Is Pro Tools Really the Best?

Two audio engineers working in Pro Tools

There are many different digital audio workstations (DAWs) on the market today, each one with its own unique features and incredible ease of use. Are you an audio producer that is just starting out? Still trying to find your niche? Well, this surplus of options may seem more overwhelming than helpful.

However, you’ve probably heard the name Pro Tools, even if you’ve done a quick search for audio production tools, but you still might not be sure that it’s the one for you. It’s not easy to decide which capabilities your work will require, especially when you don’t even know the genre of music you hope to produce. Regardless of the type of music you end up making, it’s a safe bet that Pro Tools is something you’ll need to learn sooner or later, and it will almost certainly help you create better music.

What is Pro Tools?

Pro Tools is an industry-standard DAW that allows you to record, edit, mix, and master audio at a professional level. It’s one of Avid Technology’s most popular products, and for a good reason. Audio professionals at all levels and in every genre turn to this dynamic program to perform their daily work because it gives them great results and makes their life easier.

Designed for use with both Windows and Mac operating systems, Pro Tools is highly compatible with different hardware, making it perfect for users of all levels. It offers an impressive range of plugins that add more functionality to its already extensive suite. You can use it with MIDI controllers to take full advantage of an extensive library of digital instrument sounds, seamlessly loop your material to generate the right beat, and shape your overall sound with on-screen mixers and filters.

Is Pro Tools Really the Best?

In short, yes, Pro Tools is still the leading DAW for professional audio producers working in every music industry sector. Its dynamic suite of capabilities puts the power of creation and production in your hands, allowing you to dive deep into your projects from any location. You no longer need a physical studio to do your work; as long as you can set up your computer and any other necessary tools like a mixer and MIDI controller, you now are fully mobile with your workspace.

It is important to note that for any up-and-coming audio producer who hopes to work in a professional setting, collaborate productively with colleagues, or pursue academic training in the field, it’s guaranteed that you’ll be using Pro Tools. This is a tool that everyone else will have an intimate familiarity with, so the ability to succinctly communicate ideas and contribute to group projects relies on everyone operating with that same base knowledge.

Learn Pro Tools for an Audio Production Program

Learning the basics of Pro Tools is the best way to give yourself a head start in all your audio production classes. Taking on an entirely new course load is already challenging enough between navigating a new schedule, campus, and curriculums. Learning as much as you can about Pro Tools takes a considerable amount of the weight off your shoulders. This allows you to focus on producing your best work, impressing your instructors and paving the way to a successful career in audio production.

Supplement Pro Tools with other Free Audio Tools

Those who have already experimented with more basic audio workstations like Audacity and BandLab have likely developed a feel for multi-track recording. You might have even tried your hand at layering various effects to enhance your recordings as well as mixing to get the most out of the overall sound. To be sure, these open-source and easily accessible tools can provide a lot for beginners and offer an impressive level of functionality to those who learn how to navigate the tools.

For anyone hoping to take their audio production aspirations out of the basement and into the studio amongst other professionals, you’ll need to start out with a similar background to collaborate better. Regardless of the knowledge you have with basic software, you still won’t be able to speak in the same terms and work across comparable interfaces with fellow producers and engineers unless you’re able to work with Pro Tools. It’s a whole different ballgame and playing well together requires familiarity and comfort with the same type of tools.

How Easy is Pro Tools to Learn?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you only take a quick look at the interface of a new DAW. Especially if you can’t even figure out how to start recording, let alone manipulate the sound and optimize playback for mixing or editing. Learning Pro Tools as a beginner can quickly become discouraged.

A Short Learning Curve

Fortunately, once you break through the first few confusing days of operating a new software, which is to be expected whenever trying anything new, you’ll quickly find everything become easier and more straightforward. All it takes is a firm grasp of the basics to serve as a foundation, which you can then build off of, while discovering more features along the way.

For most people who have some experience with mixing and recording programs, the user interface of any Pro Tools product is quite straightforward. The user-friendliness of the software is one of the great advantages that keeps it in wide use both in the professional music industry and among amateurs.

It only takes a few clicks to get what you need, unlike some of the more basic programs in which you must really dig in and go through a long series of steps to achieve your desired results. And there are plenty of advanced applications that suffer from this cumbersome interface complexity too. The Avid designers create programs that balance this ease of use with a powerful suite of features.

Guides & Tutorials

To gain a basic understanding of how to navigate the tool, there are more than enough guides and tutorials to walk you through it. Whether it’s an official book that comes directly from Avid or helpful YouTube videos, there’s a multitude of options to suit your preferred style of learning. You can cover a lot of ground this way, and it serves as an excellent primer as you delve deeper into Pro Tools and other audio production software.

Professional Classes in Pro Tools

Once you’ve covered the guides, watched tutorial videos, and performed your own music production experiments, it’s probably time to start thinking about taking a professional class for Pro Tools. Within this DAW, there is a wealth of features and functions. It’s almost impossible to learn it all on your own. To make the learning process more engaging, well-rounded, efficient, and in-depth, a formal audio production program is the best way to learn Pro Tools.

What Are the Benefits of Learning Pro Tools?

So far, we’ve focused on how using Pro Tools sets you up for success both in academic and professional settings. But the benefits of Pro Tools extend far beyond these two instances. With the sheer functionality that Pro Tools provides, you’ll be upping your audio production game in more ways than one.

Optimize Your Workflow

Workflow is a word you’ll hear repeatedly in every music producer circle. Workflow is the process from which you carry out each individual task that goes into creating a fully mastered music track. It’s every little step between the beginning and end of the process. In some ways, it can be seen as the busy work and logistics necessary to facilitate the creative process.

So naturally, when you optimize your workflow, the way you make the music happen, you can get much more done and open up opportunities for more creative ideas. Some traditionalists might have balked at the idea of automatically generating beats and chord patterns, thinking that it would stunt the creative process. In practice, however, using Pro tools to give yourself a smoother and more efficient workflow leaves you with more time and energy to focus on making new music, rather than agonizing painstakingly over getting a particular rhythm just right.

Final Thoughts

From readying yourself for a new job, prepping for the work you’ll be doing in school, and enhancing the experience of producing the music itself, your first step is investing in Pro Tools and learning the ropes. It’s comforting to know that you’re using a system that will stand the test of time and that you’re working with a company that stays on top of its product updates. Whether learning Pro Tools is your end game or you’re using it as a jumping-off point to move on to other tools, it’s a step that leads to many opportunities as you become an audio producer.

Audio Production Program

Ready to get an audio production degree and start using Pro Tools to make music? The Audio Production and Engineering Program  at the Institute of Production and Recording is an occupational degree program designed to train producer engineers who are entrepreneurs, musically and technically creative, and proficient in modern recording technology and technique. Throughout the program, students are involved in hands-on exercises and real-world studio projects that enable them to apply their knowledge and refine their skills.

At the end of the audio production and engineering program, each student presents a portfolio — a selection of his or her best work to date. This serves as a demo reel for potential employers and clients — an audio resume with professional content that highlights the graduate’s talent and skill.

Contact us today to learn more about the audio production programs and starting a rewarding career.