Pro Tools Quick Tip - Use An Aggregate Device To Manage All Your Interfaces In Pro Tools - Mac

12-08-2014 04:49 PM

If you have a number of audio interfaces on your Mac then you might find yourself either switching between them for Pro Tools sessions, or even wondering if you can use the power of all of them at the same time.
Using the Aggregate Device option in the Audio MIDI setup window on your Mac you can create flexible input and output setups for any audio application on your Mac.
Create An Aggregate Device In Audio MIDI Setup

To create a new Aggregate Device on the Mac simply open the Audio MIDI Setup application and then use the drop down menu in the bottom left of the window. Choose ‘Create Aggregate Device.’
You will then be presented with a list of all available audio interfaces. Simply tick the ones you want to use, in this example we are using an Apollo Twin connected to a 4-71-D via ADAT and a PreSonus StudioLive 16.0.2.
One thing you need to make sure is that of is that one interface is the master clock source and that all other audio interfaces in the aggregated set-up are running at the same clock speed. Once create our set-up looks like the image shown below.
click to enlarge
As you can see we now have a possible 36 inputs and 28 outputs available to us. Remember when using Pro Tools a maximum of 32 inputs is available, this will not be the case on other DAWs.
Setting Up The I/O In Pro Tools

To make sure Pro Tools can ‘see’ all the available I/O you need to go to the ‘Setup’ menu and select ‘I/O’ You’ll see the image shown below.
Click to enlarge
The fastest way to get all the I/O set-up is to delete all the inputs then click default and repeat this process in both output and bus tabs too. You should now have all the I/O available to you.
Selecting The Inputs And Output In Pro Tools

Now when you create new tracks in Pro Tools you will have all the inputs and outputs available for use. See below.
Pro Tools Inputs

Pro Tools Outputs


This is a cool way of handling multiple interfaces without going through the pain of relaunching Pro Tools or for getting lots of I/O from a number of interfaces. One such scenario may be wanting to track a guitar via the Apollo with effects but using an Apogee Ensemble as you main interface. Or tracking guitars via Eleven Rack and whilst using an Apollo as you main interface.
In some cases the Mac will let you mix the protocol, so in this scenario we’ve got a Thunderbolt and a FireWire interface running as an aggregate device. Unfortunately you can’t do this with Pro Toosl HD interfaces.