Not All Pro Tools Plug-Ins Are Created Equal

12-12-2013 08:09 AM

Have you even ran out of power when using plug-ins on a mix in Pro Tools… in most cases the answer is probably yes.
However depending on what system you have and your selection of plug-ins then you might have some extra sources of horsepower at your disposal.
Let’s look at the four ways to host a plug-in in Pro Tools, some from Avid and some from third parties:

Host based native Pro Tools plug-in processing
This is where your computer does all the work, so the resources running the plug-ins are the same ones running your DAW and the rest of the show too. For the sake of argument we will include Pro Tools HD Native in this bunch.

DSP based Pro Tools HD or HDX plug-ins
This is where separate Avid DSP cards do the processing and thus take some of the load of the main computer CPU. Even with HD cards you can run out of steam, they don’t have infinite resources.

DSP based UAD plug-ins
The Universal Audio UAD platform uses it’s own plug-in processing engine to power plug-ins, found in their popular UAD cards, attached devices and Apollo interfaces.

Network Attached Plug-in Hosting
Systems like the Vienna Ensemble Pro 5 can be connected via an ethernet cable and then host more plug-ins VST or AU on a second machine. You can watch our video tutorial for Pro Tools users here.
There are other host based plug-in platforms, some legacy and some brand new ones, such as the Waves Digigrid system, but the four outlined above are perhaps the most popular for Pro Tools users.
You can see that depending on what system you own then you have the potential to grab power from numerous sources, either Pro Tools native plug-ins (which nearly every Pro Tools plug-in on the planet is coded in), Pro Tools HD/HDX DSP plug-ins, UAD powered plug-ins and a network attacked plug-in host.
Now all the above solutions depend on what the plug-in manufacter decides to support. One can have all the Pro Tools HDX cards or UAD cards in the world and a network attached solution, but if your plug-in isn’t coded for them then you can’t use that extra power.
So a Pro Tools native user has one power source, a Pro Tools native user with a HD/HDX or UAD card two power sources, a native Pro Tools user with a HD/HDX card and a UAD card three power sources and yes you guessed it, a user with all four the possibility to put a man on mars.
This all depends on what plug-ins you choose to buy, because all plug-ins are not created equal. Depending on how smart you are with your plug-in choices then the more options you will have when it comes to looking for extra power.

If you buy a Maag EQ4, A Sonnox Oxford, A Softube Vintage Amp Room for example, then you can run them on all four platforms, this is because they are coded native, Pro Tools DSP for HD and HDX, UAD and AU/VST and if you own any combination, or all of them, then you have many more options. Now an important point, you may have to buy them in their different formats, but if you want to cover your session in Maag EQ4 plug-ins or have run out of power and need to add a Softube Amp Room then you have more options than if you buy a plug-in that is simply coded for Pro Tools native systems.
There are of course some killer plug-ins that only exist in the native domain, for example iZotope RX3 or some Waves plug-ins, you’d have to bite my arm off to try and get me to give you my RX3, from my cold, dead hand is that leaving my studio. So I’m not suggesting you simply choose Pro Tools plug-ins based on system flexibilty, however if you own several different hosting solutions and then consider vendors like McDSP, Softube, Sonnox and Plug-in Alliance, then you’ll find yourself running out of power less frequently.
As you can see it pays to shop smart when selecting your plug-ins, depending on your choice of both Pro Tools, third party platform and plug-ins you’ll either have limitless or limited potential.
Not all All Pro Tools Plug-Ins Are Created Equal.