Setting up the ProTools environment best practices

To get the best performance out of the ProTools environment I have found that making the following changes can be extremely beneficial for Native based systems, HD / TDM systems work in a different manner to Native systems. These instructions are for the Mac OS X version of ProTools, however the setup is the same for a Windows based system, however some of the menus may be in other places, unfortunately I don’t use Windows machines so I cannot check this. I am also using ProTools M-Powered 7.3.1 in the Native section, and ProTools 6.4 TDM in the HD / TDM section, things could be slightly different based on the version of ProTools you are using, however I have not found any major differences between LE 7 and 8 yet.

The first thing to do is start ProTools with a blank session, create a new blank session and don’t add anything to it if you need to. You should now just have the blank ProTools canvas on your screen the first thing we are going to do is to set all the buffer levels, and processing to levels that minimize the latency and provide the most power for the system. Click on Setup, and then Playback Engine, you will be greeted by a settings box for the playback engine of the interface you are using. Continue reading

Adding plug-ins to your channels

This may seem like a pretty trivial thing to do for a moderate user of ProTools, however it is something that has cropped up time and time again with new users of the software. It isn’t the most obvious of things depending on which window you are viewing, and also which layout is being used. I will demonstrate the two most common ways to add a plug-in to a channel, and also the way to get the layout to reflect mine if it does not already. I am using ProTools M-Powered 7.3.1 in these images so you may see something slightly different if you are using ProTools 8, however the techniques are exactly the same.

The easiest way to add a plug-in to a channel is to use the Mixer window as you can access all of the inserts, input options, output options, levels, everything related to a channel with the exception of the actual audio. With the mixer window open click on the arrow next to an insert as shown in the image.

As you can see I have chosen to add a plug-in to the Audio 1 channel which is a mono channel, if you have selected a stereo channel then you will see some slightly different options where plug-in is displayed in these menus however they are very obvious what they mean. The next thing to realize is that the plug-ins in these lists are all RTAS plug-ins, you can not add an Audiosuite plug-in directly this way and they process the track at once, not in real-time as RTAS plug-ins do. The difference is explained in another post on here so I will not go into that in this post, if you don’t understand the difference and what should be used where, please have a look at “The ProTools plug-ins mystery solved” post.

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Audiosuite what, RTAS who? The ProTools plug-in mystery solved

When it comes to plug-ins in ProTools when using LE or M-Powered there are really only two viable options open to you, Audiosuite or RTAS plug-ins. Do you know the difference? Do you even use Audiosuite plugs? What is RTAS? Why should I care about Audiosuite? Well hopefully after reading this you will understand a little more about the differences, and when to use these powerful plug-ins and when not to.

There are actually three different types of plug-in available for ProTools software, these are Audiosuite, RTAS, and TDM. The TDM plug-ins use ProTools HD / TDM hardware which the university doesn’t have so these will not be covered in great detail. The main focus for us are the Audiosuite and RTAS plug-ins as the university has over £1000 worth of plug-ins for students to use, it’s probably best to know the differences. These Audiosuite and RTAS plug-ins are known as Native plug-ins as they use the local “native” CPU for their processing.

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What is ProTools?

ProTools is a software based DAW made by a company called Digidesign which is part of Avid. ProTools is one of, if not the most widely used DAW in the audio industry, it is very powerful and very widely respected by many producers and engineers. Using ProTools is not like using Apple’s Logic Pro for example there is one major difference which can make or break the deal of a potential customer. To use the ProTools software you must also use an approved audio interface.

There are many different versions of the ProTools software, however there are three main groups which are –

  1. ProTools HD / TDM
  2. ProTools LE
  3. ProTools M-Powered

These three different versions all require something different to run and this difference is also reflected in how much you are willing to spend as a user vs. how much power you want out of the system. The audio interface, or interface card in HD / TDM acts as a dongle for the software, which means you will need the serial number and interface to use ProTools. Continue reading