Avid’s only news at this years NAMM was updates, some were minor, some were bigger, all were welcome and all were AIR.

Basically, the five AIR instruments Structure, Transfuser, Hybrid, Strike and Velvet have all been updated. They all now offer deeper interaction with Pro Tools (probably a sign of what’s yet to come) with drag-and-drop functionality. As for the individual changes, I’ll go through them one by one with some copy+paste from the press release as well as my own comments.

Structure, a powerful professional sampler workstation, allows customers to create, sculpt, edit, and refine everything from acoustic instruments to complex soundscapes in real time. This release now includes over 5 GB of new sounds, offering users more sonic possibilities than ever before. Structure now also supports more sample formats natively, including both Giga-Sampler and Kontakt 3, providing customers an easy way to integrate existing sample libraries and begin using them in Pro Tools right away.

While the new sounds are welcomed additions, the other things are basically functionality that should have been in the very first release. Great that Kontakt 3 is now supported! Too bad Kontakt 4 has been released. Nice update for Structure users for sure but Avid is at least one step behind with this one.

Strike, a virtual instrument that emulates the performance style of a real drummer, makes it easy to create, control and produce professional drum performances from within Pro Tools. It now offers new, high-definition acoustic and electronic drum kits, providing users with a more wide-range of percussion options. Strike now also offers expanded options for customers to use their own samples. allowing for highly customized drum sounds and virtual performances that will put a human touch on any track.

I can’t say I’ve spent much time with Strike but from what I saw at NAMM this was all workflow improvements that I’m sure will make Strike users happy.

Velvet delivers realistic emulations of a variety of classic electric pianos, and offers more sonic possibilities than previous versions, including classic “digital” e-piano sounds of the ‘80s and a new enhanced reverb effects module, which provides vintage sounds that provide a classic touch to recordings.

Excellent update in my book! Continuos updates should be something more companies should supply. A brand new e-piano is a good addition and will help keep Velvet alive a little longer. Too bad it took them so long. Not exactly Modartt tempo on Avid when it comes to updating pianos.

Transfuser is an innovative, real-time loop, phrase, and groove creation instrument, which now offers a new bass module inspired by the Roland TB-303, allowing customers to re-create these original vintage sounds as well as more modern synth bass. Transfuser also includes 1.6 GB of new audio loops and content, including new electronic drum kits and a new 6-band parametric EQ, providing more options and more creative control within the instrument when creating beats and grooves.

Pretty much same as with Velvet. I really hope this update trend is something that will stick. Before it has almost seemed that you bought an instrument from Avid and that was it. That approach makes sense with a hardware guitar, but when it comes to virtual instruments expansion is where it’s at and where it will be in the future.

Hybrid is a high-definition software synthesizer plug-in that combines the warmth of legendary analog synths with a full range of modern manipulation capabilities. It now delivers all-new tonal possibilities with more than 250 new patches, and includes multi-square waveforms and new Blue, White, Mod, and Crackle waveforms for the noise oscillator, enabling customers to create anything from fat, retro synth sounds to edgy modern leads and everything in between.

Also a rather nice one. I like Hybrid and I’m sure this will only make it better. Avid has been blowing it out here and there recently so in a way it’s a little late to breath life in it to up the sales. Fortunately this will make people happier regardless of sales.

The Pro Tools Instrument Expansion Pack will ship in Q1 of 2010, and carries a USMSRP of $499. Upgrades will be available for existing customers.