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PRO TOOLS LE vs. EVERYTHING ELSE


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I don't know if this is technically OT, but I am about to re-plunge into a DAW / MIDI work station. I need it to do 'in the box' 24 track audio mixing and mastering. I also need it as my MIDI composition hub, where I can add audio tracks.

 

Now, I know y'all aren't shy about your opinions and experience....

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I'm a ProTools guy first and foremost, and then use Cubase and Logic as somewhat distant 2nd and 3rd (all on a Mac).

 

Any of the above three are very strong performers and will fill the needs of nearly anyone. It's often a matter of which one was started first.

 

In my case, I was an early adopter of Cubase, but once ProTools got somewhat of a hold on the commercial recording industry, I made the switch (just to make life easier) and it's been smooth sailing.

 

YMMV

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I'm in the same boat at the moment. I have been polling many who I know and respect about it, and I'm leaning toward Logic based on many recommendations, including those that are PT users. I'm on Macs already, so for me it's an easy path. I was at NAMM and was hoping to see Apple there (they were not), so I still need to get a good demo, but that's where I'm at at this second....
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Bill, feel free to give me a call and we can discuss.

 

I'm using three Presonus Firepods linked together. 24 analog inputs into the computer(with mic preamps if you want... and yes, they sound good). Cubase 4.5 works flawlessly with them. We tracked "Groovadelphia" using that setup.

 

I sincerely believe that everything in the sub-$1000 category is going to have basically the same converters and sound quality. The next step up, imo, would be the Yamaha/Steinberg MR816 interfaces. You can link up to three of those together and have a ridiculous amount of i/o. Plus they integrate with Cubase seamlessly. Those will probably be my next purchase to upgrade my AD/DA. Either that or the SSL Alpha Link with Mixpander card.

 

ProTools is great but you can get a lot more bang for your buck by going with other software, be it Cubase or Sonar or Reaper or whatever. As long as your front-end is good, it will sound great.

 

I'd love to help you with this so give me a ring or an email. :)

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And for an example of how Cubase sounds mixing-wise (since we tracked Groovadelphia with Cubase, but I mixed it at the professional studio in ProTools), check out the sample in this thread:

 

https://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2154506/I_would_just_like_to_mention_c#Post2154506

 

That's a quick clip of the new organissimo live CD, which I'm mixing solely in Cubase. The clip is not mastered yet, and I'm still working on the mix, but what you're hearing is 18 tracks, all FX and EQ and dynamic processing in the box using mainly Cubase's own plug-ins and a few I bought from Voxengo.

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I don't know about PT's MIDI capacity as I don't use it. Logic and Cubase are both really strong in MIDI plus do a fine job with audio (giving Cubase the edge there). If PT has stepped up on the MIDI side, it's worth a look.
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If MIDI is your thing, you probably want Sonar. Not my choice, but I'm not a MIDI user. Sonar is likely the most complete choice of all the offerings. I'm a Sequoia guy, which is the big brother to Samplitude.

"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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Are you going to be working with anyone else? File types can be converted, but your life would be easier if you used the same stuff as the people you work with.

 

I'm quite happy with Logic, but I'm a Mac user and I don't get to work with anyone.

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If you're new to this kinda stuff, you can download demos from most companies. You should also check out their user forums so you can get a handle on how good support is. With most companies, it is often the case that the user forum is a quicker way to get tech support than the company itself, so the strength of the forum is worth checking out. I'm a Sonar guy myself- been with Cakewalk since DOS days, so I'm kinda married to it. 'Had a brief affair with Cubase about 10 years ago, but only long enough to realize I need to stick with Cakewalk.

 

That's not as much as a Sonar push as it is testimony that you need to choose carefully based on your own research (& not just what others tell you) & then commit to sticking with the program & learning it inside out.

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Yep. I downloaded all the major programs and tried them out. Lived with each for quite some time and finally decided on Cubase. It just fit my way of working and made sense to me. There are a lot of great options.

 

Since Bill is talking about doing everything himself (mixing and mastering), compatibility isn't much of an issue.

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A) Do you really need 24 channels in going to 24 tracks? PT LE's hardware has a limitation of 18 ins (8 analog + 10 digital).

 

B) PT's MIDI has improved MASSIVELY in the last two revs and thy have some very cool VIs (some free, some $).

 

C) I own Logic, Cubase, Digital Performer, Live, Reason and Protools. I use Protools for DAW work and Live for other things.

 

D) Don't underestimate the importance of cross platform. You might be PC today but might want to switch in the future, or run dual platforms, etc. Protools and Cubase give you that. Live too, but it's not really the kind of DAW you're looking for. It's tougher for the developer to provide cross platform but it gives the user more flexibility.

 

Busch.

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D) Don't underestimate the importance of cross platform. You might be PC today but might want to switch in the future, or run dual platforms, etc. Protools and Cubase give you that.

 

As long as your files move, you are golden. And every DAW gives you the ability to save in a format that will move to any other DAW.

"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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Are you going to be working with anyone else? File types can be converted, but your life would be easier if you used the same stuff as the people you work with.

 

I'm quite happy with Logic, but I'm a Mac user and I don't get to work with anyone.

 

Joe! That is so sad! We'll work with you, bud!

"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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D) Don't underestimate the importance of cross platform. You might be PC today but might want to switch in the future, or run dual platforms, etc. Protools and Cubase give you that.

 

As long as your files move, you are golden. And every DAW gives you the ability to save in a format that will move to any other DAW.

 

I'm talking about having to learn a whole new DAW, not being able to use your source files, leveraging your investment if you decide to switch. Things like that.

 

Busch.

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I'm talking about having to learn a whole new DAW, not being able to use your source files, leveraging your investment if you decide to switch. Things like that.

 

Busch.

 

Yeah, I'm pretty strong on that idea myself. But I don't see it as a cross platform issue, which I would not expect to bring any advantage (if the program works better on a given platform, I would be using that platform to start with.) but as a 'where do i start without breaking the bank' issue. Cubasis, various Sonar/Cakewalk and Magix/Samplitude entry level products allow a guy to start out with a small investment, learn the product, and upgrade as they need more features. That is why I often suggest those types of answers instead of products like Reaper or Audacity.... an upgrade path, without having to start from scratch.

"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 was going to ask about the input limitation with ProTools LE. I thought it was less than 24 simultaneous inputs.

 

All the more reason to not go with ProTools, imo. As for the question of really needing 24 inputs, I'd say for what Bill is doing, most definitely he needs 24 inputs. I used 20 inputs for the last organissimo project and that was for only three musicians, no vocals! Of course, I could've cut or sub-mixed some tracks if I had to, but it's nice to have options.

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There is a difference between needing 24 tracks or more, and needing 24 channels of simultaneous I/O. In the studio, 24 was not unusual but for the average guy at home, 24 all at once is pretty huge. Meanwhile, most software allows you to use as many tracks as you need, up to the point where the computer chokes. I don't know if there are particular limits to Pro Tools LE or not, never used it. I've used PT HD and earlier versions in various studios, but counting tracks was not on my mind.

 

My home rig is 16 ADC by 8 DAC, but I've mixed down 30 or 40 tracks at once or more. (I have more I/O than this but I try to stick with the Myteks for conversions.)

 

I prefer submixing, but that is probably because I learned on reel to reel were we had finite limitations.

"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 was going to ask about the input limitation with ProTools LE. I thought it was less than 24 simultaneous inputs.

 

All the more reason to not go with ProTools, imo. As for the question of really needing 24 inputs, I'd say for what Bill is doing, most definitely he needs 24 inputs.

 

That would be some serious $$ with PTLE, even if it could handle that amount of inputs. Since you can only use their interfaces, one would have to get 3 Digi 003 racks (I think??) and link them together. That's like $3500 for 3 interfaces.

 

I would plan out the inputs before I worried about the software. The Profire interfaces might be a way to go. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/ProFire2626/

 

I use Sonar 3. I'm looking to update within a few months, new computer and new software. I'll probably stick with SOnar, unless I find something that comes with more goodies (softsynths mainly). Dimension ships with Sonar, and its an excellent VSTi.

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I'm a Sequoia guy, which is the big brother to Samplitude.

 

If audio was the only concern, I would have brought up Samplitude/Sequoia. MIDI is still an afterthought for Magix, but for audio it is by far my tool of choice.

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I have just upgraded to the Sonar Producer 8.5. Very powerful and a great deal. For a windows only program, cakewalk got it going on. Fast updates, good support, etc.

That said, I like to have several tools, but not too many. I have used reason and have record on the way. I played around with the demo. Now, I love the simplicity and speed with which you can work in record/reason. The program does not get in the way. It is not bloated, if you will, as the others can seem sometime. On my current project, I plan to do all my instrumental tracks in Reason/record and export to sonar for fine tuning. On some projects I will use just reason/record on other projects I will use only sonar. I enjoy having a choice.

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I'm with mcgoo on this one. I've been a Cakewalk/Sonar guy since the early days and it's the program I know how to use. I've been in many studios that use PT and there are some very slick work flow things in it I like. There are also some really silly things about it. I imagine it's that way for anyone who is used to a particular way of doing things. The last album project I was involved in was recorded and mixed on PT. I can't say that there was anything I witnessed that would make me jump ship and buy a PT rig. On the other hand, if you're the kind of person who absolutely has to have what everybody else has just so you can get work, buy PT.

 

Too many folks still listen with their eyes.

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In the studio, 24 was not unusual but for the average guy at home, 24 all at once is pretty huge.

 

Not really. For what Bill's doing (ie, recording bands playing live in his performance space), I'd say he's spot on. Imagine tracking a five piece band (drums, guitar, bass, keys, harmonica / rhythm guitar), where each member sings. The ideal input list would be:

 

1 - vocal (drums)

2 - vocal (bass)

3 - vocal (guitar 1)

4 - vocal (guitar 2)

5 - vocal (keys)

6 - Leslie low rotor

7 - Leslie upper rotor L

8 - Leslie upper rotor R

9 - stereo keyboard submix L

10 - stereo keyboard submix R (for his Wurlitzer, MicroKorg, etc)

11 - bass amp

12 - bass direct

13 - guitar amp 1

14 - guitar direct

15 - guitar amp 2

16 - guitar direct 2

17 - kick

18 - snare

19 - fl tom

20 - rack 2

21 - rack 1

22 - hi-hat

23 - OH L

24 - OH R

 

I'd probably ditch the guitar directs and put a stereo pair in the back for room mics. Sure, you could consolidate and submix some things but why if you don't have to? More options in the mix stage if everything has its own track.

 

For the money you'd need to get 24 inputs via ProTools, you could buy much better quality converters, including the SSL Alpha Link I mentioned or the RME stuff. Sonar, Cubase, Logic... it's all the same. The deciding factor should be what you're comfortable with.

 

Mr. Levinson, I know you already have the Toft, but have you looked at the Presonus StudioLive mixers? You can link two together and have 32 channels in to the computer and Presonus' DAW software is pretty damn good from what I've read. Plus each channel on the StudioLive has DSP effects available (reverb, dynamic processing, etc). You could score two of those for $4k and have everything you need sans computer.

 

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/StudioLive16/?gclid=CLqu4NTnr58CFQUhDQod5ziO2A

 

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Hey there!

I really love how factual you guys get, so I'll stick to that.

Mind you, I'm "The Pro Tools LE guy" for Latin America being an AVID employee myself.

 

 

1) Bill@Welcome Home Studios - One thing is getting a session from a DAW to another and another very different is to switch from a DAW into another.

 

Passing the session data can be easy or a real nightmare, even with OMF or AAF,so it all depends on how do you work and how complicated your sessions are. It may be an easy task too, indeed, but it is way easier to just take your session and open it in the same program, in a different computer.

 

 

Now, switching into another platform may imply that your software simply does not work on a Mac or a PC, depending where do you come from. Pro Tools, Nuendo, Cubase and LIVE are cross platform. LOGIC and Digital Performer are MAC only and SONAR is PC only. Then, you might have to buy another software and learn it.

 

 

2) There is absolutely NO way to "sum" interfaces in the Pro Tools LE / M-Powered world. Only one interface per system. Your maximum input count will be your interface's max inputs and if the interface has more than 18 inputs, such like the ProFire Lightbridge or the ProFire 2626, you are still stuck with only 18 input channels.

 

 

3) In a Project / Home studio there is no real need of recording that many simultaneous inputs at once.

 

Why? Yes, the list B3-er provided surely seems to make sense. But with a modern studio where you can just re-record it, it is not as important as it was years ago.

 

You can record a submix of everything on a single take and then just record later and separately the drums, bass, horns, keyboards, vocals, etc., until perfection.

 

... Unless, of course, your business is LIVE RECORDING. There you MUST have all those inputs at once, indeed.

 

:wave:

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I don't know if this is technically OT, but I am about to re-plunge into a DAW / MIDI work station. I need it to do 'in the box' 24 track audio mixing and mastering.

 

 

BTW he said "24 track audio mixing". It may be that 24 input channels are not precisely necessary.

 

MIDI in Pro Tools 8 is way better than in previous versions. For some of us, it is now where we always wanted it to be; for some other users it may be lacking some features they get in DAWs like Digital Performer or LOGIC.

Músico, Productor, Ingeniero, Tecnólogo

Senior Product Manager, América Latina y Caribe - PreSonus

at Fender Musical Instruments Company

 

Instagram: guslozada

Facebook: Lozada - Música y Tecnología

 

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... Unless, of course, your business is LIVE RECORDING. There you MUST have all those inputs at once, indeed.

 

That's exactly what Bill is trying to do. He has a live performance space and he's trying to capture/record those live music events. So he definitely needs 24 simultaneous inputs.

 

I just read you can link the StudioLive mixer with any of the Firestudio interfaces for 8 more analog inputs. So with one StudioLive and one Firestudio, you'd have 24 analog inputs. That's pretty cool.

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On the cheap, the guys at the SAWStudio forum often recommend the Behringer ADA8000. 8 Mic pres and ADC and DAC all for $250 or less. 3 of these equals 24 channels for about $750, which is a hard number to beat for mic pres and conversions in both directions. Add an RME HDSP 9652 or similar card, and you've got your 24 input tracks, 24 output tracks, plus (I believe...) 2 extra channels of output for monitoring. I know that Bob Lentini (SAW developer) swears by the ADA 8000 and uses them in the Vegas shows he handles and I believe that Frank Farrell (Kenny Rogers) is using them in Kennys live show.

"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 also wanted to mention the free support applications from RME, which are another reason that i have picked RME interfaces for more than ten years now. Totalmix is a routing/mixing app that is way cool and offers many options. And DigiCheck is a Spectrafoo-type audio utility that has recently added a 'record' feature that works kinda like a tape machine in that it has no features other than meters, arm for record, record, and playback. (and a choice of file storage formats) Great, low CPU usage. I've used it a few times now on mission critical live recordings. The resulting files have been flown into Samplitude and Pro Tools with no problems.

"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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