Pro Tools

Last updated
Pro Tools
Protools 11 hdx hardware and screens.jpg
Original author(s) Evan Brooks
Peter Gotcher
Developer(s) Digidesign (now merged into Avid)
Initial releaseJanuary 20, 1989;30 years ago (1989-01-20)
Stable release
Pro Tools 2019.5 / May 9, 2019;37 days ago (2019-05-09)
Written in C, C++, Assembly
Operating system macOS, Windows
Available in9 languages
List of languages
Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish
Type Digital Audio Workstation
License Proprietary

Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation developed and released by Avid Technology (formerly Digidesign) for Microsoft Windows and macOS which can be used for a wide range of sound recording and sound production purposes. Pro Tools can run as standalone software, or operate using a range of external analog/digital converters and internal PCI Local Bus (PCI) or PCIe audio cards with on-board digital signal processors (DSP) to provide effects such as reverb, equalization and compression. Like all digital audio workstation software, Pro Tools can perform the functions of a multitrack tape recorder and audio mixer, along with additional features that can only be performed in the digital domain, such as non-destructive editing, using the Undo feature.

Digital audio workstation electronic system designed primarily for editing digital audio

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is an electronic device or application software used for recording, editing and producing audio files. DAWs come in a wide variety of configurations from a single software program on a laptop, to an integrated stand-alone unit, all the way to a highly complex configuration of numerous components controlled by a central computer. Regardless of configuration, modern DAWs have a central interface that allows the user to alter and mix multiple recordings and tracks into a final produced piece.

Microsoft Windows is a group of several graphical operating system families, all of which are developed, marketed and sold by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry. Active Microsoft Windows families include Windows NT and Windows IoT; these may encompass subfamilies, e.g. Windows Server or Windows Embedded Compact. Defunct Microsoft Windows families include Windows 9x, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.

Software Non-tangible executable component of a computer

Computer software, or simply software, is a collection of data or computer instructions that tell the computer how to work. This is in contrast to physical hardware, from which the system is built and actually performs the work. In computer science and software engineering, computer software is all information processed by computer systems, programs and data. Computer software includes computer programs, libraries and related non-executable data, such as online documentation or digital media. Computer hardware and software require each other and neither can be realistically used on its own.


Audio and MIDI tracks are graphically represented in a timeline; here, both can be recorded, imported and edited in a non-linear, non-destructive fashion. Audio effects and virtual instruments can be added, adjusted and processed in real-time in a virtual mixer. 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit float audio bit depths at sample rates up to 192 kHz are supported. Pro Tools handles WAV, AIFF, AIFC, mp3, and formerly SDII audio files. It has also incorporated video editing capabilities, so users can import and manipulate high definition video file formats such as XDCAM, MJPG-A, PhotoJPG, DV25, QuickTime, and more. It features time code, tempo maps, elastic audio, automation and surround sound abilities. The Pro Tools TDM mix engine, supported until 2011, employed 24-bit fixed-point arithmetic for plug-in processing and 48-bit for mixing; current HDX hardware systems, HD Native and native systems use 32-bit floating point resolution for plug-ins and 64-bit floating point summing [1] .

Non-linear editing system Form of audio, video, or image editing

Non-destructive editing is a form of audio, video, and image editing in which the original content is not modified in the course of editing; instead the edits are specified and modified by specialized software. A pointer-based playlist, effectively an edit decision list (EDL), for video or a directed acyclic graph for still images is used to keep track of edits. Each time the edited audio, video, or image is rendered, played back, or accessed, it is reconstructed from the original source and the specified editing steps. Although this process is more computationally intensive than directly modifying the original content, changing the edits themselves can be almost instantaneous, and it prevents further generation loss as the audio, video, or image is edited.

Audio signal processing is a subfield of signal processing that is concerned with the electronic manipulation of audio signals. Audio signals are electronic representations of sound waves—longitudinal waves which travel through air, consisting of compressions and rarefactions. The energy contained in audio signals is typically measured in decibels. As audio signals may be represented in either digital or analog format, processing may occur in either domain. Analog processors operate directly on the electrical signal, while digital processors operate mathematically on its digital representation.

A software synthesizer, also known as a softsynth, or software instrument is a computer program, or plug-in that generates digital audio, usually for music. Computer software that can create sounds or music is not new, but advances in processing speed now allow softsynths to accomplish the same tasks that previously required the dedicated hardware of a conventional synthesizer. Softsynths are usually cheaper and more portable than dedicated hardware, and easier to interface with other music software such as music sequencers.


Pro Tools was developed by UC Berkeley graduates Evan Brooks, who majored in electrical engineering and computer science, and Peter Gotcher. The first incarnation of Pro Tools was introduced in 1984 under the brand name Sound Designer. At the time, the pair were creating and selling digital drum sound chips under their Digidrums label. [2] Sound Designer was originally designed to edit sounds for the E-mu Emulator sampling keyboard, but it was rapidly ported to many other sampling keyboards, such as the Akai S900 and the Prophet 2000. Thanks to the universal file specification developed by Brooks, Sound Designer files could be transferred to and from one sampling keyboard to another keyboard made by a different manufacturer.

University of California, Berkeley Public university in California, USA

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.

Electrical engineering field of engineering that deals with electricity

Electrical engineering is a technical discipline concerned with the study, design and application of equipment, devices and systems which use electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. It emerged as an identified activity in the latter half of the 19th century after commercialization of the electric telegraph, the telephone, and electrical power generation, distribution and use.

Computer science Study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation

Computer science is the study of processes that interact with data and that can be represented as data in the form of programs. It enables the use of algorithms to manipulate, store, and communicate digital information. A computer scientist studies the theory of computation and the practice of designing software systems.

Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.

This universal file specification, along with the printed source code to a 68000 assembly language interrupt driven MIDI driver, were distributed through Macintosh MIDI interface manufacturer Assimilation, which manufactured the first MIDI interface for the Mac in 1985. Macintosh Editor/librarian software development pioneers and visionaries, Beaverton Digital Systems, provided a dial-up service called MacMusic starting in 1985 which used 2400-baud modems and 100 MB of disk, and used Red Ryder Host on a 1 MB Macintosh Plus, allowing users of Sound Designer to download and install the entire Emulator II sound library to other less expensive samplers. MacMusic allowed users worldwide to share sample libraries across different manufacturers platforms without copyright infringement. Beaverton Digital Systems President John Connolly already had several conversations with Evan Brooks in 1985, as he was listed as a contact for technical support for the Assimilation MIDI toolkit, and the current Apple operating system in 1985 did not have native MIDI communications drivers. One evening in 1986 at John Connolly's Beaverton, Oregon home, an alert was sent online from MacMusic requesting the system operator, and to Connolly's surprise it was Peter Gotcher, thanking him for providing such a revolutionary service and making Sound Designer a much more attractive program to buy, by leveraging both the universal file format and by developing the first online sample file download site in the world, many years before the World Wide Web use soared. [3] In 1987, Gotcher and Brooks discussed with E-mu Systems the possibility of integrating their renamed 'Sound Tools' software into the Emulator III. E-mu rejected this offer and the pair started Digidesign, with Gotcher as president and Brooks as lead engineer. [4]

MIDI electronic musical instrument industry specification

MIDI is a technical standard that describes a communications protocol, digital interface, and electrical connectors that connect a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers, and related audio devices for playing, editing and recording music. A single MIDI link through a MIDI cable can carry up to sixteen channels of information, each of which can be routed to a separate device or instrument. This could be sixteen different digital instruments, for example.

Macintosh Family of personal computers designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple Inc.

The Macintosh is a family of personal computers designed, manufactured, and sold by Apple Inc. since January 1984. The original Macintosh was the first mass-market personal computer that featured a graphical user interface, built-in screen and mouse. Apple sold the Macintosh alongside its popular Apple II family of computers for almost ten years before they were discontinued in 1993.

In telecommunication and electronics, baud is a common measure of symbol rate, one of the components that determine the speed of communication over a data channel.

Sound Tools [5] debuted on January 20, 1989 at the NAMM Show. At this stage Sound Tools was a simple computer-based stereo audio editor. Although the software had the possibility to do far more, it was limited by the hard drive technology, which was used to stream audio and allow for the non-destructive editing that Sound Tools offered. [6] The first version of Pro Tools was launched in 1991, offering four tracks and selling for $6,000 USD. The core engine technology and much of the user interface was designed by and licensed from a small San Francisco company called OSC, known at the time for creating the first software-based digital multi-track recorder, called DECK, in 1990. [7] That software, manufactured by OSC but distributed by Digidesign, formed the platform upon which Pro Tools version 1 was built. The OSC designers and engineers responsible for that technology, Josh Rosen, Mats Myrberg and John Dalton, split from Digidesign in 1993 in order to focus on releasing lower-cost ($399) [7] multi-track software that would run on computers with no additional hardware. The software was known circa mid-1990s as Session (for stereo-only audio cards) and Session 8 (for multi-channel audio interfaces). Although the original design remained largely the same, Digidesign continued to improve Pro Tools software and hardware, adding a visual MIDI sequencer and more tracks, with the system offering 16-bit, 44.1 kHz audio recording. In 1997, Pro Tools reached 24-bit, 48 tracks. It was at this point that the migration from more conventional analog studio technology to the Pro Tools platform took place within the industry. [8]

The NAMM Show is an annual event in the US that its organizers describe as "the world’s largest trade-only event for the music products, pro audio and event tech industry".

Ricky Martin's "Livin' la Vida Loca" (1999) was the first No. 1 single to be recorded, edited, and mixed fully within the Pro Tools environment, by Charles Dye and Desmond Child. [9]

Ricky Martin Puerto Rican singer

Enrique "Ricky" Martín Morales is a Puerto Rican singer, actor and author who is widely regarded as the "King of Latin Pop". He holds dual American and Spanish citizenship. Martin began his career at age 12 with the all-boy pop group Menudo. After five years with the group, he released several Spanish-language solo albums throughout the 1990s. Since the beginning of his solo career in 1991, Ricky Martin has sold over 70 million albums, making him one of the best-selling Latin music artists of all time. He also acted on stage and on TV in Mexico, where he achieved modest stardom. In 1994, he appeared on the US TV soap opera General Hospital, playing a Puerto Rican singer. He also ranks among the most influential latin artists of all time.

Livin la Vida Loca 1999 Ricky Martin song

"Livin' la Vida Loca"(English: Livin' A Crazy Life) is a number-one hit song performed by Ricky Martin. It was released on March 23, 1999, from Martin's self-titled debut English-language album. The song was composed by Desmond Child and Draco Rosa, with Spanish lyrics by Luis Gómez-Escolar. La vida loca is Spanish for "the crazy life."

Charles Dye is a Grammy-nominated and Latin Grammy-winning record producer, engineer and mixer from Hollywood, Florida, USA.


Pro Tools 9 running on Windows Protools9screen.png
Pro Tools 9 running on Windows

Most of Pro Tools' basic functions can be controlled within Edit or Mix windows. The Edit window displays audio and Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) tracks, and provides graphical representation of the information recorded or imported. Here, audio can be edited in a non-linear, non-destructive fashion. MIDI information can also be manipulated. The Mix window displays each track's fader channel and allows for the adjustment of a channel's volume and pan, as well as being the usual place to insert plug-in effects and route audio to and from different outputs and inputs. The release of Pro Tools 8 introduced a MIDI edit window, which enables the user to manipulate MIDI data in either piano-roll or score windows. It also includes MIDI edit lanes so that the user can see note, velocity and other CC data in the same window. These additions took Pro Tools from the long standard 2 edit window approach to having 3 edit windows. Real-time effects processing and virtual instruments in Pro Tools are achieved through the use of plug-ins, which are either processed by the DSP chips as DSP plug-ins, or the host computer as Native plug-ins. Additionally, out-of-time processing is available in the form of AudioSuite plug-ins, which also enables time-domain processing.


HDX systems

In October 2011 Avid introduced a new line of DSP accelerated PCIe cards, named HDX, along with version 10 of its Pro Tools software. The cards included DSP processors manufactured by Texas Instruments, operating with increased computational precision – 32-bit floating point versus the previous 24-bit fixed (in the older generation 56k chips made by Motorola). Benefits claimed for the new system included improved technical performance in terms of audio dynamic range, monitoring latency, and overall computational power, compared to the older HD line.

The "HD" product line was reorganized to include "HD|Native" (without DSP) and HDX. The HD|Native systems made use of the host system's CPU for all audio processing while retaining the augmented workflows and sound quality factors of Pro Tools HD. HDX's primary advantage over HD remained the considerably lower latency for all DSP-reliant operations. As a result, in order to maintain the required consistency of performance, HDX products were specified with a fixed maximum number of "voices" (audio tracks). Up to three HDX cards could be installed on a single system, for a maximum of 768 total "voices" (audio channels).

While native systems from all manufacturers may offer an apparently unlimited number of tracks/voices, every system necessarily has practical limits to what can usefully be achieved, depending on the technical specifications of the host computer, software configuration and user preferences. HDX systems accelerate digital signal processing for Avid's own AAX format plugins only. The company ended support for the older TDM technology for use with its HDX products. [10] ) Avid advised users that Pro Tools 10 would be the final release for Pro Tools|HD Process and Accel systems, and that its TDM technology would be discontinued.

HD systems

Pro Tools HD and HDX systems represent the company's professional product line. They rely on dedicated chips that aid audio processing, in conjunction with rack-mounted interfaces, which handle outgoing and incoming audio, MIDI, and sync connections. With the introduction of Avid's HDX line, HD ("native") interfaces no longer offer DSP, and this feature has been reserved for HDX only. HD and HDX systems utilize proprietary cables to interconnect with external units. Older Pro Tools HD cards used DSP chips from the Motorola 56k family. Newer HDX interfaces rely on DSP chips from Texas Instruments and have split facilities for managing track playback and signal processing operations. At launch Pro Tools HD cards were called HD Process cards. Approximately 2 years later, the HD Process cards were replaced by the HD Accel card, which was designed around a faster variant of the Motorola DSP chip and provided approximately twice the signal processing power per card. When Apple changed the expansion slot architecture of the G5 to PCI Express, Digidesign launched a line of PCIe HD Accel cards that both adopted the new card slot format and also slightly changed the combination of chips.

On October 6, 2010, Avid released Pro Tools HD Native, a lower cost PCIe card system designed for host-processing with fully functional HD software. [11] On November 4, 2010, Avid released Pro Tools 9, a lower-cost application that decoupled hardware from software. Pro Tools 9 had a new track feature named HEAT (Harmonically Enhanced Algorithm Technology), which is used for emulating analog sound coloration by introducing harmonic distortion.

When first available, Pro Tools systems relied exclusively on integral hard disks for storage and were thus limited to the storage options available on the Apple hardware platform. In 2002, AVID rebranded a proprietary SAN product called MediaNet and promoted it to Pro Tools users who were becoming aware of the benefits of network-based collaboration and workflows. [12] MediaNet was based on WindowsNT and could only be administered using Windows-based tools. In 2018 Avid introduced the Avid Cloud, permitting collaboration among Pro Tools systems over the Internet.

LE systems

The Pro Tools LE (Limited Edition) line was discontinued as of the release of Pro Tools 9. Pro Tools LE systems performed data processing on the host CPU. Purchasers were required to choose from a range of proprietary audio interfaces, one of which was required for all audio I/O (recording and playback). The hardware thus doubled as a copy-protection mechanism for the software, as the software did not function without the specialized Digidesign interface. The entry-level MBox range of interfaces connect via USB or Firewire 400. All have a stereo audio output, and include a small number of line and microphone inputs. The more powerful 003 (formerly 002) interfaces use FireWire and have significantly larger I/O abilities. The Eleven Rack, in addition to several input options, included in-box DSP processing via a FPGA chip, offloading guitar amp/speaker emulation and guitar effects plug-in processing to the interface, allowing them to run without taxing the host system.

Pro Tools LE had a similar look and feel to Pro Tools HD, but had a smaller track count and a lower maximum sampling rate. Pro Tools LE also lacked the ability to export to MP3, SMPTE time code, Automatic Delay Compensation (ADC), ability to import OMF and AAF files, DigiBase Pro, and multi-track Beat Detective.

9 system changes

In 2010–11, Pro Tools upgraded Pro Tools LE with some of the features of HD and effectively merged it into one hardware-independent software package named Pro Tools Standard. Pro Tools 9 had no proprietary hardware requirement, allowing use of the software with any interface. It could operate using the internal sound card of a PC via the Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) driver and a Mac using Core Audio. Mac Core Audio also allowed, for the first time, the use of aggregate devices, allowing the use of more than one interface at the same time. This could also be achieved on a PC by using the third party application ASIO4ALL. Pro Tools 9 also included a new keyboard shortcut for "New Playlist". [13]

When operating on a machine containing one or more HD Core, Accel or Native cards, the software ran as Pro Tools HD 9, with the full Pro Tools HD feature set. In all other cases it ran as Pro Tools 9, with a smaller track count and a number of advanced features turned off. Pro Tools 9 also included as standard many features which on Pro Tools LE were only accessible via additional "Toolkit" upgrades. Pro Tools 9 used iLok for copy-protection. Pro Tools 9 was the first version to have a 'unified' installer for the software, with the iLok license determining which elements of the software are unlocked.

M-Powered systems

M-Audio, formerly Midiman, was acquired by Avid Technology in 2004–2005, and Digidesign soon released Pro Tools M-Powered, which brought Pro Tools LE functionality to a subset of M-Audio USB, FireWire and PCI interfaces. Pro Tools M-Powered used an iLok license as copy protection and was formerly the only way to run Pro Tools without using Digidesign/Avid hardware. Avid later divested M-Audio.

Control surfaces

Digidesign/Avid control surfaces attempt to bridge the gap between old-style analog desks and modern DAWs by providing physical controls for the Pro Tools software. Early models were the C|24, a 24-fader surface with 16 built-in pre-amps, and the ICON: Integrated Console Environment (consisting of user selectable fader count units D-Command, D-Control and their add-on fader banks and X-Mon monitoring system), which worked alongside Pro Tools|HD or Ultimate. VENUE, a similar system, was released for live-sound applications. The Command|8 was a smaller eight-fader control surface. In April 2010, Avid acquired Euphonix, a manufacturer of high quality control surfaces. In 2015 the Avid S6 control surface, with design elements from both the ICON and previous Euphonix surfaces, superseded the ICON as the flagship controller.

Pro Tools compatible control surfaces have also been developed by other companies. For example, the Audient ASP2802 has integrated DAW control, and is compatible with Pro Tools as well as Logic Pro and Cubase. [14]

An official Pro Tools training curriculum and certification program, which includes courses in music and post production, was introduced by Digidesign in 2002. The curriculum is delivered by a number of schools and universities. The Music Production and DV toolkits increase the abilities of non-HD Pro Tools systems. Both increase the maximum number of tracks and highest possible sample rate to 96 kHz and include additional plug-ins. The LE-only DV tool kit adds feet and frames and timecode timelines and functionality.

Advanced Instrument Research (AIR)

In August 2005, Avid acquired the German company Wizoo, formerly working mainly for Steinberg (Cubase, Nuendo) and developers of virtual instruments. They further announced the creation of Advanced Instrument Research (AIR), which meant Avid would be developing virtual instruments and plug-ins for use in Pro Tools. [15]

This also resulted in the landmark redevelopment of Pro Tools, versions 8 through 10. This relied heavily on the inclusion of AIR Virtual Instrument plug-ins to bring it closer to its competitor Logic Pro. Those included with Pro Tools Standard (called the Creative Collection) include:

AIR also contributes reverbs, dynamics, modulation and other effects as part of the Pro Tools, all of these work in native format only.

Some of the additional virtual instruments for Pro Tools that AIR has created include:

In July 2012, inMusic Brands, parent company of brands such as Akai Professional and Alesis, announced its acquisition of AIR from Avid, [16] as part of a larger acquisition that included Avid's consumer audio products and the M-Audio brand. [17] [18]

History of Pro Tools systems and software

1989Sound Tools
1991Pro Tools
1992Sound Tools II
1993Pro Tools II
1994Pro Tools TDM
Pro Tools III
1996Pro Tools PCI
1997Pro Tools 4
Pro Tools | 24
1998Pro Tools | 24 MIX
1999Pro Tools 5
Pro Tools LE
2001Pro Tools Free
2002Pro Tools | HD
2003Pro Tools 6
2005Pro Tools 7
2008Pro Tools 8
2010Pro Tools 9
2011Pro Tools | HDX
Pro Tools 10
2013Pro Tools 11
2015Pro Tools 12
Pro Tools | First
2018Pro Tools 2018
DateSoftwareHardwareRelease information
1989Sound Toolsstereo hard-disk recording and editing system with 16-bit audio, 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz sample rate
relies on a Sound Accelerator NuBus card connected to an external 2-channel AD converter and Sound Designer II software [19]
Sound Designer IISound Accelerator
1991Pro Tools4-track digital production system handled by ProEDIT (editing software) and ProDECK (mixing software)
MIDI sequencing and automation [19]
1992Sound Tools IIsupport for Pro Master 20 interface with 20-bit A/D conversion [19]
1993Pro Tools IIediting and mixing software merged in a single application called Pro Tools with the component DAE (Digidesign Audio Engine)
4 voices support [19] [20]
1994Pro Tools II TDM (2.5)4–16 voices support (up to 4 NuBus cards can be linked with TDM technology) [19] [20]
1994Pro Tools III16–48 voices on NuBus-based Mac systems (up to 3 cards linkable) [19]
DSP Farm NuBus card equipped with 3 Motorola 56001 chips (40 MHz clock speed) for additional processing power [21]
software editing functionality improved
DSP Farm
1996Pro Tools III PCI16–48 voices for PCI-based Mac systems (up to 3 cards linkable)
88x series interfaces with 8 channels I/O, 16-bit AD/DA converters, AES/EBU I/O [19] [20]
DSP Farm NuBus card equipped with 4 Motorola 56002 chips (66 MHz clock speed) [21]
Pro Tools 3.21888 I/O, 882 I/O
DSP Farm
1997Pro Tools 4Pro Tools Project CardWAV and QuickTime file support; Sound Designer file editing features integrated in AudioSuite tool set
runs on Pro Tools III NuBus/PCI systems or without TDM hardware with limitations (Project or PowerMix versions)
destructive editing integrated, fade improvements, Strip Silence, continuous playback during editing, indepentently-resizable tracks, up to 26 track groups, automation extended to all mixer and plug-in parameters, new automation modes
Loop Record, Half-Speed Record, Destructive Record, QuickPunch (punch-in and out recording during playback)
Edit window configurations can be saved and recalled with Memory Locations [20] [22]
1997Pro Tools | 2424-48 or 32-64 channels of 24-bit audio I/O support via the d24 PCI card [23]
88x interface line upgraded with 24-bit AD converters, 20-bit DA converters (888|24), 20-bit AD/DA converters (882|20) [19]
Pro Tools 4.1d24
1998Pro Tools | 24 MIX16–48 I/O channels, 64 voices
MIX, MIXplus and MIX3 system configurations with one MIX Card and up to two MIX Farm PCI cards equipped with 6 Motorola Onyx chips [19]
Pro Tools 4.3MIX Card
MIX Farm
1998ADAT Bridge I/O20-bit digital interface with 16 ADAT optical input channels [19]
ProControlfirst dedicated control surface for Pro Tools using Ethernet connection with microphone and line inputs [19]
1999Pro Tools 5integrated MIDI and audio editing and mixing [19] , MIDI piano-roll display, graphic MIDI velocity editing, MIDI quantize
single-stroke key commands for editing, Region Replace, floating video window [24]
2000Control|24touch-sensitive control surface equipped with 24 Focusrite preamps [19]
Pro Tools LEDigi 001 (LE)mid-level recording system with 24 tracks, 8 analog I/O channels, 2 microphone preamps, 24-bit AD/DA, digital I/O and MIDI
rack-mountable interface connected with a PCI card running a new feature-limited software line ("Light Edition") with RTAS host-based processing (without DSP) [19] [24]
2001Pro Tools Freefree version with essential features, based on version 5, runs natively on OS 9, OS 8.6, Windows 98, Windows ME
8 audio tracks, 48 MIDI tracks, RTAS support
Pro Tools 5.1surround mixing, Beat Detective (TDM) [20]
2002Pro Tools | HDHD software and hardware line adds support for 192 kHz and 96 kHz sample rates, runs with 192 I/O and 96 I/O interfaces providing 32–96 I/O channels
HD1HD3 systems are based on one HD Core adding up to two HD Process PCI-based cards equipped with 9 Motorola 56361 DSP chips (100 MHz clock speed)
96/48/12 tracks at 48/96/192 kHz sample rates with HD1 systems
128/64/24 tracks at 48/96/192 kHz sample rates with HD2/HD3 systems [19] [25]
Pro Tools 5.3.1 [20] 192 I/O, 96 I/O
HD Core
HD Process
2002Mbox (LE)low-cost USB-powered audio interface with 2 analog inputs, 1 mic preamp, S/PDIF digital I/O, bundled with Pro Tools LE software [19]
Digi 002 (LE)mid-level FireWire audio interface with 8 analog inputs, 24-bit/96 kHz converters, touch-sensitive control surface, running Pro Tools LE 5.3.2 on Windows XP and Mac OS 9 [19] [26]
2003Pro Tools 6support for Mac OS X platform (OS 9 dropped), GUI redesign, Digibase (Workspace browser) for media/project management, Groove Template, Import Session Data replaces Import Tracks, 256 MIDI tracks; more powerful LE version [27]
Digi 002 Rack (LE)mid-level FireWire audio interface with up to 18 I/O channels, 4 mic preamps, 24-bit/96 kHz AD/DA, support for 32 tracks with Pro Tools LE software [19]
HD AccelDSP cards expansion equipped with 9 Motorola 56321 chips (200 MHz clock speed)
twice the power as the HD Process cards, extends track count to 192/96/36 tracks at 48/96/192 kHz sample rates (combined with one HD core card) [19] [25]
Pro Tools 6.1support for Windows XP and ReWire
2004Pro Tools 6.4+12dB fader mode; support for Command 8 control surface, Automatic Delay Compensation, TrackPunch, input monitoring on single tracks (HD) [28]
Pro Tools 6.9160 auxiliary tracks, 128 busses, Surround Panner support (HD) [29]
ICON D-Control
ICON D-Command
modular control surface line with 16–32 (D-Control) or 8–24 (D-Command) touch-sensitive faders and HD3 Accel DSP system [30]
2005VENUEPro Tools for live sound
Mbox 2 (LE)
PT M-PoweredM-Audio interfacesstandalone feature-limited product line bundled with M-Audio interfaces, same as Pro Tools LE [31]
Pro Tools 7multi-threading RTAS engine improves performance on multi-core systems, support for 10 sends per track, Instrument Tracks, Region Groups, region looping, real-time MIDI processing, new session format with Mac/PC interoperability; 160 I/O at 96kHz (HD) [32]
2006Pro Tools 7.11support for Intel-based Macs, Hybrid and Xpand! software sampler plug-ins added
Pro Tools 7.2digital VCA groups, enhanced automation, enhanced track grouping system, extended support for contextual menus, Dubber and Field Recorder enhancements; support for multiple Video tracks (HD) [33]
Pro Tools 7.3Dynamic Transport, Windows Configurations, Key Signature timeline ruler, MIDI selection enhancements, fade editing enhancements, continuously-resizable tracks, mixer configurations changes possible without stopping playback, mouse scroll wheel and right-click enhancements, Memory Location and Digibase enhancements, Signal Tools and Time Shift plug-ins added, MIDI data can be exchanged with Sibelius scoring software [34]
Mbox 2 Pro (LE)
Mbox 2 Mini (LE)
2007Digi 003 (LE)
Digi 003 Rack (LE)
Mbox 2 Micro (LE)
Pro Tools 7.4 Elastic Audio, Digibase browser enhancements [35]
2008Pro Tools 8revamped user interface, support for 10 inserts per track, Playlist view and enhanced track compositing tools, support for multiple automation lanes view, Elastic Pitch, MIDI Editor, Score Editor, AIR Creative Collection; Automatic Delay Compensation on sends (HD) [36]
2008Digi 003 Rack + (LE)
2009PT Essentialslimited track count for starter market
Eleven Rackguitar effects processor with Pro Tools LE DSP
Mbox (LE)
Mbox Pro (LE)
Mbox Mini (LE)
third generation, first full release by Avid
2010Pro Tools 8.1HEAT software add-on (HD)
HD I/O, HD OMNI, HD MADI, PRE, SYNC HDHD Series Interfaces introduced, replaces the previous "blue" HD series [37]
HD NativePCI card or Thunderbolt interface, enables to run HD software on up to two HD (or HD-compatible) interfaces with low-latency performance and without DSP [38]
Pro Tools 9"standard" version replaces LE and M-Powered lines, gets most of the HD-only software features and can be run on native systems with ASIO or Core Audio driver protocols
full HD features can be purchased with Complete Production Toolkit 2
added 7.0/7.1 surround support (HD) [39] [40]
2011Pro Tools | HDX96 voices, 512 Instrument tracks, 128 aux inputs, 1 video track, 128/64/32 tracks at 48/96/192 kHz sample rates (standard version)
256–768 voices, 512 Instrument tracks, 512 aux inputs, 64 video tracks, 256–768 tracks at 48 kHz sample rates, 64–192 I/O channels (HDX systems with 1–3 HDX cards)
HDX replaces HD Core systems and HD1HD3 configurations; each PCI card is equipped with 18 Texas Instruments DSP chips (350 MHz clock speed), can run AAX DSP plug-ins
AAX (Avid Audio eXtension) plug-in format introduced with 64-bit ready SDK (32-bit still used); AAX DSP plug-ins replaces TDM plug-ins in HD systems, RTAS still supported
Clip Gain, Disc Caching, real-time fades, 4x maximum Automatic Delay Compensation, Avid Channel Strip plug-in [41] [40]
Pro Tools 10HDX
2013Pro Tools 11application upgraded with 64-bit architecture. 32-bit RTAS and TDM plug-in support dropped in favor of 64-bit AAX format; support discontinuation for HD Accel systems
Offline bouncing, Dynamic Plug-In processing optimizes session performance; up to 16 sources can be bounced simultaneously, advanced metering options (HD) [42]
two/four channel USB interface and monitor controller with 192kHz AD/DA conversion developed by Apogee
2015Pro Tools | Firstfree software line with essential features, cloud-based sessions
up to 96 kHz sample rate, 16 tracks per type (audio, MIDI, Instrument and auxiliary), 4 I/O channels, MIDI editor, Elastic Time, Elastic Pitch, Workspace, AAX Native and AudioSuite [43] [40]
Pro Tools 12available as monthly or yearly subscription; metadata tagging, updated I/O setup [40]
Pro Tools 12.1increased track count, AFL/PFL solo modes, copy to sends, native HEAT support (HD) [40]
Pro Tools 12.2 VCAs, Disk Caching, advanced metering options unlocked to standard version [40]
Pro Tools 12.3Commit, fade presets, batch fades, clip graphic overlay [40]
Pro Tools 12.4Track Freeze, fade workflows [40]
2016Pro Tools 12.5 Cloud Collaboration, updated Avid Video Engine, send to playback (Interplay) [40]
Pro Tools 12.6Clip Effects, Layered Editing, playlist improvements [40]
Pro Tools 12.7Pro Tools | MTRX support, project revision history, workspace improvements [40]
2017Pro Tools 12.8 Dolby Atmos integration and NEXIS optimization (HD); workspace and project enhancements; Cloud Collaboration (First) [40]
Pro Tools 12.8.2 Ambisonics VR Track support, Dolby Atmos enhancements, improved MIDI editing and recording features, Batch renaming features [40]
2018Pro Tools 2018.1iLok Cloud support, Track Presets, assignable target playlist, retrospective MIDI record, MIDI editing enhancements, EQ Curve can be shown in the Mix window, improved Import Session Data [40]
Pro Tools 2018.4"Pro Tools | HD" software line rebranded as "Pro Tools | Ultimate". Bug fixes and improved stability [40]
Pro Tools 2018.7real-time search in track inserts and I/O (busses and sends), multiple selection within I/O and interface menus, playlist navigation shortcuts added, Relative Grid mode extended to cut, copy, paste, and merge, retrospective MIDI record enhancements, Low Latency Monitoring enhancements; bug fixes [44]
Pro Tools 2018.12bug fixes and improved stability [45]
2019Pro Tools 2019.5384–96 voices on native systems (Ultimate), 1024 MIDI tracks
performance improvements (HDX / HD Native)
continuous playback on most timeline and track interactions, key command enhancements, bug fixes [46]

Timeline of acquisitions

See also

Related Research Articles


LADSPA is an acronym for Linux Audio Developer's Simple Plugin API. It is an application programming interface (API) standard for handling audio filters and audio signal processing effects, licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). It was originally designed for Linux through consensus on the Linux Audio Developers Mailing List, but works on a variety of other platforms. It is used in many free audio software projects and there is a wide range of LADSPA plug-ins available.

Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH is a German musical software and hardware company based in Hamburg with satellite offices in Siegburg and London. It develops music recording, arranging and editing software, notably Cubase and Nuendo. It also designs audio recording and MIDI hardware interfaces and controllers and iOS music apps including Cubasis. Steinberg created several industry standard music technologies including the Virtual Studio Technology (VST) format for plug-ins and the ASIO protocol. Steinberg is a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha.

Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is an audio plug-in software interface that integrates software synthesizer and effects in digital audio workstations. VST and similar technologies use digital signal processing to simulate traditional recording studio hardware in software. Thousands of plugins exist, both commercial and freeware, and a large number of audio applications support VST under license from its creator, Steinberg.

Audio Units (AU) are a system-level plug-in architecture provided by Core Audio in Apple's macOS and iOS operating systems. Audio Units are a set of application programming interface (API) services provided by the operating system to generate, process, receive, or otherwise manipulate streams of audio in near-real-time with minimal latency. It may be thought of as Apple's architectural equivalent to another popular plug-in format, Steinberg's Virtual Studio Technology (VST).

Digital Performer is a full-featured Digital Audio Workstation/Sequencer software package published by Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) of Cambridge, Massachusetts for the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows platforms.

Avid Audio is a North American digital audio technology company. It was founded in 1984 by Peter Gotcher and Evan Brooks. The company began as a project to raise money for the founders' band, selling EPROM chips for drum machines. It is a subsidiary of Avid Technology, and during 2010 the Digidesign brand was phased out. Avid Audio products will continue to be produced and will now carry the Avid brand name.

Logic Pro digital audio workstation

Logic Pro is a digital audio workstation (DAW) and MIDI sequencer software application for the macOS platform. It was originally created in the early 1990s as Notator Logic, or Logic, by German software developer C-Lab, later Emagic. It became an Apple product, eventually known as Logic Pro, after Apple bought Emagic in 2002. It is the 2nd most popular DAW - after only Ableton Live - according to a survey conducted in 2015.

M-Audio is a business unit of inMusic Brands that designs and markets digital audio and MIDI interfaces, keyboards and MIDI controllers, synthesizers, loudspeakers, studio monitors, digital DJ systems, microphones, and music software. The company has independent offices in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France and Japan.

Tracktion is a digital audio workstation for recording and editing audio and MIDI. The software is cross-platform, running on Apple Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows and Linux.


Penteo Surround, Inc. (Penteo) is a digital audio software vendor that markets ADL’s Penteo plug-ins for stereo-to-5.1 and stereo to 7.1 surround upmixing. As an up-mixer, Penteo transforms any stereo recording, soundtrack, DJ mix or live television broadcast into surround sound. Penteo claims that its technology results in a more natural and more precise sounding surround experience without generating any artificial & unwanted sounds, and only Penteo is 100% ITU down-mix compatible back to the original stereo track.

VENUE is a brand of live sound digital mixing consoles introduced by Digidesign in February 2005. The family now includes 5 different consoles and a number of ways they can be configured. They can all be connected to Pro Tools, the audio editing software also created by Avid/Digidesign, to provide recording and 'Virtual Soundcheck' facilities. One of the system's key marketing points is its use of the same AAX DSP/TDM plugins as Pro Tools, an industry standard digital audio workstation (DAW). This is designed to enable the sounds recorded by the artist in the studio to be easily recreated on stage, and to allow for greater flexibility in signal processing without heavy and mechanical-shock-sensitive racks of external processors. There is also a PC-based offline editor for creation and editing of show files, although there is no audio processing in the editor.

TC Electronic is a Danish audio equipment company that designs and imports guitar effects, bass amplification, computer audio interfaces, audio plug-in software, live sound equalisers, studio and post production equipment, studio effect processors, and broadcast loudness processors and meters.

Real-Time AudioSuite (RTAS) is a format of audio plug-in developed by Digidesign, currently Avid Technology for their Pro Tools LE and Pro Tools M-Powered systems, although they can be run on Pro Tools HD and Pro Tools TDM systems. RTAS plug-ins use the processing power of the host computer rather than DSP cards used in the Pro Tools HD systems. As the name suggests, the plug-in architecture is designed to be run in real-time, mimicking hardware inserts on traditional mixing console. This is in contrast to rendering files out of time with effects applied directly to the audio, which in Pro Tools is facilitated by AudioSuite Plug-ins. Avid's AAX format, which runs on both native CPU and Pro Tools HDX DSP, is the replacement for RTAS.

The AIR Users Blog was a blog about AIR plug-ins for Pro Tools. It was started in October 2008 by Russ Hughes, a musician based in London, United Kingdom. It was the focal point of a community of around 50,000 users a month. It is independent and has no official links with Avid Technology, the owners of the software.

MAGIX Samplitude is a computer program made by MAGIX for recording, editing, mixing, mastering and outputting audio. The first version was released in 1992 for the Amiga and three years later for Microsoft Windows. The latest versions of the software are Samplitude Pro X3, Samplitude Pro X3 Suite and Sequoia 13. Samplitude is an example of a digital audio workstation (DAW).

PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc. is an American manufacturer of professional audio equipment and software, used to create, record, mix, and master music and other audio. This includes their line of digital audio workstation (DAW) software, Studio One.

Focusrite British company

Focusrite plc is an English audio equipment manufacturer based in High Wycombe, England. Focusrite designs and markets audio interfaces, microphone preamps, consoles, analogue EQs and Channel strips, and digital audio processing hardware and software. Many, but not all, Focusrite products are manufactured for the company in China.

Ensoniq PARIS was a digital audio workstation available for PCs and Macintosh computers, sold by Ensoniq Corporation in 1998 and later by E-mu Systems. It was a combination of software and hardware providing its user the tools to record, edit and mix audio material in a professional environment, similar to the way that Pro Tools work. The software part which consisted of a multitrack audio sequencer, a virtual mixing console and various digital effects was developed by Intelligent Devices.


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