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Pro tools

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Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation which integrates hardware and software, widely used by professionals in music production, post production, TV and film scoring.

As one of the first programs to provide CD-quality multitrack digital audio editing on a personal computer, Pro Tools grew quickly in the sound recording field, becoming popular because of its streamlined interface for non-linear, non-destructive editing. This appealed to analog producers switching to computer-based digital audio production. Digidesign received a technical Academy Award of Merit for the development of Pro Tools in 2004.

Pro Tools was criticized for its lack of support for musical notation. However in 2006 Avid acquired Sibelius music notation software company. Pro Tools 7.3 supports exporting to Sibelius.

Pro Tools is a product of the company Digidesign, which in turn has been a division of the mother company Avid Technology since 1995. M-Audio (formerly Midiman) was acquired by Avid Technology in 2004-2005.


[edit] Pro Tools systems

The professional-level Pro Tools|HD system uses PCI or PCI Express cards to perform audio processing on DSP (digital signal processing) chips to reduce computing burden on the CPU. Similarly, it utilizes TDM (a proprietary interconnect based on time-division multiplexing) to communicate with external I/O devices and other DSP cards to reduce burden on the computer's PCI bus.

Pro Tools HD uses three types of PCI-X / PCIe cards. When Pro Tools HD was launched, the HD Core and HD Process were the 2 cards that were available. Each Pro Tools system requires at least 1 Core card. Later, owing to supply problems from DSP manufacturers Motorola, the line was given a revamp and rebranded HD Accel. The HD Core card remained the standard basic card, but the HD Accel Process card replaced the HD Process. Accel cards offer faster DSP chips and additional RAM compared to Process cards. All cards contain 9 DSP chips. Digidesign offer the cards in 3 bundles (HD 1, 2 and 3). A core is common to all, but the latter two have one or two Process or Accel cards respectively. Additional Process and Accel cards may be added to a system to increase capability (it is possible to mix the types), up to a total of 7 cards. Digidesign offers a PCI-X expansion chassis product called 'Expansion HD' to accommodate larger systems. This is available with both PCI-X and PCIe host cards for the computer.

When Apple changed the expansion slot architecture of the G5 to PCI Express (PCIe), Digidesign launched a line of PCIe HD Accel cards. It's interesting that the PCIe HD Core is now an 'Accel Core', whereas the original PCI-X Core remains 'non-Accel'. This is relevant since there are TDM plugins that require the presence of Accel chips to run. As of 22nd October 2006, there is no Windows software support for PCIe HD cards.

Consumer-level systems (such as the Digi 003, Digi 003 Rack, and MBox 2 family) perform all processing on the host CPU. Consumer systems offer limited track counts, 32 (or 48 with Music Production Toolkit or DV Toolkit options) in LE vs. up to 192 in HD, fewer internal routing options, and a feature-reduced version of the Pro Tools application (called Pro Tools LE, or Limited Edition). Pro Tools LE also only supports up to 16 outputs (8 analog, 8 ADAT optical on 002/003), without surround capabilities. An HD system's outputs depend on the number and configuration of interfaces, also surround sound output (i.e. 5.1, 7.1 etc.), is possible.

A fairly new addition to the range is the ICON: Integrated Console Environment, combining a tactile control surface and a Pro Tools|HD Accel system in one unit. Designed as a replacement for existing analog studio consoles, it attempts to give the user the feel and control of an analog system, but with a powerful Pro Tools core. A similar system (VENUE) was release for live sound applications.

In April 2005, Digidesign released Pro Tools M-Powered which brought almost all Pro Tools LE functionality to a subset of M-Audio USB, Firewire and PCI interfaces.

"Pro Tools Free" was released as a free version of Pro Tools 5.x. It is limited to 8 audio tracks and 48 MIDI tracks. It will only run on Windows 98/ME and Mac OS 9. There was also "PowerMix" version of Pro Tools 3.4-4.3 that was able to run on Macintosh built-in audio.

An official Pro Tools training curriculum and certification program was introduced by Digidesign in 2002. It includes a full range of Pro Tools–related courses in music and post production. The curriculum is delivered by a number of schools and universities around the world.

[edit] Pro Tools timeline of releases

  • 1989 - Sound Tools stereo recording & editing system
  • 1991 - Original Pro Tools system is released featuring 4 voices, ProDECK and ProEDIT software, MIDI, and automation
  • 1994 - Pro Tools III system, provides 16-48 voices
  • 1997 - Pro Tools | 24 (supports 24-bit audio)
  • 1998 - Pro Tools | MIX (expanded DSP capabilities for mixing audio)
  • 1999 - Digi 001 with Pro Tools LE (light edition of Pro Tools)
  • 2002 - Pro Tools | HD system (supports 96kHz and 192kHz HD audio); Mbox and Digi 002 (March and Sept.)
  • 2003 - Pro Tools | HD Accel system (additional DSP capabilities); Pro Tools Users group founded in Los Angeles.
  • 2005 - VENUE (Pro Tools for live sound); Mbox 2; Pro Tools M-Powered (Aug); Pro Tools 7.0 (Nov), 7.1 (supports Apple's PCIe G5) (Dec.)
  • 2006 - Pro Tools 7.2 (Aug.) and 7.3 (Dec.); Pro Tools LE and HD support Intel-based Mac (May and Sept. respectively); Mbox 2 Pro, Mbox 2 Mini
  • 2007 - 003 and 003 Rack (Feb)

[edit] Current Pro Tools Hardware

Pro Tools HD

  • HD 1/2/3 Core Systems (PCI)
  • HD 1/2/3 Accel Systems (PCI-e)
  • 192 I/O (8 analog + 8 digital input; 8 analog + 8 digital output 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192KHz interface)
  • 192 Digital I/O (16 digital input; 16 digital output 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192KHz interface)
  • 96 I/O (8 analog + 8 digital input; 8 analog + 8 digital output 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96KHz interface)
  • 96i I/O (16 analog input; 2 analog output 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96KHz interface)
  • Pre I/O (8ch microphone pre-amp)
  • SYNC I/O (Time Code Synchronizer)
  • MIDI I/O (10in-10out MIDI Interface)
  • Expansion|HD Chassis

Pro Tools LE

  • Digi 003
  • Digi 003 Rack
  • Digi 002
  • Digi 002 Rack
  • Mbox 2
  • Mbox 2 Pro
  • Mbox 2 Mini
  • Mbox

Pro Tools M-Powered
M-Audio Interfaces:

  • Audiophile Series
  • Delta Series
  • Fast Track Pro
  • Fast Track USB
  • FireWire 1814
  • FireWire 410
  • FireWire Solo
  • Black Box
  • Ozone
  • MobilePre USB
  • Ozonic
  • ProjectMix I/O
  • NRV10

Control Surfaces

  • VENUE (live sound console)
  • ICON (current flagship control surface)
  • ProControl (former flagship control surface)
  • Control|24 (24 fader control surface with 16 built in Focusrite "A" Class Mic Preamps)
  • Command|8 (small 8 fader control surface)

[edit] External links

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