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[Newb Question] What are Native Systems?

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Native simply means the host pc is doing the processing. Compared to systems like Pro Tools HD, where the processing is done on PCI cards independent of the host pc's cpu. Most DAW's these days are native, and Avid just released the first version of Pro Tools HD that runs natively (i.e. without the HD process cards).


There are options to take some load off the CPU, like UAD's process cards and Waves had an outboard unit the connected via CAT5. However even in a system that used one of these the actual mixing is still done on the host PC, therefore they are still native systems.

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Excellent answer! :cool:


Yup - it's as simple as that: A DAW program that relies on the computer's CPU for all of its processing is a "native" system; it's using the computer's "native" or intrinsic computer processing horsepower.


As CME mentioned, it is possible to add additional processing horsepower to a "native" DAW by adding third party DSP products such as the UAD cards or the SSL Duende. These products do not add any power to the DAW software itself, but do allow you to use various third party plugins within that DAW program, and the processing horsepower for those plugins is provided by the onboard DSP chips in those cards and outboard units instead of coming from your computer's CPU.


The Pro Tools HD system that I use is not a native system; while it can utilize the computer's CPU to run plugins (Pro Tools native plugins are called RTAS), the main processing is handled by the DSP chips on the two PCI cards that I have installed inside the host computer. These DSP chips power the DAW software itself, as well as provide processing power for HD's TDM format plugins, which require HD processing cards / DSP to run, and will not currently function with just your computer's CPU power.


Again, as CME said, Avid recently released Pro Tools HD Native, which also uses a PCI-e card, but lacks the DSP chips of the HD Accel cards and while it will allow you to run Pro Tools HD and connect HD compatible interfaces to your system, my understanding is that it will not allow you to run any HD (TDM) type plugins - only the RTAS plugins.

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