23 Jan 2015

Avid lets you have Pro Tools…for free

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Pro Tools | First's GUI Pro Tools | First's GUI Avid

Newly Nasdaq relisted Avid has announced Pro Tools | First, a free version of the music creation software that is such a mainstay of the modern music industry.

Built upon the Avid MediaCentral Platform, Pro Tools | First is a cut-down version of the $899 full Pro Tools package. Release date is simply listed as being Q1 2015, and presumably is tied in with the release of the forthcoming Pro Tools 12.

Is this a big deal? Well, yes. As the company immodestly but somewhat accurately states in a press release announcing the whole thing “Pro Tools is the audio workstation that redefined the music and post production industries”, and getting your hands on anything the pros use in any field is to be somewhat celebrated, especially when it’s something that so many of them swear by.

A selection of session templates provide preloaded instrument tracks allowing users to start creating a song in a variety of genres, while it will record up to 16 audio tracks (a max of four inputs simultaneously using a USB audio interface). A whole host of virtual instruments are going to be available as plug-ins from the Avid store, while the included Xpand!2 music synthesizer supplies a decent range of instruments on its own.

While full details are still on the sketchy side, it looks like Avid will underwrite Pro Tools | First by following the freemium model and offering a variety of in-app purchases. It ships itself with over 20 effects, sound processors, and utility plug-ins (including the EQ III and Dynamics III plug-in suites) after which users will be directed to the in-app Marketplace to discover a world of “affordable” AAX plug-ins and special bundles. It’s also going to be cloud-based, with only enough introductory storage for three projects and more available for a price (though this also has the advantage of making it compatible with the forthcoming Avid Cloud Collaboration toolset).

Whether some of the more advanced Pro Tools functionality users of the full price version are accustomed to can be unlocked in stages or if its a one price upgrade is the sort of detail we’ll find out nearer release. But certainly Avid has somewhat turned the industry on its head with this announcement. It’s kind of the audio equivalent of Blackmagic releasing DaVinci Resolve Lite…


Andy Stout

Andy has spent over two decades writing about all aspects of the broadcast and film industries for a variety of high-profile industry publications on both sides of the Atlantic. During that time the industry has moved from 4:3 SD to 16:9 SD to HD and now on to 4K HDR. He's getting kind of curious to see where it goes next.

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