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Help me select a DAW?

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Help me select a DAW?

Postby Wossname » Tue May 22, 2018 9:23 pm

I've been away from recording for a while, and wish to get going again.

I'd like your advice on which DAW to get/upgrade.

Main use: Record rehearsals for my trio (Yamaha Tyros 5 - I record MIDI onboard the Yammie, edit it somewhat in the DAW, and records the audio output), so the band members can practice in their homes.
Secondary use: Recording solo (tribute) album. Drums from EZ Drummer, me on all other instruments & vocal. Melodyne integration is rather important, as is audio quantize/groove extraction. I'm not that good on bass, and my vocal skills are... enthusiastic, but lacking in pitch perfection.
Tertiary use: I sometimes run a music production class in the local jail. I've been using Sony ACID Music Studio 10 for that. Probably no need to change that in the foreseeable future.


Apparently, I've been collecting DAWs up through the years.
Here are the DAWs I currently have a license for, with upgrade price to the latest version in parenthesis:

    *Sony ACID Pro 7 ($116, v8.0) - I've owned & used Acid since about 2001. No Melodyne, no good audio quantize
    *Studio One 3.5 Pro ($199.00, v4.0) - I have an ongoing project (solo album) in this one, but do I really need any of the new features in 4.0? I kinda doubt it. VERY good audio quantize and Melodyne integration
    *Tracktion Waveform 9 - I used to use Tracktion back before Mackie came in and killed it. Used to like it, but haven't really tried the new version. Looks very promising. How is audio quantize here?
    *Reaper v2.x ($60.00, v5.80) - Love the startup-time on this one. Does Audio quantize badly, I think. No Melodyne either, as far as I can see?
    *Reason 8 ($129, v10) - Never really used it. Been an owner since version 4.something
    *Sonar by Bandlab v24.04 - can you beat free? How is the learning curve? Will it STAY free? Audio quantize? Melodyne integration?
    *Acoustica Mixcraft 8 - Kinda looks like Acid. Dunno why I bought it.
    *Steinberg Cubase Artist 8 ($147, v9) - Never got my head around Cubase, really
    *Ableton Live Suite 8 ($297, v10) - Never made music with it. Want to - a friend gave me an APC40 also.
    *Ignite v1.0 ($50, v1.4.1) - Weird. Just... weird.
    *Steinberg Sequel 3 - abandonware?
    *Harrison Mixbus v2 ($79, v4) - Didn't do MIDI well back in the day. Don't know about now?
    *Magix Music Maker - hey, it's free!

I've put them in what I believe is the order I am most likely to use them.

What do you think?
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue May 22, 2018 10:06 pm

I'm a Reaper user, suits me well, but I don't have Melodyne so can't say if it is supported. I used to use Cubase back in the dim and distant past but, when I went back to a computer as my recorder, I decided that 10 years progress would make Cubase like a new DAW with a steep learning curve so I chose Reaper as much because it was affordable as anything else (and I knew I would be learning from scratch whatever I bought). If I didn't have, and like, Reaper I would probably buy Harrison Mixbus.

I think, though, you have answered your own question, Studio One is the one to go for, and if you don't need the new features (is there a demo version?) you will save money and/or time learning over any of the other alternatives.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby blinddrew » Tue May 22, 2018 10:21 pm

I'm in a similar boat to Sam, though my Cubase use is slightly less distant. I've not used Melodyne with Reaper but it does have it's own built in pitch correction tool that's surprisingly versatile.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby twotoedsloth » Tue May 22, 2018 10:40 pm

Too bad DAWs aren't like microphones... you'd have a treasure trove there.

I use Cubase as my main sequencer/recorder. It works great for my purposes, primarily recording classical and Jazz music.

I will sometimes mix in Harrison Mixbus, maybe it's confirmation bias but the mixes seem to come out a teensy bit better. I would record in Mixbus, but it crashed on me a few years ago during a session, so we had to do a retake that was my fault, rather than the ensemble, which is usually the case. I did have a stereo live to 2 track backup. I haven't had the guts to try Mixbus as my main recorder since then

I do all my stereo edits in Sound Forge. In a perfect world I wouldn't need three pieces of software to do the job, but this is where it is, for me. I'd love to use Melodyne for pitch correction of opera singers, but that would likely result in my death.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby James Perrett » Tue May 22, 2018 11:19 pm

Apparently Melodyne integration is coming to Reaper but the built-in tuning works well too. As far as quantising audio is concerned, I suspect things have come a long way since 2.80 - I've been using stretch markers quite a bit recently and they work well for me. I prefer to stretch things manually when needed rather than try and make everything absolutely in time as most of the music that I record needs to sound more organic.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby billr » Tue May 22, 2018 11:31 pm

I'm in the same boat and looking for a new DAW for my Mac. I like the look of Studio 1 but have heard that it is prone to crashes and or freezes. Can anyone who is a power user confirm if this is true or not as I can't have problems when doing paid work.

Cheers

Bill.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby garrettendi » Wed May 23, 2018 8:10 am

I use Mixbus v4 for recording and everything else! The MIDI is pretty good now, still maybe a slight weak point but good enough for most people.

You can download a demo of both v4 and 32C so it won't hurt to see if it fits your requirements.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby Wossname » Wed May 23, 2018 12:06 pm

billr wrote:I'm in the same boat and looking for a new DAW for my Mac. I like the look of Studio 1 but have heard that it is prone to crashes and or freezes. Can anyone who is a power user confirm if this is true or not as I can't have problems when doing paid work.

Cheers

Bill.

Don't know if I'm a power user, but I used it for quite a few sessions about two years ago. No problem whatsoever. I can only assume it has gotten even better up through the years.

What I like(d) about Studio One was it's learning curve, or rather: Lack thereof. Everything is (was?) quite simple to get your head around.
Reaper, on the other hand seems to have about ten ways to do every thing, instead of just one, polished.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby Wossname » Wed May 23, 2018 12:08 pm

garrettendi wrote:I use Mixbus v4 for recording and everything else! The MIDI is pretty good now, still maybe a slight weak point but good enough for most people.

You can download a demo of both v4 and 32C so it won't hurt to see if it fits your requirements.

Fairly sure it doesn't have either audio quantize or Melodyne integration?
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby Wossname » Wed May 23, 2018 12:10 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:I'm a Reaper user, suits me well, but I don't have Melodyne so can't say if it is supported. I used to use Cubase back in the dim and distant past but, when I went back to a computer as my recorder, I decided that 10 years progress would make Cubase like a new DAW with a steep learning curve so I chose Reaper as much because it was affordable as anything else (and I knew I would be learning from scratch whatever I bought). If I didn't have, and like, Reaper I would probably buy Harrison Mixbus.

I think, though, you have answered your own question, Studio One is the one to go for, and if you don't need the new features (is there a demo version?) you will save money and/or time learning over any of the other alternatives.

Yeah, you are probably right. Better the devil you know :-)

Studio One it is.

Thanks,

(I wish I could sell most of the other licenses.
Probably not worth anything though)
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby Wossname » Wed May 23, 2018 12:12 pm

James Perrett wrote:Apparently Melodyne integration is coming to Reaper but the built-in tuning works well too. As far as quantising audio is concerned, I suspect things have come a long way since 2.80 - I've been using stretch markers quite a bit recently and they work well for me. I prefer to stretch things manually when needed rather than try and make everything absolutely in time as most of the music that I record needs to sound more organic.

My playing is so organic, it should probably be on the compost heap.

Well, audio/groove quantize has a percentage, so I don't find it too perfect.

Thanks for the input on Reaper. I've looked at stretch markers, but the process seems alien to me. Probably already too used to Studio One.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed May 23, 2018 12:14 pm

Wossname wrote:
billr wrote:I'm in the same boat and looking for a new DAW for my Mac. I like the look of Studio 1 but have heard that it is prone to crashes and or freezes. Can anyone who is a power user confirm if this is true or not as I can't have problems when doing paid work.

Cheers

Bill.

Don't know if I'm a power user, but I used it for quite a few sessions about two years ago. No problem whatsoever. I can only assume it has gotten even better up through the years.

What I like(d) about Studio One was it's learning curve, or rather: Lack thereof. Everything is (was?) quite simple to get your head around.
Reaper, on the other hand seems to have about ten ways do do every thing, instead of just one, polished.

What DAW do you use now? The 'most intuitive' DAW is the one you learned to use already. I went from hardware to Reaper as it appeared to be well respected, is very powerful and was very affordable and as I hadn't used a DAW for 10 or more years I was starting from scratch with whatever I decided to buy.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby The Elf » Wed May 23, 2018 12:46 pm

This is pretty much one of those 'list of all the DAWs everyone here uses' threads...

I'll post a unhesitant vote up for Cubase, if you're serious and don't mind spending money on quality. The integrated VariAudio remains a huge draw for me, given the amount of work I have to do in there day to day. I haven't found anything to seriously match it.

I'll add a more cautious vote up for Reaper, if you're fairly serious and don't mind a slightly less appealing (IMHO) interface.

I own and use both of the above. For me, Reaper is great for tracking on the move, Cubase is quicker and slicker for exacting editing and mixing.

Others will differ on any of these points, and that's probably as it should be. You can turn out a decent piece of music in any of the DAWs likely to be mentioned in the thread.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby Forum Admin » Wed May 23, 2018 1:43 pm

+1 for Studio One Pro on Mac. Never crashed for me.

And the new v4 features and updated native instruments look very attractive, including the external plug-in scanner (VST2, VST3) and AAF import/export which supports Pro Tools, Logic, Nuendo, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, and others. I've missed not having a way to store notes directly in the S1 songs, but v4's Track/Channel Notepad now allows this, so I'll probably upgrade this weekend.

I also keep my Logic Pro X up to date, but that is Mac-only. Nonetheless it is a superb DAW.

As The Elf said, you can make music and record in every DAW available... I just happen to believe that Studio One Professional has the features/functions that let me work how my brain wants me to work and it doesn't get in the way of making music.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby OK1 » Wed May 23, 2018 2:04 pm

My suggestion - as pretty much all of these DAW's have a trial version, or a free feature limited version, that has pretty much all of the basic editing features included, try them out one after the other -

1. Define a small set of regular tasks you would wish to perform
2. Try each one of the DAWs and see how easy it is to learn each one. This is probably the most important factor - which one has the learning features (videos, documentation, online community, etc) that works for your preferred way of learning.

All of the DAW's pretty much share a lot of common features but will differ in how you access these features - single screen, multi-screen, etc.

I once and still own Cubase but have not upgraded in over a decade. Why once I met Reaper - its performance advantages and elegance - light footprint - stood head and shoulders above everything else out there. It is the most configurable, but may have a steeper learning curve. However if MIDI is important to you, I would say seriously consider something like Cubase a product which started out with very strong MIDI foundations.

There will always be a compromise - only you can decide what is most important to you and in what way you are willing to compromise.

For me the visual interface is also really important and I find Reaper with its theme options an interface I can stare at for hours. Excellent efficient use of screen estate.

In contrast I tried out the free Cakewalk by Bandlab - which is the reincarnation of the highly acclaimed Platinum version of the commercial Cakewalk product. - Stunning tool, great sound quality and I suggest you try this also cos it is also free and should have one of the best MIDI implementations as it is a product that grew out of the pre audio era of DAW's like Cubase - when MIDI was all that a sequencer was able to do (before they all evolved to be known as DAW's adding audio to their capabilities). In my case the performance of Cakewalk(slow response to a lot of things - searching for plugins being one absolute nightmare - chugging away forever if you add a new plugin!!) and the inefficient use of screen estate did not endear it to me.

Tracktion 6 is great, and free - simple to use once you catch on to its ethos - not the most intuitive (but none of them are - reading and study or watching learning videos, is unavoidable)- but I did not use the MIDI features.

If there was one thing which you may find important - stability - I vouch for Reaper as the most stable piece of front end software I have ever used - bar none. Very, Very crash proof. This may be important for your sanity, and you can have it save recovery copies of your project at a time interval you determine. This is a lifesaver, if you've been working for hours and forgot to save.

All comments above refer to DAW use on Windows 8 and 10.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby Wossname » Wed May 23, 2018 7:00 pm

Wossname wrote:
    *Sony ACID Pro 7 ($116, v8.0) - I've owned & used Acid since about 2001. No Melodyne, no good audio quantize
    *Studio One 3.5 Pro ($199.00, v4.0) - I have an ongoing project (solo album) in this one, but do I really need any of the new features in 4.0? I kinda doubt it. VERY good audio quantize and Melodyne integration
    *Tracktion Waveform 9 - I used to use Tracktion back before Mackie came in and killed it. Used to like it, but haven't really tried the new version. Looks very promising. How is audio quantize here?


Audideluxe.com had the Studio One Pro 4 upgrade for 129usd. I went for that.
Thanks for the input, folks :-)
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby James Perrett » Wed May 23, 2018 8:41 pm

OK1 wrote:If there was one thing which you may find important - stability - I vouch for Reaper as the most stable piece of front end software I have ever used - bar none. Very, Very crash proof.

I'd agree - I started off with Voyetra's Sequencer Plus which never crashed in something like 5 years of professional studio use and Reaper is about the only piece of music software that has come close to that level of stability. I think the only time that it has crashed in the ten years I've been using it has been when I've tried to use a rogue plug-in.
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby billr » Wed May 23, 2018 11:01 pm

Good to hear from Studio 1 users, thanks, seems to be stable then. At the moment I record to a Yamaha AW4416 which has been great but is getting a bit long in the tooth, hence change to DAW. Sometimes I transfer tracks via Lightpipe to a DAW in a friends studio for mixing and editing and he has Cubase which I like a lot. Only thing is I don't want to have to worry about i-lock and also have to buy Wavelab for mastering. I have tried Reaper and could not get on with it, so Studio 1 looks attractive if it's stable.

Cheers

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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby Wavemangler » Thu May 24, 2018 12:21 am

Hello, Bill Plummer here.

All I can offer is what I use and why I use it. For composing, sequencing and some recording Logic Pro is what I like. It has a great suite of plug-ins, virtual instruments and is incredibly powerful under the hood once you understand their environments. The ease of changing time signatures and being able to copy and paste makes the workflow very fast. I do change the keyboard shortcuts to my liking so I can get to my favorite things very easily. There are a great number of film/tv composers who use Logic.

When it comes to editing, mixing and mastering I use Samplitude or Sequoia. Magix makes a wonderful product and the object editing aspects are brilliant. I must say that I have worked for Magic’s in the past at tradeshows doing demos of the product. In fact when emagic were still doing Logic (up to version 5.3?) they planned on integrating with Samplitude with the intent of having both programs run the same time with Logic handing the sequencing side of the DAW and Samplitude doing the audio editing and mixing needs. I still have the brosure we were giving out at NAMM. At the time Logic user were 73% PC. This was is in January. By April Logic was owned by Apple. That is when I became a Mac owner (thank God for bootcamp).

Before emagic the company was known as C-LAB. I go back to C-LAB since they had Notator. I wish Apple would put out Notator as an iPad app. I have never have composed as quickly as I did with Notator. They had a column arrange window on the left-hand side of the screen and then with each column you could place your individual sequences. Much of what Logic is comes from it’s granddad Notator. Who knew an Atari Mega 2 could be so powerful. That is a great memory.

Enjoy whatever you choose and share some music with us once your new rig is up and running.

All the best,
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Re: Help me select a DAW?

Postby The Elf » Thu May 24, 2018 7:45 am

billr wrote:he has Cubase which I like a lot. Only thing is I don't want to have to worry about i-lock
A slight bit of pedantry, but Cubase doesn't use iLok. It has an eLicenser dongle. That may not seem important, but I've had lots of trouble with iLok in the past, yet no trouble with eLicenser.
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