Pro Tools HD Native users got a treat back at IBC when Avid unveiled their first Pro Tools Thunderbolt interface. If you’ve been looking to pair up your Pro Tools HD Native setup with a Thunderbolt-equipped iMac or MacBook Pro, you’re finally good to go – and there’s always the Magma ExpressBox 3T expansion chassis for Pro Tools HD X users. If you want to take a look at either, or feel this may mean a radical rethink of whether you’re choosing Pro Tools HD X or HD Native, get in touch with the team.
The Native Option
Designed to work as part of your Pro Tools HD Native setup, Avid’s own Thunderbolt offering is self-powered, Mountain Lion-compatible and will ship bundled with an HD OMNI, 8x8x8 or HD MADI interface. It has dual DigiLink Mini connectors, supports 64 channels of I/O and features a serial connector that allows you to connect a SYNC HD peripheral.
“Avid’s HD Native Thunderbolt is the newest addition to the Pro Tools HD family, giving you all the functionality of the PCIe HD Native card in a portable/desktop-friendly external Thunderbolt format,” explained our Pro Tools expert Rob Holsman when the interface was first released. “It offers 64 channels of I/O, is compatible with all the HD I/O series interfaces and is going to be perfect for anyone who wants a mobile system (it’s even bus powered), or would prefer to work on an iMac rather than having to shell out top cash for a Mac Pro.
“Of particular interest to video customers is the fact that HD Native Thunderbolt features a serial connection for a Sync HD peripheral, and the fact that it features an on-board headphone monitoring socket means you don’t have to opt for the OMNI I/O just to get this feature. Like the PCIe HD Native card, Avid will be shipping these in bundles with either an OMNI, HD MADI or 8x8x8 interface and Pro Tools HD (10.3), and pricing will be identical to the PCIe versions of the bundles.”
The HDX option
The Magma ExpressBox 3T Expansion Chassis 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. Magma and Avid go way back, and in the event that Apple’s Mac Pros never get Thunderbolt connectivity, hooking this up to your iMac or MacBook Pro is Avid’s officially supported Thunderbolt workaround.
Simply fit the Pro Tools HDX or HD Native card(s) into the slots in the Expansion Chassis as if it were 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 anyone using Pro Tools 10.2 or higher will be able to get to work straight away.
You can see some shots of our Magma ExpressBox 3T expansion chassis here.