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Pro Tools 9 HD setup issues...


Hi folks. Sorry if this has been addressed elsewhere but I've seen a few questions here with no answers that pop up under search as far as I can tell.

Any help would be appreciated.

I'm running PT HD v9 and I've just got the Axe FXII. I want to do two seemingly simple things:

1. I use a high-end external clock which I want to continue to be the master (PT is a slave as well). I suppose if I *had* to I could use the Axe as a master but I'm sure the dedicated clock is a lot more precise. Right now the Axe is connected via SPDIF, and in I/O audio settings on the Axe I've made sure SPDIF is selected in the AES/SPDIF setting. I am still going to be using the analog input from the faceplate (though if I ever reamp thru the Axe, that would change but we'll solve one crisis at a time).

2. I want to record two channels at once: the unmodified signal from the front panel in for potential reamping (which hopefully will no longer be needed) and the modeled wet signal. In my previous rig which used a POD Pro (since I was re-amping anyway I was fine with this) I recorded the unmodified signal via AES out, and the modeled signal from analog out just for purposes of a scratch track. Here, ideally I'd have two digital outs via USB for the dry and wet signals. I would also be okay using AES for the digital out for the unmodified signal, and the analog out for the actual guitar tracks.

Obviously, the ideal solution which I fervently hoped for was for the Axe to pop up in the I/O menu through its USB connection. No such luck. I don't think I can use AES for the out while I'm getting clock from the SPDIF in -- and the external clock only sends with SPDIF or coax. The Axe doesn't show up anywhere except in the playback engine options (and I'm not going to be using the Axe to play back 50+ channels of audio!) and in the audio/midi setup window.

I have to imagine a lot of people want to use this amazing piece of great with Pro Tools...anybody figure this out yet?

Also, as an aside, I'm fine using 48/24 but a lot of producers want higher sample rates. I had a big argument last time in the studio because the producer insisted on tracking at 88. Anybody know why the unit tops out at 48/24? (n.b. I have now seen elsewhere that this question was answered...that the computer resampling is better than hardware would be. Probably true, but it does inconveniently require people to reconfigure their system between the higher sample rate and 48/24 any time they want to use the Axe. Not the end of the world but somewhat surprising in such a high-end unit).

Any tips would be MUCH appreciated! Thanks very much!

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Further to the above, do I gather than you can only sync to an external clock if you are getting digital audio in? As in, you cannot sync to a clock separate from the audio input? This would seem to be a fairly major shortcoming...it would require you to put your guitar through an A/D before routing to a digital input on the unit. To say nothing of issues if you want to send and receive from different digital I/Os...


Okay, last self-response here. :)

I am thinking that the USB simply doesn't talk to pro tools unless the Axe is being used as the playback engine, which may be fine for four tracks of guitar but obviously isn't the right solution for a serious PT HD session. Consequently, if I want simultaneous recording of a dry and wet signal, I'm forced to do the following (somebody please correct me if I'm wrong):

1. Run the guitar into a pre-amp with an A/D converter
2. Run this digital out into a pro tools audio interface
3. Take one instance of that digital signal and track it (this giving me the clean track for reamping if needed, albeit with coloring from the initial A/D converter
4. Take another instance of that digital signal and send it out via SPDIF or AES into the Axe
5a. Send the digital out back into the pro tools audio interface if possible (my inputs may be overly dedicated) and track the wet signal from that, or
5b. Use analog outputs into the pro tools audio interface

I'm not crazy about this solution -- it's a brute force method that is about as inelegant as I can think of. Am I hopefully missing something painfully easy? Sorry for my ignorance on this newly-acquired unit!
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I don't have a ton of answers for you but I do have a fair amount of succesful experience using some of the same things you are trying. I use HD 8 (with 3 X Lynx Aurora 16s w/ HD Cards). I clock to the Lynxes (although I have external clock this works great) and run WC to devices that accept it (from Lynxes). I have the Axe plugged into a Lynx via both AES (Output 1) and analog (output 2). Although I haven't messed much with reamping, my understanding is that I can get the dry signal from Output 2 if I want it.

The Axe seems to coexist at 48K just fine with the Lynx via AES. There are no digital settings in the Axe that I've seen. Maybe I'm ignorant but is seems to work fine at 48K. My assumption was that it was sending at 48 and does not require a master/ slave relationship. I do not believe the Axe can send clock. I use midi in from a Motu MTPAV to sync tempo. This setup has worked like a charm for 3 years with the Ultra and now with the Axe 2.

Since I'm on HD8, I can't see a native interface so USB not an option for me (wouldn't use it anyway, I think my Lynxes are better). Thats also why I haven't gone to 9 or 10 although, if 10 will see > 4GB memory, I will switch soon for that reason. I don't know what kind of converters you are using nut I'd stick with them and analog + AES in should give you everything you need.

I am just installing PT 10 on my Laptop for the USB unterface with Axe. I'm unsure how Axe will respond to USB midi from Axe Edit and Midi from my PT HD rig (for tempo) but will know soon. My goal with the Laptop is to utilize Axe Edit via USB and to be able to record tracks on PT 10 via USB when I'm too lazy to fire up the HD rig. We'll see how that goes.

48 v 96 v... Been there 1000 times Eveybody has an opinion. I'm, happy with 48 and use it in my own studio. If I need to go higher, I can go analog in and take the Lynxes (or studio converters elsewhere) to 192 if they want me to go there. So, I don't view the Axe at 48 as being a limitation. There are few (no?)EFX devices for guitar that exceed 48. I would assume the designers felt that those with that need can use external converters.

I am certainly not an expert. But, the Axe has worked beautifullty for me with HD and I have had no need for external clock. It will be interesting to see for the USB drivers work w/ 10 and if I can get the Axe to simultaneously see midi from 2 computers (Tempo from HD, Axe Edit from laptop via USB).

Oh yeah, then there's my MFC and it talking or not talking to Axe and either computer. That's another thread...


Thanks very much for validating that this appears to be the only way! :)

I'm sure I will get something to work.

I have to say, though, for a unit to be a serious piece of studio equipment, it should have some pretty simple features:

1. The ability to sync to an external clock independent of digital audio input (i.e. have it accept clock from S/PDIF or AES independent of whether or not audio input is coming from that channel).

2. The ability to output at at least 96, 88 and 48. Not because the software on the other end might do a better job of it than hardware (this is Cliff's argument) but because when you have a Pro Tools session set at a higher sample rate and want to record something from the Axe, you have to close the session, re-open it at a different clock rate, record it, close the session down, re-open it at the primary clock rate, then up-convert the just-recorded material. This is a huge inconvenience. The $500 POD Xt pro did all of this seamlessly five years ago...in a $2500 item this stuff should be absolutely standard. Cliff's answer just sort of shrugs this off as if it's nothing.

3. The ability to output clean or wet signal from any analog or digital output simultaneously, in mono or stereo. As you point out, the USB is fine for fooling around on an Mbox but not for serious studio work where a $1,500 external clock is being used to keep everything perfect. There may be something in the standard that prevents S/PDIF and AES from being used simultaneously, in which case fine, you are confined to one digital channel in and one digital channel out. That would still be preferable, by far, to the current situation.

4. A fan that doesn't sound like the world is coming to an end.

In other words, I should be able to plug my guitar into the front of the box, have the box sync'd to the external clock from a digital input, and get wet or dry signal from either of the digital outs or the analog outs. Or something close to that, anyhow.

As I said, the $500 POD Pro was doing all of this five years ago.

The modeling in the Axe is unsurpassed -- it is on a different playing field from anything else I've ever used and it is absolutely the real deal as far as tone is concerned. And the effects are amazing. So it's an extremely impressive piece from that standpoint. But the rest of this stuff is at best a head-scratcher and a worst a real disappointment. It's like buying a Mercedes and finding out it doesn't have air conditioning. You can roll the windows down and enjoy the drive, of course, but it still feels like there should be something there.

As a live performance piece or for hobbyists, this thing is fantastic. It's hard to be thrilled with it as an expensive piece of studio gear in 2011 with the shortcomings mentioned above, IMO.
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I also use an external word clock in my studio.

I find the analog outputs on the AxeII have a very low noise floor and sound fantastic. I don't find the need to run digital out of the AxeII.

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