’s. Or you could get a Presonus StudioLive 16.0.2 or 16.4.2 mixer. which gives you 12 and 16 mic inputs.

  • dave

    i have the rme ufx and protools 9 and that was the best move for sound and Quality! i had protools 8 and the 003+ and just felt like there was a cloud ova the whole mix,not jokin upgrade to that and then tell me what THINK! TRUST ME!

    • Christian Valtanen

      hi! I am trying same combination but have a problem.
      I can record with it but can not get voice out….there is only kind of sinewave when I hit play….can you help me?

      • Sorry Christian. Not my area of expertise. Try contacting Avid maybe?D

  • CAMBAM

    I have a PreSonus Firestudio Project and am thinking about getting Protools 9. Currently, I am using PreSonus Studio One 2, but I want to be able to work with others on a project.

  • I too am like so many others, I fell in to the Digidesign trap a few years ago. I am currently running PT 7 on a 5 yr old pc, an 002r and a Rosetta 800 via Adat. I use a hearback hub system for isolated monitoring and a pretty good selection of mic pre’s and mics. I am also using a Control 24. I feel like I really need to upgrade but by using the Control 24 I am certain that I have to stay with Avid software. However I have been experimenting with a new Macbook Pro and Apogee Duet2 with Logic Express. I really like the Apogee stuff.
    My question is, if I upgrade to PT 9 and add Apogee Ensemble as my front end and keep the Rosetta via Adat in and also the Hearback hubs via Adat out, would this be as stable as what I have experienced in the past. What about the Maestro mix inside Ensemble working in PT 9? Will this help with latency issues? I have very little issues now with latency as long as I don’t use any plugins during tracking. I would like to be able to add a little reverb for vocalist if they want it without having to rev-up the buffer, thus creating more latency.
    Any suggestions, anyone?

    • Hmm…I couldn’t speak to how well it would work together. I would tend to tell you to leave your system alone. You’ve got great converters, and the system works. No need to change it, you know?

      • The problem is, the day is coming that I will have to replace my computer. When I do, I most likely will have compatability issues running PT 7 with a new windows or mac computer. Also as I have read on Avids compatability articles, this is the last PT version that is going to support the old Control 24 (not the newer C24 control surface)along with some of there older high end interfaces. This is all bad business on Avids part IMO.
        So with this all said, yes my studio is working just fine as it is but a day is coming. I just don’t want to have to make any hasty decisions that I will be sorry for.

  • Andrew

    hey, I cant seem to get past a lot of latency. I am running PT9 with the firestudio project connected to my macbook pro with 8gb of ram so that shouldnt be the issue. i have tried the delay compensation, changing the hardware/buffer size. I am using 3 of the 4 processors in my laptop at 95%. do you have any ideas on what it could be? 

    • Are you talking about recording latency? Why not use the built-in mixer that came with the Firestudio Project? That has ZERO latency.

  • Martin

    Hello Joe! Great article! tell me, i have protools 9 but i am only in studio works…and i have the budget for the Tascam dm-3200 + fireware (add in option). Do protools 9 and the tascam would work well together? As far from speaking of automating slides…with the option “TOUCH” in protools i guess both pt9 and tascam 3200 do not speak the same language on all ways? !
    Thank you
    Martin

    • Hey Martin, I really don’t know. Call Sweetwater. Somebody there should be able to help you.

  • For a second, I thought this was car spam…ha ha. You’re totally right. New gear doth not guarantee great sounds.

  • Yep.

  • I’m sure someone is…but I’ve not done it myself, so I can’t say for sure. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

  • John

    I’m having major headaches with focusrite saffire pro14 and PT9 on Windows 7 64 bit. Tried everything there is..be very wary about Avid’s claim of PT9 working with non Digi interfaces.

    • Presonus interfaces seem to work well. Haven’t tried Focusrite.

  • Audiopathosis

    Which do you recommend to me, an Mbox Pro 3rd gen or an Apogee Duet? I dont need too many mic inputs, Im comparing those because they are Firewire interfaces.

    PS: I use pro tools 9
    thanks!

    • I’ve heard the sound quality on the Mbox3 is right there with the Duet. I’d just get whichever one has the features you like more. I personally wouldn’t like dealing with the duet’s break-out cable, and the fact that you can’t daisy-chain it (only one firewire port).

  • Are you using any plugins while you’re recording?

  • Dan

    Hi Julian

    This is a timely comment for me; I have a PMIO with PT8 also, and am considering getting a Presonus Eureka to improve my guitar sound (mainly due to Joe’s positive review of the unit).

    I had a look around, and it seems that I will also need to get an ADAT strip – M-Audio confirmed your suspicions here:

    http://forums.m-audio.com/showthread.php?12224-Balanced-line-in-v.s-ADAT

    This raises a couple of questions then: is it even possible to get an ADAT without its own preamps, and can anyone recommend one?

    And… if I did go this route (Eureka via ADAT), would it actually provide a significant improvement in sound over using the PMIO’s own preamps? (Joe?)

    Otherwise, I find the Projectmix to be a great interface (and with motorised faders!) so I’ve no huge inclination to upgrade there, unless it’s more cost effective than the above mentioned…

    Dan

  • Hans

    I have the 003 rack+ but track through an RME Adi 8DS through adat, which I think sounds better. The 003 at the moment is only a plastic box in between. I could upgrade to PT 9 and sell the 003 and the RME and buy a good converter…like the Apogee Ensemble you mentioned.

    But what I actually intend to do is dive into the HD-world now. A couple of HD2-cards can be had for about 1700 euros second hand, inc PT HD 8. And a Lynx Aurora 8 does even a little less. Which means that if I sell the 003 and the RME I will only have to come up with another 1000 euro to get into a full fledged HD set.

    In that case I stay in PT8, which is fine with me, because I like it and I’m used to it 😉

    Or is this a case of gear acquisition syndrome?

  • Joshua Krell

    Way to go Joe! I’m not going the way of PTs 9 just yet either! Pro Tools 8 is more then enough. So why upgrade to the newest thing just because it’s the newest thing? I’m perfectly content with my PTs 8 setup!

  • Al

    The built-in core audio is now one of the hottest topics at music/gear forums, and the posts are very controversial.
    They claim that PT9 now supports any Audio interface, but the problem is PT9 doesn’t work with its own products such as MBOX, 001, and 002.
    This has made Digidesign users so angry; imagine you “have to” get rid of your 002 for PT9.

    I’m still very happy with my PT 7.4 and 8.

  • Julian: HSC’s in-house guinea pig. Thanks for taking one for the team. 😉

  • Satisfied and making music? Check.

  • Yup. YouTube folks are crazy…and they can’t seem to type or spell anything
    correctly either. ;-P

  • Good point…and I’m not saying the Lynx doesn’t sound better than the
    Aurora. And if I didn’t have an interface, I’m not saying I’d definitely buy
    the 003 now. But just because there’s something “better” out there doesn’t
    mean I can’t make great recordings with what I have.

    I don’t fee like I’m missing out on anything. 🙂

  • That’s the thing about upgrades. If you get the main DAW to work, you MIGHT
    break all your 3rd-party plug-ins. It can be a real hassle.

  • OR…you could buy it from Sweetwater. (Shameless shout-out to one of my HSC
    sponsors!!)

    But seriously…buy your stuff wherever you want. 😉

    • you must have sailed through the job interview for them… or they have turned you like some sort of cult.

  • You’re right, Jamboni. It’s like giving a 14-year-old kid a Ferrari.

    A. He won’t be able to appreciate it.
    B. He’ll probably crash it.

    Get him a used Corolla until he has learned to appreciate the finer points
    of driving.

    Okay….analogy over. 🙂

  • Just to clarify, the Euphonix stuff is only a control surface, not an actual
    mixer. It will certainly help improve your workflow (which is certainly
    legit), but it won’t make a difference in sound quality.

    You probably already knew that, though.

  • That’s awesome that you already had the 8pre sitting around. Nice move.

  • The focusrite stuff has always been cool.

  • Bob Sorace

    When I first heard about PT 9, it kinda pissed me off, another upgrade? (I had upgraded to PT 8 when it came out) but when I found out you could use any interface, i got a little excited. The one thing that always bugged me about PT was you had to use their stuff, or M-Audio in the case of M-Powered which is what I have. Now it’s one platform, no more M- Powered, or LE. With all of that being said though, I won’t be upgrading. Like Joe said It’s working, so why upgrade? I still need a new computer since mine finally died, so that’s more important than anything, although I downloaded Reaper on my temp computer to mess around with along with Ableton lite, but it’s not the same I need my PT back! Reaper by the way is a pretty good DAW, it didn’t take long to figure it out, but Ableton? Hated it.

    • Ableton seems like the kinda thing you either love or hate. 🙂

  • Thats really cool that PT9 allows you to use other interfaces. That was one reason that I ended up going with Logic as my DAW (even tho I ended up using an M-Audio Profire2626 for about a year and a half). I just recently bought a StudioLive 16.4.2 and it is pretty awesome. I’ve run sound for quite a few shows with it and recorded a couple of them as well. It works great, and its really simple to learn. The amount of features that they were able to pack into that thing and keep it compact is pretty amazing. The preamps are also great, and they it comes with a great live recording program (Capture) and a pretty solid DAW (Artist One) as well.

  • some people just don’t realise what “if its not broke, don’t fix it” means.

    I just got all my friends today blabbing on about how my macbook pro is “just rubbish now” because im still on leopard [10.5.8] and that new mac app thing only works on snow leopard. they ask why I haven’t updated yet and my reply is always the same: I don’t need to. everything runs perfectly fine as it is, I don’t need to run the risk of things not being compatible with the update, I’m still on logic 9.0.1, yes the updates should make things better but… it already works how I want it to and I have not had a single problem with it.

    anyway before I go on a big rant, I’m just getting used to protools software (I don’t own it so the only way I can learn it is at collage) and everything seems… odd, I really need to learn some key commands. I really like it and may one day buy it but for now logic pro is all I need.

    Presonus have some great pre-amps in they interfaces and I have heard they are a really good choice for studios.

    • “some people just don’t realise what ‘if its not broke, don’t fix it’
      means.”

      Amen. 🙂

  • I upgraded to PT 9 because I wanted the freedom and they also had good offers 😉 I’m happy that I did.