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DAW recommendations for my situation - so overwhelmed
Old 27th January 2017
  #1
Registered User
 
🎧 5 years
DAW recommendations for my situation - so overwhelmed

Hey guys! I'm getting back in the game after a long time and I'm in the market for a DAW but am utterly overwhelmed by the options. I know it largely depends on personal needs so I'm hoping I can explain my exact situation and get a few suggestions to at least narrow things down.

Back in the 90's I was a one-man techno-metal outfit consisting of my Roland XP-50 keyboard and an Akai S-2000 sampler, my guitar and a mic. I sequenced on the XP-50 and recorded the audio output from that as well as my mic'ed guitar amp and vocals into Adobe Audition.

Fast forward almost 20 years, and both my sampler and synth are outdated and malfunctioning. So what I'd like to do is replace my old equipment and software with a good DAW and MIDI controllers so I can do all the sequencing and multi-track recording in one place.

I still want the ability to record vocals, guitar amps and an acoustic drum kit, as well as a powerful sequencer and instruments to replace the patches I used in my XP-50 with something more modern so I can revive some of my old songs and write new material. I'm interested in a lot of genres from electronic (too many sub-genres to mention haha) to rock to metal to acoustic folk to classical piano, so I need something that can equally handle these. I also am an aspiring film maker and would like a means to compose music for film.

For live performances, I might simply play back the sequenced stuff while playing along with guitar as I used to do, but also want the option of doing EDM style mixing on the spot.

I need something suitable for a professional studio as I plan to build on my media production business and add better equipment over time. I don't want a DAW lacking in features that I'm going to find limiting and quickly outgrow.

As far as VSTs I need a good sampler, synthesizers, drum rack, orchestral instruments and an array of audio and MIDI effects. I love tweaking parameters and finding unique sounds so the more flexibility the better. I also have a lot of samples I've recorded that I'd like to use to create my own instruments, so something allowing detailed sound design is a plus.

I'm willing to purchase any VSTs that cover areas the DAW does not, but I'm on a limited budget so I need to find a sweet spot somewhere between an expensive DAW with a million awesome plugins, and a cheaper DAW with crap plugins but enough cash left to purchase the ones I need.

I have read a ton of articles and watched a ton of videos but I'm still not much closer to a decision. I've just started trials of Ableton, Bitwig, Reaper and FL Studio and at first glance they all seem like they should do everything I need, but I'm sure there are subtleties of some that might play better into the needs I mentioned above. Maybe someone can point me toward one of these, or something completely different?

Btw, I'm on a home-built Windows 10 PC with an i7 4790k CPU, 16GB RAM, SSD and a few HDDs, nVidia GeForce 760 (upgrading soon) and a basic on-board sound card (also want to upgrade but that's a whole other adventure).

Thanks in advance for any help with this! And sorry for the extremely long post. Thanks for reading this far.
Old 28th January 2017
  #2
Registered User
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
IMHO on either platform (Wintel/Mac) editing, mixing, and recording from live instruments/vocals nothing comes close to the ease of use and workflow of Pro Tools. I do my sequencing in PT but there are definitely better platforms for that. I guess it all depends on are you leaning more towards synths or external sources... Also it's entirely possible to sequence in ableton/fruity/etc and do your audio edits and mix in PT. YMMV though - try the demos before you buy!
Old 28th January 2017
  #3
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Dzilizi's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Up until you said film scoring, I was thinking Ableton would work best for you. I've heard you can compose on Ableton, but it is not as easy as something like Pro Tools or Cubase. However, Ableton does work as a slave through rewire for other DAWs like PT and Cubase, so it isn't a bad one to start with. It is probably the best to use for live performance, as you can easily start loops with a controller in front of you.

But really, the best one is the one that you can easily follow and work with. Your sound card isn't a big deal as you will need an audio interface to record with and it can also act as a sound card. I have a Focusrite Scarlett that works well and is reasonable in price. However, there are much better ones out there (that have a price to go with them) Just make sure it is compatible with Windows 10.

The other thing to look at is if you get a DAW that uses VST for plugins, there are a lot of decent free ones out there that will get you started. Pro Tools uses AAX and there just aren't a lot of free instruments and effects for it. Ableton can use VST's. I also think Bitwig and FL Studio use them also.
Old 28th January 2017 | Show parent
  #4
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dzilizi ➑️
...
The other thing to look at is if you get a DAW that uses VST for plugins, there are a lot of decent free ones out there that will get you started. Pro Tools uses AAX and there just aren't a lot of free instruments and effects for it. Ableton can use VST's. I also think Bitwig and FL Studio use them also.
Obviously Cubase uses VST also (I think they invented VST, not that it's relevant to purchasing now).

One piece of advice - look at the forums for each one your considering, especially the bug forums. By what's not working well, as described in the forums, you'll get a better idea which one's might not be as good a match for you.

I use Cubase exclusively. From what I've read it has a clear superiority over other DAW sequencers in terms of MIDI editing. I can't speak to any other comparisons, however I'm sure others here will be able to!

Oh, and at least in terms of Cubase - I'd buy the "flagship" version (Cubase Pro), rather than one of the stripped down ones, unless you're 100% positive after looking at the version comparison charts you'll be happy with one of the others.
Old 28th January 2017 | Show parent
  #5
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Dzilizi's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexis ➑️
Obviously Cubase uses VST also (I think they invented VST, not that it's relevant to purchasing now).

One piece of advice - look at the forums for each one your considering, especially the bug forums. By what's not working well, as described in the forums, you'll get a better idea which one's might not be as good a match for you.

I use Cubase exclusively. From what I've read it has a clear superiority over other DAW sequencers in terms of MIDI editing. I can't speak to any other comparisons, however I'm sure others here will be able to!

Oh, and at least in terms of Cubase - I'd buy the "flagship" version (Cubase Pro), rather than one of the stripped down ones, unless you're 100% positive after looking at the version comparison charts you'll be happy with one of the others.
This is true. Though you can't test the Pro version just the base model. Though I think that other than number of tracks, instruments and effects, the stripped down ones would probably work to start for basic recording. You would need the full version for orchestral stuff. I don't know how Cubase is for putting music to video though. Do you need Nuendo for that?

I actually use Cubase Pro myself - well I switch between it and Pro Tools for the most part. I love the Chord Track. But I don't find Cubase to be that intuitive, so I don't always recommend it as a starter DAW. But that is my opinion coming from Pro Tools, Sonar, Reason and Ableton which have been a lot easier to learn for me. I also don't usually recommend Pro Tools because frankly, it crashes a lot. When it works, it is the best.

Another thing to look at is the getting started videos on YouTube. Each DAW has them. Expect that it won't be as easy as they make it look, but it will give you an idea of the flow.

LOL! I mentioned Bitwig because he said he was trying it out. I actually know very little about Bitwig.
Old 28th January 2017 | Show parent
  #6
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dzilizi ➑️
Up until you said film scoring, I was thinking Ableton would work best for you.
I was thinking the same. To cover both one possibility would be Pro Tools native and Reason via ReWire. The only other DAW besides PT that film people I know mention is Motu Digital Performer (DP). So DP with Reason or Fruity Loops via ReWire would cover all his needs. After that a solid audio interface with solid low latency drivers like an RME BabyFace Pro and either a used Macbook Pro or a new PC Laptop with internal and external SSD with at least 16gb ram.
Old 28th January 2017
  #7
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Subtox ➑️
I also am an aspiring film maker and would like a means to compose music for film.
If you want to work with films then your realistic options are;

Pro Tools
Digital Performer
Cubase
Nuendo

in no particular order. I get the feeling that a lot of composers think Pro Tools is lagging behind on MIDI implementation, which is something you'd need, but on the other hand us post engineers are more often than not using Pro Tools.

If you're in Europe you'll see more Cubase/Nuendo.

The one good thing about either Pro Tools or Nuendo is that those are the two applications you're likely to see in a post studio when it's time to mix the score and the film, with Pro Tools being way more common.

There are issues you'll get confronted with that are unique to the film industry, so you definitely don't want to get deep into a software that can't keep up with what you need and then have to switch. It's not the composition stuff, it's all the technical boring stuff. I know that for a while a friend of mine scoring on a DAW (I think it might have been Logic, it was a while ago) couldn't use a grid set to timecode, and could only use minutes/seconds. Doesn't seem like a big deal until it is, and it's just annoying the people you interact with.

So, my recommendation would be Cubase/Nuendo, or Pro Tools. And then probably something else for live use.
Old 28th January 2017
  #8
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
Cubase has issues with video now, right ("fix coming soon..."), or am I mistaken?
Old 28th January 2017
  #9
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4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
The video integration in Pro Tools is solid.
Old 28th January 2017 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexis ➑️
Cubase has issues with video now, right ("fix coming soon..."), or am I mistaken?
Yes, you are mistaken.

The issue isn't that there's a problem, the issue is that the video engine requires some content that is/was provided by Apple, and by installing that content many users end up installing other content that is not needed to run Cubase or Nuendo's video engine, and that (unnecessary) content is vulnerable to hacking IF you then also download and run questionable content.

So in a sense the video engine works very well as far as I know, and the issue is that in some cases if you end up running stuff using Apple's QT player and the stuff is of questionable origin you could get into trouble.
Old 28th January 2017 | Show parent
  #11
Deleted 06b951a
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by parkay909 ➑️
IMHO on either platform (Wintel/Mac) editing, mixing, and recording from live instruments/vocals nothing comes close to the ease of use and workflow of Pro Tools.


That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in many years. Sorry. Pro Tools is outclassed on 'workflow' by pretty much most other modern DAWS.

As for the full range of editing, mixing, recording live instruments and workflow combined? I'd say perhaps recording still has a very slight edge with Ptools, but not anything the OP would notice, but everything else is 1000x better in Studio One Pro.

How can you state such things when so many ex pro toolers (I'm one of them along with cubase btw) are jumping ship from that archaic mess to Studio One and not looking back?

Pro Tools is the 'anti workflow' DAW, it's stuck in the 90s design wise, every thing is a convoluted process (setting up/routing buses/auxes/inserting plugs etc) it's literally the least user friendly DAW ever made but managed to become a standard for many reasons that have very little to do with workflow. And that was many years ago.

To recommend someone who wants to get back into DAWS in 2017 to get protools just cos you use it is reckless, and wrong. The thing is Pro Tools users more than any are very snobbish about other DAWS and look down on them, and assume they all must be worse. Well TBH until Studio One V3 all the DAWS and pros and cons that made none of them clearly better for most things.

Studio One is definitely way ahead of Pro Tools in almost every workflow respect, and has features/power that are intuitive, highly usable and inspiring, for both production and mixing (and in fact mastering with the project page).

Built in melodyne, track transform (with undo), console shaper, drag and drop everything, infinite inserts/sends, global fx bypass, proper delay compensation since launch not 10 years after everyone else, cheaper/better plug-ins available, offline bounce (Like every good daw had for a decade and pro tools only got that with 11? sheesh! wake up!)

I wouldn't recommend Pro Tools to my worst enemy. It'll be dead once the old guys in the big studios finally die and good riddance. There is literally not a single redeeming feature about it from a software/application standpoint OTHER than it's ubiquity and that if you work in the industry someone else is more likely to be using it so it's easier to keep going with what you know.

Anyone who isn't doing that would be mad to choose ProTools over Studio One especially, but also over Cubase and a couple of others.

to O.P > Get Studio One V3 demo. Then demo everything else, you will NOT believe how backwards all the rest is.

One click in studio one achieves what can take 4/5 clicks plus a ton of right mouse clicks in ProTools and some others. Real fast, simple workflow but doesn't mean it's dumbed down either. ProTools still doesn't have some of the everyday features we've took for granted for a decade in other daws! And not just stupid frills and icing but proper workflow enhancers.

I've tried/used everything in the past 15 years, was an ex cubase user, nuendo, pro tools and even cakewalk back in the late 90s (and non DAW sequencers before that on Amiga!) nothing has ever got it as right as Studio One. record and mix one project in it and you'll discover that yourself. To use pro tools over that would be like having both arms tied behind your back, strung upside down while trying to work through a tunnel vision filter. Yuck

btw go check the studio one website, and google it - tons of ex pro tooler (inc many big names) left PT and went to S1, no other daw convinced them. I don't work for presonus but it's seriously that much better. PT is way down the list of DAWs in 2017 other than it being used in studios where they often need to stick to it for old time's sake.

Tried Sonar (re below) that was pretty bad tbh. Cludgy and not a patch on studio one, harrison mixbus? a JOKE of a DAW seriously (and studio one now has console shaper which does much the same but better with a proper DAW). I seriously wonder what people don't get about these issues sometimes...
Old 28th January 2017 | Show parent
  #12
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GeneHall's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc ➑️
If you want to work with films then your realistic options are;

Pro Tools
Digital Performer
Cubase
Nuendo

in no particular order. I get the feeling that a lot of composers think Pro Tools is lagging behind on MIDI implementation,



So, my recommendation would be Cubase/Nuendo, or Pro Tools. And then probably something else for live use.
I would add the new SONAR PLATINUM to this list of excellent choices.
I switched from Cubase to SONAR for producing and arranging, mix in either PT or Harrison ( a personal indulgence with a newer DAW). SP has been incredibly stable and is has more than one needs to produce, including video feature sets. For me, Cubase appearance was not engaging enough, to me, Sonar, like Harrison, looks like a console and everything is laid out in a very easy to adapt to format.
Old 28th January 2017
  #13
Registered User
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
I'm going to give a minority opinion as someone who has had to bootstrap myself, buy a dirt cheap DAW that's easy to use and once you get some wind under your wings and have a basic idea what you are doing, then go for a meatier DAW.

To me that would be Acoustica Mixcraft or Traktion t7. Reaper is another possibility, because though in my opinion it's not a beginner's DAW, the user community supporting it is huge.
Old 28th January 2017 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneHall ➑️
I would add the new SONAR PLATINUM to this list of excellent choices.
I switched from Cubase to SONAR for producing and arranging, mix in either PT or Harrison ( a personal indulgence with a newer DAW). SP has been incredibly stable and is has more than one needs to produce, including video feature sets. For me, Cubase appearance was not engaging enough, to me, Sonar, like Harrison, looks like a console and everything is laid out in a very easy to adapt to format.
Good to know.
Old 28th January 2017 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyDandy ➑️
I'm going to give a minority opinion as someone who has had to bootstrap myself, buy a dirt cheap DAW that's easy to use and once you get some wind under your wings and have a basic idea what you are doing, then go for a meatier DAW.

To me that would be Acoustica Mixcraft or Traktion t7. Reaper is another possibility, because though in my opinion it's not a beginner's DAW, the user community supporting it is huge.
At least some of the ones we've mentioned have cheaper versions though, some are even bundled "for free" (not really) with hardware purchases.
Old 29th January 2017 | Show parent
  #16
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc ➑️
Yes, you are mistaken.

The issue isn't that there's a problem, the issue is that the video engine requires some content that is/was provided by Apple, and by installing that content many users end up installing other content that is not needed to run Cubase or Nuendo's video engine, and that (unnecessary) content is vulnerable to hacking IF you then also download and run questionable content.

So in a sense the video engine works very well as far as I know, and the issue is that in some cases if you end up running stuff using Apple's QT player and the stuff is of questionable origin you could get into trouble.
Just so the OP has further info: As I understand it, Cubase depends on Apple's Quicktime for video, Apple has essentially disowned Quicktime https://www.steinberg.net/en/newsand...-pcs-3683.html for security issues, and Steinberg says it takes no responsibility if someone uses Cubase/Quicktime in Windows and has a problem.


BTW - here's a PT12 vs. Cubase 8.5 comparison from a level-headed guy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auXDVUGc8VY .
Old 29th January 2017 | Show parent
  #17
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexis ➑️
Just so the OP has further info: As I understand it, Cubase depends on Apple's Quicktime for video, Apple has essentially disowned Quicktime https://www.steinberg.net/en/newsand...-pcs-3683.html for security issues, and Steinberg says it takes no responsibility if someone uses Cubase/Quicktime in Windows and has a problem.
It's not the complete picture though. If you install "Quicktime" on your computer, and don't really 'think about it', you're getting both the player and the libraries.

Cubase/Nuendo requires Quicktime libraries to run. They do not require Quicktime Player.

Quicktime Player is the problem.

So, you can run Cubase and Nuendo without any risk of that specific problem, as long as you're not using Quicktime Player.
Old 29th January 2017 | Show parent
  #18
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc ➑️
It's not the complete picture though. If you install "Quicktime" on your computer, and don't really 'think about it', you're getting both the player and the libraries.

Cubase/Nuendo requires Quicktime libraries to run. They do not require Quicktime Player.

Quicktime Player is the problem.

So, you can run Cubase and Nuendo without any risk of that specific problem, as long as you're not using Quicktime Player.
Interesting.

Is there a way to remove the Player from the computer?

Do your recommend working with video in Cubase as things stand now?
Old 29th January 2017
  #19
Registered User
 
11 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Studio One does all of the above. I would recommend demo'ing.

You should basically just demo every DAW you can think of (sucks you can't demo Cubase though) until you land on the winner.
Old 29th January 2017
  #20
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TS-12's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Reaper
Old 29th January 2017
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
FL Studio is the one for me - but Reaper might be the one for you
Old 29th January 2017 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexis ➑️
Interesting.

Is there a way to remove the Player from the computer?

Do your recommend working with video in Cubase as things stand now?
Yes, you can have the video engine running with having QT player installed. So no reason not to.
Old 29th January 2017
  #23
Registered User
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Sounds like you want to combine roughly evenly recording audio and sequencing internally, build up a plugin collection and sample library.
Feature wise the mains are roughly similar (IMO) I mostly use Cubase for what your describing. Most people use Reaper as a good starting point..

Cubase would be strong to the sequencing and recording aspects you describing, many sounds included, many plugins, etc.

reaper - efficient for plugin use
cubase - handy tools for song writing, midi editing
fl studio - handy daw but i usually use side by side a larger DAW personally
reason - best all-in-one daw out there, easy to use
Old 29th January 2017 | Show parent
  #24
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc ➑️
Yes, you can have the video engine running with having QT player installed. So no reason not to.
Interesting, is that what you do?
Old 29th January 2017 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexis ➑️
Interesting, is that what you do?
I honestly can't remember if I bothered getting rid of QT Player. The only videos and QT content I get is from clients, and I trust them 100% since the content is all work-related and generated by them. So I have virtually zero risk of getting into trouble.

Either way, the video player works well, and it works without the components that Apple no longer support and were security risks.

It should be added too that we'll soon get an update with a new video engine. I can't remember exactly when, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't withing this or the next quarter.
Old 29th January 2017 | Show parent
  #26
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc ➑️
I honestly can't remember if I bothered getting rid of QT Player. The only videos and QT content I get is from clients, and I trust them 100% since the content is all work-related and generated by them. So I have virtually zero risk of getting into trouble.

Either way, the video player works well, and it works without the components that Apple no longer support and were security risks.

It should be added too that we'll soon get an update with a new video engine. I can't remember exactly when, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't withing this or the next quarter.
Thanks for that perspective, mattiasnyc. Very helpful, just what I'd expect from a nyc kind of guy!
Old 29th January 2017 | Show parent
  #27
Registered User
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CPhoenix ➑️
...sucks you can't demo Cubase though ...
I wonder what kind of marketing strategy results in a new DAW sequencer release (Cubase 9.0) without a trial available for prospective buyers. What has it been, almost 2 months now? ...
Old 30th January 2017
  #28
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
I've used all the main players professionally over the years, and while they're all pretty good in one way or another I've settled on Pro Tools HD, Mac and a mid size Avid controller. I use quite a bit of outboard and really nothing else handles that properly. That's what a hardware based Pro Tools system does, and it does it very well.

If more flexibility with MIDI was a deal-breaker then Cubase, Nuendo, Logic are obvious choices.
They were built to do all that from the ground up. For me I discovered I didn't actually need that functionality to create better music, in some respects it was getting in the way.

Along with Pro Tools I use guitars & amps, Vienna Ensemble Pro for sample libraries, MPC, synths, piano etc'.
It all runs in/out of 32 channels of i/o for patch free simplicity, as well as some MIDI and ethernet for the Vienna machine.
I never found a case where it was comfortable all in one box, but for others it's not an issue.

Trialling all the available DAW software just to confirm what you actually need first and foremost isn't a waste of time, you can at least find the most comfortable solution for your workflow and base some decisions on that.
Old 30th January 2017 | Show parent
  #29
Registered User
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by parkay909 ➑️
nothing comes close to the ease of use and workflow of Pro Tools
I think Pro Tools is bloated and the antithesis of having a sense of workflow, but it does have its place, and that is of course my opinion.

Give Reaper a shot. It is quick to open, load... the ease of grouping and arranging recorded ideas is incredibly intuitive and smooth... but everything is if you spend enough time with it.

Ableton is IMO the best DAW for working with loop-based music (pop, electronic, etc.) and great for live stuff (which OP mentioned). It has easy to adjust options for throwing recently recorded (and even stock) ideas down and having it automatically tempo-matched and ready to be used within seconds.
Old 30th January 2017
  #30
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
+1 for Studio One. Try the demo. I jumped in headlong when I started and was sequencing a shotty demo within a few days without cracking the manual. Highly intuitive and really unrestrictive so far.
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