Hi, I’m Nick and I’m a Pro Tools columnist at Audio Times. I started out producing music when I was 15, and now work under the pseudonym ‘Veranova’. Having released various records, produced for up and coming artists such as Lewis Mokler, and composed for companies such as Morphsuits; I took an interest in teaching. So I started Production Bytes, a source of video tutorials and products for music production; now my main business. Thanks to the success of this I also took an interest in writing and have settled into a columnist role with Audio Times. Which brings us to now. Enjoy!
With modern computers, we’re almost all used to putting processing plugins onto our audio as a mixer insert; without our computer starting to struggle. However some types of processing can’t be pulled off live. This is where Pro Tools’ ‘AudioSuite’ system comes in. AudioSuite allows you to commit a plugins effect directly onto the audio track, as opposed to running the effect live as a mixer insert. It contains all of your effect plugins that you would usually use, as-well as some extra plugins which only work correctly in AudioSuite.
The AudioSuite menu is a very useful tool for two main things.
Firstly, some of Pro Tools’ effects can ONLY be accessed through this menu, because they need to see the whole audio file in order to function. One example is the ‘Vari-Fi’ plugin, which creates effects similar to a vinyl deck starting up or stopping. Obviously you can’t speed up a sample in real time if the next bit of the audio that needs to play hasn’t played into the plugin yet! So this isn’t possible as an insert effect, but AudioSuite is what makes this possible.
Secondly, AudioSuite can be used whenever you want to commit a plugins’ effect to the audio permanently. This is useful with plugins that are heavy on computer resources, as-well as a way to Bounce out a track with all its effects on. Saving you having to Bounce the audio in realtime.
With all that said, let’s go delve!
AudioSuite doesn’t have a lot of settings of its own. Most of what you set up is inside the plugin you choose to load, however there are a few variables which are useful to understand.
To bring AudioSuite up all you need to do is click the ‘AudioSuite’ menu on the Menu bar, and select the plugin you want to apply to your audio. You will now be presented with the selected plugin loaded inside the AudioSuite wrapper. While in this window you have 2 options you’re likely to need, and a few others that are there for more obscure reasons, or are part of the standard plugin window. So I’ll avoid those.
• Processing Output Mode
◦ ‘Create continuous file’. This will output a single audio file to your project folder and the playlist, Meaning that whatever your selection is, the selected range will be rendered as a single clip in the playlist.
◦ ‘Create individual files’. This will output a file and clip for every clip or range you have selected. Meaning that each clip inside your selected range will be rendered separately.
◦ ‘Overwrite files’. This setting overwrites the original audio files with the processed audio.
• Whole File / 2.00
◦ This is found in the bottom right by the ‘Render’ button. It’s not immediately obvious what these controls do, however they are part of one of the most powerful functions of audio suite.
◦ Assuming that your clip is cut down from a much larger audio file. If you don’t render this clip you can drag its ‘Handle’ (The edge of the clip) back out to see the rest of the audio. But if you render it in place then only the used audio is included in the new clip. So you lose this possibility. The number indicates (In seconds) how much audio outside of the Clip should be rendered alongside it, by default set to 2 seconds. This is very useful if you need to make minor editing changes or create crossfades later, by giving you 2 seconds of extra space at the start and end of the clip. Plus, you guessed it, clicking ‘Whole File’ will just render the entire original audio file as a new file and maintain the current clip edit too. So you can carry on as if you never used AudioSuite in the first place!
Example 1: Save your CPU
I’m going to start with a really simple Pro Tools project this month.
I’ve got a Room mic recording from a drums session I did, which is wet with the rooms natural Reverb. I want to try and reduce the reverb, and possibly the only tool on the market worth reaching for here is ‘Zynaptiq Unveil’. A great de-reverberation plugin. The only drawback of Unveil is its high CPU usage, which can be reigned in to an extent using a higher audio driver buffer, but could still cause some computers to grind to a halt in heavy projects.
This is where AudioSuite comes in.
After applying the plugin as an insert and tuning it to remove the drum track’s reverb, click the ‘preset’ arrow at the top of the plugin window, and select ‘Copy settings’. This is important for later.
Next, select the region of audio to apply the effect to. In this case I’ve decided I only want to apply the effect to the middle section of the drums, so I’ve just dragged a selection around that.
Use the AudioSuite menu to bring up your plugin, and select “Preset>Paste Settings” which will set the plugin up ready to print straight to audio.
In this case, leave the AudioSuite settings set to ‘create continuous file’, so that a single output file is created. If processing multiple clips you may want to switch this to ‘create individual files’, so that the clips remain separated.
Leaving the ‘Handle’ time at 2 seconds is also a good idea because it gives a bit of editing lee-way later-on. This is now set up, so just hit ‘Render’ and let Pro Tools crunch away.
You’ll now find that the selection has been split off into its own clip containing the processed audio, and you also have an extra 2 seconds at the start and end of the clip to drag out. Useful for crossfades of minor edits.