There are simply a lot of digital audio workstations to choose from, but all of these are compared to Pro Tools. Most people in the music industry, both professionals and observers alike, concede that Pro Tools is the industry standard. But why?
Pro Tools is the industry standard because it had a headstart that allowed it to cultivate throngs of users, including studios and recording professionals. But the company didn’t rest on its laurels and become complacent. They put out innovative features that kept their users loyal and interested.
So what should you know about Pro Tools? Read on and see if this industry standard really is the best DAW out there?
Why Pro Tools Is the Industry Standard
Whether you use it or not, the industry standard in any field practically dictates the practices done in that particular field. For instance, you may need to save your documents in Microsoft Word format when it comes to word processing to make sure people can open and access them.
It doesn’t matter if you’re using another Word processor such as Star Office or Open Office. You will have to think about the receiver not having the means to open an ODT file. So you send over a DOC file.
At the same time, if you’re talking about editable images, you will probably have to send a Photoshop file. That is even if you created your graphics using GIMP.
According to Recording Connection, Pro Tools is the industry standard used in most recording studios today. It offers all the features you’d need to process signals, mix tracks, edit, and record audio.
When there is a new digital audio workstation, it is always compared to Pro Tools. As you can guess, Pro Tools is the benchmark by which all other DAWs are judged and evaluated.
But how did Pro Tools get to this admirable position?
The Long History of Pro Tools
One of the primary reasons Pro Tools is widely used by studios and professionals is its long history. Pro Tools 1.0 was introduced in 1991, which means that the software has had three decades of evolution.
This program by Digidesign is older than some of its users. However, even in its first but it has its roots in other software released by the company before it:
- Digidrums in 1983
- Sound Designer in 1984
- Sound Tools in 1989
Pro Tools made good progress. They introduced many innovations, and for the most part, they were the first in the market to offer different types of technologies. Each version they released had more track counts and a more powerful DSP.
They improved the proprietary hardware they had, offered higher resolution bit depth, and launched the Pro Control console. All that before a serious competitor showed up in the market.
They also introduced MIDI editing by the end of their first decade. By 2003, Pro Tools HD Accel was able to handle up to 192 tracks sampled at 44.1 kilohertz or 48 kilohertz.
That’s a far cry from the 768 voiceable tracks that Pro Tools can handle now, but it’s still very impressive around two decades ago.
But more than the features, part of the charm that made Pro Tools attractive to the pros was that it was made for professionals, and that is reflected by its price.
With Pro Tools 1.0 with the Pro Deck, you had to pay $5,995. And if you didn’t have a Mac IIc, you’d pay another $6,700 for that. In 1995, the company released the Pro Tools Project for $2,500.
Check out my picks for the Best Laptop for using Pro Tools.
Avid Buys Digidesign
Avid bought Digidesign after close to two decades. But even then, Pro Tools have also become available to ordinary users. Their hardware became more and more powerful, which meant more track counts and plugins were supported.
Pro Tools gave users Elastic Audio, which allowed people to warp audio within the Edit window. Automation became available as well, and other features that other digital audio workstations would copy later on.
After Pro Tools came under Avid’s umbrella, it added the audio stream input-output protocol and Core Audio. The addition would give the software the ability to connect to audio interfaces.
The updates continued, such as Clip Gain, better track exporting, and 32-bit float sessions. Pro Tools started to offer AVID Cloud Collaboration, which allowed remote users to work with you in the studio. Video chats and text messages made it easier to communicate.
Pro Tools’ most significant push of late, however, came with the launch of Carbon. This hardware has HDX DSP onboard, and it can work on its own or with your computer for those demanding workloads.
Carbon had 34 outputs along with 25 inputs and didn’t suffer from annoying lags. It’s reasonably affordable even as it offers HD workflows.
Pro Tools Are Widely Used by Studios
The headstart that Pro Tools had paved the way for it to be adopted early on by recording studios. They don’t need to have celebrities endorse them.
In contrast, FL Studio likes to drop well-known names such as Martin Garrix, Murda Beatz, TM88, Afrojack, Avicii, Owen Norton, and The Living Tombstone, among many others, as artists that use their DAW. Same thing with Ableton.
The thing with being the first and having satisfied recording studios and music professionals is that you have a foothold. It will take a lot of new or unique features for them to switch to another software.
It could be that the other software is better or offers features that they need. So far, no other DAW comes close to superseding Pro Tools.
Does it mean that other DAWs are no good? For the most part, they offer some of the best features you see on Pro Tools, but it’s not enough for fans, enthusiasts, and users to switch. Whatever differences or improvements other DAWs have, it’s not worth the cost and the learning curve to learn new software.
What’s more, the headstart allowed Pro Tools to evolve with its users. Recording professionals will ask for features, and the company would provide them. Users also changed how they worked, using what Pro Tools have to offer to produce great music.
Pro Tools Has Jaw Dropping Features
However, it will be a disservice to say that Pro Tools is the industry standard in audio recording software just because it came out first and that users are not likely to break the inertia. The software does have excellent features that are done well.
According to Music Radar, Pro Tools evidently trumps the competition when it comes to post-production work. It supports multiple channel formats, such as 5.1, 7.1, and Atmos, meaning that it’s an outstanding DAW for working with movies.
It also has control surfaces that allow multiple operators, enables you to work with numerous snippets of video within one timeline, and large-format integration. And as we have said, even with audio recording, Pro Tools has a lot going for it:
- Support for up to 768 tracks and 192 inputs with HDX hardware
- Maximum sample rates of 192 kilohertz
- Your choice of more than 100 plugins
- You can enhance sound and work with mono, stereo, immersive, or surround mixing.
The biggest thing with Pro Tools is that it doesn’t stop at software. You can also purchase hardware that will help you do tasks that might not be as fast or efficient when you’re relying on your desktop computer, especially one with low specs.
Should You ONLY Use Pro Tools?
The thing with Pro Tools is that it’s widely used by professionals, but that doesn’t really mean that it’s the best DAW for you.
The good news is that one can get Pro Tools for a monthly subscription ranging from $29 to $34, depending on whether you’d like to commit for a year or go month by month.
The not-so-good news, though, is that it’s highly recommended that you use Pro Tools with the hardware that Avid is putting out, and that can be quite cost-prohibitive.
You don’t have to use Pro Tools. If you’re a beginner or only working on your music in your spare time, you can use any DAW that you have, as long as it serves your needs. But if you plan to be a professional music producer or recording technician, it might make more sense to invest in Pro Tools.
Pro Tools had a lot of things going for it. It paired outstanding software with hardware that allowed users to do stuff that an ordinary computer wouldn’t be able to. And they listened to their users and added features that made them hard to beat even before their very first competitors launched in the market. This solidified Pro Tools as the industry standard that is used by most recording professionals.
- Ableton: Learn about different artists and how they make music
- FL Studio: Artists Using FL Studio
- Music Radar: What’s so great about Pro Tools? A beginner’s guide to the industry-standard DAW
- Pro Tools Expert: The History of Pro Tools
- Recording Connection: Common Software Programs in theRecording Studio
- Sound On Sound: Voice, Track & I/O Counts In Pro Tools