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Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation developed and released by Avid Technology for Microsoft Windows and OS X which can be used for a wide range of sound recording and sound production purposes. Like all digital audio workstation software, Pro Tools can perform the functions of a multitrack tape recorder and audio mixer, along with additional features that can only be performed in the digital domain, such as non-destructive editing, using the Undo feature, which allows an engineer digidesign 003 Rack Driver undo any changes he or she does not like. Most of Pro Tools’ basic functions can be controlled within Edit or Mix windows, which the user can see on a computer screen. Here, audio can be edited in a non-linear, non-destructive fashion.
Pro Tools can handle WAV, AIFF, AIFC, mp3, and SDII audio files. It features time code, tempo maps, elastic audio, automation and surround sound abilities. The Pro Tools mix engine has traditionally employed 48-bit fixed point arithmetic, but floating point is also used in some cases, such as with Pro Tools HD Native. The new HDX hardware uses 64-bit floating point summing.
Pro Tools was developed by UC Berkeley graduates Evan Brooks, who majored in electrical engineering and computer science, and Peter Gotcher. The first incarnation of Pro Tools was introduced in 1984 under the brand name Sound Designer. At the time, the pair were creating and selling digital drum sound chips under their Digidrums label. Sound Designer was originally designed to edit sounds for the E-mu Emulator sampling keyboard, but it was rapidly ported to many other sampling keyboards, such as the Akai S900 and the Prophet 2000.
Thanks to the universal file specification developed by Brooks, Sound Designer files could be transferred to and from one sampling keyboard to another keyboard made rack a different manufacturer. This universal file specification, along with the printed source code to a 68000 assembly language interrupt driven MIDI driver, were distributed through Macintosh MIDI interface manufacturer Assimilation, which manufactured the first MIDI interface for the Mac in 1985. Beaverton Digital Systems Digidesign John Connolly already had several conversations with Evan Brooks in 1985, as he was listed as a contact for technical 003 for the Assimilation MIDI toolkit, and driver current Apple operating system in 1985 did not have native MIDI communications drivers.
In 1987, Gotcher and Brooks discussed with E-mu Systems the possibility of integrating their renamed ‘Sound Tools’ software into the Emulator III. E-mu rejected this offer and the pair started Digidesign, with Gotcher as president and Brooks as lead engineer.
At this stage Sound Tools was a simple computer-based stereo audio editor. Although the software had the possibility to do far more, it was limited by the hard drive technology, which was used to stream audio and allow for the non-destructive editing that Sound Tools offered.
The core engine technology and much of the user interface was designed by and licensed from a small San Francisco company called OSC, known at the time for creating the first software-based digital multi-track recorder, called DECK, in 1990. That software, manufactured by OSC digidesign 003 Rack Driver distributed by Digidesign, formed the platform upon which Pro Tools version 1 was built. Although the original design remained largely the same, Digidesign continued to improve Pro Tools software and hardware, adding a visual MIDI sequencer and more tracks, with the system offering 16-bit, 44.
In 1997, Pro Tools reached 24-bit, 48 tracks. It was at this point that the migration from more conventional analog studio technology to the Pro Tools platform took place within the industry. 1 single to be recorded, edited, and mixed fully within the Pro Tools environment, by Charles Dye and Desmond Child. In 2009, Pro Tools was used for creating the audio for the video games DJ Hero and Guitar Hero, using the modeling plug-in Eleven for the guitar sounds.
Most of Pro Tools’ basic functions can be controlled within Edit or Mix windows. Here, audio can be edited in a non-linear, non-destructive fashion. MIDI information can also be manipulated.
The Mix window displays each track’s fader channel and allows for the adjustment of a channel’s volume and pan, as well as being the usual place to insert plug-in effects and route audio to and from different outputs and inputs. The release of Pro Tools 8 introduced a MIDI edit window, which enables the user to manipulate MIDI data in either piano-roll or score windows. It also includes MIDI edit lanes so that the user can see note, velocity and other CC data in the same window.
These additions took Pro Tools from the long standard 2 edit window approach to having 3 edit windows. Real-time effects processing and virtual instruments in Pro Tools are achieved through the use of plug-ins, which are either processed by the DSP chips as DSP plug-ins, or the host computer as Native plug-ins. This section contains content that is written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by removing promotional content and inappropriate external links, and by adding encyclopedic content written from a neutral point of view.
This section needs attention from an expert in Pro Tools. Please add a reason or a talk parameter to this template to explain the issue with the section. In October 2011 Avid introduced a new line of DSP accelerated cards, named HDX cards, along with version 10 of its Pro Tools software. Benefits claimed for the new system included improved technical performance in terms of audio dynamic range, monitoring latency, and overall computational power, when compared to the older HD line.
In its marketing Avid aimed the HDX system at customers requiring the highest and most consistent practically achievable levels of technical performance. The practical benefit to the user was the more reliable creation of large and complex productions typical of those demanded in modern music production.
A key stated benefit was near-zero monitoring latency. Native systems made use of the host system’s CPU for all audio processing while retaining the augmented workflows and sound quality factors of Pro Tools HD. HDX’s primary advantage over HD remained the considerably lower latency for all DSP reliant operations.
HDX systems accelerated digital signal processing for Avid’s own AAX format plugins only. The company ended support for the older TDM technology for use with its HDX products. HD Process and Accel systems, and that its TDM technology would be discontinued. Pro Tools HD and HDX systems represent the company’s professional product line.