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Pro Tools 11 gems part 3

This time it’s all about metering. Yes, I know it may sound a bit boring, but believe me it can be very important for various reasons.

It’s been long long years that Pro Tools needed a healthy upgrade regarding to its metering. It took Avid so long that actually many of us got used to the “original” subpar metering it offered to the users. Now, with the newest iteration of our beloved DAW, everything has changed for good. We have proper and versatile metering. Better late than never…

I heard many who says now it is completely obsolete as almost the whole audio community is gravitating towards some kind of loudness metering, but still, in my opinion it is a viable option.


Many pro got used to different industry standard metering (BBC, VU, etc.) and can work with these so called obsolete metering very effectively, even in the new loudness era. If you learn to keep a few rules, one can still use the old metering standards and the end result will still be compatible with the new formats. How is this even possible? Remember, mixing is about sound not metering. So while you mix, you should check the meters regularly, but don’t stare at them. Mix for sound not to a standard. With little practice, you’ll learn to mix compatible material with almost no help from the meters.


Many post house still need to ingest, rework, remix old material, so having various older standards built right into our DAW can be very, very helpful. This is also true todays ever-changing industry where we seem to abandon analogue technology, but still need to interface the old with the current one daily.


You can modify the preferences of these meters, so basically you can tailor its behaviour to your own needs, which is, obviously, a great tool. Be it a recording session or a mix, you can easily find your own “metering sweet spot” and save that for later projects. With this, you can always use your own kind of metering which serves you best.

metering options

So, here are the different metering options for Pro Tools 11 HD:

  • Sample Peak Provides the default Pro Tools metering. Sample Peak metering is also the only Meter Type used for non-HD version of Pro Tools. The scale and the decay time is calculated in dB/second, which results in slower decay in metering com- pared to lower versions of Pro Tools (such as Pro Tools 10). The Sample Peak option is the only Meter Type that has a 0 sample integration time, and as such shows all dynamic activity of the digital signal at every moment in time.
  • Pro Tools Classic Provides legacy Pro Tools scale and metering ballistics.
  • PPM BBC (Pro Tools HD Only) Adopted by commercial broadcasters in the UK, BBC scaling uses 4 dB spacing between scale marks. Other organisations around the world, including the EBU, CBC, and ABC used the same dynamics but with slightly different scales.
  • PPM Nordic (Pro Tools HD Only) A Scandinavian variant of the DIN PPM has the same integration and return times but a different scale, with “TEST” corresponding to Alignment Level (0 dBu) and +9 corresponding to Permitted Maximum Level (+9 dBu). Compared to the DIN scale, the Nordic scale is more logarithmic and covers a somewhat smaller dynamic range.
  • PPM EBU (Pro Tools HD Only) Is a variant of the British PPM designed for the control of program levels in international program exchange (Type IIb PPM in IEC 60268–10). It is identical to the British PPM (BBC) except for the meter scale. The meter scale is calibrated in dB relative to the Alignment Level, which is marked “TEST.” There are ticks at 2 dB intervals and at +9 dB, which corresponds to the Permitted Maximum Level.
  • PPM DIN (Pro Tools HD Only) Used in German broadcasting, the nominal analog signal corresponding to Permitted Maximum Level was standardised by ARD at 1.55 volts (+6 dBu), and this is the usual sensitivity of a DIN-type PPM for an indication of 0 dB. The Alignment Level (–3 dBu) is shown on the meter by a scale mark at –9.
  • K–12 (Pro Tools HD Only) The K-scales are RMS based scales with an integrated sample peak meter as a secondary value. K-Scales are popular with music mixers that are looking for a meaningful indication of overall loudness. K–12 should be re- served strictly for audio to be dedicated to broad- cast, though broadcast recording engineers may choose K–14 if they feel it fits their program material.
  • K–14 (Pro Tools HD Only) Use K–14 for mastering when working in a calibrated mastering suite.
  • K–20 (Pro Tools HD Only) Using K–20 during mix encourages a clean-sounding mix that is advantageous to the mastering engineer. At that point, the producer and mastering engineer should discuss whether the program should be converted to K–14, or remain at K–20. If mixing to analog tape, work at K–20, and realise that the peak levels from tape will not exceed about +14.
  • Linear (Pro Tools HD Only) Use Linear for post- production and music mixing scenarios. Using a fast decay time, Linear provides direct one-to-one linear metering of sample peaks in the audio signal with a metering range down to –40 dB. This offers higher metering resolution closer to 0 dB (which can be particularly useful for mixing and mastering).
  • Linear (Extended) (Pro Tools HD Only) Provides the same ballistics as Linear, but the meter scaling extends to –60 dB.
  • RMS (Pro Tools HD Only) Provides metering ballistics that display the average loudness (Root Mean Square of the signal) over a range of time. Peak metering, on the other hand, displays the peak signal level at any given point in time.
  • VU (Pro Tools HD Only) Popular for music and dialog mixing, the VU scale used in Pro Tools is extended on the low end from –23 dB to –40 dB to accommodate a wide range of material without the need for stage re-calibration.
  • Digital VU (Pro Tools HD Only) Provides VU ballistics with a modern digital scale.
  • PPM Digital (Pro Tools HD Only) Popular in Europe and Asia with broadcasters, and also with US Film consoles (such as the Avid System5 consoles), PPM Digital has a similar integration time to Sample Peak metering, but different scales and decay times.
  • VENUE Peak Provides the same ballistics as Sample Peak, but with VENUE meter scaling to +20 dB.
  • VENUE RMS Provides the same ballistics as RMS, but with VENUE meter scaling to +20 dB.

definitions grabbed from PT user guide