Digidesign Pro Tools 8 Review

Digidesign’s Pro Tools has been the industry standard for professional audio recording and mixing software for years. With this latest update, Digidesign has made some significant gains in the areas of music creation and audio production.

What’s new in Digidesign’s Pro Tools 8

Pro Tools 8 is widely regarded as a massive upgrade with dozens of additions to and improvements over previous versions of the Pro Tools DAW. Besides the obvious overhauled graphic user interface,  some of the most exciting new features include the long-awaited addition of full MIDI implementation and the bundled collection of plug-ins and virtual instruments.

New Pro Tools DAW is Finally a Serious MIDI Sequencer and Editor

Although the ability to edit MIDI was incorporated into Pro Tools in version 5, Pro Pools 8 is the first upgrade with such a dedicated focus on new MIDI features. Perhaps the most welcome MIDI-releated upgrade is the change to the way users can edit MIDI data. In Pro Tools 8, it is now possible to graphically edit MIDI in a separate ‘Edit’ window. This new MIDI Editor window can also be integrated into the normal ‘Edit’ window allowing for simultaneous MIDI and audio editing.

Digidesign has gone beyond the norm by including some MIDI features not available in other MIDI-based DAWs. For example, while working with MIDI tracks in this new ‘Edit’ window, Pro Tools 8 users can now view and edit the contents of multiple MIDI tracks at the same time.

And to top off this Pro Tools 8 MIDI evolution, Digidesign has incorporated professional notation/scoring in Pro Tools 8 via a new ‘Score Editor’ window powered by Sibelius.

Free Virtual Instruments and Loops included in the New Version of Pro Tools

For the first time ever in a Pro Tools release, a suite of virtual instruments, plug-ins and loops are included free of charge. The addition of free composition tools aligns Pro Tools with the ranks of other major DAWs (such as Logic Pro and Cubase) allowing Pro Tools users to create music from the get go.

Pro Tools 8 comes bundled with no less than five new virtual instruments including an analog-style drum machine/sequencer, a tonewheel organ emulator with rotating speaker simulation, an acoustic grand piano, a monophonic vacuum tube synthesizer, and a multitimbral synth and sample workstation.

Pro Tools 8 users will also be pleasantly surprised by the 8GB library of pro-quality audio loops and a host of new effect/utility plug-ins, including the Eleven Free amp emulator.

Other Powerful New Features in the Pro Tools 8 DAW

Aside from the enhancements mentioned above, there are several less flashy yet significant new features in Pro Tools 8.

  • The track count for Pro Tools LE and M-Powered has been boosted to 48 simultaneous tracks.
  • Increase in the size limit on single file recordings from 2 GB to 3.4 GB.
  • Increase in track inserts from five per channel to ten per channel.
  • Any changes to the mix configuration can be made on the fly whereas previous versions required stopping playback to add, remove or re-order tracks.
  • It is now possible to open a session with all of the plug-ins deactivated allowing users to quickly view elements of a session instead of waiting for all the plug-ins to load.

With a host of new virtual instruments and MIDI features, Pro Tools 8 has become a much more exciting DAW without losing any of the practicality that has made it the world’s preferred choice for professional digital audio software.

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