Pro Tools - is it just a status symbol today?

I’ve cycled through most of the DAWs over the years before happily landing here. I did run PT for a time, but just the host based version. In fact, I tried to drop 5 figures on a PT system a decade ago and after calling half a dozen Digi reps across the country, none would sell me the Windows NT version (I’m a MS guy) because they didn’t feel it was stable or polished enough. So, serious respect to them for integrity.

I’m sure that today the Windows version is just fine. However, the one thing that’s kept me away from a PT system is the fact that it’s married to a seriously expensive hardware investment. And being a company, like any, that wants to make a profit, every time you turn around there’s a new version that wants you to buy yet another new batch of expensive hardware.

Back in ancient times, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and PCs ran DOS, a Mac running PT simply couldn’t handle the signal processing, so offloading it to dedicated hardware made sense. Fast forward to today’s powerful computers and plethora of quality audio interfaces, and I just don’t see the benefit of PT over any major DAW. Maybe a few features here and there, but that’s the same as any competitive product.

However, because PT was first and got established in pro studios, it became “the standard.” Today I still hear opinions, which now feel more like religion, that if you want to be “pro,” you need PT. I just don’t see it.

I’m sure audiophiles (the same guys who used to be so proud of the .001 difference in the THD specs on their stereo systems back in the 70s) can show me technical data justifying a hefty investment in Digi hardware, but I’m not convinced that it’s evident in the final product. Nor do I hear much talk of “you can only do this in PT, this feature isn’t available in other DAWs” or that PT’s audio engine is vastly superior.

Of course, I could be wrong about all of this but it seems to me that today, running PT is largely just a very expensive Mercedes hood ornament on the top of your console - a status symbol more than a significant difference in quality.

Is this just because I’ve never had the experience of running a full on, hardware based version of PT, or are they really coasting on reputation from days gone by?

You may not see the Pro Tools draw, but a lot of huge studios and recordists use it. If you’re in collaboration with them, it makes things much easier. It’s a good piece of software to have for that, if your workflow suits it, and if you enjoy using it. I’m a guy that started on Pro Tools and came back. I don’t use it as often as I used to, but I need it here for compatibility with other studios/people since it is a very popular piece of software in the industry. If my control services worked better with it, I would use it a heck of a lot more. If I were you, I wouldn’t put much thought into it as this type of topic has been done to death and most importantly you have a background with p.t.and it didn’t stick. There’s nothing wrong with that… I think that’s a good thing because you made your own choice.

Of course, I’m also not hanging out a shingle as a commercial studio, and that’s a significant consideration. I have much more freedom using my facilities for purely in house projects since I don’t have financial realities to address.

Compatibility, along with a sexy looking equipment list, are very real factors when you’re trying to get business as a studio. Of course, that’s a non-trivial chunk of money to drop for compatibility, but if the marketing side of it brings in enough revenue, then it’s a profitable expenditure.

By the way, I have great admiration for those of you who can still make a go of the recording studio business in today’s climate. You have a very large pair of… udders.

Not the same time, you realize… right?


Industries are very reluctant to change from what has become an industry standard - whatever that might be. It’s the old if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it adage. PT became the industry standard long ago, and as Tom pointed out, it makes things much easier if you patronize a studio that has PT.

This industry standard thing can change however, if certain things were to happen, and the stars align…

Hey, I was there! Wanna see my T-Rex scars? :slight_smile: