Pro Tools is loved by musicians, producers, podcasters, and a whole slew of other artists because of its vast array of features and tools that make it possible to create nearly anything you can imagine into a polished final project.
However, another great feature of Pro Tools is its ability to expand its features and toolsets via plugins. Whether you’re installing a new MIDI instrument or adding new tools and effects, plugins make it possible to do more with Pro Tools.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to add new plugins into Pro Tools and where to find some of the best ones to add to your arsenal.
What is a Plugin in Pro Tools?
A plugin (also written plug-in) is simply a piece of software that “plugs into” a larger software platform to expand its features or functions. In Pro Tools, these can be anything from specialized delays or audio warps to MIDI instruments. You can use plugins whether
Each program uses a different plugin format. For Pro Tools, it’s AAX plug-ins.
How to Add a Plugin to Pro Tools
Step 1: Download your new plugin
Step 2: Locate the download file and open the .zip or .pkg file that was downloaded. This will open the installer.
Step 3: Follow the instructions on the installer. If/when you get to the installation preferences window, you’ll only need the AAX version of the plugin to run it in Pro Tools.
Many plugins include support for Audition and other DAWs, but if you’re just installing the program to Pro Tools, you’ll want to make sure you install the AAX version as this is the native format for Pro Tools plugins.
Step 4: Once you’ve selected your installation preferences, hit “Install” on the installer and wait for the plugin to install to your device.
For Mac users, you’ll have the option to download it to your Macintosh HD, desktop, or another folder of your choosing.
For Windows, you’ll have a default download to your downloads folder, which you can change to a folder of your choosing.
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Step 5: To locate your plugin in Pro Tools, open up a new Pro Tools session, then create a new track.
Either mono or stereo tracks will work fine for this.
Step 6: In the Mix window, locate the track mixer, click on the first insert slot under “Inserts A-E.” A drop-down window will appear.
Step 7: Navigate to “plug-in” on the drop-down. A second drop-down menu will appear with all available plugins listed.
Now you can insert your new plugins into your existing tracks in Pro Tools and add warps, delay, reverb, and otherwise manipulate your tracks to your heart’s content.
5 Sources for Great Pro Tools Plugins
#1: AVID Pro Tools Plugin Library
For high-quality, install-ready plugins, it’s always a good idea to go straight to the source. AVID has a good-sized selection of Pro Tools plugins that include virtual instruments, EQ, reverb, delay, modulation, and effects. There is a free set of 23 basic plugins, and larger sets are available as SaaS plans starting at $29.99/mo.
Waves has been a long-standing producer of high-quality audio plugins. They offer individual plugins for purchase as well as bundles of some of their best sellers.
Valhalla is another fan-favorite among professional mixers and audio producers. Their Plate Reverb plugin is still one of the best-sellers across all plugin manufacturers, beloved for faithfully reproducing the warm, dense reverb of the 1960s and ’70s.
iZotope is best known for its vocal effect plugins, which make it easy to clean up vocals, add reverb, and even create vocal synths. The Nectar Elements plugin is one of their best sellers and is in the toolkits of most professional vocal producers.
Splice features a large library of plugins for the most popular DAWs, including Pro Tools. We recommend browsing through their library anytime you’re looking for something new and fresh to add to your projects, whether that’s vintage effects or sci-fi-inspired distortions.
Keep Experimenting with Plugins to Add Range and Depth to Your Projects
Once you’ve gotten the hang of using plugins in Pro Tools, you open up an entire world of being able to manipulate or polish your audio in new ways. Whether you want to add funky 1970’s inspired pedal effects to your guitar track or tweak some pitch corrections on some vocals, there’s a plugin for that. Hopefully, this guide gets you one step closer to mastering Pro Tools and its plugins and empowering you to create bigger and better projects.
And if you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote audio production team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast. Evercast allows you to stream your Pro Tools edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team, all under one platform. Because we believe collaboration is the magic behind the movies, and you shouldn’t be slowed down no matter where your team is working in the world.