Pro Tools

Is a software for music production the American company Avid, which bought up the program in 1995 by Digidesign Pro Tools. Since version 9 was first marketed as a pure Pro Tools sequencer after the product for many years was available only as a highly integrated DAW, ie Pro Tools could only be purchased in conjunction with appropriate hardware. The current version 11 is available for Mac OS X and Windows, and especially common in professional recording studios.

  • 4.1 Plug -ins
  • 4.2 Hardware


In principle, similar to the handle of Pro Tools - as with other digital audio workstations also - the combination of multi-track recorder and mixer, with the special feature is the addition given to the hand tools, which can be realized as digital only. Accordingly, in the program two main views; the Edit window and the Mix window. In addition to standard included features for recording MIDI and audio, for cutting, finishing and blending, the program can be expanded to plug-ins for EQ, reverb, pitch correction, sampling or Ampmodeling, but here often have to resort to third-party. Operating Technical peculiarity is, inter alia, to highlight the so-called smart tool that allows you to trim with the same tool, move and set fades.

Pro Tools supports sample rates up to 192 kHz and resolutions of 16, 24 and 32 bits. Accepted media formats are WAV, AIFF, MP3 and SDII audio files and QuickTime videos.

The software is currently available in different versions:

  • Pro Tools HD 10 ( in conjunction with a DSP card ( Pro Tools HDX ) or a pure interface card ( Pro Tools HD Native ) and ( in both cases) Avid audio interfaces, DSP - based, AAX / TDM )
  • Pro Tools 10 ( native version - without DSP card, host-based, RTAS AAX & );
  • Pro Tools Express (included with some Avid audio interfaces, limited in functionality and tracking number, host-based, RTAS AAX & )
  • Pro Tools SE ( with M -Audio hardware included severely limited in functionality, host-based, no additional plug-ins)
  • Pro Tools MP 9 (for hardware M-Audio, upgrade from Pro Tools SE, offers additional features / more tracks, host-based, RTAS )

Formerly there were the following five variants, which could only be used with hardware of the company Avid and M - Audio ( M-Powered ( Essential) ):

  • Pro Tools HD ( for pro studios, DSP -based, plug-in standard TDM, 3 designs: an HD Core card and no, 1 or 2 Accel cards combined with external interfaces, with the addition of additional cards was possible; TDM plug-ins)
  • Pro Tools M-Powered ( M-Audio hardware, host-based, RTAS )
  • Pro Tools M- Powered Essential (limited freeware version ), shipped with M -Audio hardware
  • Pro Tools LE (for project studios and home users, host-based, RTAS Plug-in default )
  • Pro Tools Academic ( for education, host-based, RTAS )


Pro Tools was originally developed by Peter Gotcher and Evan Brooks, who completed a degree in electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley. The beginnings of Pro Tools are in the year 1984, when both sound designer started with the programming of the software whose purpose was to be able to edit samples for the keyboard E -MU Emulator. Your software grew in functionality and was renamed accordingly after some time in Sound Tools. As was their integration into the Emulator III keyboard released in 1987 but rejected by E -MU, Gotcher and Brooks started the company Digidesign to distribute their program without proper authorization. The first official release of Sound Tools was followed on January 20, 1989 to the American Musikmesse NAMM.

The first release of Pro Tools was 1991. At this time, the program cost about $ 6000 ( USD) and there were up to four tracks can be processed simultaneously.

Pro Tools was a pure audio software at the beginning and was progressively extended to MIDI functions. Alternative programs such as Cubase, Logic and Digital Performer, however, began as a MIDI software that has been extended to the audio functions. This results in different strengths and weaknesses in the operation concept. Pro Tools is still regarded as a model for audio editing, but to release of version 8 practical and less for MIDI editing. Many music producers (including Just Blaze, Firzt Play) combine Pro Tools with Logic or Digital Performer, therefore, especially since both support the Digidesign TDM hardware directly.

Great importance has acquired Pro Tools in the film industry in post production and is there next to Nuendo as a de facto standard for sound editing and sound design. In 2004, the manufacturer Avid received (then under the name of Digidesign ) an Oscar ( Academy Award, the Special Award of Merit ) for his product Pro Tools.

The HD system

The newer HD systems use the plug-in format AAX HD. Here, the calculation of TDM plug-ins, unlike the LE systems generally taken from the / the CPU (s), but are of DSPs on one or more specific expansion cards of the computer. There are several stages of expansion of the HD system.

Pro Tools | HDX

The HDX system has at least one Pro Tools | HDX card to which special Avid audio interfaces are connected; but are on them also the DSPs for audio calculation. On HDX cards based systems use the plug-in format AAX HD; but also support the older TDM system. All processes for audio processing as well as all the plug-in calculations take place on the DSPs of the HDX cards. Thus, the host system will only be charged by the minimum performance requirements of the graphical user interface.

Pro Tools | HD Accel

Pro Tools 10 also provides support old HD Accel system, this consists of an HD Core and optional multiple HD Accel cards and external audio interfaces that are connected to this card. This support is however AVID According to no longer be present in subsequent versions. Digidesign even the system HD 2 ( a Accel card ) and HD 3 (two Accel cards ) than HD 1 (without Accel card ) available. However, further Accel cards could be purchased separately; However, the limited number of PCI ( e) slots made ​​mostly an external PCI (e ) extender housing need, this was distributed by Digidesign as Magma chassis.

Pro Tools | HD Native

In contrast to the HDX or HD Accel systems, the HD Native system offers no calculation by DSP, the use of Pro Tools HD, however, is still possible. The HD Native environment is as Thunderbolt audio interface or PCIe card with additional external interfaces ( HD I / O, HD MADI, HD Omni, PRE), which are also used for HDX systems available. HD Native systems use the AAX Native plug-in format; they also support the precursor format here RTAS. In native systems, the host system must also perform all audio processing, which brings a significant system burden.


Plug -ins

Pro Tools allows the modular integration of plug- ins for the realization of various audio effects. Methods make use of digital communication its own standard: Real Time AudioSuite, RTAS short, is a proprietary plug- in interface, which was developed by Digidesign. The interface is not disclosed as opposed to VST. In contrast to the TDM interface is also used by the processing power per tool is natively carried out (on the host CPU ), and not on the external tools per hardware. In the current version 10 Avid introduced the new plug- in format Avid Audio Extensions, short AAX that allows Pro Tools sessions that were created on an HD system with no loss of sound to open on a native system and vice versa. The program automatically detects whether the available DSP power of an HD system available to calculate the AAX plug-ins, or if you need to access the computing power of the host CPU.


For data transfer between the recording equipment and Pro Tools you need specific hardware, depending on the system, this may be an internal sound card, external audio interface or a DAW mixer. These are connected depending on the version and price category via FireWire, USB or Ethernet. In addition to an AD converter can such hardware also preamplifier for microphone and headphone jacks, and DSPs to outsource computing processes for signal processing include.

Since November 2011, which is open Pro Tools system and thus supports hardware from other manufacturers. Previously only hardware from Digidesign and M-Audio (both trademarks of Avid ) was approved, which served alongside the iLok USB key as a kind of dongle.

The development of new features and implementation of the hardware required by the proprietary hardware, lack of competition, longer than competing products. This circumstance took advantage of companies such as Solid State Logic to develop their own interfaces with officially unsupported features and distribute. In this way, MADI could be used by Pro Tools. The third-party hardware simulated in Pro Tools four virtual " 192 I / O" interface from Digidesign. In this way, up to 64 inputs and outputs could be used on optical fibers.

Pro Tools Controller

A controller is a hardware, which is used as an operating means for the software; it facilitates the control of Pro Tools: Instead of using only computer keyboard and mouse, can the Pro Tools interface with its help visual elements - are real and operated detected haptically - such as buttons, faders and knobs.

Models available for Pro Tools are:

  • Pro -Control
  • D-Control
  • C 24
  • Command 8
  • ICON
  • Digi -Factory
  • M-Audio Project Mix
  • Avid Artist Series ( formerly Euphonix MC series)