When I bought Digidesign’s DIGI001 PCI soundcard/interface and Pro Tools LE software back in February of 2001, the product had been on the market for a little while, but hadn’t really caught on yet. I remember walking into a Sam Ash store in Brooklyn, talking to a sales associate, and telling him that I was interested in running Pro Tools LE on a PC. He looked at me like I was crazy. I had a DELL Dimensions desktop, pretty standard, and he thought I was a fool. I ended up buying the system anyway, ripping the guts out of what was then pretty much a brand new PC, rebuilding it to spec inside the DELL case, and then configuring Windows 98 to work with Pro Tools LE 5.01 and the DIGI001′s PCI soundcard. This was before firewire made its way to PC and USB was still slower than Eddy Curry getting back on defense. You had to make sure that PCI card was in the right slot, had the right IRQ number, or else the system wouldn’t work properly. I got it all hooked up and after troubleshooting it, downloading mad bootleg RTAS plug-ins, and figuring out how to use, I was ready to go, making music.
What the hell has happened since then?
Not that I was ever really disappointed with my PC, I just wanted to be like everyone else in the music business and pretend I was doing something important on the studio couch while I was really browsing for chicks on myspace. So I went Mac in 2005, and was rather amused with OS X Tiger’s stability as an operating system.
But now it’s time to upgrade. And the problem I have at the moment, which I’m sure many people do as well, is that neither Microsoft Vista or Apple’s Leopard operating systems work with Pro Tools LE. So picture me, money in hand, ready to spend that hard earned bread on a new computer and DIGI003, and none of the computers on the market are actually compatible with what I want to buy. These fools at Digidesign are saying that Leopard compatibility will be here in roughly two months. When did Leopard actually come out? Late October. I got that shit the day it came out, Fed-Ex’ed to my door. I’ve literally been waiting since then to purchase a new Digidesign system. Of course Apple has its own kinks to work out with Leopard (I think the operating system sucks compared to Tiger, but hey that’s just my 2 cents), and that slows down Digidesign’s development of Pro Tools. But still, I’m appalled by how long this is taking.
On the other side of the coin you’ve got Vista, which has all sorts of problems with it. If you’ve been paying any attention, you’ll know that Microsoft is facing a class action law suit for marketing computers as Vista-ready or Vista-compatible, when in fact they were not. I can’t even begin to think of all the troubleshooting I’d have to go through to get Vista working properly with ANYTHING, let alone Pro Tools. So basically there are a bunch of computers on the market that are ill-prepared to meet the demands of Vista, and that’s what you have your choice of buying when it comes to copping a computer to use as a DAW.
Now of course common logic would be that you build your own computer and throw on whatever operating system you want. For PCs, you’ll stick with XP, which was and will always be a great operating system. For Apple, you’ll throw on Tiger. But I just don’t feel right dropping the kind of cash that one needs to on a computer when I know in my mind that I’m getting something that is running an outdated operating system. Particularly with an Apple computer, because you really can’t get a desktop computer for less than $2500 that is capable of doing anything. What are your options, an IMac or a Mac Mini? Apple can’t be serious.
So then it’s like, why not switch to another DAW platform, one that actually works- like Logic, Cubase, or Ableton Live. Well, that’s like telling a painter who paints with a certain type of brush that he needs to use some other brush to do his work. No doubt the painter can probably do the same things, but there’s a learning curve. And I’ve spent some time with each of those programs- none of them work as easily and simple as Pro Tools does for recording and mixing (I would argue that Cubase 4 doesn’t even work on a Mac, at least not on mine). Perhaps for music creation they are better, but for that I have a gang of keyboards and an MPC, and Reason 4.0.
I guess I play the waiting game. But I know I’m not the only one. Lots of people are looking to upgrade, and we’re just stuck waiting around for Digidesign to step their game up.