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cast your vote for the best DAW!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by chordaholic, Jun 29, 2001.

  1. chordaholic

    chordaholic Guest

    I know, I am asking the same old question.
    Which DAW is the best?
    But I have a list to choose from and the
    only goal is know which system is the
    all-in-one solution that can give you
    that professional sound on a budget
    including recording, mixing and mastering
    so you don't have to take your tracks to
    a studio later for mastering and all that.

    So, go ahead, cast your vote.

    - Nuendo (software + i/o box)
    - Digi 001
    - Cubase Producer's pac + MOTU 2408mkII
    - Logic Audio + MOTU 2408mkII
    - Digital Performer + MOTU 2408mkII
    - Paris

    And if there are any other that I haven't
    listed, let me know.

    Thanks,
    -chordaholic
    http://www.chordaholic.com
     
  2. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

    chordaholic,

    > I know, I am asking the same old question.
    Which DAW is the best? <

    Hey, no problem asking again. What's "best" at any given moment is always a moving target.

    I use SAW which you didn't mention, from IQS (http://www.iqsoft.com) and it's a fabulous multitrack audio recorder program. There are several versions in the SAW line ranging from not cheap to very expensive. :) But SAW is an extremely reliable and professional product that, unlike too many others, does not crash or lose your work when you least expect it.

    --Ethan

    http://www.ethanwiner.com/articles.html
    "The truth is in there"
     
  3. chordaholic

    chordaholic Guest

    Ethan,

    Thanks for your reply.
    I've never heard of SAW. What kind of a
    hardware interface does it work with? Digi001, or MOTU 2408mkII?? Because I think
    the A/D converters are the most important
    part of a DAW system especially if sound
    quality is your first priority.

    -chordaholic http://www.mp3.com/chordaholic
     
  4. Soundscape R.Ed works differently then the vast amount of "DAW's" that are currently on the market. It doesn't use the PC for any of the audio processing. With the PC acting only as a GUI frees the PC to run other applications with a high degree of reliability.
    The term "DAW" has certainly been stretched recently. In the not-to-distant past "workstation" meant something physical, even standalone.
    R.Ed gives you the pluses of the computer-based DAW without the negatives. It streams it's audio to it's own drives--you can crash the PC and have playback continue!
    Check out it's specs:
    up to 128 tracks simultaneously @ 24/48 or 64 tracks simultaneously @ 24/96. This is a guaranteed track count with rock solid reliability. (more stable then a 2" deck without the maintenance cost)
    That is with 112 inputs and 128 outputs
    Mixer is totally user definable.
    Soundscape is the only Motorola DSP-based company that can run the entire signal chain at 24/96 plug-insincluded.)
    VITC/LTC/SMPTE & Sony 9 pin (RS422)and Black Burst
    MIDI in/out/thru And MTC sync
    Full EDL/OMF implementation
    Full Networkability

    Here is a real DAW--professional performance at a mid market price!

    (with special thanks to Joel Gette!)
    :D
     
  5. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Hi Chordaholic,

    << I have a list to choose from and the
    only goal is know which system is the
    all-in-one solution that can give you
    that professional sound on a budget
    including recording, mixing and mastering
    so you don't have to take your tracks to
    a studio later for mastering and all that. >>

    All the software/hardware combos you mentioned are not solutions, they are just tools. Nothing more and nothing less, it doesn't matter whether you are talking about the cheapest system or a full blown PTools TDM DAW. It is possible to produce professional sounding mixes on any of these systems but it is far more likely that the mix will sound like crap. The most important part of a DAW system by far is not the ADCs but the operator.

    Given a couple of weeks with a DAW anyone can learn how to stick a mic in front of a musician, get a reasonable take and learn the intricacies of EQ, reverb, delay, compression, etc. However, there is no shortcut around the years of experience that are required to understand how these tools interact with each other in a full mix and then to be able to use them as creative tools.

    I've often heard the argument that professional engineers have srict time constraints but the DAW user can produce the same professional quality because they usually have virtually unlimited time. This is only true if you have five years to spend producing one track, and probably not even then.

    There is no such thing as an "all-in-one solution" for making quality recordings. No matter the quality or quantity of your hardware you are not going to produce a high quality, polished, professional sounding master without a high quality, polished professional mastering engineer. The same goes for the producer and sound engineer.

    In short, "that professional sound" you refer to, is usually created by a team of people (sound engineer, producer, mastering engineer) who probably have a total of 30+ years of experience and work with at least a couple of million dollars worth of equipment and environment. Now, you want to replace this team of professionals with a single inexperienced user, with a few thousand dollars worth of equipment/environment and produce a comparative level of quality. Does this sound impossible? It is possible that someone who has just passed thier driving test in a BMW could get on a Grand Prix race circuit and compete on equal terms with Michael Schumaker and his Formula 1 Ferrari. But let's face it, it would take a serious miricle and is completely unrealistic.

    With this in mind you still have to make a decision about which DAW to buy. The answer can only be discovered by you and depends on a number of factors: Are you going to be writing and performing your own music? What style of music are you going to be working with? What sort and number of live musicians are you likely to be working with? How much audio editing are you likely to require? How much MIDI/Sampled/Synth material are you going to be using? Etc, etc, etc.

    My vote is for you to make a list of the various DAWs that have a feature list best suited to what you want to produce and then go and sit in a demo of each of these systems to see which fits in best with your method of working and expectations.

    Watch those expectations though. While a top class pro could, under certain circumstances, produce a professional sounding mix on any of the systems you mentioned. No top pro, given the choice, would choose any of them. In fact very few, if any, would choose a DAW at all for anything other than editing.

    My 2 cents,

    Greg
     
  6. Ethan Winer

    Ethan Winer Active Member

    chordaholic,

    > I've never heard of SAW.

    It's not as well known as Cakewalk or Cubase, probably because it's aimed mainly at pros.

    > What kind of a hardware interface does it work with? Digi001, or MOTU 2408mkII?? <

    SAW works with any standard Windows sound card(s). There are demos at the IQS web site for the various versions, and neither the demos nor the product add anything to your registry or Windows folder. So you can try it out, delete the install folder afterward, and nothing stays behind. That alone makes it an easy choice to at least try!

    --Ethan

    http://www.ethanwiner.com/articles.html
    "The truth is in there."
     
  7. Scaper

    Scaper Guest

    Yep, Soundscape R.ed gets my vote. I have recently added the mixpander DSP expansion board which gives me another 9 DSPs to runplug-inson so I now NEVER run out of power (for my projects anyway).

    The system could do with moreplug-insbut apart from that I cannot fault it. It has NEVER crashed. 32 tracks 24 Bit, all day everyday.

    Current plugs available are:

    TC Reverb (based on M5000)
    TC Dynamizer (based on finaliser)
    Wave Mechanics Reverb
    Compressor X
    Aphex Aural Exciter
    Aphex Big Bottom
    Apogee Master tools
    Dolby Surround
    Cedar De-Hiss
    Cedar De-Click
    Vocalign
    SS Delay
    SS Dynamics
    SS Modulation
    SS Dither
    SS Noisegate
    Spin Delay
    SS Time stretch/Sample Rate Conversion
    SS EDL
    SS OMF inport/export
    Arboritum plug pack (loads of stuff)

    However, each to his own.

    Peace

    Scaper
     
  8. chordaholic

    chordaholic Guest

    So, 2 votes for Sounscape R.ed so far which
    is a system I didn't even have in my list
    of candidates. But, I will look into that
    now. Thanks to Bert and Scaper for your
    inputs.

    Greg, thanks for your reply about the
    importance of the engineers/producers in
    the recording process as opposed to the
    gear itself. I coudn't agree with you more,
    however, it is really costly to take your
    recording to a pro studio and have it mixed
    and mastered by the pros these days.

    That is one of the things I was considering
    myself; I've been doing my tracks at home
    (using Cubase VST+Audiomedia III on an older Mac) and wanted to take them to a pro studio to have them mixed and mastered.
    However, the first studio I went into which
    wasn't a top-of-the-line studio too and they
    gave a quote of $85 and hour for a minimum
    of 4 hours only to do mastering. So, that's about $340 minimum per song which will make the an album of 10 songs cost about $3400
    minimum!

    Again, this is only the mastering part of the
    process, I cannot even imagine how much it will cost to do your tracking at a pro studio too given that tracking takes much more time.

    Anyway, so I thought, with that kind of money ($3400+) I can easily buy a good DAW solution and a good fast PC and spend some time and learn the mastering process and get some decent recordings. I know it won't be as
    good as the pro sound but at least I still have some money left to eat!!! Besides, some of the pros are using some of the DAW's I've listed, like Nuendo for example, so I won't
    be too far off, hopefully.

    Thanks,
    -chordaholic http://www.mp3.com/chordaholic
     
  9. Dedric

    Dedric Guest

    From your list, Paris. The others are host-based, where Paris is a hybrid. You get near zero-latency (as all hardware has a little) tracking and monitoring, a stellar sounding mixing engine, 4-band graphic EQ on every channel, very good comps, track grouping, on board effects, VST/DX support, easy config for outboard inserts/Auxes, etc, very high quality converters, a hardware control surface, up to 128 tracks from a standard $120 Maxtor ATA66/100 drive, very quick/easy editing features, OMF compatibility, excellent stability on either PC or Mac, and expandability for very reasonable cost.

    Above all the sound is key, and Paris is very warm (analogish to many users), with great imaging, depth, clarity and transparency. Again, Paris is different than the others in your list as they are software only, and all mixing, tracking and monitoring is done in software, so latency is an issue there. Nuendo gets high marks for sound quality from some users I've talked to, and is probably one of the best host-based-only systems. Soundscape's R.ed looks like a nice custom/standalone system, but you are much more limited in the plugin department (custom format) than with a standard VST/DX supporting app (such as Paris and the others in the group). I don't know the popularity of R.ed in the US (SS seems to be very popular in Europe post markets), but Paris seems to be becoming the most popular mid-priced DAW for music tracking and mixing, and is more often compared with Pro Tools for varying reasons. You also will have the benefit of compatibility with DSP cards like the UAD-1 Powered Plugins for some killer compressors, and more, without adding CPU overhead.

    As one poster already said, the "best" is relative to what you need, want to spend, and hope to achieve with the system. Compare several for features, performance (look for the negatives as well as positives!) and price. Demo as many as possible, then decide.

    Regards,
    Dedric
     
  10. Tony C

    Tony C Guest

    Yea, for an all round client/studio DAW at a great price I would have to say Paris. It is know for good sound quality AND it wisely incorporates a hardware system to conserve the CPU power of your computer ), as does Pro tools (though with Paris I wouldn't brag about it's use of VST plugs which tend to sound cheezy).
    IMHO, as strickly "host based" systems go I think DP has an edge in sound quality over most, even Nuendo. The reason I say this is that Nuendo uses the same audio engine as Cubase (which I'm familiar with) and the sound in no way resembles anything like the warmth of analog (if that matters to you).
    Combine DP with some well thought out hi end hardware and you will achieve "top pro" results regardless of what anyone tells you. Oh yea, of course, as Greg said (in a nut shell), if you don't know what your doing you won't achieve "top pro" results anytime soon. That can't be stressed enough!
    Let your ears be the judge, that will keep you busy searching for the ultimate rig for years to come.... good luck. ;)
     
  11. Dedric

    Dedric Guest

    Originally posted by Tony C:
    Yea, for an all round client/studio DAW at a great price I would have to say Paris. It is know for good sound quality AND it wisely incorporates a hardware system to conserve the CPU power of your computer ), as does Pro tools (though with Paris I wouldn't brag about it's use of VST plugs which tend to sound cheezy).


    VST plugins cheezy? Hmmm - Waves too? Waves has even said their VST versions should have the edge in sound quality over their other formats. I don't think there is a plugin to suit every need (sometimes I use Waves, sometimes Paris EDS comps/EQ, sometimes outboard gear), but with host-based apps plugins are your only option. I, and many other producers and engineers have had great success with sound quality in mixes using VST/DX plugins (usually Waves). I even know of one producer/engineer that has gone through the process of comparing to outboard gear, and is quite successful at emulating some rather pricey outboard gear - beyond outside listeners' ability to distiguish between the two. It does help to understand how to get the most of any tool.

    Regards,
    Dedric
     
  12. Markd102

    Markd102 Well-Known Member

    I'd like to give Greg a big pat on the back for his post on this thread.
    I read too many threads that whinge about the shortcomings of there $1000 digital audio systems.
    "The A/D converters aren't good enough"
    "We want better mic pres"
    "Not enough tracks"
    "I can't work with this latency"
    etc etc. etc.
    These people need to step back and realize that they have bought a consumer level piece of equipment. You get what you pay for. I have a DIGI001 and I know its shortcomings. You simple have to work with it and be happy with what you've got.
    If you want totally professional results, buy a MixPlus, go to school and then after 10-20 years experience you might be getting there!

    Greg, as a PT user I'm sure you visit the DUC from time to time. I ask you to pop into the 001 forum every now and them and everytime you see somebody whinge about their system's shortcomings, cut and paste your above post and put them back in their place.

    Well done Greg

    Mark
     
  13. Dedric

    Dedric Guest

    Originally posted by Greg Malcangi:
    [QB No top pro, given the choice, would choose any of them. In fact very few, if any, would choose a DAW at all for anything other than editing.

    My 2 cents,

    Greg[/QB]

    Greg,

    Do think that is truthfully the nature of DAWs (not just the list above) or more of an indication that those top pros cut their teeth on traditional consoles instead of DAWs, and probably are more comfortable there? As you stated, it isn't so much the tool (at least to some degree), but the operator.

    There are hit songs being recorded and mixed in Paris and PT, but certainly not the host-based systems listed above (at least not mixed - some combinations are being used in production).

    There is nothing wrong with a pro using a DAW to record, produce and mix music (I know of several who do). i.e. the Pro isn't thereby dubbed "incompetent" for doing so. Some of the best music produced comes from people breaking the traditional rules, not adhering to them blindly (there is also plenty of garbage too). IMO, it isn't whether the format is "perfect" but whether its' use is creative and productive, and no format is "perfect".

    Regards,
    Dedric
     
  14. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Hi Dedric,

    << Do think that is truthfully the nature of DAWs (not just the list above) or more of an indication that those top pros cut their teeth on traditional consoles instead of DAWs >>

    To get the best out of a top pro you need to give them the best tools. Currently that means high end analog/outboard gear. There are no EQ plugs that are anywhere near as good as high end outboard gear. The same is true of compression and reverb, not to mention the desks themselves.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not DAW bashing here. In my own studio I use PTmix3 and a ProControl. DAWs are getting better and some plugins are now starting to at least get in the same ball park as some of the high end outboard gear. Although DAWs aren't there yet they are getting closer and the lines are starting to blur.

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the compliment but I'm not sure if I could be bothered with the inevitable flame replies! If you want to cut and paste some of that message into the (DUC) 001 forum feel free! :)

    Greg
     
  15. Dedric,
    ...The others are host-based, where Paris is a hybrid.
    Not true--Soundscape R.Ed IS NOT host-based--it ONLY uses the PC for GUI.
    Paris is different than the others in your list as they are software only, and all mixing, tracking and monitoring is done in software, so latency is an issue there.
    R.Ed even streams to its' own drives--latency is simply not an issue with this product.
    Soundscape's R.ed looks like a nice custom/standalone system, but you are much more limited in the plugin department (custom format) than with a standard VST/DX supporting app (such as Paris and the others in the group).
    In a sense, the "limitedness" is more of a Paris issue--correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe Intelligent Devices has ever released new algorhythms for Paris's DSP (and may never at this rate.)R.Ed on the other hand has had a good number of top-shelf 3rd partyplug-inswritten for it's DSP, AND there are more coming RIGHT NOW! Additionally, I can stream other applications running other types of DSP into R.Ed.--it isn't a problem. Soundscape is the only Motorola DSP-based company that can run the entire signal chain at 24/96 plug-insincluded.)

    BTW, I speak from experience. Not only have I owned both systems; I've also done support for both! (12 years for EMU<>ENSONIQ.)

    Don't get me wrong--Paris is a fine product (and EMU/ID has brought it to maturity with 3.0, which BTW is pretty much what is what is spec'd out to do when it was an Ensoniq product.)

    Thanks
     
  16. Dedric

    Dedric Guest

    Bert,

    When referring to "the others are host-based only" I was referring to the original post that did not mention R.ed. R.ed was added to the discussion later, and IMO, is a variation of the what the posters was asking about since it is a standalone DAW. I'm sure R.ed is a great DAW - I just like the flexibiltiy of a cross-platform system with support for more more widely accepted plugin formats (VST/DX) like Paris (in addition to existing EDS FX) instead of relying on developers to port to it. No, the EDS 3rd party development hasn't happened, but I don't count it out for the future, or rely on it - it would be nice, but isn't a show-stopper either way. I have a lot of options with my system for my projects and clients, and the sound quality is the first reason I chose Paris. I wouldn't be surprised to see VSTi in the future for Paris, which will be a nice addition.

    Regards,
    Dedric
     
  17. Tony C

    Tony C Guest

    Dedric,
    Waves plugs blow away VST plugs. I wasn't talking about 3rd party VST plugs, I was referring to Steinbergs VST plugs. And yes, they do sound cheezy to me and a whole lot of other people.
    Also, try not to kid yourself about host based systems not being used to put out major label albums, hit records, film tracks, etc.. For practical applications in a client based studio your right, host based studios don't cut it as well as Paris or PT (for now). However, a lot of great musician/composer/engineer types (people who have been in the biz forever) are kicken ass with some great sounding productions done totally in the comfort of their own homes AND on their little DAW host based rigs FWIW ;)
     
  18. Dedric

    Dedric Guest

    Originally posted by Tony C:
    Dedric,
    Waves plugs blow away VST plugs. I wasn't talking about 3rd party VST plugs, I was referring to Steinbergs VST plugs. And yes, they do sound cheezy to me and a whole lot of other people.
    Also, try not to kid yourself about host based systems not being used to put out major label albums, hit records, film tracks, etc.. For practical applications in a client based studio your right, host based studios don't cut it as well as Paris or PT (for now). However, a lot of great musician/composer/engineer types (people who have been in the biz forever) are kicken ass with some great sounding productions done totally in the comfort of their own homes AND on their little DAW host based rigs FWIW ;)


    Ah yes, nomenclature confusion - I was assuming you meant VST as a format. I with ya on Steinberg's VST stuff. Not pretty for what is supposed to be a "pro" audio sequencer, but, hey whatever.

    Yeah, Logic, Cubase, DP, etc have been around the pro world for various uses, in various forms, for years. I enjoy using Logic for audio in combination with Paris at times, and not just for sequencing. When the tool does what you need - use the tool. I don't really care whether it is the standard or not, as long as it meets my criteria for quality and performance, and getting the job done.

    I hope some of this is somewhat helpful to chordaholic; although, Greg has a point that "all-in-one" for a "professional sound" isn't necessarily realistic - I do know of Paris being used in all phases of pro-level production (including mastering by a really talented pro mastering engineer) - don't know about the others - just one example. All of the aforementioned systems are being used to some degree all the way from the hobbyist level to the pro market. IMO, music production greatly benefits from knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the tools you have access to and making the most of them, not just sticking to a formula for achieving the goal, or assuming that a given product's "pro" title/advertisements means you will make a "pro" production with it.

    Regards,
    Dedric
     
  19. Tony C

    Tony C Guest

    Yes, I agree with you and to further elaborate on Gregs quote ""all-in-one solution" for a professional sound.....no matter the quality or quantity of your hardware......."
    IMHO, if you don't have the ears and years behind you (especially when it comes to digital set ups), you'd be better off saving up your pennies and buyin time at a reputable studio.
    That is, unless you're new at it AND you have great ears, time, a lot of money and a few years to kill.
    Sooooo, what's the best DAW? It depends Watson, it depends on.............. :D
     
  20. Uptown Jimmy

    Uptown Jimmy Guest

    Paris. Total stability, seemingly limitless power, near-zero latency, amazing sound.
     

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