Pro Tools is an industry elite in recording studio software. As one of the first major digital audio workstations, other companies have been mirroring and analyzing Avid's product as a baseline for recording studio software.
It's a highly technical program for professional use – novices can still learn the software, but its extensive editing features are best for professionals with industry experience. It's best used during post-creation editing and is ideal for musicians and small business owners looking to record and edit audio in a more traditional manner.
Beginners or users interested in a free trial can use Pro Tools First, Avid's flagship Pro Tools program for users looking to learn more and get the most out of music editing. Pro Tools is also one of the first DAWs to introduce cloud collaboration – musicians can record and edit audio on a project from multiple locations. For these reasons, Pro Tools earns our best pick for best traditional recording studio software.
For individual business owners and musicians, Pro Tools is available on a subscription basis of $24.92 per month when you commit to a full year. That's $299.04 per year for access to Pro Tools' powerful DAW and editing features. Paying for a subscription means you'll constantly have the most up-to-date version of Pro Tools.
Users can also purchase the software outright, with the ability to upgrade for a year for free as well as seven-day installation support for $599.00. While this software is more expensive compared to some competitors, it comes with a host of features that make it a powerful product. Larger businesses can contact Avid's sales team to talk through the purchase and find the best plan geared toward their specific business.
Pro Tools has a host of editing tools for professional musicians and business owners – and a lot of its power can go unused at times. A major feature introduced in Pro Tools 12 is cloud collaboration. Users can connect and work on projects with colleagues or co-workers around the world.
Pro Tools is also part of the Avid Marketplace, where users can get technical support, find other musicians and upload their music for the world to hear. Plans come with 1 GB of free storage, and additional storage can be purchased monthly in 10 GB, 30 GB, and 80 GB plans.
- Ease of use. A major highlight of this software is its organization. Tracks can easily be compiled into one master recording, and all tracks are grouped into a playlist. This provides easy access to multiple recordings for one project. There are also a host of key commands so you can easily switch between playlists on a given track or move overlapped clips to another playlist.
- Sound library. Pro Tools comes with over 60 virtual instruments, thousands of sounds and a 2 GB loop library. You can also download additional sounds or purchase them from the Pro Tool store.
- Plug-ins and effects. Pro Tools also supports over 60 plug-ins and access to 17 bonus plug-ins, depending on what plan you choose. The only supported plug-in format, however, is AAX. The type of plug-in you need may already be included with Pro Tools, but if you're looking for a software that supports many different plug-in formats, Pro Tools may not be your best bet.
- Support. Pro Tools is backed by Avid, a company that offers extensive support for its products. In addition to phone support, an online community forum, a knowledge base with frequently asked questions, a YouTube channel with tutorials, and official Pro Tools courses, Avid also provides a marketplace to connect with other musicians using Pro Tools. This can help you meet other Pro Tools users, troubleshoot problems, or connect and collaborate on a project.
- Pro Tools' subscription option, while it is flexible, is more expensive compared to other we reviewed DAWs.
- It only supports AAX plug-in formats.
- Cloud collaboration storage space costs extra beyond 1 GB.
Pro Tools offers extensive features and good user support. It has a good sound library and offers cloud collaboration, so your audio projects can easily be worked on and shared with multiple musicians. This software is ideal for editing audio post-creation as opposed to creating new beats or music directly in the software.
Despite its high price, Pro Tools is a great recording studio software for small business owners.