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> Cubase, Ableton Live, Sonar?, Software decision....
antonskv
post Apr 12 2010, 11:36 PM
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Hi everybody,

Wanted to get some input on getting set on a specific software for audio work.
I've been doing simple things with Ableton Live so far, but now that i expanded my hardware i feel some things are getting hard to do and requires more in-depth studying and all....

But with my new hardware (EMU 1616m, and new Korg PadKONTROL MIDI controller) came some new software that i've been trying out, and i've been thinking about maybe switching from Ableton Live to something else. Choices so far been: Ableton Live, CuBase, Cakewalk Sonar... These three are available to me castrated LE versions but are still full enough to let me do anything i might plan, few audio tracks, few midi tracks... Who could ask for more, eh? smile.gif

Of course i would prefer something that is most easy to learn, but also flexible enough to take full advantage of my new audio card...
So far from me experimenting - to me CuBase looks pretty solid.... It certainly has some features that are not available (or not known to me currently) in Live. For CuBase i will so have to get another Monitor.... That one loves huge work space....

Can anybody give some constructive input? Preferably people with experience in using EMU and PatchMix along with above mentioned software packages...

If you know any specific reason why one of these packages is more preferable, i'd appreciate the knowledge....

Also if you know some cool learning resources that are not widely known in the internet and are not as close as one google search away, then share if you can. Would be cool to speed up this learning process, though i cant really complain.... Documentations for each of these are really good.

Thanks guys.


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Santiago Diaz Ga...
post Apr 13 2010, 06:52 AM
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From my experience, I use Cubase in the studio of my band and it works perfectly, never had a problem. The interface is so good and easy to use. But I think there's not too much variation on those programs, they're all programmed to do the same issue


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MickeM
post Apr 13 2010, 09:45 AM
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I tried many demos before I finally got stuck with Samplitude. Personus Studio one looks neat too.

I want a DAW that works the way I'm working. I want it to be intuitive, which means I don't have to read the manual, and Samplitude is.


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Staffy
post Apr 13 2010, 10:37 AM
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I think there is a lot of DAW's that actually does the same job. But one thing to consider is the compability with other users / documentation online & tips/tricks. Also regarding plug-ins etc. In my world there are only Cubase & Pro Tools that really stands up to those criterias, therefore I'm running Cubase. (well, I might be switching to Pro Tools in order to be compatible with the Pro studios in the future)

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Saoirse O'Shea
post Apr 13 2010, 11:15 AM
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Of those three -

Cubase and Sonar are designed with a similar main function - studio tracking and mixing. Whilst Live! can certainly do this it's focus is however more on live performance and the manipulation of audio files/clips. As you know Live! I';; focus on the other two.

Between Cubase and Sonar - Cubase has a bigger profile and user base outside of the USA than Sonar and vice versa. Cubase tends to be regarded in Europe - rightly or wrongly - as a more pro end sequencer, perhaps because it benefits from the development of Nuendo. (Nuendo is the bigger, more expensive pre and post audio/video sequencer. Generally features new to Nuendo trical down to Cubase at some point though sometimes in a scaled down form.) Both however are fine for amateur through to project studios and I know a number of pro recording studios that use both.

For upgrades Cubase tend to do most bug fixes within versions for free but charge for a new version - and the cost here is often quite a bit. There have been occasions when users have felt that a new version was not sufficiently different to the old one to warrant being a paid for version upgrade. AFAIK Sonar/Cakewalk have a better reputation with its user base on this.

Cubase has perhaps more flexibility but is more complicated than Sonar - so whilst it's possible to set up quite elaborate groups, sends and auxs in Cubase it is not always as intuitive as Sonar. Since Cubase 4 you can now set up sidechains with some effects, however the sidechain only functions with some effects and isn't arguably an idea version. This could restrict what virtual effects you use.

Cubase (not sure about LE but certainly the main program) requires a dongle attached to a USB port to authorise and work. Downside here is if you lose the dongle and the program will not work; upside is you can swop the program and dongle between computers. I'm pretty sure that you don't need a dongle for Sonar only a license code.

Cubase also benefits from being a Steinberg program and so has VST3 (Steinberg created VST and develop it) and new Steinberg Vsts are now all vst3. Most vsts made by independent companies however aren't vst3 yet... Depends on if you see vst3 as a 'must have'. Both Sonar and Cubase have some nice built in instruments. Personally I think that Sonar has the edge over Cubase with the general quality of the free built in effects - may not be an issue as there are a lot of 3rd party independent vst effects available anyway, many of which are as good as, or better, than the built in ones.

Cubase AFAIK is 32 bit float and Sonar 64. Not a big issue however as what is more important is how each handles the necessary internal dithering when running at 24 bit and using 24 bit hardware and software effects. Both are ok but neither wonderful. Sonar is a bit better than Cubase but not as much as you might think given its 64 bit resolution and the extra resolution may just generate unnecessary data. I don't know what the hardware spec is on your EMU but I very much doubt that it can go down to digital black -160dB (that's 32 bit) anyway but what would perhaps become an issue is if you used a lot of channels, ran a lot of auxs and used a lot of processing. Here you would sum a lot of error from the multiple rounding in all the various different stages and this would come to the fore on the main bus at mastering. Note I'm talking about doing a lot of operations here for the rounding to be noticable between 32 bit float and 64 - so for pretty much all but the most complicated recording you would not benefit from the extra precision. Also - little known fact - send your mix to most mastering engineers and we'll use 24 bit fixed to master and process before taking it down to 44.1 and 16 bit for CDA anyway because our hardware is mostly 24 bit. If you mix and send me a file in a different bit depth - whether 32fp or 64 - I'll just change it to 24 fixed so at mastering there is no benefit.

Either Cubase or Sonar will/should be routable to Patchmix ok but may not be particularly intuitive.

Overall - which is better Cubase or Sonar? Afraid there is no easy answer - it comes down to what your needs are and the extent to which you are happy with and like the workflow.

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Slight aside - personally I agree with Micke that Samp is better than either Cubase or Sonar. If you can't get a 'lite' version of Samp though it is not cheap.

Presonus - could be good but I'd wait until it hits version 2 and they've sorted out most of the teething problems.


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Todd Simpson
post Apr 14 2010, 12:19 AM
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Mac or PC user?

If you are a Mac person, I'd suggest LOGIC EXPRESS. It's just amazing and is seen by many as the next evolution in DAW software even perhaps eventually replacing pro toos. Logic Express is a software only solution so no extra hardware is needed other than your computer.

If you are a PC person, the choices mentioned are all good ways to go. There is also, PRO TOOLS LE, which is very similar to the PRO TOOLs pro product in use at so many studios today.

Todd


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Santiago Diaz Ga...
post Apr 14 2010, 05:52 AM
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If you have the right sound card, Pro Tools is the best you can get


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antonskv
post Apr 14 2010, 06:16 AM
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Thanks for a lot of good inputs guys. I really appreciate you taking time to educate me.

Santiago,

Yeah, i mean of course essentially they are all the same, and probably for a professional it makes no real difference which software to use for things i wish to use it for. That being having few audio and couple of midi tracks: voice, 2-3 of instruments, midi for drums... Audio Tracks having support for VST plug-ins. I mean this is something that every single software (commercial DAW software) does.

MickeM,

Very good point. This is something i don't particularly like doing either. I mean i don't mind checking the manual once in a while, but i don't like having a need to spend 100s of hours studying the manuals to do simplest of operations. Based on recommendations of others, i really feel good about checking out Samplitude.

Staffay,

Yep, Cubase came highly recommended to me by somebody who also switched from Live! to Cubase recently. That's why i gave serious thought to switch my software at this time when i got new relatively professional audio interface. I say relatively professional 'cause i know that there are industrial level interfaces which are way over mine.... But to me EMU 1616 is way over anything else i have ever worked with, and it seems to be able to produce audio which can be considered professional. Unfortunately i cannot do that yet, but I'm sure with some experience I'll be able to do it.

Tonymiro,

Wow, i expected you to give very elaborate explanation, and i knew that big part of it will beyond my comprehension... But actually i understand most of things you said. If even at very simple level. Let me try to answer...

My Cubase 4 LE does not require USB key, only online registration. As far as VST3, i just don't know. To be honest all i know about VST plug-ins is that i used them with Live! to add effects on Audio Tracks while using UX1. I didn't like POD Farm, but i've used GTR Solo which is free to use for 1 year. I still use it, i have some months left, but that's beside the point. So my knowledge of VST is only that its some kinda protocol designed as interface between programs, letting the effects program in question run as a plug-in over a specific audio track. Rest is very much a mystery to me. So to answer "Is VST3 a must have?" - all i can say "I really don't know, most likely i can live without it, since I'm not a professional who needs such specifics at this time". I really wish i could give you more info than that.

You're right, EMU 1616m cannot do 32-bit, it's top is at 24-bit/192khz. Is that the same thing you meant? I don't really know what 24-bit/192khz means really, all i know approximately is that 192khz means something like 192,000 "units" a second with each "unit" containing 24-bits of information. Even that in my primitive understanding is a quite high audio quality.

I checked out Samplitude, and only version is can even remotely afford is Samplitude 10 SE which costs about 53 EUR, which is about $75. Rest of them are expensive enough to be out of my price range. I wish they would offer free versions for people who are not using them for Commercial purposes. I mean I'm pretty honest person when it comes to it, all software i use in commercial purposes for my work are licensed, but to lay out $600 dollars (That's the price of Samplitude 11) for something i use for my hobby is much more than i can afford.

Todd,

I'm a PC user. And I've heard Pro Tools is an excellent software, but on other hand really not easy to use for beginners like me. I should try to find a Demo of LE version to give it a try first and see if its easy enough for me to understand and learn.


Whoever can answer,

And also i wanted to ask a question to whoever can answer:

What are balanced and un-balanced inputs/outputs? Whats the difference between them? I got few parts of EMU doc which warns about using some of them in certain points to avoid unnecessary hums and distortions, but it doesn't go into specifics. Manual probably assumes that user already knows what they are.


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audiopaal
post Apr 14 2010, 07:25 AM
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I would choose Cubase, hands down.
It's easier to work with in my opinion, but Sonar has its followers as well so it really comes down to what you like smile.gif
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MickeM
post Apr 14 2010, 09:15 AM
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QUOTE (audiopaal @ Apr 14 2010, 08:25 AM) *
I would choose Cubase, hands down.
It's easier to work with in my opinion, but Sonar has its followers as well so it really comes down to what you like smile.gif

My opinion and experience is different from yours. Complete opposite actualy.

I've tested a version of Cubase too some time ago and I couldn't make heads or tails of it. It was hard and difficult. I'm positive it's a great DAW. Why would so many use it if it wasn't? But I found that it has a treshold one has to get passed before it becomes useful.
Samplitude, in my opinion, was smooth to work with from the first time I tested it.

So like with everything else, needs to be tested before buy.


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Apr 14 2010, 10:32 AM
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QUOTE (antonskv @ Apr 14 2010, 05:16 AM) *
And also i wanted to ask a question to whoever can answer:

What are balanced and un-balanced inputs/outputs? Whats the difference between them? I got few parts of EMU doc which warns about using some of them in certain points to avoid unnecessary hums and distortions, but it doesn't go into specifics. Manual probably assumes that user already knows what they are.


Balanced and unbalanced i/o and cables is about minimising hum/noise. A balanced cable has an earth and a + (or hot) and a - (cold) connection (ie two signals plus a shield); unbalanced has one signal plus the shield. 1/4 inch guitar jacks, RCA and most domestic audio are unbalanced - XLRs, AES/EBU and TRS are balanced. For balanced the hot and cold carry the signal but the cold is the inverted signal and when it is plugged in to the correct connector the two signals are re-combined and the noise which is carried on both +ve and -ve connections is lost.

Ideally - and this is what you will find in any pro set up - connections and all cables will be balanced in order to minimise noise. Failing that next best is unbalanced to unbalanced. About the worst thing to do is use unbalanced cable with a balanced input/output - much more likely to get noise/hum and ground loops plus you run a risk of shorting out the equipment if its not short protected.

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Just about 32 vs 64 vs 24 bit depth and 44.1/48/96/192 sample rate - take a look at this thread here Anton for a discussion and explanation (mainly post 7 and on).

And info on VST3 is here. Perhaps a bit cynically I'd say that a lot of independent plug-ins could do most of these vst3 'features' anyway for some time.

This post has been edited by tonymiro: Apr 14 2010, 10:37 AM


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antonskv
post Apr 14 2010, 04:36 PM
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QUOTE (tonymiro @ Apr 14 2010, 05:32 AM) *
Balanced and unbalanced i/o and cables is about minimising hum/noise. A balanced cable has an earth and a + (or hot) and a - (cold) connection (ie two signals plus a shield); unbalanced has one signal plus the shield. 1/4 inch guitar jacks, RCA and most domestic audio are unbalanced - XLRs, AES/EBU and TRS are balanced. For balanced the hot and cold carry the signal but the cold is the inverted signal and when it is plugged in to the correct connector the two signals are re-combined and the noise which is carried on both +ve and -ve connections is lost.

Ideally - and this is what you will find in any pro set up - connections and all cables will be balanced in order to minimise noise. Failing that next best is unbalanced to unbalanced. About the worst thing to do is use unbalanced cable with a balanced input/output - much more likely to get noise/hum and ground loops plus you run a risk of shorting out the equipment if its not short protected.

-----------------------

Just about 32 vs 64 vs 24 bit depth and 44.1/48/96/192 sample rate - take a look at this thread here Anton for a discussion and explanation (mainly post 7 and on).

And info on VST3 is here. Perhaps a bit cynically I'd say that a lot of independent plug-ins could do most of these vst3 'features' anyway for some time.


Well i don't plug anything into any other inputs except 2 inputs that are made for instruments/mics, those two XLR / 1/4" hybrid inputs in front. And my monitors are connected to outputs in the back which are marked for monitor L and R. So i think i'm ok as far as that.
Thanks a bunch of explaining Master Jedi, i'm only a Padawan in Audio work, but trust me - i look stupid yet force is strong with me wink.gif lol

U da man Tony!


VictorUK

Thats kinda of a narrow view of a very powerful software, i don't mean any offense of course. To a person who's been using industrial version of Pro Tools, Ableton will look like a toy for DJing, but i doubt it is as bad as you say, i mean i've been using it for a year just fine... I mean yes you are right, it was started as Live performance software for DJs, hence the name "Live!" i suppose... But over the time they have developed it with a very flexible beyond DJing and into Audio Production.

Its hard to make up my mind without trying all FULL versions, 'cause even in Live! Lite that i have some features are cut off which upset me little bit.... For example Drum Rack package does not allow to use your own sound files to make samples and tying them up to specific MIDI notes, and since i got a Korg Pad as my Midi controller i very much like to have that. I mean Impulse package still gives me what i need, but its much less flexible....

Since not all of those have trials or trials are not long enough, i'm gonna start asking all my friends who have some kinda full versions of all those softwares. I'll use somebody elses till i set my mind 100% and then buy the one which i will be most comfortable to work in. 'Cause i'm not spitting $500-$700 dollars for a software that i might end up hating in the end.

ALL of the above mentioned have some excellent things about them and have some things i hate big time, from ones i tried anyway. Keep trying to do some thing, and some of them end up giving me hard time on some operations.... smile.gif heh

I guess i'll just about it with trial and error. Its gonna take a crap load of time though, even with Ableton Live Lite it took me months to learn to do simplest things.... To learn all that in few different ones is gonna take me a year .

I've been trying to find courses for some of them, but usually they costs thousands of dollars... Way out of my league - so its traditional way of trial and error for me. smile.gif lol


Thanks for all your inputs guys.



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Ivan Milenkovic
post Apr 18 2010, 03:22 AM
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If you want my advice, use Cubase LE, later upgrade/buy full version, and use Steinberg's official "Internal Mixing" tutorials for learning. I quickly learned everything about Cubase/Nuendo by checking these tutorials out.
PatchMix will work with any DAW.


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