Avid’s Pro Tools Ultimate is the digital audio workstation (DAW) of choice for many recording studios and major video post-production houses worldwide. Pro Tools Ultimate gives you access to professional-level features that you can use for your audio and video editing requirements. But is it really worth its hefty monthly or yearly subscription fee?
Pro Tools Ultimate is worth the money if you know how to use it or if you have the patience to learn. It’s also beneficial for audio recording and post-production work. The platform is packed with inputs, tracks, plugins, and other special features that you wouldn’t get from other DAWs.
In this article, I will talk about the benefits of using Pro Tools Ultimate and when it is wise for you to get a subscription to this platform. I will also talk about when it would be better for you to use free or cheaper alternatives.
The Benefits of Using Pro Tools Ultimate
Let’s talk about the benefits of using Pro Tools in general. As long as you know what you get out of the platform, it is easy to see how the more advanced and upgraded version, Pro Tools Ultimate, could benefit you and your work.
- Pro Tools is touted as the industry standard DAW for audio production. It strives to give you a fast and accurate audio editing experience as much as possible.
For more information, check out exactly why Pro Tools is the industry standard.
Once you have mastered the basics of audio production using Pro Tools, you can use these skills in various environments. Whether you are handling high-end professional recording studios and doing music production for a living or dealing with basic home setups as a hobby or a side hustle, the basic functions of Pro Tools will always be of use to you.
- Pro Tools has powerful multitrack editing. Every sound engineer, music producer, or professional artist starts from somewhere, and they always begin to learn by working on simple projects that involve just a few audio tracks.
But even if you start small, you will soon see the value of having access to more tracks as they learn more complex editing and tweaking jobs and as they produce a more polished recording. Pro Tools allows for the powerful and quick manipulation of dozens of tracks.
- Pro Tools also offers strong software support. This allows you to take advantage of other promising applications. What’s more, Pro Tools is optimized for video syncing. As such, you will be able to work on multimedia projects, and not just the purely audio ones.
- Pro Tools can act as an excellent mixer. It also has many good-quality and tested plugins for all your recording requirements.
- Pro Tools has a large community of users. Whatever issues or questions you have about the platform, there are many experienced Pro Tool users who are willing and eager to share their expertise and help newbies.
Check out my picks for the Best Laptop for Pro Tools.
What’s Included in Pro Tools Subscription Plans
Pro Tools is available in three versions:
- Pro Tools First. This is a free version and it offers a streamlined toolset for those who are just getting started in audio production.
- Pro Tools Standard. This offers the essential tools you need for music production.
- Pro Tools Ultimate. This offers an upgraded toolset for audio production, with lots of additional features.
Since we are talking about whether Pro Tools Ultimate is worth the money, let’s talk about how much it costs and what you get out of it compared to the free version of Pro Tools.
Pro Tools First
Pro Tools First is a pretty great platform in itself, even if you can get it for free. Aside from the basics, you can enjoy Track Freeze and will be able to collaborate with other Pro Tools users. If you want certain options to expand its functions, there are available add-ons that you can purchase.
With Pro Tools First, you can save and synchronize up to three projects simultaneously using Avid’s 1 GB introductory cloud storage for free. But there is an expanded plan that offers local storage of your sessions with Pro Tools First.
Pro Tools Standard
Pro Tools Standard comes with:
- 1-gigabyte collaboration cloud storage
- 2-gigabyte high-quality loop library
- One-year upgrade plan that gives you access to bonus plugins for a year
- 60 virtual instruments and effect plugins
- 12 months of software upgrades
Pro Tools Standard’s perpetual license version costs almost $600. You can pay $99 for an annual upgrade plan to get your copy updated after the first year.
Pro Tools Ultimate
With Pro Tools Ultimate, you get:
- 1-gigabyte cloud storage for collaboration
- 2-gigabyte high-quality loop library
- Over 60 virtual instruments, utility plugins, and effects
- One-year software updates and support plan
- Over three gigabytes of additional sounds and samples
- Access to new releases
- Avid Complete Plugin Bundle
- UVI Falcon
- Pro Tools MachineControl
Other than the standard Pro Tools features, the program also offers:
- Over 2,000 mono/stereo audio tracks
- Up to 64 non-HDX channels
- 192 HDX channels of I/O
- 7.1 surround
- Atmos and Ambisonics support
- Expanded video implementation
- Superior delay compensation
- Advanced editing functions
You can get a more complete list of Pro Tools Ultimate’s features here.
The Pro Tools Ultimate perpetual license is $2,599. A one-year subscription would be $79.99 per month, while a one-year subscription paid upfront is $799. Meanwhile, the monthly subscription fee is $89.99.
Here’s a table giving you a quick glance at the main differences among the three Pro Tools options:
|Pro Tools First||Pro Tools Standard||Pro Tools Ultimate|
|No. of Tracks||16||128||384|
|Surround Sound Mixing||No||No||Yes|
|Clip Effects||No||Playback Only||Yes|
|Field Recorder Option||No||No||Yes|
Should You Get Pro Tools Ultimate?
Pro Tools Ultimate is a refined and sophisticated all-in-one solution designed for the more experienced audiophiles, music artists, and industry professionals. It covers everything you would require when mixing, editing, composing, and doing other tasks involved in multimedia and multichannel production.
You should get Pro Tools Ultimate if you are already into the more complicated aspects of music production. It can be considered an excellent investment, especially if your goal is to ultimately make a career and earn money out of sound or music production.
After all, if you want to be known for delivering great output, then use only the best tools available.
However, just like in other DAWs, there is a learning curve when working with Pro Tools Ultimate, and you might even find it intimidating because of its comprehensive set of tools. So, it’s more practical to use Pro Tools Ultimate if you are already way past the basics and you have mastered the entry-level tasks, and if you have worked with the more lightweight Pro Tools versions. This way, you wouldn’t be totally lost.
When It’s Wiser to Get Something Else First
Pro Tools Ultimate has slightly more complex navigation when compared to Pro Tools First and Pro Tools Standard. So, if you are entirely new to the game and are just learning the ropes, it is best to start with the free version. After all, beginners typically want to try out different software and tools first to see what’s comfortable and easy to use.
Moreover, those who are just starting out are usually not yet able to purchase or procure all their audio equipment in one go. As such, it would be smart to gain some experience with entry-level DAWs first while you save up for a more upgraded one, then ultimately for the Pro Tools Ultimate.
Pro Tools Ultimate is expensive, both for the perpetual license or the monthly subscription. But it offers you the best value for your money. And considering that before this all-in-one solution became available, producers had to get everything else separately, which costs way more.
So, if you are in a position to get Pro Tools Ultimate and if you have a way to recoup the costs for this investment, we’d advise you to just go for it.
- Audio Assemble: 13 Advantages Of Using Pro Tools
- Sweetwater: Avid Pro Tools | HD Systems Buying Guide
- Quora: Is Pro Tools worth the cost?
- Pro Sound News: Avid Pro Tools Ultimate – A Real-World Review
- TechJury: Avid Pro Tools Review
- Sweetwater: Avid Pro Tools | Ultimate with 1 Year of Updates + Support Plan – Upgrade from Pro Tools 11 or Higher
- Pro Tools Expert: Pro Tools FAQs – How Much Does It Cost To Buy Pro Tools?
- Avid: Pro Tools | Ultimate Perpetual Pricing