Sympathy for Symphony Owners

Avid Symphony is supposed to be Avid’s High-End finishing system. To justify it’s $35,000 price tag over the $2,500 version of Media Composer it comes with a workstation, a Nitris breakout box, and additional features that Media Composer Software doesn’t have, those features are:

  • Universal Mastering (allowing you to output at a different format and frame rate than your sequence setting)
  • Some Secondary Color Correction Tools

That is all.

The thing is, not that Avid Symphony has gotten worse over the years, its that Avid Media Composer has gotten so much better. Avid Symphony has pretty much languished. Avid Symphony is pretty much abandoned. Avid is still willing to sell you their expensive high-margin system of course, but there’s just no real tangible difference anymore between Symphony and Media Composer Software.

Each update since, I believe 3.5, has added the exact same features as Media Composer Software, but no Symphony only features. In fact in some cases, more features have been added to Media Composer as Symphony is tied to it’s proprietary hardware. To add insult to injury, Symphony owners are usually asked to pony up a $1000 upgrade fee to get the next Avid version, while the Media Composer users get the same upgrade for $395.

But perhaps you’re thinking you get the Nitris DX, that has all the outputs and inputs in the world that you need. While it does have the standard Analog/Digital ins and outs you would expect, is I/O really worth $25,000 these days? Avid also supports Matrox MXO mini (output only), and the AJA I/O express (capture and output), or even offers it’s own “low cost” solution the Mojo DX? Any of these options will give you the basic I/O tools you need at a fraction of the price of Symphony.

So why does Avid still even sell Symphony? Inertia mainly I’m guessing. It certainly hasn’t made it a prominent effort to market the system. It’s promise as a high-end finishing system may have been accurate five years ago, but in the meantime the features of other software have caught up, or in many cases passed it by.

Avid Symphony is simply a holdover from Avid’s days as a high-end turnkey provider. Wistfully looking back on the days when they sold $100,000 systems to broadcasters with infinite pockets. Unfortunately those days are gone, killed by shrinking budgets, and the remarkable advances in computing technology. Avid simply needs to kill Symphony off entirely, or put the time and effort into creating a modern film and video finishing tool that justifies it’s price. As of now, Avid’s coasted too long.

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