At the 2020 NAMM Show, Avid announced updated tools and solutions in music, composing, audio post and live sound, including major updates of its flagship Pro Tools DAW and Sibelius notation software, while the highlight at the demonstration areas of its booth were the recent S1 and S4 control surfaces, together with enhanced apps and services for creative collaboration and music distribution to streaming services.
“Our NAMM debuts show how Avid is delivering powerful and professional capabilities of its high-end solutions in smaller, more affordable form factors that advance the creativity and opportunity of all users from musicians, producers, engineers to composers, teachers or students,” says Dana Ruzicka, Chief Product Officer and Senior Vice President at Avid.
In the last few years, Avid was forced to implement a complete refresh of its software "under-the-hood" in order to be able to offer cloud-based, remote collaboration, and an updated hierarchy of software solutions which include "free" software as the entry-level. With the ongoing process, the evolution of the basic Pro Tools DAW has remained mostly unnoticed to the market in general. While existing Pro Tools users are fully aware of the continuous incremental updates and remain connected with the "Avid-community" in general, the rest of the world remains relatively unaware and indifferent to Avid's efforts.
Unveiled at NAMM 2020, the first release of Pro Tools 2020 is a great example of a useful incremental upgrade completely failing to excite the market. Basically, the new version provides support for macOS Catalina, and delivers new Folder Tracks for more flexible and creative session organization. Tracks can now be grouped in up to nine folder levels, a top level folder and eight nested folders, that can be collapsed and color-coded for easier navigation. Users can bring better focus to large productions and free their mind to work more productively by reducing the on-screen complexity attributed to sessions or projects with higher track counts.
On the hardware front, Avid continues to announce new solutions based on audio interfaces from Digital Audio Denmark, having announced the new 1U Pro Tools MTRX Studio audio, which includes options for Avid's proprietary DigiLink interface, Dante and the old ADAT connector, as well as direct support for EuCon remote control (used in all of Avid's control surfaces). Internally, this more compact interface offers extensive routing possibilities and premium monitoring in one single unit, enabling users to save money and eliminate configuration complexities by replacing multiple devices in the signal chain. It looks good (the design in black looks always much better than DAD's ugly "gold" units), does what it is supposed to do, offers superior audio quality, but again fails to excite the market and attract new generations of users.
With the market now largely benefiting from the latest AoIP and Thunderbolt 3 solutions - and the promise of a massive convergence around USB4 - connecting all manufacturers of audio interfaces with any of the available software DAWs - the closed Pro Tools HDX eco-system is currently the least attractive option there is, except naturally for all the studios that have already invested heavily in Avid's hardware.
And Avid reached out again to an external hardware partner - in this case Sonnet Technologies - to announce the introduction of Avid’s new Pro Tools HDX Thunderbolt 3 Chassis. Basically this is a custom-built Sonnet chassis that allows installation of Pro Tools HDX cards - with its powerful, low-latency DSP feature - in a Thunderbolt 3 desktop or rack solution. With the announcement of this new Thunderbolt 3 chassis, Avid offers a few pre-configured bundles, featuring Pro Tools Ultimate, Pro Tools HDX, and Pro Tools hardware I/O.
And finally, Avid is now shipping the latest S1 and S4 control surfaces, which use Apple iPads as the touch screen solution, lowering the price of the configuration. Announced in 2019, the new S1 in particular, offers a compact, modular control surface, with rich software integration with Pro Tools.
The Avid S1 audio control surface is priced at $1,295 USD MSRP, and offers the hands-on speed, precision, and software integration needed to record, edit, mix and monitor in stereo or surround, with comprehensive control and visual feedback. The S1 tightly integrates with the free Avid Control app for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. Users also can easily scale the surface as their needs grow by connecting up to four units together — and even add an Avid Dock — to create a single extended and integrated surface.
And for recording studios or larger production needs, Avid is also now shipping the new S4 control surface, with combines the power of Avid’s largest S6 control surface in a configuration that is ideal for budget-conscious audio professionals and small- to mid-size music and audio post facilities.
Like the S6, the S4 and S1 are powered by EUCON to offer deep integration with Pro Tools and Media Composer (Avid's video editing software), plus native support for third-party applications such as Logic Pro, Cubase, Premiere Pro and more.
The latest Avid Control app offers expanded functionality and views, enabling users to take control of their favorite audio and video software from their iOS or Android tablet or smartphone. Users can wirelessly control the recording, editing, mixing and monitoring functions of their software, faster than working with a mouse and keyboard alone, and get great visual feedback and one-tap access to hundreds of commands. When used with Avid S1, Avid S3, Avid Dock or other Avid controllers, users gain extensive touch workflows and custom control.
For artists, musicians, and creators wanting to stream and sell their music while keeping 100 percent of their earnings and rights, AvidPlay offers a one-stop service to distribute music to Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music and other major streaming services around the world. And now it offers unlimited plans starting at $24.99 per year, distribution to Apple Music and TikTok, and social links for users to easily share their latest release. Users also now can promote featured artists and collaborators on their tracks.
Free to all Avid creative tools users, the mobile and desktop Avid Link app allows users to manage their products and add-ons with ease, endorse others’ talents and skills, as well as share work from their portfolio directly in Lounges. Since launching at NAMM 2019, Avid Link has grown as a convenient and powerful career resource for more than 500,000 individual creators.