We get a constant flow of questions about the costs of the different versions and models of Pro Tools as well as the different ways of 'buying' Pro Tools. In this article, we unpack the cost differences between the different types of Pro Tools. We have more detail about the different types of Pro Tools in our FAQ - Pro Tools FAQs - Pro Tools First, Pro Tools Standard Or Pro Tools HD - Which Is The Right One For Me?
Pro Tools First - Get Local Storage for $4.99 Per Month
Let's start with the free version of Pro Tools - Pro Tools First. Although Pro Tools First is free there are some pay-for options that expand what you can do with Pro Tools First.
Alongside Pro Tools 12.8, Avid released an update of their free version - Pro Tools First. With Pro Tools First you now get Track Freeze, the ability to collaborate with any Pro Tools user, and there is a new expanded plan, which includes local storage of sessions with Pro Tools First for $4.99 per month.
Pro Tools First users can still save and sync up to three projects at a time using Avid’s free 1 GB introductory cloud storage. The difference is now for $4.99 per month you can break out of the cloud only limit and get expanded cloud storage, unlimited projects, local session saving, and the ability to invite others to collaborate with our premium cloud plans.
Perpetual Or Rental
Before we move onto Pro Tools Standard and Pro Tools HD, there is the choice between buying a copy of Pro Tools that you can keep forever (a perpetual license) or renting by the month or by the year, knowing that as soon as you stop paying you will no longer be able to use that copy of Pro Tools.
We have a dedicated Pro Tools FAQ article on the costs, pros and cons - Buying Pro Tools? Which Is Better, Perpetual License Or Rental Subscription.
Pro Tools Standard - $599
Since Avid changed the upgrade and support plan model with the introduction of Pro Tools 12. Pro tools Standard comes with the following...
- Software/plug-in installers and user guides
- 1 GB Collaboration Cloud Storage.
- 2 GB high-quality loop library
- 60 Virtual Instruments & Effect Plug-ins
- Comes with a one-year Annual Upgrade Plan, one year access to bonus Plug-ins and a 7-day Installation Support.
- Includes 12 months of software upgrades.
As to cost, the perpetual license version of Pro Tools Standard cost $599 and comes with a one-year upgrade plan. To get your copy of Pro Tools up to date in the second and subsequent years you will need to spend $99 per year on an upgrade plan.
What Happens If I Stop Paying For The Upgrade Plan?
The simple answer is nothing. You don't have to continue paying for an upgrade plan. Pro Tools will continue to work, hence the name perpetual license. However, once you stop paying for an upgrade plan you will no longer be able to keep your perpetual copy of Pro Tools up to date. It will keep working, the license will not expire, but eventually, the old version of Pro Tools will no longer work with the current versions of your Pro Tools computer's operating system.
Pro Tools HD Pricing And Packaging
With the release of Pro Tools 12.6, Avid unbundled the HD hardware, interfaces and software so you can now buy just the bits you want. Most importantly, this means you can Pro Tools HD Software on its own, without having to buy a card or an interface.
Alternatively, you can buy an HD Native or HDX card and the Pro Tools HD software without having to buy an Avid interface. If you would prefer to own and use one of the growing number of 3rd party HD interfaces, then you can, without having to buy an Avid interface and then go through the trouble of selling it.
Pro Tools HD DigiLink I/O License
However as part of the process to decouple the interface from the bundles, Avid has introduced a new one-off DigiLink I/O license, which all users will need whether they are using an Avid interface or a 3rd party interface. This is a one time license that will be $299 but note this is NOT per interface. If you have one interface then it will be $299, if you have 10 interfaces it will still be $299 and NOT $2990.
There are a lot of scenarios where existing customers will automatically get the DigiLink license at no extra cost. However, if you are buying a new Pro Tools HD system without an Avid interface then you will need to buy a DigiLink License. We have a dedicated Pro Tools HD FAQ to answer the question - Do I Need A DigiLink License?
Pro Tools HD Software Only Pricing - $2499
Pro Tools HD Software Standalone has been available since September 2016 in two formats, either as a perpetual license or on a rental subscription plan.
- Pro Tools HD Software Standalone Software - Perpetual - This version is $2499 and will include one year’s annual upgrade plan If you want to keep up to date after the first year then you will need to have an HD upgrade and support plan which costs $399.
- Pro Tools HD Software Standalone Software - Rental - This version is available to rent for $999 per year on a subscription rental plan. If you wanted to buy the HD Software outright, it is equivalent to 2.5 years of rental subscriptions. Unlike other rental options, Avid will not be offering Pro Tools HD Software Standalone Software on a monthly rental scheme, only annual.
We have a dedicated article comparing the costs of Pro Tools Perpetual Vs Pro Tools Rental for both Pro Tools Standard and Pro Tools HD Standalone. Buying Pro Tools? Which Is Better, Perpetual License Or Rental Subscription
Upgrade Path For Pro Tools Standard Users To Get Pro Tools HD Standalone
Pro Tools Standard users can also upgrade to Pro Tools HD standalone for the price difference between Pro Tools Standard and the HD software and costs $1899.
Pro Tools HD Software - Is It Worth It?
You may be thinking that $2499 is expensive but consider the entry point for Pro Tools. Prior to Pro Tools 12.6, if a professional working from home, for example, needed the HD only features like surround tracks, they had to buy the minimum of an HD Native card, an HD Omni interface and the HD software, which was around $5000. Now with the unbundling options, for half of that, you can get the HD software and access to all the HD only features, including the new Clip Effects feature introduced in Pro Tools 12.6. Over 12 months that is just over $200 per month.
Pro Tools HD Hardware Pricing
To help you through the changes that Avid have made, we have prepared a table to show the new pricing structures. Please read this table in conjunction with the notes below.
|Product||Pro Tools HD License||Upgrade Plan||Plugin Bundle||Support||Price||Notes|
|Pro Tools HDX Core||Yes||1 year||1 year||1 year||$4999||Represents a 29% reduction pro rata from previous bundles based on a $7k spend|
|Pro Tools HDX Card||No||N/A||N/A||N/A||$2999|
|Pro Tools HD Native Core||Yes||1 year||1 year||1 year||$2999||Small price increase to tie in with Pro Tools HD Standalone price|
|Pro Tools HD Native Card||No||N/A||N/A||N/A||$999|
|Legacy to Pro Tools HDX Exchange||No||3 years||3 years||3 years||$4999||Exchanges are now the same price as the Core but you get 3 years of upgrade/support plan worth $798|
|Legacy to Pro Tools Native Exchange||No||3 years||3 years||3 years||$2999||Exchanges are now the same price as the HD Native but you get 3 years of upgrade/support plan worth $798|
|HD I/O Interface||No||N/A||N/A||N/A||$3499||This represents a reduction of $500 for each interface|
|HD Omni Interface||No||N/A||N/A||N/A||$2499||This represents a reduction of $500 for each interface|
|HD I/O Digital Interface||No||N/A||N/A||N/A||$1999||This represents a reduction of $500 for each interface|
|HD MADI Interface||No||N/A||N/A||N/A||$4499||This represents a reduction of $500 for each interface|
Upgrade Paths For HD Software Only Users
You might be wondering why Avid is offering the HD Native card without the HD Software? One example would be that an owner of the Pro Tools HD Standalone software now wants to take advantage of a Sync I/O. The Sync I/O needs an HD card to work so they have thought this through and so it is possible now for an HD Software owner to buy into HD hardware at a later date.
New Legacy Exchange Pricing
In September 2016, Avid changed the Legacy hardware upgrade pricing, the cost for an HDX Core is now the same as the Legacy upgrade price but the difference is that with the Legacy upgrade you get 3 years of upgrade/support plans included rather than the normal one year.