For years Pro Tools has been regarded as the industry standard DAW, and understandably so. Though my opinion could be biased, it seems to me that everything I look for and want in a DAW, it does.
Any tool, any trick, it can do. Any shortcut, it has it. From user interface to logical navigability, all is as it should be.
Outside the pool of “believers” there is always grumbling.
I often hear, “Pro Tools crashes too much!” In my experience, Pro Tools is as stable as the user. If you practice good file management, it puts everything where you want it. If you make sure all of your software updates are compatible with each other and don’t expect it to do more than the computer you’re running it on is capable of, it is rock-solid.
The most common complaint against Pro Tools is that it doesn’t support VST plug-ins. My response is, “It can if you want it to, and much, much more, for under $300. Vienna Ensemble Pro.”
While Pro Tools will probably never support VST, it doesn’t need to. There are other companies that will make that happen. That’s where Vienna Ensemble Pro comes in. Vienna Ensemble Pro, now on version 5, is a cross-platform host for audio and midi. It runs outside of your DAW, you launch it first, and can route audio and midi via RTAS, VST, or AAX (32 & 64) from your DAW to its VEP5 host, for processing and triggering, then route this newly processed audio wherever you want, most commonly back into the DAW. I know that’s a mouthful, but that’s the power it gives you.
Let’s talk through routing audio from Pro Tools through VEP5. Say I want to use my Awesome 3rd Party Compressor only available in 32 bit VST format to crush a drum stem with awesomeness.
1. I launch the Vienna Ensemble Pro 32-bit server, then launch Pro Tools.
2. Once loaded, I create an instrument track to interface with VEP5, and load the VEP5 instrument plug-in. This connects the VEP5 32-bit server to Pro Tools.
3. Next I go to the drum stem track, and load the VEP5 Audio Input plug-in. In this plug-in I’m able to select which VEP5 host input I want to send audio to.
4. Then I create an Aux Input in Pro Tools and under “input” I can now select the output I want from the VEP5 host.
5. All I have left is to make sure my inputs and outputs are routed accordingly in VEP5, and insert my Awesome 3rd Party Compressor on the track, and boom! I am now using my Awesome 3rd Party Compressor only available in 32 bit VST format to crush a drum stem with awesomeness on a track in Pro Tools. And those grumblers said Pro Tools doesn’t work with VST. Well, it doesn’t natively. No big deal.
This is just one of the MANY abilities Vienna Ensemble Pro brings to the table. If you’re curious about it’s price, I paid $299 for my boxed copy of VEP4, $99 for the upgrade to VEP5, and $29 for the elicenser dongle, because I didn’t have one yet. Don’t worry about the $430 price tag though, because you can get VEP5 from my friend Robby at Sweetwater for $245 and an elicenser for $26 if you need one. $271 is a steal in comparison to what I paid, and $430 is still worth every penny.
Go ahead snag a copy to work through these with me, get it here, install it, and next week we’ll walk through setting up the wonderful world of midi instruments hosted in VEP5 instead of in Pro Tools!