“Pro Tools” Recording Using Virtual Instruments

Recording With Virtual Instruments In “Pro Tools”
 A Review By: Alphonso Soosay
If you are a song writer and you are new to Pro Tools and you record (example) out of an M box or Pro Tools and you would like to add virtual instruments to your song like Grand Piano, Bass and Drums but you have no idea how to record them but you can actually hear the Piano and the Drum sounds on your software virtual instruments. Okay, enjoy the detailed instruction below on how you can record and play the virtual instruments using your Pro Tools or other similar software’s that you might have.

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This article covers the rudimentary steps for working with Virtual Instrument plug-ins mainly with Pro Tools software.


Pro Tools Virtual Instrument plug-ins provide many of the features of hardware synthesizers, instruments and samplers combined with the convenience of a Pro Tools plug-in. Pro Tools also lets you get “under the hood” to really take advantage of MIDI flexibility.

At the most b\”Basic Level”, all MIDI instruments have 3 components:

A: MIDI input

B: A sound engine that converts that MIDI information to audio

C: An audio output

Getting MIDI into Pro Tools  (You will require one of the following):

A:  A dedicated MIDI controller

B:  The MIDI output of a synthesizer or other MIDI instrument

Latest MIDI controllers and synthesizers will have a USB port that will allow you to connect directly to your computer.

Older MIDI controllers and most synthesizers will likely have a MIDI output port. Use this port to connect to the MIDI input port of your Pro Tools hardware (if present) or a MIDI interface that is connected to your computer.

Then connect your MIDI controller and/or interface before launching Pro Tools.
NOTE: If your controller or keyboard has both USB and MIDI connectors, only use one of them at a time.

Setting up your virtual Instrument plug-in.

Note: this is the “sound engine” that transforms MIDI performance information into your audio tracks.

You must have a virtual instrument plug-in installed that is compatible with your version of Pro Tools software.

Create a stereo instrument track in your Pro Tools session

A:  Click on Track > New.

B:  Click on 1 new Stereo Instrument track in Ticks.

C:  Click Create.

Insert a virtual instrument plug-in on your newly-created stereo Instrument Track.

A:  Click the Pro Tools Track Insert selector

B:  Move the mouse over “plug-ins” to show the plug-ins sub-menu

C:  Move the mouse over “Instruments” to show the virtual instrument plug-in list

D:  Select one of the instruments

Choose a sound of your choice

A:  Choose the sound and/or patch that you want to hear.

B:  Certain Virtual Instruments automatically load with sound; others will require you to load the sound or sample into the plug-in.

Activate the volume of Audio output

A: Make sure you have either headphones or speakers connected to your Avid Audio hardware interface.

B:  Don’t forget to turn Up the speaker monitor knob

C:  Mbox, Mbox 2 mini, and Mbox 2 owners need to turn their “Mix” knob all the way clockwise

D:  002, 002R, M box 2 Pro, 003, 003R and 003R+ owners need to make sure that low latency monitor mode is not selected in the Options menu.

Enable the track.

A: Click the record-enable button for the instrument track

B: Instrument tracks have automatic MIDI routing to the first MIDI node on the inserted Instrument plug-in

C: Activates input to MIDI routing portion of track

D: Activates the track to record the MIDI data as it comes in from the controller

Enjoy your recording session.

A: A single physical device can control many sounds!

B: Try setting up multiple instrument tracks with different instruments playing at the same time. (Shift + click the record enable buttons)

Note: For more updated guides, look up “MIDI”, “Instrument Tracks”, “Virtual Instruments”, and “plug-ins” in your Pro Tools purchased reference guide.

More Details:

Maximum Performance Guidelines

A: Virtually all the testing for Avid video peripherals was done with a baseline of 64 tracks (48 tracks when used with Avid Unity) of 24- bit/48k audio and one stream of DV25video data (record and/or playback).

B: Actual performance for any user will depend on the speed of their processor, the type of video, plus the amount of edits, automation, virtual instruments and plug-ins. In many cases, the number of playable tracks will be much higher.

C: Playback of QuickTime video via Avid peripherals uses more processor power than playing Avid video via Avid peripherals, and more processor power than playing QuickTime to the desktop or to an external DV transcoder. Therefore, Avid video peripherals may not be the best QuickTime playback device for users with very large sessions and heavy processor loads. For best QuickTime performance, use standard-definition codecs such as DV25 or MJPEG-A rather than “Long-GOP’ codecs like HDV and h.264. Also use movies that have the same pixel dimension as the external monitor (720×480 for NTSC or 720×576 for PAL).

System RAM Requirements:

A: 2 GB (2048 MB) minimum required for Pro Tools use with Avid video peripherals

B: More RAM increases overall system and Pro Tools performance, and is especially recommended for working with:

C: Large amounts of audio

D: Large DSP engines

E: High edit density

F: Large Digi-Base databases

G: A large number of installed plug-ins

H: Options like Machine Control and Digi Translations.

I: Simultaneous use with other applications

SCSI Host Bus Adapter Requirements

A:  HP xw9300, xw8200, and xw8000 Workstations: These computers have optional built-in SCSI that has been qualified by Digidesign, so a SCSI HBA may not be required.

B:  HP xw8400, Dell 690. 670, 650, and other computers: A single Digidesign-qualified dual-channel SCSI HBA (Digidesign SCSI|128, ATTO UL3D 33 MHz, ATTO UL4D, or ATTO UL5D) is required to use SCSI drives.

C:  Unlike AV option XL, Avid video peripherals do not require audio and video drives to have separate HBAs in order to play uncompressed video. The Audio and Video can be on separate SCSI channels of a dual-channel SCSI HBA.

D:  The built-in internal SCSI on the Dell 690, 670 and 650 is a single-channel SCSI HBA that can be used for either audio or video, but not both.

E:  Keep in mind that the use of mixed storage (such as video on SCSI, audio on Fire-wire) is not supported with Avid video peripherals.

F:  ATTO UL3D BIOS version 1.68 or higher required for Digidesign SCSI|128/ATTO UL3D. For more information, see “Checking and Updating ATTO Firmware” in the following:

Note: All of these above documents, as well as the ATTO Utilities folder, are on the Pro Tools installation CD’s.

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