This week we quickly discuss Logic, Cubase, Ableton Live, Pro Tools, FL Studio and how to choose the best DAW for your needs.
What is the best DAW? You have to think that DAW is just a “host” and what really matters is your audio. The difference between one program and another is mostly about ergonomics.
The type of music that you want to make and your personality will dictate what DAW is best for you.
Ableton Live is great for House music / Dance music and it’s very flexible for live applications. With Ableton Live you can play loops along with your session, quickly scroll through them and play them back in sync with the rest of the session. That’s very practical if you are hunting for loops and trying to build your groove within your arrangement. With Ableton Live you can also create quite complex mixing structures and intricate side-chain compression architectures. In fact, you can use modules to obtain certain effects and combine them extensively to customise your mix flow.
Steinberg Cubase is our favourite because of its flexibility and reliability. We use its export and import features frequently, which are really reliable and fast. It’s great for composition because it can handle plugins and soft synths really well. It’s not afraid of CPU intensive plugins and it manages to keep low latency better than most programs we’ve tried so far. Version 9 also has a great sampler track where you can drag and drop pieces of audio and rearrange them using a keyboard.
Pro Tools has always been a great choice for professional studios and it can definitely handle editing very well. It’s a great choice for large recordings (live bands, orchestras and large number of inputs in general). The Avid interfaces are expensive but they certainly deliver great sound quality and efficiency. Pro Tools however is not the ideal choice for music creation. In our experience it doesn’t handle large numbers of plugins without dedicated hardware. It also doesn’t have very good MIDI implementation either. In other words it’s great, but not for everything.
It’s one of the most popular programs, and we have used it quite a lot in the past. It’s great for beat and music making and can be used for mixing effectively. However we feel that its editing capabilities are not the best, and up until version 10 it had a few issues with exporting multi-track files. In our view Logic has a similar flavour to Cubase… but it’s just not quite as good.
FL Studio is apparently great for Hip Hop and beat making. We can’t speak directly about it because we don’t use it, but we see lots of our clients using it quite successfully. It’s used a lot for beat making and composing electronic music. We’re told it has quite good synth sounds and a good built-in sampler. I’m afraid you will have to do your own research to see whether that’s good for the music you want to make.
The best way to choose your DAW is: try demo versions of all of them and choose which one suits your tastes. If you keep in mind that speed is an important part of your inspiration and creative process, then whichever DAW gets you to your desired result the quickest possible way is the best for you.
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