Welcome to Pro Tools Expert a huge community for users of Avid Pro Tools for both music and post production. With over 3 million visits a year, we’ve grown to be the place to come for training, resources, tips tricks and news. We offer advice for users of all versions of Pro Tools both current and legacy formats. We’re independent and are not affiliated with Avid or their associated companies.
Inspired by Russ’s article 10 Free Pro Tools Plug-ins Every Guitarist Should Try I thought I might see what was on offer for bass players. I’m not talking about EQ and compression here but bass distortion.
Using Distortion On Bass Guitar
Over the last few years I have gone from almost never using distortion on bass to almost never leaving a bass track clean. I’m not talking about Muse style fuzz here but gentle saturation effects. I have found this to be a very useful treatment for bass as introducing some distortion generates additional harmonics and can have the effect of raising the apparent level of the bass without actually turning it up by giving the ear extra information above the fundamental. Its possible to use surprising amounts of distortion on a bass track without the effect being one of distortion as much as gelling with the rest of the track. As with so many things context is everything.
The thing I look for in bass distortion is a sense of integration with the original clean sound. This is highly subjective but the least successful plug-in distortions I have heard have a sense of being stuck on top of the original sound rather than being a part of it. Additionally increasing distortion should be accompanied by a reduction in dynamic range and this compression effect makes a significant contribution to the overall feel of the effect.
At the end of the day there is no good or bad here, just personal preference but the striking thing about all of these plug-ins is that they all sound different and some dramatically so.
I restricted my choices to free AAX64 plug-ins. Some of these plug-ins were only available for a limited time. I did not include plug-ins with unlimited demo modes (for example Massey plug-ins) as they are not strictly speaking free.
To hear examples watch the free video.
10 Free Pro Tools Plug-ins For Bass Distortion - Air Distortion
Originally included to make up the numbers - I’d tested nine, ten is so much neater, this little-used by me (actually possibly never used) plugin is surprisingly flexible.
10 Free Pro Tools Plug-ins For Bass Distortion - Avid Lo-Fi
A real favourite of mine, in this application just use the distortion and saturation controls.
10 Free Pro Tools Plug-ins For Bass Distortion - Softube Saturation Knob
The biggest strength of this plug-in is its simplicity, no danger of endless tweaking here.
In this video James takes a look at the Focusrite RedNet system.
Is it as easy to set up as it looks? Is it a viable alternative to Avid hardware solutions?
He looks at the Rednet 2, 4, 5 and 6 interfaces and examines the Dante protocol for sending high end audio over ethernet via Cat 5.
He creates a track in Pro Tools to test ease of use and quality of sound.
Watch the Focusrite Rednet review here.
Another video made by a third party of the new Pro Tools Cloud collaboration feature.
Please be advised that these are technology previews so features may change and no date of delivery or price is given at this time.
Pro Tools Cloud Collaboration Preview Video Contents
The preview includes a preview of;
- Pro Tools cloud text and video chat,
- Pro Tools track freeze,
- Pro Tools upload to the cloud,
- instant Pro Tools plug-in purchasing,
- plug-in install with sessions open,
- session streaming for approval playback to those without Pro Tools installed
- Avid Marketplace
We have been aware that Avid UK have been working with at least one S6 customer who has been having some issues with their new Avid S6 control surface.
It may be as a result, or not, but Avid have just released S6 Software version 1.1.1 for the S6 Master Module and associated workstations. They tell us that this software update delivers system improvements and critical updates for all S6 users.
Registered users will find the installers in their Avid Account > Your Products following S6 Software Activation.
S6 Software v1.1.1 includes the following improvements and fixes:
- Workstations reconnect after Master Module reboot
- Monitoring page has new controls for individual speaker cut, Main Monitor Source, Cues Source, Talkback and Dim levels, Foldown (not available on XMON)
- Knob Top color and brightness has been improved for better low-light visibility
- Knob response has been improved for better control
- Plug-ins can now be bypassed from the Home page (using the new IN control)
- Additional channel parameters (such as HEAT on Pro Tools and Quick Controls on Nuendo) can now be accessed from the Home screen
- Soft Keys have been reorganized
- Clear switch now allows channel strip reset on selected DAW’s (not available in Pro Tools)
- EQ and DYN switches now automatically insert the default EQ/Dynamics plug-in (if already defined in Pro Tools Preferences)
For more information see the S6 Software v1.1.1 Read Me
Russ takes a look at the new Waves Vitamin plug-in and reviews this handy plug-in.
He gives examples of using it on drums, piano, synth and guitar as well as on an entire mix.
Find out what he thinks with this review of the Waves Vitamin plug-in
Community Member Steve Thompson wrote to us and told us about his workflow for moving entire Pro Tools sessions to other DAWs, we asked him to share it with the community.
The Problem Of Sharing In Pro Tools
Pro Tools 11 offers a great deal of new features but Avid seemed to have overlooked the ability to export your tracks as separate files in one action.
For most Pro Tools users this is not a problem as Pro Tools is usually the only place our audio is going to live.
However, for some users, especially those of use who collaborate with users of other DAWs, being able to fully export all the tracks in a session in one simple action, both audio and instrument tracks complete with effects, is a very useful feature.
Moving Tracks Between Pro Tools And Other DAWs
Anybody who has sent files from Logic Pro to Pro Tools can use it’s “All Tracks As Audio Files” (shift+command+e) option to export each track separately all at once. This feature also comes in handy in a number of other applications such as setting up stems for a live show.
If you need to do the same thing in reverse, from Pro Tools to Logic, you’ll be met with some resistance. You could try to export the files as OMF but your instrument tracks will not export and your effects won’t print. You could also solo each track and Bounce To Disk but that can get a bit tedious with a session that has more than 1 track. Since I often find myself needing to send stems to collaborators, but could never see myself working in Logic full time, I set out to devise a method by which I could export all of my tracks, quickly, both with and without the effects. You will need to do some setting up the first time but you will gain your time and energy back manyfold once you’ve taken care of things.
My Workflow For Exporting My Pro Tools Tracks
Starting with a blank Pro Tools HD session, head to your I/O settings. Open up the ‘Bus’ tab. Select all of the busses (except for those that are mapped to physical outputs) and press ‘Delete Paths’. Now press the ‘New Path…’ button. A New Path window will pop up. There are many possible configurations for this but for the sake of the exercise I suggest entering the settings found here.
Once again press ‘New Path’ and use the same settings but change the ‘path’ name to “Stem”.
Waves have announced a new plug-in Waves Vitamin, described as a multiple sonic enhancer for mixing, mastering and live sound.
A plug-in with a name that is asking for more puns than you can shake a stick at, Waves Vitamin is a multiband harmonic enhancer and tone-shaping plug-in.
Background On Waves Vitamin
The Waves Vitamin plug-in features zero-latency processing, making it useful for both studio and live use. It can be used as either an insert on tracks or via a mix buss.
Waves Vitamin Features At A Glance
- Parallel multiband harmonic enhancer with five individual bands
- Control over the crossover frequency points between bands
- Control over the mix of the direct signal with the enhanced version
- Per-band stereo width control
- Punch control for smoothing or accentuating punchiness and dynamics
- Zero-latency processing
More Information On Waves Vitamin
Click here to find out more and to download a Waves Vitamin demo
Mike Aiton has sent a very useful tip for anyone that uses Soundminer to search and audition sound effects using Soundminer and then setting the file name of the file you will import into Pro Tools. Mike explains…
- Pop into the Soundminer preferences to the transfers tab
- Go the file naming scheme and select either of the following options in the right hand drop down tab:
- Filename which will give you <Filename:1> in the FILE NAMING SCHEME
- ShortID_Description(no spaces)_Source which will give you <Filename:1> <ShortID:2>_<Description:wc:ns:3>_<Source:1
- You can then add a prefix - I use the prefix FX and then a space and option b) above - which gives me FX <ShortID:2>_<Description:wc:ns:3>_<Source:1> in the file naming scheme
Then when selecting SFX in Soudminer, use either:
- Command B to send to the clip list (region list) or
- S - which spots the sound effect to your cursor position in Pro Tools.
The cunning bit comes when you select Shift Command F in the clip list in Pro Tools and display only FX and you see only your sound effects in your the session.
Don’t also forget that if like me (you are the polite side of 40), then you can change the Soundminer font size too to make the list more visible.
This tip allows you to go from this messy clip list in Pro Tools…
to this FX only Clip list….
Mike Thornton says - You can click on either of these two images to download a much larger version, that will be easier to see. This is a very neat trick, as it really helps to have the sound effects with useful names in the clip list rather than basic track names as they can be when you have ripped the audio cds.
Our friends at TC Electronic have announced three new loudness meter plug-ins for audio and video editing systems at NAB 2014.
The new LM2n and LM6n meters retain their radar view and offer a number of new features and replace the previous LM2 and LM6 plug-ins. The LM1n plug-in is a brand new addition to a growing range and provides the all-important basics in loudness metering while only creating a small footprint on the screen.
All of these new loudness meters support the major plug-in formats, including AAX (Pro Tools 10 and 11), VST and Audio Units offering faster than real time off-line measuring in Pro Tools.
The LM1n, LM2n and LM6n meters naturally comply with all major broadcast standards, including BS.1770, A/85, R128, TR-B32 and OP-59, and will remain compliant via updates whenever new revisions of these standards are released.
What’s New in the TC Electronic LM2n & LM6n?
Compared to the their predecessors, LM2n and LM6n offer a lot of new features such as dedicated settings for Max Momentary (M) or Max Short Term (S) Loudness display. Further, LM2n and LM6n offers a ‘Big’ version of the radar, which is very useful when working at a distance from the screen.
Licensing The Computer Is Now Possible With TC Electronic Loudness Meters
Many broadcasters have requested a solution that doesn’t use an iLok USB key, and with LM1n, LM2n and LM6n this is now possible. An iLok user account is still necessary, unless the bulk solution has been chosen, but users can now use an iLok or store the license on their computer.
Which do you choose, TC Electronic LM2n or LM6n?
LM2n and LM6n are almost identical. There are only two things that set them apart: channel format compatibility and logging. LM2n measures any mono or stereo signal while LM6n supports mono, stereo and 5.1 surround. LM6n also features detailed logging for documenting delivery specs in accordance with major broadcast standards, which is key when producing content for broadcast. At the other end of the delivery chain, broadcasters may also need to document compliance with legislation to the authorities, and can also use the log files for quality control and evaluation.
TC Electronic LM1n – The New Kid on the Block
TC Electronic’s native loudness meter family has been extended with the addition of LM1n. Basically, LM1n measures loudness using the exact same algorithm as LM2n and LM6n and displays the key numbers for Program Loudness (I) and either Loudness Range (LRA), Max Momentary Loudness (M), Max Short Term Loudness (S) or Sliding Loudness (10 Sec) as well as True-Peak clipping instantly. LM1n has been developed as simpler solution for those who have found that they sometimes need to deliver content that complies with a certain broadcast standard.
TC Electronic Loudness Metering Bulk Solution
For large broadcast stations or production facilities, TC Electronic offers LM1n, LM2n and LM6n in a special bulk version that allows installation of a large number of up-to-date meters on Macs and PCs, with no need for iLok USB keys or even licenses stored on individual computers. Bulk customers can easily adjust their quantity of meters, and a company logo will be integrated as part of the custom version of these plug-ins.
TC Electronic LM1n, LM2n & LM6n Price & Availablity
Here’s a short video showing how cloud collaboration may work in Pro Tools. We say ‘may work’ as all of the stuff being shown as part of Avid Everywhere are technology previews, so things like features and prices are not locked down yet and are subject to change.
Pro Tools Cloud Collaboration
We urge you to get past the early part of the video, a kind of cloud collaboration explained for a Sesame Street audience, then you will see some of the technology that should appear in later versions of Pro Tools as part of cloud collaboration.
Pro Tools - Avid Marketplace
The video also touches a little on the Marketplace concept, but again there’s a lot of unanswered questions around the concept such as cost of ownership, revenue split, allowed content, censorship and of course Avid’s distribution reach in comparison to other proven ways to sell and licence your content.
Watch the Pro Tools cloud collaboration video here.
Pro Tools Cloud Collaboration - Hit or Miss?
Hit or miss? Let us know, take the poll and have your say.
Russ, Mike, Neil & James bring you another bumper show with talking points, tips, tricks and questions answered.
- ADL Penteo 4 Pro Surround Upmixing Plug-in £399 - 33% Discount
- Omar Hakim Drums From Loop Loft With Exclusive Pro Tools Sessions £32 - 33% Discount
- PlugIn Alliance Maag EQ4 Plug-in $149 - 35% Discount
- Sound Radix Auto-Align Plug-in £59 - 33% Discount
- Sound In Sync Now Offers Applications For Rental - 30% Discount
- Want To Work For Yourself? Then Here’s 5 Things You Need To Know
- Review of e-instruments Session Keys Grand S and Grand Y
- Free iZotope RX3 Advanced Tutorial On Using Dereverb In Pro Tools - also up to 45% off RX3 in April
- Pro Tools Control Surfaces Have Turned Me Into A Control Freak
- Source Elements Release Source-Connect Now Beta 4 With Recording Feature
- It Could Be You! Share Your Pro Tools Tips, Tricks And Opinions
- Avid Everywhere: Avid Unveil Their Version Of The Media Future And Provide A Technology Preview
- 5 Ways To A Better Mix That Don’t Cost A Penny
- Jon Dearth - Building your own PC for use with Pro Tools.
- Jon Dearth - Tip for low cost Waves upgrade if your WUP has expired.
- Darby Todd - Thanks for your advice and help with clear explanation
- Alan Fluker - You can use the HD drivers for the Omni for using Maschine in standalone mode.
- Michael Sanchez - You could use the Mac digital out into the digital input on the HD Omni to use Maschine in standalone mode
- Wes Mitchell - How do I comment on stories on the site, anyone using Rednet & do you still need help revamping the site?
- Scot Rammer - Thanks to RSPE for the great Metric Halo deal and thanks to the PTE team for all you do.
- Danny Mordujovich - Thanks to you all for the help and advice you have given me. Also what accents do each of you have.
- Baba Prasad Lakshman - Has anyone seen or use the Mphase Studio controller iPad app
- Is Pro Tools HD limited to 32 channels of I/O using 3rd party interfaces?
- Can I import older Kontakt samples into Structure LE?
- Should I upgrade to a new Mac Pro from my older 2011 Mac Pro?
- How do I export MIDI clips like I can export audio clips?
Following on from the positive feedback on running a business and making money from what you love doing, in particular last week’s post, here’s a new series ‘Running Your Own Creative Business’. With this series we hope to help those either thinking about it for the first time, those in the early years and who are perhaps struggling and for those who just want some reminders.
Running your own business can be the best thing you ever do, some think it’s down to luck, it’s down to a lot more than that. It takes careful thought, planning and hard work, luck plays a part, in the words of Lucius Annaeus Seneca “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” Anyway enough of luck, we’ll get back to that later, in this first article I want to talk about where it all starts.
Seldom will you hear these words but when it comes to running your own business it IS all about you. It’s all about you for a number of reasons, let me explain.
Running Your Own Creative Business - People Are Buying Who You Are
When you first consider making money from running your own creative business you may think about what you will do, but what people are buying first and foremost is you. They are buying your gifts, your skills, your talent, your attitude, your values and your personality. You might think I’m overstating this point, but just consider this; are you the only person who does what you do? Are you the only person with a Pro Tools system? Estimates put Pro Tools ownership at around 800,000 worldwide - so if you are thinking of selling a service based around a Pro Tools rig then you had better either be very good, very nice, have a unique talent, or better still all three!
Creative businesses are even more dependant on the personalities that run them. When I worked in the post production world in Soho in London, a lot of discussions took place behind the scenes as different post facilities tried to hire an editor, dubbing mixer or colourist with a great reputation. When it comes to creativity reputation matters, you reputation is your calling card, if people know you have a reputation for creating great work, or even better AMAZING work then you’ll have no trouble getting clients. As my Dad taught me ‘reputation is tomorrow’s profit.’
‘You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.’ Henry Ford
People with a great reputation have less of a need to advertise and less of a need for business cards. When you have a great reputation clients come looking for you.
Who you are and the way you run your business is going to be make or break, I can’t overstate this.
Your business success starts and ends with you.
Sonic Cat, purveyors of sample libraries are offering a free Kontakt powered piano - Pop Piano Free.
Pop Piano Free is based on a Bechstein MP192 Grand Piano and weighs in a 400mb.
- 8 .NKI Kontakt instrument presets for Kontakt 5.3+
- 352 samples
- 24 bit / 44.1 kHz .NCW format samples
- About 440 MB installed
You can download Pop Piano Free here
Source: Sonic Cat
Users of Pro Tools 11 are reporting a step input bug which seems to be getting worse rather than better as each update of Pro Tools 11 is released.
Some may think that step input is something from the dark ages of early MIDI, but for many composers MIDI step input is the only sure-fire way of getting accurate rock-solid MIDI performances.
In the release version of Pro Tools 11 some users were reporting step input working intermittently. In 11.1.2 step input seems to have stopped working altogether for some and for others it still has issues with it working on the right tracks.
Watch this space.
Community member Ciaran Robinson has made a handy video on how to coil cables the right way.
If you think it has nothing to teach you then read these comments;
“How to coil cables” I said to myself “that’s pathetic, everyone knows how. Ridiculous YouTube videos. A minute later I was mind-blown!”
“Sometimes it’s the most mundane and seemingly irrelevant things that can make a big difference.”
Check it out - you may be doing it wrong!
Watch how to coil a cable here
Mixing can seem like a dark art reserved for the chosen few, for some mixing their first tracks can send their head in a spin. Great mixers are worth their weight in gold and in high demand, but for many the chance of ever having a top mix engineer get near your stuff is highly unlikely. Here are 5 ways to a better mix that don’t cost a penny.
5 Ways To A Better Mix 1 - Listen To Reference Tracks
This is something that even top engineers do. Find tracks that sound the way you want your track to sound and then spend some time listening to them. Listen to the tracks on speakers, listen on headphones. Listen to the tracks at different volumes and start to listen into the track to the component parts. How does the bass sound? How do the drums sound? How does the guitar sound? How do the vocals sound. Is the track wet or dry? Does the track have a wide or narrow stereo image? Is the vocal forward or back in the mix? Are there any special effects such as delays or filter sweeps? Is the track compressed hard or very open and full of dynamic range? Developing a critical ear is essential if you are going to get better at mixing, knowing why a track sounds the way it does is not down to anything magical, it is down to the art of deconstructing a track back to its component parts. The more you do it the easier it becomes, one word of warning, it can ruin you ability to listen to music
5 Ways To A Better Mix 2 - Learn About Instrument Range
It’s no good chasing 60Hz if you are trying to get a flute sound right, or tweaking 10Khz to get a kick thumping. Understanding the frequency range of instruments, which include the voice is an essential step to getting better sounding mixes. There are plenty of free online resources that will help you get to grips with the range of each instrument, one of the best is this one from the Independent Recording website, it is interactive and shows you quite a lot of information. If you don’t know your 20Hz from your 20Khz then you’ll never master mixing, so getting these fundamentals right will transform your mixes.
In this Pro Tools Expert Interview James talks to composer, arranger and Pro Tools demonstrator Sonny Williamson about his early musical training, his first jobs in the industry and his approach to writing for TV and Radio commercials. He also reveals that it’s not all about expensive plugs-ins and virtual instruments when it comes to making a catchy track.
Audient have announced that Windows drivers are now available for their ID22 hi-end desk top audio interface
The drivers are compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8.
This follows their recent announcement of iD22’s compatibility with Apple’s OS X Mavericks software, together with its brand new pricing.
Check out our review of the Audient ID22 here
More information on the ID22 Windows drivers can be found on the Audient web site.
Some excellent advice from Neil as an update:
I was talking to a friend of mine last night who runs one of these on Windows and he was finding it very difficult to get any smooth performance from it without throwing up errors or popping and clicking at even a 1024 buffer size. Until i asked him if it was plugged into a USB 3.0 port.
Community member, Ceri Thomas is at the Avid event in Las Vegas and we asked him to give us his view of today’s announcements…
Launched this morning at Avid’s Connect event in Las Vegas, Avid Everywhere is Avid’s new vision for how media is generated, transferred and consumed across audio, video and broadcast. The platform is founded around the MediaCentral platform which provides a suite of services and APIs that are ties together the Avid suite of media generators and third party applications and tools.
Avid Everywhere MediaCentral Connectivity Tool
The foundation tools in particular the Connectivity Tool are to be made freely available to consumers and competitors of Avid to tie together their services and solutions into the MediaCentral platform. This in turn will also tie together the existing Avid tools and make them more ‘thin-client’ tools than they previously have been. The existing tools have been fat clients with their own methods to translate and distribute external media sources and products, eg AAF translation into Pro Tools from outside sources. The connectivity tool, it seems, will split this out and unify the experience to enable tighter integration between Avid’s and third party tools.
Pro Tools Goes To The Cloud With MediaCentral
In addition to the MediaCentral platform and their associated tools, Pro Tools is gaining Cloud functionality. This functionality is similar to the Rocket Networks system that tried to enable remote collaboration with Pro Tools in the 90’s and also with the functionality in Nuendo to update tracks offline and promote changes to the timeline in real time.
Avid Everywhere Marketplace
The more intriguing part of the cloud services for me was the public and private marketplaces that Avid have implemented within the ecosystem. To focus on the public marketplace, essentially they are providing the ability for artists to publish either finished products or elements for anyone, video editors, audio editors, composers etc to grab that material and use them in their products. The licensing, payment and distribution functionality and support is provided by Avid’s MediaCentral system. It’s essentially a combination of SoundCloud and iTunes with YouSendIt or Gobbler. From a sound editing point of view you could create a sound effect that you could then make available for others to use, sound libraries could be built or distributed via the public marketplace for example. Similarly the private marketplace is being designed for collaboration and distribution between individuals.
Avid Everywhere Marketplace Monetisation
This is a developing product concept and certainly there will be a lot of features and concepts that will change dramatically. It is certainly intriguing and I am reserving judgement on it until I’ve had a chance to play with it further but Avid has taken the initiative to try and change the way that our industries think about content generation and monetization. I’m looking forward to seeing more over this weekend and during NAB next week.
What are your views? We are especially interested in hearing from you if you are in Las Vegas for the Avid Event, let us know what you think…
At their pre-NAB event, Avid spoke about the future of Pro Tools. Here are the highlights.
Pro Tools As Part Of The Avid Artist Suite
Avid are making Pro Tools part of the Avid Artist Suite of products. This is an umbrella term for the products that are available for audio and video professionals and not a box of products. In essence the Artist Suite comprises of the Pro Tools family of products currently Pro Tools HD, Pro Tools and Pro Tools Express and the Media Composer Suite of Products, Notation, pro mixing, live sound and graphics creation.
Pro Tools Cloud Collaboration
At last! With built-in “community” features, Pro Tools users will be able to create groups of collaborators, then see who’s online and available, and send invites for one or more people to contribute to a Pro Tools session. Avid aim to offer the chance to find collaborators through a Pro Tools directory. Avid hope that with track-based collaboration, you’ll be able to:
- Post sessions to cloud storage and invite others to collaborate
- Work on the same session at the same time or offline and share updates directly within Pro Tools
- Record, edit, and mix tracks that will be pushed to all other collaborators upon completion
- Automatically keep track of all contributions and changes, as files are automatically tagged with rich metadata
- Stream mixes to a mobile device for real-time review and approval
- Communicate with collaborators through text or video chat directly from within Pro Tools
Archive Your Pro Tools Sessions In Future Proof Formats
Avid are working on a new audio archival service that will enable you to store content and track it using encapsulated metadata. This technology is being designed so that assets can be accessed and played further down the line, even if technologies change or are unavailable—no matter how far out in the future you resurrect them.
You’ll be able to archive a simple stereo mix, the full session, individual stems, or even flatten all tracks so that the original plug-ins used to create them aren’t required.
In addition, we’re developing a new cloud storage service that will enable you to house archived sessions and files, plus all of the sessions, stems, and stereo mixes you make available to sell in the marketplace, making your files easily accessible from everywhere.