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Is Pro Tools 11 really the 'new standard for audio production'?

Audio production - it's all about the DAW isn't it? Well that's what marketers would have you believe.


Audio production - let's subset it down to music production - is all about working with writers, musicians, music and sound. All are important, indeed vital to the process. Neglect any of these areas and you have a flop, not the hit you probably desire.

It has been a recurring theme in Avid's marketing that the most important thing in production is Pro Tools, and being able to operate Pro Tools efficiently (and they would like to persuade you that you will need one of Avid's training courses for that).

I disagree. I have heard excellent work done on just about every DAW there is. You might like Pro Tools (as I do). You might prefer it to other DAWs (as I do). But you don't need it (I recently had a 10-day vacation to Adobe Audition that was quite refreshing). There are plenty of alternatives with which you can create top notch work.

But there is a sense where Pro Tools is the standard. Let's say you work with Pro Tools in your own studio. You create a new session and work on it up to a certain point. Then you decide you would like to add horns, strings, or some other instrumental sounds that require a larger studio. Chances are that you can take your Pro Tools session on a hard disk and plug it into the studio's Pro Tools system and continue working. Then when you're done, take it home and continue through to the mix. You are much more likely to find Pro Tools in use in a commercial studio environment than any other DAW.

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This is useful, but not essential. You could bounce your tracks to .wav files and import them into any other DAW. And you might find that although you are on Pro Tools version 11 (or you will be when it becomes publically available), but the studio you choose is still on 7.3 (now that's a classic Pro Tools!)

In short, Pro Tools is only a standard of any kind because many people and many studios use it. Avid will obviously seek to make use of this and lever their market share further upwards by persuading people that they can't aspire to be professional without it.

As I said earlier, I like Pro Tools, and I use it every day. But I am perfectly happy for other DAWs to exist and for people I work with to use them. In this sense, we don't really need a standard. We do need .wav however - now that's a standard that really has worked well for music and audio in general. But times change and standards evolve. One thing that will always remain as standard is that music production is all about writers, musicians, music and sound. Everything else is just a means to an end.

By David Mellor Thursday April 11, 2013