Avid has announced today the release of Pro Tools 2018.4, in which there are bug fixes for all Pro Tools users with current upgrade plans and Pro Tools HD software is being rebranded as Pro Tools Ultimate, which will also now include the Avid Complete Plugin Bundle worth $49.99 per year and Pro Tools MachineControl worth $749.
More Bug Fixes For All
Pro Tools 2018.4 isn't just about rebranding, there will be new installers appearing in the Avid Master Accounts of all Pro Tools First, Pro Tools and Pro Tools Ultimate users with a current upgrade plan and will include another raft of bug fixes across the range. Check out the separate story with all the bug fixes in Pro Tools 2018.4.
Please Be Patient
If having read this article you go and check your Avid Master Account and find that 2018.4 isn't there yet, don't worry, Avid has a lot to do today as it isn't just a Pro Tools release they are rolling out today. They also have new Media Composer and Sibelius releases as well so if the 2018.4 releases aren't in your Avid Master Account just now, please be patient, the updates will arrive shortly.
Much Less Confusion
We believe that Avid has made the right choice to drop the Pro Tools HD name. Ever since Avid dropped Pro Tools LE with the introduction of Pro Tools 9, everyone has been confused about what it meant when you talked about Pro Tools, which is why I came up with the name Pro Tools Vanilla. But the confusion didn't end there. There was also the confusion about what was meant by Pro Tools HD, are you talking about software or hardware? The ‘Ultimate’ rebranding only applies to Pro Tools software and not to the Pro Tools Hardware Systems like the HD Native, HDX and HD interfaces. This rebranding process should remove so much confusion about what we mean by Pro Tools, so well done Avid for taking the courage to do this.
What You Get With Pro Tools Ultimate
Pro Tools 2018.4 is a welcome rebranding and product bundling change, which gives HD users some added value. So what do HD users get in this new Pro Tools Ultimate Bundle?
The Avid Complete Plugin Bundle
The Avid Complete Plug-in Bundle offers almost all the Avid plug-ins, some 75 plug-ins. There are a few Avid plug-ins that are not included in the Avid Complete Plugin Bundle - Avid HEAT, Aphex Aural Exciter and Big Bottom. These are the plug-ins that are included in the Complete Bundle, which are now included in Pro Tools Ultimate.
Eleven MK II
Green JRC Overdrive
Pro Multiband Dynamics
Reel Tape Suite
Tel-Ray Variable Delay
AIR Dynamic Delay
AIR Filter Gate
AIR Frequency Shifter
AIR Kill EQ
AIR Mini Grand
AIR Nonlinear Reverb
AIR Spring Reverb
AIR Stereo Width
AIR Structure Free
AIR Vintage Filter
Black Op Distortion
Black Shiny Wah
Classic Compressors Bundle
Some of these plug-ins are included with Pro Tools Standard anyway so at first glance it seems a little strange for Avid to include them in with the Complete Plugin Bundle, but looking at the Complete Bundle page on the Avid website they are also marketing it for Pro Tools First, which doesn't include the same plug-ins that Pro Tools Standard comes with, so maybe that is the reason.
Pro Tools Ultimate users will get the Complete Plugin Bundle included and for For Pro Tools First and Pro Tools Standard users, the Complete Plugin Bundle is still available separately and costs either $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year as a subscription-only deal.
Pro Tools Machine Control
With Pro Tools MachineControl you can integrate and control external audio and video devices with Pro Tools. Using industry-standard serial 9-pin machine control protocols, MachineControl software enables you to fast forward, rewind, jog, and shuttle media playback and perform other common tasks, directly from your Pro Tools interface. You can also have your Pro Tools system emulate a remote deck by slaving it to compatible Sony 9-pin devices. Get track arming for integrated laybacks to external transports. And experience reliable sync and control, as MachineControl supports serial time code as a positional reference, and features faster lockup times to Sony 9-pin.
Simultaneous Scrub - Scrub audio and video at the same time from within Pro Tools using Scrub to Picture.
Transport Window - Get enhanced visual feedback and control using a variety of transport modes.
Status Feedback - See the machine's position at all times through an onscreen cursor and transport counter.
Versatile Support - Work with Sony 9-pin, VideoMedia V-LAN, and non-linear video recorders/players.
Slave Pro Tools - Trigger Pro Tools recording, playback, and track-arming from an external remote device.
At first glance, this does seem a strange inclusion into Pro Tools Ultimate. There was a time when MachineControl was an essential add-on to Pro Tools because back in the day we were playing our video files off a tape-based video machine. I remember tracking up post projects off timecode DAT and DA88 using Avid MachineControl many moons ago when I worked on my first surround project. So we asked Avid why include this now? It transpires that users still need MachineControl for locking desk automation systems to Pro Tools as well as the occasional use of tape-based machines, so it appears there is still life in MachineControl.
Pro Tools 2018 Feature Comparison
If you are not sure which features are in which type of Pro Tools, here is the latest Pro Tools 2018 Feature Table comparing Pro Tools First, Pro Tools and Pro Tools Ultimate...
|Features||Pro Tools First||Pro Tools Standard||Pro Tools Ultimate|
|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|
|Retrospective MIDI Record||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|MIDI Editing Enhancements||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mixing UI Improvements||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Improved Import Session Data||Yes||Yes|
|Playlist Comping Enhancements||Yes||Yes|
|"Start Collaboration" File Menu Item||Yes||Yes|
|iLok Cloud Support||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|
|Pro Tools MachineControl included||Compatible but not included||Compatible but not included||Yes|
|Avid Complete Plugin Bundle included||Compatible but not included||Compatible but not included||Yes|
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. See this table for more information...
|Supported Tracks||Pro Tools First||Pro Tools||Pro Tools HD Native||Pro Tools HDX|
|Maximum simultaneous audio tracks @ 48kHz||16||128||256||256 per HDX card|
|Maximum inputs (hardware dependent)||4||32||64||192|
|Audio recording (maximum simultaneous tracks)||4||32||256||256|
What About Existing Owners?
Any Pro Tools HD owner with a valid Pro Tools HD upgrade and support plan or has a current rental subscription plan for Pro tools HD Standalone software will be transitioned to Pro Tools Ultimate with the release of Pro Tools 2018.4. Avid plan to deposit licenses for the Avid Complete Plugin Bundle and Pro Tools MachineControl into iLok accounts approximately 2-3 weeks following the April 7th, 2018 unveiling of Pro Tools Ultimate.
We understand that even if your Pro Tools HD Upgrade and Support Plan expired before April 7th, 2018, you will still see that my iLok license is now called "Pro Tools Ultimate Perpetual". This does not necessarily mean that you can run Pro Tools Ultimate version 2018.4. While the names of ALL Pro Tools HD Perpetual licenses have been changed this does not affect the Release Date Limiting of the licenses. A Perpetual license with a RDL date of April 1st, 2018 would not be able to run Pro Tools Ultimate 2018.4, which was released on April 7th, 2018. You would need to Renew or Reinstate your Pro Tools product in order to use the latest version. Don't forget you can renew your plan up to 30 days after your plan expires. After 30 days you will need to go for the more expensive Reinstatement option.
In conclusion, although it may come across as not much more than a rebrand with some bug fixes, which are always welcome, we believe this move by Avid should significantly reduce the confusion over the different types of Pro Tools and whether we are referring to software or hardware and give some value to Pro Tools HD owners as well.