Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation (DAW) developed and released by Avid Technology (formerly Digidesign) for Microsoft Windows and macOS. It is used for music creation and production, sound for picture (sound design, audio post-production and mixing) and, more generally, sound recording, editing, and mastering processes.
|Original author(s)||Evan Brooks|
|Developer(s)||Avid Audio under Avid Technology (previously Digidesign)|
|Initial release||January 20, 1989|
Pro Tools 2022.6 / June 30, 2022
|Written in||C, C++, Assembly|
|Operating system||macOS, Windows|
|Available in||8 languages|
|Type||Digital audio workstation|
Pro Tools operates both as standalone software and in conjunction with a range of external analog-to-digital converters and PCIe cards with on-board digital signal processors (DSP). The DSP is used to provide additional processing power to the host computer for processing real-time effects, such as reverb, equalization, and compression and to obtain lower latency audio performance. Like all digital audio workstation software, Pro Tools can perform the functions of a multitrack tape recorder and a mixing console along with additional features that can only be performed in the digital domain, such as non-linear and non-destructive editing (most of audio handling is done without overwriting the source files), track compositing with multiple playlists, time compression and expansion, pitch shifting, and faster-than-real-time mixdown.
Audio, MIDI, and video tracks are graphically represented on a timeline. Audio effects, virtual instruments, and hardware emulators—such as microphone preamps or guitar amplifiers—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 supports mixed bit depths and audio formats in a session: BWF/WAV (including WAVE Extensible, RF64 and BW64) and AIFF. It imports and exports MOV video files and ADM BWF files (audio files with Dolby Atmos metadata); it also imports MXF, ACID and REX files and the lossy formats MP3, AAC, M4A, and audio from video files (MOV, MP4, M4V). The legacy SDII format was dropped with Pro Tools 10, although SDII conversion is still possible on macOS.
Pro Tools has 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, and automation; supports mixing in surround sound, Dolby Atmos and VR sound using Ambisonics.
The Pro Tools TDM mix engine, supported until 2011 with version 10, 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. The software and the audio engine were adapted to 64-bit architecture from version 11.
In 2022, Avid switched Pro Tools from a perpetual license to a subscription model. New users have to choose between three new plans: Pro Tools Artist, which costs $9.99 per month or $99 per year; Pro Tools Studio, which costs $39.99 per month or $299 per year; and Pro Tools Flex, which costs $99.99 per month or $999 per year.