Pro Tools 10

Intro from Jay Allison: Pro Tools divides producers. Some love it for its legacy standing, ubiquity, and complexity. Others hate it for the same reasons. It’s true there are good alternatives now, and cheaper too, but Pro Tools still has an important place in the public radio world. (Many of us got hooked when they gave it away for free. Good move.) Jeff Towne has done his typically thorough job evaluating the latest version—Pro Tools v10. His Transom test is chock full of insider tips and tricks just for the radio crowd. Either you have Pro Tools and want to fathom more of its depths, or you’re thinking of buying it and wondering if you should spring for the cash. Either way, check out Jeff’s review.

From Jeff Towne

Audio producers have gained several new viable choices in digital audio editing software in the past few years. We at Transom got on the Pro Tools bandwagon long ago, starting when Digidesign (now AVID) offered a surprisingly powerful Pro Tools Free. The free version was phased-out, but their basic-level package, Pro Tools LE, remained a fairly affordable entry into sophisticated audio editing.

Pro Tools has become something of a standard in radio production. It’s common in professional and semi-pro studios, making it a good choice for interactive work: sessions can easily be shared and tweaked, allowing collaborations among several producers and editors, even when they’re on different continents. It’s powerful, versatile, and scalable from small, personal projects to large professional multi-media work.

Pro Tools has made incremental changes in each version upgrade, but the Pro Tools 9 and 10 transformations are more dramatic. They’re expensive upgrades, so the question is: are they worth it? Here is the lowdown on Pro Tools 10 new features, including:


Pro Tools 10 has a higher cost of entry than Pro Tools LE used to. The full version is $700, and does not include a hardware interface (as old Pro Tools LE packages did). At press time, MBox Mini/Pro Tools 9 bundles are still available for just over $600, reportedly including a free software Pro Tools 10 upgrade  — but I’m not sure those packages will be offered for long. An upgrade to Pro Tools 10 from a qualifying Pro Tools LE or M-Powered version 8 or lower (but NOT systems bought long ago with the original M-Box) is $400. The upgrade price from Pro Tools 9 to Pro Tools 10 is $300. There are some educational discounts, but in general, upgrades are a pricey proposition.

Also, Pro Tools 9 and 10 require the use of an iLok USB dongle for software copyright-protection. An iLok will run you $50, or, if you already have one, you can add the Pro Tools authorization via your existing iLok account.

Interface Free

iLok plugged into laptopThe good news is that, as of Pro Tools 9, the iLok is the only hardware you need. Pro Tools is no longer tethered to proprietary audio hardware: you can use an external audio interface to get sound in and out of your computer, but you don’t have to anymore. Plus, you may now choose from a wide variety of USB or Firewire devices, not only those made by AVID. The big change though is: you can now use the built-in sound of your computer — no external box at all. Finally we’re able to edit on a laptop without dragging an interface along. (Again, the iLok is still required, and, though small, it does stick out of your USB port — something of an inconvenient appendage.)

Radio production often starts with importing sound files, rather than real-time recording, so this no-interface solution is appealing. You’ll still want an outboard interface if you’re recording directly into your computer: the built-in audio inputs on most computers are not high quality. So if you’ll be connecting a microphone to your computer, you’re better off with a good-quality external audio interface. Also for playback, the Digital-to-Analog conversion and general audio circuitry is better in most external interfaces than any computer’s built-in sound. Critical listening while mixing is easier with a quality interface.
M-box front panelYou might even get some more use out of your old M-Box, depending on how old it is. The 2nd and 3rd Generation models will generally work (not the original M-Box: that was phased-out a few upgrades ago.) But you’ll have to get Avid’s latest drivers — they’re not included in Pro Tools installer — it’s not clear why not, since it would make it easier for their long-time customers. The AVID website lists compatibility information on hardware, software and drivers for Windows and for Mac.

Playback Engine Selection

This new flexibility of interface hardware options also brings a new choice. Previously, you would choose from a smaller number of “Playback Engines” (i.e., the required Digidesign or M-Audio hardware). Now you’ll need to make sure to configure Pro Tools to communicate with whatever interface(s) you use. Switching between different configurations can be dizzying, and convincing Pro Tools to acknowledge the correct interface is occasionally a chore. Sometimes Pro Tools won’t even start, complaining that it can’t find the playback engine you last used.

PLayback Engine dialog window
The not-obvious control panel to address these issues is in the Setup menu, but it’s not Hardware, or Peripherals, or I/O, rather it’s Setup>>Playback Engine. Select that dialog; then choose the device you’d like to use for input and output. If it doesn’t show up there, make sure you’ve loaded drivers for it (not all devices require this).

If you choose a new playback engine, Pro Tools will save, close, and re-open your session, and you should be good to go. But if you’re not seeing an input signal or getting playback through the selected device, you may also need to do some adjustments to the Setup>>I/O window.

If Pro Tools hangs up during start-up — posting an error message about an unavailable audio engine, or claiming to be unable to operate at some normal sample rate — try starting Pro Tools while holding down the N key. Eventually you’ll get a window asking you to pick your audio engine. Select the device you want to use for input and output. Even if you ultimately want to use some other device, you might try picking the built-in input on the computer, just to get it up and running, then go to the Set-up>>Playback engine menu and switch it to the correct device afterward.

Despite those complications, being able to connect to the audio interface of your choice, such as a USB mic or Firewire-enabled mixer, is a big step forward for Pro Tools. And it’s liberating working with no interface at all, especially while traveling or doing preliminary work outside a formal studio or office.

Clip Gain

Clip Gain controls iconAnother major innovation is Clip Gain. Now any clip (what Pro Tools used to call a region) can have its gain adjusted in a non-destructive way, independent of the track volume, which can still be applied as before (by switching the track into volume mode, or by real-time automation of the track fader). If you used to normalize regions, or make other Audiosuite gain adjustments before doing volume automation, you may find this new mode preferable. It’s non-destructive, so it’s undoable any time, and the clip boundaries can be adjusted with the trimmer tool anywhere along the length of the original soundfile.

For the most basic use of this function, simply grab the clip gain fader in the lower left corner of each clip and raise or lower the gain for that clip. (If that tiny fader is not visible, go to View>>Clip>>Clip Gain Info). You can also display the clip-gain as its own line: View>>Clip>>Clip Gain Line.

Clip Gain automation line in waveform displayJust like track volume automation, you can add breakpoints to that clip gain line to automate volume changes over time. One important distinction between this mode of automating the volume and conventional track volume automation is that this volume automation is inherently bound to the clip: as the clip moves, the gain automation moves with it, in ALL circumstances. If desired, BOTH clip gain and track volume automation can be active at the same time.

You can commit the new clip-gain permanently by choosing “Render Clip Gain” by right-clicking on the clip gain slider. It’s necessary to render changes in clip-gain when saving a Pro Tools 10 session to an earlier version of Pro Tools (or exporting it to another program via OMF or AAF, see below). That right-click menu also offers options for bypassing or zeroing clip-gain, along with controls for hiding or showing the gain-indicator line. What’s more, crossfades can be made between clips with different gains, for a smooth transition between volume changes.

Fades Without Files

Crossfade lines in waveform displaySpeaking of crossfades: fades are handled completely differently now. They’re real-time processes, no longer written as files. There’s no “Fades” folder with tiny fade files in it. Session launches won’t be delayed while the computer searches for moved fade files, or regenerates missing ones. Also, you can now see the overlapping waveforms in a crossfade: simply select View>>Waveform>>Overlapping Crossfades for a better view of the combined waveforms.

Another new waveform display option is View>>Waveforms>>Power. Instead of viewing peaks you can switch to a representation of “power”: a more accurate indicator of the perceived loudness. In conjunction with clip-gain, this way of visualizing levels can be very helpful in creating a balanced mix.

AudioSuite dialog window, clip Handle LengthIf you wish to apply effects to a clip using Audiosuite processing, you can now automatically add “handles” to the edges of your selection, which allows crossfades to extend beyond the edges of the area you select, or allows some adjustment of the edges of the affected area after processing. The length of the “handles” is set in Preferences, ranging from .01 second to 60 seconds. You can also have multiple Audiosuite windows open at the same time, which is especially helpful when applying the same processing in multiple instances, perhaps rolling bass frequencies off of P-Pops. And because fades are now a real-time process, if there’s a fade on a section of audio, and that section is then treated with an Audiosuite effect, the fade remains unchanged.

Pro Tools Plug-ins

Channel Strip controls windowReal-time plug-ins also received a few new features. Automatic Delay Compensation was added in Pro Tools 9, and improved in Pro Tools 10 with greater maximum settings. As the name suggests, this function adjusts for the inherent delay that results from real-time plug-ins doing the math to generate the effects. Some plug-ins create significant delays, enough to cause phase problems or timing inaccuracies. Now these delays are compensated for: the audio remains in-sync regardless of the plug-ins inserted on the track.

Pro Tools 10 also sees the introduction of the AAX format plug-ins. These will eventually replace RTAS format. For now, both work side-by-side. Future Pro Tools upgrades, though, may not support RTAS plug-ins. Some of the included plug-ins are quite handy, especially the Channel Strip which incorporates EQ, Compression, Expander/gate and sidechain processing in a single plug-in.

Another file-format change: Pro Tools 10 sessions are now saved as .ptx files, not .pts. Unsurprisingly, this new session file format cannot be opened in a lower version of the software. But the “Save Session Copy As” function remains, and allows choosing an earlier session file format for exchanging your session files with a collaborator using an earlier version of Pro Tools.

Pro Tools Export/Import (OMF & AAF)

Export to OMF/AAF dialog windowEven more exciting: you can now export, and import, AAF and OMF files. This means you can exchange session information with other editing programs, not just Pro Tools. Once an expensive add-on, it’s now part of Pro Tool’s basic operation. Not all aspects of a mix will be retained when importing or exporting, but the timing, volume, pan (and more) of clips on multiple tracks are preserved when moving a project to or from different programs, such as Final Cut Pro, Logic, Adobe Audition, Digital Performer, Nuendo, and Sonar.

Some other session export options are quite convenient: Export Selected Tracks as New Session is a quick and easy way to create sub-mixes or alternate versions of a mix. Export Session Info as Text is a great way to keep track of all the assets used in a project — it can even help in reporting music usage.
Add Interleaved audio windowWhen importing files, there’s now support for mixed audio file formats, and for interleaved audio files. Previously, any file in a format other than the one set in the session’s default settings would be converted then copied to the Audio Files folder. Similarly, interleaved stereo files would be converted to two mono, split-stereo files.

Now most audio files can be added directly to a session without conversion. This can save significant disc space by avoiding the duplication of existing files (i.e. the converted copy). Important: Keep in mind that files imported via “Add to Session” rather than “Copy” or “Convert” are not automatically placed in the session’s Audio Files folder. When archiving or making a copy to use on another computer, be sure to use the “Save Copy In” command, and to check the “All Audio Files” box under “Items to Copy”, to force the copying of all audio files.
New Session dialog window, Interleaved box checked

Pro Tools can also record interleaved stereo, or multiple-track files, such as for surround-sound applications. Be sure to check the “Interleaved” box when setting up the parameters for a new session.

When bouncing-out a mix, there’s now an option to automatically add the bounced file to your iTunes library. Similarly, there’s a box you can check to automatically share the bounce with Soundcloud (you’ll need to log into a previously created Soundcloud account). Soundcloud and iTunes require the bounce format to be Mono (Summed) or Interleaved. You can also export clips from the clip bin, using the Export Clips as Files command, and clicking the “Share with Soundcloud” box.

Another subtle Pro Tools change: The total number of simultaneously playable tracks has increased to a dizzying 96 with the basic non-HD systems (and a mind-boggling 256 tracks for Pro Tools HD with the Production Toolkit or the new HD Native Hardware). Sure, a typical audio documentary production is unlikely to get anywhere near that limit, but it’s nice to know that you’ll never run out of available tracks. Many more enhancements are listed in Avid’s “What’s New in Pro ToolsAvere” PDF. The above are a few most pertinent to the community.

Pro Tools display windows screenshot

So, is it worth making the upgrade? Or is it time to move to another audio editing program? That may depend on whether you collaborate closely with other Pro Tools users, and exchange sessions. If these new features will make your editing and mixing experience better, the upgrade price isn’t too bad. If you need to work with projects created on other platforms, such as tweaking the audio for a Final Cut Pro video project, the OMF/AAF import and export functions alone are worth the price of the upgrade.

For many basic audio documentary productions, the power and flexibility of Pro Tools is overkill, like driving a Formula 1 racecar to the supermarket. Many producers might find it more efficient to consider a more straightforward audio editing program, one with fewer choices, but a faster and simpler workflow. The $95 Hindenburg Journalist lacks Pro Tools many options, but it’s focused on making radio programs, without the distraction of music-production-oriented features.

If you need the greater flexibility of a Pro-Tools-like editing and mixing environment, with aux sends and busses, MIDI, track grouping, etc., but just can’t justify the price of the Pro Tools 10 upgrade, you might want to take a look at REAPER. It’s a capable multitrack audio editor with many of the same attributes as Pro Tools, but available for $60 for a personal license.

But if you’re comfortable editing and mixing in Pro Tools, or require easy interchange with other Pro Tools users, there are many attractive improvements in the latest upgrade to Pro Tools 10. Importing and exporting OMF/AAF data is especially useful.

Pro Tools is still picky about what operating system you use, see Pro Tools 10.0 Qualified Apple Computers (10.6+ required) and Pro Tools 10.0 Qualified Windows Computers). Pro Tools is still a resource hog and can complain your session is too complex as it fails to bounce-out your mix. The bounce-to-disc mixdown function is still (maddeningly) only in real-time. The extensive array of options Pro Tools offers can be hard to assimilate.

But it’s also an industry leader for a reason. Pro Tools’ level of control is quite empowering once you learn how to use even just a small portion of its abilities. While many features, like MIDI, Looping, Virtual Instruments, Scoring, will likely go untouched by most audio documentary producers, its robust and flexible editing and mixing offerings make it attractive to control-freaks and creative folks alike.

It is an expensive upgrade, but you do get some big bangs for those extra bucks. The ability to connect with a wide variety of audio interfaces, or to simply use the computer’s built-in audio, is a game-changer. Other seemingly more modest improvements may prove just as useful: clip gain will streamline many mixing tasks, and the ability to import and use interleaved files may eliminate inefficient file duplication.

On a practical front, if you get a new computer, or upgrade your current machine to Windows 7 or Mac OS 10.7 (Lion) or higher, you have to buy (or upgrade to) Pro Tools 9 or 10 for reliable performance. In most cases, Pro Tools 8 or older won’t run at all on the latest OS versions.

The arrival of Hindenburg Journalist, the release of the Mac version of Adobe Audition (finally making it both Windows and Mac compatible) and the growing popularity of REAPER have all caused some drift away from Pro Tools being the radio production standard. But it remains a popular system, especially in commercial music production. All the improvements keep it competitive, and there are some real advantages in Pro Tools 10 for those on the Pro Tools path.

Jeff Towne

Jeff Towne

During more than 25 years as a producer of the nationally-syndicated radio program Echoes. Jeff Towne has recorded interviews and musical performances in locations ranging from closets to cathedrals, outdoor stages to professional studios, turning them into radio shows and podcasts. Jeff is also the Tools Editor for, a Peabody Award-winning website dedicated to channeling new voices to public media. At Transom, he reviews field recorders, microphones and software, helping both beginning and experienced audio producers choose their tools. In his spare time, Jeff will probably be taking pictures of his lunch in that little restaurant with the strange name that you've been wondering about. 


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  • Nick vdK



    Does it still only bounce in real time? Yes? Okay, moving on then.

    • jeff



      Well fine, if you want to bring convenience into it… Come on, it’s only 2012, give them a chance. It’s not like EVERY other audio editor bounces faster – oh wait, it kind of IS like that, isn’t it.

      Embrace the mystery.

    • Jay Allison



      I’ve stopped bouncing in ProTools and now record to a stereo track instead. (the bussing is a bit complicated, but once you iron it out, it’s easy)

      I do this on my final pass and can stop and start, go back and fix things, punch in and keep going. When I’m done, I have a full track of the show with all the processing and automation in place and I can just export that. If I have changes or edits later, I can just punch them in and re-export that bounce track. This technique has changed my life.

      • Logicalnot


        Upvote for the best PT tip of the day. wait, this is not Reddit.

      • Jeff Towne


        What’s even cooler about PT 10 is that now you can do that routing, and record an interleaved stereo file, so you don’t even have to do the “export-as” step at the end that you have been doing (presuming that you make it all the way through, without stopping…)

        For folks that don’t know the technique: if you change all the track outputs to an internal bus, rather than the main stereo outs, then make a new audio track, and choose that bus as the input on that track (leave the output of this new track to the main stereo outs) you can put that new track in record, and as you play the session, it gets recorded into that track in real-time. It’s very much like bouncing, except that if you stop the session (or if it stops on its own, as so often happens) you don’t lose everything, as you would in a bounce-to-disc, you have the soundfile saved up to that point. So you can start again where you left off, and then when you’re done, consolidate all the pieces into one file, and you have your final mix. This also has the benefit of allowing you to watch software meters, which annoyingly get frozen-out during a bounce-to-disc.

      • Jay Allison


        Here’s a good rundown on this Bounce to Track technique:

        That post suggests feeding through a Stereo track, but I use a Stereo Master Track ahead of the stereo track that records everything.

        I stop and start along the way, every time I hear something that might need tweaking. You can even adjust volumes in automation ahead of where you’re recording!

        Then, when i’m done I go back and check the punch-in points because they somtimes have slight ticks. These days, I just use the trim too and move them a micro-second to the right in Slip Mode and that fixes any glitch. The consolidate and export just takes a minute for an hour-long show. And I can go back and fix any section with an edit or re-mix of that part. Consolidate, re-export, and presto… a new bounce in a tiny fraction of the time.

      • Chris j


        What about dither?

      • Rob Byers


        Jay, you can eliminate that “tick” by using a short pre-roll. One second does the trick for me. Sometimes you have to also adjust some parameters in the Playback Engine.

  • Flawn Williams



    Great update from Jeff on PT10!

    I would stress that one advantage of the new Clip Gain feature is that the waveform display for that clip resizes to reflect the changed gain. Even in Peak waveform display mode that makes it easier to spot and correct moments of unequal loudness, and when using the Power waveform display as Jeff pointed out it’s even more intuitive. Not that I want to encourage users to use the visual feedback as a replacement for listening! Your ears should still be the final arbiter of relative loudness.

    If you qualify for educational discounts as a student, teacher or institution, that can cut the cost of most Pro Tools versions in half. There are several third party vendors (, B&H, Sweetwater and others) who can sell educational versions. The Student version in particular can be a good deal, as it offers four years of free upgrades. In Pro Tools version years that can seem like a lifetime!

    One new face in the list of alternatives to Pro Tools comes from Presonus. They’re mainly known for their audio electronics and digital mixing boards, but they now have a DAW software package called Studio One (curiously updated to Studio One 2). And like Pro Tools marketing days of yore, there is a feature-reduced version of Studio One that is being offered for free. I haven’t examined it closely for radio production oriented particulars, but at that (lack of) price it may be worth a peek. Even the free version offers unlimited audio tracks.

    • Jeff Towne



      Excellent points as usual Flawn, and thanks for that pointer to the Presonus software, I hadn’t seen that before. I’ve been intrigued by their Firewire-equipped mixers, and I knew they had software associated with those, but I thought it was a more basic recording environment. I’ll be taking a look…

  • nick



    Ever since my Pro Tools refused to reload into Windows XP after having done so for two years, (Pro Tools ) I got sick of Avids’ bad mannered support, so downloaded the Reaper from Cockos. I have never used Pro Tools since. And will not upgrade it. I think the tracks sound better in the Reaper, Pro Tools always sounds hollow, flat. I’ll stick to the Reaper.

  • Mark Dowie



    Jeff …. or anyone,

    I love working with ProTools, but it’s cluttered with stuff I’ll never use. Do you suppose Avid could ever be persuaded to produce a version (“ProTools J”) designed exclusively for audio journalists and radio production? I mean most of the code is already there, they could just strip out the music features, add a few J-tricks found in Hindenberg and market it to us through all the available platforms.

    They’ll listen to you. Talk to them.

    Mark Dowie

    • Jeff Towne



      Ha, I wish I had that much influence! We actually do know someone who lives near a Pro Tools developer and keeps whispering in his ear about a radio version, but so far, no go… I agree with you Mark, it would be really nice to have a documentary-oriented version of Pro Tools, without all the distractions of the music-oriented functions. Sadly, I’m not sure we’re a big enough market to devote that kind of development to, compared to the vast sea of musicians that use the program to make music. As you reference, there IS a program made just for Journalists and radio production: it’s Hindenburg Journalist… I use both programs, they each have strengths, but FWIW, for almost production of radio programs, I find myself using Hindenburg. But for a few more complicated constructions, and especially multitrack music mixing, Pro Tools is hard to beat!

      One word of caution, there ARE a couple of stripped-down version of Pro Tools 10 floating around called Pro Tools Express, Pro Tools SE and Pro Tools MP9. They comes bundled with specific interfaces: the Express version comes with a 3rd-generation M-Box or M-Box Mini; SE and MP9 with the specific M-Audio interfaces that they’re bundled with; and those versions of the software will ONLY work with those interfaces. They cannot run on your computer’s built-in sound card, nor can they access other interfaces, not even other AVID interfaces. It’s kind of like a version of Pro Tools LE, which always required using the company’s interface, but even MORE picky about interfaces… Just to make it even more fun, Express also requires an iLok to run…

      And those versions are limited in their abilities too: they have reduced maximum track counts (Express can only do 16, which is usually more than enough for radio production… ) they can record smaller numbers of tracks simultaneously, which makes sense, given that their interfaces can only feed 2 or 4 at a time.

      More important: these stripped-down versions don’t have some of the cool new features, like clip gain, OMF/AAF import export, and more. And I swear a Pro Tools rep told me that SE doesn’t even have shuffle editing, only slip mode… but I can’t find that info on the site anywhere.

      All of their links to a software comparison chart are dead…at least as I’m trying to access them today, but you can see some of the different versions of the software here:

      These might be viable less-expensive entry points (an M-Box Mini and PT Express can be had for about $225, and you can upgrade to a full version for another $400, so you could start small and work up to the full version, but be aware that the software may be limited in some frustrating ways.)

      But back to your point – yes, I agree, and if I ever have the opportunity to bend someone’s ear at AVID, I’ll be sure to advocate for a radio/journalist version of Pro Tools!

      • gv


        Biggest default of Pro Tools Express that I found yesterday? Cannot launch without the MBox hardware. If I’d known about that alone, I probably would have gotten PT10 directly. Bummer.

  • Guy Smiley



    After searching all over my drives for the last 45 minutes wondering where the hell my fade files folder had gone, I finally came across this! It was news to me that fades were now real-time and not file based. Thanks!

  • Georgiaboy



    When I try to install Pro Tools 10 on my computer which is running windows xp home edition it says my computer has not been modified to run this program! I paid alot for this what can I do? What do I have to do to modifiy my computer to get Pro tools 10 to work? email me @ please!!

  • Brian



    Hiya, I just ordered PT 10 Avid Student Edition and hope that I am able to make the leap from 8le easily. Do you know if I’ll be okay to use it on two different computers (individually) provided I have the ilok? That has worked well for me so far on PT 8, but I fears it will only be accessible on one machine now…can you alleviate my fears?


  • Christian



    Someone may be interested to know that ProTools 8.0.5 LE is perfectly working in Mac OS 10.8, though it’s neither documented nor supported by AVID! I’ve tested it myself after having read many users saying so in ProTools forums — I don’t own any iLok protected plugin, so I can’t say anything about them, but all the rest work perfectly, including midi, virtual instruments, etc.

  • crystalmixing



    @ Georgiaboy : You need to upgrade your OS to Windows 7 to use Pro Tools 10. Pro Tools 10 (and I think 9) do not work with XP.

    Professional Online Audio Mixing and Mastering:

  • Anders Gjöres



    Beware of the clip gain! A student of mine raised the volume with the clip gain function. It sounded OK. And when we bounced her piece, it sounded OK. When we played the bounce (AIFF 16 44.1) it just sounded awful. A lot of distorsion.
    We never use it anymore.

    • Jeff Towne



      There’s nothing inherent in the clip gain that should cause distortion. If you played it out and it sounded fine, but then the bounced file was distorted, you’ve got something else going wrong! That’s not going to happen because of clip gain… One thing to keep in mind is that clip gain is being applied before the faders (volume automation) and before any processing, such as compressors or EQs. So it’s possible that increasing the clip gain caused a plug-in to distort – and the settings on that plug-in need to be adjusted, or that the combination of clip gain and volume automation created too much level, therefore distortion, into the master fader. But both of those problems should be evident when playing the piece, not only in the bounce. Keep an eye on the individual track meters, to make sure that clip gain isn’t causing the track to overload, and on the meters in a Master Fader (you ARE making a master fader, right?!? It’s always a good idea, for just this reason – so you can more easily see if your mixed tracks are summing to good level.) So again, something else is going wrong here – I use clip gain all the time with no problems with distortion. If it’s not one of the things I mentioned, are you doing any kind of conversion during the bounce – such as sample-rate conversion? if so, make sure you’re set to use high-quality conversion, I suggest “tweak-head.” Don’t fear the clip gain, just make sure that you’re using it carefully!

  • Anders Gjöres



    We used “tweak-head”. The bounce was converted to 16 44.1 AIFF. The clip gain function was used mildly (maybe a maximum of 6 dB:s at most). The piece sounded good while listening to the bounce, but both the AIFF-file and the MP3-file sounded awful. The meters were all “green”, not even yellow. Graphically, it all looked OK, but there was a lot of overload in the 3-4 kHz-area when we played the files. This never happens when using the gain function in the audio suite. And, no plug-ins were used.

  • Jeff Towne



    Hmmm… it certainly seems that you did good trouble-shooting to track the problem down, so I’m not sure what’s going on! I can only say that I’ve been using clip gain for several months now, sometimes applying some pretty significant boosts (15 dB or more) and so far, I haven’t created any distortion or other negative artifacts. I’ve found clip gain to be a very valuable tool, and so far, one that has caused me no problems at all.

    But thanks for the heads-up: folks should be sure to double-check their final bounced mixes. That’s never a bad idea anyway: I’ve had a few bounces that sounded fine as they were rolling-out, but the actual bounced file did not include any RTAS effects (which could be clearly heard during the real-time bounce.) All tracks were routed to the same outputs, so I’m not sure whether the bounce process was ignoring aux tracks, or muting aux sends, or disabling plug-ins.

    The only fix I was able to come up with was to make a new blank session, and import the session data from the problematic one. So far, that has always fixed it. So, perhaps, if you happen to have some of those projects with the distorting clip gain still handy, you might try making a blank session, importing session data from the original sessions that created overloads, and try bouncing again, see if that makes any difference. It appears that PT 10 sessions can get corrupted in subtle ways, so that they play, and appear to be bouncing correctly, but are acting unreliably in the background!

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