Few days ago Avid released the brand new update for their flagship control surface. To be honest, I think the S6 community was very excited to have this new software version, as this seems to be a milestone. This version gives us functions which were missing from the S6 from day one. It gives us important things that could speed up our workflows, which is one of the main things we buy control surfaces for.
Update and test
After downloading the new version, the update went smoothly, the only thing took longer was to find all the necessary numbers, as this install need to be activated online or offline, so you’re going to need those yellow cards you received with your S6. This activation took me longer to finish than the whole upgrade. And don’t forget to upgrade the WScontrol software on your Mac/PC.
Version 2.0 supports Pro Tools 12 and 11.3.2 which is not released yet. As our facility wide upgrade is due to happen in a few months, I’ve been testing the new version with Pro Tools 11.3.1 and OSX 10.9.2. Be aware, this configuration right now is NOT officially supported by Avid. On the DUC they even acknowledge that with systems like this, we might experience a few bugs and obviously we cannot use every new function.
Still, I thought I give it a try as I think this update looks too good on paper to miss it. The test session is a feature film score mix in supersession format. It comprise 280 tracks, 224 buses, so many plugins I didn’t bother to count, complicated routing and 6 pieces of 5.1 stems and a Fullmix 5.1 and a downmixed Stereo recording track. All with a 90 minute long HD movie on the main video track. Automation is quite dense.
With a session this big, I experienced some crashes during these 5 very active mix days. Interestingly the crashes always happened when I tried to create new tracks for example. Never happened during recording or automating something. Plugin instantiating is stable, tweaking, automating, banking and all other operation on the surface is smooth and stable.
Available new functions works very well, although I just got my feet wet with these new things. One of my biggest fetish function: FLIP mode is a great thing, although now it is still somewhat limited in functionality, I already find it immensely helpful during mixing. As one of developers told us at the Avid forum, this function was probably the hardest to implement properly, so further improvement is coming with future releases.
One thing that seems to be a bit slower is boot time and session population on the surface, but this is a non-issue for me and I talk about a few more seconds here, nothing serious. Once it loaded up completely, all the banking, layout switching is fast.
I know nowadays it’s not fancy to say good things about Avid, I’m pretty happy with this new release and the way developers reach out to investigate, comment and help us with our issues and questions. Updates are coming, with every new release we get something new, or more refined and more stable thing, which proves that the original concept seems to be working in our favour and shows that the guys at Avid are really passionate and serious about their jobs.
Using software 2.0 on a unsupported system is surprisingly stable and great experience. Will report back after the full system upgrade to Yosemity and Pro Tools 12.
If you’re interested in the full new features of version 2 S6 software, read this article.