Digidesign Pro Tools LE

You’re Surrounded

By Mitch Gallagher
Objective: Perform surround mixing in Pro Tools LE.

Background: Pro Tools LE doesn’t have built-in surround support. If you have an interface with six or more outputs, here’s how to make the leap to multi-channel.

Step by Step: You’re just steps away from surround mixing in Pro Tools LE.

1. Connect your interface to your surround speakers. Route outs 1/2 to front left/right, out 3 to center, out 4 to sub, and outs 5/6 to rear left/right.

2. In Pro Tools, go Setups > I/O Setup. Create four paths. Label one “Front,” make it stereo, assign to out 1 and 2. Label one “Center,” make it mono, assign to out 3. Label one “Sub,” make it mono, assign to out 4. Label the last one “Rear,” make it stereo, assign to outs 5 and 6.

3. Create four master faders, two stereo and two mono. Label the stereo ones “Front” and “Rear,” label the mono ones “Center” and “Sub.”

4. Assign the master faders to the paths that match their names. Now any tracks that you route to the various master faders will feed the respective speaker(s) in your surround rig.

5. Group the four master faders.

6. Assign your tracks to the masters. I assign the main track outs to Front, then create three sends on each channel: one each for Center, Sub, and Rear. Make sure the sends are pre-fader.

7. If you raise a track’s fader, it will come up in front, and can be panned as normal. Raise a send, and the track will come up in the corresponding speaker or sub. By balancing the fader and the sends, you can pan anywhere in the surround field.

Tips You can change the output or send assignment for all tracks at once by holding Option while you change the assignment for any track. Moving pans can be done using automation to simultaneously increase and decrease complementary levels and pans. Level changes for tracks sent to more than one speaker may require automation to adjust multiple sends simultaneously.