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Writing studio input: Best MIDI sequencer for PC laptop


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I'd like to set up a writing studio remote from the main studio (ProTools HD3 based) and would appreciate any input on the best MIDI sequencer to use. Studio will be based on a Yamaha digital piano as primary composing instrument and an IBM Thinkpad 1.8GHz laptop running XP Professional. Intent is to create and capture some of the basic keyboard MIDI parts (mainly piano) of a composition/arrangement, then take those MIDI tracks to the main ProTools room for overdubs, refinement and final mixing.


From research done so far, it looks like the 3 best options are: Cakewalk Home Studio, Steinberg Cubasis and Digidesign Pro Tools LE. I realize Logic 5.5 is an option, but since its future is Mac only, I'm not comfortable with that direction on my PC laptop. Since I mainly want to lay down MIDI tracks, I don't think I need the more powerful DAWs like Sonar, Cubase SX, etc.


Cakewalk Home Studio and Cubasis are appealing since I can just add a simple MIDI interface and I'm good to go. I can do this for under $200 (SW and interface total). Since all I need to generate and import into the main ProTools sessions are Standard MIDI Files, I don't see a problem. Am I missing something?


Pro Tools LE with an Mbox would be more expensive, but might be easier to work with since I would have Pro Tools sessions only and not have to jack with 2 different formats/file types. The only downside would be PT's known MIDI shortcomings (but I'll admit it's a lot better now).


How does Cakewalk Home Studio or Cubasis stack up against ProTools as a MIDI sequencer? Are they significantly better in terms of their in-depth MIDI functions and be good for my purposes?


Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks a lot!

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