Is Pro Tools still king when it comes to editing audio?
All the major DAWs are more than adequate for typical music production tasks, but it is true to say that the perception of them varies, and each is seen to have its own particular strengths. Of course, to make a straight comparison between DAW features you have to know each DAW equally well, something not many people can really claim. But it’s a common opinion that Pro Tools is particularly well equipped for audio editing and mixing. Other DAWs may have equivalent features, but something about their implementation in Pro Tools makes it as fast, if not faster, than anything else out there. Why is this?
Here are five features which really speed up audio editing in Pro Tools.
Pro Tools has two sets of keyboard shortcuts. The first are the conventional keystrokes, which involve use of a key with one of more modifier keys to invoke a function without having to click on any menu items or icons or drag anything anywhere. Examples of this category of keystrokes would be things like Command+M to mute a clip or Option+Shift+3 to consolidate a selection.
...something which makes Pro Tools particularly fast is the second set of keystrokes which are mostly based around single keys.
All DAWs have keyboard shortcuts, but something which makes Pro Tools particularly fast is the second set of keystrokes which are mostly based around single keys. These Command Focus keystrokes can be switched on and off, either by using the Command+Option+Shift+1 shortcut or by clicking the little ‘a‑z’ symbol in the top right of the Edit window. The reason it’s possible to switch them off is so that you can use one of the two other keyboard focus modes, whereby Command Focus can be used to select and deselect Mix and Edit Groups or to control the clips list. A good tip is to use the corresponding shortcuts of Command+Option+Shift+2 and Command+Option+Shift+3 to access these other modes.
Another historical reason why Pro Tools has enjoyed the status it has as a fast editor is that, until Pro Tools 2022.4, it wasn’t possible to re‑map the default keystrokes. This meant that an experienced user could take it for granted that any Pro Tools system they encountered would have identical key commands to hand. It is now possible to customise shortcuts by visiting the Keyboard Shortcuts window (Setup / Keyboard Shortcuts), which also lets you check the current setup of your shortcuts, and restore them to...