Pro Tools | S6 Software Version 2.0 Now Available—Twice As Nice!

By in Pro Mixing, Topics

2.0 Is Here!

S6 version 2.0 represents the 8th software release to support the modular and ergonomic EUCON control surface since its launch in September of 2013. (Timeline pictured below: major releases on the top and minor releases at the bottom)

It also represents the biggest advancement yet in streamlining and simplifying pro mixing workflows by offering mixers flexible new ways to manage complex, big sessions. Our new surface track management features genuinely offer the biggest improvements to date in quickly bringing the exact tracks you need onto the surface with advanced visual feedback, allowing you to get more done in each mix pass. These new features when combined make mixing large sessions nearly effortless. But first—what are those great features?! Here’s the laundry list of good stuff…

  • Two separate assignable spill zones for VCA’s, Track Types, Workstations and Layouts
  • Banking within spill zones
  • Flip Rotary Knob rows to motorized Faders for more visual and tactile control
  • Up to two Dedicated definable Knob Expand Zones for full access to EQ, Dynamics, Pan, Sends and more following ‘attentioned’ track (one zone on M10)
  • Improved EQ mapping in Expand mode
  • EQ/Dynamics curves displayed in expand mode (M40 Display Modules)
  • View scrolling automation lanes over waveforms on Display Modules (M40 only)
  • Automatic saving of layouts into DAW Sessions
  • Ability to show and work with Hidden Tracks in Pro Tools
  • Ability to adjust Knob Speed and Sensitivity
  • A single assignable knob per connected EUCON DAWs (currently not Pro Tools)
  • Pro Tools Mix/Edit windows follow banking on surface
  • Default Soft Key streamlining and enhancements for Pro Tools
  • Default Soft Keys for Nuendo and Cubase
  • More customization preferences
  • XMON improvements

Leveraging the Zones

As I said—the true power of 2.0 comes from combining these new features. So let’s start by talking about how the definable spill and expand zones have changed the game and really allow every mixer to be more efficient and have more control. There are now user definable preferences to setup zones on your desk—below is pictured a 32 Fader 9 knob S6 M40:

First, you can see the purple triangles above labeled 1 and 2 to the left of the Master Module. These are your new Knob Expand Zones and there are preferences to set them to your choice of expanding EQ, Dynamics, Inserts, Pan, Sends and more as well as where you’d like them to appear on the surface. The most common setting would be EQ and Dynamics like the ICON series surface—such that any time you ‘attention a track’ it would expand its EQ and/or Dynamics plug-in onto these expand modules with a predictable layout. You also can choose a secondary option if there is no EQ or Dyn plug-in on that channel, like Inserts to get to say a Reverb or Delay or even all the sends on that channel. These dedicated expand modes free up the Master Module knobs for other functions.

Below that you see two purple lines indicating that I’ve selected 16 faders to the left of the Master Module to be channel spill zone 1 and 16 faders to the right to be spill zone 2. What’s really cool is that these two separate zones are very flexible at any time to quickly show what you want, whether its track types like VCA Masters or Aux faders, specific DAW’s or Layouts that you’ve created. It gets better… These spill zones are bankable inside the zone and offer many flexible options to how they are justified (or how they populate the spill zones). Also, the menu buttons in the spill zone are color coded to represent the different types of tracks in the zones. Dark blue for Layouts, light blue for Track Types and Workstations, dark green for VCA Masters, and light green for a VCA spill. This makes it quick and easy to see what is currently in a zone.

In the photo below—I’ve set up the right side spill zone to be track type—VCA masters across the right side 16 faders, justifying to the first fader left. No need to build a layout anymore for VCA masters and this is a much easier process than it was on ICON D-Control systems. I’ve also arranged the physical knob modules closest to the faders on this side of the desk (like Mick Guzauski talked about in our recent webinar) and since VCA Masters typically don’t need channel knobs above them, have identified the two modules closest to the Master Module to be Expand Zones showing EQ (magenta) and Dynamics (green).

With Auto-Spill function on, I can spill any of the VCA group members into the left 16 fader spill zone by simply pressing the ‘Attention’ switch on the channel (the little triangle button above the fader). Once spilled, I can then easily ‘Attention’ any single channel to the center Attention fader giving me the super channel view with the expanded knob zones. You’ll notice below —the touch screen can also be your panner module as well—giving you this super channel (EQ, Dyn, Pan) view of any attentioned channel.

These knob expand zones also have improved mapping of the controls in a uniform way from plug-in to plug-in including display of all filter controls, gain, freq, Q as well as ins and outs. While in the expanded knob zone and tweaking your EQ or Dynamics plug-in, your M40 Displays can show you a very cool expanded view of the knob positions and EQ curve or Dynamics plot with a yellow line around indicating the mode for the attentioned channel ‘136 BG A2’—pictured below:

Other Key 2.0 Enhancements

Version 2.0 also other enhancements that mixers will love including flipping the knobs to the faders—one row at a time. Mick Guzauski commented that this was one of his most anticipated features in the recent webinar, allowing him to better finesse send levels and plug-in controls on the fader. Another popular user request was the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the rotary knobs, giving each mixer the optimal feel and control for plug-ins, sends and pans. Also, mixers will no longer need to save their Layouts separately with each session with new automatic saving of layouts into DAW Sessions, which saves time and eliminates confusion.

There are a few key improvements specifically for Pro Tools mixers that offer more integration, control and visual feedback. The first is that the Pro Tools Edit or Mix windows now follows banking on the S6 surface (when not spilled or in Layouts). This helps mixers follow along more easily on the screen and not go searching with the mouse, if preferred. Mixers can also now see and access Hidden Tracks in Pro Tools on the S6 surface. With S6 M40 surfaces with Display Modules, Pro Tools users can now also choose to turn on scrolling automation lanes with breakpoints over the waveforms—with preferences to choose the opacity and the side that is the top. (pictured below). These will show you automation moves as you write them in red over the underlying automation and waveform, providing the same feedback the PT edit window used to give you, but where you need it on the console.

Supported Applications and Hardware

  • Avid Pro Tools 12.1
  • Avid Pro Tools 11.3.2 (not yet released)
  • Steinberg Nuendo 7
  • Steinberg Cubase 8
  • Apple Logic Pro 10
  • Merging Pyramix 8 Native only
  • Merging Pyramix 9.x
  • Avid Studio Monitor Pro
  • Avid XMON S6
  • DAD/NTP Technology PRO | MON monitor control

 

How Can I Get 2.0?

In order to receive the 2.0 software update and any other updates going forward you will need your S6 console to be on a current Avid Support Plan. Your console came with 1 year of Avid Advantage ExpertPlus support with Hardware Coverage so please check your support plan expiration date. There are several options for renewing coverage (even if your plan has recently expired). If you are a registered owner, you will receive an email with details or you can contact Avid directly to hear about your options at : 1-650-218-4058

You can read more about version 2.0 and explore other features and functionality in the interactive S6 Operation Guide.

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Marketing manager for Avid Post Audio and Pro Mixing, I am also a veteran engineer/recordist/editor. I've worked on music scores for dozens of feature films, including Ice Age, Collateral, and The Spirit.