Avid Pro Tools is a highly powerful audio editor which aims to bring all the top-end features to professional music, cinema and broadcast editors. As such this is very much a pro tool, as the name suggests, and not for beginners.
This is really for those with an audio production training background as it's not built to guide users into how to work the myriad complex tools on offer here. That's why Pro Tools remains the standard DAW in pro recording studios worldwide.
This offers a lot more power than most people will be able to take advantage of and so that price tag is suited to those that will really use this. By that we mean anyone that demands the very best audio finish, and is prepared to put in the work to get to that point.
So is Avid Pro Tools for you? Read the full Avid Pro Tools review to find out everything you need to know, and check out our guide to the best audio editing software (opens in new tab) for more options.
Avid Pro Tools: Features
Avid Pro Tools is built for arranging, mixing and mastering the most high quality audio possible. As such this is laid out as a professional production suite with lots and lots of features.
It's worth nothing this is a review of the Pro Tools version, which is the middle of three, with Pro Tools First as the most basic and Pro Tools Ultimate at the top end, which has a lot more audio tracks available.
While it sounds like it might be tough to use an audio editor that requires mastering like this does, it's not made to be difficult. In fact Avid has added features to make life as easy as possible for those that know how to edit audio.
It's worth noting that Avid has done away with the one big update per year system and now releases updates when new features are ready to roll-out. As such you can expect this features list to continue to grow after you've bought the software.
More recent feature updates, on top of all the usual layout, mixing and editing tools you'd expect, include the addition of 4K and 120 fps support for video. There is also Dolby Atmos Bridge support meaning up to 130 channels of audio that will work for Dolby Atmos audio. Pro Tools is now even a part of the Netflix Post Technology Alliance, making this a very capable video audio editing system.
The Native version of Pro Tools, tested here, offers 128 simultaneous stereo tracks at 48kHz, 64 tracks at 96kHz or 32 tracks at 192kHz, with up to 32 tracks which can be recorded simultaneously.
On top of that this is 1,024 MIDI tracks, 512 instrument tracks, 128 auxiliary track, a video track and unlimited busses.
It's worth keeping in mind that for all versions of Avid Pro Tools you'll need at least 16GB of RAM to run the work and Windows 10 on PC or macOS Sierra or newer on Apple devices.
Clip Gain is a standout feature worth a mention as it allows you to adjust volumes using a pop-up volume slider. No need for a Gain plug-in.
Beat Detective is also a great feature, picking up grooves in audio tracks so you can fix timing issues right across multiple instruments.
Avid Pro Tools: Performance
Despite being a complex beast, Avid Pro Tools has a nice simple two section overarching layout with Edit and Mix to pick from. In the edit window it's easy to sample-level edit, loop record, compile tracks, apply crossfades and use the Smart Tool cursor for quick controls.
The low-latency input buffer combined with 64-bit architecture make for an ability to allocate host processing resources right across the board of dozens of plug-ins. So this means each core won't put stain on processing until audio is actually passing through.
The program cleverly now captures performances even if you're not recording, allowing you to capture everything even if you've forgotten to hit record – which could be very, very frustrating.
The 2.6GB collection of virtual instruments and synthesizer samples is a great addition and there are more expansions if you need them too. Boom is a drum machine, Mini Grand is a grand piano, DB-33 is a tonewheel organ, and there's more like Structure Free to play back sample based instruments and Vacuum, a monophonic vacuum tube style synthesizer – to name just a few.
While the Mix window is a great place to work, digitally, it pays to have physical controls like the control surfaces Avid offers. Even without this you can grab and automate any parameter anywhere across all the tracks. With offline bouncing, track freeze and commit features, this really can do anything you'll need.
Should you buy Avid Pro Tools?
If you're a professional audio editor, be it for music, movies or broadcast, then Avid Pro Tools is the most comprehensive and powerful option for you. It's not the cheapest nor the easiest DAW to use, but that's not the point. The point is, this gives you the most concise audio controls out there for the very best final product.
If you're newer to audio editing, then it's something to work towards. It's too powerful for beginners, and you should develop your skills on free software like Audacity (opens in new tab) or Acoustica 6 (opens in new tab) to get started.