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.

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.

via Gizmodo and Avid

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4 replies on “Pro Tools First: Avid will launch free audio editing software this year”

  1. There’s always Ardour (ardour.org) if you use Linux or Mac. It’s free* and open source, and is way more capable than Audacity. Not sure how it compares to Pro Tools these days.

    *Completely gratis only if you build from source. They charge a tiny fee ($1 US) for pre-built binaries.

    1. I liked Ardour a lot, but version 2 is the last version that’s properly supported on a Mac and hasn’t been updated for some time. Development focuses on version 3, which is pretty good, but you can’t use it on a Mac and save your plugin settings unless you compile it from source, and the developer has basically said the Mac version isn’t a priority. I’d consider switching to Linux, but then you wind up with spotty support for audio interfaces, especially firewire ones, and a severe lack of plugins. On features, it competes fairly well, but the lack of a proper Mac release combined with the dire audio situation make it tough to recommend unless you’re a die hard Linux user. I’ve since switched to Logic.

      1. I hadn’t realized there was no full binary release for Mac. That’s unfortunate.

  2. I’m a long-time Pro Tools user, in fact I have a Mac dedicated to it (I use Linux for everything else). I once tried getting Pro Tools Free to work on Wine, with no success. I’ll probably try the same with Pro Tools FIrst just for kicks.

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