MARCH 7, 2024

Pro Tools 2024.3 introduces MIDI effect plugins

Pro Tools MIDI Plugins 1862x1040

The Pro Tools 2024.3 software update is now available and introduces support for MIDI effect plugins that enable you to quickly generate and manipulate MIDI to realize your musical ideas. From triggering multiple notes and modifying velocity and pitch to automatically generating musical riffs, rhythms, and arpeggiations, you can now tweak and automate MIDI effects in real time. Over the past year—amongst many other features—we have delivered a number of music creation enhancements. We debuted a new value-add content stream (Sonic Drop), released a new sample playback instrument (Pro Tools | PlayCell), and launched a non-linear music creation iPad app and window in Pro Tools (Sketch). It is now my pleasure to share that MIDI in Pro Tools is finally in the spotlight! Let’s dive in!

MIDI DATA SIGNAL FLOW: ENTER MIDI CHAINS

Before developing any kind of MIDI plugins, the first thing we wanted to do was to improve the existing workflow for when dealing with MIDI processors. Even for the simple use case of adding an arpeggiator or a scale plugin before a VI, you had to create multiple tracks and route them via the MIDI menus. So, we knew we had to start there. A lot of discussing and designing and even more re-discussing, re-designing and finally implementing took place in order to introduce a way of passing MIDI from one plugin to another through the Insert slots of an Instrument track. The challenges varied from deep technical (in relation to the Pro Tools engine architecture), to visual and how everything is presented in the UI so that it is added harmoniously to the existing user workflows.

The result of this process is the concept of MIDI Chains: the moment you load MIDI capable plugins on an Instrument track, either MIDI processors or VIs, the track is automatically set to Chain mode, allowing you to process MIDI sequentially and from top to bottom. This should cover the most common use cases but that’s not where the fun stops. The output of a track’s Chain can be routed to the MIDI input of other Instrument or MIDI tracks. This can be used to record the result of the MIDI processing happening on a track, but also to feed the destination track’s Chain! Additionally, from a MIDI track you can feed the Chain of an Instrument track. One can get very creative using track Chain routings, but they can also be used for more utilitarian purposes—for example to isolate the MIDI notes used for articulation triggering on a separate MIDI track.

What was always in our heads every step of the way, was “we must-NOT-break existing user sessions!!” The legacy Pro Tools behavior of targeting individual plugins is still preserved but now accessible under the “Individual Targets” menu, so any old session will load and sound exactly as before. Speaking of menus, given the opportunity we spent a good amount of time refactoring the MIDI menus so that they become more efficient, both on the backend and frontend. MIDI menus are now truly alphabetically sorted, and the current track is displayed at the top for easy access.

Pro Tools MIDI Chain In
Pro Tools MIDI Chain In

MIDI PLUGINS

The MIDI Chains feature work with any MIDI capable plugin that is out there, but we of course wanted to make our very own little toys as well. This release of Pro Tools comes with our first very own MIDI plugins: Note Stack, Pitch Control and Velocity Control.

Note Stack is a note generator plugin that allows you to stack up to nine notes for each incoming note. It can be used for both melodic and rhythmic stuff and my personal favorite part is the note probability feature. You can use it to create interesting chords or to randomly trigger different percussion sounds in your drum pattern.

The Pitch Control and Velocity Control plugins let you apply pitch and velocity transformations on the incoming notes, or a selection of incoming notes based on pitch and/or velocity. If I had to pick a favorite feature, it would again be the Randomize feature of Velocity Control (I do like random!) that gives interesting textures throughout your progressions.

You might notice that the Pro Tools plugins we decided to release are more of the “bread and butter” variety. The reason is that we realized there are already so many cool plugins out there, so we picked some of our favorites and asked them if they want to become part of Pro Tools. I am VERY excited that these amazing plugins are now part of Pro Tools, available to all current Artist, Studio, and Ultimate customers:

  • EON-Arp from Modalics
  • Groove Shaper from Pitch Innovations
  • Riffer 3 from Audiomodern

These three plugins cover a wide spectrum of different possibilities to bring your ideas to life, but more importantly inspire you to create new ones, spanning from rhythmic, to melodic and everything in between! Check out these videos for a deeper dive into how each of these plugins works:

All the above plugins are the first ones to populate the new MIDI Plugin category, which is available on Instrument tracks. MIDI plugins behave as any other AAX plugin, so can be fully automated and support MIDI learn. And in terms of plugin development, it was done in a way that requires minimum effort from plugin manufacturers, so expect the MIDI plugins list to be populated with more and more plugins!

MIDI DELAY COMPENSATION

Last, but definitely not least, I couldn’t leave out another MIDI topic for which an incredible amount of work has been put in. Significant changes have been made in the Pro Tools engine to improve performance when working with virtual instruments and fix some long-standing issues with delay compensation. I am confident to say that we are in a much better place to support further MIDI related features and workflows and it is an area we are committed to continuously improve.

CLOSING WORDS… FOR NOW

This will sound cliché, but I have no better words to phrase this other than “this is just the beginning.” We are committed to continuously delivering value for music production workflows. We fully recognize that in some areas we have been late to the party, and that in others we have amazing features that need to be improved or brought more to the forefront to shine. We are working hard to deliver in both categories, and we can’t wait to share with you what’s coming next. Our collaborations with more plugin developers won't stop in this release, but no spoilers!

I want to express my deep gratitude and respect to all the teams and users out there that contributed to bringing this project to life. I hope that you all find some value (big or small) in our new features and most importantly have lots of fun using them!

See you soon!

Elpiniki

AVAILABILITY

MIDI plugin support is part of the Pro Tools 2024.3 software update and now available for all Pro Tools customers on an active subscription or perpetual license with current Upgrade Plan, as well as all Pro Tools Intro users (note that Intro users are only entitled to the three new Avid MIDI plugins). You can update through Avid Link or find it in your Avid Account. If you need to upgrade your Pro Tools perpetual license to get the latest features, you can find options to do so here. And if you’re new to Pro Tools, you can try out the latest version with our free 30-day trial.

For a detailed technical overview of the new features, be sure to check out the “What’s New in Pro Tools 2024.3” guide and release notes here.

  • Elpiniki is a Sr. Principle Product Owner and Product Designer for the Pro Tools team has been involved professionally with audio software for almost a decade and made music under Eski Göten for even longer.

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