Intro to Pro Tools
Pro Tools LE® and Eleven Rack™
Version 8.0.1
Welcome to Pro Tools LE and Eleven Rack
Read this guide if you are new to Pro Tools® or are just starting out making your own music. Inside,
you’ll find examples of how to record, compose, mix, and produce your own music in Pro Tools.
One quick question: Have you installed Pro Tools yet? If not, follow the Eleven Rack Quick Setup instructions or the detailed Eleven Rack User Guide to install software and your Eleven|RackTM hardware.
Do not connect your Eleven Rack to your computer until you’ve installed Pro Tools from your installer
DVD as described in the Eleven Rack Quick Setup instructions.
Connect Headphones, a Mixer, or Powered Monitors
You have to be able to hear your music, so plug in some headphones or a monitoring system:
„ Plug headphones into the jack on the front panel. If your headphones have an 1/8-inch plug, use
an 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch adapter.
„ If you’re setting up to listen through a mixer/P.A., or powered monitors, connect them to the XLR
monitor outputs Main Out L and R on the back panel (L to left, R to right).
To mixer
To powered monitors
Main outputs (L/R)
Welcome to Pro Tools LE and Eleven Rack
Listen to the Demo Session
To get started, you can use the Demo Session to see and hear many of the things you’ll soon be doing
in Pro Tools. The Demo Session also gives you sound to play so you can test your headphones or
To install and open the Demo Session:
1 Put the Pro Tools LE® Installer disc in your DVD drive and do one of the following:
• On a Mac, open the Additional Files folder, then open the Demo Sessions Installer folder. Double-click the Install LE Demo Session.pkg, then follow the instructions on-screen to install the
Demo Session. Make a note of where you install it.
– or –
• On Windows, open the Additional Files folder, then open the Demo Sessions Installer folder.
Double-click LE Demo Session Setup.exe, then follow the instructions on-screen to install the
Demo Session. Make a note of where you install it.
For best performance, Digidesign® recommends using an external hard drive for Pro Tools recordings.
But if you don’t have an external hard drive yet, it’s OK to put the Demo Session on your system drive.
2 Launch Pro Tools LE by clicking its icon in the Dock (Mac) or double-clicking its icon on your desk-
top (Windows). If this is the first time you’re launching Pro Tools, enter your Authorization Code (located on the back of your Eleven Rack DVD wallet). This is only required the first time you launch
Pro Tools.
3 Next, do either of the following depending on what you see on-screen:
• If the Quick Start dialog appears, click Open Session, then click OK. Navigate to the file “Filtered
Dream” and select it (it’s in the folder “Filtered Dream Demo Session”), then click Open.
Open Session
Quick Start dialog, Open Session
– or –
• If the Quick Start dialog does not appear, choose File > Open Session (click the File menu to
choose Open Session), then open the file “Filtered Dream.”
Intro to Pro Tools
Pro Tools opens the session, which should look similar to the following:
Edit window
Eleven Rack
Control window
4 For now, go ahead and close the Eleven Rack Control window; we’ll get to that soon.
Play and Listen
To play the Demo Session:
1 On the front of the Eleven Rack, turn the Volume knob counter-clockwise to a low level (less than
3.0 on the display).
2 To start and stop Pro Tools, press the Spacebar, or click the Play and Stop buttons on-screen. (These
buttons are located at the top of the Edit window; you can also have them appear in their own Transport window by choosing Window > Transport.)
Stop Play
Stop Play
Stop and Play controls in Edit window (left) and Transport window (right)
3 While the session plays, gradually raise the Volume knob until you reach a good listening level.
Welcome to Pro Tools LE & Eleven Rack
4 Explore Pro Tools while the demo plays by using the zoom and Track view controls to zero in on different tracks:
Click to select the Zoomer tool and then drag-select to zoom in.
(Double-click the Zoomer tool to zoom back out again)
Click the Horizontal and
and Vertical Zoom
buttons to adjust size
and length of what is
shown in tracks
Click the Track Options selector and choose
a display height
5 Next, click the Window menu and choose Mix (Window > Mix). The Mix window shows tracks in vertical channel strips.
Mix window
The Edit window and the Mix window are the two main work areas in Pro Tools. Throughout the rest
of this guide, you’ll see examples of both windows being used for different types of production work.
(To learn about the Eleven Rack Control window, see the Eleven Rack User Guide.)
6 Press the Spacebar or click the Stop button to stop playback.
7 When you’re through checking out the Demo Session, choose File > Close Session.
The Demo Session is a great example of a complete, finished project that has been arranged, edited,
and mixed. You don’t need to return to the Demo Session for anything else in this guide, but you might
want to check it out again later, after you’ve been introduced to a few more Pro Tools features. If you
want to return to the Demo Session or any recent one, click File > Recent and choose the Demo Session
(if it is still one of your most recently opened sessions), or choose File > Open and open it that way.
Intro to Pro Tools
Record Yourself
In this section you're going to create a new session, then record yourself playing guitar through an
Eleven Rack Rig.
Create a New Session from a Template
Session templates save you the time of having to create tracks and effects, and assign signal routing.
The template shown in this example (named “Guitar Tracking”) is one of three provided that consist
of audio tracks, instrument tracks, effects and busses tailored specifically for recording (or tracking)
To create a new session from a template:
1 Do one of the following:
• If you followed the previous section and closed the Demo Session, choose File > Open, navigate
to the Session Template file “Guitar Tracking” and select it, then click Open.
• If you just launched Pro Tools and the Quick Start dialog appears, select Create Session From Template, then click the Session Template pop-up menu and select the Eleven Rack category. Select
the Session Template file Guitar Tracking from the list and click OK.
Session Template pop-up menu
Session Template list
Quick Start dialog
2 In the New Session From dialog, leave the settings unchanged and click OK.
3 When the Save New Session As dialog appears, name the session, choose where you want to save
the session and click Save.
4 Make sure the Mix window is open by choosing Window > Mix.
Welcome to Pro Tools LE & Eleven Rack
5 In the middle of the E.Guitar track’s channel strip notice where it says Eleven Rig L/R (Stereo). This
shows which Input channel is assigned to this track. (To specify a different input channel, click the
Input Path selector and choose the other channel.)
Input Path selector
6 Click the E.Guitar track’s Record Enable button.
Record Enable button
Record enabling a track in the Mix window
7 Next, choose Options > Low-Latency Monitoring. This setting is highly recommended when tracking
through the Eleven Rig (it provides the best way to hear your guitar while recording to be able to get
the right “feel.”)
8 Now turn your guitar’s volume knob(s) up about halfway and play a few chords or leads. You should
be able to hear the guitar through Pro Tools!
Intro to Pro Tools
Select a Rig
Eleven Rack stores combinations of amps, cabinets, and effects as Rigs. You can quickly load any of
the preset Rigs, and save your own custom combinations.
To select a Rig:
1 Choose Window > Eleven Rack (click the Window menu and choose Eleven Rack) to open the Eleven
Rack Control window.
2 In the Eleven Rack Control window, click on the Rig Input menu and choose Guitar.
3 Click on the Rig name (under the Rig Settings menu) and choose a preset from the User sub-menu.
Presets are pre-configured settings files, and they’re a great way to see examples of what a Rig can do.
Rig Volume tab
Rig Input menu
Rig name
Rig preset options
Selecting a Rig preset in the Eleven Rack Control window
Welcome to Pro Tools LE & Eleven Rack
Record Some Guitar
To record your guitar with Eleven Rack:
1 Go back to the Pro Tools Mix window.
2 Strum your guitar, and watch the meter in the Pro Tools track to see if you need to adjust the Rig
volume by using the Rig Volume tab. (Don’t move the on-screen fader to try and adjust input level because it isn’t going to have any effect; the on-screen fader is only for setting your listening level.)
Up and Down Arrow keys
Rig volume being controlled by the Rig Volume tab
3 Click on the Up Arrow key until the on-screen track meter show green most of the time, or yellow
for your louder passages (the Rig Volume tab lets you set and control the overall Rig volume).
• If the track meter shows red, gain is too high; lower the Rig volume (Down Arrow key).
• If you barely see green in the track meter, Rig volume is too low.
Track meter
4 In the toolbar (or in the Transport window) click the Return to Zero button to jump back to the start
of the session, then click the Record button. This tells Pro Tools that you’re happy with your levels and
are ready to record (think of the Transport Record button as a “master” record enable button).
Return to Zero
5 Choose Window > Edit so you can watch what happens when you record.
Intro to Pro Tools
6 When you are ready to start recording, click Play on the Transport window or press the Spacebar.
After you’ve pressed the Spacebar, you’ll hear 2 bars of “click, click, click...” (it’s the Click track playing a 2 bar count off before recording begins).
Your Eleven Rack session templates already include a Click track with count off enabled. For more information on using a click track/metronome, see the “Using a Click (Metronome)” section on Page 11.
To learn even more about recording with a click, see the Pro Tools Reference Guide.
7 To stop, press the Spacebar or click Stop. Here’s what Pro Tools looks like after a track has been recorded and the transport has been stopped.
Fresh guitar!
After you’ve recorded, it’s time to listen back.
Listen to Your Work
To play back a recorded track:
1 Click the track’s Record Enable button again to take it out of Record mode.
2 If you used a Click track to record but don’t want to hear it during playback, click the M (Mute) but-
ton on the Click track, or disable the Click by deselecting the Metronome Click button so it’s highlighted blue in the Transport window. (Also, in the Click/Countoff Options dialog (Setup >
Click/Countoff), you can enable the Only During Record option to have the click while recording, but not
while playing back.)
3 Click Play in the Transport window or press the Spacebar to start playback.
4 When you want to stop, press the Spacebar or click Stop.
When you’re happy with a take, go ahead and save the session (File > Save) and then proceed to “Record More Guitar (Overdub)” on page 10.
If you’re not happy with your take, you can undo it. Choose Edit > Undo Record Audio once you have
recorded an audio track and the transport has stopped. (Or, press Command+Z (Mac) or Control+Z (Windows).
Welcome to Pro Tools LE & Eleven Rack
Record More Guitar (Overdub)
This section shows you how to layer multiple guitar tracks in multiple recording passes (known as
overdubbing). You’ll see how to quickly duplicate and re-use the track you recorded to in the previous
section in order to record new guitar tracks with different tones.
To duplicate one or more tracks.
1 In the same Pro Tools session you used in the previous section, click the E. Guitar track to select the
guitar track you want to duplicate.
2 Do one of the following:
• Choose Track > Duplicate.
• Press Option+Shift+D (Mac) or Press Alt+Shift+D (Windows).
• Right-click the name of the track in the Track List, or Mix or Edit window, and select Duplicate.
3 In the Duplicate Track dialog, click to de-select Active Playlist and Alternate Playlists, then click OK.
Duplicate Tracks dialog (left) and both tracks in the Edit window (right).
4 Click the new track’s Record button so you can hear yourself again.
5 Select the newly created track, choose Window > Eleven Rack, and then choose a new tone (Rig) from
the Rig Settings menu.
6 With your new track set up and record enabled, and your 2nd tone chosen, click the Transport Record button again.
7 Now click Play in the Transport window or press the Spacebar to start recording. It might take a few
tries to get the right balance between the previously recorded track and the new one (Now you can use
the on-screen fader to raise or lower the playback level of the previously recorded track).
8 When you want to stop, press the Spacebar or click Stop.
9 Click the track’s Record Enable button again, click Return to Zero and then press the Spacebar again
to listen back. Balance the playback levels of the tracks using their on-screen faders.
Intro to Pro Tools
Using a Click (Metronome)
A click track (also known as a metronome) gives you a steady time reference while recording guitar
tracks. Eleven Rack session template sessions include a click track already added and ready to go.
Pro Tools also provides a menu command to quickly add a click track in one step.
To create a click track in a new session, you can quickly add one by choosing Track > Create Click
Track. Pro Tools creates a new Auxiliary Input track named “Click” with the Click plug-in already
To use a click track:
1 Choose View > Mix Window to display the Mix window.
2 At the top of the track, select the Click plug-in.
3 In the Click plug-in window, click the Librarian menu and pick a sound. You can pick a cowbell,
sidestick, and other common click sounds.
Librarian menu
Creating a Click Track
4 Select View > Transport > MIDI Controls to view the MIDI controls in the Transport window.
5 Click the Metronome Click button so it’s highlighted blue.
Deselected Count Off button
Highlighted Metronome Click button
6 Now click Play in the Transport window or press the Spacebar to listen to the click.
Welcome to Pro Tools LE & Eleven Rack
To silence the click track:
Do one of the following:
• Mute the Click track by clicking the M (Mute) button on the Click track.
– or –
• In the Transport window, deselect the Metronome Click button so it’s not highlighted blue. Then
deselect the Count Off button so it’s not highlighted. (Doing both silences the click track and
turns off the Count Off.)
Setting the Tempo
You can specify the session tempo to make the Click faster or slower.
To adjust the tempo do the following:
1 Choose View > Rulers > Tempo. See where it says “Tempo” in the Edit window? Click on the plus
symbol (+) that appears next to it. Then type the tempo you want in the Tempo Change dialog and
click OK.
Add Tempo Change symbol (+)
Default tempo is 120 BPM
2 Press the Spacebar or click the Play button to listen to your click play back at a different speed. Re-
peat the previous steps if you need to enter a different tempo.
3 Press the Spacebar again or click Stop when you’re done.
Intro to Pro Tools
Using MIDI to Compose
What’s MIDI?
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) data isn’t audio, and it has no sound of its own. MIDI is
just a way for musical devices like virtual instrument plug-ins, MIDI controllers, and MIDI sequencers
to talk to one another.
Hardware MIDI instruments connect via MIDI cables to the MIDI inputs and outputs on your audio
interface or MIDI interface. Virtual instruments are inserted as plug-ins on Instrument tracks in Pro
Tools and accessed directly from within Pro Tools. If you don't have a MIDI Controller, skip to “Mix
and Change Your Sounds” on page 15.
Make Beats and Compose with a MIDI Controller
Here we’ll show you how to compose with a MIDI controller/keyboard (you can also compose using
just the mouse) using the Session Template file named “Full Session.”
To record MIDI on an Instrument track:
1 Choose File > Open, navigate to the Session Template file “Full Session” and select it, then click
2 Make sure your Eleven Rack is connected to your computer.
3 Use MIDI cables to connect your MIDI controller/keyboard directly to the MIDI ports on the back
of the Eleven Rack. (For details, see the Eleven Rack User Guide.)
4 Choose View > Mix Window to display the Mix window, then navigate to the Drums channel strip.
Welcome to Pro Tools LE & Eleven Rack
5 Click the Track Insert selector near the top of the Instrument track and choose Xpand!2 from the In-
strument sub-menu. Pro Tools inserts the plug-in on your track and opens its plug-in window.
Track Insert selector
Inserting Xpand!2 on a track (left) and the Xpand!2 plug-in window (right)
6 Click the Librarian menu and choose a preset sound from the Drums sub-menu.
7 Select Options > MIDI Thru. (Verify that MIDI Thru is checked, if not select it to “check” it.)
8 Click the Record Enable button to enable the Instrument track for MIDI recording.
9 Now play your MIDI controller/keyboard and hear the drum sound. Pick another drum sound if
you want by choosing a new patch from the Drum sub-menu.
10 In the Transport window, click Return to Zero to start recording from the beginning of the session.
You can also record to a selection in a track or from the cursor location in the Edit window.
11 If you want to record to the metronome or click track included with this session, configure the
Click and session tempo (see “Using a Click (Metronome)” on page 11).
12 When you are ready to start recording, click Play or press the Spacebar. To stop, press the Spacebar
or click Stop.
Instrument track with MIDI data (the drum line)
13 Click the track Record button again to take it out of record enable and play back what you just
Intro to Pro Tools
If this sort of composition interests you, see the Pro Tools Reference Guide (Help > Pro Tools
Reference Guide) to learn more about virtual instruments and composition in Pro Tools, including
Loop Playback, and how you can apply all sorts of other musical treatments to your rhythms, sounds,
and patterns.
Mix and Change Your Sounds
Your Pro Tools LE system comes supplied with a wealth of plug-ins that you can use to change the
sounds you’ve recorded. This section shows one example of how plug-ins can effect, or process your
sound by showing how to use EQ on one track. (Virtual instruments are plug-ins that make sound,
and you can learn how to use them in “Using MIDI to Compose” on page 13). To finish up we’ll fade
out the ending.
An equalizer, or EQ, shapes and manipulate a sound's frequency spectrum. It’s one way to give your
guitar sound more low-end punch, or more bite on the highs or upper-mids.
To apply EQ to a track:
1 Choose Window > Mix.
2 In the top part of the track you want to EQ, click a Track Insert selector and choose
EQ 3 4-Band (stereo) from the EQ sub-menu. Pro Tools inserts the plug-in on your track and opens its
plug-in window.
Track Insert selector
Inserting EQ on a track (left) and the EQ 3 4-Band (mono) plug-in window (right)
3 Press the Spacebar to start playback.
Welcome to Pro Tools LE & Eleven Rack
4 In the plug-in window, click the Librarian menu (shown below) and choose an available Settings
File (preset) from the list.
5 Choose other presets and you can hear what their settings do to your sound. Try out different
plug-ins to start learning about the different colors you have at your disposal. (The electronic DigiRack
Plug-Ins guide is installed in your Documentation folder, and it’s a great place to learn more about EQ,
delay (echo) and other types of effects.)
6 Press the Spacebar again to stop playback.
Fade Out
To put the finishing touch on a song it’s sometimes nice to go with the classic fade out. Here’s an
example of how to use mix automation to fade out a track. (There are many other ways to create fades
described in the Pro Tools Reference Guide.)
To do a fade out:
1 First, locate the Master Fader track provided in the session template. Make sure you’re in the Edit
Master Fader track
Master Fader in the session
Intro to Pro Tools
2 In the Master Fader track, click with the Grabber tool (it’s in the toolbar) at the place you’d like the
fade to start. This creates a white dot or “breakpoint.”
Grabber tool
3 Click again with the Grabber a little later in the track, and drag that new breakpoint down to its
lowest possible position, so it looks something like this:
First breakpoint
Second breakpoint
Fade out
4 Switch to the Selector tool (click the I-beam-looking tool in the Toolbar), then click to place the cur-
sor a few seconds or a few measures before the first breakpoint of your fade.
5 Press the Spacebar to hear the fade out. Choose Window > Mix and watch the on-screen fader as it
moves in accordance with the automation breakpoints and fade out.
Pro Tools lets you automate almost any parameter on any track (this is how many cool effects are
achieved, including filter sweeps, auto-pan, and more). Regardless of what you automate, you can
edit breakpoint automation using many of the same tools we use to edit audio, such as the Pencil and
the Trimmer. You can also use the on-screen faders and knobs to “perform” automation instead of
writing it manually. You can learn more about how to record and edit your control moves in the
Pro Tools Reference Guide.
Get Your Music Out to the World
After you’ve finished recording and editing tracks in a Pro Tools session you’re ready to mix down. In
these pages you’ll see how to do this using the Pro Tools Bounce to Disk feature to combine all the
tracks that make up a session into a single “master” audio file. After the new audio file has been
bounced to disk, you can burn it to a CD or convert it to MP3 using a CD burning application like
Welcome to Pro Tools LE & Eleven Rack
To create a stereo master from a session:
1 Use the Selector to click-drag the length of the session in the Timeline, or on a track. (You may want
to use the Filtered Dream Demo Session the first time you try to Bounce to Disk.)
Session audio selected
and ready to
Bounce to Disk
2 Choose File > Bounce to > Disk.
3 In the Bounce Options dialog, do the following to create a CD-compatible 2-track of your audio:
• Choose Outputs 1–2 as the Bounce Source.
• Choose BWF (.WAV) for the File Type.
• Choose Stereo Interleaved for the Format.
• Choose 16 for the Resolution and 44100 for the Sample Rate.
Digidesign also offers an MP3 Option that lets you bounce directly to MP3 format. Check the DigiStore
on our website (, or contact your Digidesign dealer if you’d like more information. To learn more about the other options in the Bounce to Disk dialog, see the
Pro Tools Reference Guide.
4 Choose Convert after Bounce, and click Bounce. (If you make no selection, your entire session will
bounce from start to finish.)
Bounce options (shown set to create audio CD burnable tracks)
Intro to Pro Tools
5 In the Save Bounce As dialog, name your bounce and pick where it should be saved, then click Save.
Pro Tools begins bouncing to disk. Pro Tools bounces are done in real time, so you hear audio playback of your mix during the bounce process (you cannot adjust any Pro Tools controls during a
After Mixdown, Mastering
After the bounce is completed, you will have an audio file that you can convert to MP3 using most
common CD burning software. Converting to MP3 lets you listen to it on your iPod, post on your site,
or send via email. Or, use the burner software to write the file to an audio CD that can be played on
standard CD players. Listening to a reference CD in an environment other than your studio is a timetested, professional way to see how your mix translates to other systems or listening environments.
Import a Song from a CD
This section shows you how to import a track from a CD into a Pro Tools session. What we show you
here lets you import an entire song or individual tracks, as well as loops (beats, drum patterns, or
other pre-recorded musical building blocks) that you can use to build compositions from scratch. You
can even use this capability to import a song you just finished so that you can jam along, edit it into
a loop to use for another composition, or to further process it to “master” your project.
Pro Tools has a powerful feature called Elastic Audio. Elastic Audio can change the speed of audio
without changing pitch or change the pitch of a track without changing its speed. This is very handy
for learning or transcribing riffs and solos. For more information, see the Pro Tools Reference Guide.
To create a new session:
1 Do one of the following:
• If you already have a session open, choose File > Close. Now choose File > New Session. In the
New Session dialog, choose Create Blank Session, then click OK.
• If you just launched Pro Tools and the Quick Start dialog appears, select Create Blank Session,
then click OK.
2 In the Name the Session dialog, choose where you want to save the session, and then name it and
click Save.
Welcome to Pro Tools LE & Eleven Rack
3 After Pro Tools opens the new session, choose Window > Edit so the Edit window is displayed. It will
look something like this:
Transport window
The Edit window, with the Transport window showing in the foreground
To import a song from CD:
1 Put the source CD into your computer’s CD/DVD drive.
2 In Pro Tools, choose Window > Workspace to open the Workspace browser.
3 In the Workspace browser, click the Audio CD’s Expand/Collapse icon to show the files on the CD.
4 Click an item (track) to select a song on the CD.
Tip: Click the speaker icon to
audition a selected song; press
the Spacebar to stop.
Intro to Pro Tools
5 Drag the item from the Workspace to the open area in the middle of the Edit window; Pro Tools creates a new audio track containing the song. The song appears in its new track where you let go of the
Region List
Audio Track
You can also drag items from the Workspace to the Region List and then later drag them into the track
area. This lets you assemble a collection of audio for later use in different tracks or even the same
6 Close the Workspace browser, then press the Spacebar to begin playing back the song in Pro Tools
(see “Play and Listen” on page 3).
Learn More
We hope this quick introduction has inspired you to make music with Pro Tools. To learn more about
any of the topics presented, check the Pro Tools Reference Guide. Search for any terms you’re curious
about. You can also watch any of the video tutorials included with your package or online at the
Digidesign website (
© 2009 Avid Technology, Inc., all rights reserved. This guide may not be copied in whole or in part without the written consent of Avid. Product features,
specifications, system requirements, and availability are subject to change without notice. Avid, Digidesign, and Pro Tools are registered trademarks of
Avid Technology, Inc. in the U.S. or other countries. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Guide Part Number: 9320-61283-00 REV A July, 2009
Welcome to Pro Tools LE & Eleven Rack
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