Week 2 – An Overview of pro tools.

In today’s session we learnt how operate within and set up a pro tools.

Firstly we were shown how to to set up a pro tools project. You need to make a session. This is done going to File> New session. The following screen will appear:


For most projects the settings of the project will be exactly the same as shown above, so you have the audio set to a WAV type, with 16 bit. At a simple sample rate of 44.1 KHz and then the I/O will be the sound card you are using, so if I was to set up a project at home it will be my audio interface, which is a US 1800 Tascam. Next you will need to create a folder. For were all your audio files are going to save along with the main project file.

Secondly we were taught how to create audio track/ channels with pro tools. For example mono and stereo tracks.


Every time a track is created a bar holding information about it is added to the mixer and main time line. This shows all the inserts you have on that track. For example if you wanted to add reverb to the track you would add a the plugin though inserts. The bar also shows the I/O of the track, what level you have the track. If the level is too high it will look like fig 2, however fig 3 is a good peak. The bar also shows you the pan (this is the position of the track in the speakers e.g. right, left or center. As a whole it tells you everything you need to know about that track/ channel.



Track block – appears on mixing desk with pro tools.











Fig 2: You can see this has a bad level, as the red dot is showing you the track is clipping.

Fig 2: You can see this has a bad level, as the red dot is showing you the track is clipping.

Fig 3 :This however has a good peak.

Fig 3 :This however has a good peak.








The topic we covered next in this session is basic editing and the control panel with in pro tools.


Main Control panel.




Mini control panel

Shown above are 2 control panel with pro tools. This is where you control play back. Really basic function such as play, stop rewind, fast forward, return to the start or go to the end. The red dot is the icon for record. When you click this the track you have selected will start recording.

Editing modes and Tools:

  • The zoom (magnifying glass icon) – this allows you to zoom in and out of yoPT-Toolbar-Zoomur time line and with in audio clips.


  • Moving Clips (The grabber) – this allows you to move audio clips on your tracks time line. PT-Toolbar-Grabber


  • Trimming – this allows you to cut audio clips at the sides. PT-Toolbar-Trim


  • Selecting/ cutting/ clearing – this allows you select parts of audio, which you want, wherever you want to remove it or keep it. PT-Toolbar-Selector

  • The is also splitting. This does not have a icon, but in other soft such as Cubase it is usually a scissor icon. In pro tools however you can either use the hot key command E (Mac) or go to Edit>Separate region. at selection.
  •  To copy parts use the hot key command C (Mac)
  • To paste parts use the hot key command V (Mac).
  • The final basic mode/ tool within pro tools is called the smart tool. PT-Toolbar-SmartTool

 – Duplication of parts

After basic editing. we started to review the processes involve while mixing. Music mixing is when you take tracks and change the audio quality with processes such as equalization, volume automation and dynamics such as compression and gates,and inserts such as reverb, delay, distortion etc. There are also many audio processes such as pitch shift, time warp, and normalizing. All of which change the quality to make the mix more appealing.

Equalization (EQ):

EQ is the process of changing the frequencies in a mix and is essential in mixing. By changing the frequencies, so everything sounds balanced and instruments are not fight over frequencies. This might even involve cutting some frequencies out completely. Below are some examples of EQ ranges:

  • 50- 60HZ – kick drum, bass, dub step,
  • 100- 200HZ – punchy snare, richness sound
  • 200- 500 HZ – warmth and weight in guitars, vocals, piano
  • 500 – 1000HZ – body and tone of instruments
  • 2 kHZ – edge in vocals and guitar
  • 5 – 10kHZ- adds clarity, important in top end drums e.g. snare
  • 16kHZ – adds air, sparkle, almost too high to hear

The human hearing ranges 40 HZ – 60kHZ.

To change the frequencies. You use EQ filters such as: (Examples are done on cubase however this does not matter as the principle is the same. My orignal pictures were not focused enough to be able to read the meters).

  • High pass (cuts out low frequencies)


  • Low pass (Cuts out high frequencies)

low pass


  • High shelf (Boost or lower high frequencies)


high shelf


  • Low shelf (boost or lower low frequencies)

low shelf


  • Parametric (Allows you to pick out specific frequencies and boost or lower them).




After EQ we started to learn about compression. Compression is about controlling dynamics in a mix. Making the quieter parts louder and the louder parts smaller. This makes the piece more punchy as dynamics are corrected.

There are 5 basic parameters is compression control.

  1. Threshold – how loud the signal is to be before compression is applied. For example if the threshold is set to 10dB (decibels) anything above it will be compressed.
  2. Ratio – how much compression is done. For example if the ratio is set for 4:1.  will output 1 dB for every 4 dB of input that overshoot the threshold.
  3. Attack – how fast the compressor starts. This is measured in ms (milliseconds)
  4. Release – how soon after the signal dips below the threshold the compressor stops.
  5. Output – lets you change the level of the output signal from the compressor.

Example of a compressor in pro tools.


Compressor with settings.



Volume automation:

This is the setting of volume of tracks. There are many methods in alternating the volume. You can manually draw the automation, You can you the clip audio fader, you can you a master fader, you can volume on any audio track, and finally you can also you cross fader on audio clips.


You can manually draw the volume by clicking on the down arrow on the track in the main timeline and use a pencil or a shape drawer to write the automation.










If you want to raise the volume of a single audio clip you can do, so by using the audio fader on the bottom left of the clip.













Master fader on right. You can also change level on any track.


Examples of cross fade volume automation. Good for fade ins and outs.

Setting up Inserts:

To insert information into your tracks such as reverb, dynamic controllers, delay, phraser, any effects. These are done though insert tabs on pro tools, which can be found in the mixer menu.







Lastly in this session we learnt how to duplicate tracks.


Copying of tracks.



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