Imagine using Pro Tools


Note: This article was written at a point in time. This information will eventually (hopefully) become out of date.

I’ve been working in Reaper since 2016. For working with audio (as opposed to composing electronic music), it is the best DAW I’ve ever used. In fact, it is one of the best pieces of software I have ever used in general. I don’t think any other DAW can measure up. And that’s big, coming from me, because aside from the notable exception of Cubase/Nuendo, I am probably the person I know who has used the most DAWs, and still do on a regular basis. LMMS, FL Studio, Ableton Live, Reaper, Renoise, BitWig, Ardour, I have and use them all. Some are good, some (like LMMS) are bad, but none of them are anywhere near as awful as the God of Shite itself… AVID’s Pro Tools.

A few months ago I had the displeasure of preparing a bunch of Reaper projects to be delivered over to a Pro Tools user, and he asked me what files would be mono and what files would be stereo, as if that might cause a problem. That’s not his fault of course, because he’s used to a DAW where that might be a problem. Imagine using a DAW where you can’t just toss stereo and mono files together on a track.

Imagine using a DAW that makes working with different sample rates something you need to think about at all. Well, I suppose you might have good reason to make people want to avoid resampling if your DAW has this fucking shite of an anti-aliasing filter. Here, compared to the resampling algorithm shipped with Reaper, r8brain.

Pro Tools 2021 r8brain

Analyses courtesy of Infinite Wave Mastering

All that purple you see in the background is noise, and that laser blast you see coming back down is aliasing. The retort is always “you probably won’t notice”. But trust me, you will, and when everyone else is doing a vastly better job than you, you have no excuse to be this bad. Especially when you’re charging many hundreds of dollars for your program every year, all while getting beat by a buy-once-own-forever, $60 DAW with extremely lax DRM.

Imagine using a DAW where people don’t render, they play back their whole project and re-record it to a new track to avoid problems with “using the bounce mix feature”. Yeah, what a feature. Imagine even speaking about faster-than-realtime rendering as a “feature”. It was added to Pro Tools as a “feature” in 2013, where as Cubase has had it since the 1990s.

And for anyone who does anything vaguely challenging for your CPU, rendering by re-recording live playback is an absolutely idiotic idea. Imagine recording a file and getting underruns. I suppose it’s a good thing that Pro Tools by default stops everything it’s doing and throws up an error box if one single underrun occurs. (An underrun is when you hear a click/pop due to high CPU load)

Imagine having ownership of your DAW be bound up in a subscription fee and fucking iLok. Imagine not being able to just download your DAW from the website and install it in mere seconds, if you ever need to. Or just carry around your more-than-fully-featured DAW setup on a memory stick because the entire installation is less than 140 MB, as opposed to the requirement of 15 fucking GB for a Pro Tools installation. That’s more than 100x larger, with far less features and far worse user experience!

Imagine being able to put up to 10 whole effects on a track! Wow! 10 entire effects! All on one track?? You bet’cha! 10 entire effects, all on a single track. Isn’t that amazing? (sarcasm)

Imagine not having industry standard normalization tools built in to your “industry standard” DAW.

Behold, Reaper's industry standard normalization tool

Imagine being happy that in 2022 you were finally allowed to change your keyboard shortcuts.

Imagine being told to disable Hyper Threading because it can cause CPU errors in your DAW.

Imagine paying $600 every year ($300 every year if you’re ok with having a “Limited audio post-production workflow toolset”) for this absolute hunk of garbage. (And that’s with the 50% discount for paying upfront for the full year!)

Imagine using Pro Tools.