It’s always big news when new Pro Tools hardware is announced, and that’s certainly the case here. Avid recently announced a completely new line of audio interfaces for Pro Tools|HD. First up is the HD I/O. This is a 16-in/16-out interface that can be configured for eight or 16 channels of analog I/O. Plus, it has built-in ADAT and S/MUX optical I/O as well as stereo AES/EBU and S/PDIF I/O. “Curv” analog limiting is a standard feature. An expansion bay can accommodate eight channels of AES/EBU or TDIF I/O.
A MADI version of the HD I/O is also available, with 64 channels of audio that can be carried up to one mile over optical connections. Coax connections are also provided, which can be used for shorter runs. Bi-directional sample rate conversion can be applied at either end of the signal path, and up to 56 channels can be transmitted in Varispeed mode.
The last of the new interfaces, the HD OMNI, is really going to turn some heads. This interface offers four inputs and eight outputs, with a built-in 14 x 26 mixer. Also built in are two digitally controlled mic preamps, control room functions for two sets of monitors (up to 7.1), surround sound fold-down, eight channels of ADAT I/O, eight channels of AES/EBU output, and two channels of AES/EBU and S/PDIF digital I/O.
All of these interfaces feature phenomenally low latency (around a quarter of a millisecond), have improved power supplies for reduced jitter and improved noise performance, and utilize redesigned AD and DA converters for pristine sound.
In the realm of software, Avid announced HEAT (Harmonically Enhanced Algorithm Technology), new analog-emulating processing for Pro Tools|HD. HEAT achieves realistic modeling of analog harmonic distortion similar to that produced by vintage mixers and outboard gear, and it also emulates the nonlinear aspects of magnetic tape. Tone and Drive controls allow you to dial in exactly the sound you want from your Pro Tools mixer. It’s not a plug-in, though. HEAT is an option that is built into the Pro Tools|HD mixer, giving you the option of adding either the transparent sound of the traditional PT mixer or the analog “character” of HEAT to your mixes. You have to hear it to believe it!
Finally, Avid simultaneously released Pro Tools|HD 8.1 software, which provides the platform for the new interfaces (and includes new I/O routing-control features to support them) as well as support for the HEAT processing. Version 8.1 is a free upgrade for registered owners.