Among the features, workflows, and enhancements to be introduced in the next Pro Tools release is ARA 2 support—specifically, a deep integration between Pro Tools and the Melodyne pitch and time solution. This has been one of the most requested features for Pro Tools, and it will soon be available to all users.
For anyone not familiar with Melodyne, it’s an incredible tool that lets you alter pitch, vibrato, volume, sibilants, note length, and timing. From quick vocal tuning and creating harmonies, to re-voicing instruments, fixing rhythm timing, and so much more, Melodyne is used by countless engineers around the world every day.
ARA + Pro Tools
ARA is an acronym which stands for Audio Random Access. It is a data-exchange extension for audio plugins, which was co-developed by Celemony, the makers of Melodyne, and PreSonus in 2011. ARA allows an enabled plugin to exchange a greater amount of audio information with a digital audio workstation (DAW) and makes for more streamlined and efficient workflows due the increased types of data passed between the DAW and plugin. Location, pitch, tempo, and rhythm are all examples of some of the data that can be exchanged. The second version of ARA (ARA 2) was introduced in 2018, and is the version Pro Tools utilizes for its integration. With more and more plugin manufacturers supporting ARA in their portfolios, the future remains quite bright for this powerful audio workflow extension.
Our initial implementation of ARA with Pro Tools utilizes Celemony’s powerful pitch-and-time solution, Melodyne. The primary workflow benefit from this implementation lies in the deep integration with Pro Tools, which removes the necessity to round-trip audio, therefore creating a more holistic experience for the user. Pro Tools is like a massive Swiss Army knife when it comes to both the sheer number of workflows and the varied types of users we support, so enabling users to choose how to work with this powerful tool was paramount in how we integrated ARA. Melodyne can be applied to entire tracks at once or simply used in a clip-by-clip manner. It can serve as an alternative elastic audio plugin on analyzed or edited clips when working with Tick based audio. No matter how you interact with it, the Melodyne user interface is now conveniently docked in the Pro Tools Edit window, and new commands have been added to the Track and Clip menus along with respective contextual menus.
It should be noted that a current, licensed, and working version of Melodyne is required for Melodyne ARA 2 to work in Pro Tools. Melodyne 5 essential is installed with all paid versions of Pro Tools (both active subscriptions and current perpetual licenses). And if you have a license for any higher tier of Melodyne (for example Melodyne Studio), the new ARA 2 version of Melodyne installed by Pro Tools in the upcoming release will automatically update your higher tier and unlock additional functionality and features.
Pro Tools ARA Workflows
The ARA 2 workflows in Pro Tools are designed around our varied user needs and as such, are meant to be as flexible as possible. Let’s take a closer look at the track and clip-based workflows available. The quickest and easiest way to start editing with Melodyne is to select the clip you wish to edit and choose "Melodyne > Edit" from the contextual menu (or to use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + A), and like magic, the clip is analyzed and focused in the docked editor for immediate modification.
While Melodyne can be used on a clip-by-clip basis, a track-based approach can be utilized when edits need to be applied to an entire track (similar to the Elastic Audio approach). Visual cues have been included to allow the user to know which clips have been edited via ARA/Melodyne. Any clip that has been analyzed or edited by Melodyne via ARA will feature a Melodyne badge, in addition to the horizontal lines, which represents the analysis data.
The New Tab System
The implementation of ARA into Pro Tools required a large amount of information architecture and significant design considerations. A new docked tab system was developed to house Melodyne and any future ARA implementations and lives where the docked MIDI editor originally resided. It is a scalable, tabbed user interface, which houses not only the Melodyne tab, but also the newly tabbed MIDI editor and a tab for Clip Effects. This extensible tab system will grow over time and will allow new features and functionality that might otherwise prove difficult to house elsewhere.
New tab system at bottom left
Understanding these basics of the Melodyne ARA 2 implementation provides the user an excellent starting canvas for the many different types of workflows and creative choices. From quick vocal tuning or creating harmonies, to re-voicing instruments, rhythm timing fixing, and so much more.
Check out these videos to see ARA 2 Melodyne in action for some specific workflows:
Vocal Tuning with Melodyne
Creating Vocal Harmonies with Melodyne
Revoicing Vocals with Melodyne
Adjusting Audio Timing with Melodyne
As excited as I am to share this upcoming Melodyne integration with you, I also want to call out that the team working on ARA is located in Ukraine. Many of the developers and testers who pushed the buttons to make this integration a reality did so during insanely uncertain and turbulent times. Credit should go where credit is deserved. Hats off to the team!
ARA 2 Melodyne integration will be included in the next Pro Tools software update and available for all Pro Tools customers on an active subscription or perpetual license with a current Software Updates + Support Plan—stay tuned!
Celemony, Melodyne, DNA Direct Note Access und ARA Audio Random Access are registered trademarks of Celemony Software GmbH.