1. The Price Point
This may come as a real shocker (kidding), the standard version of ProTools 12 is $599usd, which is quite a reach from some of its competitors. Let that sticker shock soak in for a second. For many musicians, that much money is far too great to pony-up all in one serving, but hey, the fine people over at Avid (creators of ProTools) decided to do you a favor and lessen the blow by offering a different option to get your mitts on its golden-child. The anesthetic to your pain, wait for it…that’s right! A monthly subscription! Rates start at a stomachable $24.99 per month if you pay upfront for the whole year and/or $29.99 if you decide to go month-to-month. Those looking to upgrade to the newest version each year have the choice to opt-in to Avid’s annual upgrade plan for $299 the first year and $99 yearly thereafter. It should be noted that these prices don’t include taxes and fees, so your bill will be slightly higher than the listed price; you will also be required to purchase an iLok USB device to run the software on your computer and these go for around $40 new. If you’re not quite ready to commit to any of the aforementioned, Avid has made available a 30-day free trial, so, go try it out for a month and see if it suits your needs.
An additional option has also been made available for the more frugal consumer, an ultra-stripped down model called ProTools First, and the best part, it’s absolutely FREE! I don’t know about you, but I love free stuff, especially when it comes to high end recording software. There are a few caveats, however, so don’t get too excited…Here’s what you can expect if you decide to go with this option:
- Limited to 16 tracks
- Only allows 4 inputs
- Comes with over 20 of the same FX plug-ins you would also find in the full version
- Can only save 3 projects
- Restricted to 1 gig storage in the cloud and your files must be stored there
If you’re ok with all of the limitations of ProTools First and you want to milk what you can despite its myriad of restrictions, well buddy, you’ve hit the jackpot!
2. Capabilities and Features
It’s no secret Avid’s ProTools has been setting the pace and precedent of the recording realm since its initial release way-way back in Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-One in the days of yore when the digital audio industry was but a wee-little little baby. ProTools, formerly known as Sound Tools, circa 1989, has come light years from its inception as a four track DAW.
In its approximate thirty-year evolution, ProTools has come to establish many very useful features for recording and shaping an entire production all within the box, no outboard console necessary. Here is a quick rundown of some of its new additions:
- 2gigs of new loops with Loopmasters
- An updated, quickly searchable loop and sound library called Soundlab
- Easier clip positioning via clip transparency
- Faster editing options while working with multiple clips and batch fades
- Experiment with a song or soundtrack without destroying your work with Project Revisions
- Simultaneously playback 128 tracks
- ProTools Control, which allows you to control the session from an Ipad, but nothing more
Some of the other notable functions:
- Runs on PC and Mac
- Record/utilize up to 128 tracks
- 32 inputs
- Comes with over 60 stock AAX plug-ins
- Compose entire scores and songs with its massive virtual instruments suite
3. What Sets It Apart
One of the coolest additions in recent ProTools is history has been the introduction of Avid’s Cloud Collaboration. This function allows producers, artists, engineers, composers and the like to do just as its name suggests, collaborate with other music creators on the same song, project or score from anywhere in the world. The selling point for this would be the ability to find the perfect engineer or co-writer(s) and share files, all accomplished without having to sift through tons of Craigslist ads or use another medium for file sharing.
While ProTools remains the industry standard, it doesn’t come without drawbacks. First and foremost, it definitely requires an abundance of processing power and is known to be more glitchy than its competitors. Additionally, it doesn’t host VST plug-ins like all its peers, only AAX plug-ins, making it more difficult to find and use free third party plug-ins. However, If you are serious about the recording business, then it is an absolute certainty you need to possess a working knowledge of ProTools, considering most studios will be using it as the powerhouse of their operation, or will at least own a copy for the purpose of project sharing. Granted you aren’t offput by the price tag and your computer is robust enough to handle this program, then it might be a great choice for you.