Having made various aborted attempts to launch a free version of Pro Tools - the most recent being the now-discontinued Pro Tools | First - Avid is now having another crack at it with the release of Pro Tools Intro.
Available for download now, this has the advantage of being built on the same code base as the new Pro Tools 2022.9, meaning that it should be easier for the developers to keep it up to date.
When Pro Tools | First was discontinued late in 2021, Avid said that the product had become “unviable”, but with Pro Tools Intro more closely tied to its big brother, we’re hoping that this new free offering will be here to stay.
In terms of specs, Pro Tools Intro gives you eight audio tracks, eight instrument tracks and eight MIDI tracks. Unlike in Pro Tools | First, there’s AAX support - so you can run compatible third-party plugins - and Pro Tools Intro uses the standard .ptx session format.
Pro Tools Intro ships with 35 Avid plugins, including a channel strip, compressor, EQ, filters, reverb and delay. You also get the AIR Xpand!2 virtual instrument, which includes more than 2.500 presets.
Other specs include four Aux tracks, one master track, four simultaneous inputs and outputs, up to 192kHz sample rate recording and playback and support for any Core Audio, ASIO or WASAPI-compatible interface.
As well as being offered as a standalone download, Pro Tools Intro also comes baked-in to all Pro Tools 2022.9 installations, meaning that, if your paid subscription or trial version of that software expires, you’ll still have a DAW that offers basic functionality. We should also mention that Pro Tools Intro can be installed and used without the need for a physical iLok (though you'll still need an iLok account for software authorisation).
Moving on to the new features in Pro Tools 2022.9, there’s now direct integration with Celemony’s Melodyone thanks to the support for the ARA 2 protocol. This means that the Melodyne interface is now docked within Pro Tools, speeding up your workflow.
ARA 2 support applies to all versions of Pro Tools, including Intro, with the Artist, Studio and Flex editions all shipping with Melodyne 5 essential, a feature-limited version of the pitch and time manipulation software. If you have a higher-level version of Melodyne already installed, this will automatically show up within Pro Tools.
The other big addition in 2022.9 is Aux I/O, a macOS-exclusive feature that enables flexible routing of audio to and from Pro Tools to other software and hardware. You can easily stream your Pro Tools audio directly to Zoom, for example - great when someone needs to review a mix in realtime, remotely - or record audio in from or to another music production application. This could make Aux I/O a great addition for the increasing numbers of people who like to work across multiple DAWs.
Discussing the Pro Tools 2022.9 update, Francois Quereuil, Vice President, Product Management for Audio and Music Solutions, Avid, said: “Music creators of every skill level will heighten their artistic potential and accelerate their productivity thanks to the innovation now available inside our newest Pro Tools update.
“We’re working hard to delight the entire creative community, and this is one of our most exciting recent releases for them, with users now taking command of amazing new capabilities right inside their Pro Tools experience to push the boundaries of their music production workflows further than ever before.”
You can compare all the versions of Pro Tools now on the Avid website. The price of a subscription plan starts at $10 a month for Pro Tools Artist.