I hear, read, and participate in the debates all the time. Over the years, I've become a pro user of all DAWs (except Cakewalk and Reaper). I want to sum up the advantages of each for those seeking a 'to-the-point' comparison: Ableton Live
: Best for Producer/DJ
- Better for creativity (session view, DJ-Style A/B Crossfade)
- best manipulation of plugin routing (SEE MY YOUTUBE VIDS
- Most sophisticated session/plugin templates (loading a fully routed plugin or even session into currently open session)
- Better track freezing than most DAWs
- Easy to create off-count clips without copy/paste headaches ProTools
: Best for Engineer
- Stable Sequencer (less crashing than most DAWs)
- A breeze for sustained recording and vocals
- Conventing Mixing and mastering
- Very Powerful TDM/AAX plugin support via Dedicated DSP Logic
: Best for Artist/Producer
- Packed with a complete set of instruments and effects
- Good mixing structure.
- Easy automation
- Comping tracks is very intuitive CUBASE/Nuendo
was not originally part of this thread, but its review is similar to ProTools.
- A dream for mixing/mastering
- Lots of Plugin features (Steinberg invented VSTs)
- exclusive control surfaces (CMC)
- nicely integrates with Motif XS/XF by Yamaha (who bought Steinberg)
- Awesome broadcast abilities.
I left out Reason because it:
1) does not support AU/VST/RTAS
2) can be incorporated to any DAW above via ReWire.
I left out Reaper because its:
1) too young (cannot push to the limits I'm use to)
2) still considered a starter for new producers looking to experience the 'DAW effect'
More Details: Ableton Live
is AWESOME, but it only stands out for me when I use it with Vienna Ensemble Pro (I use this religiously and will explain in the last paragraph
). It has unique functionality for creative minded producers. It could also become a standard in game music design (if Ableton plays their cards right). Its one of those DAWs that if you actually day a few days to play though the interactive tutorials, you'll find a wealth of new ideas to do with your music. ProTools
is the "Industry Standard", but only stands out after spending $10k for HD. The sub-standard versions that run under $3000 (depending what hardware you bundle) only give you a tease of ProTools, and really taxes your CPU buffer when using 3rd party plugins and can disrupt sessions(although this happens with all DAWs, its more common in ProTools).
For those who have macs and want to spend less than $10k, I'd definitely consider Logic
because you get more for your money than with ProTools. Its instrument/plugin package is the best that comes with ANY DAW currently. It also integrates nicely with Itunes for exporting/bouncing to various formats. Cubase/Nuendo
offer very advanced mixing and master capabilities out of the box. This is the first VST enabled DAW I used back when it was version 1. While I like its mixing features, I don't find myself inspired when producing a new track. I admit that I haven't tried its lastest series of CMC Controllers, which I'm sure adds nice functionality to the system.
For those who don't know, Vienna Ensemble Pro
is a plugin hosting software that works miracles
when you want to run lots of CPU intensive plugins without slowing your DAW down. Your DAW is going to be your master sequencer for 95% of users. While its doing that, it should not
be distracted with your plugin processing, except maybe for the master track and a some send FX. Vienna works as a light weight plugin in your daw pulling audio from your heavy weight plugins who's CPU processing is now independent. What does this mean?? Read on!
When plugins run side your DAW, they take part in its 'global' CPU limit set in the preferences. This means your plugins run at a fraction of their potential
(your wasting all that good Dual/Quad CPU GHz you paid for). BUT if you run them in VE Pro, they burn rubber! TEST: Try running as little as 5 instances of Ominsphere with all 8 midi and
audio channels playing different patches
on separate tracks simultaneously
. This will CRUNCH your DAW (i'm sure of it). Doing the same in VE Pro has NO affect on DAW. Sounds too good to be true? Almost..VE Pro costs €235.