Pro Tools TDM Systems
In this chapter I will present overviews of the Pro Tools TDM hardware and software for people
thinking about buying or upgrading.
Digidesign’s Pro Tools system has always included a software application and various hardware
components. The hardware consists of one or more cards for the computer along with one or
more audio interfaces, while the software offers a multi-track waveform editor along with a
mixing console emulation and controls to let you record and play back audio from hard disk. One
of the reasons the system has achieved such widespread popularity is because Digidesign has
always encouraged other software developers to include options to use Pro Tools hardware for
recording and playback of audio. So plenty of musicians and composers who bought Pro Tools
systems chose to control the hardware using the Midi þ Audio sequencer of their choice – such as Logic Audio or Digital Performer. There were two main reasons for this. Firstly, if you needed
to do any MIDI sequencing, previous versions of the Pro Tools software were so poorly
equipped for this that you had to be crazy to even attempt anything much more than a simple
bassline or keyboard ’pad’. Secondly, many people who bought Pro Tools systems had pre-
viously used one of the popular MIDI sequencers and bought Pro Tools hardware, as this was
the first audio hardware supported by Opcode, Mark of the Unicorn, Steinberg and E-Magic – in
that order, as it happens. For these users it was much simpler to continue using the software
interface they already knew and loved. Recording engineers and producers were always more
inclined to use the Pro Tools software – especially if they were working on audio-only projects.
With the release of Version 5, Pro Tools ’came of age’ as an integrated Audio þ MIDI recording environment which can competently handle most straight-ahead MIDI programming ’gigs’ –
although the accent is still on the audio capabilities. Version 6 has consolidated and enhanced
the audio and MIDI features without significantly upgrading these.