Sonar 4 VS ProTools LE

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by Lachoza, Sep 27, 2004.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. Lachoza

    Lachoza Guest

    I'm sure these threads are common, but I'm new here and wanted to get some opinions.

    I am looking into a DAW with as good sound quality as possible.

    I like what I see about the ProTools Digi 002 system and that's what I'm leaning towards right now.

    I don't do alot with MIDI so CuBase or something focused on Midi isn't as much of a priority for me. I just want good quality sound, an easy interface and stability for a home recording system.

    I use alot of synths and would hope to be able to create all drum tracks in programs like Fruity Loops or ReBirth. With those programs, can I export the drum tracks as Wav files and paste them into tracks in ProTools? I know ProTools doesn't offer the kind of open plugin support than programs like Sonar and VST support programs do so I was concerned about how I work with softsynths and software drum machines like "Drumkit From Hell" would work in ProTools.

    I'll summarize how I record and then maybe everyone could advise from there:

    -I play the bass, guitar and synth parts in real time so I don't need great Midi or sequencing abilities. Same with the vocals.

    -I want to be able to create drum tracks in a software program like Fruity Loops. What is the compatibility for these shareware or VST type soft-drum programs in ProTools?

    -If I got Sonar, I would need to buy a sound card like a M-Audio Delta 44 or so AND a mic preamp correct??

    Basically, what are my advantages with going with Sonar over ProTools? I may at some points want to track at home, but then mix and master at a pro studio so ProTools has the advantage there.

    Lastly, Can Sonar compete with ProTools from a sound quality standpoint?
  2. Lachoza

    Lachoza Guest

    One other question.. I don't know that I would really NEED any more I/O's than the ones offered in the M-Box because I will be recording by myself and none of my equipment requires more than 2 inputs.

    If I went with the M-Box, I would have alot of money left over to spend on some nice extra plug ins or towards my new computer which I will no doubt need to get.

    Other than the extra I/O's, is the 002R REALLY worth the extra money if I'm not concerned with more than 2 I/O's?? How do the mic pres on the M-Box stack up? Please keep in mind that I am not thinking like an audio elitist here so I don't care if the mic pres don't stack up to some high end stuff. I just want a DAW that can create radio worthy recordings with the right engineering.

    Also, if I get a ProTools LE setup, does that mean I DO NOT have to get an expensive soundcard? In other words, does the M-Box or 002R itself act like the soundcard?

    I like the fact that the ProTools setup includes everything.. If I got Sonar, I would need to go buy seperate and hopefully compatible sound card, mic pres etc.
  3. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    Basically, what are my advantages with going with Sonar over ProTools? I may at some points want to track at home, but then mix and master at a pro studio so ProTools has the advantage there.

    Lastly, Can Sonar compete with ProTools from a sound quality standpoint?

    You can track in Sonar and save as an OMF (open media file) and mix and master that file pretty much anywhere. Just so you know
    Sonar has less of a learning curve in my opinion. I use pro tools and sonar frequently and IMO I think Sonar has better sound quality. I still use both though. It all depends on what the client wants. If they demand pro tools then I use it. Otherwise I use Sonar for everything. It's interface is much more appealing and the visuality helps newbies out a lot I believe. If you go pro tools realize that you are stuck with pro tools and digidesign. You can't substitute any other converters or anything. With sonar your options are completely widespread. If you were to buy sonar you would only have to buy an audio card to suite your needs. I have a MOTU 24i/o but you may need something with less inputs and outputs so could get by with something smaller. It all depends. Maybe an aardvark q10 would be ideal. I have heard good things about it. In conclusion, it's not the software. It's the experience and knowledge that make a good recording. I think everyone here on RO will agree with me on at least that.
  4. Lachoza

    Lachoza Guest

    So does the hardware with ProTools (M-Box etc) act as the soundcard?

    It just seems like I may have a more stable system using ProTools since the hardware is proprietary to the software.

    When you say I'm "stuck with Digidesign", what do you mean? What else would I need from them after I get the base system?

    All I could see getting after that point would be effects plug ins etc. I did hear that ProTools doesn't support ANY shareware plugins which kind of sucks.. but I don't need a whole lot. Give me a good quality Reverb, Delay and Compressor and I'm set.

    Lastly, if I were to use programs like ReBirth or Fruity Loops for drum tracks, how do those programs interact with ProTools? Do I create the drum tracks in ReBirth> then export as a wav> and then import that wav into ProTools?? Are there any problems with doing such a thing? I'm not familiar how softsynths and soft-drums etc interact with these DAW programs.
  5. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    The hardware of pro tools LE is ok. Yes it acts a the soundcard and mic pre amp but a lot of people think the preamps of the Digi002 and 002r and Mbox suck. I'm not saying they do or don't I'm just saying what I've heard from others. I use a HD system so I wouldn't know about the woes of the preamps on those interfaces. When I say "stuck with digidesign" I mean be prepared to have to purchase updates a lot. Also you are married to those converters on your interface (mbox, 002, 002r) forever. You are also limited to 32 tracks in PT LE. As far as stable, if you were to go to and browse the user forum you would see that it is anything but stable unless you tweak out your system quite a bit. Again I am not advocating either of the two mentioned software choices or anything... I'm merely stating what I've heard from others, my personal experience, and if I were you what I would choose. That's all. Also, if you have a mac then it's an easy decision. Pro Tools. If you have a PC, sonar is going to be more stable and reliable for you. You can have SOnar up and running perfectly with 32 tracks flying on an out-of-box best buy pc (ive seen it) but with pro tools it takes more customization.
  6. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    May 25, 2004
    Hi Lachoza.

    I will try to give my personal opinions here from what I read from your posts. I do own an MBox myself and is satisfied with that from a number of points, and not from a number of other points.

    I do believe that as a start-up system the MBox will serve you very well. It is an integrated solution, handling both the input and output side of you music recording work. It has decent mic-pres and decent hardware in other respects so it should give you good service in this respect.

    It has a few snags which might bite you. The first is that you should test it with you PC before you buy (or buy from a store that will allow you to turn it back). It is a bit picky about USB power and chips in the computer so it might not work, easy to test though.

    Secondly it is a USB interface, and as all USB interfaces the latency is a bit on the high side. Latency is the time it takes from a sound to be generated in for example a soft synth until you can hear it. There is a noticeable delay when you use most USB sound cards. The delay is less with a Firewire or "built-in" card. This is not an unsurmountable problem, you can learn to live with it.

    You can use the MBox with just about any software that supports ASIO (and most do today). But in the box comes the program Protools LE which is in many ways a decent program. You should now however that PT LE can not be used with any other hardware than Digidesign (today they make three different hardware choices, and that is it). This is the "locked in" part of the equation.

    Protools LE allows you to record and mix and so on and is very stable both on PC and Mac. The possibility of moving your files to and from a "professional" system has often been touted in the ads, but it really is not that important. The reason is that nowadays you can move the Wav files to and from just about any program. And if you take the effort to go to a professional system you will probably want to use their effects anyway. So my suggestion is that you simply forget this part of the marketing.

    Protools LE is a bit on the short side when it comes to plugins, the ones in are good but gives a limited selection. The first thing you will want to invest is in the RTAS-VST plugin from fxpansion. It will cost you around 99 USD and allows you to use most VST plugins. The amount of freeware and shareware plugins is simply enormous. Most of them are not worth more than they cost (they are free), but there are a few gems which are worth the effort.

    I have used my MBox for recording classic music in stereo, and have had good results. The mic pres and the AD chain as well as Protools LE has been up to the task for me. I got it after a long search as the lowest price alternative to get to that position.

    But you will soon end up in the same way as I do, never beeing happy with where you are. I dearly wanted more inputs, and after much searching and thinking I decided that I wanted to get out of the Digidesign "lockin". I decided on going with other mic-pres, a Motu 828mkII and Samplitude as my program. I could now sell my MBox and get more than half the money back, but I will keep it a while. It has been a very good learning tool, producing good music in the mean time.

  7. Lachoza

    Lachoza Guest

    Thanks for all the input.

    So, let's just say I decided to get Sonar 4 instead..

    what would be it's selling points besides just the fact that you have more hardware choices?

    Also, the Sonar option would be more expensive because the program alone costs about $400. Then I need a M-Audio Delta 44 soundcard which costs about $150 I think. THEN I still also need Mic Pre-amps which could be around $200 if I get 2 of them. So right there, I'm already spending $750 which is almost $300 more than the ProTools M-Box setup. Is it worth that much more money? Also, do I risk instability with non-proprietary hardware like M-Audio soundcard and seperate pre-amps etc?

    How do the effects that come with Sonar stack up to the plug ins that come with ProTools LE?

    Can I get alot of the same plugins for Sonar that I can with ProTools?

    I know Sonar 4 can do video.. can ProTools LE do that?
  8. Lachoza

    Lachoza Guest

    One other question:

    How do the plug ins/effects that are included with Sonar stack up to those included with ProTools LE??

    I know Sonar has the Lexicon Pantheon Reverb, but some say it's not THAT great.

    Can I get alot of the same plug ins for Sonar that I can get with ProTools?
  9. ghellquist

    ghellquist Member

    May 25, 2004
    Well Lachoza,
    you are asking many and valid questions. But I also think that the only person who will be able to answer them is you yourself. I think what you will need to do is to simply try things out and see what works for you and what does not.

    It might be that Sonar is not the right thing for you, who can tell. There is a large number of programs on the market, from the very low-price but able n-Synch Studio to the very specialized and somewhat expensive, just as examples Sequioa and SAW studio.

    In all of these questions it might be good to go with a decent solution with a decent second hand value. To me the MBox and Protools LE was (and is) that step stone to knowledge.

    You will also quickly be made aware that there is a large price difference between low-price and professional-price products. But it is not necessarily so that there is an equivalent amount of difference in performance. Low-price may be as good for you as professional price, only you will be able to tell. Gaining knowledge is, I believe, the important point.

    And no, PT LE does not do video. You may add an option at an professional-price if you wish. The plugins in Sonar are more able and more colorful, but not necessarily more useful to what you are going to do.

  10. Lachoza

    Lachoza Guest

    I was liking the M-Box option the most UNTIL someone told me how much latency problems you can have with the USB connection.

    I think I might go with Sonar and a nice sound card instead.
  11. Duardo

    Duardo Guest

    In terms of pure sonic quality, the two (M Box and 002) are pretty close. The preamps in both boxes are different...the M Box has a Focusrite design, and the 002 has a Digidesign design, but I'd put them on par with each other, quality-wise. The converters in the 002 are better...they can run at higher sampling rates, which probably won't be much of an issue for you, but they also do a little better spec-wise, most likely because the 002-family interfaces have a dedicated internal power supply where the M Box gets its power from the computer.

    You should be fine with either. As others have already mentioned, the "right engineering" part is much more important than just about any piece of gear choice. But it's much easier to discuss the relative merits of different pieces of gear than it is to improve your engineering skills hanging out on a forum (although you can pick up some great tips).

    The fact that it includes everything as part of an integrated package is one of its advantages, although some people see it as a disadvantage because they like to be able to pick and choose every single component they can (plenty of recent discussion on this on this forum). Nobody's "right" or "wrong" on this, and Digi's not likely to change, but if you see it as an advantage, then it's "right" for you.

    As has already been pointed out on this thread, though, with a PC you need to make sure you have one that meet's Digidesign's requirements. If you do, it should be just as stable as it is on a Mac. Most issues come up when people try to cut a corner here or there...

    That's not quite true...with the M Box you have a S/PDIF input, so you can bypass its converters entirely if you so desire. You can put a high-quality preamp and converter of your choice on the front end of it and be on par with anyone, anywhere, as far as the quality of your front end is concerned. With the 002, you can go in with ten channels of third-party converters. It may seem unappealing to you to spend the money on something and essentially bypass it, but when you figure that the $450 you spend on the M Box especially is about the same as it is to buy most software packages (and quite a bit less than many) it's not a bad deal at all.

    There is a VST Wrapper plugin that you can get for under a hundred bucks that will let you use most VST plugins with Pro Tools.

    Pro Tools actually comes with lite versions of Live and Reason which work well with Pro Tools, and both can be upgraded to the full versions at a discount if you want. I believe that ReBirth can be used with Pro Tools via ReWire as well, but I'm not positive on that.

    I think it depends on what you're comparing them to. If you compare them to a $2K+ standalone preamp then yes, in most instances you'd probably say that they suck. In terms of comparisons to preamps in the same approximate price range, or those built into various interfaces and mixers, they're fine.

    This has also been discussed in a few other threads around here recently, but you don't have to purchase updates a lot. And as I mentioned earlier, you're not married to the converters on your interface forever (certainly not on the M Box...the only case where you really do have to use them is if you want to record more than ten tracks at once with the 002). Right now you're limited to 32 tracks in LE (actually, you can have more than 32 just can't have more than 32 sounding at once), but that could chance as well. It was 24 tracks up until a couple years ago.

    If this isn't an issue for you, than it's not an issue. But it's not just the higher-end studios you may want to be compatible with. You may have artists or producers that you work with who want to take tracks back and forth between your setup and theirs. If you know who you'll be working with for the most part you may want to check with them and find out what you're using, but if you don't know or want to make yourself as "marketable" as possible, it may make the most sense from a business perspective to go with Pro Tools. It's much easier to have someone bring in a drive or CD with a session on it and pick up right where they left off than to have someone bring in some .WAV files and try to line them all up, depending on what stage of the project you're at.

    You may want to consider buying the M Box and Sonar. For $450, you get an interface/preamp combination which is is arguably as good (sonically) as anything in its price range. The Delta44 would give you two more inputs and outputs, but you'd need to get the 66 if you wanted digital ins and outs like the M Box has, which is one of the easiest ways to take a step up quality-wise. And you'd have Pro Tools software to boot.

    Yes, you can. There are some that you can get for either program that you can't get for the other, but there are quite a few you can bet for both.

    You can import and spot to QuickTime movies with LE. As has been pointed out, you have to spend a little more if you want more advanced functionality than that.

  12. RAIN0707

    RAIN0707 Guest

    You won't be disappointed. Be sure to evaluate what you want to use the program for. If you need a lot of plug in power be sure to save for the producer edition. Also, if you are a student or employee at a non-profit organization you can get the software for a lot cheaper on ebay. Just a thought. Search the forums for reviews on the different audio card options as well. There's an ocean of info in just this site alone so utilize it.
  13. Lachoza

    Lachoza Guest

    I've been researching to no end and still need one VERY important question answered.

    Because the M-Box is USB, am I going to have major latency problems? Why in the hell would Digidesign make ANY interface USB when FireWire is just as easy?

    For example, if I'm running softsynths, I've heard that there are latency problems with the M-Box. That sucks. How do I deal with that? Anyone have any ideas about that? How bad of a problem is it realistically?? It seems like it would be impossible to work with latency issues because you wouldn't be able to time tracks correctly etc.

    Also, as far as the prepackaged effects bundles included with ProTools LE and SOnar 4... are they even in terms of quality?

    ProTools has the cool BombFactory stuff as well as the MoogerFooger Analog Delay..

    But Sonar has a Lexicon Pantheon Reverb as well as the Sonitus Effects Suite.

    Effects quality is VERY important to me. How do the effects bundles included with each compare?

  14. golli

    golli Active Member

    Apr 17, 2003
    Wow I do go to the DUC, quite a bit and I find it rare to see a thread relating to PT being unstable. And it has become a giant forum. Most threads there are the same as here: "what's the best................blah blah under 10 bucks".

    If you go to any deticated hardware/software forum you're not likely to find much praising and joy. You're more likely to find people wanting to resolve their issues, and rightly so. Those who have their gear up and running are more then likely to be recording and editing.

    But regarding PT and any issues related to it. There is a specific thread there about building a reliable DAW for PT. And there are also specifics on DIGI's website about a few things, known not to work with PT. Those guidelines where later proven to be to strict/rigid. For instance, only Seagate harddrives where known to work with PT, 3 years ago when I built my first DAW. That, of course whas utter BS and there where a few other things like that, but you where warned. Another issue, posted by DIGI was that SIS chipsets were not supported and that still holds true. Pro Tools does have a hard time working with SIS chips.
    Now I have CD and DVD burners in my PC. So I go to:

    I almost had a nervous breakdown, are my burners just paperweights? :?

    I use Vegas to and they host a forum. 4 months ago Vegas 5.0 came out.
    A week later a wish list for Vegas 6.0 was posted :roll:

    I have only had one issue with my 001 setup in 3 years.
    None with my burners, they burn every media thrown at them.

    So to avoid having blue screens and such. People will have to do their homework first.

    So to the actual topic at hand :lol: I would personally recommend 002r(because of Firewire). I have never even seen Sonar so I can't recommend it.
    If you go with the M-Box be sure to have SP1 innstalled.
  15. Bhennies

    Bhennies Guest

    I personally love pro tools. It has its issues of course, but I have never had stability problems and have only once paid for an update in the 5 years I've been using DIGI gear. I also am not married to my converters, as I took a step up a year back and all my AD conversion goes through an RME unit- certainly possible with both the mbox and 002. I should also probably mention that you can use sonar with DIGI hardware (soundcard) if you like down the road.

    as for the mbox, I have heard absolutely DROP DEAD sound from those decent focusrite pres with a stereo pair of Neumann km184's (classical concert). The reason I'm stating this is that the source and room are the most two most important things. I'm not saying that converters are unimportant...just not the be-all end-all.

    Plus, in my opinion, pro tools is extremely easy to learn, and is the only DAW I never read the manual to learn (any one ever try to figure out Logic?)
  16. Duardo

    Duardo Guest

    Because it's less expensive.
  17. markthomas

    markthomas Guest

    Sonar is getting better and better. For editing audio Pro Tools is by far and away more powerful and more efficient, particularly if you take time to learn all the shortcuts (assuming LE has the same editing features as HD? Not used LE before!), but when it comes to mixing music in a musical fasion, I personally prefer Sonar.
    The bundled effects are reasonable, (I prefer cakewalk's FXreverb to the Lexicon, but neither is particularly special - get Waves Trueverb!), especially the sonitus suite. Essentially the two programs require the same way of thinking to operate (different to logic, for example), especially with the new editing features of Sonar 4. However, there are just little things in the way Sonar operates that I've grown to like more than the tools.
    In terms of sound quality, I don't think it's possible to tell the difference between the two. Sonar is generally very stable (it tends to be plugins that cause problems), and I've heard that pro tools on a PC (I've only really used it on a mac) is improving, but not the most stable thing ever.

    Hardware-wise, I think too much emphasis is placed on the quality of AD converters. pre-amps can certainly flavour a sound, but on any kit of a reasonable quality, the ADC's are probably going to be good enough for most stuff. Mic's, acoustic space and placement are far more important factors to consider. A badly recorded sound through a fantastic ADC is still a badly recorded sound. Obviously, if you can afford it, get the best ADC's you can, but quality mic's are more important.
    Firewire I/O boxes tend to be more reliable than USB. Terratec and M-Audio (now part of DigiDesign) both have reasonably cheap firewire I/O boxes. Also something like Tascams FW1884, or Yamahas 01X might be worth a look, a control surface is more useful than you might imagine! Also, it has plenty of I/O, but it will stretch your budget.

    Hope this helps!

Share This Page