Pro Tools Optimization Guide For Audio Mixing and Mastering

In this optimization guide we will focus on optimizing for mixing and mastering, so sit back, relax and learn!

Optimizing for Mixing and Mastering: If you recall in my previous article, the H/W buffer settings and everything under the “Settings” frame in your Pro Tools “Playback Engine” options, you remember that you wanted the lowest possible size for recording, now can you guess what you want for mixing and mastering? Did you guess high? If you did, give yourself a pat on the shoulder!

When you’re getting ready to mix a song or an entire album, go ahead and set the H/W Buffer Size to 2048. Recording latency is not our focus with mixing– plug-in latency is. So we need to make sure your Pro Tools system won’t buckle if you happen to use a lot of plug ins when mixing. Otherwise, leave the other two options as they were set from the first part of this optimization guide.

The brunt of the settings you will be adjusting will be under the “DAE Playback Buffer” pane in your Playback Engine window.

You will want to change your size to level 1 or level 2 this time, no more, no less, either of those options will keep the streaming and playback of audio and processing from doing anything weird and crashing. For the Cache Size, leave this on “Normal” or “Large” (Large will typically allow you to use more plug-ins on an LE system).

Now we get to a section called the “Plug-In Streaming Buffer” and the last of the options in this screen. What this setting does, is allow for even time between using Audiosuite plug-ins to make a change to one specific point in any particular track as opposed to using a send to add an effect. There is a small latency from when you click the “Preview” button on an Audiosuite plug-in to hear what the effect settings will sound like before you commit to the decision of adding it on in that particular section.

I included mastering in this section as well because plug-ins are still used on mastering sessions in Pro Tools, usually multiple EQs and compressors and a limiter, possibly a master reverb as well. However more people are beginning to use Izotope Ozone or T-racks for their mastering purposes which are an all-in-one plug-in that does all your EQ, limiting, multi-band compression and other fun functions, they add more latency but allow for one to use more inserts if necessary.

This concludes “Optimizing Your PTHD/LE System for Mixing and Mastering”! I hope you have learned a lot and have had your questions answered!