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.
Entries in Pro Tools (411)
Pro Tools has made Rolling Stone’s list of 24 inventions that changed music.
Some believe that Pro Tools was a force for good and others think Pro Tools killed recording studios, but whichever side of the fence you are on there is no doubt that Pro Tools has made a significant impact on the music making landscape. Pro Tools is now ubiquitous when referring to DAWs, in much the same way that iPods are often an expression used for MP3 players.
There are plenty more on the list including the Akai S900, Autotune and Garageband, although we’re not quite sure how seriously one can take a list like this when both the banjo and accordian are excluded - do these people know nothing about music?
Source: Rolling Stone
For many users clip gain was the new feature in Pro Tools 10 which changed workflows overnight. All of a sudden inserting trim plugins or using Audiosuite to render gain changes seemed very old fashioned. For me it was definitely a case of why didn’t we have this before? Doing music work, clip gain is not something I use constantly but I really value when it is there. As a result of it not being in constant use it was a while before I investigated keyboard shortcuts but when I did, I found them so straightforward it was no effort to commit them to memory and I could become less mousebound.
Essential Clip Gain Shortcuts - Control+Shift Clip Gain Shortcuts
As well as my all-time favourite - band pass mode in EQIII, which is accessed via cntrl+shift, there is an extremely useful set of shortcuts based on these modifiers which all relate to clip gain. PC users should substitute Control for Start. Some of them will be familiar as variations of existing shortcuts. The ones I use regularly are:
Cntrl+Shift+Equals - show/hide clip gain info - i.e the little fader icon
Cntrl+Shift+Hyphen - Show/hide clip gain line. It helps to remember this as a variation on control+hyphen - toggle waveform/volume playlist. It can look a little like you are looking at a standard automation playlist when displaying the clip gain line but the clip gain line is the only automation playlist you will see where the waveforms haven’t been faded back. As well as using the clip gain info icon to access the clip gain fader to adjust clip gain remember you can use the trim tool when mousing over the clip gain line. When using the Smart tool the Select or Grab tools change to a clip gain Trim tool when mousing over the clip gain line.
Cntrl+Shift+Up/Down Arrow - Nudge clip gain up/down in 0.5dB increments, to change the default go to the editing page of your preferences and look for “clip gain nudge value”.
Cntrl+Shift+Num Plus/Minus - A variation on the standard nudge command, also accessible using the command focus nudge shortcuts of M, comma, period and forward slash if you are on a laptop. This is great fun watching the waveform heights update in real time to reflect the clip gain setting.
Cntrl+Shift+C - Copy clip gain, used in conjunction with a standard Cmnd+V paste command
Essential Clip Gain Shortcuts - Clip Gain or Waveform Zoom?
One potential area for confusion is that both clip gain and waveform zoom have a similar effect on the waveform but with entirely different results. Displaying clip gain info should help but if you want to reset a clip’s gain to unity, option click the clip gain fader, which leads me to an extremely useful final shortcut:
Cntrl+Opt+Cmnd+[ - Reset waveform zoom to default
It is possible to have dual clip gain lines in crossfades. This makes perfect sense, they reflect the clip gain settings for the outgoing and incoming clips. The crossfade’s clip gain can of course be trimmed independently of the parent clips and the two clip gain lines will reflect any changes made while maintaining their relative offsets.
I find Clip Gain has been a more regular part of my workflow now that I am controlling it using these few shortcuts. Bear in mind that you can have multiple breakpoints and levels within a clip and selecting and trimming clip gain as well as dynamics processing and volume automation all sit together seamlessly in the production process. How did we get by without it?
All too often people dismiss factory-supplied plug-ins in preference for purchased plug-ins; in some cases the free ones are just as good. Whilst Avid may have a reputation for being misers when it comes to giving stuff away with Pro Tools, there are some gems that ship with Pro Tools that I reach for on a regular basis. Here are 5 factory plug-ins that you should no ignore.
Pro Tools Factory Plug AIR Vintage Filter
Pro Tools Factory Plug Avid BF76
Pro Tools Factory Plug Avid 1-Band EQ III
Pro Tools Factory Plug Avid Signal Generator
Pro Tools Factory Plug Avid Pitch II
Waldorf have announced that a number of their plug-ins will shorly be ported to 32 and 64 bit AAX for Pro Tools 11.
Waldorf plug-ins to be included
- PPG Wave 3V
- Waldorf Edition
In their latest newsletter they say All Waldorf plug-ins will soon be 64-bit compatible, so you will be able to use them in the DAW of your choice. In addition we have made almost all Waldorf plug-ins compatible to Avid’s Pro Tools. The following plug-ins will be available in 32/64 bits as AAX, Audio Unit & VST”
Some time ago we were sent an Axiom AIR Keyboard to review, however there was one glaring ommission to this ‘upgrade’ of the popular a working version of Hypercontrol.
Today M-Audio have announced a working version of Pro Tools Hypercontrol driver for the Axiom AIR series. This now makes them a far more attractive addition to those using Pro Tools to make music.
Hypercontol allows direct control of Pro Tools from the keyboard including direct control of plug-ins.
You can download the new software for Mac and PC here
Hot off the lips of Mr Slate himself and seen with our very eyes, Slate Raven will soon include a feature to create custom shortcuts and buttons for often used and complex actions.
New Slate Raven Software In Detail
For example the new software allows the user to create a single button that can chop all the audio on all drum tracks to transients, align it to the grid and then apply Beat Detective Edit smoothing. Or the user could have a shortcut to create a submix to a buss.
Seeing it in action it is impressive and further extends the feature set of the Slate Raven software.
It’s a shame this is limited to the Slate Raven and that Avid don’t currently offer this kind of ‘macro’ customisation within Pro Tools as a native feature.
Price And Shipping Date
Price and shipping date to be confirmed.
In putting together the article on how to do a clean install for Macs, following Neil’s article for Windows 7 & 8 users. I was reminded that there was a new Pro Tools Prefs helper application. Peter Gates from Free Range Audio here in the UK has taken up the baton left by Jean Charles Deshaies and produced PT Prefs. The latest version now includes the feature we had in Jean Charles’ version which enables you to back up and restore preferred settings.
Pro Tools Prefs Helper v1.2 New Features
- Update V1.2 can now backup and restore. It creates a mirror folder structure in PT Prefs folder in Documents. This makes it easy for users to zip this folder structure to keep multiple backups.
- Separated Version 11 onwards prefs/AAE from pre Version 11. Handy for co-installs.
- Confirmation for trashing/restoring items
- Added another file to AAE prefs trash/backup/restore
- Added the com.avid.plist file
- Added nice little icon!
- Minor fixes
- Separated the trashing and backup/restore sections in preparation for extra backup/restore options. Fixed false confirmation on unsuccessful backup
You can see that this covers all the different location for both Pro Tools 10 & 11 for Preferences related files and includes the Apple AudioMIDIsetup and MIDI files.
But unlike Trasher 11 for Windows users, Pro Tools Prefs doesn’t include files and folders like the Plug-ins and Plug-ins Settings folders that I referred to in my Clean Install For Mac article so you will still need to do those manually.
Any problems/queries/suggestions, do let us know here or on the special thread on the DUC.
Neil provided a very comprehensive feature recently for How To Perform A “Clean” Uninstall Of Pro Tools 11 On Windows 7 And 8 and in the comments where were questions of how to do this for a Mac, so here are some guidelines.
You Need To Archive Files Manually
There is no Trasher 10 option to undertake the archive process in the Mac world so you need to do this manually. I have covered how to do this is detail in my Pro Tools Toolkit For Mac series in Groove 3. One of the videos covers this in detail.
However the file locations vary depending whether you have Pro Tools 10 or 11. My video covers Pro Tools 10 but some of the files and folders are in different locations for Pro Tools 11.
Have you ever sat in a session with a Pro Tools engineer going through a piece of audio meticulously to make changes? This may be to the timing, tuning, de-breathing, or trying to change the audio becuase the Eq was recorded wrong and they now need to go through and notch their way through the performance.
Sometimes it is necessary, so here is the case for and against.
Find out from Avid more of what went into the sound production for Gravity that meant it cleaned up both sound related Oscars. Director Alfonso Cuarón wanted to leverage sound and picture to create an immersive experience for moviegoers. In this exclusive interview, the Gravity audio post team explain how using Avid workflows they were able to transport the audience to a heightened reality.
OK after Part 1 of 10 Things You Should Do Before Sending Your Mix To A Mastering Engineer your mixes are definitely ready, now in part 2.
I’ll discuss 5 final things to do that will make for a smooth mastering process with no last minute screw ups and enable you to get the best results and therefore value for your mastering money.
10 Things You Should Do Before Sending Your Mix To A Mastering Engineer 6 - Check
Double check all bounced tracks are OK before delivering to the Mastering Engineer. Seems obvious right? You would be surprised how easy it is to forget to unmute that percussion you just muted to check something or to do a faster than real time bounce on your DAW software and not realise something went wrong and you’ve got digital distortions. It’s that simple a mistake to make and could be costly.
10 Things You Should Do Before Sending Your Mix To A Mastering Engineer 7 - Compression
If you’ve used a mix bus compressor consider sending a version without it as well as one with. This really is about your level of experience. A lot of experienced Mix Engineers have a buss compressor on the mix bus from the start and mix into it, it becomes part of the sound Andy Wallace, Cenzo Townsend, CLA, being prime examples and of course they would just deliver the finished mix with it included as it’s an integral part of their sound. Less experienced mixers though should beware, they often add a buss compressor plug in as an afterthought or have it working far too hard, the Mastering Engineer may also simply have better quality compressors that may sound better, so play it safe, if in doubt send with and without versions. It may well be “with” is best and you’ve nailed it, but better safe than sorry.
10 Things You Should Do Before Sending Your Mix To A Mastering Engineer 8 - Less Excitement
Also be wary of “Warmerizers/Exciters” if you have used a soft saturation type plug in on your mix bus such as PSP Vintage Warmer, Sonnox Inflator, Slate VTM etc, just double check that you haven’t overdone them. A lot of these effectively soft limit your tracks and whilst not as obvious as hard Peak Limiters can cause similar issues at Mastering. A B with and without and make sure you have made the right choice. If in doubt back off the settings a little. I use these Plug Ins myself and they are awesome in getting some of that virtual analogue warmth, but I tend to always be very careful when deploying them on mix busses. If still in doubt bounce one mix with and one without.
10 Things You Should Do Before Sending Your Mix To A Mastering Engineer 9 - No Limits
If you have used a peak Limiter on your mix buss please remove it and re bounce making sure that now the Limiter has been removed there is no digital clipping. If the track has been smashed by a limiter there is very little dynamic range left and this makes it very hard to bring out sounds with the Mastering EQ or add further Mastering dynamic processing. Limiting should always be the last stage of Mastering before dithering down to 16bit.
10 Things You Should Do Before Sending Your Mix To A Mastering Engineer 10 - Sample Rates
Export the finished mixes at whatever sample rate and bit depth your “parent” session was i.e. if your session is 24 bit 44.1Khz send your mix file at that, if it was done at 32bit 96Khz bounce the mix in that format. Too often people are careless at this point and send 16 bit versions or may have unintentionally done an unnecessary sample rate conversion process that can affect the quality. Any Mastering Engineer can easily convert all files to the destination format at the highest quality so just don’t worry or think you need to do it yourself.
A Final note. If you’re on a label but you’re sending the files to the Mastering Engineer make sure you get your ISRC codes from the label too and send them to the Mastering Engineer along with 100% accurate final song names, artist name and, project title. If you want adding sequential numbers as the first part of each of the song name e.g. 01 before what will be track 1, 02, 03, etc would be super awesome!
ISRCs are usually only for large scale commercial releases and are supplied by your record label you can read about those here http://www.ifpi.org.
Neil Pickles is an award winning mastering engineer and Pro Tools Certified Expert instructor at Alchemea College.
Alchemea are currently offering 30% discount off their weekend recording, mixing and mastering courses for people who mention PTE when booking (offer ends midnight April 30th).
We asked Neil Pickles, Mastering Engineer and Director of Short Courses at our training partner’s Alchemea, to give some advice for those thinking of sending their mixes to a mastering engineer. His advice is comprehensive so it is in two parts so you have chance to grab a second coffee!
In part 1 I’m going to talk about 5 things that can be useful in checking your mixes to make sure that they are good enough to send for mastering. A good mix equals a good master; a bad mix cannot be made great with the best Mastering Engineer in the world, so it all should start with the mix.
In Part 2 I’ll discuss 5 final recommendations once you’re confident you have the mixes ready to go, that will make for a smooth mastering process with no last minute screw ups and get the best results and therefore value for your mastering money.
The following are 5 simple recommendations based on my experiences and anecdotal discussions with other Mastering Engineers. That can help you decide that your tracks are ready to go to mastering.
10 Things You Should Do Before Sending Your Mix To A Mastering Engineer 1 - Quality
Stop worrying about volume and worry about the quality of your mix instead. It’s my personal experience that a well arranged song, with a good mix in terms of balance and EQ, can be made as loud as any other regardless of whether it comes to me at .1dB or -8dBfs from 0dBfs. In fact a mix that has clearly had a lot of unintentional internal clipping in a fight to make it seem as loud as a master at the mixing point often doesn’t scrub up so well.
Focus on a good mix and a good song arrangement, not some imaginary battle with volume. If it doesn’t sound as loud as a mastered track don’t worry they’ve been pumped up in volume, just turn up your volume knob, focus on the quality of your song, it’s arrangement, your choice of sounds/instruments and your mix.
10 Things You Should Do Before Sending Your Mix To A Mastering Engineer 2 - Check
Check your balance. Balance is the relative volume differences between the different instruments. A good balance is fundamental to a good mix and a good mix equals a good master! A bass guitar that is 6dB too loud and drowning out the bass drum cannot be fixed in Mastering as well as, if at all, as simply correcting it at the mix does. Always listen to your mixes on as many different systems as possible and at a variety of volumes. If you suspect your snare or vocal is too loud or too quiet check it out at the lowest possible volume. Did you know that our hearing sensitivity changes at different volumes and if the snare sticks way out at low volumes it’s too loud? (If you want to know more about this read up on the Fletcher-Munson Curves).
There’s something special about using hardware, it can take an average virtual instrument and make it sound great. Russ shows you who to get the routing done and then how to get the track recorded in Pro Tools.
There’s a lot of plug-ins on my Pro Tools rig but the reality is there are some that I reach for time and time again when mixing. I feel sure you will have a completely different list, but I would be interested to see if there are any on my list you use and any you think I really do need to check out.
Take the poll at the end to tell us which ones you use and leave comments with some tips.
The Plug-ins I Reach For When Mixing In Pro Tools - Maag EQ4
Our People’s Choice winner in 2013. This is such a fantastic EQ, it sounds amazing on vocals and guitar, in fact it sounds amazing on almost everything. Best of all it’s so easy to get a great sound with the Maag EQ4, some plug-ins fight you, this one is my best friend. Check out our review of it here
The Plug-ins I Reach For When Mixing In Pro Tools - UAD DBX160
In the absence of owning the real thing, the UAD dbx160 is such a great compressor/limiter, again it’s easy to use and sounds great. You’ll find this on most of my tracks, it loves bass guitar, vocals and electric guitar. It so damned fun to use too and that has to count for something.
The Plug-ins I Reach For When Mixing In Pro Tools - Softube TSAR Verb
A favourite of both me and James Ivey, while many people love to use Convolution this Algorithmic reverb is sweet and versatile - it’s sitting on a buss somewhere in every mix I do.
Our friends at Absolute Music have produced this video showing an install of a Pro Tools HD system using the Magma Roben.
The video features their product specialist Tom Osborne who talks you through their latest Pro Tools HD build.
Using the Magma Roben-3TS-R PCIe to Thunderbolt chassis, a Mac Mini server as the main CPU and the Sonnet RackMac Mini. This means that everything is easily rack mountable. The set-up is all running from an APC UPS.
Real World Studios in the UK have a job for an Assistant Engineer. They write…
A rare opportunity has arisen to join the Studio team at Real World Studios as an Assistant Engineer, with the possibility of solo engineering opportunities for the person with the rights skills and experience.
Friend of the blog and Pro Tools guru Kenny Gioia has released a new Groove 3 title, Pro Tools Signal Flow Explained.
There’s no short measures with this video series with over 48 video tutials covering every aspect of signal flow in Pro Tools. In the words of Groove 3;
Kenny starts with the basics of signal flow using diagrams and pictures so you can easily understand the concepts. Next, Kenny reveals the sometimes puzzling I/O Set Up Window and explains each section in detail as well as how to route, name and organize your inputs, outputs, busses, inserts and more.
Track Types is next on the menu and Kenny serves up complete understanding of all the different track types and their uses. Setting up to record is then looked at so you’ll know exactly how to name tracks, prepare inputs, enable tracks to record, setting the right level to avoid clipping and overloads, all the different record modes and how / when to use them, as well as the different monitoring modes.
Kenny now goes deeper showing you all things MIDI, such as MIDI Setup, Input Devices and MIDI Thru, MIDI input Filters, Wait For Note Recording, Click Tracks, MIDI Merge, Real-Time Properties for non-destructive editing, Input Quantize, using Multiple MIDI Tracks, Punching MIDI, and Loop Recording MIDI.
If that wasn’t enough, Kenny goes even further with awesome videos on Mixing techniques utilizing Hardware Inputs, FX Sends & Returns (both Hardware & Software), FX Sharing, Parallel Compression, Master Faders, Submixing, Headphone Mixes and much, much more. Kenny wraps up this detailed series with advanced Insert & Sends videos, Pre and Post Headphone Mixes, Printing Stems and Sidechain Compression techniques.
If you really want to master the ins and outs of Pro Tools, there is no better way than to watch this series… Get “Pro Tools Signal Flow Explained” today.
Source: Groove 3
Another excellent video from our partners at Lynda. Skye Lewin explains nondestructive editing in Pro Tools.
Pro Tools offers a number of different ways to add effects, one could say plug-ins but sometimes the term plug-in is not entirely accurate. Depending on the way the plug-ins or process is applied in can affect the results and also effect the load on you computer and your Pro Tools session.
Using Plug-ins As Channel Inserts
Perhaps the most common way people use audio processing in Pro Tools is as plug-ins as inserts, this means the plug-in is applied to the channel the audio is playing through. A number of things to note when using plug-ins on an individual channel;
- Plug-ins work live and make no changes to the audio file that passes through them.
- Each plug-in used takes up processing power, either DSP power on a Pro Tools HD system or the computer’s processing (native power) on a native Pro Tools system.
- Some third party plug-ins such as UAD use their own processing either on a PCI card or attached via FireWire or Thunderbolt. Each plug-in you insert will use up that power.
- Plug-ins work in serial, meaning that the audio cascades though each plug-in and is processed. This means for example that if you add a compressor in the first insert and an EQ in the second insert then the EQ is processing the signal as it has passed through the compressor.
- Inserts are pre fader on audio, aux, and instrument tracks, but post fader on a Master track.
- Inserts applied to tracks are not recorded as part of the audio. If you want to record audio with effects then you need to buss the audio out to another audio track and record it with effects applied.
- Virtual Instruments only work as inserts.
As a rule of thumb most insert plug-ins are used for processes involving EQ or Dynamics or track specific effects and when you need to process your audio in serial.
Another benefit of using insert based plug-ins is that live automation can be applied during the mix.
Using Plug-ins On Busses
A second way to use plug-ins as inserts is to use them on an AUX channel and then send the audio to that channel for processing, this offers two benefits.
- Using plug-ins on an AUX allows the user the opportunity to send audio from several channels. This is often the case when using a reverb, where the effect may be sent from many channels at the same time. This means one reverb can be used rather than many reverbs on each channel - this will of course reduce processing load.
- Plug-ins can be used to process the audio in parallel, this is a common trick on drums and vocals when using compressors. Parallel compression offers the opportunity to process the audio in a way not possible using inserts in serial, allowing the user to mix both the clean and compressed audio. Watch this free Pro Tools tutorial on using parallel compression in Pro Tools. Some plug-ins offer the chance to mix the orginal signal with the compressed signal, but even if the plug-in you use doesn’t offer mixing you can use the method shown in the video.
Using AudioSuite Processing
AudioSuite processing is an offline process that makes changes to the audio file. A process can be auditioned and then once the user is happy with the process this can be rendered to the audio. However have no fear of doing irreparable damage to your audio, Pro Tools retains the original unprocessed audio should you wish to return to it, find out more about dealing with this here. Common uses for AudioSuite processing are;
- Changes to gain (less used since the introduction of clip gain in Pro Tools)
- Audio repair, such as denoising, declipping or de-hum.
- Processor intense effects such as de-breath or vocal alignment.
Some Pro Tools users seldom use AudioSuite processing, yet AudioSuite can be a powerful tool, it offers processing that is not always possible in real-time, due to power constraints or the process being so intensive it creates latency so high that makes the process almost unusable. Watch this video on using the Normalize function as an AudioSuite process.
Using Standalone Audio Processing
Many manufacturers offer their audio processing as both standalone and also as an AudioSuite process. Often the standalone version offers more features and better results, two products in question are iZotope RX and Synchro Arts Revoice Pro 2.3, both have far superior features as standalone versions. The great news is that both products offer the option to process in Pro Tools, RX3 offers both real-time and AudioSuite processing, Revoice Pro 2.3 offers AudioSuite versions.
Knowing how to process audio can make a world of difference, it will change the sound you achieve, the quality of that sound and also maximise the efficiency of your sessions.
Russ checks out the updated AAX version of Nerve Drum VI from Xfer Records. Does this drum virtual instrument on steroids offer anything extra for those looking to make beats? Find out what Russ thinks in this extended video review.