Avid’s Pro Tools is probably one of the most widely used digital audio editing software solutions used by professional musicians, audio journalists, and other folks who make and edit sounds for a living.
A full version of the software costs hundreds of dollars, although there are less powerful versions which are included for free when you buy certain hardware.
But now there’s another option: Pro Tools First is a free version of the software. It was announced earlier this year and now the Avid is starting to send out invitations to let users download and install the free version of its software.
Pro Tools First doesn’t have all the features of its expensive counterparts. Users only get access to four inputs, 16 simultaneous audio tracks and there’s no support for video.
But that should be plenty to get you started if you’re an aspiring podcast producer or musician on a budget: once upon a time bands recorded entire albums on nothing but a 4-track tape recorder.
Speaking of once upon a time, this isn’t the first time there’s been a free version of Pro Tools. There was once a version of the software cleverly called “Pro Tools Free,” but it was discontinued years ago and it was never updated to support operating systems newer than Windows ME.
Avid is doing a phased rollout of invitations to Pro Tools First. So if you’ve already signed up it might be a little while before you get yours. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can add your name to the wait list at the Pro Tools First website.
Don’t like the idea of getting a limited version of Pro Tools? There are other alternatives including Audacity (free and open source), Ardour (free and open source), or Reaper (copmmercial, but cheap for personal users).
One can purchase Ardour for as little as $1, if it hurts one to pay more. Reaper is great, and well-supported, both officially and by users’ forum, and inexpensive, and with free updates. Either is similar enough to Pro Tools; they just don’t use RTAS nor AAX plug-ins. It is making more and more sense to go with non-proprietary and cross-platform DAWs, since they are not tied-in with the larger agenda and economics of a parent company (Apple, Avid, Steinberg, et al.) . There is a lot of flexibility to be enjoyed by using third-party plug-ins and virtual instruments, too – and many good ones are available for-free. I myself mainly use Logic Pro, but I stay current with Reaper and Ardour, for when I might have to “ditch the bitch and make the switch.”
They’re not making it easy to get……..; it’s free though–wth.
I use Reaper. Apparently, Ardour is only free if you know how to compile source code, and there’s no Windows version. I don’t like Audacity. I’ve used “light” versions of Pro Tools in the past, but Reaper does everything I need.
Ardour is freely available from most Linux distributions, and you can also get a copy from a friend since it is licensed under the GPL.
There is a Windows version available to people who subscribe to support the project, and we will do a real release for Windows once we have a support mechanism in place. https://ardour.org/windows.html explains in more detail.
Signed up several months ago & I am watching my inbox like a hawk now.
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