Avid created quite a buzz at NAB when they demonstrated Pro Tools HDX running in a Magma Thunderbolt expansion chassis. What was on show was very much a pre-release version of the chassis and a beta version of Pro Tools, but it garnered a lot of interest from those looking to either get a full-power Pro Tools HDX or HD Native system in a portable format, or to opt for an iMac or Mac mini rather than a tower-based system.
In the intervening months we’ve been fielding plenty of questions from excited Pro Tools users. The only information we’ve been able to pass on up to now was that we’d seen the demo version running, and that Avid had confirmed that they will be qualifying the Magma 3T chassis as their approved Thunderbolt solution. (This was always a contingency in the event of Apple’s Mac Pro ceasing to be available, and the relationship between the two companies goes way back to the qualification of the original PCI CardBus chassis.)
Finally, however, the Magma 3T is shipping…
Stock is expected imminently and we’ve had a chance to test one of the first units. The Magma ExpressBox 3T, as its name suggests, is a 3-slot expansion chassis for PCIe cards, with two of those slots being x8 and the other x4. The unit is powered via a standard IEC cable and there are internal power cables for cards such as the HDX cards, which require more power.
Getting the unit up and running has been simplicity itself
Simply fit the Pro Tools HDX or HD Native card(s) in the slots as you would in a Mac Pro, connect a Thunderbolt cable between your computer and the chassis, and turn it on. The chassis itself fires up as soon as you turn the computer on, and the latest version of Pro Tools HD (10.2) just sees the cards straight away. There is absolutely no difference in the user experience between this setup and a traditional Mac Pro / Windows workstation.
You do need to have Pro Tools HD 10.2 software in order for this to work, and I need to draw attention to the caveat on Avid’s website – namely the one that states that Thunderbolt chassis are not supported in this release. Avid have confirmed this is because official testing has not yet been completed and there may be some permutation still to be tested before they finally make this a supported solution. In use (and I have been using this setup for a week now and demonstrating it to customers in a variety of scenarios) I haven’t found anything that trips it up, it has been completely solid in performance. As well as running it with an HDX2 system, ours also has a Decklink Intensity card for video playout (click on the gallery link below to take a closer look).
We’re happy to arrange a demonstration for anyone who is interested in seeing the Magma ExpressBox 3T chassis running a full Pro Tools HDX / HD Native system. If you would like a demonstration, please give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com.