Pro Tools 8 is up on Digidesign’s website. Rather than copy and paste their features, I’ll let you read. This may not shake you from your music making tool of choice, but it looks like it could be, at long last, the substantial refresh for Pro Tools users of that platform have been waiting for. I can quickly sum up the strategy (“strategies” and “tactics” being on the American political mind lately):

  • Get all the instruments and effects in the box: Apple’s Logic Studio set the bar for this by first bundling lots of soundmakers,then cutting the price. Digidesign has been busy with their talented AIR group designing some very nice stuff, so this is a no-brainer. Updated: as readers note, you still don’t get a sampler as with EXS24 in Logic and now Dimension Pro in SONAR. Then again, you could add on your on own; is that really a deal breaker for folks?
  • Fix the UI (conservatively): Without rocking the boat, obviously Pro Tools was long overdue for a fresh coat of paint and some enhancement.
  • Beef up MIDI: This was long Pro Tools’ weak spot, perhaps because of its lineage as an originally audio-only product (the opposite of most of its rivals); MIDI seems to be better integrated with existing paradigms for editing
  • Edit pitch more fluidly: AutoTune and the magical note-editing Melodyne are probably safe, but more fluid editing of audio pitches is making its way into audio software in general
  • Integrate scoring: The fruits of Digi’s Sibelius acquisition, real, modern music notation is finally in a major DAW (not the dated, clunky implementations elsewhere). My only concern: I hope Sibelius continues to make progress as a dedicated notation tool, because having myself spent long hours over scores, a lot of composition happens outside software like Pro Tools for other reasons.

The notation feature, to me, is probably the biggest story. As a long-time Sibelius user and with some interesting composer contacts, I expect to look at how this works in some depth. Congratulations to Sibelius and Digidesign for pulling this off; I’ll be in touch.

Actually, let’s do better. I’m through really reviewing DAWs. You know why? If I used every DAW, I’d never get any music made. And, oddly, the process of even trying to review something as broad as a tool like Pro Tools just about short circuits any music logic anyway. So I’d rather build a network of gurus in each, and talk about actual music production rather than feature lists – the latter is the developer’s job, anyway. If you’re game and consider yourself an advanced user, get in touch. I’ll have more on organizing this soon.

In the meantime, Digi has posted some videos; free registration on their site required.

Pro Tools 8 Announcement + Demo Videos

Update: keep the comments coming. To me, the challenge all these tools face is that people are (naturally) entrenched in what they’re using. So, yes, it’s possible to say Pro Tools is playing “catch up,” but to play devil’s advocate, you could easily say the same about its competition. My preference remains for “native” hosts with their more flexible hardware and software support, and because personally I’m more creative in an Ableton Live or SONAR (or tracker!); that’s me. Digidesign sent out an open letter about promising interoperability. I’ll be interested to see what they mean, as I don’t immediately see that addressed in any way here. But certainly, I respect the utility of each of these tools to someone. The loyalty of those user bases is part of why progress tends to be incremental, not revolutionary. You have to serve their needs first.

  • Mr. Tunes

    "I’m through really reviewing DAWs. You know why? If I used every DAW, I’d never get any music made."

    with all do respect peter, for the amount of quality blogging you do, i'm surprised you have time to work on any music ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • spinner

    After watching the Digi videos and reading the info I can't help feeling it's too little too late.
    The GUI looks awesome and the ability to customize the toolbars is brilliant (Apple keep up). This could've been a must buy/ most coveted thing of the year if they've just added delay compensation and unlimited tracks and configurable key commands.
    Avid is clearly trying to make a deeper cut into the entry level market what with the addition of loops and bundled fx's and instruments but this is still a very complicated app if you're a beginner – and they've (by the looks of it anyway) crammed in even more stuff in the preference window. No adc or pdc will obviously piss of current users and will confuse new users to no end.

    I think it'll come down to price and how buggy PT8 is. Apple killed it with the low price tag but sadly most of the improvments in LP8 was just cosmetic. The amount of old and new bugs in that app is ridiculous.

    I'm no programmer but all of the issues in PT and LP must have something to do with the code in these app being at least 20years old……..
    Where is the professional software DAW that is coded for the comps we have to today?

  • mr ecklie

    "Please log in to your My Digi profile to watch DigidesignTV"

    Why should i register with site just to watch their marketing videos? I hate them already…

  • kcb

    I really think Digi are starting to get their act together, but its no secret they are just behind the rest of the world (if you are using PT for song creation.. I wouldnt touch LP for audo editing, and vice versa for programming music .. LP is the bomb)

    Have to say I will rush out and buy PT8, however your ideas are a little dated and lets say very yesterday… you're bringing out features that have exsisted for son long in LP… had you released PT8 around the same time as LP8, yeah sure there would have been a buzz in the air, but my personal opinion is, all your wizz bang new additions reflect Apples moves to the future, and to remind you, over a year ago.

    Id like to see PT8 with its own sampler, more midi control ..seriously if you could match LP8 in the midi department .. Id never click Logic on my Doc again, as Logics Audio editing is as crap as PT midi has been since day 1.

    To sum up my boring and over written stubborn opinion…. While Digi are introducing awesome improvements to PT, the let down is, they are merely catching up to where Logic and Cubase were a few years ago (for song writters)….. Thanks digi for catching up, but you left out any wow factor and have failed to push the envelope….. its safe to say APPLE will always have programmers in bliss, thats where the bar is always raised!!!

    Thanks, and sorry if ive pissed any one off!!

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  • I'd be a lot more excited about this if they'd announced a hardware free version…

  • Art Gillespie

    Interesting to note that the maximum number of voices in the stock LE 8 has been bumped up to 96 from (effectively) 32 in previous versions.

  • Adrian Anders


  • vanceg

    Well, this does follow Digidesign's long standing M.O: Make the effort to include new features ONLY when other products on the market have established those features as being desirable to the public and ONLY when excluding those features would clearly have a negative impact on the decision to purchase Protools; Do not worry about being the first, being
    the best, or challenging any existing norms.

    Protools has never, ever been at the cutting edge. It has never, ever been the fastest, best sounding, or most feature rich DAW on the market. I wouldn't mind this fact, if they didn't spend so much effort convincing the DAW purchasing public that Protools was truly innovative.

    But – they do somehow manage to come out "on top" in terms of the industry accepting their product as 'necessary'.

    Digidesing never has, and I suspect never will, really push the envelope. But they will surely sell the idea that they do.

    Long live the moderately mediocre. Hey – It works.

  • vanceg

    Gee I wish I could edit that post for spelling ๐Ÿ˜‰ Long live my moderate spelling and typing abilities!

  • first time im actually excited about a ProTools update!

  • tigan

    what about plug-in delay compensation in LE version?

  • jordan314

    Guess I'll be returning my mbox2 mini I just bought and waiting for them to rebundle it with pro tools 8. Anyone know when this is coming out?
    I prefer Logic for composing and most things, but I keep finding myself needing to have pro tools for exporting projects for filmmakers, for editing, and for engineering at pro studios.

  • tim

    Its fantastic to finally see surround support for LE!
    For film post & sound design ProTools rules (sorry Logic/Nuendo but there just isnt supprot for you on 90% of film dub stages) so great to see HD is no longer a pre-requisite…

    now if only ableton LIVE will introduce support for surround!

  • Some of this is definitely not groundbreaking, I agree. But it is important to me that they've integrated Sibelius. I'm curious to see how they have done that, and I think — even if you're not looking to switch to Pro Tools — it'll be interesting over the coming weeks to judge what the payoff is there. It's an interesting idea, and ought to make for some interesting discussion.

  • kcb

    I just wish I had one SW that suits all my needs as an audio producer and as a music programmer. I love programming in Logic, and love audio editing in PT. Tonight I'll beg God to give me a dream about Apple & Digi having a love child….. 'LOGI-TOOLS'.

  • Chris Shaw

    Seeing how they completely overhauled PT it's easy to understand why it took them so long to get Leopard compatibility for PT7. I've been bitching about the looks of PT since PT4 – really hard on the eyes after 12 hrs of vocal and drum comping.

    The new feature set looks great but I guarantee that there still isn't automatic zero crossing editing.. another big complaint.

  • walrex


  • Cynic


    They haven't integrated Sibelius into Pro Tools. This is a new score editor that uses the Sibelius fonts and probably some of the ideas (since they do have access to the source code). But PT8's score editor is not actually Sibelius. Still quite welcome, though.

  • Felix

    Ts ts, requiring me to login to watch their ad videos. No thanks.

  • mark

    If you don't want to create a digi account to watch vids on the digi website, you should check out there's currently one PT8 video there and looks like they'll be more to come.


  • Wow, I thought this was a joke when I saw the screenshot at first–looks a lot like Logic 8!

    Glad to see Pro Tools get a facelift. Will they fix the latency issues with plugins finally?

  • Having seen PT8 in person, I can tell you that the MIDI editor is not just tacked on, but is extremely well integrated and is very easy to use. The ability to edit the MIDI from multiple tracks in a single "piano roll" is something that's not available elsewhere.

    As for the scoring, no, the entire Sibelius is not integrated, but it's much more than just fonts and ideas, you have complete note-level edit control in the score view, something that even Sibelius doesn't have (and will soon). Also the exporting to Sibelius is now in Sibelius format instead of MIDI.

    Finally, something that wasn't mentioned is the _awesome_ comp editing capabilities. You can now show all of the playlists for a track underneath the main playlist and edit them all using the standard editing tools.

  • mar

    Recently I tried to cut and mix Audio for a Final Cut project in
    Soundtrack Pro. Soundtrack Pro crashed several times.
    I had to power down and restart.
    When I was ready there was no option to output the movie with sound.
    Then I used Protools (never used for movie sound before) and
    was done within a few minutes.

    "Cutting edge" is good but more often I need "reliable".
    I think Protools does a few things really really good and that
    might be the whole point of this particular software.

  • Hungry Antelope

    It seems like on the intertubes, everyone hates Pro Tools and no-one uses it. Yet with all the professionals I know (people who record platinum records, do soundtracks for movies, TV, commercials, etc.), they seem to invariably use Pro Tools as their DAW. From what I have seen, for professionals (people making good money at it, not prosumers) Pro Tools is pretty much the standard DAW for the recording industry.

    Why is there that disconnect? Why is it that something that seems truly ubiquitous among the professionals I know seems more obscure than FruityLoops in places like this?

  • MonksDream

    @Ted Young – In Logic 8 Express and Studio you can edit MIDI from multiple tracks in a single "piano roll". In fact, you can edit MIDI from as many regions as you like by selecting them and choosing the Piano Roll button at the bottom of the screen.

    @ Hungry Antelope – Because doing Pro Tools right is an expensive proposition that is only justified if you're paid well for your efforts or work with those who are.

  • Hungry Antelope, I used to use a Pro Tools HD system in the multi-track studio of a radio station and I can understand why it's an industry standard. Most of the complaints about PT are irrelevant in that sort of situation. You're not using it to compose with MIDI. You don't have all the limited track counts and other restrictions that the LE system has. Someone else is paying for it, and for the extra plug-ins you need to buy. It's stable etc etc. And even on the internets many agree that it's the best software for audio editing.

  • Lifelong Cakewalk Us

    @Ted Young –
    <cite>The ability to edit the MIDI from multiple tracks in a single "piano roll" is something that’s not available elsewhere.</cite>

    Cakewalk's Pro Audio series and subsequent Sonar series has done this–very successfully–since at least the mid-'90s. And they probably got it from Dr T's T.I.G.E.R. Midi editor for the Atari 1040 ST computers back in about 1992. The minute one publisher debuts a feature, nearly every other publisher releases their "version" of the same feature by their next update, so I'm sure Cubase, Logic and everyone has been doing this for many, many years also. It's really unimpressive if Pro Tools is only getting to this capability in 2008. And if they don't have plugin delay compensation yet, either, I'm wondering what the big PT thing is about. How do they get to be way behind everyone else and still be the "industry standard"? I bought PT7 on a lark some months ago; reading these posts I think I'm sorry I spent the money. It's not perfect, by a long shot, but I'm a Sonar guy.

  • Digidesign might be playing 'catch up' in terms of features, but in terms of simplicity and usability they've always been way ahead IMO.

  • mar

    @Lifelong Cakewalk User
    "Industry Standard" doesn't necessarily mean
    "cutting edge" or even "the best".
    It usually means getting your work done and not
    experimenting with midi controller data etc.
    Leave that to other tools.

    Digidesigns Session 8 was already rock solid on a 486 in 1992. Cakewalk Pro Audio was frustrating to use. I liked Sonar but when did that come out?

    (plugin delay compensation should be in it but is rarely needed.
    Nobody was obsessed with "sample accuracy" on tape recorders.)

  • nerf

    as a digidesign user since sound designer,i know how ubiquitous pt is in pro settings here in Hollywood. i have a 128 hd system which is great, but i still have to use other hardware/software to finish and prep projects.

    the biggest problem with digidesign is their un willingness to let us use third party hardware.

    i could use a better io that would be a lot cheaper and better than any digi io box.

  • meatshake

    Everybody hates on the 'ol Pro Tools, but if you look at it as a multitrack recorder and mixer + some other stuff (midi sequencing) it rocks. No, Pro Tools it's not as cool as say, Ableton Live for making electronic music. How cool is Ableton Live for editing dialog?

    All I'm saying is there are different tools for different tasks, there is no one-size fits all, it's just really easy to bash PT for trying to do so.

    How does PT HD compare to RADAR or Fairlight offerings? probably lots of +'s for each system.

    How does Sonar, Logic and Live compare to RADAR or Fairlight? -They are so different you'd need to qualify that comparison with "…for post" or "…for music", and the answers would be so lop-sided it'd be like apples and cheesesteaks.

  • @meatshake: I've talked to post people who do like things like MOTU's DP. So, while I agree, I don't know that the differentiation is this clear cut. I'm sure there's someone out there editing dialog with Ableton Live. Compatibility, of course, becomes a big factor, but it's also worth saying that some people *do* choose Pro Tools for workflow and not simply because they need it for file exchange. I hope that does drive Digidesign to look more at interoperability, as they recently promised in an open letter.

  • kcb

    Jamie – Sorry I have to disagree – while PT is simple and usable it still lacks features that make my life hard…actually maybe you are right? I could make myself look very stupid here as I have never read a manual in my 8 years of PT..but is there a quick key to SOLO a channel? (waiting nervously but hoping there is).

    I just feel as a 9-5 user of PT (actually 9-midnight)… I feel Digi owe me more as the consumer and user… Right now they are playing catch up which is def a step forward, and they are slowly matching other SWs, but i think the Bashing of PT is like a lovers tiff , "i expect more from you because I care about you and our relationship".

    Okay, that was weird.

    Digi its simple, steal all of Apples midi advancements, (i mean more of)… as soon as you match Logics Midi capabilties, we will have the perfect sw. The world may even forgive you for digging yourself so far deep in to your real time bounce 'hole' that gets deepr every year.

    Ableton, Sonar …bahhhhh!!!

  • John

    So it doesnt support yet automatic plugin delay compensation?

    WHAT SHIT IS THIS? is this pro?

    Is time to do 7.4.2 PT owner but not user due to this no automatic plug delay compens.

    I use LP…im happy…

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  • Marc

    I have NO PLANS TO UPGRADE to Pro Tools 8. They can change the GUI from here to eternity, but I've been owning Pro Tools and I NEVER USE it!

    If it wasn't for a proprietary third party plugin that I needed ONE TIME, I still wouldn't own it. Having heard the Pro Tools is God mantra for years, I was shocked by its annoying idiosyncrasies, like the inability to creat your OWN track height, only recently added as a grand "improvement". Even freeware DAWS have had this EXPECTED ability for years!

    My biggest gripe with PT is that I find it to be a GIANT PAIN IN THE ASS, having to have hardware plugged in to use a program. What's even more maddening is that I have to own some crappy, second rate Digi hardware ONLY.

    Furthermore, as an obviously unappreciated customer, I've had the unfortunate duty of having to contact Digi with a question before. It's like trying to speak to the Great And Powerful Oz!… I've waited literally WEEKS to get e-mail responses from them, if I EVER get a response at all! I'd like to tell Digi that I MAY consider their product a relevant DAW when they open it up and stop their massively inconvenient, annoying and extortionary policy of having to have Digi hardware connected in order to merely open up a program.

    When I'm playing around with a mix or brainstorming some musical ideas on my couch or bed or in an airport, I don't need inputs/outputs etc. and therefore I don't want to need to carry a box or dongle (no matter how small) and have a box or dongle plugged in, dangling inconveniently, that I'm not even using.

    As a result, my go to DAWS have been Tracktion, Live and FL Studio. Since Tracktion refuses to upgrade on a timely basis, and it's functionality is falling way behind competitors, I plan on switching to Sonar 8 after Christmas as my main DAW.

    I'd rather spend $500.00 on Sonar than $250.00 on Pro Tools, as I HATE, HATE, HATE, the closed system with hardware as a dongle scheme. I can't express how much I resent this! It's nutty and I don't know why anyone puts up with this!…

    Where do they get off continuing to make such odd hardware demands and then treating their customers like crap? Their program doesn't natively do some fantastic thing that a dozen others haven't BEEN doing.

    Digi seems to have this arrogant attitude that people will put up with their big bag of bull shit just because it's "Pro Tools"? They aren't the only horse on the farm any more, they aren't even the fastest or best looking and it's time they started acting like they were even slightly aware of this.

    In light of the current economic downturn, I hope they go out of business if they continue to act like this. It would put a smile on my face!

  • Shaun

    Apple should buy them out ๐Ÿ™‚ If Apple improves editing functionality comparable to PT for LP9, then it's game over!

  • Russ

    @ Marc
    Your ranting is so boring and also filled with grammatical rubbish; usually a sign of someone who types without thought and then presses the send button before considering their actions.

    'I've been owning Pro Tools' Do you mean 'I own Pro Tools'?

    'annoying and extortionary policy' Do you mean extortionate?

    I've dealt with Digi support on numerous occasions and got replies in a matter of hours. If you write to them in the tone you wrote your meaningless ramble, I don't blame them for not replying.

    They don't 'treat customers like crap'

    I don't think they are perfect, I don't work for them – I just think rambles like this from angry illiterates are boring!

  • KG


    I'm with Marc on this one. You lose.

  • Alex

    As a Logic pro user,
    I wonder if buying Waves bundles and using them in logic, apart from some sophisticated editing features, make Pro Tools mostly unnecessary in achieving high end results. Anyone?


  • Mork

    "My biggest gripe with PT is that I find it to be a GIANT PAIN IN THE ASS, having to have hardware plugged in to use a program"

    Which makes me laugh, because after getting thrown off Logic on the PC by Apple, the hardware I need to run Logic is a Mac. There's some irony there.

  • Alrod

    Over the years I have used Cubase, Nuendo, Sonar, and Logic (Windows version) and loved them all respectively. After a while though, it got to the point where I was spending more time learning all the bells and whistles than I was actually recording. I came to the realization that many of the bells and whistles were not needed for what I do; At least not consistently from project to project.
    I decided to jump on the Protools band wagon just to see what all the fuss was about. I can see why PT is the industry standard. It is simple and quick to the point. In the recording industry time is money. PT saves a lot of time. Is it the best in terms of features, perhaps not. But relatively speaking it is very stable and has the core features that I need. I am a PT convert and have no intention of looking back.


    I have been in this DIGI nightmare longer that I care to admit. There is more issue's with 8 than 7.4. It keeps asking to increase the hardware buffer, then after a take is instucts to decrease the hardware buffer, switching back and forth till your head spins. Also lost all my mooger fooger plugs, some bomb factory plugs. And wont load my virtual synths into the instrument tracks via the audio suite plug ins. Rewire seems to be jammed up too. Called their support, and that is a joke. You have to invest an hour in most cases to get a support or registration guy on the phone. And authorizing the 3rd party plugs. That is a complete nightmare. When I was looking for a system the sales person was trying to steer me away from Protools. But I did not want to endure a learning curve. But the time I have invested with DIGI support which by the way has bankers hours. I could have earned a degree. It is a total nightmare. also structure free, did not have any sounds in it.
    there is one thing that I did like about Protools was Xpand. I truley love that synth. But my frinds that have Logic and they are blowing out tracks left and right. Meanwhile I am just trying to get this DIGI 003 FACTORY BUNDLE working right. Over priced and probably the worst purchase that I ever made in my life.
    I feel like I got hustled by these criminals.
    Also it Irks me that i spend all my good time on the phone getting nowhere with DIGI tech support. Because I think they know that they release their products and use their customer base to BETA test their product. My friend has LOGIC and he tells me that their support fix your problems over the internet while he sleeps. That infuriate's me. Their should be some kind of law against releasing products that are not ready for market and taking their money. If you want a headache buy that factory rack bundle. I am ready to look into LOGIC. I hope that it is a lot less painful than PROTOOL 8

  • DigiUser

    jordan314 You get a free upgrade to 8!
    But I hear there are now many alternative options, may be worth doing some homework and trying demos ppl

  • Well said DigiUser, have any of you guys ever had a Protools demo??
    Or seen a Protools HD system in action?
    Frankly I am surprised to hear you all gunning down protools without watching those cool videos, they have some awesome plugins which are very well made!
    When you buy something from Digidesign I am prety sure you get 90 days free technical support (Free Phone Number)
    Also somebody mentioned delay compensation, personally I think it is good to understand how the signal is behaving there a many great delay compensation plugins for protools tho and they are very easy to use!
    true quality comes at a price.

  • Ha n0obs!!
    Pro Tools Rules!
    Have you seen the method 1 Video?

  • @Spinner: For a non-coder you sure know your stuff, legacy code is often laden with bugs/flaws, not to mention the people who coded it introducing more bugs with their old style pattern-less code every time they code.

    ADC is a must for pro-tools, it's the only thing I have against the app. It is by far the best UI for recording and is excellent for working with as well.

    However UAD have a delay compensation plugin for protools! Try that.

  • DawkieDawk

    Protools 8 Le or M – Midi is ok – Limited hardware choices etc they take their time with releases and when they do put in new technology it works like it should it's gettin better on the LE and Powered technology Front
    Like a classic beauty she gets away with wearing very little make up cos she has such good jeans (Spelling intended)

    Logic 8 – The Audios ok rest is all good – Mac only You could get to like this Gal Hey its a apple take a bite if your willing to pay the hardware price But the software is nice.
    shes had an extreme makeover looks hotter yet is some how more friendly

    Cubase 5 – Not overly Impressive from version to version – Annoying Dongle etc But its solid and will serve you well like a good German car with no sports frills since version 5 she dosent complain and likes sports

    Sonar 8 – Crap Workflow its like Cluttered Christmas tree. Its has piles of features
    that are prematurely released as finished.
    Dont believe the lies that she is easy to get along with yet she has many old secret admirers
    You'll have a love hate relationship with her

    Ableton 8 – A live app masquerading as a DAW or a Daw masquerading as a Live App the line is getting thinner with every version but has no staff view and it dosnt play nicely with live musicians audio editing is ok though
    For a solo songwriter who likes to dance hip hop or bee bop Shes a Dream companion but if you want a fully fledged DAW go for one of the four above you'll be more satisfied in the long run and the others will get on better with the rest of your friends in the studio

  • Ronn

    My early 6.0 version of Pro Tools was great (simple enough to spend my time on music rather than fighting with software), but this 8 with the .03 upgrade (on Windows 7) is a royal pain in the ass. Buffer increase, now decrease, now increase BS is totally unacceptable. Starting to feel about PT 8.0 the way I felt about my old Roland VS880 – HATE! Maybe the .04 download will fix some problems. Otherwise I'll have to add PT 8 as another one of George Carlin's 7 words. Wish me luck on this download.