01 November 2012

Home Studio: Pro Tools Music Production Toolkit 2


Note: this entry was already posted during September 2009. I am just revisiting the entry here.

As soon as I've started to use EZDrummer for sequencing the drums parts, I've realized that the number of available buses and auxiliary channels to route the sound is really poor.
Pro Toos Factory comes with 16 stereo buses (or 32 mono). They can seem enough but, if you wanted to record each instrument of EZDrummer in a separate track (for a better control), you need:
  • 1 mono for Kick A
  • 1 mono for Kick B
  • 1 mono for Snare Top
  • 1 mono for Snare Bottom
  • 1 mono for Hi Hat
  • 1 mono for Tom1
  • 1 mono for Tom2
  • 1 mono for Tom3
  • 1 mono for Tom4
  • 1 mono for Tom5
  • 1 stereo for Overheads
  • 1 stereo for Compressor
  • 1 stereo for Drums Ambience
That means a total of 10 mono buses (5 stereo) and two more stereo buses, therefore a total of 8 stereo buses. If you wanted to use 3 stereo buses for reverberation effects, 1 more for delays, you need 12 stereo buses.
If you wanted to route all the drums and plates to a Drums bus, you need the 13th and, if you want to use parallel compression in your drums, you need the 14th. So, if add what you need for the bass guitar, electric guitar, vocals, etc. you wil run out of buses quickly.
Of course, you can always reuse the buses you already used to record the individual instruments of your EZDrummer drums, because you only need those when recording the output of EZD in audio format. But, it's a real mess to de-assign and re-assign buses between tracks. It can be done but, It obliges me to loose still more time with things that aren't directly related to musical production.

So, I checked with Pro Tools pre-sale department and, they confirmed me that the Music Production Toolkit 2 will double the number of available audio tracks and buses. So, I've ordered it!.

Testing it


After installing it I was surprised because, I didn't saw the new additional buses. Where my buses are?. WTF?.
I've opened previous projects, trying to re-assign the sends to those new additional buses but, I wasn't able to see any new bus in the list. WTF?.

The next day, mi PC totally crashed (not because Pro Tools) and, I've lost my Operating System disk, with all programs. After 3 days of hard work, I was able to bring to life my old PC.
This time, I've started a brand new installation of Pro Tools 8.0 LE, without installing version 7.4 first and then upgrade, with the updated version downloaded from Digidesign's web. My current version is just 8.0.1, while the previous one was 8cs3.
Once again, surprises:

In my previous installation, I wasn't able to select the Digi Rack 003 as my PC's audio card, in Windows XP Control Panel. Now, surprisingly, the card is populated there and I can use any Windows program thru the monitors.
I've lost also some plugins. By example, EQII plugins were removed but, I've still have the EQIII ones. No idea how many others disappeared.
Well, that new installation was really good so, I've also installed again the MPT-2 upgraded but, those additional buses were still missing and, that made me really nervous: I just bought that MPT-2 because pre-sales people ensured me that I will get the double the number of buses!.

In my honest opinion, Digidesign MUST hung useful instructions in their web, talking about how to install their products, from scratch and, how to leave the last version of each piece of software. There are a lot of spread links to upgrade each part and, it's not clear what to install and in which order.

Well, after fighting long time with the program, I had my lovely buses. I was really lucky. By casuality, I've reviewed the menu option I/O Settings, since I was interested on to rename the Inputs and Outputs to make them to match my studio gear, to easily know what is connected to what and... surprise!, the buses appeared!.
I've saved the I/O parameters and then, inside each old project, I recalled those I/O parameters and the new buses were available!.
This is the kind of things that drives me crazy with Pro Tools.


After so many time wasted, I was able to test the included compressor named Smack!. It's a good compressor that can work in three different modes: opto, electric and warm, with filters to cut lows and, with the possibility to add some distortion, in three different ways.
It works really good, without issues but, I still prefer compressors that can add their own taste to any track, except for voices.

This is one more of the things that comes with the MPT-2 pack. This option allows you to directly bounce your mix to an MP3 file of quality.
Up  to now, I had to bounce to a WAV file and, to convert it later with other tool (Total Audio Converter) and, this process was introducing overs and clipping, even if the original audio file was ok.
The MP3 option works way better, leaving a higher quality file and, without altering the peaks of the mix.

Other options
I am still pending on testing other additions included in MPT-2 but, I am not in a hurry. Everything I needed of this pack was those additional buses and the MP3 option. And both, satisfied me.


  1. Music production is an interesting thing to take up as a hobby or even if you are seriously thinking about getting into this field.

    1. Totally agree but, there is a big handicap: money.
      Guitarist gear is expensive enough but, studio gear is even more. Each plugin, each outgear, each mic, room conditioning, isolation, etc...
      Not for every budget, unfortunately.


Please, feel free to add your comments.