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RABid Offline OP
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I used Cakewalk from the beginning and still have my Cakewalk 1.01 disks. Went through the name change to Sonar with no issues, then through the sudden revolving door of owners. Bought the lifetime subscription only to see the product dropped a few months later. I was so mad I could not bring myself to load the program. Then new owners take over and promote the new system, but in the early days the talk was well before the availability. I tried downloading for a couple weeks and then gave up. Have not tried since. I thought about going to Cubase which is the only major DAW that I have not used. Bought a mid-level version of Pro Tools but it did not click. Bought Logic back when it was $999 but never really trusted Apple enough to go all in. The thoughts of them deciding to drop Logic like they have so many other things keeps me from feeling secure. (I used the .me service, the web editor, and several other things they promoted then dropped.)

So is it worth giving Cakewalk another try? Should I set aside my trust issues and go with Logic? Try another DAW?


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Well, Logic won't run on Windows and Cakewalk won't run on Mac, so you're committing to getting deeper into a platform, not just a DAW smile

The birthing pains involving Cakewalk/BandLab/activation have been worked out. The program continues to be updated with some significant features, as well as bug fixes, but I'm not really seeing any marketing or promotion. The program is better than it ever has been, yet paradoxically, it seems interest in it is lower than it's ever been. Sound on Sound dropped my Sonar/Cakewalk column because it didn't register on their recent reader surveys as being used much. I'm not sure where the program is going, but BandLab definitely made good on its promises to keep the servers open so Sonar owners could download the various add-ons and plug-ins accumulated over the years for use with BandLab, open a new forum, and keep developing the program.

Cubase is a program that can do anything, you just have to figure out how to do it. The program has developed so much, over so many years, you can go really deep. It's probably the best program for MIDI-intensive work. On the other hand newer programs like Studio One and Ableton Live have features that aren't baked into Cubase's architecture, like being able to consolidate plug-ins into a single plug-in, and bring out the the crucial controls to macro knobs.

These days I mostly use Studio One because it's wicked fast for songwriting, and has a "harmonic editing" feature that's like a chord track for polyphonic audio as well as MIDI. It's svelte and efficient. A unique advantage to me is that before getting into Sonar, I logged a lot of time on Cubase. Studio One's designers worked on Cubase, so there's a certain familiarity. Ableton Live is still unparalleled for live use; the only way you can get it to crash is to throw your laptop out a two-story window onto a concrete walkway. People complain about the "plain" look, but the dialed-back graphics are one reason why the program is so nimble. It also has the matrix-oriented Session view, which is the main attraction for some people, and completely irrelevant to others.

The dark horse is Digital Performer. I find the user interface somewhat inscrutable, but it has some cool features I wish other programs had.

But hey - Cakewalk is free, you might as well download it and see what you think. It's a step up from Sonar, and technically speaking, you still have a lifetime subscription smile

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Thanks. The thing I really liked about Sonar is being linear yet doing loops very well. I like Live and use it on both platforms, but I prefer to finish in something more linear. I've had people argue with me that linear is out, but a recording is linear. I like to have total control over all of the variants as I build a linear song.


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Originally Posted by Anderton
Well, Logic won't run on Windows and Cakewalk won't run on Mac, so you're committing to getting deeper into a platform, not just a DAW smile

The dark horse is Digital Performer. I find the user interface somewhat inscrutable, but it has some cool features I wish other programs had.

But hey - Cakewalk is free, you might as well download it and see what you think. It's a step up from Sonar, and technically speaking, you still have a lifetime subscription smile

I haven't tried Cakewalk. If the new free version seems familiar it is an obvious choice. Not having to figure out a new way to do more or less the same thing is always nice.

I tried to love Digital Performer and just never enjoyed using it. That was a long time ago but it seemed cryptic and bloated, I don't miss it. Could have done without upgrading to v5, which I never really ended up using at all.
I had an old school free version of Pro Tools that was easy to use but limited to 8 tracks.

I recently tried to use Audacity for some reason I now forget. Free is only good if something is easy to use, I didn't care for it.

I've been using Tracktion (now Waveform) since version 3 - now on version 11. I like it and there is a free version if you want to give it a spin. I could probably do most of what I do with the free version but upgrades are not expensive and I like to support them. My favorite feature sounds simple but it's one of the reasons I find it easy to use. First, you have to open up the bottom palettes, one click on the upward arrow on the lower left does that.
I have it up and running and I click on a particular aspect of the DAW - let's just say a "Clip" which is the audio file contained in a track. When I click on a clip, the large center palette automatically becomes the Clip Palette with everything you'll want to do to your clip. If I then click on the Track the clip is residing in, the palette instantly becomes the Track Palette.

I don't know if they fixed it but Digital Performer used to open up different size and shape palettes for more or less that function, they looked like hippies designed them. Clutter!!!! Waveform remains relatively uncluttered without hiding your options, it just cleans up it's own mess as you go. I hugely appreciate that.

If you want to try the free version, you won't get spammed out of existence. https://www.tracktion.com/products/waveform-free

They've treated me well, support is quick and thorough. I haven't needed them often. Once on a support session the tech authorized DAW Essentials, a nice pack of 16 plugins priced at $99, just because I'd been a customer for years.
I use those plugs, they are good ones.

Nothing lost if you don't care for it and it is PC, Mac and Linux friendly so you can run a free version on as many different computers as you like.


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Originally Posted by RABid
Thanks. The thing I really liked about Sonar is being linear yet doing loops very well. I like Live and use it on both platforms, but I prefer to finish in something more linear. I've had people argue with me that linear is out, but a recording is linear.

Linear out? Only if you think that what's "in" or "out" has anything to do with art smile What's more, non-linear thinking can produce linear end results. These days if I come up with any kind of musical idea, I record it and shove it down on the timeline. Maybe it will be an intro...or a chorus...or combined with something else. By definition, DAWs are a non-linear recording medium. But what comes out the other end can be anything.

Nothing does loops as well as Live, as you know. But don't forget you can ReWire Live into Cakewalk. I ReWire it into Studio One. Hell, you can even ReWire it into Pro Tools smile

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I understand your feelings about getting burned with that subscription to Cakewalk. From what I have seen online, what Craig said is true, that its new home is a good one. I hope so.

I don't think Apple has any plans to drop Logic. I know they've done some hires for the Logic team and it gets updated with each macOS, including increasing capacity for track count to 2000(!) that was announced at WWDC 2019. Logic Pro X (now simply Logic Pro) was released in 2013 and every update since then, no matter how many new features they've added, has been free.


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And, today Waveform Free 2021 was announced. It has lots of new features and some new plugins that come with.

Waveform Pro went to 11.5 today as well, typical that there is a free update halfway through their upgrade cycle. V12 will come out next year late summer.


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I always thought Tracktion's genius feature was being able to build effects chains within plug-ins. IIRC they did that way before Live and Sonar introduced that feature.

I notice the latest version of Waveform has a chord track that works with audio, not just MIDI. I wonder how it compares to the audio chord track in Studio One, which to me is a standout feature.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
I always thought Tracktion's genius feature was being able to build effects chains within plug-ins. IIRC they did that way before Live and Sonar introduced that feature.

I notice the latest version of Waveform has a chord track that works with audio, not just MIDI. I wonder how it compares to the audio chord track in Studio One, which to me is a standout feature.


Easy to find out, it is included in the latest free version and there are demos for the paid versions. It really is a very good DAW, easy to use at a basic level and capable of going out into the weeds as far as you want.
I'm no power user but I keep thinking of unique ways to do things that might have a different sound and it's partly because the tools are there.


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One big interest in Logic for me is the possibility of it eventually running on an iPad. Of course, knowing Apple, they will enable Logic on iPad and then remove all the ports and go totally wireless, including wireless charging.


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Originally Posted by RABid
One big interest in Logic for me is the possibility of it eventually running on an iPad. Of course, knowing Apple, they will enable Logic on iPad and then remove all the ports and go totally wireless, including wireless charging.
I seriously doubt Apple would go totally wireless on iOS devices right after releasing Logic for iPad (and having GB on iOS for years). They know you need to get sound into it, so at the very least, there would be interfaces that would go with. A third party interface developer would be at the announcement to show their gizmo, too.


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Originally Posted by Joe Muscara
I seriously doubt Apple would go totally wireless on iOS devices right after releasing Logic for iPad (and having GB on iOS for years). They know you need to get sound into it, so at the very least, there would be interfaces that would go with. A third party interface developer would be at the announcement to show their gizmo, too.

BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) works for low-latency wireless MIDI because the data stream is so compact; I use the CME Xkey Air keyboard for wireless MIDI control. But an audio stream's density is still a problem for real-time playing.

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They are already talking about iPhone 13 possibly loosing the port. A story came out stating that Apple considers the port to be a security risk because the physical connection makes it easier to hack the phone. One faction within Apple wants to drop the port entirely to deal with the issue. Personally, I would love to see a "connected" version of iPhone and iPad with headphone, USB3c and SD car slots. I would pay $100 more for that version and have a feeling that a lot of other people would too.


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Originally Posted by RABid
So is it worth giving Cakewalk another try? Should I set aside my trust issues and go with Logic? Try another DAW?

I really liked Logic Pro 9 and then I did an OS update and freaking lost it, I haven't updated my OS since (10.13.6 I believe). Since ver 10 is $200 I've thought about getting it but I just don't have the time to mess with it now. I'm totally invested in Digital Performer 10, use it for live performance and have had great luck at motunation whenever I've run into an issue.

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Originally Posted by Greg Mein
I'm totally invested in Digital Performer 10, use it for live performance and have had great luck at motunation whenever I've run into an issue.

Digital Performer does have its quirks, but I think it's underrated in many ways. It has many cool guitar-oriented features, as well as some nods toward modern music production techniques. On Windows it was pretty unstable at first, but DP10 runs smoothly and reliably for me.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by Greg Mein
I'm totally invested in Digital Performer 10, use it for live performance and have had great luck at motunation whenever I've run into an issue.

Digital Performer does have its quirks, but I think it's underrated in many ways. It has many cool guitar-oriented features, as well as some nods toward modern music production techniques. On Windows it was pretty unstable at first, but DP10 runs smoothly and reliably for me.

I switched over to DP & Mac many years ago when it was version 5. I needed something for live play and the "chunks" area where you could have all the sequences you needed within one file was unparalleled at the time as far as I know. Also I needed to get away from the PC laptop which, back then anyway, was real finicky about where and when externals got plugged in. It's been a solid program for me and I learned about it by reading articles in Keyboard magazine where it was being used on large stadium tours.

I have Ableton Live (still at ver 8) that I've thought about switching to occasionally but the last time I tried it I ran into a snag of some sort and, as always, I was under the gun on time.

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Originally Posted by Greg Mein
It's been a solid program for me and I learned about it by reading articles in Keyboard magazine where it was being used on large stadium tours.

When I was backstage at a Shania Twain concert, there were two DPs on Macs running the whole show - one doing the actual work, one mirroring it "just in case."

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To the best of my knowledge, the quaint practice of dance contests with cakes as the prize, has gone by the wayside.

But the music persists. Debussey paid homage to it with his "Golliwogg's Cakewalk". Many of Scott Joplin's rags were also intended as accompaniment for cakewalks.


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Oh, a Cakewalk thread. I, like RABid, was a Cakewalk user for a very long time. (I think I started at 3.0 on floppy disks.) Also, like RABid, I bought the lifetime subscription only to have the rug pulled from underneath me. I was furious! I wrote the most scathing email to Gibson that I could utter without being arrested. Even after Bandlab picked it up and promised to continue development, I thought it wise to see what else was out there. After looking at several possibilities (I am Windows only), I settled on Ableton Live. I could not be happier. It completely changed how I use a DAW. It took a bit to get used to, but once I figured out the concept of Sessions vs. Arrangements, my productivity improved exponentially. Live became a composition tool as opposed to a recording tool. Using the Session view to build the parts and actually hear them before dragging them into the Arrangement view was mind-altering for me. Of course, Live has issues, just like any piece of software, but relative to Cakewalk, it is far more stable. Cakewalk would crash on my multiple times per session. I've been tempted to try out Cakewalk again just to see how it is today, but honestly, I don't have time for that.

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Originally Posted by Pat Waara
It completely changed how I use a DAW. It took a bit to get used to, but once I figured out the concept of Sessions vs. Arrangements, my productivity improved exponentially. Live became a composition tool as opposed to a recording tool. Using the Session view to build the parts and actually hear them before dragging them into the Arrangement view was mind-altering for me.

You get it! This is why I use Ableton Live and Studio One, it's the same concept as doubling on piano and guitar. Similar in many ways, different in others.

Don't forget that Live is one of the few programs that's a ReWire client and host. So if you do check out Cakewalk (hey, it's free), you can ReWire Live into it.


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