Earlier this week American software developer Avid released a new version of the popular Pro Tools digital audio workstation: 2022.4. The release arrives with significant changes: new versions, rebranding of the software, and an increased feature scope for all versions of the sound editing app.
If you are a field recordist with more demanding recording sessions, the updates bring good news.
Let’s take a look.
Broad Strokes of Pro Tools 2022.4 Update
So what are the highlights of this new update?
The biggest one is that Pro Tools is now subscription only. It is no longer to buy the software outright via perpetual licenses. Instead, the software must be rented: users pay a monthly or yearly amount and can use it as long as they keep paying.
Avid has also rebranded Pro Tools with three new versions. Avid switched up their branding in 2018, and it seems like it’s time to refresh things again. These versions are called Artist, Studio, and Flex, evolving from the previous First, Standard/Vanilla, Ultimate naming. Generally these appeal to budget conscious newbies, independent editors, and studios respectively. The pricing of each of these has been adjusted. A new lower-cost version (Artist) with expanded features replaces the discontinued Pro Tools First. I’ll explain the differences between each version in detail below.
Also, notably there is no native Apple Silicon support yet. However, the built-in macOS Rosetta software allows Pro Tools to run on M1 Macs on the Monterey OS.
New Features in the Pro Tools 2022.4 Update for All Versions
What new features in Pro Tools 2022.4? Avid added some interesting features that are available to all Artist, Studio, and Flex users.
2022.4 adds the Keyboard Shortcuts window. This allows users to find existing key commands or create their own. Previously, power users had to resort to Keyboard Maestro, Quickeys, or custom solutions like Soundflow to fill in the gaps in their workflow.
There is also Pro Tools Search, a global search tool. Invoked with Control + Shift + s (Mac) or Start + Shift + s (Windows), It allows searching through commands, tracks, clips, memory locations, and plug-ins, and in some cases, enables activating options directly through the search window.
Learn more about other new features in Pro Tools 2022.4.
Three New Pro Tools Versions
There’s a lot to unpack with the three new versions of Pro Tools 2024.4. Let’s look at the stats.
Pro Tools Artist
- Who is it for?: budget conscious beginners who want an easy way to edit or create music.
- What does it replace?: Pro Tools First.
- What you get and highlights:
- 32 audio tracks, 32 auxes, 32 instrument, and 64 midi.
- 16 I/O.
- You can now run 3rd party plug-ins.
- Full list of what’s included in Pro Tools Artist.
- Subscription only: $99/year or $9.99/month.
Pro Tools Studio Features
- Who is it for?: independent post production editors and music producers.
- What does it replace?: Pro Tools Standard (aka “Vanilla”).
- What you get and highlights:
- Audio track limit increased to 512 from 256.
- Clip FX.
- Better automation options.
- Surround support
- Dolby Atmos renderer.
- Full list of what’s included in Pro Tools Studio.
- Subscription only: $299/year, $31.99 annual if paid monthly, $39.99/month.
- Legacy perpetual support plan: $199/year.
Pro Tools Flex Features
- Who is it for?: facilities and large organizations.
- What does it replace?: augments Pro Tools Ultimate with free bundles.
- What you get and highlights:
- Subscription only: $999/year, $799 for one year subscription renewal, $99.99/month.
- Legacy perpetual support plan: $399/year.
Comparing Pro Tools 2022.4
How do these versions stack up against one another?
Pro Tools Artist is aimed at users that have simpler sessions and only need stereo output. At $99/year with a streamlined feature set, it’s more accessible than the former Pro Tools Standard/Vanilla. The ability to use third-party plug-ins is a major perk over the limitations of the retired Pro Tools First.
Pro Tools Studio evolves the renamed Standard/Vanilla version by adding more tracks, as well as with features previously limited to the top-tier Ultimate version: surround support, a Dolby Atmos renderer, clip effects, and more automation options.
Pro Tools Flex is designed for facilities with editors working on more complex jobs. It bundles Pro Tools Ultimate with third-party software and goodies. The I/O limitations have jumped to 256 from 64. It’s the only option for using HDX/HD Native systems.
Pro Tools Licensing Options
The feature set reshuffle has plenty to sift through. In addition, significant changes have been made to how Pro Tools can be purchased.
The days of owning Pro Tools outright are now over. It is no longer possible to buy a perpetual plan. Much like Adobe’s software, it is only possible to rent the software via subscription. Just the same, the Pro Tools pricing plans are not simple. Here’s how it breaks down:
Pro Tools Purchasing Options for New Users
Buying Pro Tools for the first time? For new users, every new purchase is subscription only. You can buy new perpetual licenses if you can find them in online shops. However, no more will be issued in the future.
Pro Tools Purchasing Options for Existing Users
What about existing owners of Pro Tools? Subscription users will see no change; they’ll simply keep paying monthly or yearly as usual. For existing perpetual users who are on a support plan (i.e., paying yearly updates and who have not let their license expire) nothing will change, they still pay a yearly fee of $199 for Studio and $399 for Flex to keep their software current.
Have you let your Pro Tools perpetual license expire? If you’re lucky, you can pick up a reinstatement plan and activate it to get back into Avid’s good graces and receive current software in return. It is likely – although I cannot confirm it – that if you have banked a Pro Tools reinstatement plan, you can update any time in the future. Otherwise, if you have an expired perpetual version, you can keep using it until it becomes obsolete.
B&H Photo Video has a few reinstatement plans for Pro Tools Standard ($299), though reinstatement plans for Ultimate are sold out.
Choices for Pro Tools Users
While the lack of perpetual Pro Tools plans – even though expected – is unfortunate news, the new features are appealing, especially for editors with more modest demands. For music producers and casual editors, Pro Tools Artist offers a solid capabilities for a reasonable yearly price. Studio’s addition of clip gain, improved automation options, twice the tracks, and Dolby Atmos and surround support just supercharged Pro Tools for standard users. In fact, some Ultimate users with less elaborate needs could easily sell their license and buy a perpetual Studio license before they disappear. The result? Saving $100/year in renewal fees for much of the same software they had in Ultimate.
Best Editing Software for Field Recordists
What’s best for field recordists?
Well, if you’re just starting editing with stereo recordings, Artist will do the trick. However, there are likely better options that don’t require a subscription, such as Reaper ($60/$255) or Cubase ($99.99/$329.99/$579.99) and so on.
Studio will cover almost every other field recording scenario, including Ambisonic editing, multi-microphone recording set ups, and even vehicle recordings. Are you exploring Dolby Atmos recording or mixing? Studio will have you covered there too. Of course, with a bit of work, Reaper can perform with the same feature set without a subscription and a lower price as well. However, price isn’t everything; which editing app you chose often comes down to taste.
- Check out the three new versions of Pro Tools.
- Browse a Pro Tools product comparison.
- Buy a Pro Tools Standard Reinstatement Plan.