At Avid Connect and NAB 2019, we are really excited to give our community a preview of Pro Tools 2019. This upcoming release will deliver more power and performance, from doubled MIDI track counts, more fluid track interactions during playback, and support for the macOS Mojave.
One of the most highly anticipated features, however, is the 50% voice increase in Pro Tools | Ultimate. With Pro Tools 2019, Pro Tools | Ultimate standalone software and HD Native systems will be capable of 384 simultaneous voices/audio tracks at 48 kHz (up from 256)! And there will be options to further scale to 768 voices, matching the voice limit of a three-card HDX system. Let’s take a deeper look at voices, into what they are, and why this improvement will matter to high-track count workflows.
What is a voice and why is the increase so valuable?
A voice is a discrete audio stream in Pro Tools. A mono audio track uses one voice, a stereo audio track uses two, and so on. The higher the voice limit, the more tracks you can play back in Pro Tools to work on bigger, more demanding sessions. With more voices at your disposal, you can freely create and mix large-scale sessions. This is a powerful workflow improvement for anyone working on sound for picture, where track counts routinely soar into the thousands.
Why is there a voice limit at all?
All systems, no matter the DAW, have a practical voice limit—even if it isn’t advertised. We opt to publish the maximum simultaneous voices in Pro Tools so that users can be confident in the capabilities of their system. Some DAWs claim to enable ‘unlimited’ tracks (i.e. voices), but in practice your computer or DSP accelerated system has a limited capacity that it can handle. The upper bound of that capacity may be variable, but it is not truly unlimited.
Scalability and flexibility
In addition to the base voice limit increase to 384, Pro Tools | Ultimate software and HD Native customers will be able to further increase the number of available voices up to 768 per system—on par with a three-card Pro Tools | HDX system—with the addition of native Pro Tools | Ultimate Voice Packs. The ability to scale the number of voices in Pro Tools | Ultimate software enables a greater degree of flexibility when working in tandem with high-powered HDX systems. Audio post professionals, for example, will truly appreciate the flexibility to work on their sessions without being tethered to the studio or the stage.
A note about HDX
We are currently developing a voice increase to HDX, as well. At NAMM 2019, we exhibited a technical preview of this increase, showing one way it may manifest. However, further development and optimizations are required to implement the increase in accordance with our commitment to the highest possible standards.
In the short term, we will introduce Pro Tools | Ultimate 2019 this spring, which includes a 50% voice increase to standalone software and native systems (256 to 384 voices). Also, with additional Voice Pack options, customers will be able to further augment the voice count and achieve parity with HDX systems.
Pro Tools | HDX delivers the additional value of guaranteed, DSP-powered performance up to the maximum of 768 voices (256 voices per card). HDX ensures you will meet the voice limit irrespective of your native computing power, which as discussed above is not unlimited. Additionally, it offers integration with the AAX DSP plugin ecosystem, ultra-low-latency, and expandability with HD I/O.
Pro Tools 2019 will deliver several other features and improvements as well, including the ability to edit tracks and perform timeline interactions without stopping playback and support for macOS Mojave. To learn more about what is coming soon in Pro Tools 2019, please visit our What’s New page or stop by our booth at NAB 2019.