The name Pro Tools typically conjures feelings of love or hate–or, most often perhaps, anxiety. That might change soon, however, with the upcoming release of Pro Tools First, a free, less-intimidating version of the extremely popular audio editing software.
Pro Tools First will be a way for maker Avid to get beginners hooked on the Pro Tools line, which can be overwhelming for newcomers.
Unlike Pro Tools Express, which was the previous low-end option in the line, Pro Tools First won’t require any hardware purchase, though it will be more limited than Express. Users will still be able to perform all the standard tasks like recording, composing, editing, and enhancing audio, though the number of tracks, plug-ins, and certain exporting will be capped.
Although the new free version is not a replacement for professional software, Pro Tools First is an important step for Avid, the company behind the line. It finally provides a path for new users to ease into the editing ecosystem, similar to the one Apple offers with its entry-level GarageBand application. Pro Tools First also addresses the rapidly growing podcasting market.
There are other cheap and free audio editing programs available, including Audacity, but Apple’s GarageBand is still one of the most notable because of its ubiquity. But as GarageBand’s latest version nixes the podcasting preset, Pro Tools First may be able to gain the loyalty of novice podcasters.
Plus, while cloud-based startups haven’t fully decided to take on Pro Tools, there have been some interesting developments around audio that Pro Tools First would be hedging against. MixGenius, for instance, is creating new tools for musicians. The first, LANDR, automatically masters tracks based on algorithmic data–a powerful development for cloud services.
Overall, Pro Tools First is good news for independent artists who won’t need to be as anxious about getting started with Pro Tools as they get started making music. But they also won’t need to pirate the software to get started now either.