Digidesign used last weekend's Audio Engineering Society conference in San Francisco to debut the new version of its professional audio software, Pro Tools.

Among the major changes in Pro Tools 8 is a completely redesigned user interface. While the new interface includes updated graphics and a new colour palette, there is much more to the redesign than colours.

The Edit window now has a fully customizable toolbar that lets the user arrange elements like the transport window and buttons in a way that makes sense for your working environment. You can also view multiple lanes of data like waveform, pan and volume for each track.

Pro Tools features a new comp window that allows you to see all of your takes at once, instead of selecting individual playlists. You can then create a comp by selecting and promoting the area of audio you wish to include.

Pro Tools 8 also comes with over 70 plug-ins and virtual instruments, as well as a collection of loops to help users build the perfect song.

Digidesign has also expanded the number of simultaneous audio tracks to 48. If you add the Music Production Toolkit 2 or DV Toolkit 2 (Pro Tools LE only), you can get up to 64 audio tracks.

For those users that really need to push the limits of track support, Digidesign also announced the Complete Production Toolkit (Pro Tools LE only), which combines the content of both toolkits and offers up to 128 simultaneous audio tracks and 7.1 surround mixing.

Pro Tools 8 is expected to be available in late 2008 and will support Mac OS X Leopard.