Now that Avid works with downloads instead of bulky software boxes, at Bax Music, we’ve changed the way we offer their titles. Since our product pages only offer an overview of each type of Pro Tools licence, you’ll find all of the essential info about Pro Tools right here.
What is Pro Tools?
At its core, Pro Tools is a multi-track audio editor, so if you want to make multi-track recordings of your band, or if you've got individual instrument exports from your own DAW that you want to weave into a complete track, then you can use Pro Tools to layer and combine them into a complete mix. You can easily make volume adjustments, add fade-outs, change the acoustics, add effects and even change the timing of your project. This industry-standard software doesn’t just present a gigantic creative playground for any musician or producer, but hands them the same tools and workflow as any high-end recording studio.
The Pro Tools Prestige
The Pro Tools software package enjoys a prominent position in modern music history. Visit any big studio and they'll probably be using Pro Tools; step into any film school and the students are likely to be learning audio mounting skills via Pro Tools. This software has become so ingrained in the music and audio industry that studios will ask for material to be delivered in the form of Pro Tools sessions. Basically, it's a given that anyone who wants to be taken seriously works with Pro Tools. So if you're planning to collaborate with studios or film makers, by using Pro Tools, you can be certain that you’re all speaking the same language.
More Than Just Software
One of the great advantages of Pro Tools is the availability of Pro Tools hardware - specifically Pro Tools controllers, which come in an array of different forms and at an array of different prices. Larger models, in particular, are a testament to the professional level of Pro Tools - and prove that anyone who thought that large mixing consoles would disappear with the advent of virtual mixers couldn’t have been more wrong. Avid also produces unique (and super fast) audio interfaces that work seamlessly with Pro Tools, firmly marking it out as a professional-grade package that’s well worth the investment.
Pro Tools Licences
PERPETUAL LICENCE OR SUBSCRIPTION?
Back in the day, you could get a permanent Pro Tools licence which, following a one-off payment, you downloaded, installed and could use however much you wanted for however many years you wanted to. So, it was just like the boxed versions. Then you had the subscription-based licence, where a monthly or yearly fee is paid for access to the software within a limited period. For example, here at Bax Music, you could pick up a year’s subscription that you could then renew annually.
Now, in 2022, Avid have made some further changes in response to the growing trend in subscription-based software access - where users are essentially hiring the software they use. Now, there are plenty of arguments as to why doing away with permanent licences is negative for end-users, but that’s what Avid have done. Avid no longer offer permanent licences for their software titles.
There are exceptions, which we’ll get into later, but right now, any new users that want a copy of Pro Tools will have to start a subscription. They’ll also have a new set of titles to choose from, since all the names of the Pro Tools packages have also been updated.
The New Pro Tools
One producer will never work in exactly the same way as the next, so a lot of DAW software developers offer an array of different editions, so beginners can pick up a version that’s more tailored for entry-level producers and experienced producers can pick up the version that’s designed for professionals. Pro Tools isn’t any different, and offered the entry-level Pro-Tools First, the more professional Pro Tools standard, and Pro Tools Ultimate – which speaks for itself.
As part of the Avid overhaul, the names have been changed, and the three different versions of Pro Tools are: Artist, Studio and Flex.
PRO TOOLS ARTIST
The Artist edition can be considered the entry-level edition and is more designed for writers and musicians. While it is the entry-level edition, that doesn’t mean that this software doesn’t cover a lot of ground - basically, you’re guaranteed a smooth and comprehensive recording and mixing programme. Artist also sets up users with a maximum of thirty-two channels which, for a lot of musicians, will be more than enough to work with.
The previous entry-level edition, Pro Tools First has now been discontinued. Which is a shame, since the software was freely available and often came included with a lot of studio equipment like audio interfaces. Unfortunately, since it was free, Avid just couldn’t sustain it. However, as the new entry-level version, Artist is a pretty extensive offering, especially because it comes at the same price as many other entry-level DAWs while offering more.
PRO TOOLS STUDIO
The Studio edition is essentially the standard version of Pro Tools. So, it’s bigger than Pro Tools Artist, but smaller than Flex. Basically, Pro Tools Studio is for users making the step up from beginner to professional.
Studio is an incredibly rich package that you can literally do anything with. It comes with a maximum of 512 channels which, for most projects might as well be an infinite amount (i.e. it’s unlikely that most projects would ever stack up more than 100 tracks) - but comping can be a factor here.
All-in-all, it’s nice that Avid offers two really solid options for most musicians and sound engineers in the form of Artist and Studio.
PRO TOOLS FLEX
Pro Tools Flex is more focussed on audiovisual post production - and we’re talking large productions, so it’s more for big studios working on TV, film or advertising projects. Since it’s been developed for big studios, Flex is big. For a start, it has a maximum of 2048 channels, which looks like an insane number, but in the world of film production, twenty channels are easily taken up by the dialogue, comping and sound effects of each and every actor that appears in the piece. Multiply that by 100 and you can see how the numbers can easily stack up.
Flex also supports HDX and HD Native, which requires hardware that the average user just won’t have. Skipping to the end, Flex provides a mountain of potential for large post-production studios, so it really isn’t designed for musicians, or even most producers, who are likely to feel more at home with the Studio edition.
Naturally, the number of available tracks isn’t the only difference between the three editions. See the full list of features offered by each version in the table below: