Hey, guys! Jackson Ward here with another gear review, and today we’re looking at
Pro Tools 2018. Avid recently released this updated version of Pro Tools with some major
improvements to help you increase your efficiency and workflow in Pro Tools, speeding up the
music creation process. We’ll be taking a look at the changes they’ve made to their MIDI
functionality and workflow enhancements.
For starters, let’s take a gander at the “Track Preset” option that they’ve added. It allows
you to store entire plugin chains as presets so that you can quickly load up that go-to chain,
without having to manually create it every time you start a mix. You no longer have to load in
template data just to get track presets, which was a common way to go about this in previous
versions. Now you can recall effects chains, track settings, and session criteria quickly so that
you don’t waste time on repetitive tasks. Audio and MIDI clips can also be saved within track
presets. Avid includes 630 presets of their own for plugin chains, but you’re also able to
customize own. On the topic of workflow, they also made it easier to comp tracks with their new
comping playlist Waveform View. This makes editing grouped tracks like drums a breeze!
Avid added “Retrospective MIDI record” – a feature that the new version of Ableton Live
also has (it’s quite similar). This means that while you’re jamming along with a midi controller
and virtual instruments, Pro Tools records that information and stores it regardless of whether or
not you hit record. This means that if you improvise and awesome lick, melody, or solo, but
didn’t hit record, that data will be recallable. MIDI improvements and features like this will help
make Pro Tools more friendly to those coming from a program like Ableton. I like that Avid is
making an effort to improve their MIDI functionality, as it has been a weak point in the past.
Additional improvements to their MIDI enable the user to more easily edit MIDI by
transposing data or building chords. Arrow and modifier keys are used for these features as well
as changing the trim note length and edit velocities. They also made it so the MIDI engine will
enter your chords for you automatically into the Score Editor, so that you no longer have to do it
One of my favorite things about this update is that Avid decided to introduce the iLok
Cloud to Pro Tools. With this, you no longer have to have a physical iLok with you to use your
Pro Tools account. This frees up an extra USB port, which if you have a newer Mac laptop, is
huge bonus. This is something I’ve wished for countless times when I’ve had my portable
interface and iLok plugged in, and no extra port for a portable USB MIDI controller. And yes, I
could’ve carried a USB bus around, but those tend to require a power supply of their own, so
this really is a big bonus – especially if you’re moving between multiple computers with one
All of these upgrades and features have greatly improved the Pro Tools user experience.
While they may not seem like much at first glance, they really are big upgrades for me as a user
because they increase my efficiency, workflow, and moving to the iLok cloud is something I’m
excited to see more companies do. I’m glad that Avid took that leap here. Go give Pro Tools
2018 a try – I’m sure you’ll like what it has to offer to your workflow.