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Pro Tools: Loops & Beats

Avid Pro Tools: Tips & Tricks By Julian Rodgers
Published April 2024

The Separate Clip at Transients command provides an easy way to slice beats.The Separate Clip at Transients command provides an easy way to slice beats.

Who says you can’t create beats in Pro Tools? We show you how...

In music production circles, Pro Tools is often seen as the DAW of choice for people working in what might be called the traditional recording studio idiom, with the DAW being essentially a modern replacement for an analogue console and tape machine. While it’s clear that DAWs are far more than capable of assuming the role of a virtual multitrack and mixer, it’s also true that different DAWs enjoy followings with different users. In the same way that, broadly speaking, many composers favour Logic Pro, electronic music producers gravitate towards Ableton and people working in game audio like Reaper, Pro Tools has traditionally been seen by many as the first choice for people who track bands.

DAW choice has always been influenced by perception as much as by features, with second‑hand opinions being repeated online, often long after the missing features that inspired them have been addressed. Avid have been making a sustained effort to change the perception that Pro Tools is great for band recordings and singer‑songwriters but producers and beatmakers would be best served elsewhere.

One widespread way of working is for a composition to start life in Logic or Ableton before being migrated to Pro Tools for vocal production and mixing — but the idea that one single DAW can’t do it all is beginning to seem old‑fashioned. Rather than the finishing steps being completed in a different DAW, why shouldn’t the beat be created and completed all in Pro Tools?

An important part of changing the perception of Pro Tools among producers and beatmakers is to get them to try Pro Tools in the first place. This is why the introduction of Pro Tools Intro, a feature‑limited but upwards‑compatible and free version of Pro Tools was so important. Pro Tools First, introduced in 2017 and discontinued in 2022, wasn’t attractive to potential new users. Pro Tools Intro, introduced later in 2022, definitely is.

Creative Experimentation

A second step in attracting producers and beatmakers to Pro Tools is to offer the kind of creative environment that encourages experimentation that producers are accustomed to elsewhere. The non‑linear composition environment pioneered by Ableton’s Grid view has been co‑opted by Apple in the form of Logic’s Live Loops, and Pro Tools’ new Sketch feature offers something similar. A free iPad app mirrors the functionality of the Sketch window in Pro Tools, facilitating easy collaboration. Another feature, introduced in 2020 and which supports this creative phase of the production process, is Ableton Link, which lets you synchronise musical beat, tempo, and start/stop commands across multiple Link‑enabled applications.


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