Over the years there have been a growing number of Pro Tools users who have felt at some point that Pro Tools has been playing a long game of catch up when it comes to introducing “new” features. When I refer to “new” I mean features that are new to Pro Tools, not innovative new features that haven't been seen before in other DAWs.
When Pro Tools 11 launched in 2013 many users, myself included, felt that offline bounce was a fantastic addition to Pro Tools, although it was perhaps long overdue. After all, many DAWs including Cubase and Logic Pro had offline bounce for several years so why did Pro Tools users have to wait so long for it to be implemented?
If we look back at previous, and indeed current, versions of Pro Tools there are a number of "new" Pro Tools features that come to mind, such as Track Freeze, that can also lead us to believe that Pro Tools could very well be playing a long and painful game of catch up with feature sets of other DAWs, but I don’t believe this is true at all.
Take a look at other DAWs when new versions launch. If you look closely you’ll notice that other DAW developers also appear to be copying features from other DAWs left, right and centre. This begs the question... With DAW developers copying features from competitors is DAW innovation slowing dying?
Last week a new version of Studio One launched. I usually feel slightly envious when reading through lists of new and exciting features in new Studio One releases but not this time, not with Studio One 4. At first glance, this latest version of Studio One appeared to once again introduce a raft of "new" innovative features that could have many Pro Tools music users preparing to give their left arm for, however, some of these new Studio One 4 are not totally unique to Studio One 4.
A handful of these new Studio One 4 features have, in some form or other, been seen in Pro Tools and other Pro Audio applications. One such feature is Studio One 4 Professional’s new Chord Track. Pro Tools has a similar feature that was first introduced earlier this year in Pro Tools 2018, although it must be said that Studio One 4’s new Chord Track appear to be more powerful as it enables users to change chord progression across both MIDI and audio tracks whereas Pro Tools currently only works with MIDI.
Presonus also appears to have taken some inspiration from Toontrack in Studio One 4’s new Chord Track Chord Selector window. Look closely, it’s not too dissimilar in design to what you find in EZkeys Circle of Fifths Chord Wheel.
Another one of Studio One 4’s new features is called Ripple Editing. This enables Studio One 4 users to quickly rearrange sections in a song using drag and drop, very cool, but Pro Tools has Shuffle mode which in essence does the same thing and... Pro Tools has had this for as long as I can remember.
Avid Cloud Collaboration was first introduced in early 2016 in Pro Tools 12.5. This was a groundbreaking feature that provided Pro Tools users with an integrated system to easily share Pro Tools Projects online from one Pro Tools system to another. Well, Steinberg thought this was a smart idea and developed their own take on online collaboration in Cubase called... wait for it... Cloud Collaboration.
I suppose what many Pro Tools users, myself included, are looking for in future versions of Pro Tools is innovation, however, if you look at what other DAWs are offering these days it appears that there really isn’t very much in it in terms of "new" features. Instead, we’re seeing features that exist in Pro Tools being revamped and implemented in other DAWs and Avid is doing the same thing. It's like all DAW developers are sitting in the same exam hall looking over each other's shoulders for the answers.
It must be said that this culture of DAWs borrowing ideas from other DAWs isn't anything new at all, look back through the history books and you'll find countless examples of DAWs and indeed any software adopting competitor features but these days, to me at least, it seems to be more prominent than ever... does this mean innovation is slowing dying in DAW development?