In this article, we are going to cover all the new features, changes, rebranding and bundled products for Pro Tools 2018 from January when they announced the new numbering system through to the release of Pro Tools 2018.4, the change to Pro Tools Ultimate and the inclusion of the Avid Complete Plug-in Bundle. We will include tips and tutorials along the way and links to extra relevant content.
Avid Announce New Numbering System For Pro Tools Sibelius And Media Composer
Avid's new application version numbers will now reflect the year and month of the release. The first release, 2018.1 - corresponded to January 2018. If there had been a February release it would have been 2018.2 but as there wasn't a Pro Tools update in February there wasn't a 2018.2 version. There was a release in March so we had a 2018.3 and also an update in April that gave us 2018.4. May and June didn't bring a Pro Tools update so there isn't a 2018.5 or 2018.6 release.
If the Avid software requires more than one release in a month (for example, an urgent patch is needed), the extra release will be identified by a third number in the format 2018.1.1.
Product splash screens, about boxes, Avid Master Accounts, and Application Manager will display the full version number – for example, 2018.1.1
In cases where the installer software does not support four characters for the base version number, Avid will truncate the first two characters – for example, an installer may have to refer to 2018.1.1 as 18.1.1. The .exe file may also need to display the truncated version number.
You can learn more about the Avid Renumbering scheme in our story Avid Are Dropping Version Numbers For Their Software Including Pro Tools
Pro Tools 2018.1 Released On 25th January 2018
2018.1 brought a raft of music production related features and improvements including Retrospective MIDI Record, MIDI Editing Enhancements, Track Presets, Playlist Comping Enhancements, Mixing UI Enhancements, "Start Collaboration" File Menu Item, and Flexible Licensing and Deployment.
Pro Tools 2018.1 - Flexible Licensing And Deployment
Before we dig into the other new features introduced in Pro Tools 2018, we are going to start with what Avid calls Flexible Licensing And Deployment which includes Network licensing and a new feature from the iLok team - iLok Cloud.
How To Use Pro Tools Without An iLok - Pro Tools 2018 iLok Cloud
One of the benefits of using Pro Tools and iLok Cloud is you can have Pro Tools on multiple machines and move between them as you wish, one at a time of course! Pro Tools could be on your laptop and also have Pro Tools on your studio machine.
In this tutorial, Russ Hughes shows how you set up Pro Tools to run without a hardware iLok using the new iLok Cloud feature.
Pro Tools 2018.1 - What About My Plug-ins? Will They Work With iLok Cloud?
All plug-ins that come with Pro Tools 2018 are compatible with iLok Cloud. Third-party plug-ins will need to be compatible with iLok Cloud. Note that iLok Cloud compatible licenses will appear with a new iLok Cloud logo in your iLok License Manager so you can check which of your plug-ins in your iLok account are iLok Cloud compatible.
Currently, the only brand that supports iLok Cloud is is Avid with Pro Tools 2018 and the Avid branded plug-ins. As brands announce and release support for iLok Cloud check out our article with a searchable database iLok Cloud Compatible Software And Plug-ins - Compatibility Guide With Regular Updates to will enable you to find out if the applications and plug-ins you use support iLok Cloud.
Rik Simpson who is Coldplay's producer has been quoted as saying “I can have my license in the cloud, leave the studio and just open Avid ProTools up on my laptop without having to plug in an iLok. It’s brilliant."
Pro Tools 2018.1 - What About Network Licensing?
When it comes to Network licensing although Avid announced support for Network licensing they have yet to offer it and so we do not have the details of how Avid will implement it but what we know so far is you will be able to administer licenses to your enterprise, teams, or educational facility without needing to manage multiple iLoks or replace stolen ones. If you need Pro Tools for your post facility, broadcast enterprise, or educational institution. When it is released, you will be able to purchase a multi-seat Pro Tools or Pro Tools HD Network Site License. However, as this is an iLok option, we can explain how the iLok part works.
iLok Network licensing is ideal for universities, schools and large facilities, providing a way of purchasing a single shareable license that contains two or more "seats". This license is stored on a physical iLok connected to the license server computer, which can be placed in a secure room. Configured by the iLok License Manager application, the server then shares the seats of the sharable license to client computers on the local network when an application is run.
The license server can be configured to share the licenses with anyone on the local network (public) or restricted by invitation only (private).
There are two brands that support iLok Network iLok Licensing Sounds In Sync Sounds In Sync Offer Support For iLok Network Licenses and Nugen Audio Nugen Audio Launches 'Site' Floating License System For Upmixing & Loudness Tools.
You can learn more about setting up and using iLok Network licensing from the iLok License Manager manual. Julian recently posted his thoughts about what features a network licence system needs to be really useful in an educational setting.
We are planning some more content on how to use iLok Network Licensing.
Pro Tools 2018.1 - Track Presets
At last Avid has added Track Presets, which has been a heavily requested feature in the Pro Tools IdeaScale and the Avid Customer Association Surveys. With Track Presets, you can quickly save, catalog, and recall your favourite effects chains, vocal processing, session import criteria, and other track settings all of which are designed to boost your efficiency so you can spend more time creating.
This feature has harnessed the Session Import feature and created micro sessions with just one track giving us Track Presets, which can include media, audio, and MIDI, so not only can you set up track presets with plug-ins, inserts and sends all set up, you can also include audio and MIDI in the track presets as well. All of this is intended so that you can spend less time configuring tracks and remove mundane tasks and spend more time being creative, developing ideas, and finishing projects. But as Julian shows in this tutorial it’s not just about Plug-in Chains...
In this video Julian demonstrates how thorough a job Avid have done in implementing this feature. These new workflow enhancements go beyond saving plug-in chains, though that is quick and simple to do, and allow comprehensive control over exactly what gets stored and what gets recalled.
You can learn more about the Track Presets feature in Julian's article Free Tutorial - How To Use The New Track Presets Feature In Pro Tools 2018.
Avid made this a variant of the Import Session Data feature and there are a number of common threads including Track, Inserts, Sends And Media. You can learn more about this in our article Tutorial - Using Pro Tools Track Presets With Embedded Media In Audio Post Production
As we have outlined the Track Presets feature in Pro Tools now provides a quick way to store and recall tracks or groups of tracks into your session, but is often considered a music feature and maybe not so helpful in post-production workflows. In a free video tutorial, Avid Application Specialist Daniel Lovell shows you how he uses track presets in an audio post workflow to break up session templates into manageable, modular building blocks in our article Tutorial - Using Pro Tools Track Presets In Audio Post Production To Create Sub-Templates
Pro Tools 2018.1 Playlist Comping
With Pro Tools 2018 you can now build a Target Playlist of the best performances from multiple playlists whilst in Waveform view and the send clip selections to a target playlist without having to switch into Playlist view. It's ideal when working with grouped tracks, making playlist management and viewing much easier. For example, If you have 4 takes of a drum kit recording, with say 8 tracks all grouped together, you can now audition the different takes from the Waveform view and select the best take or section of a take to go into the target playlist. You can also now cycle through different takes within a clip using the arrow keys for a quicker review. In this tutorial Julan demonstrates these new track comping features…
While playlist view offered an excellent overview of alternate takes, live previewing of alternate takes wasn't easy and when working on multiple grouped tracks such as drum kits or large groups of BVs, the number of tracks and alternative playlists quickly became overwhelming. You can learn more about this feature in Julian's article Free Tutorial - How To Use The New Playlist Comping Features In Pro Tools 2018
Playlist comping isn’t restricted to vocals or even music apps. It can be used in ADR workflows too. The ability to quickly and efficiently compile a master version from multiple takes is crucial for anyone working on ADR or VO recording and Pro Tools now offers a number of ways to achieve this. in this article, Free Tutorial - How To Use Track Comping In Pro Tools In ADR Audio Post Production Workflows Avid's Application Specialist Dave Tyler gives an introduction to using the powerful playlist capabilities in Pro Tools in the context of an audio post-production workflow.
In this article Tutorial - Using Pro Tools Track Presets And Working With Playlists In Audio Post Production Avid Application Specialist, Daniel Lovell uses track presets to save multiple layers of atmospheres and then uses the powerful playlist capabilities in Pro Tools to compile new, custom ambiences for his projects.
Pro Tools 2018.1 - MIDI Features
Ever jam along to a song and nail the perfect run without being in record? Now with retrospective MIDI recording, Pro Tools 2018 goes into "listen" mode even when you're not recording, so you can grab those inspired performances into a track after you have stopped playing.
This means you can now capture MIDI performances on MIDI or Instrument tracks even when Pro Tools is not recording as long as the track is in Record Enable and then add them to your session with a simple key command, which is Shift+C, or you will find a new menu item in the Events menu 'Retrospective Record' and then Pro Tools will insert the performance onto the appropriate track where you played it. In this next tutorial, Julian shows how you can use these new MIDI features.
If you would like to learn more about the new MIDI Features in Pro Tools 2018 then check out Julian's article How To Use The New MIDI Features In Pro Tools 2018. It includes details of all the new MIDI shortcuts added in 2018.1.
MIDI doesn’t exactly fit in my normal workflows so I asked Julian how much help will these new shortcuts be to those that use the MIDI Editing features in Pro Tools?
Retrospective MIDI Record - Any track which is record enabled is recording in the background and this recording can be accessed from the Event menu of using Shift+C.
Extract Chords From Selection - Pro Tools can analyse the notes in a selection, whether a MIDI clip or notes across tracks in the MIDI editor. My tutorial on using the Chord Ruler in Pro Tools demonstrates this...
New MIDI Shortcuts - with shortcuts to enable to transpose notes up and down by semitones, octaves and notes within a chord or to duplicate and transpose too.
Trimming Notes - There are a raft of new shortcuts to enable you to be able to trim the start and ends of notes by different grid values.
Finally you can now edit the velocities of notes using the Arrow keys, in either steps of 5 or 15 using different shortcuts.
Other New Features In Pro Tools 2018.1
Mixing UI Enhancements - With new EQ curve graphs on all Mix window channel strips in Pro Tools 2018, you can see how your settings and automation are impacting each track in real time, even those with multiple EQs including any 3rd party plug-ins that support this new feature. In this tip video Julian demonstrates how the EQ curve graph displays unlinked multi-mono EQs and shows a suggested use in EQing mid side recordings.
We understand from users reports that these plug-ins support the EQ curve feature...
Avid: EQ 3 (1 & 7 band), Channel Strip
Harrison: AVA Mastering EQ
McDSP: FilterBank, AE400, AE600, Channel G compact, and so presumably Channel G?
Plugin Alliance: bx_cleansweep V2, bx_cleansweep pro
In addition, pre-fader sends and Automation lane view menu entries are now colour-coded, making them easier to distinguish. Pre-Fade sends are now coloured blue in the Edit and Mix windows whereas Automation lanes are coloured orange in the track view menu so you can see which lanes have automation on them without switching views. All of this makes it easier to see what is happening at a glance.
"Start Collaboration" File Menu Item - If you have got a session that you would like to work on with others, then with the new Start Collaboration feature in the File menu, Pro Tools 2018 will automatically save your current session, close it, and reopen it as a project in the cloud, with all tracks converted and ready to be shared. Avid Application Specialist Dave Tyler demonstrates...
You can now more easily convert session files to project files and then invite collaborators via this new File menu item. You can also convert sessions to project files which will enable you to future-proof, collaborate and take advantage of revision history.
So to recap all these new features can in January 2018 in the Pro Tools 2018.1 release. You can learn more about all the features in our news article Avid Announce Pro Tools 2018 With Track Presets, Playlist Comping Enhancements And More
As well as these new features which we have covered in this article, Avid also announced a raft of bug fixes. To learn more about these, check out our story Avid Pro Tools 2018.1 Complete Bug Fix List.
2018.1 was a music orientated release and one that is designed to improve the ease of use and the workflow, managing tracks, editing MIDI, recording MIDI, Playlist Comping, all focused on music production.
That is not to say that some of these features won't help the post community too. Track Presets, Comping Improvements, the Mix page UI Enhancements and the conversion of sessions to Projects, then turning off the backup to the cloud option, so that we can use Revision History, are all useful features for Post users.
New Version Of Pro Tools First Too
Pro Tools First gets a new version as Avid hasn't always updated Pro Tools First each time they have updated Pro Tools Standard and Pro Tools HD. But with this release, the free version of Pro Tools gets 4 of the 8 new feature sets, Retrospective MIDI Record, MIDI Editing Enhancements, Track Presets and Mixing UI Enhancements, making it more useful.
Pro Tools 2018.3 Release
Even though that there was no 2018.2 release As there wasn’t a release in February 2018 we don't have a 2018.2 version of Pro Tools. But Avid continued their drive to improve Pro Tools with regular releases. Following their version number change, Pro Tools 2018.3 was released on 8th March 2018. This was solely a bug fix release to try and pick up on the various bugs that have dogged some of us. To learn more about all the bugs that Avid resolved in Pro Tools 2018.3 go to our news article Avid Announce Pro Tools 2018.3 Release.
One none-bug related thing Avid updated in Pro Tools 2018.3 was to change the shortcut for retrospective MIDI command to Shift+Option+Z in Pro Tools 2018.3.
Pro Tools 2018.4 Release
Pro Tools 2018.4 was released on 8th April 2018 and was a combination of the rebranding of the Pro Tools HD software to Pro Tools Ultimate and the inclusion of the Avid Complete Plugin Bundle worth $49.99 per year and Pro Tools MachineControl worth $749 as well as another bug fix release that fixed issues in Pro Toos First, Pro Tools and Pro Tools Ultimate with Avid making new installers for all 3 versions of Pro Tools available in user's Avid Master Accounts. You can learn more about the bug fixes in 2018.4 in our news story Pro Tools 2018.4 - Full List Of Bug Fixes.
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.
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.
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. There is a complete list of the 75 plug-ins in our news story Pro Tools HD Ends - Avid Announce Pro Tools 2018.4 And Rebrand Pro Tools HD As Pro Tools Ultimate but we thought it would be helpful to give our views on the hits and misses in all these plug-ins.
In this video, Mike Thornton and Julian Rodgers chat share their thoughts and discuss what you get in the Avid Complete Plugin Bundle which is now bundled with Pro Tools Ultimate and available at $49.99 per year to Pro Tools First and Pro Tools users. An audio version is also available for those who prefer to listen rather than watch.
Pro Tools 2018.7 Release
Pro Tools 2018.7 was released on July 31st 2018 with new features like being able to search to find that plug-in in a menu list, making multiple selections in a menu, maintain the relative grid position moving clips around and 9 pin track arming improvements for Pro Tools Ultimate users.
Pro Tools 2018.7 - Search To Find The Plug-ins And Busses You Need
Ever found yourself hunting through lists of plug-ins hunting for a plug-in you know you have but you can't find it? Now with Pro Tools 2018.7 you no longer need to scroll through lengthy menus to find the plug-in or bus you need.
The Avid Development team has integrated tag-like search capabilities into the Inserts, Sends, Inputs, and Outputs menus as well as the plug-in menus. Now you can simply start typing and Pro Tools will display all matching items, enabling you to find and assign VIs, effects, and busses so much more quickly.
Check out the Avid video tutorial below to learn more...
Speed Up Your Workflow With Multi-item Menu Selections
With Pro Tools 2018.7 you can now select multiple items in a menu in one go. Use the key command Control+Click on a Mac or Start+Click on a Windows Pro Tools computer on a Track Insert, Send, or I/O Window and you can now select as many items as you want from the contextual menu.
In Pro Tools 2018.7 you can now quickly select multiple views, toolbar, window, and other preferences using checkboxes in pop-over menus, letting you select (and deselect) multiple items without closing the menu, for the following:
Rulers View selector
Edit Window View selector
Mix Window View selector
Edit Window Toolbar menu and Right-click menu
Transport Window menu and Right-click menu
Workspace (for show/hide of columns)—replaces Command-click (Mac) and Control-click (Windows) functionality
Check out the Avid video tutorial below to learn more...
Edit Audio And MIDI And Keep The Groove
When rearranging a session, would you prefer that everything didn't perfectly align with the beat? Now in Pro Tools 2018.7, you can now have Pro Tools keep the relative grid position when copying, cutting, and pasting audio and MIDI clips and note selections.
This now preserves the perfectly imperfect feel of unquantised music by keeping all correct offsets established in your timeline. This feature is designed to keep the human feel and save time as you re-arrange your song.
With Relative Grid mode enabled, Pro Tools maintains any Relative Grid offset from the nearest grid line for audio clip selections and MIDI notes when pasting cut or copied audio or MIDI data. Relative Grid mode must be enabled when pasting.
Check out the Avid video tutorial below to learn more...
Arm Up To 112 Track Remotely With Sony 9-pin Protocol Improvements
For those mixing large-scale audio post or Dolby Atmos productions on a console that uses the Sony P2 9-pin protocol over a 9-pin MachineControl Deck Emulation connection. With Pro Tools Ultimate 2018.7 you can now remotely arm, change Input Monitoring, mute, and solo up to 112 tracks (up from 64 tracks) to handle the bigger and more complex sessions you get with immersive formats like Dolby Atmos. There is no need to find workarounds or abandon your trusted old analog console.
Shortcuts Added To Edit Menu With Extra New Shortcut
Avid has added a number of keyboard shortcuts to Pro Tools 2018.7 and to help to show how they fit into workflows as well as adding certain commands that were only available as shortcuts to the Edit menu. Commands related to the Edit selection are now organised in the Selection submenu.
Playlist Navigation Improvements
When the Edit selection (or Edit insertion point) is on the Main playlist, you can navigate playlists on full-sized keyboards or laptop keyboards using the key commands.
Change Edit Window Scrolling Mode During Playback and Recording
Punch Recording and Retrospective Record for MIDI
MIDI Thru Improvements
Avid Audio EQ Plug-ins Supporting EQ Curve View
Low Latency Monitoring Enhancements
Allow Sends to Persist During LLM Preference
System Usage CPU Peak Indicator
Enable EUCON Monitor Path Option
Pro Tools 2018.10 Release
This update is mainly a bug fix release, that Avid wanted to get out to users now rather than wait until they have finished the qualification work for macOS 10.13.6 and 10.14.
That said, there is one feature enhancement included in Pro Tools 2018.10 that live sound users will appreciate and was alluded to in the Venue 6.0 Release notes.
Live Sound New Feature
Connecting the E6L or E3L, and using it as the selected Playback Engine in Pro Tools, will now allow simultaneous record up to 128 tracks, without the needing a Live Sound Production Toolkit iLok authorisation.
Other than that this was a bug fix release to try and pick up on the various bugs that have dogged some of us. To learn more about all the bugs that Avid resolved in Pro Tools 2018.3 go to our news article Avid Release Pro Tools 2018.10 - All You Need To Know.
Some were hoping that this release would include support for macOS 10.13.6 and 10.14 however it wasn’t to be and Avid told us…
Pro Tools 2018.10 delivers important bug fixes and includes improvements to Live Sound and Dolby Atmos workflows. We are continually working to improve Pro Tools stability and performance, and we did not want to delay this release while we continue to work towards supporting the latest macOS and Windows versions. We understand you may have questions about releases and compatibility. Please refer to Pro Tools System Requirements for the latest updates.
Pro Tools 2018 Features And Compatibility
You can see in this table what features have been added to Pro Tools so far during 2018.
|New Feature||Pro Tools First||Pro Tools||Pro Tools Ultimate|
|Pro Tools 2018.10 Released In October|
|128 Track Record With E6L or E3L||X||X|
|Pro Tools 2018.7 Released In July|
|Relative Grid Copy / Paste||X||X||X|
|Search Plug-ins and Busses||X||X||X|
|Multi-Select Menu Items||X||X||X|
|9-Pin Track Arming||X|
|Pro Tools 2018.4 Released In April|
|Avid Complete Plugin Bundle included||Compatible but not included||X|
|Pro Tools MachineControl included||Compatible but not included||X|
|Pro Tools 2018.1 Released In January|
|Retrospective MIDI Record||X||X||X|
|MIDI Editing Enhancements||X||X||X|
|Mixing UI Improvements||X||X||X|
|Improved Import Session Data||X||X|
|Playlist Comping Enhancements||X||X|
|"Start Collaboration" File Menu Item||X||X|
|iLok Cloud Support||N/A||X||X|
Conclusion - Mike
I welcome the more regular updates that Avid has implemented, typically one every couple of months. The inclusion of network licensing when it eventually arrives will be a welcome improvement for larger facilities and educational establishments meaning that iLoks can be kept centrally in a secure space and more easily managed. But for this to completely successful, this will require all the plug-in brands to jump on board and support not only iLok Network Licensing but also the implementation of the iLok Cloud feature.
The Track Presets feature has been well thought through as so well implemented giving options for Plug-in chain templates as well as tracks with media.
The improvement of the comping features with easier to use workflows and shortcuts is also very welcome and maybe be enough to encourage dialog editors and ADR editors to use it in dialog post-production workflows.
The new MIDI features look useful and helpful and like the comping improvements appear to be designed to streamline the workflow and help to reduce the amount the tech gets in the way of the creativity.
The addition of the EQ curves in the Mix window again is another helpful tool to help keep track of what is going on especially in larger sessions.
We had a block of new features that came in January 2018 with the release of 2018.1. The next 2 releases, 2018.3 and 2018.4 were mainly bug fix releases, but it is also good to see that Avid is trying to fix some of the broken bits in Pro Tools. With 2018.7 we have another block of new features as well as a huge block of bug fixes and a hint from Avid that there is more to come soon.
It is a little disappointing that 2018.10 was largely another round of bug fixes, but I am still hoping for another substantial release before the end of the year.
The name change for Pro Tools HD Software to Pro Tools Ultimate, with 2018.4 removes a key area of confusion between Pro Tools HD software and Pro Tools HD hardware. Now when Pro Tools HD is mentioned it has to be referring to the HD Native, HDX card and the HD interfaces, ie the hardware.
The inclusion of Machine Control in Pro Tools 2018.4 may seem to be the inclusion of an obsolete piece of software but the use of large format consoles whose automation is timecode driven, the inclusion of MachineControl into Pro Tools Ultimate is a very welcome addition.
Finally, the inclusion of the Avid Complete Plugin Bundle into Pro Tools 2018.4 Ultimate gives the post sector a larger pool of plug-ins to draw upon. Because Pro Tools sessions in a post workflow tend to be more portable in post workflows, an important consideration when it comes to plug-in choice is whether other facilities will have that specialised plug-in or not, so the inclusion of the Complete Plugin bundle should give the post community a larger pool of plug-ins to play with.
Conclusion - Julian
I'm not going to repeat what Mike has said if I can avoid it. I agree with Mike's points above. If there is a point of difference between what I'm taking from the experience so far and what Mike has said, it would be that I'm aware that progress and development of new features arrived at the beginning of the year in Pro Tools 2018.1 until the release of Pro Tools 2018.7.
I am looking forward to being able to use iLok Cloud for Pro Tools but until my third-party plug-ins have also started supporting iLok cloud I can't see myself moving off my physical iLok. This is, unfortunately, one of those situations where everyone has to move and I commend Avid for being first. I'm optimistic that plug-in manufacturers will support iLok Cloud as having to buy a physical iLok is a massive disincentive to people who don't already have one who wants to try plug-in demos.
I really like some of the new features, stability has been good and bundling the plug-ins and software options has filled the gap in new features. I hope there are new things coming as the plug-ins cupboard is now bare! So can I have folders in the clips list and multiple sessions open at the same time, please?