Pro Tools has been an industry-standard DAW (digital audio workstation) for everyone from hip hop producers to cinematic film composers, so when people ask “can I create new beats in Pro Tools,” the answer is a resounding yes.
However, unlike other DAWs that are specifically designed for electronic music production, Pro Tools doesn’t have an obvious toolset for beat creation (like Ableton Live and Garageband). To create beats in Pro Tools, you need a tutorial to understand how to use its extensive set of versatile tools to create your own beats from scratch.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to create brand new beats in Pro Tools. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that Pro Tools’ versatility allows you to create pretty much anything you can dream up. Ready to start mixing and mastering like a pro? Let’s get into it.
What are beats?
Technically speaking, a beat is the rhythm of a song or a certain wavelength over a certain amount of time.
However, when we’re talking about beats in the context of this article, we’re talking about the instrumental tracks laid down underneath a pop, rap, or hip-hop vocal track. These typically are composed of different types of synth, percussion, and other instrumentals, and tend to repeat a small phrase for the duration of a song.
Beats can be as simple as a low-key drumbeat or as complex as a multi-layered instrument track. The common factor in most beats is that they repeat in loops, and they are layered beneath a more complex melody track, typically vocals.
Can you create beats in Pro Tools?
Setup is easy, because Pro Tools has all the features you need to create new beats for your project. It all comes down to knowing which tools to use and how to use them. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide to help you get started.
How to create beats in Pro Tools
You can create beats in Pro Tools using two techniques. One is called “MIDI merge” and the other uses the loop record feature. We’ll walk you through both techniques so you can try each out and see which one works for you.
MIDI merge allows you to use a MIDI controller (such as a MIDI keyboard) to create several different tracks layered on top of each other. To set up the MIDI merge, follow these steps:
Step 1: Go to “display” in the menu bar, click “transport window shows” then “MIDI controls” to expand the transport menu to include all your MIDI control buttons.
Step 2: In the transport window, click the “MIDI merge” button so that it’s highlighted.
Now, when you record to your record-enabled track, any new MIDI recordings are added on top of the existing recordings. You can use this to create stacked beats on a single track.
You can also use this in tandem with the loop record function to continuously loop a certain section on your session timeline and record different beats on top of each other while creating a continuous loop. To enable loop recording, simply hold “control” and “command” and click on the spot where you want to create your loop.
You can now record several different takes of the same section and choose the best ones from that recording session. This allows you to experiment freely and worry about the editing later, which can majorly speed up your beat creation sessions.
Create together remotely, in real time
Best plugins to help you create beats
You can create beats using the included instruments and plugins already inside of Pro Tools, but to take your creation to the next level, the only additional gear you’ll need are plugins that will allow you to expand your sound library and create more unique mixes.
From old-school tube distortion sounds to synths straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, there are thousands of unique plugins that you can integrate into your music production to give your beats a unique flair.
Here are a few of our favorite plugins:
Beatmaker Hip Hop Bundle 2
This option is the closest thing to an all-in-one beat-making tool.
- 2 Beatmakers plugins: HUSTLE and DOPE, to help you create beats
- 120 beat styles
- 1300 beat patterns
- 20 drum kits
This bundle is a great way to add analog sound into your tracks.
- CLA classic compressors
- Kramer tape
- Tubes and transistors
- Vocal rider
- Bass rider
iZotope Ozone 9 Standard
Want to add a vintage edge to your beats? Try mixing in these vintage plugins.
- Vintage EQ
- Vintage limiter
- Vintage tape
- Master assistant (which uses AI to help you create custom presets that are tailored to your audio)
Softube Volume 5
This collection is possibly the most realistic instrument modification set we’ve found.
- Heartbeat drum beat synth
- Guitar amps and pedal effects designed by Marshall
- Keyboard synths
- Tone control
Loopmasters Bass Master
Enhance your bass lines with this incredible virtual bass instrument from Loopmasters.
- Stereo chorus
- Reverb send
- Multi-layer control
The best part about beat creation is that there is no one way to do it. Beat creation and making music are one and the same: an experiment in sound.
So go ahead, step into your recording studio. Lay down that drum track, adjust the tempo, add some crunchy guitar and bass, then top it off with an ethereal chorus. You can create beats using microphones, midi instruments, virtual instruments, or just track samples. The only limit is your imagination.
And if you’re looking for a better way to remotely collaborate with your audio production team, check out Evercast. Evercast allows you to stream your Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, or even GarageBand edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team, all on one platform.
After all, seamlessly integrating your team’s creative inputs is what makes many ideas come together magically. And that can be possible, no matter where in the world you are.