ARA 2 Melodyne Integration with Avid Pro Tools
By: David Cotton
Among the features, workflows, and enhancements in the new Pro Tools 2022.9 release is ARA 2 support—specifically, deep integration between Pro Tools and the Melodyne pitch and time solution. This has been one of the most requested features for Pro Tools, and it is available to all current Pro Tools customers on an active subscription or perpetual Software Updates + Support Plan.
For anyone not familiar with Melodyne, it’s an incredible tool that lets you alter pitch, vibrato, volume, sibilants, note length, and timing. From quick vocal tuning and creating harmonies to re-voicing instruments, fixing rhythm timing, and so much more, Melodyne is used by countless engineers around the world every day.
ARA + Pro Tools
ARA is an acronym that stands for Audio Random Access. It is a data-exchange extension for audio plugins, which was co-developed by Celemony, the makers of Melodyne, and PreSonus in 2011. ARA allows an enabled plugin to exchange a greater amount of audio information with a digital audio workstation (DAW) and makes for more streamlined and efficient workflows due to the increased types of data passed between the DAW and plugin. Location, pitch, tempo, and rhythm are all examples of some of the data that can be exchanged. The second version of ARA (ARA 2) was introduced in 2018 and is the version Pro Tools utilizes for its integration. With more and more plugin manufacturers supporting ARA in their portfolios, the future remains quite bright for this powerful audio workflow extension.
Our initial implementation of ARA with Pro Tools utilizes Celemony’s powerful pitch-and-time solution, Melodyne. The primary workflow benefit from this implementation lies in the deep integration with Pro Tools, which removes the necessity to round-trip audio, therefore creating a more holistic experience for the user. Pro Tools is like a massive Swiss Army knife when it comes to both the sheer number of workflows and the varied types of users we support, so enabling users to choose how to work with this powerful tool was paramount in how we integrated ARA. Melodyne can be applied to entire tracks at once or simply used in a clip-by-clip manner. It can serve as an alternative elastic audio plugin on analyzed or edited clips when working with Tick based audio. No matter how you interact with it, the Melodyne user interface is now conveniently docked in the Pro Tools Edit window, and new commands have been added to the Track and Clip menus along with respective contextual menus.
It should be noted that a current, licensed, and working version of Melodyne is required for Melodyne ARA 2 to work in Pro Tools. Melodyne 5 essential is installed with all paid versions of Pro Tools (both active subscriptions and current perpetual licenses), and you can even use run your own Melodyne license in the new Pro Tools Intro (which does not include Melodyne 5 essential). And if you have a license for any higher tier of Melodyne (for example Melodyne Studio), the new ARA 2 version of Melodyne installed by Pro Tools (version 2022.9 and later) will automatically update your higher tier and unlock additional functionality and features.
Pro Tools ARA Workflows
The ARA 2 workflows in Pro Tools are designed around our varied user needs and as such, are meant to be as flexible as possible. Let’s take a closer look at the track and clip-based workflows available.
The quickest and easiest way to start editing with Melodyne is to select the clip you wish to edit and choose “Melodyne > Edit” from the contextual menu (or to use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + A), and like magic, the clip is analyzed and focused in the docked editor for immediate modification.
While Melodyne can be used on a clip-by-clip basis, a track-based approach can be utilized when edits need to be applied to an entire track (similar to the Elastic Audio approach).
To analyze an audio track and edit it with Melodyne, do one of the following:
- Select the audio track and choose Track > Melodyne > Edit.
- Right-click the audio track name and choose Melodyne > Edit.
- From the audio track Elastic Audio/ARA plug-in selector, choose Melodyne.
To analyze an audio clip and edit it with Melodyne, do one of the following:
- Select the audio clip and choose Clip > Melodyne > Edit.
- Right-click the audio clip and choose Melodyne > Edit.
- Select the audio clip and press Control+Shift+A (Mac) or Start+Shift+A (Windows).
Once you start to make edits in Melodyne, Pro Tools provides the following commands:
- Edit Analyzes the track or selected audio clip and opens the Melodyne editor at the bottom of the Edit window.
- Clear Clears all Melodyne edits.
- Bypass Bypasses Melodyne processing.
- Render Renders Melodyne edits on the track or selected clip.
Visual cues have been included to allow the user to know which clips have been edited via ARA/Melodyne. Any clip that has been analyzed or edited by Melodyne via ARA will feature a Melodyne badge, in addition to the horizontal lines, which represent the analysis data. You can import and export audio containing Melodyne analysis, save and recall Melodyne Track States with Track Presets, and import Melodyne Track States using Import Session Data.
Check out these videos to see ARA 2 Melodyne in action:
ARA 2 Melodyne Integration in Pro Tools
Vocal Tuning with Melodyne
Creating Vocal Harmonies with Melodyne
Revoicing Vocals with Melodyne
Adjusting Audio Timing with Melodyne
The New Tab System
The implementation of ARA into Pro Tools required a large amount of information architecture and significant design considerations. A new docked tab system was developed to house Melodyne and any future ARA implementations and lives where the docked MIDI editor originally resided. It is a scalable, tabbed user interface, which houses not only the Melodyne tab, but also the newly tabbed MIDI editor and a tab for Clip Effects. This extensible tab system will grow over time and will allow new features and functionality that might otherwise prove difficult to house elsewhere.
The new tab system at the bottom left
As excited as I am to share this upcoming Melodyne integration with you, I also want to call out that the team working on ARA is located in Ukraine. Many of the developers and testers who pushed the buttons to make this integration a reality did so during insanely uncertain and turbulent times. Credit should go where credit is deserved. Hats off to the team!
Pro Tools 2022.9 along with the included ARA 2 Melodyne integration and updated Melodyne installer is now available for all current Pro Tools customers on an active subscription or perpetual Software Updates + Support Plan. You can update it through Avid Link or find it in your Avid Account. If you need to renew your Software Updates + Support Plan for Pro Tools or want to get current to the latest version, you can find options to do so here. And if you’re new to Pro Tools, you can try out the latest version with our free 30-day trial. For more details about this release, please see the new documentation now available in your Avid Account.