Protools SE: simplifying is not always a bad thing

November 3, 2010 | 35 Comments

November 3rd, 2010 – I’m sure you’ve all heard that Protools, along with going native, now has an SE version that ships with either a USB microphone, an interface similar to the Mbox mini, or a MIDI keyboard. You may also have heard that you don’t have to go to your local Guitar Center to buy one either; you can get them at Best Buy.

Power users may scoff at the baby Protools (after all it has a maximum of 16 tracks) however I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it. At prices starting at $99 for the Avid Vocal Studio, $119 for the Avid Recording Studio, and $129 for the KeyStudio, the value is strong.

For the consumer that’s going to be picking up one of these bundles, 16 tracks will probably be more than adequate. Of course, maybe my perspective is a little skewed; when I first started recording, it was on four track tape reels (cassette and ADAT were way out of my budget). I quickly learned how to bounce down tracks to be able to record more.

Even when I tried the first versions of Cakewalk (one of the first consumer DAWs), I was limited in tracks because the computers weren’t fast enough back then. To me, 16 tracks would have been a huge luxury. But even today, I think that it would be adequate. Most of the people who are going to be buying the pack, are likely going to be recording themselves and won’t need tonnes of tracks.

I think Avid is being pretty smart with these low-cost offerings. They are including everything a person needs to get started at a super low pricepoint. When the user is ready to move on, there are plenty of higher priced offerings. I’m sure this is a direct effort against Apple’s DAW strategy: bundle Garageband for free, get users hooked and interested in Logic Express which is also very inexpensive, and then finally up to Logic Studio. Avid is one-upping this strategy by bundling hardware; what used to be a detriment in their professional offerings is now an asset in their lower ones.

When I worked in someone else’s studio, I used a combination of Protools and Logic. Logic to write songs, Protools to record vocals, and back into Logic for mixing. Even with all the improvements Logic has made with their audio editing workflow, I still find Protools faster, and more intuitive.

I am not currently running Protools (although I could get the M-Audio editions since I have FW410), so these low cost versions are enticing. As I would be using it to cut vocals only (16 tracks should be adequate for recording quick and dirty demos), the Vocal Studio is the most interesting to me. A hundred bucks for an M-Audio (on a side note, I’m sad that M-Audio as a separate brand from Avid no longer exists) USB microphone and Protools editing workflow? That seems like a very compact mobile recording solution.

I’m actually curious to hear what the bundled gear sounds like. Obviously the microphone isn’t going to compete with any Neumann, but will the interface included with the Avid Recording Studio hold up to my old FW410, or even an Mbox Mini? Have any of you had a chance to try them out?

Avid Vocal Studio

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Comments

  1. ~Jon~ says: November 4, 2010

    no smart tool so editing would be slow still. Better off with REAPER which can edit the same and in ways that PT can’t. Only $40

    The SE version is better than the Essential version that came out last year. Would be nice if this was the free version that came with all their interfaces, not just these 3 crap ones.
    The interface in the ‘recording studio’ bundle is the Fast Track II, this is a huge improvement over the original fast track USB, still far from the level of quality of even an mbox.

  2. Raymond says: November 4, 2010

    I recently purchased the M-Powered version of Pro Tools 8 which is equal to the LE version. Of course it has some limitations when comparing it with Pro Tools HD, like f.i. the maximum amount of tracks and busses etc, but why should I care? As a Radio-imaging producer i usually don’t need more then 10 tracks and 4 busses, so it works great for me, no matter what them ‘Power Users’ think.

  3. Jason Burns says: November 4, 2010

    I picked up one of the vocal kits for podcasting. I personally use Logic Studio, and have Pro-Tools M-Powered for when I need it, but I had a Mac Pro I use for video and photo work, I wanted something for screwing with voiceover stuff, so I picked up one of the $99 kits to play with it. It’s pretty nice, but I would be hard pressed to recommend it over GarageBand on a mac honestly.

  4. Sean says: November 11, 2010

    @Jason Burns: Cool, thanks for the mini-review 🙂

  5. Sean says: November 11, 2010

    @Raymond: I think the LE version should be good enough for most of us who aren’t running a pro studio. I find 48 tracks more than enough for me 🙂

  6. Sean says: November 11, 2010

    @Jon: Are you going to update to v9?

  7. Geoff says: March 26, 2011

    Anyone else having issues with this program? I haven’t had any success with this program. Going to return it tomorrow. Random DAE error 9060. I don’t know what causes it to pop up but apparently disabling your windows firewall makes it go away. It didn’t for me. From what I have read, if disabling your firewall doesn’t work you will have to reinstall windows. Anyone else experience these kids of problems? If so, do you have any solutions that don’t require me to know how to write code?

  8. denim says: April 1, 2011

    @ GEOFF I had all kinds of error problems when i first brought protools se, including DAE errors. to fix that problem just simply buy an external hard drive. first of all of course download protools se on your computer. 2. copy the whole protools se file into the external hard drive. yes it will take almost as long as it did downloading it to your computer. Finally, when you ready to use protools, go into hard drive and click it as if you were doing it on the computer. so basiclly your external hard drive is your only access to protools so you can erase the file on the computer to save space. but remember, when you wanna use protools plug up the external, go in the external ,and click protools and you shouldnt have no error problems cause instead of the computer running it. ( due to its too slow) the external will run it way faster cause with protools, you need over 60gb free space for it to run it perfect. so buy a 350gb or better but i prefer 1tb if you serious about your music. so like the external do all the work cause the computer got too much going on like anti viruses, start ups and sh&t. trust me i was thinking the same way. but i talked to the big dogs which is family so they looked out for me. so dont give up too fast my dude. remember protools save every little thing even if you erase it or undo a recording sometime. so remember, run protools from the external, not the computer and you’ll b good. 1

  9. DJ DLUV says: April 9, 2011

    @ DENIM Hey i got the same problem as Geoff and I was told to get a firwire hard drive. Now i have a brand new 500gb ext. usb drive will this drivve work, like you mention above. Also so i reintall protools to the ext drive like I did to my comp.

    My comp specs
    Gateway NV53
    AMD TURION II ULTRA M600 DULA CORE
    320 GB HDD
    4GB MEMORY
    WIN 7

  10. Brian says: April 23, 2011

    Hey I bought the Avid Vocal Studio yesterday and had it unboxed and have already recorded my first podcast with sound effects and bkgd music. The quality of the mike is more than adequate for this purpose. The only knock on it is that I can only export to .wav format (not mp3) so I have to use a file conversion program to do that. Apparently I can download an mp3 option for $20, but it took 3 minutes to download ‘Switch’ conversion package for free so it’s not big deal, just one extra step when I want to import or export mp3 files. All in all I’m quite happy with my purchase and like all the tutorials available to guide me through pro tools.

  11. SoundVelocity says: June 24, 2011

    I am familiar with Live and love it. I am also an audio production student who will be working with Mac and ProTools on a regular basis. I recently purchased the MobilePre that comes bundled with ProTools SE thinking I could use a beginner version of ProTools as a learning tool and then upgrade later on. With that said, as a beginner, it works fine, but what really pisses me off is the fact that I have yet to locate a vertical zoom. Even the extremely cheap programs you can get at office depot have this capability so why not ProTools SE?!! I have recently shelled out enough cash to get a Mac, now I can’t even edit great until I shell out another large amount of cash just for one f*&*%^& feature that is critical to making great edits!! That one seemingly small, but critical issue really turns me off from the whole thing, but I purchased the Mac specifically for mobile recording and now my editing capabilities are shot to shit until I can come up with enough cash for the upgrade. Whatever. Lesson learned.

  12. stuart darwin says: August 20, 2011

    i cant get the audio in protools se to sound

  13. Sonic1 says: September 6, 2011

    Avid recording studio w/ PT SE is a sham.Pally back of all audio is totally distorted..Support was terrible I had to take it back. It has a major design flaw and Avid could care less. Do not buy this product

  14. Sean says: September 7, 2011

    Good to know. Good thing I didn’t get a copy!

  15. Dr. Amit says: September 20, 2011

    Is protools bundeled with avid mbox pro

  16. Sean says: September 20, 2011

    Yes there is a bundled version with an audio interface

  17. smegma says: September 24, 2011

    i got the avid usb mic and SE package, i make tracks in logic and record vocals in avid. works great, just had 2 download latest patch for it…mic works great in logic 2. i use lastest macbook pro. thinkin bout a talkbox soon..haha

  18. Albear says: October 6, 2011

    I just bought vocal studio for a friend. We’ve been trying to get the M-Audio mike to work properly but there is a steady click throughout any voice recording. No support on the product which is frustrating! Any thoughts on what I have done wrong that will eliminate the steady click when recording? I did install the latest drivers for the mike from M-Audio.

  19. mirek says: October 18, 2011

    user ALBEAR made the comment that there was a STEADY CLICK throughout the recording I suggest that you check out if this click is a METRONOME buit into your software…with GARAGEBAND this METRONOME clicks by default so only when you disable this is your recording free of the continuous click….??

  20. CRISPY says: October 21, 2011

    SHITS A FUCKING SCAM! DON’T BUY THIS!!!!!! THEY FUCKED ME TOO

  21. mark says: November 16, 2011

    Is protools se compatible with acer aspire 5250? Its telling me i dont have enough ram.

  22. Sean says: November 22, 2011

    From the specs of your computer, it looks like it should have enough RAM. Perhaps your computer has an integrated video card that shares the RAM and makes less available? It looks like 2gb of RAM is the minimum according to Avid.

  23. jk says: December 5, 2011

    use whatever you have to the best of your abilities .. these items are very affordable and work just fine provided you have any idea on how to record audio in the first place. a very good value as far as bundles go.

  24. Ralph says: December 9, 2011

    I bought Avid Vocal Studio yesterday because I needed a microphone with a USB connection, and was pleasantly surprised to find a software package to go with it that, the salesman said, leaves Audacity for dead. But I sat up for six hours till one am, and then for another four or four hours today and I’ve had enough, I cannot install it. I managed to get past the initial problems [which I can’t recall offhand now, there have been so many] but … surely it shouldn’t be so difficult to upload a piece of software. The laptop is brand new, comes with 8GB of RAM so that isn’t a problem, but the ‘Unable to locate Avid hardware.’ messages and those suggesting it couldn’t recognise the new software [the microphone works okay with Audacity, I’m not knocking the mic] wear you down…. Thankfully it only cost $149, I’d have been tearing my hair out if I’d bought a more expensive software set 🙂

  25. john says: December 27, 2011

    Install errors: I had difficulty installing at Protools SE at first, the problem turned out to be that the package I bought included 2 cds, one for Fast Track drivers and one for Protools software. I installed the Fast Track drivers first, and they were incompatible with the Protools software (!) however when I uninstalled everything and just installed the Protools, it worked fine (correct drivers are included in Protools).

  26. kenya:) says: January 8, 2012

    i got pro tools se with a mbox fast track and a shure mic for singing and guitar , i love it..its amazing compared to cubase etc. I have already made a few songs in 2 weeks although i do get that really annoying DAE errors! Wat are they? if i shut down pro tools theh seem to go away but its a real problem they also seem to appear when i import? I have an acer computer, there is nothing wrong with my computer it has enough memory etc. And the other thing is that sometimes when i record myself singing, it doesnt play me singing it plays this extremely loud static-y sound, it hasnt happened for a while but when it does its sooo loud! 🙁 overall i love protools, but just a couple of annoying little things?

  27. kenya:) says: January 8, 2012

    @JOHN
    yes same thing happened to me 🙂

  28. Travis says: January 22, 2012

    Try turning all the tracks to no input and then only turn on the one your recording on it’s stops the other tracks from playing back in your recording and fucking everything all up. As for the DAE error i think it happens when you press play when your still in recording mode. Just make sure you not in recording mode before you start editing.

  29. cgmoseley says: February 4, 2012

    Travis is right. You have to make sure the red record button (on the track you just recorded) isn’t engaged when you play back your tracks. That’s when I get the DAE error. It’s a good practice, I’ve noticed, to use Edit>Undo Track when you clear your tracks too. I was getting the previously recorded track in the playback when I used Delete. Weird, but I figured I’d give someone a heads up if they’re going through that too. Overall, after owning SE four 12 hours now, it kills Audacity…so far. I’ve been an amateur recorder for years and find all low budget software is buggy for the most part. But this little Pro Tool pack is pretty impressive regardless.

  30. Alex T says: June 26, 2012

    What do they mean when they say you can only record like 16 tracks or something. Does it mean i can only make 16 songs and then i can’t make anymore using pro tools se?

  31. John says: June 26, 2012

    That’s how many instruments and vocal segments you can insert into a single song. You can make as many songs as you’d like.

  32. Kevin says: August 5, 2012

    Just bought the Avid Vocal Studio and got set-up without issue. I must admit that getting Pro Tools bundled with the mic influenced my choice. I’m very satisfied with the mic, PT SE is another story. I was trained in sound editing and mixing on PT TDM but haven’t done anything with it in years. I use Ableton Live Lite just to play around with music recently but I miss the flow of Pro Tools and was hoping to get it with PT SE, but no such luck. I’m sure that for some SE will do all they need but I feel a bit cheated. One major downside is that SE’s only monitoring is through the headphone jack on the mic, and when I tied outputting to monitors via a mini jack to RCA cable I got tons of static. If the fact that this mic comes with Pro Tools is influencing your decision to buy the mic then, IMHO, think twice. If your looking for a good usb mic for 100 bucks I say go for it, but don’t plan on making PT SE your primary DAW unless you’re a beginner on a budget.

    Mac OS 10.7.4
    Mac Mini 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5
    4 GB RAM

  33. travis s says: November 14, 2012

    i have the mbox with pro tools se installed. i imported a midi file, i had made, on to pt se. im trying to get sound through my fender passport, but im not getting anything. i even tried using the demo songs, but still no sound. i have a 1/4″ cord from the head phones jack on the mbox to the passport. im kinda new at using an mbox, so im running blind here. am i missing something? is it broken? help me out if you can please!

  34. Shirley says: January 30, 2014

    Can anyone help me I am new at the using the software. I am at the point of mixing down to 2 tracks but can figure out how. I have pro tools se.. can someone send me a link or something. I did figure out everything but that. I have a funny feeling you cant do it…

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