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A Guide to Pro Tools 10

New Features For Better Productivity

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Avid Mbox Mini Interface

Avid Mbox Mini Interface

Courtesy Avid
It seems like just yesterday that Pro Tools 9 was released; in fact, it feels like just yesterday I was using my Powerbook Pismo with Pro Tools Free to record live gigs. Looking back just a few months, with the features and OS X compatibility of version 9, it's such a surprise that version ten is packed with such great new features so soon. Avid recently announced the release of Pro Tools 10 -- an update with features that we could've only dreamed of a few years ago. Let's take a deeper look at what makes Pro Tools 10 fantastic..

Are you looking to improve your Pro Tools skills? Check out our Pro Tools Essentials.

Clip Gain & Multiple Session Formats

"Today's audio post and music professionals are faced with evolving challenges and much more demanding productions that require more power, extended capabilities, and better sound quality than ever before,” says Chris Gahagan, Avid’s senior vice president of products and solutions.

“Pro Tools|HDX and Pro Tools 10 software mark an enormous leap forward in sound quality and efficiency, enabling our top professional customers to deliver their best sounding, most creative work in less time."

Pro Tools 10 allows you to record and play back up to 256 audio tracks per card (or play back up to 768 tracks with three cards), which allows infinitely complex mixes. One of the coolest features of Pro Tools 10 is the ability to match levels of channels and clips before heading into mixing. While this is an excellent feature -- and one that'll save a lot of engineers time in the mixing process later on -- it's not nearly as exciting as the ability to now use multiple audio formats in a session -- including interleaving -- without having to duplicate the file. This allows you to drag-and-drop multiple formats and save to a master file format without having to go through the excruciatingly long process of waiting for files to copy, up or down sample, and then reposition into the session.

32-bit Recording, Faster Response, Low-Latency

Other fantastic features of Pro Tools 11 feature 32-bit, floating-point architecture. While tht may not mean much to the average user, it's a huge improvement for those of us doing huge sessions with lots of inputs and processing channels.

This improvement in archetecture allows you to record in a much higher resolution mode with increased headroom. That's a huge improvement over 16-bit recording!

Learning to make the best of your in-the-box mixes? Check out our guide to mixing in Pro Tools.

One of the biggest complaints of many home recording studios is slow disk response; it's preferable to have high-RPM drives, but many home computers don't come standard with them. In Pro Tools 10, you'll have improved disk handling, which allows much faster data access during recording and mixing on standard-issue hard drives. With these features, you'll get great recording and playback responsiveness with the extended disk cache, which can load entire sessions into RAM, and ensures maximum track counts from networked-attached storage. That'll be a great relief to home studios who frequently find Pro Tools to be slow on their home computers.

Latency has also been improved when using audio interfaces; Pro Tools now includes a direct monitoring feature to allow low-latency monitoring regardless of the equipment being used.

Outfitting your studio? Check out our Gear Buying Guides to help you get the most for your studio dollars.

Avid has also announced the availability of the Avid Channel Strip plug-in, which achieves the same sound as the System 5 console's EQ and dynamics section. This gives home studio users unprecedented access to top-level Pro Tools EQ and dynamics. Alongside the Channel Strip plug-in, there's several included plug-ins to allow Pro Tools 10 to have excellent versatility.

What the Pros are Saying

Avid's roster of professional engineers is world-renowned, and the pros are already speaking out about how awesome Pro Tools 10 has been for them. Want to learn to mix like these pros? Check out our mixing guides.

"Pro Tools 10 sounds amazing,” says Vaughn Merrick, engineer, mixer, and producer (Amy Winehouse, Jason Mraz, The Chemical Brothers). “The power of HDX finally allows me to record at 176k sample rates and 32-bit floating bit depth without having to worry about power or latency. This is a huge step up from TDM. When people hear how good this system sounds, I believe there is going to be a paradigm shift in what people expect from their digital systems.”

"We’re trying to make art and express ourselves and work towards making something that’s really enjoyable to the audience,” adds Will Files, sound designer at Skywalker Sound (The Tree of Life, The Smurfs, Cloverfield). “Having this technology lets us work faster and easier—with fewer constraints—and achieve our artistic intent with fewer hurdles. I’m over the moon to see all of these new features in Pro Tools 10 that I’ve been wanting for years. The fact that you can [now] play sessions off of a network storage [device]—that’s going to change everything. That alone—especially for a large facility such as ours—will allow us to manage our projects in a completely different way."

And finally: "The engineers at Avid are thinking about the way people listen to and create music,” says Tony Maserati, mixer, producer, and engineer (Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys). “The design and the architecture of the new Pro Tools|HDX are going to allow us to do things that we could only have imagined. It’s faster at getting the idea from my head to my workspace. It makes things happen quicker and allows those ideas to come to fruition faster—both on the technology side and the workflow. Does that give me a competitive edge? Of course it does."

Pro Tools 10 upgrade is free if you purchased Pro Tools 9 or Pro Tools HD 9 on or after October 1, 2011. Pro Tools 10 HD upgrade is between $999 to $2,499; upgrade your non-HD Pro Tools package for between $299 and $499; buying Pro Tools 10 outright will cost $699.
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