Adam's Apple

Using ProTools Free 3.4 with Older Macs

Adam Rosen - 2008.01.04 - Tip Jar

ProTools logoProTools v3.4 Digital Audio Workstation software was released on CD-ROM free of charge by Digidesign as a promotional effort in 1997. It is an older but fully-functional 16-track version of the program. Pro Tools v3.4 was only approved for use with some PCI-based Power Macs, but it is possible to run the program on many older Macs, both NuBus and PCI models, by performing a simple manual installation.

This page does not contain information on running ProTools Free v5.01.

Manual Installation

  1. If needed, download a copy of the ProTools 3.4 application and all necessary extensions (5.3 MB StuffIt archive).

  2. If you have a copy of the installation CD-ROM, don't run the included installer - it fails on NuBus machines or when running Mac OS 8 or higher. Instead, just copy the "Digidesign" folder on the CD to your hard disk via the Finder. The ProTools application with supporting files is located inside the "Digidesign" folder. Next run the appropriate DAE/DSI installer (DAE = Digidesign Audio Engine, DSI = Digisystem INIT) to place the necessary extensions in your System Folder.
       If you have a PCI Mac use DAE/DSI v3.01. If you have a NuBus Mac use DAE/DSI v3.11.

  3. If you have a Digidesign card in your Mac, these items are all you will need. If you have a Power Mac, a PowerPC-based Performa, or a PowerPC-based PowerBook, you can also run ProTools in native Powermix mode with no audio cards required. To do this, you need the DAE Extension "DAE Powermix" to be installed on your system. This is typically installed by the DAE/DSI installer automatically. The installed file-folder structure is as follows:

    System Folder
       DAE Folder
          DAE Extensions
             DAE Powermix (file)

    For PCI machines running DAE/DSI v3.01, use DAE Powermix" v1.1.1
    For NuBus systems running DAE/DSI 3.11, use "DAE Powermix" v1.1.2

  4. Before trying to use ProTools in Powermix mode for the first time, you need to make sure that the Playback Buffer Size is set appropriately in the DAE application. To do this, run the DAE application by itself (located inside the System Folder) without running ProTools, and choose "Set Playback Buffer Size" from the File menu. Set this to the highest possible value, quit DAE, and then relaunch ProTools.

  5. Remember this is an unsupported hack (although a tested and well documented one); running ProTools v3.4 on any unqualified Mac is not an approved or supported practice by Digidesign.

Notes and Tips

  1. Combinations other than those specified on this page may work, but I have not seen information about anything other than what is listed. You should always use the same version number of DAE and DSI. Mixing and matching may work but will likely be unstable. Stability may vary between machines and setups. Increasing the number of simultaneous tracks used in Powermix mode may increase the likelihood of a crash. Your mileage may vary.

  2. If you have a 680x0 Mac, you must have a Digidesign audio card installed to use ProTools. If you have a PowerPC machine, you can run the software either on a Digidesign card (if available) or in Powermix mode. If you do not have a Digidesign card you must have a Power Mac to use ProTools. The file "DAE Powermix" is only required for Powermix mode operation.

  3. Track count varies by hardware available. Track count should be the same for any given Digi card (e.g., Audiomedia II or Sound Tools II) regardless of what machine it's in: an Audiomedia II will support 4 tracks, period. Powermix mode can support up to a certain number of tracks, depending on machine. There is no guarantee that any particular system can provide this performance. Optimizing drives, using a lean system folder and minimizing SCSI traffic can improve performance for native processing software. This is true on NuBus or PCI machines.

  4. Powermix normally uses the Mac's stereo mini jack for I/O tasks. It is possible to run ProTools in Powermix mode while simultaneously using an installed Digi card for input/output via the Apple Sound Manager. For System 7 or Mac OS 8 you will need to have the Digidesign Sound Drivers extension installed; after restart, go to the Sound Control Panel and choose your Digi card under the Sound In and Sound Out options. Digidesign Sound Drivers are incompatible with Mac OS 9, the Digidesign control panel should be used instead.
       On some systems, recording via the Sound Manager (using the Digi card to record while operating in Powermix mode) crashes the system; this is not unusual, as it is not a supported configuration. The docs for ProTools recommend running in one mode or the other, with no emphasis on using the Sound Manager for redirection.
       Important: The Monitors and Sound control panel doesn't recognize the Digi Sound Drivers, so you'll need to use the older Sound control panel instead; if it isn't already installed on your system, it can usually be found in the Apple Extras folder.

  5. If you're having problems getting Powermix mode to work at all under Mac OS 9, one user reported success by first switching to OS 8.5 to get things setup:
       "When I saw the documentation about Pro Tools not running on OS 9 I was disappointed. But I'm a try anything kind of guy, so I broke out my Backup OS CD and reinstalled 8.5 as a clean install. Sure enough, Pro tools worked. Then, just for kicks, I switched back to OS 9 and the whole thing worked!"

  6. Another user reported having difficulties bouncing interleaved stereo Sound Designer II files using a 7100/80AV and the Session 8 with 882 interface (the problem did not occur on a Centris 650 with the Session 8/882):
       "One bug I have found is that when bouncing to disk no scaling/interleaved SDII file the program becomes very unstable and the system must be rebooted. This is with OS 8.0. Symptoms of instability include tracks playing back at wrong pitch speed, bounced files consist of a few seconds of audio looped for a duration = the length of the song. The workaround is to bounce to a split stereo file, no scaling. I'm pretty sure that the bounce problem is specific to the project card. I think I've bounced interleaved files off of my Audiomedia II card without problems."
  7. Some people have reported that when switching the Playback Engine between an installed Digi card (e.g., Audiomedia II) and Powermix mode, the Digi card doesn't always show up as an available resource. Quitting ProTools, trashing the DigiSetup file, then restarting ProTools usually fixes the problem.

  8. Many Macs are much faster than systems around when v3.4 was developed, so sometimes excessive speed becomes a problem. One user mentioned this problem and fix for unwieldy scroll bars on his iMac:
       "I reported a couple of months ago using Protools 3,4 (16 tracks) with an iMac 400 DV. The only problem I had was the scroll bar which was going really too fast and was difficult to control. I found a solution with a little shareware which makes it possible to adjust the speed of the scroll bar. It is called Smart Scroll and works perfectly with Mac OS 9,04 and Protools 3,4."

  9. A little experimentation might help if things aren't working. Several readers have reported success using this tip involving changing the "ver" resource of DAE, which fools ProTools into thinking it has the software it needs:
       "I was surprised to hear that someone else got this going on a nubus mac, especially since you did it a little differently than I did. I took a version of DAE I had laying around (version 2.95, I believe), and changed the "ver" string with ResEdit to the version that ProTools was looking for. Just like that, rock-solid ProTools on a power 120! 16 stable tracks w/7200 RPM drive. NO crashes whatsoever. However, my SoundTools 1 card(!) which works fine with Sound Designer II (if QuickTime is turned off) in the Power 120 crashes immediately if selected in ProTools."
       Another notes how overclocked machines can be configured at the 'Gestalt' level:
       "I've tested your Pro Tools installation successfully on a overclocked 6100/80. You have to use 'Wish I Were' to change the 'Gestalt' to a 6100/60 or 6100/66. With this modification I have 8 tracks available."

  10. Skips in audio playback may be a sign that a disk is too slow or too fragmented to support audio recording. To achieve the most efficient track throughput, use a dedicated drive for audio files which doesn't contain the System Folder or any applications. Defragmenting or reinitializing the drive before a new recording session is also a good idea. These problems are common to PowerBook users, who should consider using an external drive with their system for best performance.
       Partitioning a slow disk won't solve access problems, a situation which can arise when both a program (ProTools) and the operating system need to access a disk simultaneously, or you attempt to play back too many tracks at once from a single drive. Two partitions are still physically on the same disk, so the need for the hardware to find two things at once hasn't gone away. Partitioning can help with fragmentation problems, since you can limit your audio work to one partition and keep general computer stuff in another.
       For more information, see Maintaining Your Macintosh: Fixing Mac Glitches and Sluggishness and Maintaining Your Mac: Solving Mac Disk and Hardware Problems.

  11. If you're trying to launch ProTools in Powermix mode with no Digi hardware installed and you receive an error that a resource is not installed or possibly in use by another application, you may need to adjust the Playback Buffer Size setting in DAE. The default configuration of DAE after installation assumes a Digi card is present, and if one isn't present you receive an error unless you've first prepared the system to use Powermix.
       To fix this, run the DAE application itself (located inside the System Folder) without running ProTools and choose "Set Playback Buffer Size" from the File menu. Change this to the highest possible value, quit DAE, then relaunch ProTools. If things still do not work, try swapping the version of the "DAE Powermix" file that you are using on your system (from v1.1.1 to v1.1.2, or vice versa).

  12. According to one user, ProTools v3.4 supports TDM functionality if you have an authorizer disc:
       "I am using protools 3.4 on a PPC 8100/100 AV. I found that if you can get a tdm authorizer disk ( I use a tdm 1.1 installer set) you only need to authorize the hd to use tdm with ProTools 3.4. It works with dae's higher than 2.95 too (3.41 here). Its my choice cause I can use the digidesign R1 controller for volume editing and transport easyfication (Protools 4.0 and higher doesn't support the R1)."

System Test Results

Pro Tools v3.4 will run on Mac OS versions up through 9.2.2. This version will not run in Classic mode under Mac OS X.

Supported Systems

These combinations are officially supported by Digidesign for ProTools v3.4 Powermix:

For the daring (and frugal) among us, here are the results people have reported using ProTools v3.4 on their unsupported machines:

Unsupported NuBus Systems

  • Power Mac 8100
    • 8100/250 (G3 card) in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
    • 8100/110 with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available
    • 8100/110 in Powermix mode: runs, 8 tracks tested (more likely available)
    • 8100/100 with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available
    • 8100/100 in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks offered
    • 8100/80 with ProTools 442: won't launch, DAE Error -9024
    • 8100/80 in Powermix mode: runs, 12 tracks offered
  • Power Mac 7100
    • 7100/80 with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available
    • 7100/80 with Session 8/882: runs, 8 tracks available
    • 7100/80 with ProTools 442: runs, tracks unspecified (requires DAE/DSI v3.02)
    • 7100/80 in Powermix mode: runs, 12 tracks available
    • 7100/66 in Powermix mode: runs, 8 tracks available
  • Power Mac 6100
    • 6100/80 in Powermix mode: runs, 8 tracks available
    • 6100/66 in Powermix mode: runs, 8 tracks available
    • 6100/60 in Powermix mode: runs, 8 tracks available
  • Performa 6300 in Powermix mode: tests failed to date
  • Radius 81/110
    • Radius 81/110 with Sound Tools II: runs, 4 tracks available
    • Radius 81/110 with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available
    • Radius 81/110 with ProTools 442: won't launch, DAE Error -9024
    • Radius 81/110 in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks offered
  • Power Computing Power 80-120
    • Power 120 in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
    • Power 100 with Sound Tools II: runs, 4 tracks available
    • Power 100 with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available
  • PowerBook 5300 in Powermix mode: runs, 2 tracks available
  • PowerBook 1400 in Powermix mode: runs, tracks unspecified
  • Quadra 950
    • Quadra 950 with SysAxe and four 442: runs, 16 tracks available (requires DAE/DSI v3.02)
    • Quadra 950 with Session 8/882: runs, 8 tracks available
    • Quadra 950 with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available
  • Quadra 900 with Sound Tools II: runs, tracks unspecified
  • Quadra 840AV with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available
  • Quadra 800 with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available
  • Quadra 650
    • Quadra 650 with SysAxe and two 442: runs, 8 tracks available*
    • Quadra 650 with Session 8/882: runs, 8 tracks available
    • Quadra 650 with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available
    • Centris 650 with Session 8/882 (& PPC upgrade card): runs, tracks unspecified
  • Mac IIfx
    • Mac IIfx with Session 8/882: runs, 8 tracks available
    • Mac IIfx with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available
  • Mac IIci
    • Mac IIci with Session 8/882: runs, 8 tracks available
    • Mac IIci with Audiomedia II: runs, 4 tracks available

Unsupported PCI Systems

  • iMac G3/400 DV in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
  • iMac G3/333 in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
  • iMac G3/233 in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
  • PowerBook G4/500 (Titanium) in Powermix mode, Digigram VX Pocket: runs, 16 tracks available
  • "Pismo" PowerBook G3/400 in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
  • "WallStreet" PowerBook G3 in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
  • iBook G3/300 in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
  • QuickSilver Power Mac G4/800MP in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
  • Sawtooth Power Mac G4
    • G4/450 (Grey) in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
    • G4/400 (Grey) in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
    • G4/350 (Grey) in Powermix mode: runs, tracks unspecified
  • Blue & White Power Mac G3
    • G3/350 (Blue) in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
    • G3/300 (Blue) in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
  • Beige G3/266 with Audiomedia III: runs, 8 tracks available
  • 9600/300 in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
  • 7600/132 in Powermix mode, runs, 16 tracks available
  • 6500/250 in Powermix mode: runs, 8 tracks tested
  • Power Computing Power Tower
    • PowerTower 400 (G3 card) in Powermix mode: runs, 16 tracks available
    • PowerTower 166 in Powermix mode: runs, 8 tracks available

Thanks to all who took the time to test things on their systems and report the results. And thanks to Digidesign for providing this free software. Long live the Mac! LEM

This article was originally published on Adam's Oakbog website. It has been adapted and reprinted here with his permission.

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Adam operates Oakbog Professional Services and The Vintage Mac Museum. He publishes The Vintage Mac Museum Blog. If you find Adam's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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