By Jon Chappell
Pro Tools 9 came out with a whole host of improvements over its predecessor, Pro Tools 8 LE. The watershed feature of PT9 is that you can now run Pro Tools with any interface, not just one made by Avid. This means you can now work with Pro Tools and an Apogee or MOTU interface—or with no interface at all! Gone is the “expensive dongle” approach that was so odious to people who objected to Avid’s closed-system approach.
As well, Avid decided to grace PT9 with many more goodies, including three highly visible ones: 1) multi-track beat detective—essential for multi-track drum parts, as most are in the DAW domain; 2) automatic delay compensation when using plug-ins—a much criticized omission in PT, and one which all other DAWs have adopted; and 3) increased bus and track counts, for greater flexibility in routing and assignments.
Pro Tools 9 also added some subtler features—one of my favorites being just a simple step-saving utility. But it’s a vitally important procedure when working you need a lot of effects or you’re working with both audio and MIDI tracks in a DAW. I’m speaking of the new function called “Convert Bus/Send to Track.”
You can take any track—audio, Instrument, or MIDI—and use its Send or Output Selector to create a new track. This handy process for creating tracks on the fly formerly took several steps before PT9: you had to create a new aux track, assign that track’s input to a bus, create an aux send from the original track and assign it to the new aux track. Then you had to name the bus and track as separate steps. Meh.
In PT9 this has been collapsed into one step. In the existing track, you simply right-click on the Send output selector and the internal mix bus creation and I/O connections are made for you. As well, the new track and bus can share a common name with no additional steps.
Mostly you’ll use this function to create Reverb, Delay, and other effects that benefit from using a send (versus an insert effect), but it’s handy for other tasks, too, such as converting a MID track to an audio one.
Let’s say you want to take a straight guitar track, process it, and have the processed sound recorded on a new track, so as to leave the original intact. Here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Go to the track labeled Guitar. Click and hold on a Send.
Step 2: A drop-down menu appears. Select “new track…” from the bottom of the drop-down menu.
Step 3: The New Track window will appear. As this will be an effect track, make sure the Width is set to Stereo and theType is Aux Input. Type in the name “Gtr. Reverb” in the Name field. Hit the Enter/Return key or select Create.
Step 4: Once you hit Create, Pro Tools automatically creates a new Stereo Aux Input named “Gtr. Reverb.” It also creates a new stereo Internal Mix Bus named “Gtr. Reverb.” Additionally, the program assigns both the Send Output and the Input of the Aux Track to the newly created “Gtr. Reverb” bus. (You can verify all this in separate steps, if you like.)
Step 5: The last task you need to perform to complete the operation is assign the appropriate plug-in to the new Aux Input track.