Pro Tools LE 7.0
The best audio + MIDI recording software just got better. Digidesign has released version 7 of its industry-standard Pro Tools software with a raft of new features and improvements.
The first thing you notice is that the menus have been reorganised and in some cases renamed or replaced. For example, the new View menu lets you choose which elements to show in the various windows. So those who like to work with just one main window, say the Edit window, can view various elements that are more usually located in the Mix window, such as the Inserts and Sends. The new Track menu gathers track-related commands into one place, which makes a lot of sense. Now it's obvious where to go to create or delete tracks, group tracks or make them inactive.
The Region menu adds powerful new features such as region looping and region grouping – and not before time. The first thing many people do when they're working on dance tracks in Logic, Cubase or Performer is to loop a 2- or 4-bar section – now Pro Tools can do this. A region group is a collection of any combination of audio and MIDI regions that looks and acts like a single region. This feature really speeds up editing and arranging: it's always much easier to move, copy or paste one region than a bunch of regions.
The new real-time MIDI processing is similar to the Track Parameters in Cubase SX. Five types of MIDI Real-Time Properties, including Delay, Duration, Velocity, Quantize and Transpose, can be applied to MIDI or Instrument tracks. These take effect only during playback and can be applied either to the whole track or to selected regions. Pro Tools 7 now plays back REX and ACID files, a feature that has been at the top of my wish list for years. If you change tempo, REX or ACID files immediately follow the tempo changes without any need for time-stretching or other processing.
Probably the best new feature is the Instrument tracks. These make it much easier to set up and use software and hardware MIDI instruments, allowing you to record MIDI and monitor audio from the instrument all within the same track.
And there's lots more: a consolidated Region List for Audio, MIDI and Region Groups, twice as many sends (10), and twice as many buses (32), for example. Pro Tools 7 is also optimised to boost RTAS plug-in counts by as much as 150 per cent on multi-processor computers. All of which helps to make Pro Tools more powerful, more efficient and even easier to use.
Is there anything I don't like? Well, I'd like a Sibelius plug-in to show music notation and an audio event list editor to let me edit audio events alpha-numerically. And there is something of a learning curve with this upgrade but it's definitely worth the effort. You'll have to upgrade your plug-ins though!