What Comes With Each Type Of Pro Tools
Here is a comparison of what comes with each type of Pro Tools. As you can see in this area there is not that much to choose from especially between the two paid-for types of Pro Tools.
Yes, the free Pro Tools First doesn't have as much bundled with it, but it isn't without options.
|General||Pro Tools First||Pro Tools Standard||Pro Tools HD|
|Maximum supported projects/sessions||Three projects stored in the included 1 GB cloud; additional cloud plans available for purchase, providing unlimited projects and the ability to save projects locally||Unlimited sessions stored on local or networked drives; unlimited projects stored in the included 1 GB cloud; additional cloud plans with more storage space available for purchase||Unlimited sessions stored on local or networked drives; unlimited projects stored in the included 1 GB cloud; additional cloud plans with more storage space available for purchase|
|Maximum sample rate supported (hardware dependent)||32-bit, 96 kHz||32-bit, 192 kHz||32-bit, 192 kHz|
|Maximum I/O (hardware dependent)||4||32||256|
|ASIO, Core Audio, and EUCON support (for third-party interface and control surface integration)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Supported plug-in formats (virtual instruments, effects, and sound processors)||AAX Native, AAX AudioSuite||AAX Native, AAX AudioSuite||AAX DSP (Pro Tools HDX only), AAX Native, AAX AudioSuite|
|Bundled software||Xpand!2 multitimbral music workstation (hundreds of sounds), plus over 20 effects, sound processing, and utility plug-ins||Over 60 included virtual instruments (thousands of sounds), effects, sound processing, and utility plug-ins, with optional access to 17 bonus plug-ins||Over 60 included virtual instruments (thousands of sounds), effects, sound processing, and utility plug-ins, with optional access to 25 bonus plug-ins|
|Bundled loops||500 MB loop library curated from leading producers||2 GB loop library curated from leading producers||2 GB loop library curated from leading producers|
|Additional software included||n/a||All plug-ins in the Avid Complete Plug-in Bundle||All plug-ins in the Avid Complete Plug-in Bundle, plus HEAT, Pro Tools MachineControl, and Pro Tools DigiLink I/O License|
Pro Tools Features Comparison
When we move onto the features included in each type of Pro Tools then we start to see the differences.
Pro Tools First only offers Track Freeze whereas Pro Tools Standard and Pro Tools HD have Track Commit and Bounce as well as Track Freeze.
Pro Tools First only has limited delay compensation, which compensates for the latency of audio passing through Plug-ins.
There is no Score Editor in Pro Tools First. Other notable omissions in Pro Tools First are Clip Gain, no input monitoring, to name just two. Check the table below for more.
Moving onto the differences between Pro Tools Standard and Pro Tools HD, there are a lot fewer differences now. The key differences that remain are if you need surround, Dolby Atmos or Ambisonics then you will need the Pro Tools HD software, which since Pro Tools 12.6, you can buy on its own, you no longer need to buy Pro Tools hardware to get surround tracks.
Then there are some advanced editing and mixing features that are only available in the Pro Tools HD software, like Scrub and Trim, Automatic Fades, advanced automation features like Write on stop and Write to all enabled, and with Pro Tools HD you can have more than one Video track in a session.
|Features||Pro Tools First||Pro Tools Standard||Pro Tools HD|
|Composing, recording, sequencing, editing, and mixing tools||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Loop record track comping||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Sibelius Score Editor||Yes||Yes|
|Elastic Time and Elastic Pitch||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Avid Cloud Collaboration||Includes 1 GB of free cloud storage space for collaboration; additional cloud storage plans available for purchase, providing more space, unlimited projects, and the ability to invite others to collaborate and save projects locally||Includes 1 GB of free cloud storage space for collaboration; additional cloud storage plans available for purchase||Includes 1 GB of free cloud storage space for collaboration; additional cloud storage plans available for purchase|
|Selective Project Sync||Requires any paid cloud plan||Yes||Yes|
|Track Freeze, Commit, and Bounce||Track Freeze only||Yes||Yes|
|Automatic Delay Compensation||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Clip FX||n/a||Playback only||Apply, edit, and play|
|Retrospective MIDI recording||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|AAF/OMF/MXF file interchange||Yes||Yes|
|Export to iTunes||Yes||Yes|
|Full Import Session Data||Yes||Yes|
|Variable stereo pan depths||Yes||Yes|
|In-the-box dubbing||Yes - Requires Pro Tools | HDX|
|Field recorder workflows||Yes|
|Avid Video Engine||Yes||Yes|
|Dolby Atmos mixing workflows||Yes|
|Ambisonics VR workflows||Yes|
|Advanced metering with gain reduction||Yes||Yes|
|Extended RAM/Disk Cache||Yes||Yes|
|TrackPunch / DestructivePunch||Yes|
|Solo bus AFL/PFL||Yes||Yes|
|Advanced audio editing—Scrub Trim, Replace Region, Fit to Marks, Matching Channels, Back and Play, Auto Fades, and more||Yes|
|Advanced automation—Punch, Capture, Write on stop, Write to all enabled, Automatch, Preview, and more||Yes|
|Advanced video editing—multiple video tracks, multiple video playlists, and video editing tools||Yes|
Why Should I Go For Pro Tools HD Hardware?
There are two key reasons for getting a Pro Tools HD hardware system, now that Avid has unbundled the Pro Tools HD software from the hardware.
Using Pro Tools HDX hardware is the only way to guarantee low latency for sessions. Although with the improvements in computer technology with Thunderbolt 2 it is possible to run sessions with a hardware buffer of 32 samples, this becomes more difficult as the sessions get bigger. Using Pro Tools HDX hardware is the only way to guarantee low latency for sessions.
Without Pro Tools HD Native or Pro Tools HDX hardware the maximum number of inputs and outputs you can have is 32. You need to separate the maximum number of I/O and the maximum number of tracks, this is not the maximum track count, it is the maximum number of inputs and outputs via an interface you can have. There are one or two other options and we cover all these in a dedicated Pro Tools FAQ - Ways To Get More Than 32 Channels Of I/O. Check out this table to see that the I/O and track limits are for each type of Pro Tools...
|Supported Tracks||Pro Tools HDX||Pro Tools HD Native||Pro Tools||Pro Tools First|
|Maximum simultaneous audio tracks @ 48kHz||256 per HDX card||256||128||16|
|Maximum inputs (hardware dependent)||192||64||32||4|
|Audio recording (maximum simultaneous tracks)||256||256||32||4|
With a Pro Tools HD system, with an HD Native or single HDX card can have up to 256 tracks at 48KHz but the HD Omni interface cannot handle all those at once. You will need to consider how many tracks you want to play or record at once as well as how many simultaneous inputs and outputs you need at any one time.
With a Pro Tools HD Native Thunderbolt solution, you can handle up to 256 tracks and that would be the same with a single HDX card system.
Unfortunately, you cannot use an HD Native card with an HDX card on the same system. An HD Native system is a single standalone system, it cannot be expanded by adding another HD Native or HDX card. HDX systems are expandable, providing you have enough pci-e slots to accommodate them, so if you need to have more than 256 simultaneous tracks then you will need to trade in your HD Native system and buy 2 HDX cards and a Thunderbolt to pci-e chassis to host them.
Number Of Interfaces
You can then buy or rent the number of interfaces you need to handle the number of simultaneous inputs and outputs you need.
For example, you could work with an HD Omni attached to one of the ports on the HD Native Thunderbolt box with the Focusrite Rednet 5 plugged into the second port. With that combination, you can have up to 256 tracks, with the number of I/O determined by what the HD Omni and RedNet 5 can handle. With an HDX card-based system for a large session when you might need a lot more I/O, which you can rent in some extra interfaces, which of course could be RedNet interfaces or Avid interfaces just for the recording session and then use your HD Omni for monitoring and overdubs when it comes to the mix stage.
We hope that this guide and the other guides linked to it will help you narrow down which type of Pro Tools is right for you. Another good source of help and advice is your Pro Tools dealer. Book some time to go and discuss your requirements with your local Pro Tools dealer and use their knowledge and experience to help you make the right choice.