Avid Pro Tools|HD Native With HD OMNI Review

Jun 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Brandon Hickey



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One concern of low-latency workflow comes into play when performing punches. If an artist is listening directly to the input of the track in which they are recording, usually that track is muted to avoid hearing the latent double. If the track is muted, they can’t hear playback up to the point of the punch. Though there are workarounds to this, Avid attempts to afford a more elegant solution to this problem, dubbed the “LLM Path” for Low-Latency Monitoring. This provides a way to toggle a track between playback and zero-latency input monitoring automatically at the point of a punch.

Deeply integrated into the DAW, this is an option that requires defining a hardware output path to be dedicated to this function in the I/O Setups window. From there, an input-ready track’s output is routed exclusively to that path, at which point the entire operation of that track is redefined. While other tracks will be buffered and delay-compensated according to the Playback Engine settings, tracks in LLM mode avoid any buffering before output. When other playback tracks are sent via aux sends to the Cue path dedicated to LLM, they are pre-buffered and playback is relatively synchronized to the LLM track being recorded. This way, the artist hears all of the bed tracks playing normally, and hears their own overdub mixed with those tracks free of delay.

Using this function with the new HD Omni, I had mixed feelings. An annoying stipulation was that LLM couldn’t be configured if surround paths existed in the I/O setups. The other concern you may face is that there is only one LLM path configurable; you can provide one zero-latency monitor path for your artist(s). This left little to complain about for me, as the HD Omni only has one headphone jack and is designed to accommodate this feature quite harmoniously. Near the control room level/headphone level control is a Cue button, which accesses a path set up in the I/O Setups specifically designed to be an artist headphone mix. When designating this as the LLM path, it’s easy to feed the artist the latency-compensated mix at the touch of a button. The awkward part is that a track in LLM mode cannot also feed the main control room output path. As a result, while the artist hears an LLM mix through the headphones, you must also create an aux input to monitor his/her input signal through the buffered, delay-compensated mixer feeding the control room output. It was bearable, but I found it a bit clunky.

As the LLM track is not passing through the Pro Tools mixer, the artist cannot monitor plug-ins inserted on the record-enabled track, supposedly. I found that plug-ins on the LLM track reflected a bypassed status, but still passed their processing through to the CUE output. Ultimately, it seems that LLM was designed as a solution to be used in a pinch when a giant sluggish session needs a last-minute overdub. Fortunately, that was the case because until I really got the hang of it, I found it to present more confusion than convenience.

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