The Best DAW for Writing music?


#1

Hello my fellow junglers, just wanted to throw out a quick question to everyone out there. Who has maybe had the same frustrating experience as me in my day to day job as a creative musician.

While technology and software have come a long way, I still find myself being interupted by technology, or not being able to get ideas together as quickly as I’d like, which means breaking creative flow. I’ve been a long term user of Protools, and recently jumped ship to Reaper which I am enjoying immensely, though I do miss some of the Digidesign only plugins. (especially the AIR stuff)

Im wondering if there is a better DAW for people who WRITE and COMPOSE. For sketching and fleshing out ideas REALLY FAST, not just interested in mixing / editing. Even if I start my tracks in that and bounce to another to finish off.

I’ve been looking at Presonus Studio One, and Ableton Live 9 in particular. The workflow is meant to be very fast for writers. Anyone recently moved to these, or tried several and come up with some conclusions? I’d be most appreciative if you would share your experiences and why you have settled on your current DAW.

Logic, cubase, protools 11, ableton, studio one, Reason, DP… interested in any options, and opinions!

Thanks heaps guys,

Benji. :slight_smile:


#2

Hi Benji,

switched to Presonus Studio One in January 2012 after being a Cubase user since Atari ST days.

I have never been able to produce such an amount of music since I made that switch… thanks to S1, I have at least material for the next year or two on my harddrive…why? I can sum it up in one sentence: Studio One NEVER throws me out of my creative flow!

Cheers, Sascha :slight_smile:


#3
Basspartout said

Hi Benji,

switched to Presonus Studio One in January 2012 after being a Cubase user since Atari ST days.

I have never been able to produce such an amount of music since I made that switch… thanks to S1, I have at least material for the next year or two on my harddrive…why? I can sum it up in one sentence: Studio One NEVER throws me out of my creative flow!

Cheers, Sascha :slight_smile:

Awesome Sascha, thanks for the quick reply. Im definitely checking this out in the next few days. The built in Melodyne is a MASSIVE plus!

Benji


#4
Basspartout said

Hi Benji,

switched to Presonus Studio One in January 2012 after being a Cubase user since Atari ST days.

I have never been able to produce such an amount of music since I made that switch… thanks to S1, I have at least material for the next year or two on my harddrive…why? I can sum it up in one sentence: Studio One NEVER throws me out of my creative flow!

Cheers, Sascha :slight_smile:

Hey Sascha,

Just curious - what specifically did you find Cubase hindered you with that Presonus One alleviated? I ask because I’ve been using Cubase for years, and haven’t noticed that it’s particularly impeding me, but also I realize it’s easy to be stuck in a rut and just think, “well this is just the way things are,” when they could be much better. There is something appealing about newer DAWs that don’t (presumably) have a giant stack of now ancient technologies that they’re built on, but then again it’s always challenging to learn a new system.


#5

The best DAW - the one that is comfortable and familiar to you.


#6

Hey guys! I am not a pro but I thought that I should share some of my info on this topic. I used to be an Ableton live user and I liked it very much (Just because I haven’t tried anything else) lol :slight_smile: Then I tried using Reaper and it didn’t go to good for me. There is not as much workflow in it compared to Ableton. And then I tried Presonus studio one. And well I ended up sticking with it. I really like the workflow of the Studio One and it is even better than Ableton, because it is very “drag and drop”. So even a newbie can find how things work in that DAW. If you want a certain effect/plugin delay, reverb, compressor, you name it. You just pick it and drag it on to the track or bus/fx channel. It does have inbuilt melodyne, all you gotta do is click alt+m (on windows it is) and it opens the melodyne So you do not have to apply it as a plugin on to your track. Anyway too much of advertising here he he, I am sure a lot of other DAWs do similar things but I think you should try it. They have a free version of it and it works the same as any paid version for unlimited amount of time but you cant use plugins. As for Cubase I’ve just used it once and I can not say much about it, but it did look a lot like Presonus Studio One. But the Big difference in between those DAWs is that Presonus is strictly based in one window, unlike Cubase that has multiple windows and it can confuse some people that are new to using such software. As well Presonus was made by ex-cubase programmers so I am sure you will find a lot of similarities.

Good luck to you and I hope I did not waste your time.


#7

I use Logic 9 as my system is entirely mac based and I find it very easy to work with. I’ve used it to score 5 feature films, and all the current music work I’m doing. (Logic 9 much more stable than 7 or 8 before it). Handy it’s now 64 bit so I don’t hit the memory ceiling as often as I used to. Still find myself bouncing midi stuff to audio a little more often than I’d like, but I preserve all versions of projects in case I need to go back and re-arrange a midi part. It just suits me to have a mac option that integrates well with the rest of my system, which also gets used for lots of video editing and other video applications.

I’m running lots of big audio libraries on my system, as I’m sure many of you are, and find Logic seems to hold up fairly well. I’ve not looked at the Digital Performer option yet but have heard many good things about that system as well. Only time I run into trouble is when I’m running EastWest’s Play in multiple instances. It’s just not very good software, although the sounds are worth enduring a bit of creaky tech trouble for.

If I was on Windows I’d be using Cubase.


#8

I compose live at the piano using a metronome in Sonar. I work on 2 to 4 bar phrases at a time and just keep listening, adding, listening, adding, until the whole piece is completed. I like to work this way because it allows my ideas to flow out without the technology getting in the way. Next, I take the midi file, transfer it to my main computer with all my plugins and that’s the time where I cut and paste and arrange the final piece. Because the music has already been composed I can now totally focus on just the sound that I want and focus on instrumentation, tempo, balance, effects and finally mixing. I find because I have performed the music in real time, this takes away any chance of the music sounding mechanical and robotic as each note will have that human feel. Occasionally I will tweak some notes and do some quantizing on some uneven ones. I also get a bit obsessive with the staff view looking correct and usually set the resolution at demisemiquavers which means I have to drag all my notes until they are perfectly positioned on the beat. Hey, it’s no more than traditional pen and paper composers have had to do in the past. Also, because I find notating music very therapeutic (I feel at home staring at staves of music) I’m happy to spend hours doing this. :smiley:


#9

I am also a Logic man. It is an awesome DAW and some of the sounds it comes with surpass all the other built in sounds from other DAWS. The workflow is great and easy.Check it out.


#10

Hmm. A few +'s for studio one, and a few for logic. I must admit I very very briefly had a look at
logic in the past and didnt gel with it too much, but that was years ago on PC. Im on mac now and it could be completely different.

Big +'s that would really win me over would be

  1. Great midi editing / quantizing / editing.
  2. A daw that focuses on adding instruments, (even according to genre) rather than tracks. Quick access to variety of sounds to try stuff out.

I could probably set reaper to do all that stuff, but it does take a lot of time to setup track templates, and I find the midi editing / quantizing quite frankly lacking.

Would be awesome to have a DAW that lets you add instruments according to Genre, or category/ sub category/ eg Piano, Grand Piano / - and then a list of all your Grand piano patches, regardless of what plugin its hosted in (PLAY / Kontakt / Ezkeys…)


#11

Hi Benji,

I’m a long-term Logic user and, although I love it and would recommend it, there are can be some frustrating little bugs (even in v9) that get in the way of your workflow. My experience is that you’d find there are things that affect your system that other people don’t experience yet are tricky to troubleshoot (such as your processor glitching out when you record-enable a track) as everyone’s system set up is different. That said, the same can be true of any DAW I suppose.

If you’re using a lot of virtual instruments, combining Logic with VSL’s Vienna Ensemble makes it an incredible workhorse that sorts out a lot of the memory allocation issues etc. and is a real pleasure to work with. You’d need to set things up properly, but I can’t fault it. I’m about to dip my feet in the Ableton pool as I used to use Sony ACID and LOVED the way I could quickly put things together.

MIDI editing on Logic is great and next to none in my experience - I’ve tried various DAWs including DP which I wouldn’t recommend as their interface is appalling, plus it’s more geared towards film composers which I don’t believe is your area right? I’d be interested to compare StudioOne, Ableton and Reaper’s MIDI capabilities, but as with any DAW, it’s about learning the tricks and shortcuts, then you start to fly through things.

Let us know your experience trying out options, I’d be interested to hear how Pro Tools compares.


#12

I concur re Logic taco. Midi editing is implemented very well. Quantize - I’m sure all DAWs make that easy, but it takes me seconds to apply that in Logic.

If you are on Mac then it’s a no brainier IMHO.


#13

can depend on what genre you write in ie some daws and platforms are much more readily easy to work with for dance music, some like Sibelius are geared towards you actually, physically writing music onto a stave, some are great for post production, some can be super customisable like reaper.
and the way someone works is often quite unique. best bet is to watch a ton of you tube videos that tackle various issue you are most concerned with and if possible, get some hands on time with them either at a friend studio or try a free trial period with the ones that offer it.


#14
benjijackson said

Would be awesome to have a DAW that lets you add instruments according to Genre, or category/ sub category/ eg Piano, Grand Piano / - and then a list of all your Grand piano patches, regardless of what plugin its hosted in (PLAY / Kontakt / Ezkeys…)

You can do that to a large degree with Zen from BigTick:
http://www.bigtickaudio.com/zen/about-zen

Free :slight_smile:


#15
JBlanks said

I concur re Logic taco. Midi editing is implemented very well. Quantize - I’m sure all DAWs make that easy, but it takes me seconds to apply that in Logic.

If you are on Mac then it’s a no brainier IMHO.

Definitely agree on that. It started with ProTools that came with my MBox, its too heavy for the creative songwriting process. If you’ve ever messed around with Garageband on a Mac, Logic Pro is THAT easy. I’m no engineer, so I don’t need the clutter of other DAW, its a songwriter’s dream. Logic Pro is now $199 downloadable via APP store, and also includes Apple’s entire JamPack library (loops/virtual instruments). The mastering suite is simple to use too, which is wonderful for a knucklehead like me :slight_smile: Goodluck in your search. Cheers!


#16

I’ve been a logic guy for years. While I do like it I’ve had serious issues since going to mountain lion OS. The main issue seems to be playback when I have plugin gui’s open. It gets stuck playing back and I can’t get it to stop unless I move the GUI off the screen. While I don’t want to spend the time learning a new DAW I do have studio one and am considering giving it a shot if apple doesn’t fix this bug soon. Anybody else having this problem in logic?


#17

Cubase user here :slight_smile: and very satisfied about it.
For audio on video I like Pro Tools instead.


#18

I have been a Cubase user since 1992 (Atari 1040) and I personally love the way it works although I would be very honest to say that I do not use half of it’s features. For me it works brilliantly but it is what I am used to and so my work flow is adapted to the mechanics of the program.


#19

+1 for Logic. Interesting to hear the positive comments on Presonus Studio, I may have to take a closer look in the future.


#20

Ableton Live + Cubase, but now moving to Presonus Studio One!