AAX and Pro Tools 11: Which Plugins are Compatible and Which Aren’t
July 3, 2013 by Justin Colletti
Pro Tools 11 is out now, and some users are already adopting early. However, one concern with the new platform is that some plugin developers have not yet ported their software over to PT 11′s new second generation AAX protocol, which runs now at 64-bits.
As of press time, a huge number of major plugins are already available – especially in Native – but there are a few key exceptions that might make users wait a tick before getting on board.
Fortunately, anyone who purchases PT 11 also gets a PT 10 license from Avid, and the ability to install both versions on their machine, which should help users get by until even more plugins become available for the new version of Pro Tools.
Which Plugins Are Available?
The list of plugins available for Pro Tools 11 is a long one, and it’s filled with many of the most essential small developers on the market.
For a searchable database of all the plugins that are currently available, see www.avid.com/plugins and filter the results by clicking the box marked “Pro Tools 11.”
Just about every plugin that Avid makes is currently available for PT 11 in Native.
The same goes for Plugin Alliance, Arturia, McDSP, elysia, SPL, Brainworx, the most popular entries from iZotope, and all 21 plugins made by Blue Cat.
Also on the list are Metric Halo, East West, DMG Audio, Fab Filter, Neyrinck, Nomad Factory, Synthology, TC Electronics, a good handful of the plugins from Flux, and for Mac users, all the FX and EQs by PSP. (PSP’s dynamics plugins and Windows versions are coming soon.)
Just yesterday, SoundToys also joined the list, releasing a PT 11 public beta of all their plugins for Mac users. They expect the “official” version to be ready by mid-July, and a Windows update should follow soon after.
Which Plugins Aren’t Available?
All put together, the AAX compatible list covers a huge number of plugins made for Pro Tools. But the exceptions are notable ones.
Leading the list of plugins that are yet to make it to Pro Tools 11 are Waves and Universal Audio, two of the biggest and most popular brands out there.
When asked for comment, a representative for Waves said they were expecting Native PT 11 compatibility “very soon.” The people at Universal Audio said that an exact date is “TBD” but that they expect to have all of their UAD plugins ported over “by the end of this year.” (UAD’s official FAQ can be found here.)
Also missing are Audio Ease, who say they are “close with Altiverb 7” and that “Speakerphone 2 will follow up soon after”; and Softube, who say their complete line should be available for Pro Tools 11 in September.
Antares’ AutoTune is currently missing as well, as is celemony’s Melodyne. celemony report that they are currently “working closely with Avid” to iron out Melodyne’s stability at 96kHz.
Currently the people at Massey report they are are “grinding pretty hard here on the ol’ AAX code” and expect updates “soonly.”* Also still to come are plugins from Slate Digital, Sonnox, Ohm Force, Mellowmuse, and Abbey Road/Chandler, who were not able to respond in time for this piece.
(*Update: Massey released their AAX versions Feb 11th, 2014)
AAX DSP Support?
Some plugins are also available for AAX DSP, the format that is set to replace TDM, but that list is a bit smaller.
Once again, Avid’s own plugins are pretty much all set. McDSP, Flux, Metric Halo Wave Arts and Neyrinck are on the list as well.
The Plugin Alliance has also gotten started releasing their line for AAX DSP. Already available are the MAAG EQ4, ProAudioDSP’s DSM v2, and some entries from Brainworx, elysia and SPL.
(A full list of Plugin Alliance partners can be found here.)
However, several companies have no plans to support AAX DSP, at all.
Obviously, Universal Audio will continue with their own proprietary DSP system, the UAD platform. But now, you can expect Waves to join that camp as well.
Word from the company is that they will be “releasing a Waves DSP solution for Pro Tools based on SoundGrid very soon.”
Computers have gotten so fast that some companies may decide to stay completely Native in order to help keep costs low to the user.
For instance, SoundToys say that they’re “going to investigate the AAX DSP format (i.e. how much DSP punch we get for the substantial R&D investment) but haven’t made a firm commitment.”
In a day an age when my humble 15” Mac laptop can run scores of tracks and hundreds of plugins, all under Native power, that may be a wise set of numbers to crunch.
Justin Colletti is a Brooklyn-based audio engineer, college professor, and journalist. He records and mixes all over NYC, masters at JLM, teaches at CUNY, is a regular contributor to SonicScoop, and edits the music blog Trust Me, I’m A Scientist.