If you have ever spent hours working on a mixing session using a traditional mouse device you already know about all the frustration that comes along with this setup. Traditional mouse devices give the user very limited options when it comes to transport, zoom and toggling different views or functions of Pro Tools, not to mention how difficult it is to use them to create precise automation. This results in less productive workflow.
Another big problem with traditional mouse devices is RSI – repetitive stress injury. Although not all users experience this, it’s a real problems that a lot of producers and engineers encounter. Per short, as you spend several hours a day, several days a week doing similar unnatural hand gestures in order to control the mouse, the muscles in the hand start to get strained and pain occurs, which makes the job, whether it’s mixing or production, a lot harder and unpleasant. We do reviews of the best mouse for Pro tools that way you can avoid RSI.
In order to avoid RSI and generate better workflow many engineers and producers replaced the traditional mouse in their mixing setup with all sorts of control hardware: DAW control surfaces, transport control devices and trackball / ergonomic mouse devices. Thing is, even the most complex control surfaces and transport control hardware out there cannot completely replace the mouse – plus, such hardware usually comes with a nasty price tag. So, what are the right attributes of the best Pro Tools mouse? Let’s find out the pros and cons of the best mouse for Pro Tools in the table below:
Attributes of the Best Pro Tools Mouse
The bottom line is that the mouse device you are using to control your Pro Tools system has to be comfortable and it has make your job easier. It also needs extended functionality in the form of buttons, scrolling wheels or trackballs whose function is customizable so that you can map them to do all kinds of things in Pro Tools. It all comes down to three things when choosing a Pro Tools mouse: comfort, device type and number of buttons and scrolling wheels.
Types of Mouse Devices
One of the first things to consider is whether you want a trackball mouse or an ergonomic designed mouse. The trackball mouse is different from a traditional mouse in the way that you do not have to move the device around in order to control the on-screen cursor. Instead you use a ball that rotates in every direction to move your cursor and you press the ball in order to click. There are two main benefits to this kind of pointing device. One is that you never have to move your hand from the elbow up in order to lift the mouse and move it around to get more pointing distance and the other is that you only need one finger to control the pointing and clicking functions. Sure, for other functions such as right click or toggling other mapped buttons on the mouse you will need that extra finger.
Ergonomic designed mice work exactly the same as your everyday mouse but the shape of the device is designed in such a way that your muscles get the least straining possible thus resulting in more comfortable user experience. A good example of this kind of mouse is the vertical mouse. Crossovers between these two categories are more and more common – mouse devices with fantastically comfortable shapes that also include a trackball.
Buttons, Buttons and More Buttons
One important aspect to look for is the availability of buttons that you can map on your Pro Tools mouse. Lots of trackball and ergonomic devices have all sorts of buttons and scroll wheels that you can assign different functions to using dedicated software usually provided by the manufacturer. This one of those cases where more really is better. Think about it like this, the more buttons you have the more functions you can assign to them and their ability to perform all kinds of Pro Tools tasks increases exponentially as you can also assign button combinations functions. (similar to how keyboard shortcuts work in Pro Tools) It is an easy equation – one button can do one thing, two buttons can do three things, three buttons can do six things and so on and so forth, you get the idea (the example takes in consideration two button combinations, but most mouse mapping software allows for three button combinations as well). The more functions you have at the tip of your fingers the quicker you will be able to edit, mix, automate, scroll through libraries, zoom in and out and any other task one can imagine.
The Best Pro Tools Mouse Devices
There are a lot of options to choose from for your Pro Tools setup. Let’s take a look at some of the best mice devices for Pro Tools:
Kensington Expert Trackball Review
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This a favorite among Pro Tools users. It’s fantastic shape and attachable arm rest makes this device very comfortable. With the TrackballWorks software you can assign the four buttons of the device to all sorts of editing, plug-in library scrolling and other shortcut functions. The device lets you do all sorts of workflow wonders such as one click copy/ paste, one click window selection, transport selections, marker navigation and a plethora of other functions.
Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball Review
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This one falls in the crossover category – it allows for cursor movement without moving your hand but you can also use it as a traditional mouse. It is very comfortable and the shape of the mouse supports your hand lets you rest your arm which reduces the risk of RSI. It is easy to take out the trackball for cleaning and the battery can last up to 18 months according to the manufacturer – now that’s wireless freedom. It also has buttons that you can map just as you would with the Kensington using the Logitech SetPoint™ software (Windows) or Logitech Control Center software (Mac OS X).
Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse Review
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This one is designed for comfort – made from a hand sculpted mold it supports your hand in a natural position and all its buttons are placed in such a way that you never have to move your fingers to reach for a control. It has a main scroll wheel that adapts to the speed you are scrolling through your windows or libraries (customizable with the Logitech Options software) and a thumb wheel that functions as a horizontal scroll wheel as a default setting. (This and the other buttons are also customizable using the Logitech Options software) Another great feature is the laser tracking technology in it that allows for precision tracking even on very glossy surfaces or glass.
We hope you found this guide on choose the best mouse for Pro tools helpful. Some people have a really hard time adapting to a trackball while others find it more natural than a standard mouse from the first touch. Also, make sure that if has customizable buttons, the program that lets you customize the buttons supports cross platform use. Let us know what mouse device you prefer for Pro Tools and why in the comments section!