CLAP is a new plugin standard for plugin/host communication by Bitwig & u-he

Image Credit: u-he

CLAP (Clever Audio Plugin API) is a new open standard for audio plugins and hosts.

Bitwig and u-he have announced CLAP: a new plugin standard to allow more efficient communication between plugins and their host system, reports KVR. CLAP is designed to give us modern technical features; further plugin stability, and support for plugin developers’ host applications. Oh, and it’s open source too!

Developed in collaboration with experts from diverse fields in the music software industry, CLAP is a plug-in standard designed for modern computers and modern paradigms. It caters to novel DAW concepts, opening up new horizons for what a plug-in can do or be.

u-he and Bitwig

CLAP: the processors champion

CLAP has the modern CPU in mind. There is clear allocation between plugin and host, and it allows for collaborative multicore support between plugin and host via a “thread-pool”. This thread-pool allows hosts to manage a plugin’s CPU threading if it provides its own multicore support.

As a result, CLAP hosts can read a plugin’s metadata and contribute to organizing your plugin library. In other words, a CLAP host can retrieve information from your plugins without a need to wait for it to initialize. Therefore scanning for plugins is about to get much faster!

An additional extension is in the works too. Upon finalisation, CLAP will allow plugins to inform their host system of the type of files they require – like samples or wavetables – so the host can fetch them automatically. This will be a big relief to anyone who has lost files while moving work across systems.


CLAP is improving parameter modulation

But CLAP also has ways of enhancing modulation & automation in mind too. For example, it supports automation and modulation for individual notes in line with MIDI 2.0 specifications. In addition, it allows for temporary parameter offsets. This means that as soon as modulation has finished, the modulated parameter returns to its original state.

CLAP is now at V1.0 and is ABI stable. Now developers are actively encouraged to build on top of the foundation. And musicians can investigate CLAP in Bitwig Studio betas and a few u-he plugins.

Do you think CLAP is the future of plugin & host communication?

Spotify will acquire Sonantic in line with their ambition to enter the audiobook market

Image Credit: Sonantic

Spotify is buying Sonantic, a London-based AI voice platform.

Founders Zeena Qureshi and John Flynn launched Sonantic in December 2018. The pair both have professional backgrounds in speech and language therapy for Hollywood sound production. On the Sonantic site, the company claims its “technology is poised to revolutionize game and film production” reports MBW.

Furthermore, the company claims to be able to create “compelling, nuanced, and stunningly realistic voices from text”.


Who are Sonantic?

In a blog post, co-founder and Sonantic CEO Zeena Qureshi said that a number of uses within the voice market include “advertising and call centres to robots and audiobooks”. In the same blog post, Qureshi talks about how Sonantic’s work is split into two parts.

First, they create “high quality voice technology for studios”. For anyone that works in dialogue recording and editing roles, you’ll know that it takes time to record. Add to that the logistics of getting voice actors into the studio and you’ve got a lot to think about. Well, Sonantic aim to “[spare] creators the time and logistics involved in traditional voice recording, while also transforming their scripts into immersive story voices in real time

As for the second part of the company’s work, they work with professional actors to “create models of their voice”.


Spotify acquires Sonantic

The Sonantic co-founders Zeena Qureshi and John Flynn said in a joint statement: “We’re looking forward to joining Spotify and continuing to build exciting voice experiences.

“We believe in the power voice has and its ability to foster a deeper connection with listeners around the world, and we know we can be better than ever on the world’s largest audio platform.”

The news of Spotify acquiring Sonantic is in line with last week’s Spotify Investor Day. CEO Daniel Ek outlined his company’s intentions to enter the audiobook market. Moreover, Spotify announced in November that an agreement to acquire audiobook distribution company Findaway was in reach.

We’re really excited about the potential to bring Sonantic’s AI voice technology onto the Spotify platform and create new experiences for our users. This integration will enable us to engage users in a new and even more personalized way.

Ziad Sultan, Spotify’s Vice President of Personalization

Get Ableton Live 11 Intro, Standard or Suite at a 25% discount until 14th June

Image Credit: Gear News

The sun’s out for summer, and so discounts are here too. Until June 14th you can get Ableton Intro, Standard, and Suite at a 25% discount. These deals also include upgrades from Lite and older versions of the Ableton DAW.

Additional Ableton summer sales include Max for Live, every Ableton Live Pack, and even crossgrades to Max 8! Despite these great software discounts, there are no hardware discounts on the Push MIDI controller. But now is the time to get your Ableton software of choice and wait for a hardware discount to come along… maybe on Black Friday?


Ableton Live 25% discount

Ableton has risen to the top of the list for electronic music composition, mixing and production DAWs. The DAW is one of the simplest DAWs to learn and use too. You can jump in and start exploring new sounds instantly, and there is a massive array of “How to use Ableton” tutorials online. In fact, there are more Ableton tutorials than most DAWs so you’ll have no problem learning the DAW.

Ableton is a popular tool for live performance as well as music production. You’ll find that most producers, musicians, and live performers use Ableton Live to both create and perform music in every electronic genre. Ableton Live is an incredibly competent DAW for creating scenes, MIDI channels and recording live during a performance. Furthermore, Ableton features amazing stock effects plugins, virtual instruments, and sample packs.

Now you can save up to 25% off on Ableton Live’s three tiers. This is pretty standard for Ableton discounts, so now is the time to get yourself the DAW before the offer ends. And if you’ve never used Ableton, take advantage of the free trials that you can access on Ableton’s website. Check out the discount prices below:


Ableton discount prices

Ableton Live 11 Intro: £50

Ableton Live 11 Standard: £222

Ableton Live 11 Suite: £385

You can access the range of discounts here. The discounts are available until June 14th.

Playfair Audio’s Dynamic Grading is an alternative to compressors

Image Credit: Playfair Audio

How would we control audio dynamics if compressors were never invented? Well, Playfair Audio seems to answer that question with their debut plugin Dynamic Grading.

Dynamic Grading is an alternative to a compressor, whereby we can control the dynamics of our signal without the use of threshold, ratio, or attack controls. Despite its alternative controls, Dynamic Grading does take from some of the great compressors that we know and love. But what’s intriguing is the easily adjustable representation of audio dynamics that replaces the aforementioned controls.

As a result, Dynamic Grading should leave your signal chains free of complicated plugin pairs. No longer will you need to watch a hundred or so YouTube tutorials to understand the different types of compression either.

Playfair Audio Dynamic Grading

“Dynamic Grading makes your audio dynamics visible and tangible.” state Playfair Audio.

Dynamic Grading is an intuitive alternative to compressors. Rather than controls like Threshold, Ratio, and Attack, it utilises imaging controls such as Spectrum, Response, and Release.
Image Credit: Playfair Audio

And, well, this certainly looks to be the case. The representation of audio dynamics via a histogram is one thing but couple it with the limited three controls and you get a plugin that’s easier to understand than compressors are at first.

Controlling audio dynamics is a key part of music production, but Dynamic Grading’s fresh approach to them could be a game-changer. The plugin questions how we’ve thought of compressors as technical tools for so long. Before, we had to sit and think about signal flow in complex signal chains that included combinations of different processors. Now, with the use of Augmented Intelligence – artificial intelligence that helps you rather than doing the work itself – you can sculpt the dynamics as Michelangelo did his David. Its simple histogram display and imaging controls allow you to adjust audio dynamics much like changing brightness and contrast in images.

The Dynamic Grading method is inspired by digital image processing tools, where the use of histograms and grading curves is well-known and established to adjust the dynamics of brightness in images. With Dynamic Grading, these concepts have been adapted and tailored to practical use in music production and audio engineering for the first time.

Playfair Audio
Image Credit: Playfair Audio

The interface seems to be pretty straightforward, though you will have to spend some time using the process and getting to grips with it.


Price and availability

Dynamic Grading is available now from the Playfair website for £167.00. It works in 64-bit AU, VST3, and AAX plugin formats under macOS 10.10+ and Windows 7+.

Do you think Dynamic Grading is the first of many alternate takes of audio processing plugins?

NUSofting Echobis: granualize your delay

Image Credit: NUSofting

NUSofting’s Echobis is a polyrhythmic delay plugin for building rhythmic atmospheres. Whether on drum loops or melody lines or one-shots, fresh new grooves await your music and your audience.


NUSofting Echobis

You can mix, pan, or cross-fade its two delay processors (both with their own feedback processors) for giant time-based modulation inside NUSofting Echobis. Furthermore, you can apply quick settings in milliseconds or sync both processors to your tempo (time divisions up to 1/32 to 32/32 or 1/24 to 24/24).

You can determine the volume of both delay processors with two amplitude envelopes and freely adjust the pitch with pitch modulators. Two granualizers and filter pairs sit in the feedback signal path, so you can add a lot of spice to the sound whilst controlling what frequencies the spice dominates in the mix. You can adjust the rate of the granualizers to taste too.

Both the amplitude and pitch modulators perform relative to the audio input. As a result, the modulators accurately follow the input level while keeping the pitch modulations in sync with the echo repeats. The modulators are inside the feedback loop, making for a deeper and deeper sound per feedback cycle.

NUSofting Echobis features two delay processors that you can mix, pan, or cross fade together. You can sync the delay to your DAW tempo with time divisions up to 32/32 or 24/24 or manipulate the delay via milliseconds.

Two amplitude and pitch modulators sit inside the feedback loop, as do the granualizers and filters.

Additional processors include a compressor, an analog style drift flutter and cross-feedback.
Image Credit: NUSofting

Additional processors include a compressor, an analog style drift flutter and cross-feedback. You’ll also receive 83 factory presets to play with.

You can change the size of the user interface, and it features two peak meters for monitoring the level of your outputs.
And you can apply additional GUI themes or just make your own!


Price and availability

Echobis is now available at an introductory price of €9 until the 29th of June. Its regular price will be €18.90

The plugin is available as 64-bit AU and VST2 plugin on Windows and Mac with native M1 support.


If you’d like to keep reading:

3 free DAWs for professional recording, beat making and producing

Image Credit: Synth Anatomy

Making music has long been expensive, and that’s before you even touch a microphone. But free DAWs are changing that. As they become more feature rich, free DAWs for beginners are becoming more and more professional.

DAW is short for Digital Audio Workstation, and it’s a piece of software for recording and editing audio. You can add effects to your sounds or groups of sounds, and mix different audio channels so they work together in a song. There are many free DAWs for you to choose from, so we’ve put together a list of 3 free DAWs that will help those starting out in music learn the ropes. We must warn you though: these three DAWs will fool you. They may be free, but they are jam-packed with professional functionality for laptop, Mac, and PC users.


1. Waveform Free – best free DAW for electronic music and beginners

Waveform Free is our favourite free DAW because it offers an excellent array of features. It comes with an in-house synth (4OSC) and drum sampler (Micro drum sampler) and additional plugins.
Image Credit: Gear News

In our number one spot sits Waveform Free. Based on Tracktion’s Waveform Pro, Waveform Free is a free and easy to use DAW. This free DAW in particular is available across Windows, Linux, and Mac too! Unlike DAWs that cost, Waveform Free has a single panel user interface. Though this does differ from the standards set by the aforementioned software, it does make it exceptionally easier to navigate while unfamiliar with its layout.

What’s most exciting for me is just how many features this free DAW has. For example, it offers full VST plugin support, time-based automation tools, and a workflow that’s optimised for softsynth integration too. As a result, I think Waveform Free is the free DAW that electronic music producers should go for.

As electronic producers use virtual instruments and VST plugins religiously, they’ll be right at home with the intuitive MIDI sequencing available too. To illustrate, let’s talk about FL Studio for a second. The incredibly popular Fruity Loops flexes an easy-to-learn sequencer; MIDI integration; a mixer designed around beat making; and a simple piano roll. Of course, these are just the basic features. But they’re why FL Studio is often a go-to for newcomers to EDM and beats. Now, Waveform Free features more or less all of those same tools – just in a singular tab layout.

Waveform Free is packed with professional tools. It's an excellent gateway into recording, mixing, and producing music.
Image Credit: OMG! Ubuntu!

In Waveform Free you can load any virtual instrument of your choice – free or paid. And with a MIDI controller, you can take advantage of every available feature for creative sequencing of said instruments and softsynths. Oh, and let’s not forget about plugins!

Waveform Free offers a lot of creative freedom with its third-party plugin support. Coupled with a smooth user experience thanks to built-in sandboxing, you need not stress about software crashes. Moreover, the built-in plugin manager, keyboard shortcuts, control surfaces, and more arm you for hours of fun that you can jump right into. You can access all of this and more via the main Settings section. Simple!

Outside of functionality, Waveform Free still comes in strong. You can change themes and colours, tab and window sizes in addition to moving, flattening and “docking” them! There is a lot to play with within the Window Manager that empowers you to create a layout and workflow that’s right for you.


4OSC & Micro drum sampler

I think what sold Waveform Free to me was the softsynth and drum sampler.

4OSC is a powerful subtractive synthesizer that doesn’t eat up processing power. Its simple UI features four oscillators, and plenty of parameters and tools are available for modulation. Coupling these with a variety of onboard filters, effects, and MIDI mapping gives you a more than a capable synthesizer.

4OSC is the in-house synthesizer with Waveform Free. It features 4 oscillators and a plethora of modulation tools and effects.
Image Credit: Tracktion

And if you like hands-on control over your percussion, Micro Drum Sampler is a tool for you. You can build your own sampled-based kits with its drag and drop interface. Finally, if you have little experience in sequencing, you can get hands-on by building a kit and using a MIDI controller to play it into your arrangement via MIDI Step Clips.

Waveform Free's  micro drum sampler empowers you to create your own drum kit and percussion. Coupled with MIDI integration, Waveform Free is the bets free DAW for budding producers and musicians.
Image Credit: Tracktion

Thes two awesome tools come as stock instruments with Waveform Free. They’re very easy to learn, and they sound great!


Free DAW for beginners

What makes Waveform Free such a good free DAW for beginners is that it’s made to be. For example, many users love Tracktion’s approach to workflow because it’s simple. It’s not complicated or frustrating so you can get busy creating. With that said, if you transition to Waveform Free after using another DAW, you may find it confusing. But that’s okay. It’ll just take you some time to get used to!

To help you along your journey, Waveform Free comes with a user manual. Additional training videos are available on Tracktion’s website too. These videos cover topics ranging from the basic setup, installing plugins, audio editing and automation, and more. Everything you need to get started!

There’s full audio tracking to be found in Waveform Free along with a plug-in manager, keyboard shortcuts, control surfaces, preset chords and plenty besides. All this is easily accessible through the main Settings section.

Top Ten Reviews

2. Cakewalk by BandLab

Cakewalk by BandLab our second favourite free DAW. It's based on Cakewalk's SONAR DAW and offers the same functionality. Unlike Waveform Free, Cakewalk is only free for Windows users and not Mac.
Image Credit: Bandlab

Our second choice of best free DAWs has to be Cakewalk. It’s based on Cakewalk’s SONAR DAW and offers the same functionality. However, it does lack the bundled third-party software. But it’s still under development we may see some implementation in the future. Unlike Waveform Free, Cakewalk is only free for Windows users and not Mac. But like Waveform Free, it’s a fast and reliable tool.

You’ll find all of the original SONAR Platinum features and functions. These include its effects, its mixer which has an analog console feel to it, third-party VST plugin support, and more advanced features including multi-touch support, Bluetooth MIDI, and more. Once upon a time you would have had to use the BandLab Assistant app to run Cakewalk. Now you can directly install Cakewalk without any additional software.

Cakewalk by BandLab has plenty of in-house effects that are perfect to learn the basics on music production with. Its parametric EQ is full of tools and functionality
Image Credit: Bandlab

This free DAW enables beatmakers, musicians, composers, and electronic producers to jump right in and get creative via its workspaces. Upon installation, you’ll have full access to the Cakealk’s features and future updates too. 

“Basic Workspace” is the default layout of the DAW and it includes a Help module in the bottom-right corner of its screen. Here, you’ll find clear information that advises how to use the DAW’s controls and their functions. Much like Ableton’s help modules, simply hover over a button and the Help module provides you with information about what it does. Moreover, you can save any and all changes to a workspace or even create a new workspace. Finally, you can access all workspaces from the Workspaces menu as Cakewalk lets you toggle between different workspaces seamlessly.

Cakewalk’s 64-bit mix engine, ProChannel, and mixing console interface combine to give the user a sleek mixing experience.

Musicianwave

Free DAW for Windows

Windows users not familiar with any DAW will be able to slip inside the workflow of Cakewalk easily. Basic Workspace only presents a limited amount of controls so as to not overwhelm you.

Despite its simplicity, Cakewalk doesn’t compromise on functionality whatsoever. You can record and edit audio across unlimited channels; record multiple tracks at once; comp and overwrite your takes too. You can integrate a MIDI controller and edit any notes within the piano roll with a plethora of options such as quantise, pitch correction, and more!

Finally, let’s talk about the mixer. You’ll find a selection of modules for audio processing on each channel strip. Compressor, EQs, a console emulator, and many more await. Additionally, you can manipulate the signal chain by moving the modules up or down, inserting new ones and replacing or removing old ones.

And if you’re not too into the UI of the mixer, you can customise it to your taste! In summary, at the heart of its design is the intention of streamlining the mixing process.


3. Garageband – best free DAW for macOS

Garageband is arguably the most notorious free DAW on the market. Garageband is free with any and every iOS device.
Image Credit: Amazing Radio

Finally, we have the most notorious free DAW that there is. Besides, it didn’t seem fair to talk about a free DAW exclusively for Windows and leave out macOS users.

Garageband, which doesn’t need all that much of a review, is free with any and every iOS device. It’s Logic Pro, just stripped-back. As a result, it’s definitely one of if not the most user-friendly DAWs for recording and editing audio. As an iOS user, you’ll get a taste for multitrack recording, integrating and using MIDI controllers, audio editing and mixing fundamentals. Furthermore, it provides great tools and automation for creating volume fades between audio clips – something that Garageband does better than a lot of other DAWs. Whether you’re using your Mac computer, iPad or iPhone, you can write, record and produce an entire song. That’s why Garageband might be the best free DAW for recording vocals.

On Garageband, you can record notes straight into your piano roll with a MIDI controller. Or you can arm a track and play into your microphone.
Image Credit: Happy Mag

In this free yet fully functional recording DAW, simply arm a track at the click of the Record icon and play into your microphone. Alternatively, you can record notes straight into your piano roll with a MIDI controller. Whether with an XLR or USB microphone, 24-bit recording is available across 255 channels. As for recording simultaneously, you’re only limited by the number of inputs your audio interface has.

GarageBand works with the excellent Logic Remote app that’s available free on iOS devices. You can use your iPad or iPhone to wirelessly play any GarageBand instrument on the Mac, adjust the Smart Controls for individual sounds, and otherwise edit and arrange your project.

PC Mag

Producer packs – where things get interesting

Garageband has eight producer packs that house royalty-free sounds from some big names. These include Boys Noize, Mark Lettieri, Mark Ronson, and more. You’ll get full access to 2800 loops, 50 drum kits, and 120 synth patches. Think ambient sounds, bass samples, and TR-808 drum sounds. And yet, there’s still more. A range of both acoustic and electronic drums, basses and a group of synth pads and leads are available for you to get stuck in with. 

Other than digital sounds, these producer packs include acoustic piano, electric piano, clavinet, and tonewheel organ, plus Mellotron patches and acoustic and clean electric guitars too. The orchestral instruments contain several choir samples, a harp, and a pipe organ, in addition to the usual strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion.

And finally, its Chinese instrument section includes the Erhu and Pipa, and for Japan, the Guzheng, Koto, and a set of Taiko drums too.

Steinberg Nuendo 12: new features for musicians and sound designers

Image Credit: Pro Tools Expert

Steinberg’s Nuendo DAW is the younger software sibling of Cubase, and Nuendo 12 has a very clear focus on speech production for different media applications.

Steinberg‘s Nuendo 12 is available right now. And unlike Cubase it has more of a focus on speech with its variety of tools and processes for the needs of audio professionals across the media realm. After all, it wouldn’t make sense for Steinberg to release two products aimed at the same market.


Steinberg Nuendo 12

Now on its twelfth version, the tools in Nuendo provide a workspace for creating professional voiceovers, dubs, and dialogue. Furthermore, you can use Nuendo for games and television audio, in addition to movies. And many of the new features in Nuendo are for sound designers and post-production studios!

With its new features for dialogue recording and editing, as well as producing headphone-based binaural mixes and more, Nuendo 12 is the Home of Dialogue.

Steinberg
Now on its twelfth version, the tools in Nuendo provide a workspace for creating professional voiceovers, dubs, and dialogue. Furthermore, you can use Nuendo for games and television, in addition to movies. And many of the new features in Nuendo are for sound designers and post-production studios.
Image Credit: Sound On Sound

Dialogue editing

Nuendo 12 brings new tools for dialogue editing. For example, the Dialogue Detection algorithm both detects speech and removes any silence from your recording. I can imagine this alone will speed up workflow across the media realm. Furthermore, the new audition tool enables you to listen to the waveform detected as dialogue on display before editing.

And enhanced Audio Alignment capability allows you to use multiple reference clips with precise timing applied to the corresponding set of field recorder files! The Free Warp tool also enables subtle time corrections dialogue clips from within the Project window too. You can integrate Nuendo 12 with Auto-Align Post 2 and align the time and phase of moving microphones too.


Creative tools for musicians and sound designers

Nuendo 12 features a multi-effect FX Modulator plugin that houses an envelope editor, Raiser dynamics processing tool, and the Lin One dithering plugin by MAAT, Inc.

Now, you can create chord progressions from audio events and import both tempo and signature tracks for seamless exchange between different projects. Also, you can use the new MIDI Remote system to integrate MIDI controllers into your Nuendo workflow.

As reported by KVR, here is a list of the additional workflow and productivity enhancements in Nuendo 12.

  • SpectraLayers One improvements.
  • Logical Editor and Input Transformer improvements.
  • Seven new SuperVision metering modules.
  • Sample Editor UI enhancements.
  • Video engine performance improvements.
  • Audio engine now supports High Core Count CPU on the latest AMD Threadripper generation.
  • Smooth waveform drawing.
  • MIDI over Bluetooth support in Windows.
  • Native Apple Silicon support for Mac computers.

Price

You can get Nuendo 12 now through the Steinberg Online Shop for $999.99.

If you have activated Nuendo 11 since March 16th, you are eligible for a free downloadable update to Nuendo 12. However, note that this is not a permanent offer.

Ableton’s Learning Synths: export, record, and explore

Image Credit: Ableton

Recently, Ableton launched Learning Synths – a free site that they have designed to teach the basics of synthesis. Well, it’s had an upgrade.


Learning Synths update

Now you can now save your sounds and share them with your peers! This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking to get into sound design. While you can save your sounds for future use, the ability to share them allows you to get feedback from your peers who may be learning the same tricks or have some experience.

But that’s not all. To illustrate, you can start designing a sound in Learning Synths and transfer it over to the Ableton Live DAW. Here, you can record up to 60 seconds of audio! As a result, synth novices can learn the fundamentals of synthesis, record a sequence and gradually move to work with a bigger project in Ableton. Whether a self-led learner or via class, this combination will be a great suite of education tools.

There are also new ways of playing with sounds – an XY pad for navigating sounds, plus the ability to mess around with presets in a Playground or Live.


Full features

New feature additions, as reported by CDM, include:

  • Export allows us to turn our creations into a Max for Live synth contained within a Live Set.
  • Record Now, you can capture a total of 60 seconds of audio. More specifically, you can record your synth while you manipulate its sound via control parameters.
  • A configurable XY pad in the Playground allows you to experiment with a bunch of new sound combinations quickly – much like vector synthesis.
  • “Open in Playground” buttons enable you to edit your sounds on lesson pages in much more detail in the Playground. Then you can explore them further in Live.
  • Dark mode support Now you can choose between a light and dark mode, based on your preferences
  • Turkish, Finnish and Portuguese language support has also been added.

Don’t forget to check out Learning Synths here!

Avid Pro Tools is now a subscription-based DAW only

Image Credit: Avid

Avid Technology are offering three plans for Pro Tools which range from $10 to $99 per year.

The success of Adobe’s subscription plans for its cutting edge software like Photoshop begs the question: should expensive design software all be subscription-based? After all, far fewer people have $600 to spend compared to the many people who can afford to lose $10 a month.


Avid Pro Tools subscription models

With this in mind, Avid is following the likes of Bitwig who now offer their DAW as a subscription on Splice. Avid’s Pro Tools is now only available as a monthly subscription payment model, making the DAW far more accessible to many people. As a result, we can no longer purchase a one-time perpetual license. This means we can no longer gain lifetime access to a specific version of Pro Tools.

Now, if you want to be using Pro Tools you’ll have to choose between three plans as part of the new subscription models. However, existing perpetual customers will not be affected by this change and can continue using the DAW as they do. But perpetual licenses sold by Avid resellers will automatically convert to the equivalent subscription offering.

These subscription tiers include:

  • Pro Tools Artist – for music creators just starting out
  • Pro Tools Studio – for serious music creators and producers
  • Pro Tools Flex – for audio post and high-end music professionals and facilities

These products build on and replace the current Pro Tools product lineup with significant new software capabilities, as well new virtual instruments and other content.

Avid

For those who have already purchased a perpetual license of Pro Tools or Pro Tools Ultimate active subscriptions, you’ll get the brand new software capabilities and content for free. For example, if you have Pro Tools you’ll transition to Pro Tools Studio. And if you’re a Pro Tools Ultimate subscriber then you’ll transition to Pro Tools Flex subscription plan. Finally, if you have a Pro Tools Ultimate perpetual license with an active support plan, you’ll get “all the new enhancements of the latest software”.

Pro Tools perpetual license owners or those with active Pro Tools Ultimate subscriptions get the brand new software capabilities and content for free.
Image Credit: Avid

And if you own a perpetual Pro Tools license but your support contract has expired, you can get back on a current Software Updates + Support Plan for $349 for Pro Tools standard or $749 for Pro Tools Ultimate. By upgrading your perpetual license and “getting current”, you’ll get every new software enhancement, the new virtual instruments, and one year of software updates.

If you own a perpetual Pro Tools license but your support contract has expired, you can get back on a current Software Updates + Support Plan for $349 for Pro Tools standard or $749 for Pro Tools Ultimate
Image Credit: Avid

Pro Tools Artist

Avid is offering Pro Tools Artist as a $99 annual or $9.99 monthly subscription. It’s a new offering which they’ve specifically designed “for the millions of next-gen music creators”, meaning those who are just finding their feet in music production. Pro Tools Artists features hundreds of new instrument sounds and loops in addition to over 100 plugins. With easy-to-use MIDI tools, industry-standard editing and mixing workflows, Pro Tools Artists does pack a lot for $9.99 a month.

32 audio tracks and 32 instrument tracks present a total of 64 channels which should really be plenty. Additionally, we can record 16 audio sources at once with any Core Audio, ASIO, or WASAPI-compatible audio interface.

Don’t forget to check out the full list of included plugins here.


Pro Tools Studio

Pro Tools Studio is available as a $299 annual or $39.99 monthly subscription. Studio is for those that are more serious about making and recording music. Both producers and engineers can work on bigger projects and aren’t limited to 64 tracks. Overall, Pro Tools Studio builds on the current Pro Tools offering with a range of software enhancements. In addition to a bigger track count (a total of 512 tracks), Pro Tools Studio also provides surround and Dolby Atmos mixing, advanced automation features, and more. Surround mixing, advanced automation and Clip Effects editing were previously only available in Pro Tools Ultimate. Finally, new GrooveCell and SynthCell virtual instruments are available too.

Don’t forget to check out the full list of included plugins here.


Pro Tools Flex

The biggest of the subscription tiers is Pro Tools Flex. Available as a $999 annual or $99.99 monthly subscription, Pro Tools Flex is for music professionals and facilities that need the full power and workflows of Pro Tools.

Active Pro Tools Ultimate subscribers will receive the full Pro Tools Flex subscription bundle, including the latest version of Pro Tools Ultimate, while Pro Tools Ultimate perpetual license customers with active plans will get the Pro Tools Ultimate software enhancements.

Avid

Pro Tools Flex includes a newly enhanced version of the Pro Tools Ultimate software. New and additional content such as third-party licenses provides an “unprecedented level of performance”. Just as before, the Pro Tools Ultimate software is required while running Pro Tools, HDX, or HD Native systems

Don’t forget to check out the full list of included plugins here.


The Pro Tools subscription models are now available on the Avid store and resellers. If you’re new to Pro Tools, you can try out the latest version with a free 30-day trial.

MP3, WAV, and other popular audio file types explained

Image Credit: Canto

There are a variety of different audio file types. The most popular are WAV and MP3s, and these are actually two very different types of audio file. Though both do have their pros, audio fidelity is where WAV files reign supreme in comparison.

This article is going to explain the technicals and differences between audio file types. And when we’ve discussed the difference between lossy and lossless compression, we’ll finish with a list of the most common audio file types that you’ll come across.

Which file type you choose is usually down to your needs. For example, if you want an audio file type that preserves the quality of your music then a lossless file type (FLAC) or a PCM file type (WAV) are preferable choices. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a file type that is small and will therefore transfer across devices or upload online faster, a lossy file type (MP3) is the choice to go for.

More to the point, different situations call for different file types. For example, CDs use PCM file types, whereas streaming services usually prefer lossy file types. So, if you’re wondering which audio format is best for your needs then keep reading.

To send files from one place to another, files need to be small. To make large music files smaller, we need to compress them. And lossy & lossless compression formats have different methods of doing that. In contrast, PCM types don’t compress your audio at all. But file compression is important because files are too big to send between devices and over the internet. As a result, transfer and download speeds are incredibly slow.


The definition of lossy compression

Lossy compression is a way of compressing a file down in size by slicing away “unnoticeable” pieces of the files. As a result, the compressed file won’t feature every single minute detail of your original song. And this is precisely why MP3 file types aren’t desirable if you’re looking to preserve the full quality of your song.

Lossy file type doesn't preserve every piece of your song. However, only "unnoticeable" bits of the audio are snipped. And if the audio is mixed and mastered well, the compression shouldn't be noticeable anyway.
Image Credit: Bits of Bytes

In other words, a lossy file type doesn’t preserve every piece of your song. Therefore, you’re sacrificing sound quality for the sake of transferring, uploading, or streaming your track. The advantage of lossy compression is faster streaming and download speeds, and this is why some streaming platforms including Spotify utilise lossy file types over lossless! But if the mix and master of the original song are to a professional standard, the differences shouldn’t be noticeable.


The definition of lossless compression

Trying to get your bed out of your doorway is usually a mission, right? After trying every single possible angle to get it out of the door, you decide it’s better to disassemble it, transport the pieces to your new place, and then reassemble it – with every single piece back where it should be. Now your bed is far easier to move from one house to the next, despite the fact you have the same amount of mass you had before you took the bed apart.

And that is exactly how lossless compression works! Lossless audio types reconstruct your audio back to its original size when you play the file. As a result, they maintain sound quality as they account for every piece of audio. Lossless file types disassemble and reassemble your audio!

Audiophiles love to maintain as much audio fidelity as they can. This is why lossless compression is often the go-to choice when exporting our projects. Lossless file types like FLAC files can be several times bigger than lossy file types like MP3s because no audio is sliced away.

If you are unsure whether a FLAC or MP3 file type is your best option, consider the volume of your tracks and how much you have going on. Volume and file density are huge factors that determine the size of lossless file types. So, if you are reaching high volume levels and you have lots of channels in your music, your lossless file will be much bigger.


What are PCM files?

PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) files replicate the process that occurs as you record analog audio into your digital computer. For a detailed look at this, we’ll drop the article we wrote about it here.

What is digital audio? A guide for music producers

PCM file types take thousands of samples of your audio to accurately represent the original audio. In fact, PCM files take two samples per wave cycle to accurately read the amplitude.

PCM file formats sample analog audio twice per cycle to accurately represent the original audio. In fact, two samples are taken per cycle of your audio. Two samples are taken to accurately read the amplitude of your audio.
Image Credit: iZotope

PCM file types are the standard format for telecommunications and CDs, in addition to other digital audio mediums too. A PCM file is an uncompressed file format. Additionally, they retain all audio fidelity as a lossless file type does. As you may have guessed, this means that PCM file types can also be far bigger in file size than lossy and even lossless file types.

For more information on recording digital audio, don’t forget to see our articles about microphone types, cable types, and why you need an audio interface.


Lossy file types

MP3

The most popular lossy file format out there is MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, otherwise known as MP3. MP3 files came to the stage in 1993. They became so universally popular that media players even got their names after them. Before the days of the iPod, MP3 players reigned supreme over consumer audio.

Lossy MP3 files cut all audio that’s beyond the human hearing threshold. Furthermore, they reduce the quality of hard to hear sounds while compressing all audio as efficiently as possible.

AAC

Arguably the best lossy audio format for streaming across mobile devices, Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) files don’t take up very much space on hard drives at all. They actually require less than 1MB of storage per minute of streaming, so just one tune would be around 3MB. Both Apple Music and YouTube use AAC file types because they sound better than MP3s while using the same bit rate. 

AAC file types are a favourable choice if you’re looking for the best audio quality and a small file size.

OGG Vorbis

Rather than a compression format, OGG Vorbis (which doesn’t stand for anything) is a multimedia container that can hold many different types of compression formats. Essentially, it’s a box inside a box. Its most common use is to hold its own Vorbis files (OGG is the creator name whereas Vorbis is the compression format name).

OGG is open-source, patent-free, software. And this is why it grew in popularity very quickly among developers after its launch in 2000. Furthermore, it has a smaller file size than other lossy formats while retaining the same amount of audio fidelity.

However, the main issue with Vorbis files is that many devices don’t support them. AGG & MP3 files are all the rage as they’re universal file types, so Vorbis files struggle to get any time in the spotlight.

WMA

Finally, Microsoft released Windows Media Audio in 1999 with the intent to improve on some flaws of MP3 files. For example, audio quality after compression beats MP3 files like OGG Vorbis & AAC files.

Due to end-to-end encryption, you can only use WMA files across Windows software & hardware. However, there aren’t really any benefits to WMA files that AAC & OGG can’t give you, to be honest.


Lossless file types

FLAC

Free Lossless Audio Codec is another of the most popular lossless formats available since its birth in 2001. As a matter of fact, most major programs and devices support the FLAC file type. Furthermore, FLAC files compress audio by 60% before they compromise any audio quality!

FLAC actually holds second place on the podium of general popularity, just behind  MP3 files. With half the file size of WAV files, you get the same noticeable quality of a raw, uncompressed, audio file.

ALAC

Sometimes referred to as Apple Lossless, Apple the tech giant launched Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) in 2004 as a proprietary format for Apple products like WMS for Windows. Unlike Windows, Apple changed their minds and ALAC is now open-source and has been since 2011.

In spite of this, ALAC isn’t as top-tier quality as FLAC when it comes to compression. In addition to iOS, iTunes only has native support for ALAC and not FLAC file types. As a result, Apple users don’t have freedom of choice like Windows users.


PCM file types

AIFF & WAV files are two common PCM file types. In fact, they actually have more in common than they do differences.

AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) allows you to change the metadata of the file itself (such as changing the name of the owner, etc.), but WAV doesn’t. And this can be very annoying if you’re exporting your audio and haven’t taken care of metadata inside your DAW.

Additionally, these two file types organize data differently. Neither file type compromises sound quality whatsoever, but what is different is the storage mechanisms of the file types.

Many people commonly use WAV (Waveform Audio File Format) and AIFF files as “wrapper formats” to store PCM format audio. As a result, they’re more suitable for Windows computers rather than Macs.

Now that you’re an expert in the differences between audio file types, it’s time to export your music and upload it to streaming services and download stores. If you’re unsure what audio file you need, don’t forget to read our RouteNote Troubleshooters guide.


Once you have an MP3 or FLAC file, don’t forget to check out RouteNote. We can upload your music to Spotify, iTunes, and every major download store and streaming service for free, and you keep 85% of the revenue.