Pro Tools 8 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Optimizing Pro Tools performance


Pro Tools 8 Essential Training

with David Franz

Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Video: Optimizing Pro Tools performance

After you've set up your Pro Tools gear and connected all of your components, it's time to optimize Pro Tools performance with your computer. In this video, I'm going to explain some of the key settings that affect how Pro Tools interacts with your computer and why you should adjust them for improved performance. After you've turned every thing on, all of your Pro Tools gear and your computer, let's start up Pro Tools. You'll find the Pro Tools application inside of the Digidesign folder and then inside of the Pro Tools folder.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 12m 54s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Exploring the different versions of Pro Tools
      2m 30s
    3. Optimizing your computer before installing Pro Tools
      3m 51s
    4. Troubleshooting
      3m 1s
    5. Using the exercise files
      2m 16s
  2. 23m 41s
    1. Connecting your Pro Tools system
      5m 8s
    2. Powering up and powering down
    3. Optimizing Pro Tools performance
      6m 55s
    4. Setting essential preferences
      3m 42s
    5. Creating a Pro Tools session
      3m 56s
    6. Identifying elements in a session folder
      3m 2s
  3. 47m 10s
    1. Exploring the Edit window
      4m 51s
    2. Exploring the Mix window
      2m 21s
    3. Exploring the Transport and Big Counter windows
      4m 0s
    4. Using the Color palette and window arrangements
      2m 55s
    5. Investigating Pro Tools menus
      4m 37s
    6. Creating new tracks
      4m 10s
    7. Understanding samples and ticks
      3m 36s
    8. Viewing and manipulating tracks
      5m 54s
    9. Adjusting the I/O setup
      7m 7s
    10. Understanding signal paths and gain stages
      3m 50s
    11. Utilizing keyboard shortcuts and keyboard focus
      3m 49s
  4. 30m 45s
    1. Using DigiBase and the Workspace browser
      5m 6s
    2. Importing audio
      5m 13s
    3. Importing MIDI
      3m 56s
    4. Importing session data
      6m 17s
    5. Importing tracks from a CD
      4m 18s
    6. Importing video
      2m 57s
    7. Unmounting a hard drive
      2m 58s
  5. 1h 2m
    1. Recording audio
      5m 6s
    2. Playing back audio
      10m 31s
    3. Creating a Click track
      4m 53s
    4. Overdubbing and using the record modes
      9m 25s
    5. Recording with playlists and the Loop Record mode
      3m 6s
    6. Punch recording and using the monitoring modes
      5m 28s
    7. Dealing with latency
      4m 17s
    8. Creating a group
      4m 33s
    9. Adding effects while recording
      7m 41s
    10. Creating a headphone (cue) mix
      5m 35s
    11. Assigning disk allocation
      2m 13s
  6. 1h 26m
    1. Understanding nondestructive editing and region types
      3m 31s
    2. Using the Selector and Grabber tools
      3m 29s
    3. Using the Trimmer and Scrubber tools
      6m 57s
    4. Using the Zoomer tool and Zoom presets
      5m 14s
    5. Using the Pencil tool
      3m 27s
    6. Using the Smart tool
      1m 26s
    7. Understanding the edit modes
      7m 54s
    8. Arranging regions
      8m 38s
    9. Undoing an edit
      2m 3s
    10. Utilizing fades and crossfades
      10m 29s
    11. Building a comp track using playlists
      5m 28s
    12. Locking and muting regions
      3m 36s
    13. Special buttons in the Editing window
      8m 16s
    14. Creating an audio loop
      5m 11s
    15. Editing a voiceover
      10m 59s
  7. 18m 43s
    1. Working with region groups
      5m 47s
    2. Setting time, tempo, meter, key, and chord
      5m 46s
    3. Creating memory locations
      7m 10s
  8. 35m 30s
    1. Setting up MIDI on a Mac
      4m 25s
    2. Setting up MIDI on a PC
      2m 50s
    3. Setting up MIDI in Pro Tools
      2m 46s
    4. Recording MIDI data
      5m 24s
    5. Recording multiple MIDI tracks with one virtual instrument
      2m 15s
    6. Recording options for MIDI
      6m 27s
    7. Using step input
      4m 45s
    8. Making a drum loop with MIDI Merge
      2m 51s
    9. Composing with virtual instruments
      3m 47s
  9. 48m 41s
    1. Using the edit tools for editing MIDI data
      8m 23s
    2. Editing MIDI data with the MIDI Editor
      7m 20s
    3. Working with the MIDI event list
      2m 41s
    4. Editing MIDI data with event operations
      8m 25s
    5. Quantizing MIDI tracks
      11m 31s
    6. Creating and using groove templates
      5m 59s
    7. Utilizing real-time properties
      4m 22s
  10. 18m 51s
    1. Exploring the Score Editor
      5m 22s
    2. Using the Score Editor
      6m 33s
    3. Setting up a score
      4m 30s
    4. Printing and exporting a score
      2m 26s
  11. 19m 0s
    1. Utilizing the Time Shift plug-in
      7m 41s
    2. Editing with Elastic Time
      8m 30s
    3. Editing with Elastic Pitch
      2m 49s
  12. 48m 20s
    1. Working with Boom
      11m 23s
    2. Working with Xpand2
      7m 21s
    3. Working with DB-33
      6m 58s
    4. Working with Vacuum
      7m 55s
    5. Working with Structure Free
      7m 12s
    6. Working with Mini Grand
      3m 57s
    7. Using Midi Learn
      3m 34s
  13. 25m 56s
    1. Writing and editing automation
      6m 4s
    2. Drawing automation with the Pencil tool
      4m 56s
    3. Editing automation with the Trimmer and Grabber tools
      2m 9s
    4. Cutting, copying, pasting, and clearing automation
      4m 6s
    5. Turning automation on and off
      4m 25s
    6. Automating plug-ins and virtual instruments
      4m 16s
  14. 1h 40m
    1. Setting up a session for mixing
      8m 0s
    2. Setting up an effects loop
      9m 18s
    3. Working with plug-ins
      3m 53s
    4. Dealing with delay compensation
      6m 52s
    5. Applying EQ
      9m 19s
    6. Adding compression
      11m 17s
    7. Applying limiters
      2m 57s
    8. Using Gates and Expanders
      4m 40s
    9. Working with Side Chains
      3m 35s
    10. Working with De-Essers
      3m 4s
    11. Adding delay
      7m 34s
    12. Utilizing modulation effects
      4m 43s
    13. Adding reverb
      7m 5s
    14. Adding harmonic effects
      5m 7s
    15. Renting and purchasing plug-ins
      2m 2s
    16. Applying AudioSuite plug-ins
      5m 20s
    17. Bouncing down a mix
      5m 51s
  15. 25m 45s
    1. Setting up a session for mastering
      8m 56s
    2. Using plug-ins for mastering
      8m 48s
    3. Applying Dither and Noise shaping
      4m 5s
    4. Bouncing down master recordings
      3m 56s
  16. 19m 53s
    1. Importing and displaying video files
      4m 21s
    2. Adding music, foley, ADR, and FX
      12m 28s
    3. Bouncing down video and audio together
      3m 4s
  17. 4m 50s
    1. Archiving an entire session
      4m 50s
  18. 31s
    1. Goodbye

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course Pro Tools 8 Essential Training
10h 30m Beginner Jul 10, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Pro Tools 8 Essential Training unveils the inner workings of the industry-standard software for music and post-production. Musician, producer, and educator David Franz demonstrates all the concepts and techniques necessary for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering in Pro Tools 8. He teaches how to create music with virtual instruments and plug-ins, edit with elastic audio for time and pitch manipulation, create a musical score, and mix with effects loops. This course can help any music producer, sound engineer, or hobbyist become proficient in Pro Tools 8. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Exploring all facets of the Pro Tools interface
  • Setting up Pro Tools hardware and software properly
  • Recording and editing audio and MIDI
  • Comping a track using playlists
  • Importing data and working with video
  • Working with automation and controller lanes
  • Applying dither
  • Archiving a session for storage
Audio + Music
Pro Tools
David Franz

Optimizing Pro Tools performance

After you've set up your Pro Tools gear and connected all of your components, it's time to optimize Pro Tools performance with your computer. In this video, I'm going to explain some of the key settings that affect how Pro Tools interacts with your computer and why you should adjust them for improved performance. After you've turned every thing on, all of your Pro Tools gear and your computer, let's start up Pro Tools. You'll find the Pro Tools application inside of the Digidesign folder and then inside of the Pro Tools folder.

It takes a little bit for Pro Tools to launch here, and when it does launch, you often see the Quick Start dialog, especially if this checkbox is checked, Show Quick Start dialog when Pro Tools starts. Let's not worry about this right now, so we'll cancel through. Now let's go up to the Setup menu and choose Playback Engine. Let's talk about some of the settings in the Playback Engine. First, the CPU Usage Limit. The CPU usage limit is the amount of your computer's total processing power assigned to Pro Tools.

For example, if you assigned 75% of your computer's power to Pro Tools, 25% is left for other applications, including your operating system. On this system, we're actually allowed to choose up to 99% and that's because this is an 8-core multiprocessor. Your computer might only be able to go up to about 90% if you don't have a multi- core processor. And the only reason not to boost this all the way to the limit is if you're going to be running other intensive programs on your computer at the same time as using Pro Tools.

Let's talk about the Hardware Buffer Size. The Hardware Buffer Size is related to latency. All computer recording systems have latency. Well, what is latency? Latency is the time it takes for your computer to receive an input signal, process it and send it back out to an output so you hear it. Yes, that's right. Digital recording is not actually instantaneous. We can adjust the latency in Pro Tools using the Hardware Buffer Size. The Hardware Buffer Size is the amount of audio data, measured in samples, that the CPU grabs and processes at one time before it spits it back out for monitoring or recording.

Larger buffer sizes give your computer more time to process audio data, but it also increases the amount of latency and causes slower user interface responsiveness. Smaller buffer sizes, like 32 samples here, decrease latency but don't allow the use of as many plug-ins or virtual instruments. So, smaller hardware buffer sizes are more useful for recording sessions where you'll have less latency and you may not use as many plug-ins, and larger buffer sizes are more useful for mixing sessions, where there is more latency but you can also put in more plug-ins.

So, what I recommend is when you're recording, put it on 32, 64 or 128, right in there, depending on what system you have. When you're mixing, boost it up, 1024, maybe even 2048, if that's available on your system. As a side note, because these buffers are measured in samples, it stands to reason that faster sampling rates were yield lower latencies. For example, 128 samples at 96 kilohertz sampling rate is half as long as 128 samples at 48 kilohertz sampling rate.

Now these calculations might be over your head at the moment, and if they are, no worries. The take-home message here is that lower buffer sizes are better for recording and higher buffer sizes are better for mixing. We'll discuss this topic further in the recording chapter of this course. Let's move on to the RTAS processors. RTAS is short for Real Time Audio Suite, and refers to a fax processing that takes place in real time, and thus, requires a lot of computer processing resources. The RTAS processor setting determines how many processors in your computer are allowed for RTAS plug-in processing. On computers with one processor, this is automatically set to 1.

However, on computers like this one, with multiple processors, or those that feature multi-core processing or hyper- threading, you can increase this number to take advantage of those extra processors. I recommend setting this to either the maximum, 8 processors here, or one less than the maximum, 7. The RTAS Engine, the Ignore Errors During Playback/Recording, let's keep that on checked, because as it says here they may cause clicks and pops.

Below these settings we have the DAE Playback Buffer. Now what is DAE? DAE stands for the Digidesign Audio Engine and it works behind the scenes within Pro Tools to manage all of the audio streams. So, we have the size of the playback buffer and as you can read here on the screen, lower values for the disk buffer reduce disk latency, while higher values improve disk performance. Now, I usually just leave it on the default setting. That should be fine for general use.

The same here for the Cache Size, just keep it on the normal setting. Now, let's get out of the Playback Engine and go back up to the Setup menu and choose Hardware. On the bottom left side of the Hardware Setup, we've got the sampling rate. This sets the default sampling rate for any new session that you create. Now you can change this when you create a new session in the New Session dialog, but this will be your default setting unless you change it.

One another thing to look at here is the Clock Source. The Clock Source is the timing reference that all the digital gear in your Pro Tools system has to sync up with to ensure accurate playback and recording. The majority of the time, you'll probably leave this as Internal when using Pro Tools as the sync master. The only time that you want to change this option is if you're syncing to another device, such as an external mike preamp or some sort of video device that will provide the timing reference. So let's just leave that as Internal right now.

Now although some of these settings and terminology explained in this video might not make complete sense to you now, setting them as we did will help you move forward in using Pro Tools and optimizing your performance of Pro Tools with your computer. Revisit this video after getting more familiar with Pro Tools and you'll understand it more deeply. So, for our purposes here, I would recommend maximizing your CPU usage and adjusting your Hardware Buffer Size to a lower number for recording or a higher number for mixing. These settings will increase the power and optimize the performance of Pro Tools with your computer.

There are currently no FAQs about Pro Tools 8 Essential Training.

Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Pro Tools 8 Essential Training.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.