The opportunity to get an "Up Close & Personal" look and play with the soon to be released Avid Pro Tools Dock finally arrived.
We had all seen the pictures and video of the Avid Pro Tools Dock when it was unveiled back at the AES convention in October 2015 , we reported the news in this post on the blog with all the details that were available at the time but until now we had not actually seen one in the flesh.
At first viewing the unit looks a very attractive addition to the now well established EuControl driven S3 surface and you can actually almost see it as a "Mini S6" now that they are sitting next to each other, the Dock really does make the S3 a far more attractive proposition.
The Dock can accept any size iPad (and any generation capable of running the free Pro Tools Control App' available from the Apple App Store) from the "Mini" to the full size "Pro" (sitting vertically in portrait orientation, note the app does not currently support portrait orientation but this feature will be added later in the year) as there is not physical docking connector in the docks cradle this leaves you free to connect your usual Apple charger/power cable to the opad for charging (no data transmission takes place over the cable) as the iPad connects via Wi-Fi.
This system along with the larger S6 and smaller Artist Series controllers run on the the EuCon network controller protocol which was part of the assets included with the purchase of the Euphonix brand back in 2010 (Eu = Euphonix, Con = Control).
The network is made up of EuCon capable devices all connecting together via a regular 10/100/1000 ethernet hardware switches and wireless routers that you would use for a home network or Broadband ADSL and can co-exist on the same such home network so no extra networking installation is required if you already have such a setup. The iPad connects to the network via Wi-Fi and the Dock and S3 fader surface connect to the network via wired Cat5e connection, devices can be allocated ip addresses via regular DHCP or manually assigned (the EuControl manual tells you how).
All devices are managed and setup in the free EuControl software - See below for screen shots of the additions the Dock brings to EuControl.
The large aluminium Jog wheel borrowed straight from its big brother the S6 really does give the appearance on a more unified products line and the "Docked" iPad seals the deal.
A single fader on the left of the unit with Mute and Solo buttons mounted above, a transport control strip along the bottom edge and two strips of 12 dedicated function keys (one either side of the jog wheel). Both horizontal and vertical versions of the S3's assignable 4 button strip/ribbon are present (previously suggested as the S3's transport control but actually freely assignable) the vertical one on the opposite side to the fader and the Horizontal one between the jog wheel and transport control, there are 16 buttons below the iPad screen normally assigned to the lover set of on screen soft keys for the Pro Tools Control app' and lastly we find two quick access "shift Keys" closest to the operator (presumably for left or right handed people?). A bank of 4 continuous encoder knobs with push click functionality sit either side of the iPad screen and a "Monitor" knob similar to the "never functioning" one found on the Artist Control but hopefully this time with a purpose sits above the vertical strip/ribbon.
We heard that the Dock may bring added functionality to the Free Pro Tools Control iPad app' and the first sign of this is the much requested expanded soft key page, no longer are you restricted to the small double strip at the lowest part of the screen you know have full page full size soft keys as we are used to seeing on the Artist Control' touch screen so this may well signify the end of the Artist Control entirely along with the recently announced EOL of the Artist Transport of which we reported here .
The next addition is the far more details view and control of plugin parameters that really bring the app into the realms of an incredibly desirable and useful tool in the studio the software version on display was an early beta and missing many of the graphics and operability and so we decided a video demo was not worth it and a picture could tell all that was currently available.
as you can see you will have quick access and graphical representation of tracks, Inserts, Inputs, Dynamics, EQ, Sends, Pan, Groups, and Outputs and with each one of those selections made the parameters spill onto the lower portion of the screens parameter layout.
the picture below shows the original marketing graphical impression of perhaps something a little closer to how the final layout will appear when viewing the insert strip of a selected track.
EuControl Additions for Dock Configuration
Here you see the usual EuControl Settings page where devices are auto discovered in the left panel when connected to the network, you can then click on any device and click the Add button to move it to the active devices allocated to you in the panel on the right. this means you could have one huge network wih many devices with certain ones allocated to your workstation and other allocated to a different workstation and be able to move them back and forth depending on your needs.
With the new Dock connected the Soft Keys tab shows a new set of options to what we have seen before to configure all of the assignable buttons (Soft Keys) on the hardware unit, there is a library of assignable functions for each application.
The vertical assignable strip/Ribbon buttons
The horizontal assignable strip/Ribbon buttons
One of the two banks of twelve buttons either side of the unit
The Transport section
We are certainly looking forward to these units hitting the open market, with such an array of control they appear to be a perfectly useful unit when only used with an iPad and the Pro Tools Control software but also look to be a very nice companion to the S3 I would like to see the Pro Tools App' opened up to Android tablets and the far more versatile Microsoft Surface devices, there also appears to be a lack of surround fetures in the App so far such as surround panning or metering so fingers crossed for those additions in the future.
Early indications show the Avid Pro Tools Dock will be priced at £949 in the UK and $1199 in the USA
Leave us a comment below to tell us what you think from what you have seen so far, and sign up to our blog post notifications by filling in the form below to get more news like this straight to your email inbox.[wysija_form id="1"]