With more and more people using different DAWs, the need to be able to transfer a project from one DAW to another has grown. In this article we are going to show you how to move projects from one DAW, like Pro Tools, Studio and Logic Pro, to another DAW. In this article we will also cover the pitfalls in the export and import processes and how to overcome them.
Why Would You Need To Transfer A Project From One DAW To Another?
With the rise of creatives choosing to use more than one DAW, as well as different creatives using different DAWs, there is a growing need to be able to move projects from one DAW to another. For example, whether you like it or not Pro Tools is the most commonly used DAW for mixing. As a mix engineer you are likely to get sessions and projects that have been created and recorded in other DAWs than the one you are going to be mixing in and so there is a growing need to be able to learn how to export projects from other DAWs like Studio One, Logic Pro and Pro Tools and bring them into the DAW you will be mixing in.
But rather than limit it to just how to get projects from other DAWs into Pro Tools, in this article we are going to cover the different ways of getting projects in and out of Logic Pro, Studio One and Pro Tools. But before we get into the details, there are two ways of doing the export in each case, either export tracks as an audio files or use the AAF protocol and as you will see, both methods have their pros and cons.
What Is AAF?
Without getting into too much detail, the AAF standard essentially allows users to share their projects and sessions with other's running different programs.
The Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) is a file format for professional cross-platform data interchange, that was designed for the video post-production and authoring environment. It was created by the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA), and is now being standardised through the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).
As you can see, the roots of AAF are in post-production and it's only really as a by-product that it is possible to use AAF's for transferring music related content.
Before you start exporting, create a copy of the session using Save Session As. Then in the ‘copy’ session, go through and clean up all the superfluous content in the session that is no longer being used. In general the simplest way to bring a project from another DAW to another is to export each track as a WAV audio file. If you have instrument tracks then they will need to be rendered to audio files. It is best to assume that the mix engineer does not have any of the plug-ins or Virtual Instruments you have, so making everything audio files is the safest thing to do, but it does reduce options in the future.
It is probably best to create audio files without the plug-ins that you used but there may be times where the effects and processing you have used are a key part to the sound of the project. In this case we would recommend including processed versions of those tracks as well as the unprocessed versions. When it comes to FX returns like reverb or delay, consider rendering those to audio files, so that the mix engineer can hear what you did. Again it is best to give them maximum flexibility so they can do their job without being restricted by you only providing processed files.
When exporting files to open in another DAW, it is essential to create the audio files so that each track’s audio file starts at the beginning of the session, even if there isn’t any audio on that track until later in the song. This makes it easy to import the files into the new DAW, by snapping each audio file to the start of the session, to make sure that they are all in sync. There is no need to make sure that each track’s audio file is the same length, the key part is that they all start at the beginning.
It is best to make sure that you export all the audio files at the same sample rate and bit depth as you used in the source DAW. There is no benefit in exporting the files at a higher sample rate and bit depth. You will just end up with bigger files and no improvement in sound quality.
The biggest issue is labeling. This is especially important if the person mixing the session is not the person that tracked it. We have lost count of how many times we have received sessions where the tracks are labeled with the default names like Audio 1, Audio 2 etc. Check all the track names and make sure they describe what is on the track. Some are easy like Kick, Top Snare, Hi-hat and so on, but when it get things like Synths and samples, make sure the labeling gives as much information as possible. For example, a track labeled Kontakt 5 will give you a clue that is some kind of Kontakt instrument, but not what is it and how it fits into the song. We suggest you look at the track and give it a more appropriate name, perhaps something like Kontakt Bells. But please, please, please label absolutely everything and make plenty of notes too.
Keep Everything Together
Make sure you put everything into a dedicated folder. Name that folder with the project name, but don’t forget to include other info like ‘plug-ins bypassed’ and also the BPM of the song. Again, the more info, the better. Also include a ReadMe file with all the other notes in a basic text file format so it can be opened in any software.
Once you have created an Export folder we recommend you zip it up, not so much to reduce the file size but it helps not to lose anything as you are dealing with one zip file.
Exporting From Logic Pro
Logic uses the track name as a basis for the file names when you export from Logic so make sure that all the track names in Logic are named correctly as it will make the process much easier.
Be aware that muted tracks will still be exported. So if you have tracks that don’t form part of the project. To make sure those scratch tracks etc don’t come across, we recommend that you do a Save As in Logic and then delete those muted tracks from the copy session. Logic Pro X gives you another option, any tracks that are turned off, using the Track on/off button will not be included in the export.
There are a number of options for exporting out of Logic but we are going to look at two ways.
Export As Audio Files - In Logic go to the File menu and select Export. In the sub menu select All Tracks as Audio Files. In the Export dialog box choose WAVE and then the bit depth of your Logic session.
Decide if you want to enable the Bypass Effect Plug-ins. Do you want the export to have your plug-ins printed or not? If you have delay or reverb effects then make sure you check the Include Audio Tail option otherwise the reverb and delays will be cut off.
Next consider if you want to include the volume and pan automation. Will this be helpful to the the person taking on this session? Maybe have a discussion? But remember that this will be burnt into the audio files and will be difficult for the next person to remove. It will also take any Mono tracks in Logic and run them into stereo tracks with the pan information printed into the stereo audio track. Our advice is to leave this feature disabled.
Leave the Normalize option on Overload Protection Only so that you aren’t changing the levels of each track.
Once you are ready, click on the New Folder button and give the folder a suitable name - see above. Now you can hit the Save button and Logic will create a folder of audio files that all start at bar 1, which will make it reasonably easy to import into a new Pro Tools session.
Export As AAF File – You can use this technique, as this will export the Logic session into an AAF format that can be opened in a variety of DAWs including Pro Tools and Studio One. The advantage of this option is that edits and regions on tracks will be preserved, but the downside is it is prone to files being missed out and so the next person doesn’t end up with everything they need.
Another downside is that all your instrument tracks in Logic will not get printed as audio files if you use this method. We would recommend that unless you are used to using AAFs that you leave this option alone and just use the Export As Audio Files option.
One other tip is to export a single MIDI track that is the same length as your session in Logic and include the session tempo and project markers. Use the Selection as MIDI file in Logic’s Export sub menu. But make sure your selection starts at the beginning of the song and finishes at the end of the song.
How to Export Audio Files in Logic Pro X For Archiving and Cross-DAW Compatibility - Expert Tutorial
There's a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to Logic's export features. Whether you're trying to archive and protect your work or want to share your session with a non-Logic user, Logic has everything you need.
In this free tutorial, Logic Pro Expert contributor Chris Vandeviver demonstrates the many options available for exporting audio out of Logic Pro X covering how to export Individual Tracks, Effects, Stems, Mono Audio and Instrument Tracks and using the AAF format.
Areas To Be Aware Of When Exporting From Logic
Although FX Returns and Aux Tracks do get exported when performing the “export all tracks as audio files” function but only if there is a track for those Aux Channel Strips present in the Main Window. It’s easy to add an Aux Track in the Mixer to the Main Window. Just select it (in the Mixer) and hit Control + T to create a track for it. Check out this mini-video from Eli Krantzberg…
There is also a (relatively new) option in recent versions of Logic that allows you to export “selected” tracks as audio files. So it’s not just one or all, you can export specifically chosen/selected tracks as well…
One the most commonly asked questions is how to export a mono track in Logic. It is possible by setting the output routing of the channel strip to a mono output rather than the stereo output. For audio tracks this is straight forward. But when setting this in a software instrument track, you need to be using a mono instantiation of the VI.
Exporting A MIDI File From Logic Pro
Please be aware that when exporting a MIDI file, creating an empty region and stretching it out over the length of the song isn’t enough. The region needs to contain at least a single MIDI event, otherwise nothing gets exported. We suggest putting a dummy note at the beginning that can easily be deleted when imported.
To avoid potential trouble with bar/tempo offsets, make sure to put the dummy note in at bar 1 beat 1, so that it is exported from that position. If the note only happens for example on bar three, the MIDI file will only start from that position, so by putting a dummy note at the start of the song it makes it easier to line up the MIDI track with all the audio tracks. Otherwise in this example, when the MIDI file is imported to another DAW, any tempo changes will be offset by two bars.
Finally, as far as including the session tempo and project markers, there’s nothing the user has to actively do, they get included in the MIDI export by default.
Exporting From Studio One
Export As Audio Files - The first thing you will need to do is to transform any instrument tracks. Right click on each Instrument track in turn and select Transform to Audio Track. Select the appropriate options from the Transform Instrument Track dialog box and don’t forget to select Auto Tail to make sure any decays at the end of clips are retained and put these files in the Export folder.
Next choose the Range tool and select everything in the song. Its best to zoom out so you can see the complete song and then click and drag from the top right to the bottom left and make sure you have everything in the song.
Then from the Browser in Studio One, go into the File menu and create and name a folder with the project name etc.
Now simply drag everything that is selected and drop it in the folder in the Studio One browser window. This will export all the raw audio files from that session into that folder. No processing or FXs will be applied. If you want to include some processed files then consider doing a selective bounce to create processed versions of any files.
In Studio One it is possible to export your FX returns channels as audio. To do this select Export Stems from the Song menu in Studio One. In the Export Stems dialog box, deselect all the stems by clicking on the None button at the bottom of the window. Only select the FX Channels, if you are like us these will be down the bottom of the list as we tend to have all our FX Channels at the right hand end of the mixer, but they may not all be at the end, but the key thing is to select just the FXs busses and channels. When you click OK, Studio One will bounce all the selected busses and channels to the session’s Stems folder. Again make sure these bounces go in the Export folder.
One other tip is to make sure that Import To Track is enabled especially if you intend to use the drag and drop workflow to export the whole project.
In this video, Marcus Huyskens demonstrates how to export Raw Audio tracks (Regions) in PreSonus Studio One 4 using a Drag & Drop workflow from the Arrange Window to the Browser. Although this video was made using Version 4, Marcus says that the same concepts can be applied to previous versions of Studio One.
Studio One offers a plethora of different options for rendering audio depending on what needs to be accomplished - whether it’s a simple Stereo Lead Vocal Stem with ALL the FX and processing rendered in, or discrete Stems for each element of the Vocal.
The 'Export Stems' option in Studio One is an extremely useful way to quickly render out Stems from your Song. But did you know that there are some fundamental differences between using Tracks vs Channels?
In this next video, Marcus Huyskens demonstrates the key differences between the 2 methods - as well as when (and why) to use one method over the other.
Presonus Audio Batch Converter - Takes The Work Out Of Outputting Audio Files From Studio One
With Studio One v4.5 Presonus now have an Audio Batch Converter, which is a powerful audio file conversion tool for Studio One. If you ever find yourself needing to perform repetitive tasks changing formats and applying processing to multiple files then this might save you a lot of time.
Intuitive user interface with drag & drop workflow
11 integrated audio processes
Up to 31 powerful Native-Effects Plug-ins
VST/AU plug-in rendering (Artist and Professional only)
Integrated File and Plug-in Browser
Super-fast offline batch processing
Process Rack with Rack Presets
Wide-ranging audio file format support
The Audio Batch Converter for Studio One can process audio offline with a variety of available processes, and has the ability to process audio with any VST/AU plug-in. it is a separate application that requires Studio One Prime, Artist or Professional – Version 4.5 or later and costs £44.95.
In this free video tutorial Production Expert team member Julian Rodgers demonstrates processing multiple tracks changing file format and normalising to a target level. Using the intuitive interface he keeps track of processing using automatic file naming and creates a batch process which would take far more work and time if it were to be done manually.
Export As AAF File - Studio One 4 brought AAF AAF Import / Export support to the PreSonus DAW, which supports Pro Tools, Logic, Nuendo, Final Cut Pro, Premiere and others. Then with the v4.1 release PreSonus brought additional features to the AAF workflow when exporting a Studio One song as AAF file…
Embed audio: with this option enabled, the WAV or AIFF audio files will be embedded instead of referenced
Split stereo tracks: you want this option enabled when exporting AAF for Pro Tools, which doesn’t support stereo tracks in AAF files
Convert audio files: creates copies of audio files in another format. Choose between WAV and AIFF, with options for resolution and sample-rate
Trim audio files: this option helps reducing the file size by eliminating unused regions in audio files. Set a head or tail to keep some audio outside the event ranges for controlling fades or crossfades
Export Pan: keep this unchecked if you’re exporting AAF for an application which doesn’t recognize pan automation (such as Logic Pro)
Legacy mode: improves compatibility with older applications (AAF v1.0 instead of v1.1; use this option for Digital Performer)
Then with the V4.1.2 release PreSonus added AAF export that is now compatible with Digital Performer 9 (legacy mode) and AAF volume automation support for Pro Tools.
Studio One Expert, Marcus Huyskens shows everything you need to know about Studio One 4.1.2, a free update to PreSonus Studio One 4. As part of this video Marcus covers the AAF features and we have cued this video at just the right point for you…
Export From Pro Tools
A while back community member Steve Thompson wrote to us to share his workflow for moving entire Pro Tools sessions to other DAWs, we asked him to share it with the community. Here is his workflow for exporting tracks from Pro Tools. be aware that Steve demonstrated this back in the days of Pro Tools 11…
Starting with a blank Pro Tools HD session, head to your I/O settings. Open up the ‘Bus’ tab. Select all of the busses (except for those that are mapped to physical outputs) and press ‘Delete Paths’. Now press the ‘New Path…’ button. A New Path window will pop up. There are many possible configurations for this but for the sake of the exercise I suggest entering the settings found here to the right.
At this point, feel free to rename any of the busses that do not begin with the word “stem”. For instance you may want to have a “Long Reverb” bus instead of “Bus 3-4”. You should save your new I/O settings using the ‘Export Settings’ option. It will be advantageous to use this as your default i/o setting from now on.
You’ll notice that the ‘Bus’ drop down menu is now divided into two parts. ‘Bus menu a’ will have your usual busses and ‘Bus menu b’ should have 64 busses that you’ll reserve for exporting audio.
Whenever you are ready to export stems, you’ll simply select all of the tracks that you’d like to export using either shift or command, then (Shift+Alt+Command+Click) on a send that is free across all of those tracks. This should send each track to “Stem 1” “Stem 2” “Stem 3” and so on.
Finally press (Command+Alt+B) to bring up the Bounce To Disk window. Here you’ll select the first bus that you’d like to export and press the plus sign a few times. Choose your settings and directory accordingly and bounce away!
All of your files will be neatly stored in one folder and ready to be shared via your medium of choice. I’ve only found two limitations. First, the audio files carry the name of the bus rather than that of the track. Second, Pro Tools only allows 16 busses to be bounced at once. However, this is still much faster than bouncing them 1 at a time. If you have more than 16 tracks to export, you’ll just have to Bounce to Disk again starting from “Stem 17” and “Stem 33” and so on.
Hopefully I haven’t confused anybody too much, to export all tracks in one go you need to have a copy of Pro Tools HD as the ability to export multiple stems is only possible in Pro Tools HD.
In this next video, Marcus Huyskens demonstrates how to go about exporting an AAF from a Pro Tools 2018 Ultimate session - which can then be imported into PreSonus Studio One 4, or any other DAW that supports the AAF format. In addition in this video, Marcus covers a couple things to be aware of when working with AAF's in general.
As Marcus says in that video, having the audio come over via AAF is great, as it allows us to essentially pick up from where we left off in Pro Tools. The benefit here of course being that we still have access to our original edit boundaries. So no need to consolidate files and find out down the line that you (or someone else) missed a bad edit.
But as you may or may not have noticed - one BIG thing that did not get translated during the process is your Markers, Tempo-Map, and any time signature changes!
In the next video, Marcus Huyskens shows how to go about importing your Markers, Tempo Map, and any Time Signature changes from Pro Tools into your newly created Studio One 4 Song created using an AAF from Pro Tools - but remember that the workflow works regardless of how it was created.
Notes When Importing Into Pro Tools
When you import the audio files into Pro Tools, the new Pro Tools session should be created using the same sample rate and bit depth.
When you import tracks make sure you use the Copy or Copy All and not Add or Add All options. When you use Copy. Pro Tools creates copies of all the files being imported in the session’s Audio Files Folder and helps to keep the project together in one folder. If you use Add or Add All then Pro Tools will use the audio files from their original locations, which will work OK until you delete that folder, thinking that all is OK now you have imported them into Pro Tools.
If you are offered Convert or Convert All, then that means that the audio files are not in the same format as the Pro Tools session. This can happen even if the sample rate and bit depth match if you haven’t checked the Interleaved option when you created the new session. So do remember to check that option and it will make the Import process that much more straightforward.