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Which ACID version is right for you? Find out now! Edit, produce and edit music for free. ACID Pro offers you all the advantages of a DAW for music production.
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Pro Tools operates both as standalone software and in conjunction with a range of external analog-to-digital converters and PCIe cards with on-board digital signal processors DSP. The DSP is used to provide additional processing power to the host computer for processing real-time effects , such as reverb , equalization , and compression  and to obtain lower latency audio performance.
Audio, MIDI , and video tracks are graphically represented on a timeline. Audio effects , virtual instruments , and hardware emulators—such as microphone preamps or guitar amplifiers—can be added, adjusted, and processed in real-time in a virtual mixer. It features time code , tempo maps, elastic audio, and automation ; supports mixing in surround sound , Dolby Atmos and VR sound using Ambisonics.
The Pro Tools TDM mix engine, supported until with version 10, employed bit fixed-point arithmetic for plug-in processing and bit for mixing. Current HDX hardware systems, HD Native and native systems use bit floating-point resolution for plug-ins and bit floating-point summing. In , Avid switched Pro Tools from a perpetual license to a subscription model.
In , the two friends, sharing an interest in music and electronic and software engineering, decided to study the memory mapping of the newly released E-mu Drumulator drum machine to create EPROM sound replacement chips. The Drumulator was quite popular at that time, although it was limited to its built-in samples. They started selling the upgrade chips one year later under their new Digidrums label.
The chips, easily switchable with the original ones, enjoyed remarkable success between the Drumulator users, selling 60, units overall.
When Apple released its first Macintosh computer in , the pair thought to design a more functional and flexible solution which could take advantage of a graphical interface. Starting from the same year, a dial-up service provided by Beaverton Digital Systems, called MacMusic, allowed Sound Designer users to download and install the entire Emulator II sound library to other less expensive samplers: sample libraries could be shared across different manufacturers platforms without copyright infringement.
MacMusic contributed to Sound Designer’s success by leveraging both the universal file format and developing the first online sample file download site globally, many years before the World Wide Web use soared. With the release of Apple Macintosh II in , which provided card slots, a hard disk, and more capable memory, Brooks and Gotcher saw the possibility to evolve Sound Designer into a featured digital audio workstation.
They discussed with E-mu the opportunity of using the Emulator III as a platform for their updated software, but E-mu rejected this offer. Therefore, they decided to design both the software and the hardware autonomously. Motorola , which was working on its 56K series of digital signal processors , invited the two to participate in its development.
Brooks designed a circuit board for the processor, then developed the software to make it work with Sound Designer. A beta version of the DSP was ready by December The combination of the hardware and the software was called Sound Tools.
Advertised as the „first tapeless studio“,  it was presented on January 20, at the NAMM annual convention. The system relied on a NuBus card called Sound Accelerator, equipped with one Motorola processor. The card provided bit playback and Since audio streaming and non-destructive editing were performed on hard drives, the software was still limited by their performance; densely edited tracks could cause glitches.
The core engine and much of the user interface of the first iteration of Pro Tools was based on Deck. The software, published in , was the first multi-track digital recorder based on a personal computer. It was developed by OSC, a small San Francisco company founded the same year, in conjunction with Digidesign and ran on Digidesign’s hardware. The first Pro Tools system was launched on June 5, In , Josh Rosen, Mats Myrberg and John Dalton, the OSC’s engineers who developed Deck, split from Digidesign to focus on releasing lower-cost multi-track software that would run on computers with no additional hardware.
Peter Gotcher felt that the software needed a significant rewrite. Pro Tools II, the first software release fully developed by Digidesign, followed in the same year and addressed its predecessor’s weaknesses. In , Pro Tools 2. With TDM, up to four NuBus cards could be linked, obtaining a track system, while multiple DSP-based plug-ins could be run simultaneously and in real-time.
The operation was finalized in This change of architecture allowed the convergence of Macintosh computers with Intel -based PCs, for which PCI had become the standard internal communication bus. With the release of Pro Tools 24 in , Digidesign introduced a new bit interface the 24 and a new PCI card the d The d24 relied on Motorola processors, offering increased processing power and 24 tracks of bit audio  later increased to 32 tracks with a DAE software update.
A SCSI accelerator was required to keep up with the increased data throughput. Digidesign dropped its proprietary SCSI controller in favor of commercially available ones. Pro Tools 5 saw two substantial software developments: extended MIDI functionality and integration in an editable piano-roll view in the editor; MIDI automation, quantize and transpose  and the introduction of surround sound mixing and multichannel plug-ins—up to the 7.
The migration from traditional, tape-based analog studio technology to the Pro Tools platform took place within the industry:  Ricky Martin ’s “ Livin‘ la Vida Loca “ was the first Billboard Hot number-one single to be recorded, edited, and mixed entirely within the Pro Tools environment,  allowing a more meticulous and effortless editing workflow especially on vocals.
While consolidating its presence in professional studios, Digidesign began to target the mid-range consumer market in by introducing the Digi bundle, consisting of a rack-mount audio interface with eight inputs and outputs with bit, Pro Tools, offering a solid and reliable alternative to analog recording and mixing, eventually became a standard in professional studios throughout the decade, while editing features such as Beat Detective introduced with Pro Tools 5.
Pro Tools LE, first introduced and distributed in with the Digi interface,  was a specific Pro Tools version in which the signal processing entirely relied on the host CPU.
The software required a Digidesign interface to run, which acted as a copy-protection mechanism for the software. Pro Tools LE shared the same interface of Pro Tools HD but had a smaller track count 24 tracks with Pro Tools 5, extended to 32 tracks with Pro Tools 6  and 48 tracks with Pro Tools 8  and supported a maximum sample rate of 96 kHz  depending on the interface used.
Pro Tools 9, released in November , dropped the requirement of proprietary hardware to run the software. Core Audio allowed device aggregation, enabling using of more than one interface simultaneously. In all other cases, it ran as Pro Tools 9 standard, with a smaller track count and some advanced features turned off.
In response to Apple’s decision to include Emagic ’s complete line of virtual instruments in Logic Pro in and following Avid ’s acquisition of German virtual instruments developer Wizoo in , Pro Tools 8 was supplied with its first built-in virtual instruments library, the AIR Creative Collection, as well as with some new plug-ins, to make it more appealing for music production.
Each card mounted 18 DSP processors, manufactured by Texas Instruments, allowing an increased computational precision bit floating-point resolution for audio processing and bit floating-point summing, versus the previous bit and bit fixed-point resolution of the TDM engine ,  thus improving dynamic range performance.
Signal processing could be run on the embedded DSP, providing additional computational power and enabling near zero-latency for DSP-reliant plug-ins. Two FPGA chips handled track playback, monitoring, and internal routing, providing a lower round trip latency. To maintain performance consistency, HDX products were specified with a fixed maximum number of voices each voice representing a monophonic channel.
Each HDX card enabled simultaneous voices at AAX was developed to provide the future implementation of bit plug-ins, although bit versions of AAX were still used in Pro Tools Notable software features introduced with Pro Tools 10 were editable clip-based gain automation Clip gain , the ability to load the session’s audio data into RAM to improve transport responsiveness Disk caching , quadrupled Automatic Delay Compensation length, audio fades processed in real-time, timeline length extended to 24 hours, support for bit float audio and mixed audio formats within the session, and the addition of Avid Channel Strip plug-in based on Euphonix System 5 console’s channel strip, following Avid’s acquisition of Euphonix in Pro Tools 11, released in June , switched from bit to bit software architecture with new audio and video engines, enabling the application and plug-ins to fully take advantage of system memory.
The new audio engine AAE introduced support of offline bouncing and simultaneous mixdowns multiple sources; dynamic plug-in processing allowed to reduce CPU usage when active native plug-ins don’t receive any input. Two separate buffers were used for playback and for monitoring of record-enabled or input-monitored tracks.
Pro Tools workflow is organized into two main windows: the timeline is shown in the Edit window, while the mixer is shown in the Mix window. The timeline provides a graphical representation of all types of tracks: the audio envelope or waveform when zoomed in for audio tracks, a piano roll showing MIDI notes and controller values for MIDI and Instrument tracks, a sequence of frame thumbnails for video tracks, audio levels for auxiliary, master and VCA master tracks.
Time can be measured and displayed on the timeline in different scales: bars and beats, time or SMPTE timecode with selectable frame rates , audio samples, or film stock feet for audio-for-film referencing based on the 35 mm film format.
Elastic Audio must be enabled to allow time stretching of audio clips. Audio and MIDI clips can be moved, cut, and duplicated non-destructively on the timeline edits change the clip organization on the timeline, but source files are not overwritten.
All other types of audio processing can be rendered on the timeline with the AudioSuite non-real-time version of AAX plug-ins. MIDI notes, velocities, and controllers can be edited directly on the timeline, each MIDI track showing an individual piano roll, or in a specific window, where several MIDI and Instrument tracks can be shown together in a single piano roll with color-coding.
Multiple MIDI controllers for each track can be viewed and edited on different lanes. Video files can be imported to one or more video tracks and organized in multiple playlists. Multiple video files can be edited together and played back in real-time.
Video output from one video track is provided in a separate window or can be viewed full screen. It also can show additional controls for the inserted virtual instrument , mic preamp gain, HEAT settings, and the EQ curve of supported plug-ins. Audio can be routed to and from different outputs and inputs, both physical and internal. Internal routing is achieved using busses and auxiliary tracks; each track can have multiple output assignments. Audio, auxiliary, and Instrument tracks or MIDI tracks routed to a virtual instrument plug-in can be committed to new tracks containing their rendered output.
Virtual instruments can be committed to audio to prepare an arrangement project for mixing; track commit is also used to free up system resources during mixing or when the session is shared with systems not having some plug-ins installed.
Multiple tracks can be rendered at a time; it is also possible to render a specific timeline selection and define which range of inserts to render. Similarly, tracks can be frozen with their output rendered at the end of the plug-in chain or at a specific insert of their chain. Editing is suspended on frozen tracks, but they can subsequently be unfrozen if further adjustments are needed. For example, virtual instruments can be frozen to free up system memory and improve performance while keeping the possibility to unfreeze them to make arrangement changes.
The main mix of the session—or any internal mix bus or output path—can be bounced to disk in real-time if hardware inserts from analog hardware are used, or if any audio or MIDI source is monitored live into the session or offline faster-than-real-time. The selected source can be mixed to mono, stereo, or any other multichannel format.
Multichannel mixdowns can be written as an interleaved audio file or in multiple mono files. Up to 24 sources of up to 10 channels each can be mixed down simultaneously—for example, to deliver audio stems.
AAF and OMF sequences embed audio and video files with their metadata; when opened by the destination application, session structure is rebuilt with the original clip placement, edits, and basic track and clip automation. Track contents and any of its properties can be selectively exchanged between Pro Tools sessions with Import Session Data for example, importing audio clips from an external session to a designated track while keeping track settings or importing track inserts while keeping audio clips.
Pro Tools projects can be synchronized to the Avid Cloud and shared with other users on a track-by-track basis. Different users can simultaneously work on the project and upload new tracks or any changes to existing tracks such as audio and MIDI clips, automation, inserted plug-ins, and mixer status or alterations to the project structure such as tempo, meter, or key.
Pro Tools reads embedded metadata in media files to manage multichannel recordings made by field recorders in production sound. All stored metadata such as scene and take numbers, tape or sound roll name, or production comments can be accessed in the Workspace browser. Analogous audio clips are identified by overlapping longitudinal timecode LTC and by one or more user-defined criteria such as matching file length, file name, or scene and take numbers. An audio segment can be replaced from matching channels for example, to replace audio from a boom microphone with the audio from a lavalier microphone while maintaining edits and fades in the timeline, or any matching channels can be added to new tracks.
Up to twelve Pro Tools Ultimate systems with dedicated hardware can be linked together over an Ethernet network—for example, in multi-user mixing environments where different mix components such as dialog, ADR, effects, and music reside on different systems, or if a larger track count or processing power is needed. Transport, solo, and mute are controlled by a single system and with a single control surface.
Pro Tools software is available in a standard edition informally called „Vanilla“  providing all the key features for audio mixing and post-production, a complete edition officially called „Ultimate“ and known as „HD“ between and , which unlocks functionality for advanced workflows and a higher track count.
The starter edition of Pro Tools called „First“ was discontinued in In mids, Digidesign started working on a studio device that could replace classic analog consoles and provide integration with Pro Tools.
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