Post Magazine

April 2016

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REVIEW 46 POST APRIL 2016 W ithout question, Pro Tools is the most recognized digital audio workstation in use today. Over a period of 25 years, the moniker has been branded into the psyche of audio enthusiasts everywhere that Pro Tools is the go-to DAW across the globe. And they'd be right. So what made it so appealing? Possibly the biggest reason is that armed with only a handful of tools and a streamlined GUI, Pro Tools has always allowed users to break even the most complex tasks into simple steps. Years later, Pro Tools 12.4 continues that tradition, undoubtedly being one of the easiest audio workstations to maneuver. DELIVERY With the introduction of Pro Tools 12.4 came an entirely new method of soft- ware delivery. It is here that Avid broke the mold on how DAWs are purchased. Although quite complex on the surface, there are fundamentally two ways to obtain Pro Tools: buy or rent. You can purchase the software outright just like you would any other DAW package and therefore would own a perpetual license. If, however, finances are tight, or tempo- rary access is all that is needed, renting the software for a month or year is also available. This method allows users, based on their plan, to access free up- grades to any new plug-ins and program developments at no additional cost. Now users can obtain deliverables as soon as they are developed rather than wait for an upgrade two years later. IN ACTION Futuristic delivery choices are not the only thing new for Pro Tools 12.4 users. This version introduces new features that have obliterated realtime bouncing. Forever, Pro Tools users have had to engage in this multi-step process during final mix-down, as well as any other time audio data needed merging into a single file. Not only did this take significant time, but also made it very difficult to tweak after the fact. The only solution was to re-process and see if the results were satisfactory. Now, with Pro Tools' Track Commit, offline bounces occur in seconds. While this undoubtedly has tre- mendous impact on workflow, there are additional levels of Track Commit that further provide substantial time savings. For example, I used Track Commit to solidify a complex insert chain onto a dialogue track intended for parallel com- pression so that it could pop through a mix. This feature not only committed the settings, it also de-voiced the original track, bypassed the entire plug-in chain, and placed the newly created audio file into another track, freeing up system resources in the process. This procedure can also be applied to multiple tracks at the same time. In a single step, I was able to create audio tracks from virtual instrument MIDI data that incorporated multiple processing sends and separate routing assignments. Almost immediately, Pro Tools applied the processing and replaced the MIDI tracks with audio equivalents. And to convert raw MIDI to audio, simply drag data into an open audio track. Track Freeze is yet another useful feature that's new in Pro Tools 12.4. Essentially, it "holds" the track and any processing in place in order to free up system resources without the need to de-insert a signal chain. For example, fu- ture processing of custom sound effects would not be committed but "frozen" in place to enact later. There are many other noteworthy inclusions within Pro Tools. Batch Fades allows for multiple fades and selectable fade shapes to be applied on countless audio files at once. Automatic Down Mix automatically adjusts output paths of different channel widths. And from a management perspective, the Avid Marketplace is an online one-stop-shop for all things Avid. Here, users purchase upgrades, manage their account, and access additional plug-ins directly from within the Pro Tools session. CONCLUSION For those considering Pro Tools, I strong- ly suggest determining your needs be- forehand. While Pro Tools is undoubtedly the master of its domain, it is not without quirks. Depending on your production goals there are other DAWs that offer competitive, top-notch performance, ad- vanced plug-ins, and cutting-edge virtual instruments for less cost. However, for those already familiar with the program, V.12.4 becomes almost imperative. If for no other reason, Track Commit and Track Freeze provide such an increase in time savings and workflow simplicity that to function without it seems preposterous. Add to that a host of other new features and purchasing an upgrade becomes a no-brainer. AVID PRO TOOLS 12.4 BY MIKE SWITTEL PRODUCER/MIXER ORMOND BY THE SEA, FLORIDA WWW.MIKESWITTEL.COM VITAL STATS MANUFACTURER: Avid PRODUCT: Pro Tools 12.4 PRICE: $599 WEBSITE: • Logical, streamlined interface • Worldwide standard • Extensive third-party support FOR THOSE ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH PRO TOOLS, VERSION 12.4 IS ALMOST IMPERATIVE

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