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Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

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Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby midix » Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:14 pm

I'm a hobbyist, creating electronic ambient, new age, epic kinds of music (VSTi instruments mostly, no live audio, no samples) to express myself and to share it with friends.

I looked at Cubase demo videos for their chords tools and they seem exciting - I have some really basic music understanding and often get stuck when finding the right chords for my melodies to express the exact emotion I need at that moment in time. Cubase Elements has limited chords tools, but that might still be enough. Not sure.

Cubase Elements costs around 100 and includes everything I need to get started and supports external VSTs. It has artificial track and VST slot limits but I might be OK with that (also I might be able to bypass VST limitation with some chainer plugin).

The next tempting option would be PreSonus Studio One Artist - costs also around 100 but a big caveat - has no external VST! I have to buy it for about 80 which in total makes 180. That's the maximal limit I'm willing to spend.

I would never upgrade to Pro (nor Cubase, nor Studio One).

If Studio One had an alternative to Cubase chord tools, I would pick the Artist edition + VST support. Maybe there is some third party Studio One Artist compatible plugin or VSTi to help with chord progressions and composing?

So, essentially it boils down to this: which limited DAW is better investment for my needs:

- Cubase Elements - 100 EUR, limited tracks and VST slots but really useful chord tools and great MIDI editor
- Presonus Studio One Artist + VST support plugin - 180 EUR, no limitations but have to look for third party composition tools (if they exist) and not sure if its MIDI editor is better than Cubase ... but important - compare to Cubase Elements, not higher editions! If Cubase Pro has better MIDI tools than Studio One Artist, it makes no use to me; only Artist vs Elements should be compared.

I know there exist other cheaper DAWs, but I would like to have something of the "well known classics" because they have more tutorials and larger user communities.

Thanks for suggestions.
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Re: Cubase Elements or Presonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Feb 16, 2018 2:43 pm

Cockos Reaper sounds like it would be a better fit to me.

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Re: Cubase Elements or Presonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby Matt Houghton » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:09 pm

There are a few points I'd make...

(1) If you're making electronic music with VSTis then there are plenty of free instruments (check out the KVR Audio database if you want to discover more...). And that means you can choose pretty much any DAW. Cockos Reaper offers the best value for money IMO — the $60 discount license is for the fully functional software, with very reasonable terms; you pay $249 if you make lots of money with it. It doesn't have amazing instruments built in, but that doesn't matter — see my point above about KVR Audio!

(2) You want the special chord functionality of Cubase. You might find the Cubase Elements Chord Pads useful — they're a handy way of playing about manually with chord structures. But it's worth noting that there are actually three versions of Cubase — Elements, Artist and Pro. You can get the Artist version for £199 (eg that's the price at GAK), and this includes the Enhanced Chord Pads of the full Pro version, which costs several hundred more. So it's slightly above budget... but only a very little.

(3) As for third-party scale/chord software, I've not tried this, but it looks like it might be the sort of thing you're thinking of: Sundog Song Studio. It's 55 Euro. Hop to about 3m20 on the video on that page and it starts to talk about using it to create chord progressions.
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Re: Cubase Elements or Presonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby midix » Fri Feb 16, 2018 4:29 pm

I have used Reaper for some time and it is kinda "OK". I like that sends and receives are actually really intuitive to understand - just like wiring things in logical in<->out chain.

But it can get confusing and unintuitive to navigate around with too many menu items. Especially if using it rarely - then I often spend some time trying to remember which menu item was the right one to choose for this particular case.

Other DAWs are more context-aware and kinda "hold your hand" trying to hide things you most probably don't need for the task, while Reaper throws it all into your face and you have to sort it out yourself depending if you are on a MIDI or audio track etc.

And, of course Reaper doesn't have the Chord Pad alternative (but nor does Studio One...).

Thanks for the "Sundog Song Studio" - I will try it, it might indeed turn out to be a good tool if I choose to go with Studio One Artist + VST support package (yes, I definitely want to extend it with the free KVR and other instruments, I already have a small collection of them). Then it will together be 180 + 55 = 235 EUR.

Cubase Artist is 309 + 23 (dongle) = 332 EUR, that might be too much for now (but possible upgrade some day in far future). So, still the same options - Cubase Elements with everything built in but cut down limitations for 100 EUR or Studio Artist One + additional tools for 235 EUR.

I guess, Cubase Elements would seem to be the most "bang for the back" and convenient because no need to buy more tools but I'm just afraid that some day those limitations will bite me - are 24 instrument tracks, 16 VST instrument slots and 16 group channels enough for an "epic ambient composition" I might compose one day? Maybe. There might be even more not so obvious features that are missing in Cubase Elements but present in Studio One Artist. I guess, I'll have to study them more carefully, although I'm leaning more and more towards Cubase Elements - just because it seems a good cheaper "quick start" without buying additional stuff.
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Re: Cubase Elements or Presonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby Agharta » Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:07 pm

Regarding the chords functionality there are a number of 3rd party tools that can be used with just about any DAW and it should be possible to demo many of them.
This is one I have my eye on but haven't tried it yet:
https://www.pluginboutique.com/product/ ... 933-Scaler
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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby Forum Admin » Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:08 pm

Remember, there are always 2nd hand options -- because Studio One Artist is included free of charge in every PreSonus piece of kit, people who use a different DAW or already have the S1 Pro version advertise their Artist license on eBay, Craigslist, Gumtree et al.

Ableton Live 9 Lite has some track restrictions but will host VST plug-ins/VIs, and has arpeggiator and chorder MIDI tools - see https://www.ableton.com/en/products/live-lite/features/

Like Studio One Artist it's a 32-bit program.

Worth a look?
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Re: Cubase Elements or Presonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby Mixedup » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:31 am

midix wrote:Cubase Artist is 309 + 23 (dongle) = 332 EUR, that might be too much for now (but possible upgrade some day in far future).

It's available for less than that. Type "Cubase Artist" into a Google Shopping search. Nestling in amongst the cut-price education licenses, I can see several special offers of a £199 interface that ships with Cubase AI and a free upgrade to Artist. Those are available to anyone in the EU.

I'm not saying you have to buy that; just don't discount it solely on the grounds that it costs way more.
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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby ef37a » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:22 am

Based on mine and my son's limited experience I would say if MIDI is in the equation go for Cubase.

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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby midix » Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:52 pm

Thanks for ideas, I'll consider the other possibilities and bundles with upgrade options.
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Re: Cubase Elements or Presonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby Pete Kaine » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:48 pm

Agharta wrote:Regarding the chords functionality there are a number of 3rd party tools that can be used with just about any DAW and it should be possible to demo many of them.
This is one I have my eye on but haven't tried it yet:
https://www.pluginboutique.com/product/ ... 933-Scaler

Whilst I'm not claiming to have tried all of the ones available, I've played about with a few of those tools in the past. Scaler is by far the most intuitive and usable one I've had my hands on so far.
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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby Keyman777 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:59 pm

II have both studio 1 & elements but prefer cubase elements liking the user interface a little better. They are similar besides the vst's. It's Preference though! If elements has the functions you need! I'm surprised nobody suggested reason intro as it might be worth a look as I don't own intro but own & use the full version. I also own full versions of all 3 & prefer cubase for midi. Others have different opinions as it is user preference. I haven't used reaper so I can't compare there.
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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby The Red Bladder » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:42 am

As a studio owner, I get to see and try out just about everything out there. If the OP wants a DAW that does it all, from soup to nuts, from post-prod to MIDI, from ADR to a film score, there are (IMO) just two candidates - CuBase Pro and Reaper. ProTools comes third but fails to deliver adequate tools for MIDI and post-prod (but is the most used in that field for other reasons).

If the OP does not want to spring the £400+ for CuBase Pro, get Reaper and remember to right-click on an item to get all options.

Simples.

But CuBase Pro is unbeatable for MIDI. Period!

But he should stop being a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest, get both legs and blow the extra £300! Live a little!
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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby ef37a » Mon Mar 04, 2019 11:03 am

Err, Red, twas said in The Hallowed Pages that if you wanted a DAW that did it all, Samplitude pro X comes very close?

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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby The Red Bladder » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:05 pm

All sorts of stuff comes close, ProTools, Logic, Samplitude - they're all good, but if you are a MIDI-freak and you want to fly, CuBase Pro is it!

I'm not a fan and I don't use it myself - but then I think that MIDI, when used instead of actual playing of instruments is the work of the Devil! But for those of you drawn to the Dark Side . . .

For those of you who make all that dreadful beep-beep, wiki-wiki, oof-oof-oof, weeeee noises that is just a collection of bridges strung together without tune, cadence or resolution, well, the Dark Side beckons . . .
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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby Still Vibrations » Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:01 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:I'm not a fan and I don't use it myself - but then I think that MIDI, when used instead of actual playing of instruments is the work of the Devil!

I agree, I use MIDI for connecting a controller keyboard which I play and record live. The only time I record a MIDI track is when I want that early techno machine sound, which isn't very often now. To me MIDI sounds wrong, compared with live playing on synths. As for adding a 'human feel' to MIDI I can't get my head round that.
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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby OneWorld » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:58 pm

Still Vibrations wrote:
The Red Bladder wrote:I'm not a fan and I don't use it myself - but then I think that MIDI, when used instead of actual playing of instruments is the work of the Devil!

I agree, I use MIDI for connecting a controller keyboard which I play and record live. The only time I record a MIDI track is when I want that early techno machine sound, which isn't very often now. To me MIDI sounds wrong, compared with live playing on synths. As for adding a 'human feel' to MIDI I can't get my head round that.

MIDI is the 'Score' editor for music composed on a DAW, I cannot see how anyone could do without it, even if playing 'live' the notes are sent to the DAW, and if there are fluffs in the played music, then it can be edited and played back to the synth. When you say you are playing and recording live - what are you recording to? Is it you're taking the audio from the synth and recording it as an audio track into the DAW?

I cannot understand how it sounds wrong - all the MIDI is doing is mirroring back the notes that come in from the synth? MIDI is simply a representation of the notes played in much the same way crotchets and quavers are represented on a score sheet, in fact on any DAW that has a score editor you can see the same notes in the MIDI editor. I'm confused as to how it can sound different if the music (MIDI notes) are sent back to the synth that played them in the first place?
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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby desmond » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:13 pm

Imo - anyone who thinks any particularly technology is the work of the devil seems to be missing the point that it's *always* about the person using the technology, not the technology itself.

It's never been easier to make bad music (or bad films, or bad art, or bad books etc) but it's *our* problem, not the technology.

To me MIDI sounds wrong, compared with live playing on synths.

By "MIDI" in this context, what I think you mean is "painting in notes manually in a DAW" sounds wrong, compared to playing the part (by a musician who can effectively and musically play a keyboard). This is because it's very difficult to manually, consciously program in musical feel. It's not impossible, but it is hard, and generally, if you have enough ability to know what feel is to program it effectively, you probably have enough ability to play it that way.

But don't equate MIDI to "painting by numbers in the edit pages of a DAW' because those are two completely different concepts. You can happily record live playing via MIDI (and audio at the same time if you wish) and use the possibilities of MIDI to good creative use.

Ultimately, no technique is bad, it's the end results that count. Plenty of people who can't play instruments have made worthwhile music, and music that would never have been made by a more traditional approach.
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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby tonemangler » Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:36 am

In my opinion the obvious best bang for your buck is Cakewalk by Bandlab (formally known as Sonar Platinum). This is a fully mature and powerful DAW on par with anything else out there and the crazy thing is that it's totally free! It has a very good midi spec, and runs with unlimited tracks and Vsti's, as much as your CPU can handle. There are tutorials online under both the Sonar and Cakewalk by Bandlab banner. If I where looking for a first DAW for Windows on a limited budget this would be the no brainier choice.
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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby ef37a » Sat Mar 09, 2019 7:50 am

desmond wrote:Imo - anyone who thinks any particularly technology is the work of the devil seems to be missing the point that it's *always* about the person using the technology, not the technology itself.

It's never been easier to make bad music (or bad films, or bad art, or bad books etc) but it's *our* problem, not the technology.

To me MIDI sounds wrong, compared with live playing on synths.

By "MIDI" in this context, what I think you mean is "painting in notes manually in a DAW" sounds wrong, compared to playing the part (by a musician who can effectively and musically play a keyboard). This is because it's very difficult to manually, consciously program in musical feel. It's not impossible, but it is hard, and generally, if you have enough ability to know what feel is to program it effectively, you probably have enough ability to play it that way.

But don't equate MIDI to "painting by numbers in the edit pages of a DAW' because those are two completely different concepts. You can happily record live playing via MIDI (and audio at the same time if you wish) and use the possibilities of MIDI to good creative use.

Ultimately, no technique is bad, it's the end results that count. Plenty of people who can't play instruments have made worthwhile music, and music that would never have been made by a more traditional approach.

+1 Des' MIDI is the electronic equivalent of the piano roll and they were produced by some very famous artists.
I only ever saw two. One was falling apart and in the organ shop for repair. The other was an upright and sound pretty good to my young ears and you could run the music at mad speed!

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Re: Cubase Elements or PreSonus Studio One Artist for my needs?

Postby Still Vibrations » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:55 am

desmond wrote:
To me MIDI sounds wrong, compared with live playing on synths.

By "MIDI" in this context, what I think you mean is "painting in notes manually in a DAW" sounds wrong, compared to playing the part (by a musician who can effectively and musically play a keyboard).

A human player has more variations in timing (and volume) than a MIDI track can capture - it is like a low resolution version of the performance to my ears. MIDI has its uses as you point out but I prefer things played live. But I am not against technology, I use distortion pedals on classical saxophone and process sounds beyond recognition. Probably much of the pop and television music I really like was played into MIDI.
I suppose unlike most people I like to commit things. If I used MIDI I could change the synth sound later but I think it is better to make the decision there and then, otherwise mixing becomes a nightmare. I hate mixing, in fact I'm thinking of paying a colleague to mix some things for me.
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