The New Thunderbolt-Compatible Avid Pro Tools|HD Native Systems


Avid has released new hardware bundles that include the new Pro Tools|HD Native Thunderbolt interface, a small box that provides a high-quality headphone amplifier and Thunderbolt connectivity for external HD Native hardware. The new systems enable you to create complex audio productions using Thunderbolt-equipped laptop and desktop computers, without requiring the use of PCIe card slots. The new Pro Tools|HD Native Thunderbolt interface is only sold in bundles with the Avid OMNI, 8x8x8, 16x16 and MADI systems.

The face of the new Pro Tools|HD Native Thunderbolt interface features a 1/4” headphone output and a volume control knob. The rear panel has a single Thunderbolt port that you connect to your computer, two multi-pin ports that you connect to your HD Native hardware of choice, a serial connector and an AC power jack. The Pro Tools|HD Native Thunderbolt interface is essentially a chassis that houses a PCIe Native Core card, a newly designed power supply and the best headphone amplifier that Avid has ever produced. It harnesses all of the speed and bandwidth available to Pro Tools|HD Native systems, and makes it available for use with Thunderbolt-enabled computers. 

What’s the difference between HD Native and other versions of Pro Tools?

All of the signal processing that’s carried out with an HD Native system is done on the host computer’s CPU. This is the main difference between HD Native and other Pro Tools HD systems, which utilize additional processing cards. Another difference is that TDM and AAX DSP plug-ins are not compatible with HD Native. One of the major advantages that HD Native offers over Pro Tools LE systems is the high-speed connection provided through either a PCIe card or the new Thunderbolt interface, which makes it possible to work on projects with massive track counts and experience nearly zero latency. The higher bandwidth connection also allows for a higher mix resolution and additional headroom.

HD Native ships with Pro Tools HD 10 software, which supports up to 256 simultaneous audio tracks for recording or playback, and can handle up to 64 video tracks at a time. This is a massive upgrade over Pro Tools LE, which is limited to 96 audio tracks for playback, 32 audio tracks for recording, and only supports a single video track. HD Native makes it possible to exchange large projects with other studios that use HD systems. It’s a more affordable option for people who need to take on heavy duty production work, such as tracking and mixing large-scale music projects, or creating sound design for elaborate video productions. Pro Tools HD 10 is only available bundled with hardware, and with an authorized iLok dongle, it’s capable of running without the external hardware connected.

If you own a Pro Tools 001, 002 or 003 system and you’re ready to upgrade, you can get a special discounted price by taking part in an exchange program for the Avid OMNI and Pro Tools|HD Native Thunderbolt interface bundle. Likewise, if you own any version of the Mbox, you can get a special exchange deal on the OMNI and Pro Tools|HD Native Thunderbolt interface bundle as well. Your older Pro Tools system needs to be registered with Avid under the same name of the person who is purchasing the HD Native system.

Pro Tools|HD Native - Supported Channels/Tracks
Maximum Channels of I/O 64
Maximum Audio Tracks at 48/96/192 kHz 256/128/64
Maximum Stereo Audio Tracks
at 48/96/192 kHz
Simultaneous Record Tracks 256
Total Instrument Tracks 128
Total MIDI Tracks 512
Total Auxiliary Tracks 512
Total Buses 256
Video Tracks 64
Host Connection Thunderbolt or PCIe
Maximum Sample Rate 32-bit, 192 kHz
Mixer Resolution 64-bit floating point
Processing Resolution 32-bit floating point
ASIO/Core Audio Streams 64
Supported Plug-in Formats AAX Native, RTAS, AudioSuite
Surround Mixer Up to 7.1 surround
Automatic Delay Compensation Up to 16,383 samples
Supported Interfaces
Avid HD I/O
96 I/O
96i I/O
192 I/O
192 Digital I/O
Supported Consoles and Control Surfaces
Avid Artist Series famil (via EUCON)
ICON D-Command ES
ICON D-Control ES
MC Pro (via EUCON)
S5 Fusion (via EUCON)
System 5 family (via EUCON)
Third-Party Any analog or digital console or control surface that supports the HUI protocol
Extended Avid Workflows
Video/Media Integration Interplay
Video Satellite
Video Satellite LE
Remote Control MachineControl
Satellite Link