Conforming Imported Audio To Session Tempo In Pro Tools

It's easy as pie to automatically match audio to the session tempo in Ableton Live, but it's possible to do this manually in Pro Tools as well. Joe Albano shows how to make it automatic!  

One of Ableton Live's big selling points has always been that, out of the box, audio is automatically conformed'"matched'"to the session tempo, while in some other DAWs, this often has to be done by hand. In Pro Tools, there are a number of ways in which imported audio (from other sessions or other sources) can be made to match up with, and follow, the current session tempo, and this can be set to happen automatically as well as by manual adjustment. For this article, I'll just focus on ways to get Pro Tools to do the conforming automatically.

The Workspace Window

One of the simplest ways to conform the tempo of imported audio is by importing via the Workspace window. 

Fig 1 Pro Tools' Workspace Window.

Fig 1 Pro Tools' Workspace Window.

This window is a browser, much the same as the (Mac) Finder, but it makes easier work of auditioning and importing audio files. Once you've located the audio file(s) you want (let's say, drum beats), you can turn on the Preview button, and as you select different audio files, Pro Tools will play them'"as is, at the original tempo. But if you enable the Elastic Audio button (just to the right), then Pro Tools will audition all audio files instead at the current Session Tempo, making it much easier to determine if a particular bit of audio will work well in the session you're about to import it into.

But the really convenient part is that, once you've selected a file to import, you can drag it into the blank area in the Edit window (below the last track), and Pro Tools will create a new track with Elastic Audio (and Ticks mode) already enabled, so the file should be ready to play at the current Tempo, in sync with the Session. This approach works best with loops, but it can be used with any audio, though with caveats (see below).

Fig 2 A newly-created Elasticized track.

Fig 2 A newly-created Elasticized track.

Drag & Drop

Sometimes it's more convenient to just drag audio files straight in from the desktop or from a Finder window'"Pro Tools makes allowances for this as well. There's a preference aptly named 'Drag and Drop from Desktop Conforms to Session Tempo'

Joe is a musician, engineer, and producer in NYC. Over the years, as a small studio operator and freelance engineer, he's made recordings of all types from music & album production to v/o & post. He's also taught all aspects of recording and music technology at several NY audio schools, and has been writing articles for Recording magaz... Read More

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