The Digi 002, both in control surface and rack versions, has gotten its successor in the form of the Digi 003. The new release largely updates the control surface functionality Digi’s mid-range line. These units run Pro Tools LE, just like their lower-end counterparts, but with greater control and audio I/O. And, most importantly, Digidesign has gone from charcoal trim to far-groovier white.

Digidesign 003 Family

Pricing: 003 US$2,495 USD with factory bundle. 003 Rack US$1695 with factory bundle, $US1295 without. (The 003 only comes with the extra software, not without.)
Availability: “Soon” (What’s with these vague ship dates, Digi?)

Other than cosmetic, the main differences here are relatively subtle:

  1. Jog/shuttle wheel
  2. Dedicated automation mode buttons for per-track automation (handy as you’re writing mix automation as you work)
  3. Assign plug-ins and sends directly from the control surface
  4. Dedicated studio monitor output, plus alternate control room output (002 had only the studio monitor out)

Oddly, Digidesign’s product manager claims the shuttle wheel “offers session navigation functions previously only found on high-end consoles.” Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m fairly certain you can navigate sessions in lots of audio and video software with shuttle wheels without a high-end console.

That said, though, the redesign looks decent. More info and comparison shots with the 002 after the jump.

Like the 002, the 003 includes eight faders and rotaries for mixing, and dedicated transport controls. The 003 adds extra controls, however, including a badly-needed jog/shuttle wheel. Also like the 002, the 003 has digital and analog audio with 24-bit/96kHz support. That’s 8×8 analog, 4 mic pres, 8-channel ADAT and 2-channel S/PDIF digital, plus (apparently new on the 003, though 002 users can confirm this) BNC word clock. Curiously, there’s no mention of the 003 functioning as a standalone mixer, only as a standalone MIDI controller; hopefully they didn’t nix that feature.

I don’t see nearly enough here for existing 002 users to upgrade, but if you’ve been looking for a way to upgrade lower-end or older, incompatible Digi gear, now’s the time: Digi will have a new upgrade program called the Turbocharge Exchange program. They’ll also crossgrade owners of Nuendo, Cubase, and SONAR who also have an audio interface, though knowing how loyal DAW users are, we’ll see how many people take them up on it.

Updated: Digi 003 vs. M-Audio’s ProjectMix I/O. idreaminsound points out that, sexy as the new 003 is, M-Audio’s ProjectMix I/O compares nicely. I agree: four more mic pres, and compatibility not only with Pro Tools M-Powered but lots of other software, as well, from Ableton Live to SONAR. There may be subtler differences that would make you choose the 003, but I think the 003 is largely for people who want to invest heavily in Digidesign software; the ProjectMix I/O is a better choice for those working in a mixed environment or sans Pro Tools at all. On the other hand, if you don’t need all those bundled plug-ins, you can save several hundred dollars and still get Pro Tools M-Powered — nearly identical to LE — plus the M-Audio box.

The other news from Digidesign is that the factory bundle itself has expanded with the new Ignition Pack 2. There’s quite a lot of stuff, even if the word “lite” comes up a few times, especially with the new instruments Digidesign has been working on since the acquisition of Wizoo.

Ableton Live Lite 6 Digidesign Edition
Propellerhead Software Reason Adapted 3
IK Multimedia AmpliTube LE
FXpansion BFD Lite
Celemony Melodyne uno essential
Digidesign Xpand!™ by Advanced Instrument Research (A.I.R.)
Digidesign Synchronic™ (Pro Tools Ignition Pack 2 Pro only)
M-Audio® ProSessions™ SE sound library
Sound libraries from Big Fish Audio, Cycling ’74, Sonic Reality, and Zero-G (Pro Tools Ignition Pack 2 Pro only)
Way Out Ware TimewARP 2600 Lite
Arturia Analog Factory SE
iZotope effects: Ozone 3 Lite, Trash Lite, and Spectron Lite
Trillium Lane Labs® TL EveryPhase™ (Pro Tools Ignition Pack 2 Pro only)
Trillium Lane Labs TL Utilities™ (Pro Tools Ignition Pack 2 Pro only)
Pro Tools Method One instructional DVD
One-year membership to
One-year subscription to
Free contest entries (one free entry with Ignition Pack 2, three free entries with Ignition Pack 2 Pro)
Free Digidesign plug-in with Pro Tools education