Pro Tools 6 TDM

Pro Tools is the leading digital-audio workstation used in professional recording studios around the world. It lets you record, edit, and mix both audio and MIDI, and lets you work with a wide range of plug-ins and virtual instruments. This review focuses on enhancements to the Pro Tools 6 TDM software supplied with all new Pro Tools HD systems. It is also available as an upgrade to owners of older PT|24 MIX and PT|24 systems. Colours are calling
The first thing you’ll notice is that the user-interface has a more colourful, three-dimensional look than before, and there are some changes to the way you access some of the controls and settings. Specifically, the way you select which views and which rulers are displayed in the Edit window, the Tab to Transients, Commands Focus and Timeline Selections buttons, and the grid and nudge values has been tidied up into a convenient area – just above the rulers display. Everything else is more-or-less where it was and as it was before, though, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding your way around if you’re upgrading. There are lots of useful new editing features. The Selector tool lets you select both horizontally and vertically, so you can select across multiple tracks with a single click-&-drag. Put the Edit cursor into a track, and you can change the track height by holding the Control key and using the Up/Down arrow keys. And you can temporarily suspend Grid mode and switch to Slip mode by holding down the c key while trimming audio or MIDI regions. The Zoom Toggle Track Height preference lets you specify a default track height to apply when using the Ctrl-Minus keyboard command to toggle audio tracks between Waveform and Volume view, or to toggle MIDI tracks between Notes and Regions view. There is also a new Relative Grid Mode that lets you edit audio and MIDI regions that aren’t aligned with Grid boundaries as though they were. For example, if a region’s start point falls between beats and the Grid is set to 1/4 notes, dragging the region in Relative Grid mode will preserve the region’s position relative to the nearest beat. Experienced Pro Tools editors will appreciate just how useful these enhancements are, and new users will find that Pro Tools offers a much smoother editing experience compared to its competitors. The standard set of plug-ins that comes with Pro Tools now includes the D-fx Chorus, Flanger, Multi-tap and Ping Pong delays, the DPP-1 pitch processor, and the D-Verb reverb processor. Plug-ins can now be inserted or removed on-the-fly during playback on Pro Tools|HD and Pro Tools|24 MIX systems, and there’s a new click generator – the DigiRack Click plug-in – available in RTAS and TDM formats. The MIDI features have also been supercharged. So, for example, sessions now support up to 256 MIDI tracks. There are four virtual MIDI inputs (called Pro Tools Inputs) that let you receive MIDI data from supported applications such as Ableton Live. The Pencil tool now lets you draw and trim MIDI note and controller data, and the Trim tool can neaten MIDI note durations when a MIDI track is set to Velocity view. Also, if you are using the Digidesign MIDI I/O, or any other supported MIDI Time Stamping-capable interface, you can achieve up to sub-millisecond-accurate MIDI timing. MIDI boost
Three new commands have been added to the MIDI menu. The Flatten Performance command lets you lock or flatten the current state of selected MIDI notes. The Restore Performance command lets you restore the original performance any time you like. The Groove Quantize command adjusts MIDI note locations and durations according to a DigiGroove template, rather than a strict quantization grid. You need to use Beat Detective to extract and create a DigiGroove template from your audio selection first. Then you can apply the rhythmic nuances of the audio performance to your MIDI tracks. You can even capture the dynamics from an audio track and apply these to a MIDI track as velocity data. DigiGrooves can also be used to apply the groove, or feel of the captured passage to other audio selections using Groove Conform. There are four new DigiBase Pro browsers: the Workspace browser, Volume browsers, the Project browser, and the Catalog. The Workspace browser lets you work with files similarly to the way you would in the Finder – finding, copying, and deleting files, and creating folders. Volume browsers provide databasing and file-management for local and network volumes, and the Project browser provides searching and management tools for files referenced in your current session. These browsers let you store snapshots of volumes, folders, and files as custom databases or Catalogs that can be shared between systems and users. You can search for files using any combination of file metadata, and it’s possible to view, search, and spot files from both online and offline volumes. You can drag-&-drop items in browsers directly into the Timeline or Regions List of your current Pro Tools session. These browsers can also be used manage various Pro Tools tasks that can be carried out in the background – or to find missing files. Finally, the new Task window lets you view and pause any of these background tasks, such as file conversion or re-linking.


If you have an existing Pro Tools system, it’s time to be making the transition to OS X – even if you intend to keep an OS 9 system working for a while longer. This upgrade is well worth the money for the new editing commands alone, and if you’re buying a complete system for the first time, don’t be put off by the price – Pro Tools HD is the Rolls-Royce of digital-audio workstations.

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