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Pyramix - successor to the Pro Tools crown?

Since 1991, Pro Tools has been top dog in the digital audio workstation market. But now it has a serious competitor - one that, unlike the others, won't go away...


Since Digidesign's introduction of Pro Tools, way back in 1991, there has been little opposition in the hard disk workstation market. Would be usurpers have come and gone - Sonic Solutions, Augan, Nuendo and others. OK, so some are maybe not gone, but it's plain that they don't have what it's going to take to knock Digidesign off the top spot.

But there is new competition emerging. It hasn't been trumpeted loudly through advertising and other marketing techniques. It has slipped quietly onto the market, has proven its worth, and is rapidly building up a loyal following.

If you haven't heard of Pyramix from Merging Technologies, it's hardly your fault. Where Digidesign regularly blast out high-power marketing materials (some of which actually puts off professional users rather than encouraging them), Pyramix simply does the job.

That's why, for instance, Emil Berliner Studios bought fourteen systems. Emil Berliner Studios specialize in recording classical music. When you consider the cost of an orchestral session at many thousands of dollars, there is no way they could take a risk with anything less than a 100% reliable system.

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The same applies to other no-nonsense users who have in the past recorded live productions onto two different systems, in case one goes down. With Pyramix, the backup isn't necessary.

Central to the Pyramix system is Merging Technologies Mykerinos card...

  • Handles up to 64 inputs and outputs as well as 64 playback and record streams to/from your PC.

  • Extremely low latency processing (typical 2.7 ms at 48kHz), ideal for live events, dubbing, re-recording and voice-overs.

  • Runs at 2.8882MHz (DSD), 384, 352.8 (DXD), 192, 176.4, 128, 96, 88.2, 64, 48, 44.1 and 32 kHz in 16, 24 and 32 bits encompassing all needed formats for SACD, DVD-A, DVD, HD-CD, CD and more.

  • On-board stereo 24-bit / 96kHz monitoring output.

  • Highly flexible modular I/O architecture can be tailored to user's needs by the use of dedicated daughter boards including ADAT, AES/EBU, SDIF, TDIF and/or MADI formats within the form factor of a single half length PCI slot. This I/O modularity offers a unique opportunity to meet a wide range of market requirements

  • Built-in SMPTE/EBU timecode reader/generator including LTC and VITC with timecode insertion in a video window. Great for video Post-production.

  • Ultra low jitter clock, with lock to Video (Auto detect PAL/NTSC), HDTV (all common rates), Audio, Wordclock or Internal, answers all Audio for Video requirements.

  • Multiple card interconnection through HDTDM (High Definition Time Domain Multiplex) Bus provides 128 bi-directional audio channels and supports up to 8 Mykerinos boards in parallel or daisy chain mode.

  • Unique virtual console, freely customizable and fully automated providing mono, stereo and surround mixing. Ample power to manage very large consoles with aux busses, send/returns, monitoring busses, multiple concurrent mix versions and so much more.

  • Based on 2nd generation Philips Trimedia 32 bit floating point processing VLIW technology

  • High Performance (> 400 MFlops sustained, 800 MB/s SDRAM interface, etc.)

  • Support for all sampling rates from 32 kHz up to 384 kHz (needs full version of Pyramix above 48 kHz)

  • Open Plug-In (all C-code) architecture supporting Surround-sound, SACD and DVD formats

  • Very high performance card capable of high track playback (up to 64 tracks) and vast I/O capabilities (up to 64 channels)

This central card connects to I/O cards for signals in analog and just about any digital format you can imagine.

So at last Digidesign Pro Tools has a serious competitor. But let's be clear... we don't want the next decade and a half to be another period of single company domination. A continual struggle for excellence between Pro Tools and Pyramix, and perhaps a third major contender, would be in everyone's interest.

By David Mellor Saturday March 19, 2005