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The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

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The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby mhschmieder » Fri Oct 21, 2011 1:51 pm

I'm sure by now everyone has seen the announcement of ProTools 10 and its two new plug-in formats: AAX DSP and AAX Native.

I haven't the time to delve further right now, but thought I would get this discussion going now about what this might mean for DAW cross-compatibility and plug-in developer priorities.
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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby James Steele » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:53 pm

mhschmieder wrote:I haven't the time to delve further right now, but thought I would get this discussion going now about what this might mean for DAW cross-compatibility and plug-in developer priorities.


Why they insist on not supporting Audio Units I don't know. To starve the market of AU versions of plus that they want to be PT only? Just gotta wonder sometimes? Avid... plays nice with others, or not?
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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby David Polich » Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:55 pm

James Steele wrote:
mhschmieder wrote:I haven't the time to delve further right now, but thought I would get this discussion going now about what this might mean for DAW cross-compatibility and plug-in developer priorities.


Why they insist on not supporting Audio Units I don't know. To starve the market of AU versions of plus that they want to be PT only? Just gotta wonder sometimes? Avid... plays nice with others, or not?


There is no reason other than greed that Pro Tools native does not support
AU or VST. I mean seriously, I can't think of any other reason. Avid seems
to be clinging on to the "closed system" idea even though PT now is native.
This is just pedantic thinking.

I ony use PT9 as a tool to import and then re-export (to DP) Pro Tools files that people send me. These new plug-in formats aren't going to sway me to use PT as my primary DAW.
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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby Shooshie » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:23 pm

James Steele wrote:
mhschmieder wrote:I haven't the time to delve further right now, but thought I would get this discussion going now about what this might mean for DAW cross-compatibility and plug-in developer priorities.


Why they insist on not supporting Audio Units I don't know. To starve the market of AU versions of plus that they want to be PT only? Just gotta wonder sometimes? Avid... plays nice with others, or not?



The irony is that all the plugins I've seen for PT cost almost exactly twice as much as those for Native apps. Avid is going to milk the mystique until there are only 2 or 3 people left who are gullible enough to believe their hype.

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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby mhschmieder » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:19 pm

I generally have to recuse myself from critical discourse regarding Avid due to my employer's close (for strategic reasons) relationship with them, but I will at least say that this AAX move does seem like a movie we've seen before... and also appears to contradict some of the openness that was promised a bit earlier.

The justification seems to be related to cross-compatibility between Native and DSP Accelerated versions of the plugs. Maybe someone who has the time and inclination to read the specs can chime in. I am curious though, whether this was also the case with earlier formats inaugurated by PT.
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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby bayswater » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:01 pm

David Polich wrote:There is no reason other than greed that Pro Tools native does not support AU or VST. I mean seriously, I can't think of any other reason.
I suppose you could say that there is no reason for MOTU and Apple not to support VST, or Steinberg not to support AU . But multiple formats, particularly formats you have no control over, or are controlled by your competitors, will complicate management of your code base and the quality of your product. But I've always wondered why TDM plugs cost twice as much as others.
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The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby James Steele » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:21 pm

Except that AU is the sort of defacto generic plug in format on Mac. :)
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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby bayswater » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:24 pm

Just saying no one seems to support them all, and they all prefer the one they control.
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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby Michael Canavan » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:21 am

Hate mentioning this but AU is another half standard like DX was for Windows.
Audio Units require a developer to write for VST on the PC, and VST on Mac, as well as RTAS, now AAX I guess. What should have happened a long time ago is all of the major DAWs should have gotten together and hammered out a cross platform standard, but that didn't happen.

Because Steinberg wrote a cross platform 'open' standard, they aren't too keen on adopting AU, which works only on Mac. Emagic, Logic's old parent company used VST on Mac and PC, but Logic was never as bug free of a VST host as Cubase, this is what initially drove Apple and Emagic, MOTU etc. to start in on conversations about the Audio Unit standard. What this has done is caused developers to for the most part have a single dominant platform on Windows to code, VST, (plus if they bother RTAS), and three prominent plug in formats on OSX: AU, VST and RTAS.

Needless to say cross platform plug in developers have generally hated AU, as they see it, it's another incomplete format. They cannot use any of the GUI and UI code from the VST PC version, not a bit, nothing cross platform about it. <-- this is where I tend to think, good! most crashes in OS9 VST land were due to moving parts of the plug in GUI, so I'm not that impressed with cross platform UI code in general. The basic code that makes a delay a delay or a compressor a compressor is 100% cross platform anyway.

Personally I think Microsoft and Apple, plus Steinberg, MOTU, Cakewalk, Avid etc. should have sat down years ago and hammered out a plug in format that just works on every OS with every DAW, but getting them all to agree on MIDI seems to have been a miracle! :lol:
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The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby James Steele » Sat Oct 22, 2011 11:17 am

I personally don't care about works on the PC. Of the three "prominent" plug in formats on the Mac, I think due to it's support from Apple (at OS level?), Audio Units should be the defacto standard for the Mac. The reason for Avid introducing another standard escapes me, hence my assumption that it's motivated by a business motive. Yeah, and the $100 price increase for PT10 is sort of lame.
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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby Shooshie » Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:53 pm

The problem is with the DAW makers. They each want to believe their DAW is unique in some way that means a certain plugin format is not good enough for them. Thus the refusal to embrace any universal format 100% on most DAWs. That standard on the Mac should be AU. There is a way to make it happen. The plugin developers could get together and jointly issue an ultimatum: their support will go 100% to AU on such-and-such date, beyond which all other formats will cease to be updated or supported.

That would -- in short order -- end this lunacy of multiple formats. It might not be possible to do that with ProTools HD at the external chip level, in which case the TDM plugins could continue to be developed at their traditionally punitive price of double that of AU plugins. (for the same processing power and features in most cases)

Do the same thing on the Windows side of things, and the cost of plugin production could probably be reduced somewhat, either making more profit for the companies, or making their plugins more attractive to buyers, which would ultimately make more profit anyway.

I don't know if a grass-roots movement would be very effective at getting this ball rolling, but it couldn't hurt to lodge a complaint at every opportunity with the people we know on the development side. Just get them to thinking about how nice it would be if they didn't have to futz with a half-dozen formats every time they changed a bit of code. They may not realize that they hold the ultimate power in this. Of course… getting two or more developers to agree on 1) which format to use (AU seems logical for the Mac), and 2) actually committing to a date to cease and desist in all other formats (and DOING it), may be the joke that unravels this whole idealistic notion. Would Waves agree to anything? They'd probably agree, then when nobody else made RTAS, VST, and other formats, they'd cheat on their agreement and own the market for those. (Sorry, my bad taste for Waves continues even several years since they've done anything that offends me, because they once were SO offensive, to the point of being belligerent and rude. If they agreed to a plan like this and carried it out, I'd never say another bad word about them again. Until they screwed us in some other way.)

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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby bayswater » Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:44 pm

If there had been some sort of manufacturer's association to develop and manage a common standard in the common interest, all would be fine. But there wasn't. Without it, I wouldn't expect Avid, Steinberg and others to simply trust that Apple will consult them on the development of AU and not make changes that will be costly for them to implement and support, or put them at a competitive disadvantage. Apple does not hesitate to make changes that cause pain to their customers -- imagine what they could do to competitors. Same applies the other way around on trusting Steinberg on VST, trusting anyone else. And so the pressure falls to the plugin makers to support all the major formats.

(BTW, have a look at Melodyne ARA -- the plot thickens)
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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby Michael Canavan » Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:25 pm

It is entirely possible that GUI, UI code between platforms is/was so incompatible that AU was Apples answer. In the mean time Steinberg cleaned up VST, I can tell you that these days there's no noticeable difference in stability between VST and AU from my own experience. Avid on the other hand have never deemed compatibility with other DAWs a priority, so it's not surprising they're more worried about making it easier to code between their native and hardware formats with no regard to AU, but really why should they? VST was/is a competitors code, and AU at first was tweaked to fit Apple's in house Logic.

Apple made AU which at one point all the major Mac DAW makers were able to contribute their ideas to; the story is Apple talked to them all very early on about the new OSX format. Very quickly in the implementation of the format Apple pulled a serious boner in regards to standards though, remember a certain DAW we all use that had issues with AU's because Apple tweaked their own published specs to fit Logic? Besides being rude to MOTU, that was a horrible message to companies like Digidesign and Steinberg. Logic had issues with VST on OS9 due to it's own internal workings and Steinberg's crappy VST hosting information, basically for years DAW manufacturers had to backwards engineer how to host VSTs. That's essentially improved, and apparently so has the VST GUI info etc. but here's Apple saying they have a fully compatible plug in format, and it turns out they cheated to get Logic up and running. The same sort of complaint in a way that Logic's old owners Emagic had about VST, that it was always going to run best with Cubase.

Basically Apple shot themselves in the foot with getting AU to be a standard on OSX by ruining developers trust on the starting line, and lately by not keeping up with VST. At this time VST's can be addressed by more than 16 channels of MIDI and VST instruments with things like on board VST plug in arpegiators and step sequencers can send those notes as MIDI to other plug in tracks. This is all with VST2.4, VST 3 has other new features AU doesn't have.
I use AU, I'm OK with it, but Apple needs to get on the ball about it, AU should really not be worse than MOTUs MAS or VST, it should be better. :mumble:
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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby HCMarkus » Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:37 pm

I once had had a mixer flight case upon which I affixed a sticker I got at NAMM in the early '80s. It said: "MIDI now for the future."

This may have been the last time (almost) all MI manufacturers agreed on a standard.
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Re: The impact of AAX (new ProTools 10 plug-in formats)?

Postby carrythebanner » Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:58 pm

We need one standard to rule them all!
xkcd: Standards
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