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DAWs -Platform? Which Platform? (and interfaces)


wraub

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Hello all. Been a while.

 

So, my quest to build the world's least expensive home recording setup continues, and with the recent stupidly cheap acquisition of a capable pc I am looking to expand my digital recording possibilities.

I already have Kristal, Audacity, and Acid. Looking to move into a full fledged DAW.

Must it be ProTools? (I personally find their interface... Well, you know.)

They seem to be the industry standard, but that only applies if you want to go through a "professional" mixing/mastering facility, and it seems that many studios nowadays are willing to cater to anyone that calls their number anyway, regardless of platform coming in the door.

 

Logic, Cubase, Reason, PT, Studio One- Any recommendations/suggestions? Especially intuitive (or not)?

 

Also looking for a cost effective interface device for getting bass/guitar/other into the DAW.

 

Thanks all.

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

 

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cubase is a good basic DAW. I like its interface and controls but I actually normally use Reaper... it's also a free one like Krystal and Audacity, but way more full featured.

I found Krystal to be buggy with the Line 6 stuff, and Audacity is a one track at a time deal... the nice thing about NOT using Protools is you can pretty much use any interface with Cubase, as opposed to PT where you have to use DIGI or M-Audio gear. And of course, there's Digital Performer and Logic if you're a Mac guy... although Garageband is actually pretty nice, easy to use and has lots of features, but you can't port your files over to anything but Logic.

 

There are lots of interfaces out there, personally I'd go with Firewire if your computer can handle it, USB has a lot of limitations, even 2.0. I got rid of my firewire DIGI 002 Rack/PT LE rig and now I just use my POD X3 Live as an interface, (USB, since I really only need one or two tracks at a time,) and my worship leader has a Presonus Firebox running into his Mac via firewire using Garageband as a DAW. It works very well for him to put down scratch guitar and vocal tracks to post on the scheduling site for home practicing.

 

 

Good luck, have fun etc.

 

DX

 

Oh yeah, and most interfaces come with a version of Cubase or something similar anyways, so you don't need to go out and buy separate software... DX

Aerodyne Jazz Deluxe

Pod X3 Live

Roland Bolt-60 (modified)

Genz Benz GBE250-C 2x10

Acoustic 2x12 cab

 

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I'm fluent in DAW for Mac. PC, not so much but some knowledge applies to both

 

No, it doesn't have to be Pro Tools. It's the industry standard but there are plenty software suites that can handle any project from start to finish, and can covert to/from PT for times you need to move a project to that format.

 

That said, you might want to check out the Digi Mbox interfaces with PT LE. It's like a gateway drug to PT if you feel you'll need to end up there.

 

I've used Digital Performer on Mac for many years, ever since Opcode Vision suffered a premature death at the hands of Gibson. At the time I switched, DP had an easier learning curve over Logic. Also, I use a few Mark of the Unicorn interfaces because (again at the time of the switch) these integrated seamlessly with DP. Also, I need a ton of inputs for individuals outs from multiple synths.

 

Today, Logic very tempting. It's a really great buy with a ton of high quality extras like Mainstage and virtual instruments.

 

From Propellerheads who bring you Reason, there's a new DAW package, Record, that has received good reviews.

 

 

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"I already have Kristal, Audacity, and Acid. Looking to move into a full fledged DAW."

 

I often say this... Selecting audio software is a lot like picking tennis shoes. You like Reboks, I like New Balance, the next guy prefers Nike, but somehow wee all manage to get down the road.

 

They each look and feel a little different from each other. They each have strengths and weaknesses. All of the major players do a great job.

 

If you really know the features that you'll need and the ones that you don't, it is easier to narrow down the field. Because they all pretty much promise the world, but not all give you everything in the same way.

 

For example, I'm an old tape guy. I'm not a keyboard player, and MIDI doesn't do much for me anymore (I used to use it a lot, but I prefer real music played by real musicians in real time...). In my opinion: One of the best programs out there is Sonar, but Sonar was developed by MIDI guys, and I'm not comfortable with the interface.

 

I found SAWStudio to my liking, very simple and traightforward, very powerful, and never crashes, ever. Tight small code written by a guy who is somewhat of a fanatic/perfectionist. Back in the say there were times when we got multiple updates in a day, because we made suggestions that he liked and adopted immediately.

 

But SAW has a limited featureset, and I needed some features that it did not have. (They argue that these features are available via third party, and I have no argument with that point of view, I just wanted the stuff integrated with the DAW.)

 

I landed at Sequoia, which is the big brother to Samplitude. I like it a lot. The interface works for me.

 

I have been on the beta test teams in the distant past for many of the major players today. Vegas was nicely laid out. I never was comfortable with Cubase and I was disturbed at all the whining going on at their support sites about how unresponsive the company is to user problems. Nuendo was popular for a short time, but I saw a lot of users also constantly complaining about the same unresolved issues over and over again. I do not know if these were important issues or not, as I don't really follow these things very closely. I've made my choice and i am happy with it.

 

I do suggest that you pick a software with an upgrade path. If you buy into the entry level of Samplitude or Cakewalk/Sonar or SAWStudio or whatever, each of these offers the ability to buy a more full-featured version, stepping up incrementally as you get better and find that you need to be able to do more. So you pay for what you can do and need now, you learn, and then when you are ready for more, you don't have to change horses in the middle of the stream and take on a whole new very steep learning curve, you just update and everything that you knew still works, and all you have to learn is how to use the new features.

 

"Must it be ProTools? ...They seem to be the industry standard, but that only applies if you want to go through a "professional" mixing/mastering facility, ..."

 

That is pretty much BS. Nobody making their living working in the industry cares what you use to make your audio files, so long as when you bring them over, they can be opened and worked with. There are all sorts of options for that, but still the simplest and most reliable way to transport audio files, which works among all softwares, is the format set out by the Producers and Engineers Wing of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and also adopted by the Audio Engineering Society as AES 31. Follow that and you can't go wrong.

 

There is also OMF, and AAF, which have been adopted by various softwares to various degrees, but really, AES 31 is simple and foolproof.

 

In terms of platform, that is your personal choice. You'll be working int he software and will have very little actual interaction with the platform. I work on whatever is handy and I could care less what name is on the box, so long as I can runt he software. The audio files will not sound any different.

 

It is less expensive to go with a PC over a Mac, but if you already have one or are more familiar with one over the other, run with that.

 

In terms of interfaces, my personal favorite is RME products. For my dollar they offer the best combination of support, sound, and features.

 

But the other players again offer reasonable choices for your dollar. I had a lot of trouble with MOTU on a PC and got no support from them, which is how I discovered RME in the first place. I've been using various RME products now since about 1997. I have tried some others, but the studio machines have always been RME since that time. I expect that to remain true for a long time to come.

 

But you may have different needs. I have often recommended the little 2 to 6 channel interfaces on USB or Firewire for various home-gamers, because the cost is so low and the ease of use is so high. Tascam, M-Audio, and others all offer entry-level boxes that some people will never outgrow. And at under $200 including software, most are quite a deal.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Cubase is a good basic DAW. I like its interface and controls but I actually normally use Reaper... it's also a free one like Krystal and Audacity, but way more full featured.

I found Krystal to be buggy with the Line 6 stuff, and Audacity is a one track at a time deal... the nice thing about NOT using Protools is you can pretty much use any interface with Cubase, as opposed to PT where you have to use DIGI or M-Audio gear. And of course, there's Digital Performer and Logic if you're a Mac guy... although Garageband is actually pretty nice, easy to use and has lots of features, but you can't port your files over to anything but Logic.

I've been looking into Reaper recently and I think I'm going to try it out. BTW, it's only free (and totally unrestricted) for 30 days and then you'll need to buy a license...for all of $60. Not too shabby for something that looks like a really good DAW from everything I've been reading.

 

Out of curiosity (since I haven't read anything to say one way or the other) does anybody know if Reaper also works on Macs? My research has been to try and find an affordable DAW that works on Mac and PC because my old band mates in FL have been doing some recording on GarageBand (I don't have a Mac) and want me to record bass and our old singer is moving up to NH this summer so we can keep this silliness going.

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Out of curiosity (since I haven't read anything to say one way or the other) does anybody know if Reaper also works on Macs?

Nevermind. I just started perusing their forum and one of the first threads was about running it on OS X.

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Out of curiosity (since I haven't read anything to say one way or the other) does anybody know if Reaper also works on Macs?

Nevermind. I just started perusing their forum and one of the first threads was about running it on OS X.

 

Still doesn't make any difference if you save the files that you wish to transfer according to AES 31. The files will open on a Mac or PC running whatever OS, and be in perfect sync.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Been a Music Computers user the last 18 years at least, starting with an Atari ST back in the early 90s, when I stepped up from MC-50 and Q-80 sequencers. Then on 1995 the bug of DAW got me.

For a lot of reasons, I've become a Mac zealot. Stability, safety, you name it. And I'm not the wealthier guy on my block. Heck, the Mac on my main studio is a home-built (from second hand parts mainly) G4 tower, which now runs at 1.8 Ghz, SATA drive, 2 Gb Ram, 2 screens...

 

... and a Digidesign Digi001 interface, running ProTools LE 6.4

 

It has proven for me not only being effective and nice sounding, it has also been cheap. I've bought my first Digi001 rig out of eBay, buying from one guy the breakout box and the PCI card (but not the cable) and from another one the breakout box and the cable (But not the PCI card). The 6.4 software could be downloaded (we're talking late 2006 here) from digi's website for 35$ and you only had to provide the serial number on the breakout box.

 

I've tried other interfaces, but the 001 has these two Focusrite preamps on the front, which are nice sounding and really useful when not connected to the board. However, I' m ALWAYS connected to the board, initially an old Fostex 8x4. Still, it has paid itself pretty well,and has ended so well that I've just bought from a friend (couple weeks ago) another Digi001 set exacly identical as mine, for the second studio I'm starting to build on the mainland, along with other studio equipment I got for real cheap.

 

The advantage I got is that I can bring my stuff to any studio I'd like to, whenever they work with PT (most here do so), and it has lowered me production costs significantly. Also useful when working with clients having either their own small, PT-equipped studios or small users with Mbox and other M-audio interfaces, which are pretty common around here.

 

I personally want nothing with the PC-Windows platform, been a Linux user for several years, but I've had nothing but trouble on all that, which on studio translates as problem, losses, and frustration. I want my machine to be always ready and safe to work whenever inspiration may come around. I've seen some friends on seriously frustrating situations whenever they couldn't get their equipment running on time, or crashing in the middle of a session, or having problems with drivers (a friend of mine bought a Lexicon interface and was only able to use it twice, it just started to dislike his computer).

Humble two cents... find a used Digi001, an old G4 mac, and be happy (Unless you need to go mobile, which is not my case, recording-wise). For your basic needs, it will be cheap and quite satisfactory.

Brought to you by Juancarlin.

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Out of curiosity (since I haven't read anything to say one way or the other) does anybody know if Reaper also works on Macs?

Nevermind. I just started perusing their forum and one of the first threads was about running it on OS X.

 

Still doesn't make any difference if you save the files that you wish to transfer according to AES 31. The files will open on a Mac or PC running whatever OS, and be in perfect sync.

I'll send you a PM with some Qs if you don't mind.

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Computers are not religions, computers are tools.

 

If it was true that the PC was unusable as an audio platform, it would be very difficult to explain what so many professional studios use the PC, why engineers like Robert Scovill choose Samplitude (PC only), and why so many people in the mastering world use PCs (people like Brad Blackwood, Bob Katz, Glenn Meadows and many others), and why people like Bernie Grundman use products constructed from PCs, and why anybody bothers to spend time to write pro level pro priced software that will never be sold in Guitar Center to unknowing sheep. Tools, not religions. Anyone who claims that you have to use a particular platform to record pro level audio is lying and promoting their own agenda. Why? Who knows. But the truth is obvious, all you have to do is to look around and see that anybody who wants to record audio is happily able to do it with little expense or effort.

 

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Thanks to all for the helpful responses.

 

I should probably clarify that when it comes to the pc/mac thing, I am truly agnostic. I believe they each have particular strengths and weaknesses.

I have a pc for this purpose, and here we are.

 

I was referring to the DAW platform, whether Logic, PT, etc.

My bad.

 

I have been using Kristal on another pc, (transferring tracks from a recorder) and have been pleased thus far, no bugs or problems (knock, knock). It does however have only 16 tracks (not really a problem as such, but more would be nice.) I was just thinking of "stepping up" for this machine.

Apparently StudioOne is designed by the same designers, so perhaps that will be for me.

So many choices...

 

As to interface devices, is internal (card) rather than external (box) any better? Seems like internal would be faster somehow.

 

Thanks again.

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

 

 

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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What you want/need in a cad depends upon what features you require.

 

My studio computers ran on RME, with the PCI card connected to their Digiface and Multface front ends, and I used third party converters. (Mytek) My portable rig was a PC card for a laptop, running a Multiface. Then I bought a Fireface 800. These choices give a minimum of 16 channels of I/O. But I also used an M-Audio Transit and a Tascam US-122 for quick down and dirty gigs, or to run SMAART when I was configuring a sound system or checking a room. Those are very minimal interfaces.

 

PCI or PCI-e cards are inherently faster, that is true. Do you need that speed? How many channels are you pushing into the computer at one time? The bottleneck is more likely to be something like hard drive speed than the bus speed. You can stack a couple of Firefaces together, or a couple of Mytek 8x196 units together and push all that data down a firewire cable. So what are your real needs? You can put a MADI system together and ram 64 to 128 channels into the computer if you need that kind of I/O. I've never needed to record more than 24 into my computer at once at my studio, but at places like the Benedum Center I have recorded more. When the CLO gave the Richard Rogers Award to Andrew Lloyd Weber we had something like 120 mics on stage and I had four consoles going in a makeshift recording room under the stage.

 

We're mot talking about total number of usable tracks here, we're talking about the number of tracks that can be recorded, all at once. It is not unusual to have 20, 30, 40 tracks or partial tracks going at once, but they are usually being played back through a handful of output channels.

 

Do you need MIDI? It is handy to have, even if you only use it on occasion. I used to use various MIDI DAW controllers but I really did not use them enough to keep them, and the whole 24 channels of controllers in front of me was just wasted. I do still have and occasionally use the Frontier Design Group Transport.

 

The SAWStudio guys are strong on using any input card like a Frontier Designs Dakota, RME 9652, or whatever, and using Behringer ADA8000 units as the front end. Not my choice, but certainly affordable.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I have found Bill's advice to be incredibly insightful when I've needed help with recording. That being said I have to disagree with one of his comments (and clarify that I haven't had time to read all of them). At one time I worked at Guitar Center in their pro audio department. Clearly this does not make me an expert (since most of their employees are useless it seems), but in my experience working there, it did seem that Cubase was a somewhat affordable DAW that was compatable with many affordable options. I decided to go with that and have been using Cubase for five years now. The company has been very helpful when I've called and I don't know that I've ever been on hold with them (Native Instruments and Presonus are a different story). I recently have upgraded to Cubase 5, because my new computer has win7 and I love it. The editing is much easier and I don't experience any of the artifacts that occurred previously in situations where heavy handed editing is necessary (my singing for example).

 

As far as the interphase is concerned, you don't sound like someone that should be concerned about firewire. Check out the Audiobox by Presonus: affordable, 24 bit, USB. I recomend that to all my students and they have seemed to be very happy with it. It also comes with an LE version of Guitar Rig from NI, an extremely fun program for guitarists and bassists!

We cannot accelerate the growth of a tree by pulling on its branches. - Ricardo Iznaola
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As I said, my own concerns about Cubase were personal. And as I have said many many times, all of the major players do a good job, the choices are more personal and needs/feature related, rather than any one program being head and shoulders above any other.

 

The GC comment has to do with innexperienced buyers walking in and buying what is presented, without a clue as to why, or what their options might be. They get their info from ads in MI magazines, and GC carries those products.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Wraub, seriously, if you hate the Pro Tools UI, take a good look at either Ableton Live, or the combo of Reason and Record by Propellerheads.

 

If you go to their sites and still have questions, I'd be happy to write hundreds of words about either one. Or both.

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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As I said, my own concerns about Cubase were personal. And as I have said many many times, all of the major players do a good job, the choices are more personal and needs/feature related, rather than any one program being head and shoulders above any other.

 

You are very good about offering very objective and wise advice. Sorry if I implied otherwise. I didn't mean to be offensive if it came off like that. I just thought I would praise your opinion, since I greatly respect it, and offer my experiences.

We cannot accelerate the growth of a tree by pulling on its branches. - Ricardo Iznaola
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.. I didn't mean to be offensive..

 

I didn't take it that way, I just wanted to acknowledge that if I was unclear I wanted to be clear.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I've been looking into Reaper recently and I think I'm going to try it out. BTW, it's only free (and totally unrestricted) for 30 days and then you'll need to buy a license...for all of $60. Not too shabby for something that looks like a really good DAW from everything I've been reading...

 

REAPER user here. It is an excellent program. Here are the major selling points to me

 

1) I was able to try out a fully functional, uncrippled demo until I was sure I wanted to buy a license (I believe this arrangement is unique to REAPER).

 

2) It is incredibly stable (critical for me as I have a dinosaur system) and very tightly coded (you can run it from a thumb drive).

 

3) It has probably the most flexible signal routing ability of any DAW out there.

 

4) No arbitrary restriction on number of tracks it will support.

 

5) I like their business model and customer support. Their are three coders who own the company annd they participate in the user forums where they actively solicit and implement feature requests.

 

5) Very reasonable and rational pricing structure. Purchasing a license entitles you to two major updates.

 

Is REAPER for everyone? Probably not. But considering the fact that the demo is uncrippled and unexpiring, there is no reason you shouldn't try it out before sinking any money in another DAW.

 

BTW - I am a former Cubase LE user. I liked it fine except it would start crashing as soon as I got to 6 or 7 tracks. This problem is what prompted me to switch to REAPER.

Mudcat's music on Soundclick

 

"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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...the combo of Reason and Record by Propellerheads.

 

I love Reason. Its virtual rack format is really fun, educational, and exciting. I never liked the sequencing in the program. Even if I was using purely midi in a song, I would still rewire it through Cubase which I thought was much more simplistic when editing. For this Reason (LOL) I wouldn't feel comfortable working with Propellerheads programs as my main DAW unless I had my hands on it before purchasing and really felt comfortable with the editing features. I have Reason 3, though. Maybe 5 has a nicer sequencing format? This comment is really based on no experience with Record, just wanted to share my concerns with the program and maybe get some feedback.

We cannot accelerate the growth of a tree by pulling on its branches. - Ricardo Iznaola
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...the combo of Reason and Record by Propellerheads.

 

I have Reason 3, though. Maybe 5 has a nicer sequencing format?

 

5? You mean Reason 4? No 5 yet.

 

In my opinion, as a non-MIDI type, Reason is about as intuitive as it comes for editing, looping, and writing. The UI is top class. I ReWire Reason into Pro Tools to mix the final audio, especially when doing drums in Reason.

 

Record looks as if it is along the same lines. Add to that all the Line 6-based plugins included, and you have an affordable, stable DAW.

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This far into the thread and no mention of Ardour yet. The price can't be beat (free), runs on Linux and Mac, and the newer versions seem to be really stable to me.

 

If you are dedicating this machine to multimedia production, there are Linux distributions that are tailored to act as an audio/visual workstation.

 

An example of such a distro:

http://ubuntustudio.org/

 

Just install the os and every tool you could ever want is installed by default, including Ardour which is a full DAW.

 

Just something to check out since you said you wanted to make this as cheaply as possible, and $0 is about as cheap as it gets.

 

 

 

 

 

Feel free to visit my band's site

Delusional Mind

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This far into the thread and no mention of Ardour yet. The price can't be beat (free), runs on Linux and Mac, and the newer versions seem to be really stable to me...

 

I was waiting for your Ardour plug. :D

 

The only drawback to Ardour (other than the fact that I run Windows and don't want to mess around with Linux) is that it doesn't fully support VST plugins. From what I read at the Ardour website it looks like some VSTs will work but may cause instability issues. This would eliminate way too many tools that I rely on for mixing.

Mudcat's music on Soundclick

 

"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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Do you want to build a car, tinker with a car, or use a car to get you to someplace you want to be?

 

The whole Linux experience is primarily for the guy who wants to know a lot more about his computer than I want to know, and has time to piss around with it. I don't, which is why I only beta test one program and NO hardware anymore. I want to make music, work, and play. I've spent far too many hours of my life pissing with computers, drivers, command lines, and all that other horse manure. I'm no longer into building my tools. Your milage may vary.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I don't really see the difference between Cubase's MIDI sequencer and Reason's (or Logic or Pro Tools, for that matter). They all are essentially piano roll editors with different aesthetics. I am not in any way disputing Simpleman's assertions...slightly different user interfaces great affect different people's workflow. But Abelton's Live is really the only DAW out there that really has a different take on the whole thing.

 

But everyone can decide for themselves. Reason (and Live) both have fully functioning demos...they can even load other people's sessions...you just can't save anything. Give 'em a try.

 

Now I feel like firing up the rigs...must...resist...

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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