Pro Tools

From Academic Kids

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Pro Tools 6.7 Screenshot on Mac OS X
Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation by Digidesign for music production and digital audio editing. It is widely used to create audio for film, television, and music and serves as the de facto standard in those industries.

As one of the first programs to provide CD-quality (16-bit and 44.1 kHz) multitrack editing on a personal computer, use of Pro Tools quickly grew in the sound recording field. It originally became popular because of its simple, streamlined interface for non-linear, non-destructive audio editing. This appealed to analog producers making the switch to computer-based production. Later, it became the first system to offer third-party plugins which offered new creative options that further accelerated the transition from analog to digital recording.


Pro Tools systems

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Pro Tools HD3 System

Digidesign offers systems depending on the needs and budget of potential customers:

The professional-level Pro Tools|HD system uses expensive PCI cards to perform audio processing on DSP (digital signal processing) chips to reduce computing burden on the CPU. Similarly, it utilizes TDM (time-division multiplexing) to communicate with external I/O devices and other DSP cards to reduce burden on the computer's PCI bus.

Pro Tools HD uses three types of PCI cards: Core, Process and Accel. All three contain 9 DSP chips. Each Pro Tools system requires a Core card. Additional Process or Accel cards may be added to a system to increase capability. Accel cards are the latest generation and offer faster DSP chips and additional RAM compared to Process cards.

Consumer-level systems (such as the Digi 001, Digi 002, Digi 002/R, and MBox) perform all processing on the host CPU. Consumer systems offer limited track counts (32 in LE vs. 192 in HD), fewer internal routing options, and a feature-reduced version of the Pro Tools application (called Pro Tools LE, or Limited Edition).

In April 2005, Digidesign released Pro Tools M-Powered which brought almost all Pro Tools LE functionality to a subset of M-Audio USB, Firewire and PCI interfaces.

Pro Tools Free was released as free demo version and is the only version of Pro Tools that does not require some form of Digidesign or M-Audio hardware to run. It is limited to 8 audio tracks and runs only on Windows 98 and Mac OS 9.

Pro Tools timeline

  • 1987 - Sound Tools released as "the first tapeless recording studio"
  • 1991 - Renamed Pro Tools I and adds support for NuBus DSP
  • 1994 - Pro Tools III released adding support for third party DSP plug-ins
  • 1995 - Avid Technology purchases Digidesign
  • 1997 - Pro Tools|24 adds support for 24-bit audio
  • 1998 - Pro Tools|MIX adds expanded DSP capabilities for mixing audio
  • 1999 - Digi 001 and Pro Tools LE ship
  • 2002 - Professional Pro Tools|HD system adds support for 96kHz and 192kHz HD audio
  • 2002 - Consumer Digi 002 and MBox systems released
  • 2003 - Pro Tools|HD Accel system adds additional DSP capabilities
  • 2004 - Digidesign acquires Bomb Factory, a leading provider of DSP mixing effects
  • 2004 - Digidesign receives an Academy Award for development of Pro Tools
  • 2005 - Digidesign extends Pro Tools into live sound with VENUE

Pro Tools in culture

Due to its popularity in the marketplace, the name Pro Tools is sometimes used to refer to any computer-based music editing (much in the way that Photoshop is sometimes used to refer to image editing). With a negative connotation, it is often used in arguments that music recorded and edited in a digital environment tools lacks the "soul" of music recorded live and/or on analogue equipment. See also: rockism.


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