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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)

Matching Levels Between Mics Using PhaseScope In Pro Tools

To me capturing instruments and especially groups of instruments using stereo mic arrays is one of the simplest but most enjoyable parts of the recording process. With the exception of mid-side arrays it is important for all stereo mic arrays to have their gains carefully matched if the stereo image is not to be tilted to the right or left.

It will never be enough just to plug in in two mics and set the gains on the preamps to the same apparent level. Each microphone and preamp will have its own sensitivity which, while similar, can never be assumed to be identical. The most accurate way to match mic gains is to match them using nulling. To do this arrange both mics side by side and on axis to the sound source. Set the gain of one mic to a level appropriate for the source. Both mics should be panned to the centre. Importantly the second mic should have its polarity inverted. Then, using the first mic as a reference the second mic should have its gain adjusted until the point where the two mics null, at this point there will be the dip in output as the signals cancel, accompanied by a significant dip on the meter showing the summed output of the two mics. 

I have to admit that while I have used this procedure in practice I tend to use an alternative which requires less setting up and is more flexible, using the PhaseScope plugin in Pro Tools.

A phase scope displays mono signals as a vertical line, perfectly out of phase signals as a horizontal line and signals present only on the left or right as 45 degree diagonal lines. This plugin can be used to balance gains between stereo mic arrays very accurately and quickly. I have seen many people use a stereo level meter to quickly balance gains but I have found using this PhaseScope method to be more accurate and just as quick. 

PhaseScope windows showing matched gains (L), matched gains out of phase (C) and right channel muted (R).

To set your mic gains using this technique just set the gain for one of the mics exactly as you would for a mono source. Then bring up the gain of the second mic to approximately the same level.

Because the overall gain of the array has already been set, it is unnecessary to use the same instruments as will be recorded when matching gains, I often ask someone to stand on the centre line of the array and clap. The important thing is that the PhaseScope is being used to match the gain of the mic whose gain has already been appropriately set for the material being recorded. Using a sound source placed on the centre line the PhaseScope will display a thin, approximately vertical, line. Using fine adjustments it is possible to match the gains until the PhaseScope shows a perfectly vertical line. 

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Preparing Pro Tools For Automatic Installation In A Mac Enterprise Environment - Part 3

In part 1 Neil laid out the challenges of managing the installation of Pro Tools software so that Macs on a network can install it automatically.  In part 2 we tackled the Pro Tools installer. Now in part 3 Neil gets creative with the AIR CreativeCollection.

Prerequisites: 

  • A working Munki setup with Pro Tools in your repository, tested and working.
  • Packages, a free tool for creating installer packages: 
  • A plain text editor to write/edit scripts with, I recommend TextWrangler which is free 
  • The AIR Creative Collection DMG from Avid (tested with version 11.1 – other versions may yield different results if Avid change things – you have been warned!)

We’ve got Pro Tools automatically installing on our Macs nicely. But what about the lovely AIR Creative Collection we get with it? It would be nice to have that as well. We know it only installs when you run the installer inside its DMG. We also know the DMG won’t import into Munki because of something Avid have done to it. Catch 22…

 

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Chris Lord-Alge Talks Old Tape Machines And Fast Mixes

Here’s a nice video from the Rednet team with Chris Lord Alge.

Although it’s primarily a promo video there’s some gems in their from mix-master Chris Lord-Alge.

Check it out.

Preparing Pro Tools For Automatic Installation In A Mac Enterprise Environment - Part 2

In part 1 Neil laid out the challenges of managing the installation of Pro Tools software so that Macs on a network can install it automatically. 

Part 2 – Tackling the Pro Tools Installer

Prerequisites:

  • The MunkiAdmin GUI front end to Munki: (you don’t need it but I prefer working with Munki outside the command line if I can help it)
  • A plain text editor to write/edit scripts with, I recommend TextWrangler which is free
  • The latest iLok License Manager installer
  • A Mac for testing your installation on before you put it into production is recommended.

First, import the Pro Tools Installer DMG as-is into Munki. This gets the application itself in a deployable state.

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Channel Strips - Help Or Hindrance When Mixing Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this episode I had already laid out my thoughts on Channel Strips and in particular the Avid Channel Strip, but after all of this criticism of Channel Strip, am I ignoring the shortcomings of the stock EQ3 and Dyn3 plugins?

EQIII

In the writing of this piece I will be the first to admit that I have subjected all of these plug-ins to an unusual level of scrutiny and the most interesting part of the process as far as the equalisers were concerned was that my overall impression that EQIII and the EQ section of Channel Strip were very similar in character was confirmed when I managed to null the two equalisers against each other almost completely. I tried this using Channel G and the SSL channel EQs and found it impossible to null to anywhere near the same extent. Not unexpected, but the two Avid EQs nulled to a far greater extent (but never completely). EQIII is a clean, workmanlike EQ, which is both well designed and effective and offers the band pass mode of which I am such a fan. If I have a criticism it would just be that it is a little dull and will never have“vibe”. A version offering the same user experience but with the option of a touch more glamour and excitement would be a big hit with me. 

DynIII

I find the expander gate perfectly serviceable but, in line with Mike’s opinion of Dyn III, I find the compressor less than adequate on some sources. It tends to distort bass heavy material even with surprisingly long release times and with some material I really can’t use it.

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Preparing Pro Tools For Automatic Installation In A Mac Enterprise Environment - Part 1

Neil Martin got in touch offering to write up his experiences of setting up Pro Tools so that it can be installed and setup automatically on lots of computers as you find in ‘labs’ in colleges etc. Although this is a specilist area for those that need this solution it is a serious time saver and also makes sure that every installation is the same. Let me hand over to Neil….

Part 1 – The challenge.

I work in a university. My job is to look after the specialist technical needs of our music and music technology courses, including the Apple Mac network in our building. That’s 50 iMacs in 2 labs, 4 iMacs in edit suites, 2 Mac Pros in recording studio control rooms and 30 iMacs used by fellow technicians and academic staff. We need Pro Tools on all of them.

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Advice On Transferring From ADAT Tapes To Pro Tools

Community member Steve Klingaman has asked for help and advice on the best way to transfer some material from ADAT tapes into a Pro Tools session….

In my case I’m new to Pro Tools and have been transferring ADAT tapes synced to a JL Cooper DataSync2 to ProTools via a Universal Audio Apollo as the front end via lightpipe to PT 10.  I thought I used the ADAT as the master clock in SMPTE for the transfer but the ADAT tapes were never striped for SMPTE, they were synced to the sequencer via MIDI Clock and Song Position Pointer via the Learn function on the JL Cooper2.  (Once the ADAT “learned” the song it became the master clock and controlled the sequencer via the JL Cooper2). And though for this transfer the ADAT is hooked up to the JL Cooper, and the JL Cooper is set to SMPTE, as far as I can tell it isn’t generating SMPTE to the UA Apollo through the ADAT.  I actually don’t know what’s going on.

The ADAT-transferred audio arrives slightly out of sync to bars and bars, which is a problem since I still want to sync to the  midi file in Pro Tools. I dragged the start point of the click track to 1/1/000, aligning with the midi sequence that I imported from the old sequencer.  But, in a song that is 118 bpm, 3-minutes in, by bar 96, for example, the audio track is out of alignment with the midi sequence by 84 (84/960) clock ticks.  I was thinking of getting a BRC, running the ADAT to that, and using the BRC’s capacity to transmit Word Clock to the UA Apollo in.  Would that work?

If you have any experience of transferring ADAT Tapes into Pro Tools? Is so, can you advise Steve on the best way to do this? Thanks.

Is There A Better Workflow For Vocal Comping?

Neale Eckstein asked us about an idea for streamlining the vocal comping feature we have in Pro Tools….

I feel like the playlist comping flow is somewhat clunky and have posted a feature request on the Ideascale.  It seems that it would be easy to modify what happens when using the playlist comping feature to save a lot of mouse clicks or shortcut keystrokes to make it easier to audition, select and create a comp track.  I’d like to be able to make a selection on a playlist and have that section automatically solo.  Then it would be a simple matter to use the semicolon shortcut to move down a lot of playlists quickly to hear them without have to solo each one.

The second part of this streamlined workflow would be to have the playlist un-solo whenever a selection is promoted to the main playlist so you can listen to how it fits in the comp track if you choose to. This workflow could be a preference for those that like the way it currently works as “quick comping” or some other descriptive name.

I’d be interested in how you all are doing your comp tracks with the current playlist workflow in case you’ve got a faster way than I am currently doing it using keyboard focus keystrokes.

How do you work?  Do you think Neale’s idea of an ‘auto solo’ option when vocal comping is a good idea? Do you have any tips for streamlining the existing vocal comping workflow?  Please share them with the community.

New Logic Pro Expert Site Announced

The Pro Tools Expert team and ‘Danski’s Logic Pro Blog’ have come together to create another ‘Expert’ site specifically for Apple Logic Pro users. Make sure you listen to this week’s podcast to hear Russ talking about this new venture in detail.

The new site Logic Pro Expert will go live on February 1st 2014 and aims to be a one-stop site for users of Logic Pro. The Editor of the new site is Dennis Van Den Driesschen, the founder of the hugely popular Danski’s Logic Pro Blog and the Key Commands website.

Our Editor Russ Hughes explains the thinking behind the new venture.

“Pro Tools Expert has become something very special for the Pro Tools community. We have often been asked by both users and industry partners why nothing else exists like it for other DAWs, I was surprised myself. However Pro Tools Expert was created by fans and those using Pro Tools all the time, so to create another site without that passion and expertise of the DAW would be silly and never work. However I knew it would be great if we could extend our model to owners of other DAWs, there are many Pro Tools users who also use Logic Pro too, it was then a case of finding the right people – Dennis was for me the best man to lead this new venture. I am confident that with his passion and expertise and with our understanding of building a DAW based community this has every chance of being something very special for Logic users. I am excited to seeing what Logic Pro Expert becomes for the Logic Pro community. We’ve shared the idea with trusted industry partners who love the idea, so it was then a case of working for several months on getting the idea off the ground.”

Danski’s Logic Pro Blog editor Dennis van den Driesschen says:

“Building Danski’s Logic Pro Blog has been such a great experience in the last three years. Seeing it grow from absolute zero to a valuable place for Logic Pro users is what kept me going. I’m stoked to now continue this journey together with the Pro Tools Expert team, and bring more tutorials, independent product reviews and relevant audio industry news. A big thank you to all my readers. Danski’s Logic Pro Blog is dead - long live Logic Pro Expert!”

About

Channel Strips - Help Or Hindrance When Mixing? Part 1 

I’m not an early adopter, I’ve always been happy to remain comfortably behind the times. With music, books, films and the like I’ve always thought that if something is any good, I’ll hear about it eventually. But when it comes to sorting the good from the bad, I’m happy to let others do the initial hard work. As for new developments in all things audio and particularly Pro Tools this attitude still applies to some extent. I keep abreast of new announcements from the trade shows, the DUC and of course Pro Tools Expert. I read reviews and documentation, but I have never felt any compulsion to use something just because it is new. New often means better but not always.

I think it’s understandable that it will always be the eye candy which receives the most attention in a new release of any software and while many of us would prefer to believe that we aren’t that easily influenced, I for one would be the first to admit that when I finally upgraded to PT11HD, although I knew that the possibilities offered by a 64 bit release was the really important thing, actually I was most excited by the gain reduction meters in the mixer. Ooh! - Pretty lights.

Avid Channel Strip

Looking a little further back, the new feature of Pro Tools 10 which seemed to get the most attention was the Avid Channel Strip. New plug-ins are like software sound bites for marketing departments. They are self-contained and easily “quotable” around the web as pictures of the plug-in window and offer instant gratification to the new user regardless of experience. As such I was looking forward to trying Avid’s Channel Strip plug-in when it was released all that time ago.

Everyone has their favourite plugins but I have noticed a discrepancy between what I think my favourite plug-in are and the plug-ins I actually use the most. I would think it reasonable to assume that the plug-ins I think of as my favourites should also be my “go to” choice. Here’s the thing – I hardly use Channel Strip. Why? 

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Understanding The System Usage Meters In Pro Tools

You may be new to Pro Tools and wonder where to go to see how Pro Tools is working with your system resources.

Under the hood at the bottom of the Window menu is a handy option called System Usage and depending on what version of Pro Tools you own it will appear a little differently.

The Basics

All Pro Tools users will have the following showing in the System Usage Window:

  • CPU - This meter displays the amount of your computer’s CPU resources that Pro Tools is using. Depending on how many cores your processor has the number shown will differ. One small thing to note is that Pro Tools displays duo chips as double the amount, so a 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon shows up as 8 and not 4 in this part of the window. Items that use this processing include Elastic Audio processing, Clip Gain processing, Native plug-in and mixer processing. 
  • Disk - This displays the activity of the hard disk. Remember Pro Tools is a DAW and writes the audio to a hard drive, read and write access in the fastest possible time is essential so the faster your hard drive is the better, normally a 7200rpm is the starting point. Using the same drive for your Pro Tools sessions is not recommended so either use a second high speed internal hard drive or an external hard drive that is connected either by Firewire, Thunderbolt or USB2.
  • Memory - The memory meter shows how much system RAM is being used by Pro Tools. If you are using Pro Tools 10 and earlier, which are 32 bit applications, then this is limited to around 3GB, irrespective how much RAM you may have installed in your computer. Pro Tools 11 is a 64 bit application, so is theoretically able to access as much memory as you throw at it. Plug-ins, particularly Virtual Instruments with large libraries use lots of memory so it is good to have as much in your computer for Pro Tools to access. However you need to remember that Pro Tools accesses RAM for other functions too, this includes; The Audio and Video Engines, plug-ins and disk cache (if available & enabled).

The Extras

If you are using Pro Tools HD/HDX then you will have some additional information that pertains to the cards installed in your system and features only available to HD users.

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First Hardware Deal - Editors Keys Pro Tools PC Keyboard £42 - Over 50% Off RRP

This is our first hardware deal, so there will be shippong costs so please read the How This Deal Works section below, before you order.

How many times do you find you forget the appropriate shortcut when using Pro Tools?  With a dedicated keyboard you have the shortcuts printed on the keys to help you find all those excellent one button shortcuts when you are in Keyboard Focus mode.

  • Faster editing means an easier and more productive day-to-day experience for you.
  • NEW 2013 Slim line design.
  • The worlds most used shortcut keyboards.
  • Professional studio look. Impress clients and improve work flow.
  • Mac and PC Compatible. (USB port required.)
  • Lifetime warranty.

The Editors Keys Dedicated PC Pro Tools Keyboard is compatible with all versions of Avid Pro Tools (including Pro Tools 11) and is fully compatible with both Mac’s and PC’s with a USB Port.

How this deal works

Because this is hardware there are going to be shipping costs. The price you pay here on Pro Tools Expert is without shipping.

  • When you buy the keyboard here we will give you a voucher code that you enter into the Editors Keys web store. (Full instructions will be provided).
  • You will still need to pay for shipping on the Editors Keys web store. 
  • Guide prices for shipping are… 
    • UK: £2.99
    • Europe: £4.99
    • Rest of World £6.99
  • As Editors Keys ship from the UK the prices for shipping will vary and there are a few territories they won’t ship to so please check the shipping costs from Editors Keys before you buy.
  • We will not accept any refunds based on unexpected shipping costs or territories not available to ship to.

For more information and to buy….

Using The Avid Pitch II Plug in On Vocals

In this free Pro Tools video tutorial Russ takes a look at the Avid Pitch II plug-in, in this short tutorial he shows how it can be used for creating great vocal effects.

Pro Tools 11.1.1 Update Now Available


Avid have just announced the release of the Pro Tools 11.1.1 update for OSX and Windows.
Registered owners of Pro Tools 11 can download installers from the ‘Your Products’ section of their Avid Account.

Be sure to read the whole ReadMe guide before updating.

Release notes/ReadMe guides can be found following these links.

 OSX

The update includes:

  • Pro Tools 11.1.1 supports Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) and Mac OS X 10.8.5 (Mountain Lion)
  • When vertically dragging a clip that shares a crossfade with an adjacent clip, the crossfade will now be converted to separate fades that preserve the sound of the original crossfade. (PTSW-173175)
  • Pro Tools now successfully imports AAF files originally exported from Steinberg Nuendo. (PTSW-190498)

 

Windows 

The update includes:

  • When vertically dragging a clip that shares a crossfade with an adjacent clip, the crossfade will now be converted to separate fades that preserve the sound of the original crossfade. (PTSW-173175)
  • Pro Tools now successfully imports AAF files originally exported from Steinberg Nuendo. (PTSW-190498)
  • When using ASIO applications with the Avid ASIO Driver with HDX or HD Native hardware, audio will not distort. (PTSW-190468)
  • Issues Resolved in Pro Tools 11.1.1When vertically dragging a clip that shares a crossfade with an adjacent clip, the crossfade will now be converted to separate fades that preserve the sound of the original crossfade. (PTSW-173175)
  • Pro Tools now successfully imports AAF files originally exported from Steinberg Nuendo. (PTSW-190498)When using ASIO applications with the Avid ASIO Driver with HDX or HD Native hardware, audio will not distort. (PTSW-190468)
 

 

 

3 Ways To Fix Timing In Pro Tools

In this Pro Tools video tutorial, Russ shows 3 different ways to fix timing in Pro Tools.
He shows how each works and the pros and cons of using each one - all 3 are useful; it’s just a matter of choosing the right tool for the job.

Ideas On How To Fix Live Recorded Drums In Pro Tools 

As part of our FREE Pro Tools video tutorials James takes a look back at an older session which was recorded live. He shows you some of his tips and tricks to bring a lifeless drum sound up to date.

Early Tests Suggest That Most Apps Do Not Take Advantage Of Power Of New Mac Pro

Tests by several respected Mac sites such as The Verge and Engadget suggest that most apps do not take advantage of the power offered by the new Mac Pro.

Only software optimized to take advantage of the new GPU really show the new Mac Pro’s extra power. As would be expected Apple’s Final Cut X is one such application to have been recoded to take advantage of this power boost, the Verge writes “when using other software, the Mac Pro is only modestly faster than a new-vintage iMac”.

We have no indication from Avid as to when their applications including Pro Tools will be able to take advantage of the power offered by the new Mac Pro.

Read the whole story here

Understanding Pro Tools Aux Tracks

If you are new to Pro Tools the different kind of track options available can sometimes be daunting, in fact sometimes even seasoned professionals are not entirely sure of the benefits of using different track types. We recently took a look at Pro Tools instrument tracks.

We will take a look at each type of Pro Tools track in detail, explaining each section to the Pro Tools track type and how to use them. In this post we are looking at the Pro Tools aux track.

Aux tracks enable a user to route live audio through Pro Tools, in many ways they work just the same as a audio track but you cannot record any audio on these tracks.

They can be used to:

  • Sub mix a group of tracks during mixing, for example all drums could be routed to an aux track so that you have a stereo drum mix, often called a drum buss.
  • Route hardware synths and drum machines that are being triggered via Pro Tools MIDI tracks, although you may find using an instrument track to be better for your purposes.
  • Route hardware effects back into Pro Tools such as hardware reverbs, delays or compressors.
  • Route hardware audio devices such as CD players or record decks or an external audio mixer.

Routing To Aux Tracks Internally

First create a aux track using the new track window. In this case I am going to create a stereo sub mix of the guitars. You can see in the image below the new Aux is now to the right of the two guitar tracks I want to route to it.

 

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RTAS - AAX Wrappers: Who Gets To Choose How Your Pro Tools System Performs?

There’s an ongoing discussion on the DUC regarding Avid’s ongoing policy regarding RTAS-AAX wrappers, which right now is that they are not allowed by Avid. Many theories are being put forward by both those for and those against the policy about why Avid have this policy.

The reason put forward by Avid is that RTAS-AAX wrappers are not allowed is because it compromises the stability and performance of Pro Tools, many users argue that the reasons are actually commercially motivated. Even if stability and performance are the real reason, surely it’s down to the user to make that choice, surely ‘caveat emptor’ applies here? If this is what Avid are most concerned about then surely (as with many of their products) they offer a “not supported” line about wrappers?

It seems absurd that a user can host VST and AU versions of plug-ins in Pro Tools 11 using various methods, but not RTAS. In fact since that article was written several other solutions have been offered by companies like Blue Cat Audio. This policy of ‘NO RTAS WRAPPERS’ seems odd (given that AU and VST are allowed) and undermines Avid’s own plug-in formats by suggesting that RTAS is less flexible and future proof than competitor plug-in architecture?

One reason cited is that 64 bit plug-in architecture makes any kind of wrapper impossible for older 32 bit RTAS plug-ins. Not so for Logic Pro X users, who with the Sound Radix 32 Lives software can run 32 bit versions of AUs in a 64 bit application, keeping their investment in plug-ins such as Abbey Road, TC and Lexicon alive.

If one buys a car, then there are certain fuels, oils and tyres that are recommended, if someone wants to use inferior quality products and in doing so experience inferior performance and possibly shorten the lifetime of the car, then as long as they don’t try and blame the dealer or the manufacturer then it’s their problem isn’t it?

The new 64 bit audio engine and improved architecture that made AAX necessary are without doubt a step forward, it offers vastly superior performance over RTAS, but if a user wants (or needs) to continue to use RTAS, then they should be allowed to do so, with the understanding that it will give inferior performance and will be unsupported?

I think what aggrieves users of legacy products such as RTAS or Control 24 and Pro Control mixers is not that they become unsupported or that development is ended, but that they are simply killed off. No one is suggesting that Avid should offer indefinite development and support for their older products, no other brand does so. However blocking the development of 3rd party solutions seems mean and petty minded, this seems to contradict the ‘new open Avid’ message that was introduced when Gary Greenfield was CEO of Avid and saw Pro Tools uncoupled from Avid hardware.

Surely if an RTAS wrapper is as possible as VST and AU versions then a user should get to choose how their Pro Tools system performs? Discuss.

Avid Publishes "Known Issues" List for OSX Mavericks Support

With the announcement of Apple’s Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks operating system there are known issues with Media Composer 7 and earlier, Pro Tools 11 and earlier, Sibelius 7 and earlier, EUCON and ISIS.  Avid will announce support for Mac OS X 10.9 with future releases of software.  
It is not recommended to use Sibelius or EUCON with Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) as they are not supported at this time.  

Pro Tools 11.0.3 announces support for Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks.  

Below is a list of known issues still occurring with Pro Tools 11.1 and earlier on Mac OS X 10.9:

Click to read more ...

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