The latest version of Pro Tools is now online. It includes a number of much-requested features (such as sidechain delay compensation for both software and hardware processing), but the most significant enhancement is the incorporation of the Hybrid Engine into all Pro Tools HDX systems.
The Hybrid Engine was conceived as part of Avid's Pro Tools | Carbon system. Essentially, it allows you to dynamically switch channels between higher-latency CPU mode and low-latency DSP mode, as and when you need either the processing power of your native system or the guaranteed low latency of DSP for tracking. With Pro Tools 2021.6, that functionality now comes to all HDX systems, meaning users will be able to get more out of their HDX rigs before reaching the DSP limit. Check out the video below for SOS Editor In Chief Sam Inglis' detailed explanation of how it works.
Also new to Pro Tools 2021.6 is a massive increase in the number of Voices available to HDX systems. Now, even a single-card rig will get full use of 2048 Voices, which for many current and prospective customers means they will be able to get away with using just one HDX card where previously they needed two or three. (Avid told SOS that they anticipate some facilities being able to split their multi-HDX card systems out to different machines, especially in post-production houses where raw DSP power is less important than a high Voice count, as needed for surround-sound and Atmos productions).
Moving on to the benefits for non-HDX systems, Pro Tools and Pro Tools Ultimate users will now be able to use up to 64 physical I/O on a single rig — up from the previous limit of 32 — when using Core Audio or ASIO interface drivers. The maximum number of Pro Tools mixer channels has also doubled, from 128 to 256, and unlike before, those 256 channels will be available at all sample rates. What's more, the user won't be 'penalised' for using stereo channels — you can have up to 256 stereo channels in your mixer if you need them.
Mac users will be encouraged by compatibility with the new M1 processor architecture, though Avid say that they're not quite there yet with HDX and HD Native hardware, and recommend that you stay away from Mac OS Big Sur for a little while longer.
On the looks front, Avid have allowed for much deeper customisation of both the Dark and Classic UI themes. Colour, contrast, brightness and saturation are all adjustable on almost every element of the GUI, and you can also now switch between the Dark and Classic modes without restarting Pro Tools.
Finally, Pro Tools version 2021.6 is said to incorporate a number of significant CPU efficiency boosts, making not only the program itself snappier, but also improving communications with EuCon control surfaces, making them more responsive.
We discussed the 2021.6 update in detail in the current issue of Sound On Sound — click here to read more.