Digidesign’s Pro Tools system has always included software and hardware components. The hardware consists of one or more audio-cards, along with one or more audio-interfaces. The software offers a multitrack waveform editor, a mixing console emulator. Also included are controls and commands to let you record and playback audio from a hard disk.
The system is so popular because Digidesign has encouraged software developers to offer Pro Tools options for recording and playback. So, plenty of musicians and composers use Pro Tools systems with the Midi and audio sequencer of their choice.
With version 5, Pro Tools has finally come of age as an integrated Audio- and MIDI-recording environment. It can handle most straight-ahead MIDI-programming gigs – while the accent is still on the audio capabilities.
Firstly, I recorded a DX7 synthesizer using a MIDI track. When I pressed stop, the notes were immediately visible in the edit window for graphic editing. From here, notes can be made shorter or longer, and the Grabber tool used to move the pitch or position. It’s even possible to draw notes in using the new Pencil tool.
The Selector tool, used with the MIDI Menu, can apply powerful region commands. These include comprehensive Quantize options, Change Velocity, and Change Duration – all of which are quite similar to MotU Performer’s MIDI Region commands. Existing velocity, volume, pan, mute, and any continuous controller data can also be drawn in. The Pencil tool can be set to draw freehand, or to automatically draw straight lines, triangles, squares or randomly. SysEx data can even be recorded and played back – although it cannot be edited as in Performer and similar software.
What I missed – badly – is the list-editing mode found in MIDI sequencers, such as Performer. What I didn’t miss from these sequencers is the music notation and advanced MIDI-processing features. These are much less important for straightforward MIDI recording. In fact, I found myself enjoying the simplicity of the more basic approach of PT5.
The transport bar now has both main and secondary positional displays. Within each you can show your choice of Bars/Beats, SMPTE Timecode, Feet/Frames, Mins/Secs or Samples. There is a Metronome on/off button with an associated Click and Count-off options dialogue box.
At the top of the tracks display, in the Edit window, the new Ruler View displays ruler tracks. This shows Bars/Beats, SMPTE Timecode, Feet/Frames, Mins/Secs or Samples. Ruler tracks are also available to display Tempo events, Meter events and Marker events – any combination of these can be turned on or off.
New scrolling options in the waveform edit window include a continuous scroll showing the playhead – a blue bar indicating where the playback point is in the edit window. With the playhead visible, the playback position stays where it is when you stop. The zoom tools have been improved with five-zoom-level buttons now available. And the Link Selections button links or unlinks the Edit window and Timeline selections.
I can recommend Pro Tools version 5.0 to anyone looking for a well-integrated professional-audio and MIDI software application. Entry-level users should consider buying the LE version with the cheaper Digi 001 hardware.