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Originally released in 1991, Pro Tools has been the industry-standard DAW for making music, film, TV, and more for decades. Whether you’re just getting started, or an audio professional working in a world-class facility, Avid’s Pro Tools software offers everything you need to tackle even the most demanding projects, including studio-quality sound, advanced features, and a massive collection of plug-ins, instruments, and sounds.
Now available in four versions tailor-made for music creators and post-production professionals, there’s a version of Pro Tools out there for everyone. In this Buyer’s Guide, we’ll summarize what’s included in Pro Tools Intro, Pro Tools Artist, Pro Tools Studio, and Pro Tools Ultimate, as well as explain the differences between them to help you find the right software for your studio. But first, let’s take a look at what's new in the latest Pro Tools update.
The big news with the latest Pro Tools update is Sketch, a new non-linear, clip-based creation tool that makes it easy to capture new ideas and experiment with arrangements. Available in all versions of Pro Tools, the new Sketch workflow allows loops, MIDI, and recordings to be freely organized and played. Best of all, Pro Tools Sketch is also available as a free iPad app, so you can capture ideas anywhere inspiration strikes. Plus, you can even export ideas into the Pro Tools timeline for further editing and mixing, or to share with friends.
Learn more about the new Pro Tools Sketch workflow in our blog.
The most significant workflow update for Pro Tools in recent history, update 2023.9 adds Sketch functionality to all versions of the DAW (including Pro Tools Intro). But the value doesn’t stop there – 2023.9 delivers a few important quality-of-life improvements as well:
Designed for those new to DAWs, Pro Tools Intro is a new version of Pro Tools that comes free with Avid audio interfaces. Start creating music quickly with 8 audio tracks and 8 instrument tracks, or experiment with 36 free instrument and effects plug-ins. It’s a great way to start creating with the same tools the pros use for free.
Perfect for aspiring music creators, Pro Tools Artist has everything you need to make beats, write songs, record vocals and instruments, and mix studio-quality music. The annual Pro Tools Artist subscription includes Pro Tools Artist software, which supports up to 32 audio tracks, aux tracks and instrument tracks, as well as 64 MIDI tracks for recording and producing music.
Pro Tools Artist also supports up to 16 channels of simultaneous I/O—enough to track a live band or mix a multi-track session. Speaking of hardware, Pro Tools Artist supports any Core Audio or ASIO-compatible audio interface. Finally, an annual Pro Tools Artist subscription includes Avid’s Artist plug-in bundle, offering more than 100 of Avid’s top plug-ins and creative tools for recording and mixing.
Pro Tools Studio is designed for engineers, producers and other music professionals seeking advanced features and workflows, including increased track counts and immersive audio mixing capabilities. Pro Tools Studio software supports up to 512 audio tracks, 128 aux tracks and 512 instrument tracks. Other workflow enhancements include additional VCA and master tracks and video editing support.
Compatible with Avid’s Carbon hybrid audio interface and S6L control surface (as well as popular third-party interfaces), Pro Tools Studio offers up to 64 channels of native I/O for recording and mixing. When paired with the S6L, Pro Tools Studio offers full surround sound support, including traditional 5.1 and 7.1 systems, as well as immersive formats such as Dolby Atmos and Ambisonic.
In addition to the Complete Plug-in Bundle, featuring all of Avid’s most popular EQs, compressors, effects and virtual instruments, Pro Tools Studio also includes Avid’s HEAT software for adding analog warmth and color to your tracks. Pro Tools Studio also introduces a number of new features like Clip FX editing, support for AAF and OMF formats, and improved bouncing options to streamline your workflow.
Tailor-made for audio post facilities and music studios, Pro Tools Ultimate is the ultimate version of Pro Tools with full track and I/O counts, Pro Tools | HDX workflows and advanced features to tackle even the most demanding music and audio post productions.
The Pro Tools Ultimate tier includes Pro Tools Ultimate software, which offers a maximum of 2048 audio tracks, 1024 aux tracks and 512 instrument tracks for massive post-production projects. In addition to an impressive 256 channels of native I/O, Pro Tools Ultimate offers even more workflow enhancements, including additional VCA tracks, master tracks and video tracks.
Another perk of the Pro Tools Ultimate tier is that it comes standard with the ExpertPlus support plan, reducing case response time down to just 4 hours—a must for professional post-production houses. Additionally, those on ExpertPlus support plans receive phone support for as well as “high priority” status for critical issues.
Pro Tools Ultimate also includes many of the same perks as the Studio tier, including support for immersive audio, AAF and OMF formats, ClipFX editing, improved bouncing options, HEAT software and the Complete Plug-in Bundle. Much like the Studio tier, Pro Tools Ultimate also supports Avid Carbon and S6L products, along with HDX and HD Native systems (as well as most popular third-party audio interfaces). Pro Tools Ultimate also includes a DigiLink license for interfacing with non-Avid DigiLink-enabled audio interfaces.
Finally, Pro Tools Ultimate includes SoundFlow Cloud Avid Edition, a specialized software that automates tedious tasks with macros and shortcuts for Pro Tools to speed up your workflow.
Still not sure which version of Pro Tools is right for you? Check out our Pro Tools comparison chart below to see what each version has to offer.
Now that you’ve selected which version of Pro Tools is best for you, head to our Pro Tools Finder page for help selecting the best subscription option.