- Pro Tools
name = Pro Tools
caption = Pro Tools LE 7.3 screenshot on
Mac OS X
latest_release_version = Pro Tools HD/LE 7.4
latest_release_date = November 7, 2007
Mac OS X Windows XP
Digital audio workstation
licence = Proprietary
website = http://www.digidesign.com/
Pro Tools is a
Digital Audio Workstationplatform for Mac OSand Microsoft Windowsoperating systems, developed and manufactured by Digidesign, a division of Avid Technology. It is widely used by professionals throughout the audio industries for recording and editing in music production, film scoring, television and post production. Pro Tools has three types of systems; HD, LE, and M-powered. HD is the high-end package and is an integration of hardware and software. The hardware includes an external A/D converter and internal PCI or PCIe audio cards with onboard DSP.
Fundamentally, Pro Tools is similar to a multitrack tape recorder and mixer, with additional features that can only be performed in the digital medium. The most highly specified version supports sample rates of up to 192 kHz and bit depths of 16 and 24 bit, opens WAV, AIFF, mp3 and SDII audio files and QuickTime video files, and features time code, tempo maps, automation and
Most of Pro Tools' basic functions can be controlled within Edit or Mix windows. The Edit window displays audio and MIDI tracks, and provides graphical representation of the information recorded or imported. Here, audio can be edited in a non-linear, non-destructive fashion to the level of individual samples. MIDI information can also be manipulated. The Mix window displays each track's fader channel and allows for the adjustment of a channel's volume and pan, as well as being the usual place to insert plug-in effects and route audio to and from different outputs and inputs.
Effects processing and virtual instruments in Pro Tools are achieved through the use of plug-ins, which are either processed by the DSP chips as TDM plug-ins, or the host computer as RTAS (Real Time AudioSuite) plug-ins.
Pro Tools systems
Pro Tools HD systems
Run from a host Apple Mac or Windows PC, HD systems perform most audio processing on DSP cards, and use external, rack mountable interfaces to handle incoming and outgoing audio. TDM, a proprietary interconnect based on
time-division multiplexing, is used for communication between the devices.
Pro Tools systems have long relied on dedicated DSP cards to handle most audio processing, due to the fact that at the time Pro Tools was first developed, consumer-level computers were not powerful enough to process high-end digital audio. [ [http://www.digidesign.com/index.cfm?langid=51&navid=62&itemid=4759 Digidesign | Products | Pro Tools | Pro Tools|HD | Pro Tools|HD Overview | Pro Tools|HD | industry-standard audio production environment ] ] A HD Core PCI card or an Accel Core PCIe card is required in a HD 1 system; the inclusion of one or two additional Accel cards upgrades the system to HD 2 or 3 respectively, and increases the system's overall processing power, allowing for higher track counts and more plug-ins. An 'Expansion HD' product increases capability up to a total of 7 cards using Digidesign's PCI-X expansion chassis product, which is available with both PCI-X and PCIe host cards for the computer.
When Pro Tools HD was launched, HD Process cards were available, but owing to supply problems from DSP manufacturers Motorola Fact|date=March 2008, the line was redesigned and rebranded HD Accel, which offers faster DSP chips and additional RAM. All cards contain 9 DSP chips. When Apple changed the expansion slot architecture of the G5 to PCI Express, Digidesign launched a line of PCIe HD Accel cards. The PCIe HD Core is now an 'Accel Core', whereas the original PCI-X Core remains 'non-Accel'. There are TDM plugins that require the presence of Accel chips to run and therefore cannot run on the earlier non-Accel HD systems.
The interfaces for Pro Tools HD generally offer 16 inputs and outputs of analogue and/or digital audio. The 192 and 96 interfaces represent the highest sample rate, in kHz, that they can offer. The PRE is an HD interface with only eight inputs, but each has a built in mic pre amp.
Pro Tools LE systems
Consumer-level Pro Tools LE systems perform all processing on the host CPU, and audio I/O is handled through a Digidesign USB or FireWire audio interface, also used as a copy protection dongle for the software.
There are two families of external interfaces for Pro Tools LE systems. The MBox 2 family connects to, and is powered by, a host computer through USB (except the FireWire connected MBox 2 Pro). All have a stereo audio output, and all but the MBox 2 Micro have two line inputs and at least one microphone pre amp. The 003 family is a series of FireWire connected interfaces, with larger I/O capabilities, additional methods of inputting audio and four microphone pre amps.
The Pro Tools LE software is essentially a limited version of the HD counterpart, with a smaller track count, no automatic Plugin Delay Compensation (PDC), lower maximum sampling rate and no surround sound capabilities. As no additional DSP cards are required or supported, only RTAS plug-ins can be used. There is a VST to RTAS converter software utility made by FXpansion [http://www.fxpansion.com/index.php?page=15&tab=43] that will convert VST plugins to RTAS format.
Time code based grid and import of OMF and AAF files is not available in Pro Tools LE without purchase of the Digitranslator software addon.
Pro Tools M Powered systems
M-Audio, formerly Midiman, was acquired by Avid Technologyin 2004-2005, and in April 2005, Digidesign released Pro Tools M-Powered which brought almost all Pro Tools LE functionality to a subset of M-AudioUSB, Firewire and PCI interfaces. M Powered requires a separate dongle for copy protection.
Digidesign control surfaces attempt to bridge the gap between old style analogue desks and modern DAWs by providing physical controls for the Pro Tools software. The latest control surface is the C|24, successor to the Control|24, a 24 fader control surface with 16 built in Focusrite "A" Class Mic Preamps. A fairly new addition to the range is the ICON: Integrated Console Environment, combining a tactile control surface and a Pro Tools|HD Accel system in one unit. VENUE, a similar system, was released for live sound applications. These large control surfaces use an Ethernet connection to the host computer, but for Pro Tools users with smaller needs, the Command|8 is a small eight fader control surface which connects via USB.
Related products and services
An official Pro Tools training curriculum and certification program, which includes a full range of Pro Tools–related courses in music and post production, was introduced by Digidesign in 2002. The curriculum is delivered by a number of schools and universities around the world.
The Music Production and DV Toolkits increase the capabilities of non HD Pro Tools systems. Both increase the maximum number of tracks and highest possible sample rate to 96 kHz and include numerous additional plug-ins. The LE only DV Toolkit adds timecode.
Digidesign also develop plug-ins exclusively for Pro Tools that must be bought separately from the main system, such as Eleven, a guitar amplifier emulator. Virtual instruments including Structure, Strike, Velvet, Hybrid and Xpand! can be bought separately (with the exception of Xpand!, which is included with all ProTools systems).
Pro Tools timeline of releases
1989: Sound Toolsstereo recording & editing system
1991: Original Pro Tools system is released featuring 4 voices, ProDECK and ProEDIT software, MIDI, and automation
1994: Pro Tools III system, provides 16-48 voices
1997: Pro Tools | 24 (24-bit audio)
1998: Pro Tools | MIX (expanded DSP capabilities for mixing audio)
1999: Digi 001 with Pro Tools LE (light edition of Pro Tools)
2002: Pro Tools | HD system (supports 96 kHz and 192 kHz HD audio); Mbox and Digi 002 (March and Sept.)
2003: Pro Tools | HD Accel system (additional DSP capabilities); Pro Tools Users group founded in Los Angeles.
2005: VENUE (Pro Tools for live sound); Mbox 2; Pro Tools M-Powered (Aug); Pro Tools 7.0 (Nov), 7.1 (supports Apple's PCIe G5) (Dec.)
2006: Pro Tools 7.2 (Aug.) and 7.3 (Dec.); Pro Tools LE and HD support Intel-based Mac (May and Sept. respectively); Mbox 2 Pro; Mbox 2 Mini
2007: 003 and 003 Rack (Feb.); Mbox Micro(Oct.); Pro Tools 7.4 (Nov.) (Elastic Audio)
2008: "'Pro Tools 8""(Elastic Pitch); ""003 Rack+""
Current Pro Tools hardware
Pro Tools HD hardware
* HD 1/2/3 Core Systems (PCI)
* HD 1/2/3 Accel Systems (PCI-e)
* 192 I/O (8 analog + 8 digital input; 8 analog + 8 digital output 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz interface)
* 192 Digital I/O (16 digital input; 16 digital output 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz interface)
* 96 I/O (8 analog + 8 digital input; 8 analog + 8 digital output 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 kHz interface)
* 96i I/O (16 analog input; 2 analog output 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 kHz interface)
* Pre I/O (8ch microphone pre-amp)
* SYNC I/O (Time Code Synchronizer)
* MIDI I/O (10in-10out MIDI Interface)
Pro Tools LE hardware
* 003 Rack
* Digi 002
* Digi 002 Rack
* Digi 001 ( Only compatible with Pro Tools LE 5.0-6.4 )
* Mbox 2
* Mbox 2 Pro
* Mbox 2 Mini
* Mbox 2 Micro
Pro Tools M-Powered hardware
* Black Box
* MobilePre USB
* ProjectMix I/O
* KeyStudio 49i
Fast Track Series
*Fast Track Pro
*Fast Track USB
*Fast Track Ultra
Hardware for control surfaces
* VENUE (live sound console)
* ICON D-Command and D-Control (current flagship control surfaces)
* ProControl (former flagship control surface)
* Control|24 (24 fader control surface with 16 built in Focusrite "A" Class Mic Preamps)
* C|24 (Successor to the Control|24)
* Command|8 (small 8 fader control surface)
* Tascam - FW-1082 (HUI emulation)
* Euphonix MC MIX , MC Control (Eucon system, but functions via HUI emulation)
* JL Cooper Mc3000 (HUI)
Comparison of multitrack recording software
* [http://www.digidesign.com/ Digidesign company website]
* [http://music.tvu.ac.uk/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=34/ Free Video Tutorials on Pro Tools at the London College of Music (LCM) Website]
* [http://www.wikirecording.org/Digidesign_Mbox WikiRecording's Guide to Digidesign's Mbox Pro Tools Interface]
* [http://www.howaudio.com/protools High Quality Pro Tools Training Videos]
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