Avid’s Pro Tools is pretty much the industry standard for folks that edit audio for a living, including musicians, radio journalists, and other audio producers.
But it ain’t cheap. When I started working in radio news nearly 15 years ago, Avid offered a basic free version cleverly called Pro Tools Free. But it was discontinued years ago. Now you have to pay hundreds of dollars for a full version of Pro Tools, or buy hardware that comes with the more limited Pro Tools Express.
But later this year Avid will launch a free version again. It’s called Pro Tools First.
The new version of Pro Tools has the same basic features as the full version, but it’ll have a lot more limits.
Among other things, users will be limited to 4 input tracks and 16 tracks for editing. There’s support for 32-bit, 96 kHz audio, but not for 32-bit 192 kHz audio. And there’s no support for exporting your works to MP3, iTunes, or SoundCloud.
Users will be able to add features by purchasing plug-ins from the Avid App Store though… so if you don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with an $899 version of Pro Tools, this could be a more affordable option.
There are other free and affordable options for audio editing. Reaper only costs $60 for a discounted, personal license. Audacity is free and open source. And there are many other free and paid options for Digital Audio Workstations.
But if you’re considering a job in audio production, it’s a good idea to learn how to use Pro Tools… and it’ll be nice to have a free option for doing that again.
Pro Tools First should be available sometime in the first quarter of 2015.