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Sonar X1 sound quality vs Samplitude Pro X

Discussion in 'Sonar' started by audiokid, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm looking for a DAW that does MIDI and Audio well.

    I've played around with Sonar X1 and really like it. The new GUI is better and it just seems more user friendly now. For knowing almost nothing about it, I got it running and was creating music in a few hours. Its a MIDI giant for sure. MIDI is so tight, blows away Samplitude in that respect. Seems as fast as Reaper ( the dark horse).
    Sonar never crashed on me and ran flawlessly.

    Samplitude can't come close to the speed of Sonar's MIDI performance. Too bad, its really forcing me to look for a second DAW. The majority of my producing is VSTi and MIDI programming but I also need a good tracking/ hybrid system. The combination is proving to be a challenge. I'm thinking about buying an MPC5000 and going back to MIDI hardware.

    Here's what I noticed about Sonar though. The sound quality was not there. I tried everything I could to get it to sound as full, clean and quiet as Samplitude ( using RME ADi-8 QS converters) should sound killer. Tracking audio at 88.2 , Vocals sounded like a toy compared to Samplitude. Sonar had noise in the background all the time and the actual recording of the vocals sounded smaller and metallic. Once again, when someone is testing a product on something, keep this in mind. Even a U87 sounded different between two DAW's.

    This wasn't some clinical test but it was enough for me to 100% forget about Sonar as an audio system after knowing Samplitude.
    So, the testimonials that all DAW's sound basically the same, no way. Sonar is great for MIDI and VSTi but its not a professional audio tracking system in comparison to Samplitude and Sequoia. Too Bad, I would have loved this platform.
    I'm not asking for much. I don't need tons of Midi functions either. I just need something that is fast like Sonar and doesn't choke going between audio and Midi. So far Samplitude is king but its a bit sloppy for midi. erk... The perfect world, where are you?
    PT 9 next and then Cubase.
  2. Chuck Steak

    Chuck Steak Active Member

    What a chimp I am! And here I am working with Cakewalk for 15 years and thought it sounded alright. Granted, not awesome, not ever. I have nice gear too, but I really always thought it was simply the sound from my converter's A2D. (Mic, Pre, EQ, Dynamics, etc) Does software have a sound? I mean, digital has a sound, but it's digital on the way in, so no change there right? Plug-ins, bad host code and drivers may have issues, causing miscellaneous problems, but if that's all ruled out, I thought it should be completely neutral. An interesting post indeed. Any further tests since the original post? I will be doing my own tests and will determine how overlooked this have been by me.
  3. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    The FL Studio 'Audio Engine' & DAW wars (Topic) • Image-Line
  4. Chuck Steak

    Chuck Steak Active Member

    What an excellent response! That post has great insight and sensibility. I often wrestle with choosing between sense and succumbing to my gear worship.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Interesting post, mostly believable... and weird how I hear a difference.

    Well, that pretty much sums it up.

    Pro Tool HDX is definitely BS and every other DAW is the same in sound? Its all about the math.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm debating revisiting 44.1 for stability and performance.

    Don't higher freq sound sweeter at 88.2?
    I've never tracked at 192 because I think its overkill but can't say ya or nay to which is better beyond my experience. I've never felt the need to change.
    I'm assuming you posted this Dan because you are trying to get to the truth like me and this is one more article that has your attention or point to prove?

    DAW's are equal but are they when you add the stuff that makes each one possible to make music? I think there is more to it.
    If all we are talking about is 1+1 = 2 , I get that. Its so clinical.

    My brain hurts.

  7. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Both DAWs have some great plugins. Sonar has a great sounding channel strip and tube/tape emulation built in. So does Samplitude. I think at some point you just have to say "when".
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    when though? :cool:
  9. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oh Lord kill me now. Do you think I know?
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Good to shed some humor, we need more of that. . .

    I'm back for a lashing.

    Personally, I'm focused on what I have now and how to use it better. More computing power would be nice though. thumb
    To make my life easier, I'm heading back to specific dedicated hardware. I love ITB for all the editing and incredible convince but I really hate how cluttered and isolated it all is. I need some gear and keyboards around me ready at an arms reach. I like the screen but i don't like it all there. Digital is great , so is hardware. Balance the two world feels better to me.

    Sonar is a great virtual DAW but its still ugly. No disrespect intended but Asian style consoles are plain ugly and cluttered. Where as Samplitude/ Sequoia is a complete workstation with mastering technology, geared towards live recording and mastering. Its designed like a console with big ass faders and killer plug-ins with great bus, aux and routing. It needs a bit more midi and syncing optimizing but for a DAW, its awesome. The new Pro X Suite apparently has a good sampler added to it. You need a serious computer to unleash its full potential. The CP I have isn't enough so I'm looking for a custom PC that will do it.

    The virtual sounds in Sonar sound very good but not awesome. It excels with midi and VSTi stability but the analog section sucked compared. Track a vocal line into it using the exact same hardware, Sonar did not sound as open and silky. Accordingly to this older article, the math says I'm delusional, go figure..
  11. Chuck Steak

    Chuck Steak Active Member

    OK, the curtain has been peeled back now. If we all agree that the DAW itself, in a neutral, non-processing position is colorless, then we need and SHOULD be discussing how good the sound of the processing is. EVERYONE loves to discuss how this Trident or this SSL or whatever sounds "good". Whatever that means, right? Analog gear, especially something as complex as a console or even an EQ does sound different from one box to the next, no question. After getting my degree in sound engineering, I worked in a very large commercial studio for five years . During that time, with my young and fresh ears, I did indeed learn to use them as a tool, subjective or not, and became discerning in my gear choices. I was lucky enough to touch some of the greatest classic gear. Real Neve, SSL, Fairchild, Tube Tech, Summit, GML, Studer, Pultec and so on, were highly available to me. There was indeed reason behind these very expensive purchases, because next to dBx, Alesis and what not, they sounded a lot better. They also sounded worlds better than almost anything digital from that time. (This was around 1995.) This is also still true today, just not as much. I think we can all agree on this condition, and it's not what I want to discuss.

    What I want to discuss, is how the included channel processing and various plug-ins for "in the box" work, sound to experienced ears from one DAW to the next. This should be compared to their hardware cousins, as we know through decades of use, sound very good. BTW -Please point me in the right direction if there's a better thread for me to latch onto. Let's compare what we have with what we know is great sounding. I haven't been to enough places in this forum yet where this is the discussion topic, and I certainly do not hear about it in the magazines and other media that are bought and sold by advertising money. Also, this is an elusive problem to overcome for me, because I still have reservations about believing that ITB mixing is going to be tolerable AND provide decent results. I do really REALLY want to make a permanent decision, and embrace this seemingly ineveitable progression of technology. I want to sell a lot of my outboard gear and replace it with desk space, swap the large format console for a boutique recording path, and never look back. HOWEVER- this scares the crap out of me because I come from hardware that can be relied on and is predictable. Making the change is a significant departure for me from what I'm used to, and because of the costs involved, once I do commit, there's no turning back.

    So, back to DAW sound, and trying to conclude what sounds good, and when enough is enough. If I go ITB for my mixing, I'll be stuck with a need for many EQ's and compressors, per track. Therefore I'll need something that not only sounds great, but doesn't overwhelm the host system. This, in my opinion, should be the sole goal of processing software designers. Give us the bread and butter, and leave the boutique emulations to the dreamers. Does anyone have insight on which DAW, much like a great analog console, has a great processing sound and practical usability? Maybe start with sound, as that's a little more important to me. I work in technology and can always throw more hardware at a DAW, even though this is rarely a concern in these days of cheap memory, storage and processing. But I digress...
    I sure would like to rely on some good, yet simple EQ and compression, and not have to search through the unending quagmire that is plug-in software design. The market is oversaturated with rubbish products and false claims. I really don't mean just the little guys or freeware either, the bigger companies constantly barrage us with crap. To get back to the original discussion here, ALL DAW's will have strengths and weaknesses, but we need just ONE that will do all of the basics properly. (audio processing, advanced MIDI, routing, and stability) Anything else should be the job of add-ons and thrid party development.

    Concerning when to stop experimenting and tell yourself that enough is enough, my general advice to engineers of all types (including myself), whether a new hand learning from the beginning, or an old hand learning a new DAW, is that you have to first be aware of when analytical thinking has overwhelmed creative action. Get your toolset together, everything you'll need and trust, and stick to it for some time. Working in a constained environment will spark creativity and you'll learn your toolset better. Stop trying everything unless you're really stuck. It's addictive, I know, but producing a finished project is what matters in the end.
  12. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Chuck Steak, you ask the best question going right now. Welcome to the growing hybrid crowd, also in question.
    For me, there is no doubt hybrid is the best of both worlds.

    No matter what year it is, there will always be plug-ins that hog CPU, create conflicts and disrupt things. I'm constantly questioning plug-in integrity and accel cards. What a racket. I use as little plug-ins as I can and plan to keep it that way.

    Personally, I wouldn't be selling your hardware. With the announcement of the HDX system, Avid has created another sell your gear FAST frenzy. Its a buyers markets.

    I ask myself. Does a piece of analog hardware cause any conflict with the DAW? I'm acquiring hybrid gear to glue everything better and to help take pressure off the CPU. There are smart companies designing super quiet hardware focused around the hybrid summing crowd.

    After an expensive lesson and reading these forums for 13 years, the interface is the place to spend money, and maybe the DAW for sound I dunno.
    Don't get locked into a system that controls your ability reach out into the hybrid world, its the boutique hardware that makes us unique and sound above the crowd.
    Look for companies that embrace the circle of standards , don't lock yourself into a corner. That's my take on it all.

    I'm loving learning how to combine the best of both worlds. I choose Sequoia because it has everything you need while allowing me to work freely with the outside world. I choose it because Mastering engineers have been working with it for years. I've read it processes everything the best, again, I don't know. The editing is fantastic and it sounds like the source I put into it. I follow the ME.
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    I think they sound different but I could be delusional.
    I'll post a comparison between Sequoia 11 and Sonar X1 soon.
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Well does that bite. Preparing for this fun day to find Sonar X1 demo copy has expired. I may pay for the upgrade.

    Stay tuned... I will get to the bottom of this for my own satisfaction thumb
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    no one cares to chat about this anymore, it really should be a top priority question. Other than our personal workflow, the sound should be the highest priority yes? I mean we buy all this expensive gear and then dummy it up by sending our pristine sound into some DAW that could be effecting everything?

    I thought I'd look around for more opinions. The null test is impressive but its not convincing me. The more I read, the less anything is convincing except what I hear in my own world. While you're on pins and needles ( hehe) humming and hawing waiting for me to upgrade to X1 so I can do this again, I found this. Which DAW sounds best?
  16. Chuck Steak

    Chuck Steak Active Member

    What's the trouble with the upgrade? I'm a try before buy guy, so I'll get a copy before I purchase anything. Let me know if you need any assistance with this.
    Also, I think people probably would love to discuss this in great detail, but the title of this thread is most likely killing the conversation. Who cares about Samplitude? hahaha JK :tongue:

    Secondly, you almost sound like you're back peddling. I'm done thinking about if one DAW sounds better than another. I've convinced myself, based on years of DAW use, that it just doesn't matter. Again, I largely process out of the box, and use my console for EQ and dynmaics. I trust my converters and everything running in the signal path before the DAW. My results are mostly consistent and acceptable, and this is through both Cubase 6 and Sonar X1. What I'm mic'ing is what I'm hearing in the monitor path. Also, when I do use pluggies, it's only the 6 or 7 that I've thoroughly tested and trust. (Lexicon PCM, Waves misc., Steinberg misc., Ohmforce, and very VERY little else)

    The only remaining question for me is if I can stand mixing in the box exclusively, and still get good mixes. I plan on disengaging my hardware console. I'll use it solely as a 2 track return from the DAW. I'll then mix with pluggies for all EQ, FX, and dynamics as well as busing and summing and see what's what. It may not be objective in the end, but as you said, I trust what I'm hearing in my own world.

    I checked out Which DAW sounds best?, and the author agrees with my determinations. Now if I can get software to sound as good as my hardware, and at the same time not want to punch my keyboard over and over, then I'll be on a promising road. I can then invest in a real controller and stellar converters. Have you seen this thing? http://www.smartav.net/product/tango-2/
    This kicks major ass, and is what originally got me excited again about the prospect of going ITB exclusively.
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    and here. Cool, thanks for your offer.

    No I'm not back peddling, I'm wanting to do this really well now. My demo expired and can't buy it right now but in the mean time I'm preparing do it right and asking more about it because it is very interesting to me. The null test, is that what tells the truth? I need to do this for my testing.

    I'm not so bent on this and like you, use what I find worlds for me, but I'm looking for a second DAW to dig in on and be done with it. The simple comparison I did kind of blew me away. I never expected this. I've always thought a DAW was a DAW until you introduce a change.

    What is the best way to do a test like this?
  18. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Yes, I've been talking about Tango with a dealer up here Pacific Island Audio. Its looks really cool.
  19. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    To do this correctly this has been suggested:
    Use RME Digicheck recording function, then load this wave file in the different DAW's, then play it in the same soundcard / monitoring and a complete null should occur.
  20. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    I had to try X1 to see what all the hubub is about. This is my first impression. I hate it. I don't care if it does sound better. I don't like the way it works. I find 8.5 much easier to navigate. X1 is just a pain for routing IMHO. I like to be able to find what I want right away. It took me seconds to find my way around Samplitude. I'm glad I tried it first because I was on the verge of buying it the other day. I'm glad I didn't to be totally honest. I'm happy with what I have. Sonar 8.5 is a bit buggy here and there but over all, it has done it's job quite well when I've used it. I have to say that I'm drawn to Samplitude more but only because it's familiar. Routing makes sense to me. Gonna try Pro X next.

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