Avid’s Pro Tools audio recording and editing software, now in its 26th year, is pretty much omnipresent wherever sound production is taking place, whether that’s in a band’s project studio, a commercial recording facility or post-production.
And for good reason – engineers like the intuitive interface, powerful processing and solid stability that can take on the most demanding projects. And the sheer number of users on board means that using it makes you compatible with more other studios than any other software package available, regardless of whether you’re working in a Mac or PC environment.
While opting to use Pro Tools may be a straightforward choice, deciding which system to go for can be anything but. Avid currently offer a software only version of Pro Tools and two different hardware platforms – Pro Tools HDX and Pro Tools HD Native. Which one is best for you depends entirely on what your requirements are, so we’ve tried to break it down a bit below…
Pro Tools (software only)
Go for this if… you need a flexible entry-point DAW and are only working in stereo.
The software only version of Pro Tools offers up to 96 audio tracks (@48kHz, 24 tracks at 192kHz). 32 simultaneous inputs are supported, with 128 instrument tracks, unlimited busses and 128 auxes, plus support for a single video track.
All software mixing and plugins (AAX format) are handled by the computer and you can use pretty much any audio interface you like, whether that’s a budget 2-in, 2-out or a pro level interface such as an Apogee Ensemble, RME, MOTU or the excellent DSP-laden Universal Audio Apollo range. The software-only licence of Pro Tools is stereo-only, so if you need to work in surround, you’ll want to investigate the HD systems.
Options: Available as a perpetual licence for £599 ex VAT (with a yearly support plan required after the first year to stay up to date), or a 12 month subscription licence for £199 ex VAT per year.
Pro Tools HD Native
Go for this if… you’re working with big sessions or in post-production.
Pro Tools HD Native is the mid-tier platform and is fast becoming one of the more popular choices. It’s an integrated hardware and software solution that consists of an Avid HD audio interface, a core card which connects it to the host computer (either PCI or Thunderbolt) and Pro Tools HD software.
HD Native can support 64 channels of input and output, and the Pro Tools HD software can handle bigger sessions than the software-only version: up to 256 audio tracks, 512 aux tracks and 64 video tracks. Importantly for post customers, Pro Tools HD software also supports full surround mixing. All processing is still handled by the computer though, so if you are running a heavy session you’ll need a powerful computer.
Options: Various combinations of Avid HD audio interfaces and core cards are available, and we offer a wide range of systems ready bundled – click on the banner to see your options.
Pro Tools HDX
Go for this if… you need the very best for a professional post-production customer or commercial studio.
Pro Tools HDX is the top tier. Like HD Native, it’s a hardware-based system, but the big difference is that the core card is loaded with hugely powerful DSP chips and these are used to run the mixer and effects plug-ins, meaning a huge session doesn’t slow your computer to a crawl. Its also scaleable – you can use multiple HDX cards in a system to increase I/O count and processing horsepower (up to 192 inputs and 768 tracks).
Because of the extra power, an HDX system can handle massive surround mixes with lots of spatial effects. It’s also the best choice if you’re recording bands where people want individual monitor mixes with realtime effects, because you don’t have to deal with the processing delays you get when the computer is handling all the number-crunching.
Options: As with HD Native, Pro Tools HDX is scaleable and we offer various systems depending on your needs, including full studio solutions with control surfaces included. See the full range by clicking the banner below.