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Apple MacBook Pro 13" M1 Audio Power Test - Pro Tools

The Apple MacBook Pro M1 audio power test is a series of tests we are conducting on various DAWs, to see how they perform at this early stage. We have already run the Apple MacBook Pro 13" M1 Audio Power Test with Apple Logic Pro and Space Designer, if you want to see how that performed.

Over the last few years we've run our Pro Tools power test session, which although isn't perfect, it's the benchmark we use to see how different computers perform when put under strain on a Pro Tools session. 

However, conducting the MacBook Pro M1 audio power test presents us with a couple of issues to consider.

Firstly, Pro Tools isn't supported on the new Apple M1 silicon Macs. However. Apple is ready for this with their Rosetta 2 translation tool that allows you to run applications not yet ready to run natively on the Apple Silicon M1 CPU.

Secondly, this all sits on macOS Big Sur, which isn't officially supported when using Pro Tools at this time.

If you want to see which software is supported then check out our Big Sur audio compatibility guide

With that said, how well can Pro Tools perform on a chip and OS that isn't supported, and with a layer of software translation taking place? Will it even run without crashing?

Our Test Apple Mac

  • Apple MacBook Pro 13" M1 2020

  • Apple M1 SoC chip

  • Memory 16GB

  • 1TB SSD

The Pro Tools Power Test

The test session is as follows;

  • We create 128 audio tracks with audio on every track, with audio edits taking place every few seconds.

  • Every track has fader automation throughout playback for the entire session.

  • On every audio track, we insert Channel Strip and Dverb, so that's 128 instances of each.

  • We add 256 instrument tracks, insert Boom and MIDI so all instances at playing the virtual instrument.

  • Then we add as many instances of Avid Eleven II until the session no longer plays without giving playback errors.

As we say, it's not perfect, we're sure you could think of a thousand variants in a test, but it's one we've used for years, which means we can compare previous test results.

You can download the Pro Tools power test here. If you don't have the Eleven plugin then use Eleven Lite, the free version.

How Did Pro Tools Perform On An Apple MacBook Pro M1?

The simple answer is that it worked, not only that, it worked incredibly well. So well that we could happily work on a session with Pro Tools running through Rosetta and get excellent results.

BUT, before you rush out and order a new M1 powered Apple Mac, if you are making a living using Pro Tools then we suggest you wait. This is not an exhaustive compatibility test of Pro Tools, hardware and all associated plugins. It's an early test to see what we should expect from Pro Tools once it can run natively on a new Apple Mac with the M1 CPU. Furthermore, for many professionals, it gives you a taste of what the later versions of this new generation of Arm-based, Apple Silicon Macs will be like, the ones aimed at professional studios.

First the numbers for comparison…

ComputerProcessorRAMNumber Of
Audio Tracks
of Boom
Instances Of
Eleven II Plugin
Mac mini 20183.2GHz Intel Core i7 (6-Core)32GB1281520Native
Mac mini 20183.2GHz Intel Core i7 (6-Core)32GB1922001Native
Mac Pro 6,13.5 GHz Intel Xeon E5 (6-Core)64GB1281515Native
Mac Pro 6,12.7GHz Intel Xeon E5 (12 Core)64GB19220023Native
iMac Pro3.2GHz Intel Xeon W (8-Core)32GB1282567Native
Mac Pro 7,13.3 GHz Intel Xeon W (12-Core)64GB12841220Native
Mac Pro 7,13.3 GHz Intel Xeon W (12-Core)64GB12851210Native
HP Z8402 x 2.4GHz Xeon E5-2620 (12-Core)64GB19226525Native
Mac Pro 5,12 x 2.4GHz Intel Xeon (8-Core)32GB1281510HDX
Mac Pro 5,12 x 3.33GHz Intel Xeon (12-Core)32GB1281525HDX
Mac Pro 7,13.3 GHz Intel Xeon W (12-Core)64GB1281550HDX
MacBook ProM1 8-Core Arm-based SoC16GB12825611Native

What Do We Think Of The New Apple MacBook Pro M1 With Pro Tools?

In a nutshell, we are flabbergasted at the stunning performance we are getting from Pro Tools running on an unsupported OS, via Rosetta 2 and on a chip, it's not designed for. As you can see it outperforms several higher powered machines, some of which are professional models, including the Mac Pro 6,1 and the iMac Pro.

Another important point to make for those working in audio, especially same room studios, this Mac doesn't seem affected by heat. In power tests both with Pro Tools and Logic Pro, the temperature of the Mac under heavy load seldom passes 28 degrees C. Conversely on both our office MacBook Pro i9 and Mac mini 2018, it wasn't long before the temperature was in the 90s and the fan was generating enough power to take off. Whatever Apple have done with cooling, it works!

If this is what we can get from Pro Tools on the new entry-level, 1st generation, Apple MacBook Pro M1 now, imagine what we should expect once Avid has ported Pro Tools to support both Big Sur and the pro versions of the Apple M1 chip!


Pro Tools

Digital audio workstation

For other uses, see Pro Tools (disambiguation).

Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation (DAW) developed and released by Avid Technology (formerly Digidesign) for Microsoft Windows and macOS.[2] It is used for music creation and production, sound for picture (sound design, audio post-production and mixing)[3] and, more generally, sound recording, editing, and mastering processes.

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[4] and to obtain lower latency audio performance.[5] 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,[7]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).[10] The legacy SDII format was dropped with Pro Tools 10,[11] although SDII conversion is still possible on macOS.[10]

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.[12]

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-bitfloating-point resolution for plug-ins and 64-bit floating-point summing.[4] The software and the audio engine were adapted to 64-bit architecture from version 11.[13]


1985Sound Designer
1987Sound Designer Universal (1.5)
1989Sound Tools
Sound Designer II
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+

The beginnings: Digidrums (1983–1985)[edit]

Pro Tools was developed by UC Berkeley graduates Evan Brooks, who majored in electrical engineering and computer science, and Peter Gotcher.[14]

In 1983, the two friends, sharing an interest in music and electronic and software engineering, decided to study the memory mapping of the newly released E-mu Drumulatordrum machine to create EPROM sound replacement chips. The Drumulator was quite popular at that time, although it was limited to its built-in samples.[15]

They started selling the upgrade chips one year later under their new Digidrums label. Five different upgrade chips were available, offering different alternate drum styles. The chips, easily switchable with the original ones, enjoyed remarkable success between the Drumulator users, selling 60,000 units overall.[17]

Digidesign Sound Designer (1985–1989)[edit]

When Apple released its first Macintosh computer in 1984, the pair thought to design a more functional and flexible solution which could take advantage of a graphical interface. In collaboration with E-Mu, they developed a Mac-based visual sample editing system for the Emulator II keyboard, called Sound Designer, released under the Digidesign brand[19] and inspired by the interface of the Fairlight CMI.[20] This system, the first ancestor of Pro Tools, was released in 1985 at the price of US$995.[15]

Brooks and Gotcher rapidly ported Sound Designer to many other sampling keyboards, such as E-mu Emax, Akai S900, Sequential Prophet 2000, Korg DSS-1, and Ensoniq Mirage.[20] Thanks to the universal file specification subsequently developed by Brooks with version 1.5,[20] Sound Designer files could be transferred via MIDI between sampling keyboards of different manufacturers.[21] This universal file specification, along with the printed source code to a 68000 assembly language interrupt-driven MIDI driver, was distributed through Macintosh MIDI interface manufacturer Assimilation, which manufactured the first MIDI interface for the Mac in 1985.

Starting from the same year, a dial-up service provided by Beaverton Digital Systems, called MacMusic, allowed Sound Designer users to download and install the entire Emulator II sound library to other less expensive samplers: sample libraries could be shared across different manufacturers platforms without copyright infringement. MacMusic contributed to Sound Designer's success by leveraging both the universal file format and developing the first online sample file download site globally, many years before the World Wide Web use soared. The service used 2400-baud modems and 100 MB of disk space with Red Ryder host on a 1 MB Macintosh Plus.[20]

With the release of Apple Macintosh II in 1987, which provided card slots, a hard disk, and more capable memory, Brooks and Gotcher saw the possibility to evolve Sound Designer into a featured digital audio workstation. They discussed with E-mu the opportunity of using the Emulator III as a platform for their updated software, but E-mu rejected this offer. Therefore, they decided to design both the software and the hardware autonomously. Motorola, which was working on its 56K series of digital signal processors, invited the two to participate in its development. Brooks designed a circuit board for the processor, then developed the software to make it work with Sound Designer. A beta version of the DSP was ready by December 1988.

Digidesign Sound Tools and Sound Designer II software (1989–1990)[edit]

The combination of the hardware and the software was called Sound Tools. Advertised as the "first tapeless studio", it was presented on January 20, 1989 at the NAMM annual convention. The system relied on a NuBus card called Sound Accelerator, equipped with one Motorola 56001 processor. The card provided 16-bit playback and 44.1/48 kHz recording through a two-channel A/D converter (AD In), while the DSP handled signal processing, which included a ten-band graphic equalizer, a parametric equalizer, time stretching with pitch preservation, fade-in/fade-out envelopes, and crossfades ("merging") between two sound files.[23]

Sound Tools was bundled with Sound Designer II software, which was, at this time, a simple mono or stereo audio editor running on Mac SE or Mac II; digital audio acquisition from DAT was also possible.[24] A two-channel digital interface (DAT-I/O) with AES/EBU and S/PDIF connections was made available later in 1989, while the Pro I/O interface came out in 1990 with 18-bit converters.

The file format used by Sound Designer II (SDII) became eventually a standard for digital audio file exchange until the WAV file format took over a decade later. Since audio streaming and non-destructive editing were performed on hard drives, the software was still limited by their performance; densely edited tracks could cause glitches.[25] However, the rapidly evolving computer technology allowed developments towards a multi-track sequencer.

Deck, Pro Tools, Sound Tools II and Pro Tools II (1990–1994)[edit]

The core engine and much of the user interface of the first iteration of Pro Tools was based on Deck. The software, published in 1990, was the first multi-track digital recorder based on a personal computer. It was developed by OSC, a small San Francisco company founded the same year, in conjunction with Digidesign and ran on Digidesign's hardware.[26] Deck could run four audio tracks with automation; MIDI sequencing was possible during playback and record, and one effect combination could be assigned to each audio track (2-band parametric EQ, 1-band EQ with delay, 1-band EQ with chorus, delay with chorus).[27]

The first Pro Tools system was launched on June 5, 1991. It was based on an adapted version of Deck (ProDeck) along with Digidesign's new editing software, ProEdit; Sound Designer II was still supplied for two-channel editing. Pro Tools relied on Digidesign's Audiomedia card, mounting one Motorola 56001 processor with a clock rate of 22.58 MHz[30] and offering two analog and two digital channels of I/O, and on the Sound Accelerator card. External synchronization with audio and video tape machines was possible with SMPTE timecode and the Video Slave drivers. The complete system was selling for US$6,000.

Sound Tools II was launched in 1992 with a new DSP card. Two interfaces were also released: Pro Master 20, providing 20-bit A/D conversion, and Audiomedia II, with improved digital converters and one Motorola 56001 processor running at 33.86 MHz.[32]

In 1993, Josh Rosen, Mats Myrberg and John Dalton, the OSC's engineers who developed Deck, split from Digidesign to focus on releasing lower-cost multi-track software that would run on computers with no additional hardware. This software was known as Session (for stereo-only audio cards) and Session 8 (for multichannel audio interfaces) and was selling for US$399.[33][26]

Peter Gotcher felt that the software needed a significant rewrite. Pro Tools II, the first software release fully developed by Digidesign, followed in the same year and addressed its predecessor's weaknesses.[17] The editor and the mixer were merged into a single application, while a specific software, the Digidesign Audio Engine (DAE), was provided as a separate application to favor hardware support from third-party developers, enabling the use of Pro Tools hardware and plug-ins on other DAWs.[15] Selling more than 8,000 systems worldwide, Pro Tools II became the best-selling digital audio workstation.[17]

Pro Tools II TDM: 16 tracks and real-time plug-ins (1994)[edit]

In 1994, Pro Tools 2.5 implemented Digidesign's newly developed time-division multiplexing technology, which allowed routing of multiple digital audio streams between DSP cards. With TDM, up to four NuBus cards could be linked, obtaining a 16-track system, while multiple DSP-based plug-ins could be run simultaneously and in real-time.[34] The wider bandwidth required to run the larger number of tracks was achieved with a SCSI expansion card developed by Grey Matter Response, called System Accelerator.

In the same year, Digidesign announced that it merged into the American multimedia company Avid,[35] developer of the digital video editing platform Media Composer and one of Digidesign's major customers (25% of Sound Accelerator and Audiomedia cards produced was being bought by Avid). The operation was finalized in 1995.[34]

Pro Tools III: 48 tracks, DSP Farm cards and switch to PCI cards (1995–1997)[edit]

With a redesigned Disk I/O card, Pro Tools III was able to provide 16 tracks with a single NuBus card; the system could be expanded using TDM to up to three Disk I/O cards, achieving 48 tracks.[34] DSP Farm cards were introduced to increase the processing power needed for a more extensive real-time audio processing; each card was equipped with three Motorola 56001 chips running at 40 MHz.[37] Multiple DSP cards could be added for additional processing power; each card could handle the playback of 16 tracks. A dedicated SCSI card was still required to provide the required bandwidth to support multiple-card systems.

Along with Pro Tools III, Digidesign launched the 888 interface, with eight channels of analog and digital I/O, and the cheaper 882 interface. The Session 8 system included a control surface with eight faders.[38] A series of TDM plug-ins were bundled with the software, including dynamics processing, EQ, delay, modulation, and reverb.[34]

In 1996, following Apple's decision to drop NuBus in favor of PCI bus, Digidesign added PCI support with Pro Tools 3.21. The PCI version of the Disk I/O card incorporated a high-speed SCSI along with DSP chips, while the upgraded DSP Farm PCI card included four Motorola 56002 chips running at 66 MHz.[39]

This change of architecture allowed the convergence of Macintosh computers with Intel-based PCs, for which PCI had become the standard internal communication bus. With the PCI version of Digidesign's Audiomedia card in 1997 (Audiomedia III),[40] Sound Tools and Pro Tools could be run on Windows platforms for the first time.

24-bit audio and surround mixing: Pro Tools | 24 and Pro Tools | 24 MIX (1997–2002)[edit]

With the release of Pro Tools | 24 in 1997, Digidesign introduced a new 24-bit interface (the 888|24) and a new PCI card (the d24). The d24 relied on Motorola 56301 processors, offering increased processing power and 24 tracks of 24-bit audio[41] (later increased to 32 tracks with a DAE software update). A SCSI accelerator was required to keep up with the increased data throughput. Digidesign dropped its proprietary SCSI controller in favor of commercially available ones.[34]

64 tracks with dual d24 support were introduced with Pro Tools 4.1.1 in 1998,[42] while the updated Pro Tools | 24 MIX system provided three times more DSP power with the MIX Core DSP cards. MIXplus systems combined a MIX Core with a MIX Farm, obtaining a performance increase of 700% compared to a Pro Tools | 24 system.[34]

Pro Tools 5 saw two substantial software developments: extended MIDI functionality and integration in 1999 (an editable piano-roll view in the editor; MIDI automation, quantize and transpose)[34] and the introduction of surround sound mixing and multichannel plug-ins—up to the 7.1 format—with Pro Tools TDM 5.1[43] in 2001.[42]

The migration from traditional, tape-based analog studio technology to the Pro Tools platform took place within the industry:Ricky Martin's "Livin' la Vida Loca" (1999) was the first Billboard Hot 100 number-one single to be recorded, edited, and mixed entirely within the Pro Tools environment,[44] allowing a more meticulous and effortless editing workflow (especially on vocals).

While consolidating its presence in professional studios, Digidesign began to target the mid-range consumer market in 1999 by introducing the Digi001 bundle, consisting of a rack-mount audio interface with eight inputs and outputs with 24-bit, 44.1/48 kHz capability and MIDI connections. The package was distributed with Pro Tools LE, a specific version of the software without DSP support, limited to 24 mixing tracks.[15]

High-resolution audio and consolidation of digital recording and mixing: Pro Tools | HD (2002–2011)[edit]

Following the launch of Mac OS X operating system in 2001, Digidesign made a substantial redesign of Pro Tools hardware and software. Pro Tools | HD was launched in 2002, replacing the Pro Tools | 24 system and relying on a new range of DSP cards (HD Core and HD Process, replacing MIX Core and MIX Farm), new interfaces running at up to 192 kHz or 96 kHz sample rates (HD 192 and 96, replacing 888 and 882), along with an updated version of the software (Pro Tools 6) with new features and a redesigned GUI, developed for OS X and Windows XP.[46] Two HD interfaces could be linked together for increased I/O through a proprietary connection. The base system was selling for US$12,000, while the full system was selling for US$20,000.

Both HD Core and Process cards mounted nine Motorola 56361 chips running at 100 MHz, each providing 25% more processing power than the Motorola 56301 chips mounted on MIX cards; this translated to about twice the power for a single card. A system could combine one HD Core card with up to two HD Process cards, supporting playback for 96/48/12 tracks at 48/96/192 kHz sample rates (with a single HD Core card installed) and 128/64/24 tracks at 48/96/192 kHz sample rates (with one or two HD Process cards).[47]

When Apple changed the expansion slot architecture of the Mac G5 to PCI Express, Digidesign launched a line of PCIe DSP cards that both adopted the new card slot format and slightly changed the combination of chips. HD Process cards were replaced with HD Accel, each mounting nine Motorola 56321 chips running at 200 MHz and each providing twice the power than an HD Process card; track count for systems mounting an HD Accel was extended to 192/96/36 tracks at 48/96/192 kHz sample rates.[48] The use of PCI Express connection reduced round-trip delay time, while DSP audio processing allowed the use of smaller hardware buffer sizes during recording, assuring stable performance with extremely low latency.[5]

Pro Tools, offering a solid and reliable alternative to analog recording and mixing, eventually became a standard in professional studios throughout the decade, while editing features such as Beat Detective (introduced with Pro Tools 5.1 in 2001)[43] and Elastic Audio (introduced with Pro Tools 7.4 in 2007)[49] redefined the workflow adopted in contemporary music production.[15]

Other software milestones were background tasks processing (such as fade rendering, file conversion or relinking), real-time insertion of TDM plug-ins during playback, and a browser/database environment introduced with Pro Tools 6 in 2003;[46] Automatic plug-in Delay Compensation (ADC), introduced with Pro Tools 6.4 in 2004 and only available with TDM systems with HD Accel;[50] a new implementation of RTAS with multi-threading support and improved performance, Region groups, Instrument tracks, and real-time MIDI processing, introduced with Pro Tools 7 in 2006;[51] VCA and volume trim, introduced with Pro Tools 7.2 in 2006;[52] support for ten track inserts, MIDI Editor, and MIDI Score, introduced with Pro Tools 8 in 2009.[53]

Pro Tools | MIX hardware support was dropped with version 6.4.1.

Native systems: Pro Tools LE and Pro Tools M-Powered[edit]

Pro Tools LE, first introduced and distributed in 1999 with the Digi 001 interface,[54] was a specific Pro Tools version in which the signal processing entirely relied on the host CPU. The software required a Digidesign interface to run, which acted as a copy-protection mechanism for the software. Mbox was the entry-level range of the available interface; Digi 001 and Digi 002/003, which also provided a control surface, were the upper range. The Eleven Rack also ran on Pro Tools LE, included in-box DSP processing via an 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 shared the same interface of Pro Tools HD but had a smaller track count (24 tracks with Pro Tools 5, extended to 32 tracks with Pro Tools 6[46] and 48 tracks with Pro Tools 8)[55] and supported a maximum sample rate of 96 kHz[56] (depending on the interface used). Some advanced software features, such as Automatic Delay Compensation, surround mixing, multi-track Beat Detective, OMF/AAF support, and SMPTE Timecode, were omitted. Some of them, as well as support for 48 tracks/96 voices (extended to 64 tracks/128 voices with Pro Tools 8) and additional plug-ins, were made available through an expansion package called "Music Production Toolkit".[57] The "Complete Production Toolkit", introduced with Pro Tools 8, added support for surround mixing and 128 tracks (while the system was still limited to 128 voices).[55]

With the acquisition of M-Audio in 2004–2005, Digidesign released a specific variant of Pro Tools, called M-Powered, which was equivalent to Pro Tools LE and could be run with M-Audio interfaces.[58]

The Pro Tools LE/M-Powered line was discontinued with the release of Pro Tools 9.

Hardware-independent native systems: Pro Tools 9[edit]

Pro Tools 9, released in November 2010, dropped the requirement of proprietary hardware to run the software. Any audio device could be used through Core Audio on macOS or the ASIO driver on a Windows. Core Audio allowed device aggregation, enabling using of more than one interface simultaneously. Some Pro Tools HD software features, such as automatic plug-in delay compensation, OMF/AAF file import, Timecode ruler, and multi-track Beat Detective, were included in the standard version of Pro Tools 9.[59]

When operating on a machine containing one or more HD Core, Accel, or Native cards, the software ran as Pro Tools HD with the complete HD feature set. In all other cases, it ran as Pro Tools 9 standard, with a smaller track count and some advanced features turned off.

Advanced Instrument Research (AIR): built-in virtual instruments and plug-ins[edit]

In response to Apple's decision to include Emagic's complete line of virtual instruments in Logic Pro in 2004 and following Avid's acquisition of German virtual instruments developer Wizoo in 2005, Pro Tools 8 was supplied with its first built-in virtual instruments library, the AIR Creative Collection, as well as with some new plug-ins, to make it more appealing for music production.[55] An expansion was also available, called AIR Complete Collection.

AIR Creative Collection
Structure Free sampler with basic library
Boom electronic drum machine
Vacuum virtual subtractive-style synthesizer
Mini Grand sampled acoustic piano
DB33 sampled Hammond B3 organ
Xpand!2 synthesis and sample-based library
AIR Complete Collection
Structure sampler with full library
Strike virtual drummer
Hybrid virtual subtractive synthesizer
Velvet sampled classic electric pianos
Transfuser real-time loop manipulation tool

Pro Tools | HDX (2011–present)[edit]

In October 2011, Avid introduced Pro Tools 10 and a new series of DSP PCIe cards named HDX. Each card mounted 18 DSP processors, manufactured by Texas Instruments, allowing an increased computational precision (32-bitfloating-point resolution for audio processing and 64-bit floating-point summing, versus the previous 24-bit and 48-bit fixed-point resolution of the TDM engine),[4] thus improving dynamic range performance. Signal processing could be run on the embedded DSP, providing additional computational power and enabling near zero-latency for DSP-reliant plug-ins. Two FPGA chips handled track playback, monitoring, and internal routing, providing a lower round trip latency.

A second line of PCIe cards, called HD Native, provided low latency with a single FPGA chip but didn't mount DSP (audio processing relied on the host system's CPU).[60] Round trip latency at 96 kHz was 0.7 ms for HDX and 1.7 ms for HD Native (with a 64-sample buffer).[61]

To maintain performance consistency, HDX products were specified with a fixed maximum number of voices (each voice representing a monophonic channel). Each HDX card enabled 256 simultaneous voices at 44.1/48 kHz; voice count halved when the sample rate doubled (128 voices at 88.2/96 kHz, 64 voices at 176.4/192 kHz). Up to three HDX cards could be installed on a single system for a maximum of 768/384/192 total voices and for increased processing power. On Native systems, voice count was limited to 96/48/24 voices with the standard version of Pro Tools and 256/128/64 voices with Pro Tools HD software.[4]

With Pro Tools 10, Avid deployed a new plug-in format for both Native and HDX systems called AAX (an acronym for Avid Audio eXtension).[62] AAX Native replaced RTAS plug-ins and AAX DSP, a specific format running on HDX systems, replaced TDM plug-ins. AAX was developed to provide the future implementation of 64-bit plug-ins, although 32-bit versions of AAX were still used in Pro Tools 10. TDM support was dropped with HDX,[63] while Pro Tools 10 would be the final release for Pro Tools | HD Process and Accel systems.

Notable software features introduced with Pro Tools 10 were editable clip-based gain automation (Clip gain), the ability to load the session's audio data into RAM to improve transport responsiveness (Disk caching), quadrupled Automatic Delay Compensation length, audio fades processed in real-time, timeline length extended to 24 hours, support for 32-bit float audio and mixed audio formats within the session, and the addition of Avid Channel Strip plug-in (based on Euphonix System 5 console's channel strip, following Avid's acquisition of Euphonix in 2010).[64][43]

Switch to 64-bit architecture (2013)[edit]

Pro Tools 11, released in June 2013, switched from 32-bit to 64-bit software architecture with new audio and video engines, enabling the application and plug-ins to fully take advantage of system memory. The new audio engine (AAE) introduced support of offline bouncing and simultaneous mixdowns multiple sources; dynamic plug-in processing allowed to reduce CPU usage when active native plug-ins don't receive any input. Two separate buffers were used for playback and for monitoring of record-enabled or input-monitored tracks. The new video engine (AVE) improved performance and handling of multiple CPU cores.

Support for HD Accel systems, legacy HD interfaces, TDM and 32-bit AAX plug-ins was dropped due to their incompatibility with 64-bit architecture.[13]


The timeline of Pro Tools 9 showing audio and MIDI tracks, running on Windows

Pro Tools workflow is organized into two main windows: the timeline is shown in the Edit window, while the mixer is shown in the Mix window. MIDI and Score Editor windows provide a dedicated environment to edit MIDI.[65] Different window layouts, along with shown and hidden tracks and their width settings, can be stored and recalled from the Window configuration list.[66]


The timeline provides a graphical representation of all types of tracks: the audio envelope or waveform (when zoomed in) for audio tracks, a piano roll showing MIDI notes and controller values for MIDI and Instrument tracks, a sequence of frame thumbnails for video tracks, audio levels for auxiliary, master and VCA master tracks.[67] Alternate audio and MIDI content can be recorded, shown, and edited in multiple layers for each track (called playlists), which can be used for track compositing. All the mixer parameters (such as track and sends volume, pan, and mute status) and plug-in parameters can be changed over time through automation. Any automation type can be shown and edited in multiple lanes for each track. Track-based volume automation can be converted to clip-based automation and vice versa;[71] automation of any type can also be copied and pasted to any other automation type.

Time can be measured and displayed on the timeline in different scales: bars and beats, time or SMPTE timecode (with selectable frame rates), audio samples, or film stock feet for audio-for-film referencing (based on the 35 mm film format).[73] Tempo and meter changes can also be programmed; both MIDI and audio clips can move or time-stretch to follow tempo changes ("tick-based" tracks) or maintain their absolute position ("sample-based" tracks). Elastic Audio must be enabled to allow time stretching of audio clips.


Audio and MIDI clips can be moved, cut, and duplicated non-destructively on the timeline (edits change the clip organization on the timeline, but source files are not overwritten).[75]Time stretching (TCE), pitch shifting, equalization, and dynamics processing can be applied to audio clips non-destructively and in real-time with Elastic Audio and Clip Effects;[77] gain can be adjusted statically or dynamically on individual clips with Clip Gain;[78] fade and crossfades can be applied, adjusted and are processed in real-time. All other types of audio processing can be rendered on the timeline with the AudioSuite (non-real-time) version of AAX plug-ins. Audio clips can be converted to MIDI data using the Celemony Melodyne engine; pitches with timing and velocities are extracted through melodic, polyphonic, or rhythmic analysis algorithms. Pitch and rhythm of audio tracks can also be viewed and manipulated with the bundled Melodyne Essential.

MIDI notes, velocities, and controllers can be edited directly on the timeline, each MIDI track showing an individual piano roll, or in a specific window, where several MIDI and Instrument tracks can be shown together in a single piano roll with color-coding. Multiple MIDI controllers for each track can be viewed and edited on different lanes. MIDI tracks can also be shown in musical notation within a score editor. MIDI data such as note quantization, duration, transposition, delay, and velocity can also be altered non-destructively and in real-time on a track-per-track basis.

Video files can be imported to one or more video tracks and organized in multiple playlists. Multiple video files can be edited together and played back in real-time. Video processing is GPU-accelerated and managed by the Avid Video Engine (AVE). Video output from one video track is provided in a separate window or can be viewed full screen.


The virtual mixer shows controls and components of all tracks, including inserts, sends, input and output assignments, automation read/write controls, panning, solo/mute buttons, arm record buttons, the volume fader, the level meter, and the track name. It also can show additional controls for the inserted virtual instrument, mic preamp gain, HEAT settings, and the EQ curve for each track.[85] Each track inputs and outputs can have different channel depths: mono, stereo, multichannel (LCR, LCRS, Quad, 5.0/5.1, 6.0/6.1, 7.0/7.1); Dolby Atmos and Ambisonics formats are also available for mixing.

Audio can be routed to and from different outputs and inputs, both physical and internal. Internal routing is achieved using busses and auxiliary tracks; each track can have multiple output assignments. Virtual instruments are loaded on Instrument tracks—a specific type of track that receives MIDI data in input and returns audio in output.

Plug-ins are processed in real-time with dedicated DSP chips (AAX DSP format) or using the host computer's CPU (AAX Native format).

Track rendering[edit]

Audio, auxiliary, and Instrument tracks (or MIDI tracks routed to a virtual instrument plug-in) can be committed to new tracks containing their rendered output. Virtual instruments can be committed to audio to prepare an arrangement project for mixing; track commit is also used to free up system resources during mixing or when the session is shared with systems not having some plug-ins installed. Multiple tracks can be rendered at a time; it is also possible to render a specific timeline selection and define which range of inserts to render.[90]

Similarly, tracks can be frozen with their output rendered at the end of the plug-in chain or at a specific insert of their chain. Editing is suspended on frozen tracks, but they can subsequently be unfrozen if further adjustments are needed. For example, virtual instruments can be frozen to free up system memory and improve performance while keeping the possibility to unfreeze them to make changes to the arrangement.[91]


The main mix of the session—or any internal mix bus or output path—can be bounced to disk in real-time (if hardware inserts from analog hardware are used, or if any audio or MIDI source is monitored live into the session) or offline (faster-than-real-time). The selected source can be mixed to mono, stereo, or any other multichannel format. Multichannel mixdowns can be written as an interleaved audio file or in multiple mono files. Up to 24 sources of up to 10 channels each can be mixed down simultaneously—for example, to deliver audio stems.

Audio and video can be bounced together to a MOV file; video is transcoded with the DNxHD, DNxHR, Apple ProRes, and H.264 video codecs.

Session data exchange[edit]

Session data can be partially or entirely exchanged with other DAWs or video editing software that support AAF, OMF, or MXF. AAF and OMF sequences embed audio and video files with their metadata; when opened by the destination application, session structure is rebuilt with the original clip placement, edits, and basic track and clip automation.

Track contents and any of its properties can be selectively exchanged between Pro Tools sessions with Import Session Data (for example, importing audio clips from an external session to a designated track while keeping track settings or importing track inserts while keeping audio clips).[95] Similarly, the same track data for any track set—a given processing chain, a collection of clips, or a group of tracks with their assignments—can be stored and recalled as Track Presets.

Cloud collaboration[edit]

Pro Tools projects can be synchronized to the Avid Cloud and shared with other users on a track-by-track basis. Different users can simultaneously work on the project and upload new tracks or any changes to existing tracks (such as audio and MIDI clips, automation, inserted plug-ins, and mixer status) or alterations to the project structure (such as tempo, meter, or key).

Field recorder workflows[edit]

Pro Tools reads embedded metadata in media files to manage multichannel recordings made by field recorders in production sound. All stored metadata (such as scene and take numbers, tape or sound roll name, or production comments) can be accessed in the Workspace browser.

Analogous audio clips are identified by overlapping longitudinal timecode (LTC) and by one or more user-defined criteria (such as matching file length, file name, or scene and take numbers). An audio segment can be replaced from matching channels (for example, to replace audio from a boom microphone with the audio from a lavalier microphone) while maintaining edits and fades in the timeline, or any matching channels can be added to new tracks.

Multi-system linking and device synchronization[edit]

Up to twelve Pro Tools Ultimate systems with dedicated hardware can be linked together over an Ethernet network—for example, in multi-user mixing environments where different mix components (such as dialog, ADR, effects, and music) reside on different systems, or if a larger track count or processing power is needed. Transport, solo, and mute are controlled by a single system and with a single control surface. One system can also be designated for video playback to optimize performance. Pro Tools can synchronize to external devices using SMPTE/EBU timecode or MIDI timecode.


Pro Tools software is available in a standard edition (informally called "Vanilla")[103] providing all the key features for audio mixing and post-production, a complete edition (officially called "Ultimate" and known as "HD" between 2002 and 2018), which unlocks functionality for advanced workflows and a higher track count, and a starter edition, called "First", providing the essential features.

Pro Tools | First Pro Tools Pro Tools | Ultimate
License type Free Paid (Perpetual/Subscription)
Price of perpetual licenses[107]US$599 US$2599
Maximum voices, tracks, and hardware inputs
Audio tracks 16
Voices n/a 2048 (native/HDX Hybrid)
256/card (HDX classic)
I/O channels 4 32 192
MIDI tracks 16 1024
Instrument tracks 16 512
Auxiliary tracks 16 128 512
Routing folder tracks n/a 128 512
Video tracks n/a 1 64
Bit depth, Sample rate 32-bit float, 96 kHz 32-bit float, 192 kHz
Production tools
Editing tools Basic Standard Advanced
MIDI editor/keyboard, Elastic Audio
Elastic Pitch, Track presets
Yes Yes Yes
Score editor, Beat Detective,
Input monitoring, Clip gain
No Yes Yes
Clip effects No Playback only Full
Audio to MIDI conversion No Yes Yes
Batch Track/Clip rename, Space clips No Yes Yes
Video editing tools,

Field recorder workflows

No No Yes
Mixing tools
Mixing output Stereo Stereo Up to 7.1.2 surround
Automation Standard Standard Advanced
Plug-in delay compensation,
Offline bounce, Track freeze
Yes Yes Yes
VCA, AFL/PFL solo path,
Timecode, Advanced metering
No Yes Yes
Dolby Atmos, Ambisonics VR,
surround mixing, ADM export
No No Yes
HEAT No No Yes (Paid)
Program features
Cloud collaboration Yes (includes 1 GB of free storage space)
AAF / OMF / MXF file support No Yes Yes
Session data importing No Yes Yes
Disk cache No Yes Yes
Satellite link
(sync up to 12 systems)
No No Yes

Control surfaces[edit]

In mid-1990s, Digidesign started working on a studio device that could replace classic analog consoles and provide integration with Pro Tools. ProControl (1998) was the first Digidesign control surface, providing motorized, touch-sensitive faders, an analog control room communication section, and connecting to the host computer via Ethernet. ProControl could be later expanded by adding up to five fader packs, each providing eight additional fader strips and controls.[34]

Control 24 (2001) added 5.1 monitoring support and included 16 class A preamps designed by Focusrite. Icon D-Control (2004) incorporated an HD Accel system and was developed for larger TV and film productions in mind. Command|8 (2004) and D-Command (2005) were the smaller counterparts of Control 24 and D-Control, connected with the host computer via USB; Venue (2005) was a similar system specifically designed for live sound applications.[43]

C|24 (2007) was a revision of Control 24 with improved preamps, while Icon D-Control ES (2008) and Icon D-Command ES (2009) were redesigns of Icon D-Control and D-Command.[43]

In 2010 Avid acquired Euphonix, manufacturer of the Artist Series, and System 5 control surfaces. They were integrated with Pro Tools along with the EuCon protocols. Avid S6 (2013) and Avid S3 (2014) control surfaces followed by merging the Icon and System 5 series. Pro Tools Dock (2015) was an iPad-based control surface running Pro Tools Control software.[108]

Timeline of Pro Tools hardware and software[edit]

Year Software Hardware Release information
1985 Sound Designer Macintosh-based visual sample editing software developed for the E-Mu Emulator II sampler
dedicated ports of the original software were subsequently released for Emax, Prophet 2000, S900, DSS-1, and Mirage samplers[20]
1987 Sound Designer 1.5 Sound Accelerator universal version with enhanced editing features through Mac's hardware (mix, crossfade, gain and equalization) and supporting a variety of samplers
compatible with Sound AcceleratorNuBus card, equipped with one Motorola 56001 chip, providing dedicated DSP hardware[20]
1989 Sound Tools stereo hard-disk recording and editing system with 16-bit audio, 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz sample rate adopting the SDII proprietary audio format[109]
relies on a Sound AcceleratorNuBus card connected to an external 2-channel AD converter and Sound Designer II software running on Macintosh SE and Mac II
Sound Designer II Sound Accelerator
Audiomedia I
1991 Pro Tools Mac-based 4-track digital production system handled by ProEdit (editing software) and ProDeck (mixing software)
MIDI sequencing and automation[109]
1992 Pro Tools 1.1 4–16 voices support in mixing using up to four cards/interfaces[109]
Sound Tools II support for Pro Master 20 interface with 20-bit A/D conversion
1993 Pro Tools II editing and mixing software merged in a single application called Pro Tools with the component DAE (Digidesign Audio Engine)
4 voices support[42]
Audiomedia II
1994 Pro Tools II TDM (2.5) TDM technology enables real-time effects to run as software plug-ins; up to 4 NuBus cards can be linked together[42]
Pro Tools III 16–48 voices on NuBus-based Mac systems (up to three cards linkable)
DSP Farm NuBus card equipped with 3 Motorola 56001 chips (40 MHz clock speed) for additional processing power[37]
software editing functionality improved
DSP Farm
1996 Pro Tools III PCI 16–48 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[42]
DSP Farm PCI card equipped with 4 Motorola 56002 chips (66 MHz clock speed)[39]
Pro Tools 3.21 888 I/O, 882 I/O
DSP Farm
1997 Pro Tools 4 Pro Tools Project Card WAV and QuickTime file support; Sound Designer file editing features integrated into AudioSuite toolset
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, independently 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[42][110]
Pro Tools | 24 24–48 or 32–64 channels of 24-bit audio I/O support via the d24 PCI card[41]
88x interface line upgraded with 24-bit AD converters, 20-bit DA converters (888|24), 20-bit AD/DA converters (882|20)
Pro Tools 4.1 d24
888|24, 882|20
1998 Pro Tools | 24 MIX 16–48 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
Pro Tools 4.3 MIX Card
MIX Farm
ADAT Bridge I/O 20-bit digital interface with 16 ADAT optical input channels
ProControl first dedicated control surface for Pro Tools using Ethernet connection with microphone and line inputs
1999 Pro Tools 5 integrated MIDI and audio editing/mixing, MIDI piano-roll display, graphic MIDI velocity editing, MIDI quantize
single-stroke key commands for editing, Region Replace, floating video window[54]
2000 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)[54]
Control|24 touch-sensitive control surface equipped with 24 Focusrite preamps
2001 Pro 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 5.1 surround mixing, Beat Detective (TDM)[42]
2002 Pro Tools | HD HD 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[42][47]
Pro Tools 5.3.1 192 I/O, 96 I/O
HD Core
HD Process
Mbox (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
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[56]
2003 Pro Tools 6 support for Mac OS X platform (OS 9 dropped), GUI redesign, real-time plug-in insertion for TDM systems
Relative Grid mode, support for timeline vertical selection
Digibase (workspace browser and database environment) for media/project management
256 MIDI tracks, Groove Template, additional MIDI commands, Import Session Data replaces Import Tracks
new DigiRack plug-ins, more powerful LE version[46]
Pro Tools 6.1 support for Windows XP and ReWire, support for AAF[42]
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
HD Accel (HD) DSP 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)[48]
2004 Pro Tools 6.4 +12 dB fader range
support for Command 8 control surface, Automatic Delay Compensation, TrackPunch, input monitoring on single tracks (HD)[50]
Pro Tools 6.9 160 auxiliary tracks, 128 busses, Surround Panner support, selectable PFL/AFL solo paths (HD)
selectable solo mode (Latch or X-OR), new keyboard shortcuts, I/O setup improvements[116]
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[117]
2005 Pro ToolsM-Poweredstandalone feature-limited product line bundled with M-Audio interfaces, same as Pro Tools LE[58]
Pro Tools 7 HD Accel PCIe (HD) multi-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 96 kHz (HD)[51]
VENUEnew line of modular digital mixing consoles with DSP and integrated playback and recording with Pro Tools[118]
Mbox 2 (LE) second generation of the Mbox USB audio interface[119]
2006 Pro Tools 7.11 support for Intel-based Macs, Hybrid and Xpand!software sampler plug-ins added
Pro Tools 7.2 digital VCA groups, enhanced automation, enhanced track grouping system, extended support for contextual menus, Dubber and Field Recorder enhancements; support for multiple Video tracks (HD)[52]
Pro Tools 7.3 Dynamic 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[120]
Mbox 2 Pro (LE)
Mbox 2 Mini (LE)
new formats/variants of Mbox 2
2007 Pro Tools 7.4 Elastic Audio, Digibase browser enhancements[49]
Digi 003 (LE)
Digi 003 Rack (LE)
Mbox 2 Micro (LE) portable USB interface with mini-jack stereo output and bundled with Pro Tools LE; support limited to 44.1/48 kHz sample rates[121]
2008 Pro Tools 8 revamped 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)[53]
Digi 003 Rack + (LE)
2009 Eleven Rack guitar effects processor with Pro Tools LE DSP
Mbox (LE)
Mbox Pro (LE)
Mbox Mini (LE)
third generation, first full release by Avid
2010 Pro Tools 8.1 HEAT software add-on (HD)
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)[59][122]
HD I/O, HD OMNI, HD MADI, SYNC HD HD Series Interfaces introduced (replaces the previous "blue" HD series)[123]
HD Native PCI 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[60]
2011 Pro Tools | HDX 96 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 replace TDM plug-ins in HD systems, RTAS still supported
improved recording playback performance (disk cache, NAS support, disk scheduler improvements)
Clip Gain, disk cache, real-time fades, 4x maximum Automatic Delay Compensation, 24-hour timeline, support for mixed file formats and 32-bit float resolution, interface improvements, Avid Channel Strip plug-in[4][122]
Pro Tools 10 HDX
2013 Pro Tools 11 application 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)[13]
2014 Duet
2-channel and 4-channel USB interfaces/monitor controllers with 192 kHz AD/DA conversion developed by Apogee
2015 Pro 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[124][122]
Pro Tools 12 available as monthly or yearly subscription; metadata tagging, updated I/O setup[122]
Pro Tools 12.1 increased track count, AFL/PFL solo modes, copy to sends, native HEAT support (HD)[122]
Pro Tools 12.2 VCAs, Disk Caching, advanced metering options unlocked to standard version[122]
Pro Tools 12.3 Commit, fade presets, batch fades, clip graphic overlay[122]
Pro Tools 12.4 Track Freeze, fade workflows[122]
2016 Pro Tools 12.5 Cloud Collaboration, updated Avid Video Engine, send to playback (Interplay)[122]
Pro Tools 12.6 Clip Effects, Layered Editing, playlist improvements[122]
Pro Tools 12.7 project revision history, Workspace improvements
software support for Pro Tools | MTRX[122]
2017 Pro Tools 12.8 Pro Tools | MTRX Dolby Atmos integration and NEXIS optimization (HD); Workspace and project enhancements; Cloud Collaboration (First)[122]
Pro Tools 12.8.2 Ambisonics VR Track support, Dolby Atmos enhancements, improved MIDI editing and recording features, Batch renaming features[122]
2018 Pro Tools 2018.1 iLok 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[122]
first version to adopt year and month of release as a version numbering scheme
Pro Tools 2018.4 "Pro Tools | HD" software line rebranded as "Pro Tools | Ultimate"
bug fixes and stability improvements[122]
Pro Tools 2018.7 real-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[125]
Pro Tools 2018.12 bug fixes and stability improvements[126]
2019 Pro Tools 2019.5 384–96 voices on native systems (Ultimate), 1024 MIDI tracks
performance improvements (HDX / HD Native)
continuous playback on most timeline and track interactions, key commands added; bug fixes[127]
Pro Tools 2019.6 bug fixes[128]
Pro Tools 2019.10 support for up to 130 outputs with Dolby Audio Bridge, multi-stem bounce in a single file (Ultimate)
updated Avid Video Engine with 4K/60 fps support and H.264 playback performance improvements, steep breakpoint smoothing option added, AAF importing improvements, SMPTE ID support for wave files, key commands added; bug fixes[129]
Pro Tools 2019.12 bug fixes and stability improvements[130]
2020 Pro Tools 2020.3 Pro Tools | MTRX Studio Folder Tracks, Resources section added in System Usage, H.264 performance improvements extended; bug fixes and stability improvements
support for Pro Tools | MTRX Studio[131]
Pro Tools 2020.5 optimizations for session storage on cloud services; bug fixes and stability improvements[132]
Pro Tools 2020.9 support for Ableton Link for timeline and transport synchronization over LAN
support for BWFRF64 audio import and playback, support for SDII conversion to BWF WAV on import (macOS only); Cloud Collaboration improvements; bug fixes and stability improvements[133]
Pro Tools 2020.11 Pro Tools | Carbon Dark Theme, Space Clips; integration of Melodyne Essential software, audio to MIDI conversion, and QuickTime MOV import/export functionality
support for low-latency AAX DSP mode (Pro Tools | Carbon)
512 Master faders, support for Dolby Atmos ADM BWF export (Ultimate)
bug fixes and stability improvements; performance improvements of offline bounces and playback with low buffer sizes[134]

See also[edit]



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  59. ^Avid 2019, p. 949–950, 43. Clip Gain and Clip Effects.
  60. ^Avid 2019, p. 941, 43. Clip Gain and Clip Effects.
  61. ^Avid 2019, p. 188, 12. Pro Tools Main Windows.
  62. ^Avid 2019, p. 995–999, 45. Committing, Freezing, and Bouncing Tracks.
  63. ^Avid 2019, p. 1000–1002, 45. Committing, Freezing, and Bouncing Tracks.
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Pro Tools now has M1 Mac support, and lets you create bigger projects than ever before

Avid has released Pro Tools 2021.6, a summer update for the DAW that brings the Hybrid Engine to HDX systems, adds support for M1 Macs and offers more I/O, tracks and voices.

The Hybrid Engine was launched alongside the Pro Tools | Carbonaudio interface, and has now been brought to Pro Tools HDX systems. It’s designed to let you switch between native and DSP processing on a track-by-track basis, giving you a best-of-both worlds approach and the ability to run bigger sessions more smoothly.

In fact, Pro Tools | Ultimate now supports 2,048 voices and audio tracks at all sample rates, from 128 to 28kHz. That’s five times more than the previous version. What’s more, the maximum number of I/O channels has been doubled from 32 to 64.

The standard Pro Tools, meanwhile, now supports a maximum of 256 mono or stereo audio tracks.

The update also means that you can now run Pro Tools | First, Pro Tools, Pro Tools | Ultimate and Pro Tools | Carbon systems on M1 Macs - another boost for Apple’s silicon processors.

Other enhancements include the option to customise the dark and classic UI themes, QuickTime and file support improvements, and automatic delay compensation when sidechaining tracks.

Find out more on the Avid website. Pro Tools 2021.6 is available to all users with an active subscription plan.

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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Introducing Sibelius for mobile

From studio to coffeeshop to soundstage, write music anywhere you go

See how

Introducing Sibelius for mobileFrom studio to coffeeshop to soundstage, write music anywhere you go
See how

Creators who entertain and inform, educate and enlighten. From solo artists to the
largest media enterprises. From music to film, news to sports, TV to anything you can imagine.


Andrew Scheps Loves the Hybrid Engine

Why Andrew Scheps Loves the Hybrid Engine

Mixer Andrew Scheps thought he needed a new computer—until the Hybrid Engine came to HDX.
Read his story

Join Us in the Post Caf

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We ask the global post-production community for insights into the ever-evolving world of post.
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Mixer Bainz Shares Why He Chooses Carbon

Mixer Bainz Shares Why He Chooses Carbon

We went into the studio to ask Young Thug’s mixer his engineering philosophy for YSL.
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How can news organizations preserve their credibility in the age of misinformation? We asked an expert.
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Create. Connect. Collaborate. Achieve your best work with tools,
solutions, and services that bring your creative inspiration to life.

Find, connect, and collaborate with other creatives around the world. Get help.
Learn something new. Ask and answer questions. And so much more.

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Discover the Avid Community

Find, connect, message, and collaborate with other creators
Dive in

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Artist Relations

Powering greater creators like you

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Remote Work Resources

Bring the studio or facility home
Get help going remote

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Avid Blogs

Gain insight and info to inspire and further your creativity
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Imac pro tools


Your talent and artistry know no bounds. Take your sound further with software and hardware that let you focus on what you do best. Meet Pro Tools.


Your talent and artistry know no bounds. Take your sound further with software and hardware that let you focus on what you do best. Meet Pro Tools.

Pro Tools is always getting better with new features and improvements. And with your active plan, you get them as soon as we release them. See what's new in Pro Tools.

KERRY LEVA, PRODUCER, SONGWRITERGo inside her creative process of how to write a song

See what's new in Pro ToolsNEW!

Turbocharge HDX Systems with the Hybrid Engine. Discover the latest version of Pro Tools. Work with M1 Macs running macOS Big Sur. Create with more voices, tracks, and I/O. Customize Dark and Classic UI themes. And, if you're an annual subscriber, fuel your creativity with over $1,500 in plugins, sounds, and training content, FREE with the new Pro Tools Inner Circle program.

Get the details >

Whats New in PT



When inspiration strikes, nothing empowers your creativity like Pro Tools. That’s why top artists, musicians, and audio professionals choose it for everything they do.

The ultimate way to record and create

Thousands of instrument sounds. Seamless punch and loop recording. Automated playlist tracking. All in pristine 24-bit/192kHz audio quality. With Pro Tools, you can make music with up to 768 audio and 1,024 MIDI tracks and use hundreds of plugins to create your sound. All you need is your imagination.

Male keyboardist recording a performance in Pro Tools music software

Compose with MIDI and notation

Nudge notes. Layer sounds. Switch instruments. Transpose parts. The flexible MIDI Editor makes it easy to create and perfect parts. You can even capture MIDI performances and improvisations retroactively. Or view MIDI as music notation in the Sibelius-style Score Editor.

Build up productions on the fly

With Track Presets, you can quickly save, catalog, and recall your favorite effects chains, instrument sounds, vocal processing, and other track settings. It eliminates tedious tinkering, so you can spend more time creating.

Jumpstart your sound with loops, samples, and VIs

Create the parts you need with a wide variety of virtual instrument sounds at your fingertips. Pro Tools music software comes with over 5 GB of high-quality sounds, so you can find the perfect beat, orchestral hit, or piano tone. Plus, you can browse and experiment with loops, samples, and sound effects in context with your tracks.

Get industry-leading audio editing

Pro Tools is renowned for its powerful editing toolset, enabling you to manipulate and perfect nearly every aspect of your audio and MIDI tracks. From trimming clips and reshaping sounds with a single click, to comping together a flawless performance, you can optimize any track with precision.

Male keyboardist editing an audio clip in Pro Tools music software

Edit intelligently with the Smart Tool

Perform multiple types of edits quickly and precisely with a single tool. The Smart Tool provides instant access to every editing tool, changing functions based on your cursor position, eliminating manual tool switching.

Fix timing and pitch with Elastic Audio

Easily tighten up and perfect performances without impacting your original sound. With Elastic Time, you can switch the entire session tempo, change a track’s timing to sit “in the pocket,” or beat-match audio for remixing—without affecting the pitch. Plus, make bad notes sound pitch-perfect or completely warp a track’s tuning to create something unique with Elastic Pitch.

Comp together a perfect performance

Easily comp together multiple takes of a recording to create a single flawless performance. Select portions of a performance and easily cycle through alternative takes. Or, use the Target Playlist to select the best performances from multiple playlists in Waveform view. It’s a great way to explore different improvisations to hear what works best.

Bring your mix to life

From professional-quality plugins and advanced metering, to the best mixing automation in the industry, you have the award-winning sounds and control you need to create and deliver your best mixes. Whether working in stereo, 5.1 surround, or Dolby Atmos, Pro Tools makes the entire experience easy.

Discover Dolby Atmos for music mixing

Male mixer using Avid S3 and Dock to mix a session in Pro Tools music software

Automate anything

Automate volumes, pans, plugin settings, and more to create balanced mixes quickly. Isolate instruments. Punch up sounds. Create and alter effects. Add movement. Then, change up dynamics and intensity to bring everything together. It’s the easiest, most creative way to handle big complex mixes, without requiring manual performance.

Mix creatively and fluidly during playback

With non-stop production, you can stay in your creative groove. Create and delete tracks, add and change plugins, switch presets, adjust loop points and more as your music plays. Freely experiment with 115 different plugins, including emulations of classic hardware EQs, dynamics, and reverb units, without interruption.

Freeze tracks to optimize playback

Mix plugin-heavy sessions with ease. Track Freeze lets you temporarily render all plugin processing on a track with a click of a button to free up CPU power, providing smoother playback for writing and editing automation. It also enables cloud collaborators to hear your mix the way you intend it, without the same plugins. You can then unfreeze tracks to make changes.

UVI Falcon is an incredible virtual instrument that makes it easy to create real world and not-of-this-world sounds. Included with Pro Tools at no extra charge.

Create fresh sounds fast

UVI Falcon 2 comes with an expansive, curated sound pack that makes it easy to jump right in and start sculpting sounds immediately. Simply drag and drop samples and effects into UVI Falcon 2 to layer parts and build up sounds, quickly and effortlessly.

See it in action >

Explore, experiment, and go deep

Create unique sounds with deep control over every aspect of your patches. With 15 oscillators, 80+ effects, and all the sample and synthesis modulation, mixing, and scripting capabilities you could ever want, your sonic possibilities are endless.

Spark ideas with tons of patches

UVI Falcon 2 includes Factory Sounds, a versatile and extremely high-quality collection of 1,000 patches. Explore your creative possibilities—from classic synths, percussion, and physical modeling, to sample-driven multi-granular soundscapes and multi-oscillator hybrids.

Get inspired with 2.6 GB of top-quality samples

UVI Falcon 2 and UVI Workstation come with Plugsound Avid Edition, a great-sounding sample library loaded with high-quality keyboard sounds, synthesized sounds, loops, drums, percussion, fretted instruments, and more to help get you started.

Massive power, infinite possibilities

  • Generate and layer together sounds with 15 sample-based and synthesis oscillators optimized for efficient performance
  • Shape sounds with over 80 high-quality effects at your fingertips—from EQs and dynamics, to delays, reverbs, filters, distortion, and more
  • Slice, stretch, silence, shift, and scrub samples with the full-fledged sample editor
  • Produce multichannel, multidimensional sounds in up to 10.2 surround
Three laptop computers in an angled row, showing different UVI Falcon interfaces on their displays

Explore, experiment, and go deep 

Work with a wide variety of audio loops, samples, files, and instruments, including Soundbanks (.ufs), AIFF, FLAC, MP3, MP4, REX1, REX2, SDII, WAV, SFZ, SND, CAF, and EXS

  • Save your own presets for nearly any module, so you can easily recall ideas for future use
  • Add motion with eight modulation generators that can be used to affect almost anything in the UVI Falcon 2 environment
  • Create your own event processors and skinned instruments from scratch using scripting, or create fully customized macro-driven interfaces
  • Expand your sonic palette with a wide variety of UVI instruments and sounds available from Avid
Collage of three UVI Workstation music software interfaces showing the Meteor sound effect interface in the foreground


Play and tweak sounds with UVI Workstation

UVI Workstation 3 is included for free, providing a powerful sample player and multitimbral instrument to create unique sounds. Play audio content, layer and manipulate parts, and employ an army of effects that’ll make your projects stand out.

Get the details

Create and manipulate sounds with ease

  • Get started fast with the included Plugsound Avid Edition, a high-quality collection of versatile sounds that can be layered and tweaked
  • Freely shape and mangle sounds with a full suite of effects, including dynamics, delays, distortions, EQs, filters, and reverbs
  • Work with a variety of loops, samples, audio files, and UVI instruments, including Soundbanks (.ufs), AIFF, FLAC, MP3, MP4, REX1, REX2, SDII, WAV, SND, and CAF
  • Create classic arpeggiated parts with the Advanced Arpeggiator
  • Explore a world of sound with a wide variety of UVI instruments and sounds available from Avid

Start creating now

UVI Falcon 2 and Plugsound Avid Edition are included with Pro Tools and Pro Tools | Ultimate subscriptions and 1-Year Software Updates + Support Plans at no additional cost (a $498 USD value!). UVI Workstation 3 is included for free with Pro Tools | First.

Table showing what UVI music software and sounds are included in Pro Tools | First, Pro Tools, and Pro Tools | Ultimate
Collage of over 20 music software plugin interfaces overlaid on top of the Pro Tools interface in a computer display

Fuel your creativity with pro plugins

Classic compressors and EQs. Groundbreaking virtual instruments. Legendary stompboxes. Powerful reverbs. The world’s greatest guitar amps, and much more—all at your fingertips. Get access to an entire studio full of gear with the Avid Complete Plugin Bundle, 3 months of Auto-Tune Unlimited, and HEATnow included with all Pro Tools subscriptions.

See what's included  >


Stream and sell your music worldwide

Get your music on Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, TIDAL, Deezer, TikTok, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, and many more of the most popular streaming outlets around the world. AvidPlay makes music distribution easy and accessible to all, enabling you to grow your fanbase and keep 100% of your rights and earnings. It’s the easiest way to take control of your career and get discovered.

See options >

AvidPlay Branding and Logo

JETT GALINDO, MASTERING ENGINEERDiscover how mastering can make your music sound great


Work with anyone, anywhere

Imagine being able to collaborate on a project with bandmates, another artist, songwriter, or producer without anyone leaving their house. With Avid Cloud Collaboration, endless creative possibilities and opportunities await. All you need is Pro Tools audio-production software and an Internet connection.

Discover Cloud Collaboration >

Teal Avid Link logo, representing the Avid creative community for finding, connecting, and collaborating with others
Avid Link interface displayed on a laptop and smartphone for music collaboration


Connect. Collaborate. Get discovered.

With Avid Link in the Pro Tools interface, you can find and connect with a community of music creators and audio professionals to collaborate and expand your creative opportunities. Plus, get your music heard on Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and dozens of other major streaming outlets with AvidPlay.

Discover Avid Link >



Power your sound with the tools that power the industry. Pro Tools redefines what’s sonically possible in film and television.

Create sound for picture

Capture, design, and build up rich sonic elements and ambience that bring life to moving pictures. With up to 768 voices/audio tracks and 64 HD/UHD video tracks at your disposal, you can create larger-than-life soundtracks with impeccable clarity across all dialogue, overdubs, sound design, music, and effects.

Female editing waveforms with a control surface on the desk and audio production software on her computer display

Edit with surgical precision

Work directly with 4K/UHD video, H.264 media, and higher frame rates, enabling you to place and edit sound to picture with greater precision and accuracy. From trimming clips and nudging video frames, to adjusting gain levels and working with 3D audio, Pro Tools makes it fast and easy to tweak and sync sounds to picture.

Collaborate with video teams

Pro Tools makes it easy to import and conform sequences from video editorial for audio post production. It supports 4K/UHD and other video formats natively, enabling you to start working your audio magic without editors needing to transcode video first. You can also quickly exchange mixes between audio and video teams as AAF files.


Apply real-time effects to clips

With Clip Effects, you can apply real-time EQ and dynamics to a single audio clip or clip group, enabling multiple clips to have different effects and settings without affecting the rest of the track. It’s ideal for fine-tuning dialogue and voiceovers with variance between clips. Not only does it save you time, it provides better session efficiency.

Mix and deliver any size audio production

Get the mixing power and hands-on control you need to handle the most complex Dolby Atmos and Ambisonics productions. Automate anything—levels, plugins, pans, and more—and Pro Tools will handle the multitude of element adjustments, dynamics, and complex movement tasks for you. So you can focus on creating and delivering your best mix.

Male sitting in front of a large Avid S6 control surface controlling pan positions while viewing video and the audio production software on two displays

Manage large sessions with ease

Mix soundtracks comprised of hundreds of tracks and thousands of clips efficiently with groups. Create a Mix Group to make adjustments to multiple tracks simultaneously. Use VCA masters to adjust overall group levels while maintaining individual track automation. When using a control surface, you can spill VCA groups across your controls to make quick tweaks to individual tracks.


Mix for Netflix with confidence

Pro Tools | Ultimate is now part of the Netflix Production Technology Alliance. We’ve worked closely with Netflix to ensure that Pro Tools solutions support Netflix’s technical and workflow requirements today, and into the future. That means you can deliver Netflix-ready mixes quickly, easily, and confidently.


Deliver multiple mixes in a single file

Deliver mixes between audio post-production teams and organizations easily, with the ability to bounce multiple Pro Tools stems into a single WAV file. Recipients can then open the stems in separate Pro Tools tracks on file import, preserving the original mixes.

Experience the most powerful immersive audio mixing solution

Together, Pro Tools software, hardware, and Avid control surfaces are the most widely used solution for mixing immersive audio in Hollywood. Whether you’re mixing Dolby Atmos or other 3D audio for film or TV, working in a large mixing stage or a small editing suite, Pro Tools provides the performance and flexibility to meet your needs.

Learn more about delivering Dolby Atmos >

Back of female editing Dolby Atmos session in a smaller audio post suite using Avid S6 and Pro Tools audio production software


Mix Dolby Atmos productions

Get the most efficient Dolby Atmos mixing workflows in the industry. Work natively with Atmos 7.1.2 audio stems and object panning. Mix faster while preserving audio fidelity with advanced automation and ADM BWAV support. And get deep Avid control surface integration to accelerate the entire mixing process with hands-on precision.


Simplify Dolby Atmos “in the box” mixing

With the latest Dolby Atmos Production Suite and enhanced Core Audio supportfor Dolby Audio Bridge, you can now send 130 channels from Pro Tools (up from 32) to the Dolby Atmos Renderer. Streamline your mixing and monitoring workflow with a solution that enables you to pre-mix Dolby Atmos projects in any room.


Edit and mix VR audio

Create immersive full-sphere surround sound mixes for virtual reality productions—from start to finish. Easily edit and mix audio in a 3D space with support for first-, second-, and third-order Ambisonics formats across your Pro Tools tracks and busses. Then output and deliver content to the required format for playback.

AVID S4Get the compact surface with world class mixing



Pro Tools is more than just software. It’s an ecosystem of tightly integrated software, hardware, and control surfaces that work together to accelerate your workflow.

Get hands-on control of your mix

Avid Dock control surface with transport controls, jog wheel, and fader integrated with the free Avid Control app on a tablet

Avid Dock

Avid Dock

Speed up editing and mixing tasks with a full transport, focus fader, jog wheel, and touch control in an ultra-portable surface. Working in concert with the free Avid Control app, Avid Dock provides the access and tactile precision you need to complete projects quickly.

Avid S1 8-fader slimline control surface integrated with the free Avid Control app on a tablet

Avid S1

Avid S1

Mix with the speed and visual feedback of Avid's high-end consoles in a slimline surface. Avid S1 works together with the free Avid Control app on your tablet, providing 8 faders and Avid S6-style metering and processing views to create great-sounding mixes fast.

Avid S3 16-fader compact control surface with built-in 4-input, 6-output audio interface

Avid S3

Avid S3

Get a streamlined yet versatile mixing system for music and audio post. Based on the award-winning Avid S6 control surface, Avid S3 delivers intelligent control over every aspect of Pro Tools and other DAWs, all in a more portable and affordable 16-fader surface.

Avid S4 semi-modular control surface showing 16 faders and two Display Modules in a 3-foot base

Avid S4

Avid S4

Get world-class mixing for smaller studios for budget-conscious pros and smaller facilities. Avid S4 boosts your mixing efficiency with the same touchscreen and Dolby Atmos workflows in a semi-modular design that provides intelligent DAW control.

Flagship Avid S6 large-format, fully modular control surface showing a custom configuration with 48 faders, nine Knob Modules, and six Display Modules

Avid S6

Avid S6

Experience the most intuitive, immersive mixing workflows for modern sound engineers. Avid S6 provides superior ergonomics, intelligent studio control, and the most efficient Dolby Atmos workflows in a fully customizable surface, enabling you to create the best sounding mixes possible—faster.

Avid Control Free App 2


Get wireless control of your mix

Take control of Pro Tools and more with a free app for iOS, iPadOS, and Android devices. Record and mix faster and easier than working with a mouse and keyboard alone.

Discover Avid Control >


Built to capture brilliance

For artists, bands, and producers, Pro Tools | Carbon is a new breed of audio interface—built to capture brilliance. It’s a hybrid audio production system that features incredible sound quality and combines the power of your native CPU with onboard HDX DSP acceleration. So you can push your computer to the limit when you mix and record through AAX DSP plugins with near-zero latency monitoring. All at the touch of a button. All in Pro Tools.

Discover Carbon >

Pro Tools Carbon
HDX Systems


Power to push limits

In recording studios and on soundstages, Pro Tools | HDX Systems make the world’s biggest productions possible. Engineered for the highest performance, customization, and expansion. And featuring software, DSP acceleration, and hardware I/O perfectly joined together as one system. They enable music and audio post professionals to deliver their most demanding work. Without constraint.

Discover HDX Systems >

Avid Pro Tools 2021.6 Update

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