Avid Announces Pro Tools 12 and a Free Version


Pro Tools 12 Logo

Avid has just announced two software releases at NAMM 2015: Pro Tools | First and Pro Tools 12.

Details are still emerging about the new sound editing apps. Today’s post takes a quick look at what we know so far.

Pro Tools | First

Pro Tools | First is a free version of Pro Tools. As you’d expect, it’s a slimmed down edition of the full version. What can it do?

  • Fidelity. 96 kHz/24-bit WAVs (no MP3s).
  • Copy Protection. No iLok required.
  • Recording. Allows recording of up to 16 tracks. 4 inputs may be recorded simultaneously.
  • Sessions. Can save a maximum of three sessions. These sessions must be saved to online cloud storage (only). Additional session save slots can be purchased from Avid. Notably, Pro Tools | First does not support sessions from other versions of Pro Tools.
  • Plug-ins. The software comes stocked with over 20 plug-ins, such as EQ III and Dynamics III. Does not support other plug-ins outside of those purchased from Avid’s Marketplace.
  • Limitations.
    • Does not support video.
    • Does not support HD Series interfaces.

Read a Pro Tools software comparison chart to see how Pro Tools | First lines up with other apps in the Pro Tools family.

Pro Tools | First is designed to introduce people new to Pro Tools to the Avid sound editing family. It looks like it would be good for students and casual editors. How appealing is it for field recordists and sound designers?

Well, the lack of plug-in support will be a deal breaker for most. The three-session limitation is claustrophobic as well. In theory, though, Pro Tools | First could be used rough in raw field recording tracks on the road, then bounce them out for detailed processing and editing in a more sophisticated version of Pro Tools at the home studio. So, it could be workable for sound effects mastering techs, depending on their situation. Most sound pros will demand more features, however.

Pro Tools | First’s cloud-saving session limitation seems designed to migrate users into an online workflow. The plug-in Marketplace requirement seems to support that, but we’ll see how things evolve in the future.

Pro Tools | First is forthcoming. Get on the waiting list on Avid’s website.

Pro Tools 12

Pro Tools 12 is quickly becoming known as “Pro Tools Cloud.” The majority of this version’s features emphasize online collaboration, cloud storage, and networking.

  • Cloud Collaboration. Save your sessions in the cloud. Invite others to share this session and collaborate with them online. You can review changes, then approve and apply them. Cloud Collaboration also allows text chat and video conferencing with your collaborators.
  • Avid Marketplace. Shop in Avid’s version of Apple’s App Store. Buy plug-ins, session templates, and audio files.
  • Purchase Options. Avid now sells Pro Tools in two ways: a one-time licence fee, or a $29.99 monthly subscription.

Read more details about the new Pro Tools 12 features.

The purchase options are interesting, particularly the monthly subscription. Other software titans have tried that approach before.

For example, in 2012, Adobe launched Creative Cloud. That required users to subscribe to apps such as Photoshop or Illustrator instead of buying the software outright. Offered ostensibly to keep the software continually up to date, it was speculated that the move was designed to eliminate piracy and lock users into spending more. Users didn’t respond well. It seems like Avid has learned from this, and is offering both licensing and subscription models in tandem.

The Avid Marketplace could be intriguing. We will have to see precisely how it works. It may simplify the plug-in purchasing and licensing system. The ability to purchase audio files through the Marketplace is intriguing, too. That may allow audio pros to access sound effects via Avid, or perhaps through the Pro Tools interface itself. For sound library publishers, it may offer a way to share field recordings with thousands of Pro Tools editors.

Pro Tools 12 is expected to launch prior to summer, 2015.

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