> make music now / 250 daw power tips
01Pro Tools has a great feature in its EQ3 1 and 7 EQs which automatically transforms an EQ band into a bandpass filter, allowing you hear the area in isolation. Hold Shift-Cmd on Mac or
Win-Shift on PC, then move an EQ node to temporarily switch the EQ band to a band-pass. This allows you to find those troublesome frequency areas with ease.
02Click tracks can be great for recording, but they’re not always welcome during playback. You can set Pro Tools’ click to only sound during recording, which saves you constantly clicking that mute switch. Head to the Setup menu, then Click/Countoff and select Only During Record. The click will now automatically mute during playback, and come on when you’re recording.
03We’ve all zoomed in on some audio to perform a tight edit, highlighted the section, finely tuned the start and end points, only to click out of the area by mistake and lose our work. It’s extremely frustrating – but Pro Tools has you covered. Next time you lose a selection, just hit
Option-Command-Z on Mac ( Ctrl-Alt-Z on PC) to restore the last selection.
04For a lot of electronic music, you’ll often find yourself working in Grid mode – but being 100% locked to the grid doesn’t always bring the right feel. A quick shortcut to turn off grid snapping is to hold Command on Mac or
Control on PC as you drag a clip. You’re now free to place your sample off grid to fine tune that groove.
05If you’re fortunate enough to own a Pro Tools HD system, version 12.6 brought the new Clip Effects feature – a channel strip plugin which can process each clip independently. Select the clip and press Option-6 on Mac ( Alt-6 on PC) to bring up the new channel strip and have access to EQ, compression and an expander/gate for each clip discretely.
06By default, the solo mode in Pro Tools latches. However, you can change the mode so that soloing one channel un-solos another. This is very handy for quick A/B checks between channels, and is actually the default for several workstations. To change the solo operation, head to Options » Solo Mode, then select X-OR.
07Pro Tools’ Tab to Transient function is an incredibly fast means of chopping up samples. Simply press the Tab key on any audio file and you’ll jump to the nearest transient; press it again and you’ll jump to the next. If you skip past the transient you were after, Option-Tab on Mac ( Ctrl-Tab on PC) will hop back to the one before.
08Chopping up lots of audio on the timeline quickly builds up a large number of clips across several channels, so it can get fiddly to move things around as a group. You can link as many clips as you like by highlighting and pressing Control-Option-G on Mac ( Control
Alt-G on PC). All clips can now be dragged around as one for easy transportation.
09Pro Tools 12.3 brought better fade options. Highlight a bunch of clips, then hit Command-F on Mac ( Ctrl-F on PC) to bring up the fade dialogue. Batch fades allow for independent settings for crossfades, fade in and fade out. Also check out the new Fade Preset option, which allows you to store five setups.
11Did you know you can increase the width of the meters in the mix window? By default, Pro Tools shows the mix window with narrow meters. Hold
Control-Option-Command ( Control-Win-Alt on PC) and click on any channel meter and you’ll swap out to the wide meters. This can be very handy if you’ve selected the narrow mix view, but want slightly thicker meters.
12Efficient navigation around a session is essential for a productive workflow. The Apple Magic Mouse handles this well, allowing for both vertical and horizontal scrolling. If your mouse only has a basic scroll wheel, vertical scrolling is no problem – but you can also scroll horizontally by holding the Shift key.
13The Enter key will quickly insert a marker wherever the playback cursor is positioned. These aren’t
just markers; they’re also memory locations which allow you to store many things like zoom settings and track heights. You can easily flick between these positions by quickly pressing the . on your numpad, then the number of the location, then . again.
14Pro Tools has an option which allows you to bounce the audio up to a point in the effects chain. Right click on an insert and select Commit-Up to This Insert. You’ll create an audio file on a new channel and automatically hide and deactivate the original, so you can always go back if you want to.
15If you have a fast-paced track with a lot going on, it can be tricky to pick out potential flaws with the rhythm. Pro Tools handily provides a shortcut to allow half-speed playback, slowing everything down to a more manageable pace. Hold down the Shift key before you hit Space to play and you’ll have instant half-speed playback.
16Power cuts, hard drive failures and careless mistakes can lead to the loss of a session. Pro Tools has an ultra-useful Automatic Backup feature which can save your life if the worst was to happen! Head to Setup » Preferences » Operation, Auto Backup then make sure is checked. This feature is also great for rolling back to previous incarnations of your track.
17Real-time processing is great, but don’t overlook the Audiosuite option, which renders the effect onto the clip. Real-time processing chews up CPU resources, which can slow your session down and introduce those dreaded clicks and pops. If the effect is static, or only required on a particular clip, then try using Audiosuite processing instead to keep things light, clean and tidy.
18When creating a send, Pro Tools defaults the send’s fader to -inf. This is useful at times, but if you’re creating a lot of sends it can be a pain going through them all and lifting the faders up. Head to Setup » Preferences »
Mixing, and uncheck the Sends Default to -INF box. Now each time you create a send, the fader will default to -0dB.
19If you’ve been working on a track for a while, the chances are you’ve got a pile of unused audio sitting in your session’s folder doing nothing but taking up valuable disk space. Click on the Clip menu and press Command-Shift-U on Mac ( Control-Shift-U on PC) to select all unused clips. You can now delete these files, freeing up disk space and keeping things tidy.
Temporarily turn any EQ band into a band-pass filter
Fade multiple clips at once and store presets for speed
Not many DAWs have permanent processing like Pro Tools’ AudioSuite. It can be a lifesaver in busy, high-CPU projects
Markers can also be used to save states like zooming