So now we have our system chosen and set up, let’s look at creating a new session.
When creating a new session it is so easy to just give the session a name and click the Save button and miss out the Session Parameters and where on the system you have just saved your new session to, leading to the cry “I can’t find my session”! Add to that the fact that the default settings will, more often than not, be correct adds to the ease of them getting missed. Worse still, you won’t be aware that these settings weren’t correct until much further down the road when fixing it could take quite a while. So take my advice and spend a little time here. Lets take a look at the various options here.
Audio File Type
The Audio File Type determines the file type for all audio files created by Pro Tools for this session. These days I can see little if any justification for any file type other than BWF (.WAV).
Moving on to the Sample Rate drop down menu, what hardware you have will determine what options you are offered here. The image above shows what you get on an HDX rig with a 8x8x8 I/O attached. Pro Tools Vanilla systems will offer up a range of sample rates from 44.1 kHz to 96kHz or only offer 44.1kHz or 48kHz depending on what interface and hardware you are using. As to what sample rate you should use largely depends on what you will be doing and where it will end up. Remember that the higher the sample rate the better the quality will be, but you will get larger audio files and the more load put on the computer, A 44.1kHz 16bit audio file will be 5MB per mono track minute and an 88.2kHz sample rate file will be twice that. If you are working on a music or a radio project then you are best to select 44.1kHz or one of its multiples, if you want the better quality and are prepared to take the performance hit. If you are working on a TV project, then choose 48kHz or one of its multiples.
Bit Depth like sample rate is a quality v performance trade off. The higher the bit depth, the better the quality and there will be less need to record close ‘to the red’ but 24bit files will be 1.5 times larger than their 16bit equivalents, but these days this is much less on an issue so unless you have good reason not to then use 24 bit. But at the end of the day, you pays your money and takes your choice.
Pro Tools will offer a range of default I/O settings and you can create your own from the I/O Setup by selecting I/O… from the Setup menu. You can create your own I/O settings which will enable you to give your inputs & outputs names that relate to your specific studio set up. However Pro Tools defaults to ‘Last Used’ and this can cause problems when you don’t know what Last Used was. If you only work in your own studio and don’t work on sessions that have come from other studios then this won’t be so much of a problem. However if the previous session was started in another studio it will have the I/O settings for that studio. So when you create a new session, if you leave the I/O settings as Last Used then your new session will inherit the I/O Settings from that other studio and your session won’t have the right labels etc. So I always advise not to leave it on Last Used but to set it to one of your own settings or if you don’t have any set it to one of the default settings, usually Stereo Mix unless you are working in Surround.
Once you have made your choices, you can click OK and the system will offer you the usual navigation box to select where on your system you want to save your project. Remember although you can save Pro Tools sessions on your C drive or Macintosh HD drive it isn’t recommended. So select you external audio drive as the best location to put your session.
Now you have created a new session you will get 2 blankish windows, which are the Edit and Mix windows.
In the next part we will take a look at filling these windows starting with creating new tracks and what the different parts of the Toolbar do.