Now that Avid works with downloads instead of bulky software boxes, at Bax Music, we’ve changed the way we offer their titles. Since our product pages only offer an overview of each type of Pro Tools licence, you’ll find all of the essential info about Pro Tools right here.
What is Pro Tools?
At its core, Pro Tools is a multi-track audio editor, so if you want to make multi-track recordings of your band, or if you've got individual instrument exports from your own DAW that you want to weave into a complete track, then you can use Pro Tools to layer and combine them into a complete mix. You can easily make volume adjustments, add fade-outs, change the acoustics, add effects and even change the timing of your project. This industry-standard software doesn’t just present a gigantic creative playground for any musician or producer, but hands them the same tools and workflow as any high-end recording studio.
The Pro Tools Prestige
The Pro Tools software package enjoys a prominent position in modern music history. Visit any big studio and they'll probably be using Pro Tools; step into any film school and the students are likely to be learning audio mounting skills via Pro Tools. This software has become so ingrained in the music and audio industry that studios will ask for material to be delivered in the form of Pro Tools sessions. Basically, it's a given that anyone who wants to be taken seriously works with Pro Tools. So if you're planning to collaborate with studios or film makers, by using Pro Tools, you can be certain that you’re all speaking the same language.
More Than Just Software
One of the great advantages of Pro Tools is the availability of Pro Tools hardware - specifically Pro Tools controllers, which come in an array of different forms and at an array of different prices. Larger models, in particular, are a testament to the professional level of Pro Tools - and prove that anyone who thought that large mixing consoles would disappear with the advent of virtual mixers couldn’t have been more wrong. Avid also produces unique (and super fast) audio interfaces that work seamlessly with Pro Tools, firmly marking it out as a professional-grade package that’s well worth the investment.
Pro Tools Licences
PERPETUAL LICENCE OR SUBSCRIPTION?
Back in the day, you could get a permanent Pro Tools licence which, following a one-off payment, you downloaded, installed and could use however much you wanted for however many years you wanted to. So, it was just like the boxed versions. Then you had the subscription-based licence, where a monthly or yearly fee is paid for access to the software within a limited period. For example, here at Bax Music, you could pick up a year’s subscription that you could then renew annually.
Now, in 2022, Avid have made some further changes in response to the growing trend in subscription-based software access - where users are essentially hiring the software they use. Now, there are plenty of arguments as to why doing away with permanent licences is negative for end-users, but that’s what Avid have done. Avid no longer offer permanent licences for their software titles.
There are exceptions, which we’ll get into later, but right now, any new users that want a copy of Pro Tools will have to start a subscription. They’ll also have a new set of titles to choose from, since all the names of the Pro Tools packages have also been updated.
The New Pro Tools
One producer will never work in exactly the same way as the next, so a lot of DAW software developers, including Avid, offer an array of different editions, giving beginners the opportunity to pick up a version that’s more tailored for entry-level producers and supplying experienced producers with a version that’s designed for professionals.
In 2022, Avid added Artist, Studio and Flex editions to the Pro Tools line-up but in a recent overhaul, have since changed the name of their professional edition to Ultimate.
PRO TOOLS ARTIST
The Artist edition can be considered the entry-level edition and is more designed for writers and musicians. While it is the entry-level edition, that doesn’t mean that this software doesn’t cover a lot of ground - basically, you’re guaranteed a smooth and comprehensive recording and mixing programme. Artist also sets up users with a maximum of thirty-two channels which, for a lot of musicians, will be more than enough to work with.
A note about Pro Tools Intro:
In 2022, the previous entry-level edition, Pro Tools First, was discontinued. Which is a shame, since the software was freely available and often came included with a lot of studio equipment like audio interfaces. The removal of Pro Tools First from the line-up suddenly forced first-time users to pay for the Artist edition - news that was met with a lot of protest. Thankfully, Avid heard the complaints loud and clear and have introduced the free Intro edition.
Naturally, Pro Tools Intro is more limited than the larger editions, but provides enough to learn how to get to grips with Pro Tools in general. Because the previous entry-level edition, First, had a completely different code base, Avid had one programming team working exclusively on free entry-level software while an entirely different team worked on the full versions. Cost wise, it was impossible for Avid to keep this up. As such, Pro Tools Intro now uses the same code-base as all the other editions.
And.. back to Artist:
Since Pro Tools Intro is a free DAW, you can’t expect to get every function with it. Intro is more of a taster-title - so you can get a feel for the way that Pro Tools works and, more importantly, find out if it works for you. If it does, you might take the first step up and pay for the Artist edition, which is the real entry-level edition of Pro Tools, so it falls within the same price bracket as the entry-level editions of most other DAWs.
PRO TOOLS STUDIO
Pro Tools Studio is essentially the standard version of Pro Tools. So, it’s bigger than Artist, way bigger than Intro and the older First, but smaller than Ultimate. Basically, Pro Tools Studio is for users making the step up from beginner to professional.
Studio is an incredibly rich package that you can literally do anything with. It comes with a maximum of 512 channels which, for most projects might as well be an infinite amount (i.e. it’s unlikely that most projects would ever stack up more than 100 tracks). If you do need more tracks, then comping can be a factor here, and you might want some discrete tracks for all of the microphone positions that come with a lot of sample libraries these days. In which case, it’s worth knowing that, for a lot of musicians and sound engineers, the Artist vs. Studio trade-off is actually enough.
PRO TOOLS ULTIMATE
Pro Tools Ultimate (previously known as Flex) is more focussed on audiovisual post production - and we’re talking large productions, so it’s more for big studios working on TV, film or advertising projects. Since it’s been developed for big studios, Ultimate is big. For a start, it has a maximum of 2048 channels, which looks like an insane number, but in the world of film production, twenty channels are easily taken up by the dialogue, comping and sound effects of each and every actor that appears in the piece. Multiply that by 100 and you can see how the numbers can easily stack up.
Ultimate also supports HDX and HD Native, which requires hardware that the average user just won’t have. Skipping to the end, Ultimate provides a mountain of potential for large post-production studios, so it really isn’t designed for musicians, or even most producers, who are likely to feel more at home with the Studio edition.
Naturally, the number of available tracks isn’t the only difference between the three editions. See the full list of features offered by each version in the table below:
The New Licences
In the list of available subscriptions below, you’ll see either Start or Extension subscriptions. The setup is actually pretty clear: if you’re a new Avid user, then you need to pick up the Start edition. Then, when your first year’s subscription is up, you’ll need to pick up the Extension.
But what happens if you forget to extend your subscription? Previously, there was a special renewal system, but that's been removed from the new setup, so if your subscription runs out before you renew it, you’ll have to pick up the Start version again in order to continue using Pro Tools, and a new Avid-ID will be added to your account.
What is good about the Extension is that you can pick it up at any time to extend the end-date of your subscription, giving users plenty of time to remember to do it.
- Avid Pro Tools Artist Subscriptions Start
- Avid Pro Tools Artist Subscription Extension
- Avid Pro Tools Studio Subscriptions Start
- Avid Pro Tools Studio Subscription Extension
- Avid Pro Tools Ultimate Subscriptions Start
- Avid Pro Tools Ultimate Subscription Extension
Avid also offers two different educational editions of Studio and Ultimate: one for teachers and students, and one for educational institutions (i.e. schools, colleges and universities). Teachers in this context are those that are independent from an institution.
- Avid Pro Tools Studio Student/Teacher Subscription Start
- Avid Pro Tools Studio Student/Teacher Subscription Extension
- Avid Pro Tools Ultimate Student/Teacher Subscription Start
- Avid Pro Tools Ultimate Student/Teacher Subscription Extension
- Avid Pro Tools Studio EDU-Institution Subscription Start
- Avid Pro Tools Studio EDU-Institution Subscription Extension
So far, things have been pretty straightforward. But now we come to the exceptions to the rules of the new subscription-based system.
New Avid users can only buy a subscription. There are no permanent licences available for any new Avid user. However, there are specific licences available for current users who already have a perpetual licence.
These editions are called a ‘Perpetual Licence Extension’ or ‘Get Current’, which we’ll try to explain...
There are Avid users who still own the perpetual licence that Avid used to offer, and they paid quite a lot of money for that fixed licence, so would lose out if they were forced to step over to a subscription.
The Perpetual Licence Extension and Get Current editions of Pro Tools are for any current Avid users with a perpetual licence that they already paid for outright. And this is how the Get Current editions work:
- If you have a perpetual licence for Pro Tools (version 9 or later) and your Updates & Support subscription is still valid or ended less than a month ago, then you can pick up the Perpetual Licence Extension.
- If you have a perpetual licence for Pro Tools (version 9 or later) and your Updates & Support subscription ended more than a month ago, then you can pick up the Get Current edition.
- If you have a perpetual licence for Pro Tools standard (version 9 or later), then you can get the Pro Tools Studio Get Current edition.
- If you have a perpetual licence for Pro Tools Ultimate (version 9 or later), then you can get the Pro Tools Ultimate Get Current edition (previously the Pro Tools Flex Get Current edition).
The four guidelines above should help any users to pick out the correct version from the list below:
- Avid Pro Tools Studio Perpetual Licence Extension
- Avid Pro Tools Ultimate Perpetual Licence Extension
- Avid Pro Tools Studio Get Current Perpetual Licence
- Avid Pro Tools Ultimate Get Current Perpetual Licence
Extensions are also available for the education editions. Any institution or any individual with a valid education edition will need to get an Extension within the specified period:
- Avid Pro Tools Studio Student/Teacher Perpetual Licence Extension
- Avid Pro Tools Studio EDU-Institution Perpetual Licence Extension
Note that sufficient proof is required in order to be eligible for all educational editions. Find out more here.