Pleass help me choose Audio + MIDI software

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by SimonR, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. SimonR

    SimonR Member

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    Hi,

    I'm really keen to get back into some home recording and I also need to buy a new PC. I'd really appreciate it forumites could pass on any advice/experiences they have with audio+ MIDI recording software.

    Firstly, I am a PC user but I'm quite open to the idea of purchasing a Mac => my software choice is not platform specific. (My other passion is photography and Macs are pretty good @ photo manipulation too!)

    Secondly, I want something that I can use to record guitars and vocals and use MIDI to create backing tracks (drums, bass, synths/pads etc). Ability to manipulate loops a la Acid would be an advantage but not essential. I will record rock music, a bit of dance/electronica and I would like to get into video scoring. I estimate 60% MIDI, 40% Audio.

    I have done a lot of reading/research on the net. I have also been to my three local "pro/recording" music stores. Each one recommends/provides best supprot for a different package, namely Pro Tools LE, Logic Pro and Cubase SX/SL. So I figure I'll probably get one of these three.

    The Pro Tools LE/MBox bundle appeals to me. It strikes me as very good value (especially given the Reason Adapted/Ableton/plugin package you get with it) and Pro-Tools seems to be industry standard software. HOWEVER - I have often heard that It's MIDI capabilities are severely lacking. Many have also said that musicians, home recorders etc will prefer other packages (Logic, Cubase, Sonar etc)...not too sure the reason for this. :confused:

    Logic Pro "seems" to be the most powerful/complete, with a great bundle of plug-ins & virtual instruments offered. I had some experience with Logic Audio for the PC years ago and found it an absolute bear to use...it took me a week just to get my head around the environment! Is is still a bastard to use? It's also the most expensive option I'm looking at, especially as I have to purchase hardware separately (although my wife is at university so she could get an academic version...:cool:)

    Cubase SL comes in a bundle with an audio/MIDI card called "System 4". It seems easy to use and pretty capable but doesn't come with any decent instruments, which would increase the initial cost. Also the store that recommended it was the "least pro" of the ones I visited and I got the impression Cubase is a more "amateurish" package? (Perhaps I'm being harsh?)

    Which package would you recommend? Are there others I should shortlist (bearing in mind the stores in my town will provide limited to no support for the others)?

    Thanks for any help!

    Cheers,
    Simon
     
  2. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    I have the ProTools LE/mBox Factory Bundle, and I find it to be very versatile. I added a Korg MicroKontroller ($299) as my midi controller for Reason, etc., and I haven't yet run into any limitations that make me wish I had done thing differently.

    I also had a pc built especially to run Pro Tools... you can find details on what to build at duc.digidesign.com, specifically at this thread:
    http://duc.digidesign.com/showflat....page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=7&fpart=1#360675

    The system you want for running Pro Tools is the "Allenstein" machine. It SMOKES any other home computer for running Pro Tools, including ANYTHING that Mac has to offer. My system consists of the AMD Athlon 64 3400+ processor, ASUS K8V SE Deluxe motherboard, dual Western Digital 80GB hard drives (one dedicated JUST to recording audio), ATI Radeon 9200 64 Mb dual video card for running dual monitors, dual 17" ADi MicroScan flatscreen monitors (dual monitors is VERY convenient, but not essential... I do HIGHLY recommend a LCD flatscreen monitor as opposed to an old school CRT monitor if you will be standing in front of your computer screen with a guitar to avoid the associated noise with CRT monitors), plus a bunch of other extras on my system....

    I spent $3K on my pc alone, but I went way overboard. You can build a VERY powerful PC for running PTLE for about $1,500 including monitors, and in doing so, I'd highly recommend printing the AllenStein spec sheet out and taking it to a custom PC place, as opposed to buying an out of the box model at Best Buy or the like. MOST IMPORTANT TIP REGARDING THE PC: No matter what ANYONE may say, the AMD processors WAY outperform any Intel-based PC with ProTools.

    In addition to my Korg MicroKontroller (very nice controller), I've also added Mackie 1402 VLZ Pro mixer to my recording rig for live multi-musician recording, tracking drums, etc. I picked mine up on eBay for $290 which including a flight case, so for about $300 you can added 8 into 2 channel (2 inputs on the mBox) versatitlity... granted it's not as good as a having Digi002, but it works great, and the Mackie preamps are relatively good quality (OK, it's not an Avalon or a Neve, but they're good)!

    However, if you do see yourself needing more than two tracks at one time in the near future, you might want to consider dropping the big bucks on a Digi002 right off the bat.

    So why did I chose ProTools? It's easy to use and learn (granted there is a learning curve with ANYTHING), you can acheive professional results at a relatively low cost (as far as recording gear goes), and everyone who's anyone in the recording industry uses Pro Tools, so it pays to learn that platform right off the bat... That way you can find your way around most any professional studio you find yourself in in the future.

    Further, with the website I just provided to you for the Digidesign User Conference, you get GREAT support when you run into issues, and it's also a great way to learn new techniques from other users....

    Long story short, I've had this setup for the past 4 months now, and every day I use it I feel more and more like I made the right choice. Let me know if I can answer any other questions!
     
  3. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    If you want to get deep into MIDI composition you might as well start off on the right foot. Look into Digital Performer as well as Logic. I don't know squat about the PC versions of either one, though.

    Where DP and Logic really shine is managing multiple MIDI devices and composing changes on the fly. That's why composers love them; they can make and hear changes immediately in the full arrangement without recording to audio.

    The ProTools interface is clumsy for fast MIDI changes but it can do everything you need. I often use it for backing tracks. PT is primarily an audio platform more than composing, but I compose all the time with it. For fast audio editing it's unsurpassed and you can open your sessions in almost any studio in the country. The MBox is a terrific little unit.

    I've never used Logic but I know several people who do. They say it's a fantastic platform but totally different from ProTools or even DP, so it's probably a steep learning curve. But it can't be impossible; my friends are not exactly Einstein. :D

    P.S. - you asked about Cubase... better that someone like Basso should describe it. I've never been nuts about it, but its big brother Nuendo is supposed to be pretty good.
     
  4. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    I agree with Michael.

    Logic is a good program, I've used it, but DP has a little bit more professionalism happening. I have used Cubase, and I don't relate to its interface. Personal thing.

    You can't go wrong with any of the three.

    Pick the interface you like.
     
  5. KungFuLio

    KungFuLio Senior Member

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    i have to agree with the DP posters. I work every day in protools and editing is wonderful and there is elegence in its simplicity. that said, DP has all the features of pro tools and then some. when apple purchased logic i thought they dealt a heavy blow that DP could not recover from. they seem to be doing ok though. make sure you check on customer service. when i used DP 24/7 i got to the point were i hardly ever called tech support. good thing 'cause their support was really lame.

    whatever you get, learn it to the best of your abilities and definately don't forget to RTFM. it will save you lots of heartache.
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    I hate guessing games, but is it "Refer To the F***ing Manual?"

    By the way, I'm a ProTools guy, not DP, but I know its limitations. Welcome to the forum!
     
  7. Orren

    Orren Member

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    Hi Simon,

    First of all, let me state my bias right off the bat. As you can see from my .sig below, I've written a book on Logic 6. So I'm pretty comfortable with it.

    But I'm also a writer for Computer Music and Electronic Musician, and I've actually got most of the packages--Digital Performer, Cubase, PTLE, etc. Finally, I have lots of friends in the biz who are very pro artists and studio owners, and use everything that I can't get my hands on (like $50,000 worth of Pro Tools HD|Accel stuff!)

    That said...Logic had definitely gotten easier to use since leaving the PC. Logic Pro 6 (Mac only) is a joy, and I'm sure Logic Pro 7 will continue in the "Apple-ization" of Logic. Lets put it this way--you don't have to look at the Environment these days if you don't want to, you can do everything right from the Arrange, Matrix, Sample Editor, and Mixer. But Logic definitely has its own...well..."Logic" on how to do things; once you understand the basic philosophy, everything becomes far easier. The main thing about Logic is that there are ten ways to do anything, which is definitely can be daunting if you're trying to figure out all ten but the joy is that it's so flexible you can find out the way you like to work, and stick with it. And of course I can recommend a good book on it! ;)

    Cubase SX is top notch, and of course very PC friendly. It is probably the most feature-rich of all the applications. Personally, I don't like the way it forces you to work--its not nearly as flexible as Logic, so you sort of have to do things "the Cubase way or the highway."

    I used Digital Performer for a year, and Cubase extensively, before I came to Logic. Digital Performer is fine. Actually, it's better than fine. But it uses a MIDI editing paradigm that I just couldn't get comfortable with. In Logic and Cubase, it's just snip and move. In DP, you need to copy some notes from the Sequence Editor to a clipping, then drop that note clipping into a phrase in the Track Overview window...I have friends who've been using DP for years who are very fast editing MIDI, but after a year not only was I not fast, but I didn't like it enough to want to get fast. To DP's credit, it's perhaps the most intuitive of them all, but you have to do things the DP way--it's perhaps the least flexible.

    You're right about PT--it's MIDI isn't there yet. OTOH, it's audio editing is absolutely first rate.

    Anyway, I told you I was biased so take that for what it's worth. Of course, everyone is, I'm just more honest. ;) But the truth is that you can make music with all of these options. Give them a try in your local music store, and go with the one that you think fits you best.

    Orren
     
  8. Boogs

    Boogs Member

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    i use Logic, though you really are probably golden with Pro Tools, DP, OR Logic!

    i'll say on behalf of Logic (Mac only, natch)... forget all of the "Logic is difficult" stuff - once you're set up in it it's very efficient and easy. another thing is that, no matter how your setup/MO changes, Logic will always have the flexibility and power to change with you - if you incorporate Pro Tools later, Logic integrates very tightly; if you get 17 high-powered outboard synth modules and 2 24-track tape machines, no problem (for Logic, anyway... ;) ).
     
  9. SimonR

    SimonR Member

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    Thanks very much for all of your replies guys.

    I'm tempted to give Logic another go, especially if it has ogt easier...even if to overcome an old nemesis! PTLE looks easier, but heck I learned Photoshop well enough and there's 100's of ways of skinning the cat in that application! Plus I've recently read about latency issues people seem to have with MBox.

    So thanks once again for your help, I appreciate your time and the advice.

    Cheers,
    Simon
     

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