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Comparing Logic, Cubase SX, Sonar, Digital Performer

So which sequencer is for me? This topic is for those trying to decide on which sequencer they want for their home studio.

Moderator: Tweak

Which is Better?

Pro Tools Le/M-powered
14
7%
Logic pro
59
28%
Cubase
61
29%
Sonar
65
31%
Digital Performer
11
5%
 
Total votes : 210

Comparing Logic, Cubase SX, Sonar, Digital Performer

Postby admin on Fri Sep 27, 2002 5:25 am

Apple Logic Pro Music Production Software (Macintosh)
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--AP ... /sid--poll
Image

Cakewalk SONAR Producer Recording Software (Windows)
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--CA ... /sid--poll
Image

Steinberg Cubase SX Recording Software (Macintosh and Windows)
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--ST ... /sid--poll
Image

Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) Digital Performer Software (Macintosh OSX)
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--MT ... /sid--poll
Image


MAudio Pro Tools M-Powered Recording Software
http://www.zzounds.com/a--3745/item--MD ... /sid--poll
Image



Cubase SX, Logic, Sonar: Which Sequencer
is Best?


By Rich the TweakMeister

Can be read here:
http://www.tweakheadz.com/Sequencer2.html

Excerpt:

People often ask me which sequencer "is best". I usually respond with the typical quick generalities that you may have heard before. There is just too much to say here. So I have decided to write it all down one time, so when the next person asks I can just give them an URL. I will tell you straight off that this article is biased. I am a mainly a Logic Power user, and have been using Emagic sequencers since 1988. But at several moments during my musical journey's I have "jumped ship"--I couldn't bear the idea that someone had a better sequencer than I did, and there was simply no material anywhere which compared them. So I had to find out for myself by buying them all, learning them all, and making music with them. I use all three. In the course of working with all three I found that each had a unique personality and well defined strengths, and glaring weaknesses. Note: This is by no means a comprehensive, unbiased summary of sequencer features. It is completely a result of my personal experience and preferences, and may contain unintentional errors. My apologies to everyone for anything I omitted or ignored. Ok, now that I've grounded myself, lets get into the fray.
Visit TweakHeadz Lab! and Audio-Pro-Central! Check out Tweak's Amazon based Audio Pro Shop

Peace always and keep it "G" (green)
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Postby Tweak on Sat Oct 12, 2002 1:08 pm

To discuss this article, please POST a REPLY to this topic. Thanks! :D
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Comparison

Postby BucKWilD on Sun Jul 20, 2003 6:19 pm

Hello Been a while. I don't have the time to get in to details but being a cakewalk xl user upgrading to sonar 2.2., I really feel that Sonar is extremely user friendly unlike the 2 others. (No offence). Using Soft synths and taking advantage of midi capabilities I find is a breeze, even though you have to pull your synth up in the audio then the midi out, big deal. Converting midi to audio hmm quite simple and sweet. Adding fx plugins even easier. Especially the new features sonar 2.2 has implemented in there software. I like the fact that cubase, logic, and acid users get to keep the software they own if they want to upgrade. Cakewalk seems to be pretty good that way. There's much more to ramble about but like I said not going to write a novel. I have tried the others and found my self gettin frustrated. Recording shoudn't have to be difficult or tidious in some matters. Though my only small complaint is that there are alot less DXI plugins v.s Vst. Then again Cakewalk has there own Wrapper out for vst plugins. Im sure you all know that!. Any way those are my thoughts. www.cakewalk.com/Crossgrade/Default.asp
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Postby Vlad M on Sat Oct 04, 2003 10:18 pm

Can you save us alot of aggrivation reading and tell us which excel in what area and which dont. Thats a good 1-2 hr. read - UGH!
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Postby owel on Sat Oct 04, 2003 10:39 pm

Vlad M wrote:Can you save us alot of aggrivation reading and tell us which excel in what area and which dont. Thats a good 1-2 hr. read - UGH!


You CAN'T spare 1-2 hours reading something that interests you ?????

Hmmmm.... if you're not willing to WORK for it, or try out the demos for yourself, or don't want to read and learn new stuff, I think you're in the wrong hobby.

ESPN is available on cable. No thinking or hard work required.
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Postby Vlad M on Sat Oct 04, 2003 11:01 pm

Lol, dont get mad - I was just asking for a quick sum up. Ill just print the stuff and read it on the train to school - I cant read it at home - I get distracted easily and dont have the patience for it.

Dont make fun of ESPN! ESPN is the goods, got something against sports? or sports commentators? - dont take your aggrivation on Rush Limbaugh out on me.
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Postby owel on Sat Oct 04, 2003 11:28 pm

Vlad M wrote:Lol, dont get mad - I was just asking for a quick sum up. Ill just print the stuff and read it on the train to school - I cant read it at home - I get distracted easily and dont have the patience for it.

Dont make fun of ESPN! ESPN is the goods, got something against sports? or sports commentators? - dont take your aggrivation on Rush Limbaugh out on me.


Good. That's a good way to start. Print it, read it on the train, in the toilet... find time to do it.

I assume you're still young by your comment you're still going to school. Look, you've got ALL the time in the world. Take advantage of it. SOAK IT UP. You can devote 100% of your time and energy into this music thing. You don't know yet the meaning of the word "distraction" ... when you have family, kids, mortgages, bills, work, and trying to fit in a music hobby to preserve your sanity, you'll know what "distraction" is. :)

Re: ESPN comment. You totally missed the point. If you want a pasttime where you don't have to work, or study... watch TV.
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Postby Vlad M on Sun Oct 05, 2003 12:56 am

Im a student yes... Im also a med student - so I have my hands full - its not like im making music production my life. Its just a really really really expensive hobby that Im truely obsessed with, my friends think Im literally crazy. Music is something Ive been into for a long time - for a while I always wanted to sing, I joined my elementary and junior high school chorus', but my main passion is in my fingers - I was gifted with a very tuned ear and the power to convey what I hear onto a piano. I also have parents that just dont understand - I think we all do. I have the occassional niece and nephew stay over my house, hence why my computer has 2 passwords to get by - no one is allowed onto my comp. Lemme just state for the record, my house is a living hell - Both my parents are nuts. Again, we all go through it. Anyways, Ill definitely read it all. Im 100% getting Logic 6.0 - I just want to know the difference between Sonar and Cubase.

Tweak should definitely take all those reviews and make a book - Can call it "Your guide to audio production enlightenment."
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!

Postby gabrielknight on Mon Oct 13, 2003 12:03 pm

I use Cubase Sx becouse it's Stable, i can load 10 soft synths Without any clicks and pops And' im using Creative AUDIGY!!! with Kx project Free drivers. in sonar i can't even Load 1 soft synth before my pc crash
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Postby BucKWilD on Fri Oct 17, 2003 11:09 pm

Hmm not even 1 softsynth eh?. Are you doing something wrong?. I have Home studio xl and I can load 2 softsynths and a sampler with no probs at all :lol:
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Postby joecollege on Wed Mar 17, 2004 5:01 pm

I use Cubase Sx becouse it's Stable, i can load 10 soft synths Without any clicks and pops And' im using Creative AUDIGY!!! with Kx project Free drivers.



What's the specs on your system and what soft synths with what effects if any are you runnung?

How much cpu did your most entisive project eat up?
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midi recording of Logic, Cubase, Dp, compared to Sonar

Postby jlgrimes11 on Fri Mar 26, 2004 8:50 pm

I currently have Sonar 3. To be honest, coming from an akai mpc and Passport Trax background I am having trouble getting a quick way to record takes (drums for the main part) in Sonar. Step editing is also a little tedious for me. I want you all to share some your experiences in recording in Logic, Cubase, DP, and such. I'll tell you how I used to work and how I work now.

Passport Trax (96-98) Really simple. There are several things I like about this interface. One is per-track looping. Simply record a track and once done click on the loop box visible right on the track (Trax also automatically snap your clips to whole measures). I am an arrange last type of guy. I could get loops going in this pretty fast (faster than the mpc in some cases mainly because of per track looping and friendly step editor). Once I had a groove I would then arrange. Arranging was simple since everything was snapped to a measure. The step editor in this program is the best I have come accross yet. Even though it is just a dull looking piano roll editor, it basically lets you use your midi keyboard to key input notes step by step while looking at the piano roll for visual feedback. I could come up with some cool hi hat patterns in about a minute. Why did I stop using it? Well even though it lacked swing quantizing, what finally got me was my computer (Packard Bell) started playing midi tracks out of time. I decided to go hardware for a while. I bought a roland xp 50, hated the sequencer and eventally bought a mpc 2000.

Akai mpc series (98-04):
To be honest the only reason I was interested in this at first was because it had a sampler. The sampler actually ain't that great (but works well with the sequencer because of 16 levels and tempo calculations); it was the sequencer that turned out to be cool. Although the step editor was a pain in the ass, the simplicity of recording takes (while looping) is what I like about this. The mpc can be either an overwrite or overdub style sequencer (with the quick touch of the record button) but ALWAYS overdubs after the loop point is reached. This limitation is actually what rocks because initially I sometimes miss a few notes and can get them in after the loop point. It also allows you to record over takes without having to worry about erasing them which can be a pain when you forget to erase a track (I also used this to fast forward and record over bad notes). Also you can keep record on and switch to new track while the mpc is playing (only when using the internal samples in the mpc 2000, the 4000 you can basically always be in record while setting up new tracks). The interface rocks to me. I could do drums in seconds. Auto quantize works wonders for drums too and the mpc's timing is rock solid. Mpc also allow you to chain sequences. You can copy between sequences and make changes to one for breaks and bridges. I did a lot of my arranging this way (switching back and forth between sequences to audition the changups) the mpc does transitions between sequences smoothly with no audible gaps or clicks. So why did I try to go software? I was buying more and more modules and going through midi thrus were driving me crazy (the 2000 only had 2 midi ports, 4000 has 4). I decided to go Sonar.

Sonar (03-04)
For midi editing Sonar is amazing, my problem is recording some good drum tracks. With sonar I have to constantly delete unwanted takes because it lacks the mpc's overwrite/overdub after loop feature. Also even though you can auto enable tracks, you still have to press stop when moving to the next track. The step editor don't make use of the piano screen and the piano screen doesn't allow key input. (you have to "draw" in notes with a mouse, unfortuately my mouse is in a little awkward position). Sonar doesn't have an auto quantize but has a quantize effect which you have to apply to each track. I also notice the quantize effect to sound looser than acually quantizing the data. To sum things up I can still do tracks 3x faster on the mpc than in Sonar. I took time to learn the key commands, but you still have to use the mouse for a lot of things. I still end up using the mpc to compose tracks. What would I expect in Cubase? Logic? Performer?

I have a hard time getting answers to these types of questions especially at stpres. I don't personally know nobody who use the computer to make beats. Everyone I know has a mpc or use a workstation.
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Postby Tweak on Sat Mar 27, 2004 12:44 am

Logic is great at overdubbing for beat creation. Never hit stop.
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Sonar 2.1 -- should it be causing blue-screening?!

Postby kenkasriel on Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:27 am

Dear Rich,

I liked your piece comparing the main sequencers -- ambitious and very useful.

Having said that: I have a relatively narrow question which you sort of touched on in your Sonar 2 review: it concerns stability.

I've been cakewalking since version 6. About 18 months ago I bought a new system from an alleged computer music specialist shop. I told them I wanted it for running Sonar 2.1 XL, Acid 3, Cool Edit Pro and Melodyne. They assured me all this software would work solidly and reliably within the machine they proposed, which ran XP, had 1024 mb of RAM, a 2.4 ghz pentium, a 40 gb hard disk for software and a 60 gb one for audio. They threw in some VST instruments for use within Sonar via an FXpansion wrapper. The soundcard was an MAudio Delta 66 OmniStudio. I did some homework and then ordered the machine.

Ok, that was just technical background. Basically, I've had a lot of problems with the machine from day 1; some of these problems persist even though I sent the machine back to them once already. The most serious problem I get is not mere crashes but blue screens of death fairly often within Sonar 2.1.

These don't seem to correlate with anything I can identify -- they are as likely to occur
a) with a 20-audio track project with all kinds of effects and a few soft synths running too, as with
b) a one or two-audio track project with nothing else (no fx, no midi, no nuthin'). Sometimes if I just adjust a volume enevelope node, BOING, blue screen.

I'd say within a typical 4 hour Sonar session I'll get 1-2 blue screens and 2-4 lesser "exception faults" -- again, not correlating with anything I can identify.

Occasionally I get the blue screens with Acid, though more often just a lot of exception faults. I never had this problem with Acid on two other, lower-spec machines. As I've never run Sonar 2.1 on any pother machine, I can't compare.

So.... I'm currently talking with the vendors as the machine ain't handling Sonar 2.1 as promised. In particular the blue screens are a bit alarming, as I heard that these are extremely rare within XP.

The shop, however, claims that the likely culprit is Sonar 2.1: "Sonar's effects are notorius for their instability (until Sonar 3 which are as solid as a rock)," they write.

I am trying to decide whether I have a fundamentally buggy machine or rather a good one which is plagued by Sonar 2.1's faults. They suggest I send the machine back for a checkup (for which they'd charge, the warranty having expired).

Due to several other mishaps with the machine earlier (which I won't bore you with, but for which they did accept responsibility and ultimately fixed for free) I do doubt them somewhat... but then again, I'm no techie, anyone opinionated in a white coat seems authoritative to me...

Do you think Sonar 2.1 and / or its plug-ins are as buggy as they say, or are they trying to escape blame for a flawed system? Could I remedy things simply by upgrading to Sonar 3?

I'd appreciate any guidance ...

regards,

Ken
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Postby Tweak on Thu Jul 22, 2004 3:40 pm

I don't think it is Sonar. None of the applications are crash free but it should be doing better than that. A blue screen exception means the computer is not happy with what it is asked to do. it could be the delta card interacting with a video card, or even could be a via chipset issue. I assume you have updated your delta drivers all along. if not that could easily be the source of the problem. The card could be in a less than optimum slot. There's many many possibilities and you never know till you start ripping the machine apart to try to solve it.
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Thanks very much. By the way, quick take on Sonar 3.1/4?

Postby kenkasriel on Fri Jul 23, 2004 8:55 am

Thanks very much. I will update the drivers (now 1.5 years old) and also apply the sonar 2.1 patch and see what happens.

have you continued to find Sonar 3.1 (I assume you have upgraded) stable?

Lasty, have you any idea whether Sonar 4 (which some expect in the autumn) might be worth holding out for, instead of upgrading to 3.1?

regards,
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Postby Tweak on Fri Jul 23, 2004 11:01 am

Have no idea. Anyone?
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getting either Sonar 3 or Cubase Sx, what advice?

Postby pnberg64 on Thu Aug 12, 2004 9:54 am

I'm a DP user on a G3 mac platform.

It's been killing me for years, because the os9 is unstable. I LOVE dp4, so I'm going to get the OSX and switch up.... HOWEVER

I use IBM platforms for work, and am MUCH more comfortable on that platform. I travel lots and lots, plus my bandmates all use IBMs... so we are all going to get a common software to work with.

We've been struggling along with Fruity Loops and Cool Edit Pro, but I want us to get to a good integrated Audio and midi platform.

So here are my main criteria (in order):

1) Audio Quality
2) As little crashing as humanly possible
3) Ease of setup (so it doesn't take a PHD to get to where there aren't lots of crashing)
4) File compatibility (DP has distressing tendencies in this area, so I will have to be passing back and forth using the translators on the IBM platform... if I'm not mistaken DP only outputs SDII files and maybe one other type)
5) Compatibility with my already existant MOTU 828
6) Packaged FX and Soft Synths... I'm not really interested in the NUMBER, but rather the QUALITY... something like Reason, a great compressor, and a great Verb are all I need... I have lots of outboard stuff....
7) Upgrades - how often, and how much...

I think that's my list...

Also, I keep reading about latency on this string, and I don't really grok what you are all on about... latency is something that occurs in DP too, but I have always monitored inputs through my digital board, and I have never even had to address any kind of latency, even when recording alongside previously recorded tracks. Did I just get lucky, or will that kind of setup and workflow cause me problems with SX (and/or Sonar)?

I would be getting the producer version of Sonar to get my hands on Pantheon....

Thanks!

-p
-p
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Sequencer for progressive rock

Postby chris2 on Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:52 am

Hello everyone!

I am planning to try writing music in the style of progressive rock: sympho-prog, prog-metal, etc. The technical feature required for this from the sequencing software is the convinience of handling different bar lenghs (or are they called time signatures in english).

When writing progressive music you need to change the time structure of your bars very often: somtimes when you start another theme with its own time structure, sometimes, when you just need to add or substract some few 8ths from some bar, in the end of the phrase, for example.

I have tried this in Cubase 3.7. The problem was, when you insert a time signature change, it affects only the time markers and "shifts" the borders of bars, leaving the midi information (say, the notes and all that you have recorded after this point) unchanged. To make the song really sound the required few 8ths longer (for example), you neeed to highlight the additional 8ths with markers and make a "global insert". This is not very convinient, specially, as muted tracks and boxes (which i usually have lots of) are still not affected by this global insert.

Is there such a sequencer that would allow me to select some bar from the song and extend it (or shrink it) so that the whole material after this point would automatically move together with the end border of the bar?

Which of the three sequencers basically has this feature?

I am sorry for explaining the question not very clearly, i am not a native english speaker.

Thank you for every response!

chris
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Postby palatino on Tue Apr 05, 2005 2:54 am

I vote for Cubase or Logic. Ofcourse this is totally subjective, but for my workflow they are intuitive and to me the most powerful. It feels natural working in both of these for me, meanwhile they give me everything that any of the others could offer me. It's hard saying what's the best, because it's really about what works and doesn't work for one person -- and what works for me may not for another. But, the fact that I can go into these two programs and just seamlessly create, arrange or whatnot is the factor of my choice. With any art, I hate to have the feeling of a device between my creativity and my intended results. These two are the closest software I've used that gives me this feeling. The feature sets are deep, but to me the interfaces are straight foward and designed as if they had me in mind.

Most well suited sequencers have similiar features, can use the same plug ins, and audio quality has a lot to do with other elements, so I won't go into that. To me, it comes down to my ability to us the tool without thinking about it - it's the same when painting or drawing, in my opinion. I don't want to have to think about the pencil or brush when drawing or painting. You know? I like being able to focus on my inspiration, atmosphere of the session, and sound....without thinking about the software.

Maybe it's just me. Sonar, is great, but it doesn't feel natural to me, and seems crowded and chaotic. DP is great also, but feels faulty with midi, so I use it only for select tasks. I only use Pro Tools when in a larger studio, and would dread having to compose on it within the software domain. Hardware into Pro Tools, is fine, but software/midi is like trying to teach a parrot to improvise vocal phrases instead of sounding robotic.

So, I went with whatever I could compose in, either hardware or software, meanwhile having a great GUI for my task, yet didn't lack in any of the features or quality as would be found in the other options - thus I stay within the Cubase, Logic circle...only stepping out to dabble in DP and even less of Pro Tools. And ofcourse stability counts.

I'm not a fan of FL Studio or Audition at all. And my experience with Ableton involved a hassle or two, and I never looked back.

Since I couldn't pick both, I vote for Cubase/Nuendo. If I was forced to use a Mac, I'd say Logic. But since Cubase is universal on both -- even though faulty on Mac in pre-SX3 versions - it gets it, for me.
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Postby L.T. on Sat Jun 04, 2005 3:41 pm

I started with Sonar 2 XL, then Cubase SX, and now I'm at using Sonar 4 P.E. and I think I'm going to stick with that, the learning curve isn't that bad to me. Not to mention I love the way it looks....it puurrttyyy :oops:
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Which one?

Postby rockstah690 on Mon Jun 20, 2005 7:22 am

Well I've been using Reason and it is great for creating loops etc, but I would like to use a better Sequencer. Also I'm keen on using external samplers such as Kontakt or Absynth. Could anyone please tell me which one, Cubase or Sonar, is better at handling external VSTs?

I just saw a great demonstration using Logic Pro7 and I must admit it was fantastic!! However I'm a PC user and am thinking hard weather I should buy a Power Mac with Logic Pro 7 or, Cubase or Sonar is equally better? I just want to be able to make changes in real-tme via my midi.

I'm a newbie at this so any help would be great!

Thanks!!
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Postby spiral'' on Sun Jul 10, 2005 7:57 pm

my vote has been cast for cubase sx. i used acid pro for a very long time before upgrading to cubase. i had to finally upgrade because my studio was getting a lot of hardware added, and acid refused to cooperate with syncing up everything. cubase works great. very stable app. i don't think i've ever had trouble with it.
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sequencer upgrade

Postby mofo on Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:32 am

My dinosaur of a program, cubase 3.52 has been my staple for 6+ years...

never updated, never added new plug-in's, -nuttin'.
i just wanted to get my demos out there, make songs for my kids...

The way i figure, if a producter wants to spend the $$ on my ideas, i'm happy to re-record.

so when my 10 yr. old power tower 180e takes a huge crap as a result of my chipping away at the software in an effort to get more memory, i got a new g5 w/ a gig of ram and tiger, an internal 80 gig HD and an external 160 gig hd. (and upgraded from a 324 to to the 424 motu card....i initially bought the 24i core system).

I am really into blending samples w/ audio (guitars, horns) and sprinking the whole thing w/ midi..

because the 3.52 cubase obviously will not work w/ my new rig, (not to mention that i cannot access any of the midi files w/o fixing the old computer) i need the final piece of the puzzle:

my next sequencer.

bear in mind that i am used to cubase 3.52, and i need a quick ramp-up time. i'm sorry, but i only turn to manuals when i've hit the wall or i'm on the toilet...i'm a musician w/ a.d.d go figger...:)

i was considering cubase SE ($150), but the fella @ motu said that i could get a "competitive upgrade" to DP for around $300....

i wanna keep it below $400

also, i use a MPC 2000 strictly for samples. i use 100meg. zip drives to store my samples... yes this is cumbersome, but i am totally scared to put all of my eggs in 1 basket by using sampling software like mach 5..

this will add $....

in summation, i never read forums, but i am addicted to this site.
i have been reading for an hour.
i hope that i followed the rules and i posted my questions in the proper place.

i am basing my decision on what sequencing software to buy (and maybe sampling software) w/ you nice folks share....
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Postby Trance Explorer on Tue Dec 06, 2005 6:58 pm

My opinion is this simple

What DAW are you using?

PC ---> Cubase


Mac ---> Logic


I use both very regular and cant see much difference.
The main one would be that Logic 7 has MUCH better plug in Synths, Sampler and Effects than Cubase SX3.
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