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DAW Reliability Poll -The Results And Why One Group Has A Reason To Be Cheerful

We recently ran a series of polls asking the Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton and Reason Expert communities to let us know how reliable their DAW was. For each DAW we chose the latest version, Pro Tools 11, Logic Pro X, Ableton Live 9 and Reason 7.

The poll asked how often workflow was affected by crashes and broke these answers down into hours, days, weeks and months.

We first asked the Pro Tools community how reliable they felt Pro Tools 11 was, however one of the factors affecting reliability is third party plug-ins, some felt it was unfair to single out Pro Tools because of this. So we decided to throw the net wider to other DAWs that also host third party plug-ins to see if this was a factor in DAW reliability.

Pro Tools uses the AAX format, Logic Pro the AU format, Ableton both AU and VST and Reason the Rack Extensions format.

DAW Reliability - The Results

There were a number of questions that covered how often crashes occurred in each DAW. Combining the results of these answers that broke the frequency of crashes down into hourly, daily, weekly and monthly. This gave us some indication of how likely it was that a DAW would crash. Here is how the four DAWs come out. These results were correct at the time of publication.

  1. Around 70% of Logic Pro X users experienced some kind of crash with the majority of those crashes (32%) occurring about once a month.
  2. Around 68% of Pro Tools 11 users experienced some kind of crash with the majority of those crashes (23%) occurring about once a week.
  3. Around 68% of Ableton Live 9 users experienced some kind of crash with the majority of those crashes (37%) occurring about once a month.
  4. Around 11% of Reason 7 users experienced some kind of crash with the majority of those crashes (7%) occurring about once a month.

As you can see, Logic Pro X came out worst in our poll by a tiny margin, although crashes were most likely to happen around once a month. Pro Tools 11 was marginally better in terms of total amount of those affected by crashes, it scored exactly the same as Ableton Live 9 but Pro Tools 11 crashes were most likely to occur on a weekly basis, whereas Ableton Live 9 crashes were most likely to occur around once a month. Just 11% of Reason 7 users (about 1 in 10) reported some kind of crash with the majority of that group saying it happened around once a month.

The answer “It is rock solid and no crashes or bugs have occurred.” 

  1. Reason 7 - 89%
  2. Logic Pro X - 27%
  3. Ableton Live 9 - 26%
  4. Pro Tools 11 - 15%

In terms of confidence Reason 7 users (around 9 in 10) reported their system to be rock solid. Around a quarter of Logic Pro X and Ableton Live 9 users are able to report this. Sadly only around 15% of Pro Tools 11 users were able to say their system is rock solid.

The answer “I have delayed upgrading because of reliability reports.”

  1. Pro Tools 11 - 11%
  2. Logic Pro X - 3%
  3. Ableton Live 9 - 3%
  4. Reason 7 - 0%

Around 11% of Pro Tools users have delayed upgrading to Pro Tools 11 because of reliability reports. Logic Pro X and Ableton Live 9 have a negligible score from those delaying purchase. Reason 7 users scored zero, Reason’s reputation for rock solid performance is a message that is getting through.

The answer “It is so bad I have gone back to an earlier version.”

  1. Pro Tools 11 - 5%
  2. Logic Pro X - 0%
  3. Ableton Live 9 - 0%
  4. Reason 7 - 0%

Only Pro Tools users said that their experience was so bad they had taken the advantage of going back to an earlier version. This proves that Avid offering a co-install of both Pro Tools 11 and 10 was a wise move.

In Conclusion

One thing that came up in discussion when we first looked at the Pro Tools 11 poll results was that third party plug-ins and computer set-ups had an effect on the performance of any DAW. This is of course a fair point to make, but still raises other questions to consider.

Let’s start with Logic Pro X, Apple make the computers, OS and the software, they also manage the installation process via the App Store. They do not have multiple OS platforms or infinitely variable computer builds to have to account for, so Logic Pro X should be the most stable DAW on the planet and yet in our poll it came out, albeit marginally, as the least stable. This too may have something to do with the third party plug-in implementation argument, but again Logic only has Apple’s Audio Units plug-in format to deal with.

Secondly, Ableton Live 9. Ableton have less control over the process than Apple, so although the poll scores were similar, Ableton have multiple OS platforms, almost infinite computer build permutations and also both VST and AU plug-in formats, so there is more to go wrong.

Thirdly, Pro Tools 11. With 68% of those polled reporting crashes and bugs and many of them at least once a week, Avid have a lot of work to do to reduce this lack of stability. In some ways Avid have more at stake being perceived and touted as the choice of the professional, then Pro Tools 11 should be the most, not least ‘rock solid’ DAW on the market. Avid do have multiple OS platforms and computer builds to contend with but they don’t have an open plug-in architecture instead having their own AAX format. One of the things that AAX is meant to do is to give Avid control over plug-in quality, it would seem that AAX is not delivering on this fully right now. Although not all Pro Tools 11 crashes and bugs can be left at the door of third party plug-in manufacturers, some of the large issues and bugs in Pro Tools can only be fixed by Avid, latency bugs, step input and poor video performance are three examples that immediately come to mind. Whatever reason it is, Avid have control over both their internal code and the AAX architecture and so should be working hard to deliver a better experience for Pro Tools users.

Finally, Reason 7 proves that there is such a thing as a reliable DAW. With 89% of users reporting rock solid performance that’s impressive in the world of software. Propellerhead’s pride itself on the rock solid performance of Reason and rightly so, our poll seems to confirm that claim. Propellerhead’s have achieved this by creating a closed system and opting to create the Rack Extensions format. This allow third party developers into the eco-system but in a tightly controlled way and ensure a consistent user experience. It doesn’t always allow developers to be able to do direct ports of their plug-ins and can be somewhat feature limiting, but it seems that the Rack Extensions format is protecting Reason users from any possible issues from errant third party plug-ins. Avid take note, closed systems can protect DAW users from plug-in problems - Propellerhead have proved it, we are not sure if the same can be said of AAX.

No sane person on the planet would ever suggest that software is ever going to be without its issues, but Propellerhead have shown that even if we can’t have perfection we can get pretty close.

How Reliable Is Your Pro Tools 11 System? Poll

Depending on what forum you find yourself in and the thread you are reading you could be forgiven for either thinking that Pro Tools 11 is full of bugs or conversely rock solid. 

There are some well documented issues surrounding Pro Tools 11 which Avid have acknowledged, at Pro Tools Expert we get a lot of emails from users asking us about different issues not documented, are they general bugs or specific computer issues? It can be the case that how a computer is configured can greatly affect performance, you can read our report here.

However, we thought it might be helpful to see how often users of Pro Tools 11 have their workflow interrupted by Pro Tools bugs and crashes. Reliability is an essential requirement of any professional software application, so is Pro Tools 11 meeting the mark or falling short?

So take our poll for both Mac and Windows users, of course please also let us have your comments.

Are you on cloud 9 or ready to throw the towel in?

Create Rich And Complex Textures In Pro Tools Xpand2 - Free Video

In this FREE Pro Tools video tutorial Russ shows those who may have limited budgets that you don’t always need to spend money on plug-ins to get great results.

Russ takes users under the hood of Xpand2 to show how to create rich and complex textures that can be controlled during a performance.

In this video Pro Tools users will learn how to stack sounds, use arpeggiators to create movement, assign filter controls and use MIDI CC for extra control.

Watch it here

Now Over 100 Free Pro Tools Plug-ins

There was a time when VST owners were getting all the free plug-ins, but not anymore. Following the recent update from Melda, our free Pro Tools plug-ins list now runs to over 100. 

They include plug-ins from top software developers like Softube, Bluecat, Fxpansion, Brainworx and more. This list include instruments, effects and some really cool tools.

Head over and search this list, if you think some RTAS and AAX plug-ins are missing then please let us know.

Free Pro Tools plug-ins

Have fun!

Setting Up Custom Templates In Pro Tools

Marcus takes an extended look at creating a Pro Tools template from scratch, getting it just how you want it and then saving it for later use.In this video he includes a lot of very cool shortcuts and tips and tricks, before long you’ll be a Pro Tools ninja flying around the keyboard and having more time to make great tracks. 

Pro Tools Expert Podcast Episode 124

Russ, James & Mike Aiton bring you another show with talking points, tips, tricks and questions answered.

Groove 3 Titles We Like


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Talking Points

Community Feedback Kindly Sponsored by RSPE Audio Solutions

Questions - Kindly Sponsored by Alchemea

Listen on to the Pro Tools Expert Podcast on iTunes

Download the Pro Tools Expert Podcast as an MP3

23 Free Pro Tools AAX Plug-Ins Including Autotune, Dynamics And More

Last week Melda Productions announced an update to their entire plug-in range. 8.03 provides several new features (AAX support, new channel modes, preset showing, popup tabs…) along with several fixes and performance improvements.

As part of this update their MFreeEffectsBundle is now available free. MFreeEffectsBundle consists of 23 plug-ins these include;

  1. MAnalyzer
  2. MAutopan
  3. MAutoPitch
  4. MBandPass
  5. MComb
  6. MCompressor
  7. MEqualizer
  8. MFlanger
  9. MFreqShifter
  10. MLimiter
  11. MLoudnessAnalyzer
  12. MNoiseGenerator
  13. MNotepad
  14. MOscillator
  15. MPhaser
  16. MRingModulator
  17. MTremolo
  18. MTuner
  19. MStereoExpander
  20. MStereoScope
  21. MUtility
  22. MVibrato
  23. MWaveShaper

It would be an impressive bundle if paid for, but as a free bundle it’s well worth grabbing. They even give an option to extend the plug-in features 

Many of these plug-ins include multi-channel audio and M/S options.

Not only are they available in AAX, but also as Audio Units and VST.

Check out the Melda web site it’s well worth supporting them

Faking VCA Spill In Pro Tools

Julian discusses a feature found in high end Avid consoles, VCA spill. This allows a mixer to take control of large sessions with tracks spanning across the mix window and beyond the screen real estate. In this video Julian shows how you can fake VCA spill in Pro Tools.

Kush Push Pusher And Clarify Clariphonic AAX Plug-in Releases For Pro Tools 11

Wunderkinds of the plug-in world Kush Audio deserve a headline like that when they announce AAX betas.

They have just announced the beta release of Pusher and Clariphonic plug-ins in AAX offering Pro Tools 11 compatibility.

Both units are on sale for $99 until tomorrow, so if you want to buy them then you had better act fast.

Kush Audio Pusher and Clariphonic join UBK-1 as three plug-ins now available in AAX for Pro Tools.

You can find out more from the Kush Audio website.

Free Clipping Plug-in For Pro Tools

The team behind Grind Machine and Grinder guitar and bass plug-ins Audio Assault have a cool free clipping plug-in for use in Pro Tools - KlipFreak.

Kilpfreak could not be simpler to use, an input, a large knob to adjust the amount of clipping and an output control.

Available in VST, AU and for Pro Tools 10 and 11 Mac and PC.

More here

Pro Tools Track Hack Refresher For Pro Tools 10 And 11

It seems that the Pro Tools track hack is still not known by some Pro Tools users, I was having dinner with a power user just last night and they were amazed to find out about this cool trick, first discovered by community member Philip Nicols.

It enables a Pro Tools users to create custom channel strips which can then be loaded into any Pro Tools session, it can be your favourite vocal channel or a master buss, or an instrument with separate outputs.

Here are the links to the videos. 

To see how to do it in Pro Tools 10 and below then watch here:

Create Your Own Menu Shortcuts In Pro Tools - Mac

There are a lot of great shortcuts in Pro Tools, but do you also feel like AVID is missing a shortcut that could make your workflow much faster? I do, and it’s always frustrating to navigate through the menus to make your move.

So here is a great tip for all the Apple Mac users on how to create your own shortcuts in Pro Tools.

  • Open up System Preferences > Keyboard > Application Support and click in the add-button Make sure to check the box “ All Controls”.
  • A new box will appear. Let us choose Pro Tools in the Application list, and then we type the name of the key-command we like to create. I choose the Save Copy In… and did the picked a shortcut. Make sure to spell the Menu Title exactly how it is spelled in Pro Tools and choose a shortcut that does not already exist  and press add.


  • When you are done, close the System Preferences application and open up Pro Tools. You should now be able to see your new shortcuts.



Using McDSP AE400 On Solo Violin

In this free video Julian demonstrates how useful an active EQ like AE400 can be for taming problem frequencies only when they occur, avoiding the danger of over EQing and preserving the wanted sound for as much of the time as possible.

If you find this helpful do check out Russ’s show and tell video of the AE400


Slate Raven 2.0 Show & Tell Review 

In this video James joins Mike Aiton in his home studio for a close up extended look at the Slate Raven MTi with the 2.0 software.

They talk about connectivity and setting the Raven up for the first time. They take a look at basic fader control, plugin manipulation and some of the new macros which are new in the 2.0 software.

In Or Out Of The Box - What's Your Recording Workflow? Poll

For some the arrival of the DAW was a dream come true, to be able to track, edit and mix in one application, what’s not to like. For other people Pro Tools was a replacement for their tape machine and even now that’s what Pro Tools is.

In the last few years a new generation of hardware lovers has emerged, so some who mixed entirely in the box have now returned to using a mixer and /or outboard hardware. For others the in-the-box workflow is just what they dreamed of. So in this poll we would like to know how you work with Pro Tools, are you fully in the box or is it just part of a more complex audio workflow? Did you start in the box and then return to hardware, or did you jettison hardware in preference for a fully in the box workflow.

Please take our poll and let us know what you use in addition to your audio interface and let us know in the comments why you use the workflow you have, how long you have been using that workflow, had it changed, if so then why?

Hidden Treasure - Digidesign Command 8

Hidden Treasure is a new series where we look at some items that may have been written off as past their best, but that may deserve consideration before making a purchase of a new item to do a task in the studio.

The first piece of hidden treasure is the Digidesign Command 8, shown by Digidesign at the 119th AES in 2005, so nearly 10 years old, but there’s a still a lot going for the Command 8 a decade later.

When Pro Tools 11 was announced some Pro Tools users were left confused by what hardware would and would not work with Pro Tools 11, the Command 8 fell into the ‘Not Officially Supported (Untested)’ and so some rumours started to circulate that effectively wrote this unit off.

However, the Command 8 still works fully in Pro Tools 11 and now they are going got a song on the second hand market, in the UK you can grab them for a low as £250, or the USA for as low as $325. What you get for you money is quite a lot.  The main features of Command|8 include:

  • Eight fader strips, each with a motorized, touch-sensitive fader, rotary encoder, LEDs, and Solo, Mute, and Channel Select switches 
  • Analog monitoring section with the following features:
    Output and level control for mains and headphones
    Two pairs of analog inputs, one for the main mix from Pro Tools, one for alternate sources 
  • One MIDI In port and two MIDI Out ports providing 16 channels of MIDI input and 32 channels of MIDI output 
  • USB port for direct USB MIDI communication with Pro Tools 
  • Large, bright LCD for data display 
  • 1/4-inch Punch In port for footswitch control of recording 
  • Transport controls and mode switches
  • Windows switches for Pro Tools display 
  • Navigation and Zoom controls 
  • Tactile control of track volume, pan, send level, send pan, and record status, as well as PRE™ (Digidesign mic preamplifier) gain 
  • Fast and convenient access to sends, inserts, plug-in pages, pan settings, and other track functions 
  • Five Function keys to access Utility, Fader Mute, and MIDI mapping functions  
  • Stand-Alone mode with save and recall of up to 8 snapshots 
  • Allows control of any device that supports MIDI Continuous Controller messages 
  • Allows use of custom MIDI mapping

So that’s a physical control surface with moving faders, a Pro Tools transport, a monitoring controller (with MONO button), full physical control of plug-ins and instruments, as well as a MIDI interface for around $300.

That’s a lot of bang for the buck and well worth considering if you want a physical control surface. It may not be the newest controller out there, but it still has a lot to offer nearly a decade after it was launched.

Have you got a Command 8, what do you think of it? Do you have suggestions for gear to feature in future Hidden Treasure post? If so then let us know.

How Do You Control Your Pro Tools Rig? Poll

There are many ways to control a Pro Tools session, you can just use your mouse and keyboard and be a shortcut Ninja alone, or you can use a control surface or an iOS app in addition to that.

There’s quite a few options and simply talking amongst the Pro Tools Expert team you will find some of us using the latest large format control surfaces, iOS apps, MIDI keyboards or just keyboard and mouse.

So we thought we would ask you how you control Pro Tools, in addition to the mouse and keyboard. Are you simply a mouse keyboard Ninja, or do you use some kind of additional controller?

So let us know - just the mouse and keyboard or some addtions? Of course please use the comments to let us know why you gave you answer if you wish - especially if you are using legacy or third party controllers. Does you controller determine the version of Pro Tools you use?

How To Bounce Instruments In Any Version Of Pro Tools

Following a request Russ shows how to record the audio of virtual instruments onto audio tracks in any version of Pro Tools, he shows the various methods required depending on the plug-in used. He also shows how to make sure no audio is lost during the process.



Pro Tools Expert Announce Partnership With Top Studio Tutorial Brand PureMix

Pro Tools Expert and pureMix have entered into a partnership which aims to offer Pro Tools users an amazing set of video tutorial resources for those wanting to master recording and mixing.

pureMix Video Tutorials From Top Producers

pureMix offer many live action tutorials on studio gear and technique from established producers like Grammy nominated Fab Dupont with credits to his name like Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Mark Ronson. New York producer Ben Lindell with credits with MGMT, Soulja Boy and Edie Brickell. Last but not least is producer Ryan West who is best known for his work as a mixing engineer and producer with Eminem, Kanye West, Usher, Jay Z, Dr. Dre, Kid Cudi and many more.

Check Out pureMix Training Content

We will be bringing some great content from pureMix in the coming weeks and months, so keep your eyes peeled - in the meantime you can head over and check out some of their current content for free.

A free video tutorial on using elastic audio

Mixing in PT11 video,  comes complete with stems from their site, you can download the stems here
Adding the great content from pureMix to the current content from Pro Tools Expert, as well as our existing content partners, this further reinforces our position as the number one Pro Tools resource on the web.

Stillwell Audio Announce Version 3 With Free Upgrades For Pro Tools Users

Stillwell Audio have announced version 3 of their software which sees 19 plug-ins updated and adds compatibilty for both RTAS and AAX for Pro Tools users.

Even better it offers free upgrades to 19 of their plug-ins for which are now both 32 and 64 bit as well as RTAS and AAX for OS X and Windows users.

They has also announced a brand new web site, posting this news;

It’s been a LONG time coming, but it’s finally here. Version 3.0.0 brings many noteworthy features and fixes.  All known compatibility issues have been addressed for current users, and for those users that have been waiting patiently (or not), we’re finally fully consistent; all plugins are available 32 and 64 bit, both Mac and PC (with the exception of Psycho Dither which is still WIP and Microschope which has been retired due to lack of activity).  The most exciting bit for new users, though, is additional platform support.  We now support VST3 and (wait for it) Pro Tools.  Our plugins are available in RTAS (legacy), 32-bit AAX Native (Pro Tools 10), and 64-bit AAX Native (Pro Tools 11).  Where appropriate, we have also built in support for Audiosuite.

The plug-ins included in the new upgrade include the much loved 1973, Bombadier and Vibe EQ, the entire list is impressive and is shown in the chart below.

They also offer 100% functional trials of their plug-ins for you to try.

To find out more about the new version 3 plug-ins visit the Stillwell Audio website here