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Why is Pro Tools industry standard?

Record-Producer.com recommends Pro Tools, in all its versions from the tiny Mbox, through the Digi 002 all the way up to the full HD system. If you use alternative software and you get good results, that's OK by me because it is only the results that matter, not the equipment you use...

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audiomasterclass.com recommends Pro Tools, in all its versions from the tiny Mbox, through the Digi 002 all the way up to the full HD system. If you use alternative software and you get good results, that's OK by me because it is only the results that matter, not the equipment you use.

However, what I see time and again is that it is people who are using Pro Tools that are in the majority in getting these good results from their recording. So what makes Pro Tools so high and mighty then? Is there some kind of magic? Does Audio Masterclass get a commission every time Pro Tools is mentioned?

Let's take the last question first - the answer is yes we do get a commission. If you click on the link below and buy an Mbox system, Audio Masterclass will get a commission.

Link removed - outdated

On the other hand, you could click this link (to Cubase) and Audio Masterclass still gets a commission...

Link removed - outdated

So you see it doesn't matter which you buy, we still get the commission. So that's not why we recommend Pro Tools.

The reason for recommending Pro Tools goes back in history. Steinberg's Cubase was the first MIDI sequencer with the graphic interface that is universal today. They didn't invent it, but they were the first to apply it to MIDI, and later to audio sequencing. All the way through Steinberg's company history, they have sold largely into the 'hobbyist' market. Granted, many professionals have used Cubase, and still do, but that's not where the company makes its bread and butter.

Contrast that with Digidesign. Digidesign started out making new sound chips for drum machines. But then they came up with Sound Designer, which initially was a sample editing program. But Sound Designer soon acquired the ability to record and edit stereo audio, and suddenly the world had changed.

Digidesign rapidly orientated themselves towards the fully pro market, and the acquisition of the company by Avid - top players in broadcast video - sealed that. When Pro Tools first came out (I still remember being at the UK launch party), it was for pros from day one, and in fact Digidesign had already incorporated the requirements of professionals, which they found out through an extensive process of consultation.

To cut the story short, any software that sells into the pro market must have the features that pros need, and without any clutter caused by superfluous gimmicks. And if it doesn't cut the ice with the pros, then they won't buy it - no amount of marketing will make them buy something they can see is not going to work for them.

Software sold into the amateur market on the other hand is sold almost entirely by marketing. The buyer takes it on trust that it will work as promised. Mostly it does, but with the burden of many 'features' that are simply not necessary, and many 'quick' options that only encourage the production of cookie-cutter music.

One day Pro Tools will be bettered by something else, and Audio Masterclass's recommendation will change. But for now, computer-based recording is like a canoe race - if you're using Pro Tools then you're paddling downstream!

By David Mellor Saturday January 7, 2006
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