Track Presets in Pro Tools

By in Audio Post, Music Creation, NAMM 2018, Pro Mixing

Pro Tools 2018 introduces deep, multi featured Track Presets, giving you the ability to save everything from your favorite effects chains, sends and output routing, and even embedded MIDI and audio.

The ability to recall Track Presets will speed up your workflow so you can concentrate on being creative and not get bogged down in mundane tasks.

So let’s get into this exciting feature.

Some of you will be aware there has been a ‘work-around’ of sorts for some time that allowed you to create a Track Preset and I have been asked in the past why we wouldn’t simply make that an official feature.  But, over this blog and the accompanying video you will see why taking the time to build this feature right, with lots of customer feedback throughout the process, results in something much more comprehensive, reliable, flexible and well supported.

Track Presets, enables you to save tracks or groups of tracks as presets, and then recall in multiple ways to speed up your workflow.

Let’s first look at how we make a Track Preset.

Once you have a track you want to save as a Track Preset, you can either right click on the track name plate, select from the track menu or use the shortcuts.


Option Shift P on Mac

Alt Shift P on Windows

Save Tracks Presets from the Track, Track Menu or shortcuts

This opens a dialog where you are able to name your Track Preset, and choose which category to save it in, or make a new one. You can also decide to include audio and MIDI clips with your Track Preset, which we will look at a little more later, but defaults to unselected as to reduced large amounts of unintended data being saved.

The tagging feature, introduced several Pro Tools versions, ago is now even more useful as the Track Presets can also be searched by tag.

The Tags allow you to add tags to make your presets easier to find later on. There is also an auto-tag feature that uses information about the track data to tag Name, track type, plugins and plugin categories.

Save your Track Preset and options from the new Save Track Preset Dialog

To recall the Track Presets you can choose one from the new track dialog, or use the workspace to search by the tags, name of the preset. You can drag and drop the presets into your session from the new Tracks Preset Category in the Workspace, or right click and use the import Track Preset option.

Access Track Presets from the New Tracks Dialog

Search quickly and manage your Track Presets easily in the new Track Presets Location in Workspace.

When you save a Track Preset it also stores large amount of information about the track, such as, automation, sends, plugins and their associated settings, data about the original session and much more including clips if you choose, however you are able to decide which parameters you want to recall on a case by case basis.

You can save the range parameters you want to quickly recall in the 5 presets in the top of the Workspace Window. The options of what to include are able to be selected and recalled the following time for each Preset, but as the original Data is kept you can up update this at any stage.

Choose which Track Data you want to recall at anytime

I’m sure there are as many good ideas of how to use this feature as there are Pro Tools users, let’s have a look at a couple of ways to use this.

There are some immediately obvious cases like storing your favorite setup for important session elements like vocals or dialog that you may need to quickly recall. As all the plugins are also -optionally- recalled, as are sends, this means you can add fully prepared tracks into new sessions for immediate use without having to use a template or the import session data options.

Some others that come to mind for me are, in music situations, to be able save for easy recall complicated virtual instruments setups, like drums, using multiple outputs to tracks with appropriate plugins and sub busses, so you can begin creating straight away, even in a session you weren’t intending to use that plugin or plugin series.

Quickly add complex AOS Virtual Instruments in one step

As the Track Presets can also contain clips you can use track presets to also keep an idea in progress or patterns that you commonly use to be recalled, and when used with force to timebase will ensure they are in time/sync with your current session, even if they came from a session of a different Tempo.

Keep and easily recall MIDI and Audio ideas

Remember this isn’t only MIDI data but also Audio Data so if you have a favorite loop, or prefer to use Audio based clicks or reference audio they can also be saved as Track Presets.

The great thing about the optional data import functionality is that if you do want to import one of your presets without some of the previously saved data you can easily do that when recalling one of the presets by holding the Control key on Mac or Start key on Windows.

A good example of this would be when you have created a drum or click track with media, but on some occasions, you don’t want to bring in those audio or MIDI clips, another might be if you didn’t want to assign the previous input and output assignments.

In Post Production, I can see many opportunities to use this new feature to speed up my workflow so I can concentrate on being creative, not managing tracks.

From simple, 2 pip tracks, sorting the assets for a television or TV Commercial series, but what I’m really excited about making is some SFX picker tracks, for example, a whoosh select track that will have the whooshes I often use as the basis for warping or effecting to suit the piece I’m working on.

Manage frequently used elements with ease

I also plan to create what I think I’ll call sub templates in my Track Presets so that I can easily add more complicated groups of tracks to sessions as I go rather than starting with an attempted, all inclusive, template. Essentially splitting up what would have been in one large template before into more manageable groups of tracks using Track Presets.

There are quite a few benefits building up to suit your project rather than just starting with a very large complicated template, visually of course its tidier and easier to manage, and tidy up later but also it means you aren’t using any voices or system processing power be it native or DSP unnecessarily or having to manage many hidden or inactive tracks.

In my post work, I have built several large templates to try and cover most eventualities but using these often hundred tracks or more session as a starting point does means many unused tracks, especially because the media I receive via AAF more strongly dictates how I proceed that the template itself.

If I have very basic starting template like a session with some Master Meter plugins I can then have my other track or specific content type tracks as Track Presets, so that if I need a set of SFX tracks or Sync Tracks, their associated busses and effects I can bring those in as needed rather than starting with them all in the session.

Build and manage large sessions easily with sub templates.

In music sessions, this could be as simple as having Track Presets for various instrument types and only importing them if they are actually required for that song or artist.

This gives you an absolutely huge range of detailed options for extremely fast recall, while keeping your session minimal and well managed. Some examples might be to have 4, 5, or 6 Piece Drum Sets, Mic’d Bass or DI Bass, or both, Stereo Keys, Mono Keys for example, so that only have to bring in the tracks to suits that session.

You might think I’m getting about ready to wrap up this blog, but wait, there is more, and a great example of why when building a new feature, it is worth taking some time to fully develop it.

Everything I have mentioned up until now is about bring new tracks into a session, but we all know that so often we begin work creatively on a track be it in music or post we aren’t entirely sure what it will become and need to add plugins or sends to that track, not bring in a new track then move all the media to that.

The way in which these Track Presets have been designed allows us to use all the data in the saved track, or just parts of it.

Maybe you have already guessed it but this means Track Presets, as, Plugin Chain Presets!

Recall plugin chains directly from the inserts

I have several sets of plugin chains, both Avid and 3rd party, with some basic settings, that I commonly use and can’t wait to be able to right click on the insert point and recall my favourite set of trusty plugins. The same applies for sends.

Another important thing to remember, like almost all Pro Tools functions you can also use “Do to all” or “Do to selected” to perform the same action across multiple tracks. This means you can easily make multiple plugin, sends to a reverb, or output/bus assignments to, or from, a Track Preset. This means that in one step you can make a new sends from multiple tracks to your favorite Reverb, already on an aux bus in one step, using “Do To Selected” and selecting your Reverb Track Preset from the send selector on one of the tracks.

Add sends or outputs to your favorite auxes with plugins faster than ever before.

There are many aspects to Track Presets, and I haven’t been able to cover everything, but strongly encourage everyone to take some time and try out some Track Presets.

I’m sure this feature, and the wide set of functionality that make it up, are going to have, very, real world workflow improvements for Pro Tools users and am looking forward to seeing how Pro Tools users, Plugin Makers, Loop Providers, SFX Libraries take advantage of this great new addition to Pro Tools.

Happy Creating and Mixing.

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I’m a Kiwi living in Tokyo, Japan. From Audio Post and now an Audio Application Specialist at Avid, while staying in touch in the industry with the occasional spot of mixing and sound design for TV. Sound, music and technology have been my career for the last 17 years and my passion for a lifetime.