Avid Pro Tools 10 Versus Pro Tools 11 – Major Differences

Here are some additional in depth details about Pro tools 11 functionality.

Since it became available at the end of June, 2013, the audio world has slowly dipped its toes in the Pro Tools 11 pool waiting to see if the hype and build-up were worth it. Most people have approached this “upgrade” with cautious optimism, mainly due to the fact that it’s more than just another “upgrade;” it’s an entirely new piece of software. About the only thing that isn’t new is the aesthetic look and feel. It still looks like the Pro Tools we all know and love- but don’t be fooled by its’ dashingly bland, predictable look. Everything you don’t see is totally new.

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It’s all too easy to dismiss Pro Tools 11 as just another upgrade. It sure looks like PT10.

The central difference between 10 & 11 go far beyond the visual and have more to do with the new Avid Audio Engine. For the first time in Pro Tools history, HD and non-HD software are identical in how they are written. In the past, Pro Tools HD and LE were written with different software code. This is why we had TDM plug-ins and RTAS plug-ins. With the advent of the new HDX cards and Pro Tools 11 software, the same software code is utilized across Pro Tools. This is very important for anyone working in a multi system environment where sessions are transferred between HDX and Native systems. With TDM & RTAS, very keen engineers could hear the sonic difference between the LE and HD systems- this is no longer the case. This unified engine is also the reason we have the newer plug-in format of AAX. The same plug-ins can run on the CPU of the computer or the DSP chips on the HDX cards, so we no longer have to worry about different plug-in formats. Progress!

While we’re on the topic of plug-ins, let’s not forget that this new engine is a true 64-bit application. This means the plug-ins running inside of Pro Tools are also 64-bit. Not only have the processing capabilities of these plug-ins increased, the ability to address and utilize large amounts of RAM has also increased. Past versions of Pro Tools (older engine) could only address 3GB of RAM for plug-ins. This was an especially hard hit to anyone using plug-ins that are Sample based and required the loading of samples into RAM. Native Instruments and Vienna Symphonic were notorious in their inability to run in Pro Tools. They require large amounts of RAM and the older engine of Pro Tools was not designed to handle that type of information. With Pro Tools 11 you can access all of the RAM on your computer! This will be especially noticeable if you are utilizing Virtual Instruments for music production.

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Along with the bump in RAM usage, another really slick aspect of the new engine is Dynamic Plug-In Processing. This allows you to have plug-ins open on tracks and until you pass audio through them they are not affecting the CPU. In past versions, once a plug-in was launched it was drawing power from the CPU, even if you had no audio on the track. Pro Tools 11 is smart enough to detect the presence of audio on the tracks and when there is no audio passing through the plug-ins they are using any power even though they are active in the session.

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The most exciting feature afforded to us by the new Avid Audio Engine is Offline Bounce. People have asked for this feature for many, many years and it’s finally a reality. Offline Bounce allows you to print your mix without having to wait for it to play back in “real-time”. This time saving feature can really come in handy when long mixes need to be printed. To further expand on these new abilities, Pro Tools takes it a step further and allows you to print mixes from several sources simultaneously as well as the ability to print .mp3 files in the same process. As if adding all these features wasn’t enough to grapple with, Avid has also streamlined the Bounce process by adding a “Bounce” Folder to the Session structure along with allowing for File Name changes all within the same window. In the past we would have to cycle through several windows to achieve this. This feature is complex enough that we will be looking at this by itself in a future article.

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Along the line of increased capabilities, Pro Tools 11 now includes the Avid Video Engine, the same one powering Avid Media Composer. This enable Pro Tools to support a wide range of SD and HD video media as well as Avid DNxHD video streams directly in the Timeline without Transcoding the video. This engine also allows Pro Tools to support a wide array of Video Interfaces, allowing you to view video playback on an external monitor. The also allows you to select between different playback resolutions to balance between image quality and system performance.

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Furthermore, the Bounce to Quicktime feature of Pro Tools allows you to Transcode video and audio data directly out of Pro Tools. To enable the Video Engine, go to the Playback Engine found in the Setup Menu and click on the check box.

However, in my opinion, the most important change regarding video in Pro Tools is that you can no longer capture video to the Timeline in Pro Tools. You can only “Import” video files. Pro Tools has had the ability to record video into the Timeline for many long years, and Avid’s decision to end that capability reflects the way Pro Tools operators are working with modern media. Video has become very prevalent in the past few years allowing for more capabilities across a wide range of products. Cell phones, tablet devices, camera’s, they all have video capabilities. Even the iPhone allows for basic video editing right on the phone, not to mention the many apps available for these devices. Bottom line, there are numerous ways to Capture video. Pro Tools doesn’t need to be able to “record” video- it just needs to be able to play it back.

The software engine enabling all of this goodness to happen is so radically different than any previous version of Pro Tools, and Avid has also taken into account the apprehension you might feel about jumping ship. For the first time in Pro Tools history, you get 2 licenses: Pro Tools 11 and 10 as well. The PT11 license includes an additional license for PT10. You can even have both versions installed on your computer at once! This means that you can go back and forth between the “older” and “newer” version of Pro Tools.

Some of the more nuanced enhancements include:

64 Levels of Undo (previously 32)

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New Click II plug-in:
Hot & Steamy Metronome Action

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One of the most professional-minded new features of Pro Tools 11 are the new Metering Scales and Ballistics. To accommodate the wide range of professionals utilizing Pro Tools such as Broadcast, Post Production, Music Mixing, we now have up to 17 different metering types. Yes, you read that right, 17!

For the majority of us, we will probably never need to monitor our mixes in PPM Nordic, but in case you ever get work in Scandinavia, just know Pro Tools has you covered. These options primarily exist within the Pro Tools HD software as the standard version of Pro Tools give you 4 options: Pro Tools Classic, Sample Peak, VENUE Peak, VENUE RMS.

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The HD software also give you the option of displaying Gain Reduction Meter’s for Insert (plug-in) assignments as well as for the Track Meter.

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Let’s take a look at some of the more technical features of Pro Tools 11 software.

Supported Tracks:

   

Pro Tools 11

 

Pro Tools HD 11

Audio

96

768

Aux

 

128

 

512

Instrument

 

128

 

256

MIDI

 

512

 

512

Busses

 

256

 

256

Video

 

1

 

64

Simultaneous Audio Record Tracks

 

32

 

192

 

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Lastly, the Pro Tools community saw the retirement of an old friend. The ICON system officially went out of production around the same time Pro Tools 11 was released. The ICON D-Control & D-Command have been with us for almost 10 years and we have worked a lot of projects with that board. Although production has stopped on the ICON, Avid will continue to support the system for many years to come as there will be many people like myself that will continue to use their ICON.

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For those of you looking towards a future replacement for the ICON, it’s already here. Avid announced the new S6 console and will beginning shipping them soon. The S6 is the logical progression into the next phase of hands-on, immersive control. It allows the user to custom build a console that best meets their production needs by being scalable and modular. The modules include, faders, switches, knobs, and display.

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The S6 takes the best of the ICON and Euphonix System 5 and combines them into a true multi-function goliath. Along with all the typical enhancements and scroll waveform displays, the true genius of the S6 is that it can control ANY audio or media application. It can be used with Logic, NUENDO, Digital Performer, Media Composer, etc... Furthermore, the S6 can control up to 8 individual systems at once. Now it’s just showing off.

One of the side-effects of this new system is that we are no longer going to conduct Pro Tools 310 ICON Certification Classes.

It’s been a very eventful last few months as we’ve all started to get comfortable living with our Pro Tools 11 housemate. Although I have no way to scientifically quantify what I’ve found, I have formed a few opinions about my experience with PT11 so far. First of all, it sound “cleaner” to me. The sound seems more crisp and defined while the depth has increased significantly. To be honest, it sounds like there is more room and depth to the sound. Furthermore, PT11 has been one of the most stable installations I’ve encountered. The installation was a very smooth process, the system has ran reliably since I installed it, and the only crash I suffered was due to a plug-in acting up. The reliability of this release seems to be very good compared to previous versions of the software.

Now all I have to do is write a hit song and get a Grammy. Time to go to work!



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