Can You Use Third-Party Plugins in Pro Tools First?

As soon as world renowned software developer Avid announced the free version of its legendary music creation software, Pro Tools First, it immediately sparked a huge interest in the music industry.

The fact is that this version of the application can be distributed free of charge, which is especially attractive for novice musicians and arrangers, and for already experienced representatives of the music field.

But here’s the question – can third-party plugin formats work with this version of the popular application, are they compatible?

Several free plugins can be installed from the integrated store in Pro Tools First in the Marketplace menu. Those plugins that have already loaded but have not been installed can be installed manually – the installers are downloaded to the download directory, and the problem with access rights is solved by asking for a password during the installation process. By the way, you don’t need to restart Pro Tools First to start using newly installed plugins.

The main plug-in format for Pro Tools software is AAX. This statement is also true for the «lightweight» version of the application. This plugin format is installed. As a rule, on a 64-bit system, which guarantees its stable operation even with relatively low capabilities of all computer equipment.

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It should be said that the free version of the popular application is very limited in basic features. Of course, they can be expanded by purchasing, for example, additional plugins. But in this case, as we understand, a perfectly complete version of this software product will no longer be free at all.

Installation of third-party plugins can be done automatically or manually, but … not in this free version. You can not use any other plugins other than those included in the installation package or downloaded from the Marketplace. Yes, when you start ProTools First for the first time, it scans all installed AAX plugins, puts them in directories, creates configuration files … but leaves them hidden. Only owners of «adult» ProTools licenses can use third-party plugins, for which, of course, you will have to pay a lot of money. As a result, there is not so much practical sense in Pro Tools First. Such limited software is suitable, perhaps, for students. Well, for musicians in the studio who already have a full-fledged Pro Tools or even an HD system, and First is useful for creating demos in the bedroom without having to always carry iLok with you. On the part of Avid, the shareware Pro Tools First is rather a way to «feed» already potentially loyal users and persuade them to purchase a subscription to Pro Tools 12 or another current paid version. Quite a logical and effective marketing ploy.

Try it free