Pro Tools

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Pro Tools

ProTools Logo.png
Pro Tools 10 main window on Mac OS X
Basic data

developer Avid
Publishing year 1991
Current  version 2019.6
( June 25, 2019 )
operating system Microsoft Windows , macOS
programming language C , C ++ , assembly language
category Music software
License proprietary software
German speaking Yes
the old logos for Pro Tools in the versions LE , M-Powered and HD

Pro Tools is a so-called digital audio workstation (DAW), which is a professional Audio Editor - Software by former American company Digidesign has been developed and after its acquisition by Avid and since version 9.0 under the brand Avid ProTools will be developed and distributed. ProTools has a 64-bit architecture with internal 64-bit floating point processing . In the Pro Tools HD version , it is possible to mix up to 7.1 surround sound . The Pro Tools MIDI interface has a score editor and, via ReWire, offers the implementation of a Sibelius score that is synchronized on both sides ; sample libraries can be integrated directly with the Kontakt 5 Player from Native Instruments . With the Avid Video Engine , videos can be synchronized directly with the soundtrack.


In principle, the handling of Pro Tools - as with other digital audio workstations - is similar to the combination of multi-track recorder and mixer , the specialty being the additional tools that can only be realized digitally. Accordingly, there are two main views in the program: that of the Edit window and that of the Mix window. In addition to the standard functions for recording MIDI and audio , for cutting, post-processing and mixing, the program can be modularly expanded to include plug-ins for EQ , reverb , pitch correction, sampling or amp modeling , but third-party providers often have to be used here. Operational peculiarity is u. a. the so-called Smart Tool , which makes it possible to trim, mark, move and set fades with one and the same tool .

Pro Tools in the current version 12.7 from December 21, 2016 is available in different versions:

  • Pro Tools
    Native, host-based version without DSP card, only stereo , with 32 audio inputs; AAX / RTAS. Purchase with a monthly subscription or as a permanent license with a one-year upgrade plan.
  • Pro Tools | HD
    DSP-based, up to 7.1 surround sound and 192 audio inputs, multiple video tracks, stand-alone with a pure interface card (e.g. Pro Tools HD Native or other sound cards ) or in combination with a DSP card (e.g. . Pro Tools HDX); AAX / TDM . Purchase stand-alone as an Avid Pro Tools HD Upgrade Reinstate perpetual license or in a bundle with a Pro Tools HDX or Pro Tools HD Native system and a one-year upgrade plan.
  • Pro Tools | First
    free entry-level version, stereo only , with four audio inputs.

Pro Tools supports sample rates up to 192 kHz and resolutions of 16, 24 and 32 bits. Standard media formats are WAV , AIFF , MP3 , and SDII audio files, as well as QuickTime videos. Other file formats can be processed using plug-ins (see section Pro Tools plug-ins ).


Previous variants were:

  • Pro Tools Express (version 10.3.4 from April 8, 2013, supplied with some AVID audio interfaces; limited functionality and number of tracks, host-based, AAX / RTAS)
  • Pro Tools SE (version 8.0.3 of July 21, 2011, supplied with M-Audio hardware, severely limited functionality, host-based, no additional plug-ins)
  • Pro Tools 9 MP (version 6.0.3 from September 13, 2011, for hardware from M-Audio , upgrade from Pro Tools SE, offers additional functions / more tracks, host-based, RTAS)

In addition, there were the following five variants, which could only be used with hardware from Avid or M-Audio (M-Powered (Essential)):

  • Pro Tools HD (for professional studios, DSP-based, plug-in standard TDM , 3 versions: one HD core card as well as none, 1 or 2 Accel cards combined with external interfaces, with the option of adding additional cards; TDM Plug-ins)
  • Pro Tools M-Powered (for 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, plug-in standard RTAS)
  • Pro Tools Academic (Education, Host-Based, RTAS)


Pro Tools was originally developed by Peter Gotcher and Evan Brooks, who studied electrical engineering and computer science at Berkeley University . Pro Tools began in 1984 when they both started programming the Sound Designer software , the purpose of which was to edit samples for the E-MU emulator keyboard . Their software grew in functionality and was renamed Sound Tools accordingly after a while . When their integration into the Emulator III keyboard released in 1987 was rejected by E-MU , Gotcher and Brooks founded the Digidesign company to sell their program independently. The first official release of Sound Tools was presented on January 20, 1989 at the American music fair NAMM .

Pro Tools was first released in 1991. At that time, the program cost about $ 6,000 (USD), and up to four tracks could be edited simultaneously and output via the hardware (NuBus card and 442 I / O interface). In 1995, Digidesign was bought by Avid, but its products were initially sold under the Digidesign brand.

At the beginning, Pro Tools was pure audio software with its own hardware and was gradually expanded to include MIDI functions. Alternative programs such as Cubase , Logic and Digital Performer , on the other hand, began as MIDI software that was expanded to include audio functions. This results in different strengths and weaknesses in the operating concept. Pro Tools is still considered exemplary for audio processing due to sample-accurate processing and just as precise automation, but until the release of version 8 it was less practical for MIDI editing. Many music producers (including Just Blaze, Firzt Play ) therefore combined Pro Tools with Logic or Digital Performer, especially since both support the Digidesign TDM hardware directly.

Pro Tools has achieved great importance in the film industry in the post-production area and, alongside Nuendo, is a quasi-standard for sound editing and sound design . In 2004 the manufacturer Avid (then still under the name Digidesign ) received an Oscar (the special Academy Award of Merit ) for its product Pro Tools.

As of version 9, Pro Tools is also sold as a pure sequencer for the first time , after the product was only available as a highly integrated DAW for many years and could only be purchased in conjunction with the corresponding hardware .

The HD system

The newer HD systems use the AAX HD plug-in format. Unlike the LE systems , the calculation of TDM plug-ins is not carried out by the CPU (s), but by DSPs that are located on one or more special expansion cards of the computer. There are different levels of expansion of the HD system.

Pro Tools | HD Native

In contrast to the HDX and HD Accel systems, the HD Native system does not offer any calculation using DSP, but Pro Tools HD can still be used. The HD native environment is available as a Thunderbolt audio interface or as a PCIe card with additional external interfaces (HD I / O, HD MADI, HD Omni, PRE), which are also used for the HDX systems. HD Native systems use the AAX Native plug-in format; they also support the previous format, here RTAS. With native systems, the host system must also perform all audio calculations, which results in a not inconsiderable system load.

Pro Tools | HDX

The HDX system has at least one Pro Tools | HDX card to which special AVID audio interfaces are connected; They also contain the DSPs for audio calculation. Systems based on HDX cards use the AAX HD plug-in format; but also support the older TDM system. All audio processing and all plug-in calculations take place on the DSPs of the HDX cards. As a result, the host system is only burdened by the minimal performance requirements of the graphical user interface and the latency of the audio signals when using effects (EQ, dynamics, etc.) is significantly reduced.

Pro Tools | HD Accel (deprecated)

Version Pro Tools 10 also offers support for the old HD Accel system, which consists of an HD Core and optionally several HD Accel cards as well as external audio interfaces that are connected to these cards. However, according to AVID, this support will no longer be available in subsequent versions. From Digidesign itself, the system was available as HD 1 (without Accel card), HD 2 (one Accel card) and HD 3 (two Accel cards). However, additional Accel cards could be purchased separately; However, the limited number of PCI (e) slots usually required an external PCI (e) extender housing, which Digidesign sold as a Magma chassis.



Pro Tools enables the modular integration of native plug-ins, calculated with the computer CPU , for the implementation of various audio effects in real time. Pro Tools HD allows exclusively to Pro Tools HD and HDX systems using the TDM - interface the integration of DSP plug-ins in real time. The computing power for native plug-ins is also outsourced to the DSP in HDX systems, but this can lead to latency . AudioSuite plug-ins are also provided for file-based, non-real-time rendering effects.

For digital communication with the plug-ins, you use your own standard of the Real Time Audio Suite , or RTAS for short . The proprietary plug-in interface developed by Digidesign is not open source, unlike VST . With version 10 Avid introduced the new plug-in format Avid Audio Extensions , or AAX for short, which enables Pro Tools sessions that were created on an HD system to be opened on a native system without loss of sound and vice versa. The program automatically detects whether the DSP performance of an HDX system is available to calculate the AAX plug-in, or whether the computing power of the host CPU needs to be accessed. Pro Tools only supports AAX, RTAS and TDM plug-ins with RTAS equivalents in 64-bit architecture.

Surround sound plug-ins (Pro Tools HD version)

Audio codecs
format channels file extension Manufacturer
Dolby Digital 5.1 .ac3 Neyrinck
Dolby Digital Plus up to 7.1 .ec3 Minnetonka Audio
Dolby Pro Logic II 5.1 in stereo file Minnetonka Audio
Signal processing (exemplary)
Surname channels category Manufacturer
DTS Neural ™ Surround UpMix Stereo upmix up to 7.1 (up to 48 kHz) Room simulation Waves
Ircam Spat v3 up to 7.1 (and stereo upmix to 7.1) Room simulation Flux
Alchemist v3 up to 7.1 Multiband dynamics processor Flux


Specific hardware is required to transfer data between recording devices and Pro Tools . Depending on the system, this can be an internal sound card , an external audio interface or a DAW mixer. Depending on the version and price category, these are connected via Thunderbolt, FireWire , USB or Ethernet . In addition to an AD converter , such hardware can also include preamplifiers for microphone and headphone jacks, as well as DSPs for outsourcing computing processes for signal processing.

The Pro Tools system has been open since November 2011 and thus supports third-party hardware. Previously, only hardware from Digidesign and M-Audio (both brands from Avid ) were approved, which acted like a kind of dongle in addition to the iLok USB key .

Due to the proprietary hardware, the development of new features and implementation of the hardware took longer than for competing products due to the lack of competition. Companies like Solid State Logic took advantage of this fact to develop and sell their own interfaces with officially unsupported features. In this way MADI could be used with Pro Tools. The third-party hardware simulated four virtual "192 I / O" interfaces from Digidesign in Pro Tools. In this way, up to 64 inputs and outputs could be used via fiber optic cables.

Pro Tools Controller

The following hardware controllers (with visual elements of the Pro Tools user interface and sensitive buttons, sliders and rotary controls that are actually operated and haptically recorded) are used as operating aids for Pro Tools:

Avid controller

  • Pro Tools | Dock
    table-top device with touch-sensitive, motorized fader and touchscreen .
  • Pro Tools | S3
    tabletop device with 16 touch-sensitive motorized fibers.
  • Pro Tools | S6
    Modular console with multiple touchscreens (model S6 M10 up to 14 modules and 24 faders, model S6 M40 up to 46 modules and 64 faders).
  • Artist Control (formerly Euphonix MC series)
    table-top device with eight acceleration-sensitive rotary controls, four touch-sensitive, motorized faders and a touchscreen.

Third-party products (partly out of date)

  • Pro-Control
  • D-Control
  • C 24
  • Command 8
  • ICON (now replaced by the S6 series)
  • Digi Factory
  • M-Audio-Project-Mix

See also


  • José Valenzuela: The Complete Pro Tools Handbook. Pro Tools / HD, Pro Tools / 24 mix, Pro Tools LE for home, project, and professional studios . Backbeat Books, San Francisco CA 2003, ISBN 0-87930-733-1 (English).
  • Markus Ammer, Christian W. Huber: Music production with Pro Tools 7 . Wizoo, Bremen 2006, ISBN 3-934903-55-X .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Pro Tools 2019.6 Release Info . (English, accessed June 25, 2019).
  2. a b Pro Tools System Requirements . (English, accessed July 28, 2018).
  3. Pro Tools Reference Guide v. 12.3. (PDF in ZIP file; 58.7MB) Avid Technology, Inc., p. 1150 , accessed June 4, 2016 (with attachments): “Pro Tools systems use 24-bit audio input and output Signal paths with internal 64-bit floating point processing for mixing and audio processing. "
  4. Pro Tools Features, Comparison. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  5. Play, publish and exchange. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  6. Release Dates and Versions for Pro Tools. In: Avid Technology, Inc., December 21, 2016, accessed January 20, 2017 .
  7. Avid Pro Tools pricing information. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  8. Avid Pro Tools HD pricing information. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  9. Introduction to Pro Tools First. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 2, 2016 .
  10. Pro Tools Express 10.3.4 Info & Downloads. Avid Technology, Inc., April 8, 2013, accessed June 2, 2016 .
  11. Pro Tools SE - Latest News, Updates, Tutorials, FAQ's, and more! Avid Technology, Inc., July 21, 2011, accessed June 2, 2016 .
  12. Pro Tools MP 9 Supported Audio Interfaces and Peripherals. Avid Technology, Inc., September 13, 2011, accessed June 2, 2016 .
  13. ^ The Emulator Archive: E-MU Systems. Retrieved January 26, 2012 (English).
  14. Evan Brooks for Electronic Musician Magazine: The Software Chronicles. (No longer available online.) March 30, 2006, archived from the original on February 24, 2012 ; accessed on January 26, 2012 (English). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  15. ^ NAMM: Interview with Evan Brooks. (Video) January 21, 2001, accessed on January 26, 2012 (English): "Pro Tools started off as a four channel recorder and editor."
  16. ^ Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: The 76th Scientific & Technical Awards 2003/2004. February 14, 2004, accessed June 4, 2016 .
  17. Pro Tools HD Native. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  18. Pro Tools HDX system. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  19. Pro Tools Reference Guide v. 12.3. (PDF in zip file; 58.7 MB) p. 1051 , accessed on June 4, 2016 .
  20. SoundCode For Dolby Digital 2. Neyrinck LLC, accessed June 4, 2016 .
  21. SurCode for Dolby Digital Plus. Minnetonka Audio Software, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  22. SurCode for Dolby Pro Logic II v3. Minnetonka Audio Software, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  23. ^ DTS Neural Surround Collection. Waves Audio Ltd., accessed on June 4, 2016 (English, multi-channel room simulation (up to 48 kHz)).
  24. Ircam Spat v3. Flux :: Sound and Picture Development, accessed on June 4, 2016 (English, multi-channel room simulation).
  25. Flux Ircam Spat v3 Native. (No longer available online.) Digital AudionetworX, archived from the original on June 4, 2016 ; accessed on June 4, 2016 (German description, sales). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  26. Alchemist v3. Flux :: Sound and Picture Development, accessed June 4, 2016 (multichannel multiband dynamics processor).
  27. Flux Alchemist v3 Native. Digital AudionetworX, accessed on June 4, 2016 (German description, distribution).
  28. Pro Tools Dock. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  29. Pro Tools S3. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  30. Pro Tools S6. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .
  31. ^ Artist Control. Avid Technology, Inc., accessed June 4, 2016 .