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December 2014
Issue: November 1, 2003

SEARCHING FOR POWER AND OPENNESS

By: By Marc Loftus
While many Digidesign Pro Tools users are excited about the company's new high-performance Accel PCI card, there's one long-time user who's found performance along a different path, specifically Steinberg's Nuendo program. Film and television mixer John Ross owned LA's Digital Sound & Picture until it was purchased by Liberty Livewire, which is now Ascent Media. His multi-building facility was based around Pro Tools and was one of the largest independently-owned sound-for-picture installations in the US. Ross also developed his own "glass console" worksurface for the audio tool, and mind you, this was long before Pro Tools had its own ProControl or mixing support from third-party vendors.

Now, Ross is a fan of Steinberg's Nuendo application. He's using it to post MGM's upcoming Cole Porter feature, titled De-Lovely - starring Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd - and he says he's shown others, such as ADR supervisor Zack Davis and lead dialogue editor Walter Spencer, the power and promise of Steinberg's audio tool.

"Our philosophy has always been to maintain a non-proprietary environment, and over the years, I think Pro Tools and Avid have become totally proprietary systems," he states. "What Steinberg is doing is creating more open standards, such as VST and ASIO, which is a hardware/software handshaking protocol. And they are working with vendors like Euphonix to create an Ethernet-based high-end mixing interface protocol, other than MIDI." Euphonix's EuCon protocol promises extensive control of DAWs through a dedicated mixing surface.

Call him an audio visionary or an early adopter, Ross was the first to take delivery of Euphonix's digitally-controlled, analog CS-II board in the early ‘90s. He also saw the potential Pro Tools had in a film mixing environment. Is Nuendo the next great thing? "Steinberg is doing what SCSI and PCI did for computers," he notes. "As soon as you start creating protocols and standards, the industry as a whole can accelerate its growth."

Ross's own set-up consists of PCs equipped with dual-Athelon motherboards, RME hardware and MADI cards. "I can get hundreds and hundreds of digital audio tracks running seamlessly, along with very high-resolution video."

Time will tell if Steinberg can compete with Digidesign in the audio post arena. The fact that so many VST plug-ins are available can't hurt. And John Ross has been right before.