Cracks in the system?

So having just regained some time to look around and see what’s been happening in the world of technology and audio it seems that there was some kind of ‘crack’ released to allow Pro Tools HD to run without HD hardware. 

Russ at the Air Users Blog has already written a series of articles to both point out the existence of the crack and indeed to tear down the fact that this doesn’t appear to be a true ‘capable’ crack. 

Software cracking has been around for as long as people have charged for software. In fact before that they would take open license to adapt previously written code. The most widely distributed software of all time was itself basically a crack/adaptation of another program. (That would be Windows by the way). Bill Gates took software written by Xerox and adapted it to serve his purposes. Of course he did it with permission from the programmers wife but it was still not wholly completed by Mr. Microsoft…

I’m not in anyway suggesting that what happened in the early 80’s was illegal. Just that it represents an example of someone taking existing software and adding to it, changing it and redistributing it as something else. 

Where the illegality come into software cracking then?

In the case of Pro Tools’ latest crack it comes from a direct decision of the programmer to circumvent both the hardware requirements and anti-piracy devices put in place by Avid (formerly Digidesign) to protect their intellectual property. That is illegal. 

What will Avid’s response be? Will it change their plans? Does it matter?

I would doubt that Avid will change their plans over this. I wouldn’t think that they even care that much that this has happened. In my opinion Pro Tools is the DAW of choice for a reason, that being that it has the most complete and easy to use feature set for it’s given customer base. While there are alternatives on the market they are all compared to Pro Tools and strive to as far as possible maintain some form of interoperability with Pro Tools. 

Avid are market leaders in both picture and audio NLE systems and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Anyone who has tried to do feature post work in Final Cut/Soundtrack Pro or Logic will tell you how far behind Apple is. Steinberg have just shipped Nuendo 5 which has some really nice features. It always has had some really nice features, but still in their advertising literature for the program they point out how much more compatible it is with Pro Tools. 

Native only software 

Computer systems are getting faster and more powerful with every month. Mac’s slightly slower than every month but still with frequent updates… This is a great thing, without a shadow of a doubt. Where Pro Tools has the advantage is it can utilise large amounts of that power and also have all of the processing capability and reduced latency of their own TDM processing power. 

As long as they utilise this advantage they will never be left behind. Native systems maybe able to have 200+ D-Verbs on the channels where HD can only have 12 (or whatever the numbers are) but have you heard D-verb? It’s horrible. Revibe, TL Space, Altiverb. Three reverbs that sound infinitely better than d-verb, and two of which require an Accel processing card. 

I’m sure at some point that Avid will follow the path that they have with Media Composer and make a software version of HD but why would they shoot themselves in the foot and drop their HD processing cards? What advantage would that allow them?

Why the interest in this crack then?

Well to be honest it represents a remarkable achievement and shows that there is some interest (if not a lot of interest) in a version of Pro Tools HD that can run without needing to have a full HD system in tow. For a start those rigs get very heavy :). I’d love the ability to build mix setups on the train using my laptop or quickly check back through versions for a specific change. LE doesn’t really cut it for doing the job that I used to do. It has too many oddities with 5.0 automation and plugin data to be relied upon to not mess them up. Full PT HD even without the Audio Engine would be great to have. Make it run off an iLok authorisation for all I care.


This crack exists. I won’t use it. I have no interest in a compromised version of a great package. I think that all Avid should take from it however is the fact that people are interested in an untethered version of their software.

Frankly I’d like certain parts of the program to be made available outside of the software even. I’d love a Digibase application as a standalone; an offline IO Setup that would allow you to drag 192’s etc onto it to build a mix stage setup and create routing paths without the need to be attached to the hardware itself. 

Not sure it will ever happen but those are my desires. For what it’s worth.