pro tools and DAWs
Pro Tools is an example of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Pro Tools relies (mostly) on non-destructive processing and mixing. The program allows for multiple sounds to be used at once by reading from the multiple sound files, applying gain changes as indicated by mix commands, and applying processing through plugins. When you have completed a mix (or at any stage along the way), you “bounce” your project to stereo, which mixes and applies all processing to the individual tracks.
Since a DAW project has a more complex organization of files than a stereo audio editor, and a more complex set of preferences and setup, it is important to understand setup and file organization for a DAW project.
The following tips and screen shots are from Pro Tools 12.
first step – launch screen
By default, Pro Tools opens a launch window on startup. It allows you to create a new file or open a recent one. For your first project, you are creating a new file. With creating a new file comes the need to set up options properly, name your project, and store it in a place you can find later.
Our first project specifies the following options: BWF .WAV file type, 24-bit bit depth, 48kHz sampling rate and interleaved audio files. Take a look at the marked up screen for guidance.
Name your file according to the instructions (at the top of the window. Be sure to select “Prompt for location” for saving your project. Pro Tools will create a folder for your project with the name given. Store that on the Desktop to help you find it more easily (for backing up when your work session is complete).
Once you have finished creating a project with the proper options, open File | Preferences…, and select the Processing section.
Most of these preferences apply to projects with imported audio, but we will be creating our audio within the program. Still, it’s good to get in the habit of setting these preferences. You may end up using Elastic Audio, so those settings matter for this project.
Once you’ve set your preferences, you should check to make sure Pro Tools is using the correct hardware and input/output (I/O) setup. In the lab, the settings should be correct for you, but people always seem to make changes.
From the Setup menu, choose Hardware…. The Komplete Audio 6 should be the hardware selected for use.
From the Setup menu, choose Playback Engine…. The top choice should match your selection in the Hardware setup. I prefer to not ignore errors during playback/record, as I don’t want errors to be recorded as part of my audio files, or mixed into my final project.
From the Setup menu, choose I/O Setup…. It should look like the window below. Note that built-in output is the Komplete Audio 6 – not the built-in audio output of the computer.
Pro Tools has two main windows: the edit window and the mix window. You may also see a floating transport window. The edit window has your tracks (nothing showing at first) showing horizontally like an audio editor, with waveform representations for each track. The edit window also has a Clips pane to the right that shows the audio files that have been imported into the project and any clips made from those files.
You can close the transport window and incorporate the transport tools into the top of the edit window by clicking the top-right triangle button and choosing transport from the drop-down menu.
The Mix window shows a virtual mixer, with individual channel strips for each track. You can switch back and forth between the edit and mix windows with CMD-= (command equal).
All of the audio files you record will show up in the Clips pane of the edit window. As you edit those files, you will notice that additional clips are created as sub-units of the parent audio file. We’ll talk more about clips and editing later.