Pro Tools, Cubase, Nuendo, SONAR, Acid, Digital Performer, & Logic. These are the most popular digital audio programs for recording and mixing music. With so many choices it can seem difficult to know which one you should choose but once you consider what type of computer you are using and what type of music you want to make you’ll find that many of the choices are eliminated which in turn makes your choice far easier.
There are a lot of things to consider when making this choice. The first is what kind of computer system you are using.
I am not going to tell you whether you should use a PC or a Mac as that argument long ago became tedious. You can create a top quality computer based music studio with a PC or a Mac. But what I am going to tell you is that you need to definitely consider your computer type when making this software decision as some programs only work with one or the other (or work much better with one or the other.)
If you are basing your system on a PC then you first of all want to cross MOTU’s Digital Performer and Apple’s Logic off your list as they are Mac only programs. I would also advise you to not choose Pro Tools if you’re on a PC.
Yes, I know Pro Tools is the “industry standard” but that’s mostly because people love to do what everyone else is doing. There’s nothing special about Pro Tools. Sure it’s a great piece of software, but so is Nuendo.
And the problem is that Pro Tools just isn’t a good choice for PC users. Currently it doesn’t even work with Windows Vista and while the next version is supposed to be Vista compatible we don’t know when that version will be available and even then, it will only be compatible with the “Ultimate” version of Vista (if you currently own the regular version of Vista that will be a $200 upgrade.) On top of that, even on XP Pro Tools doesn’t work nearly as well as it does on the Mac. It’s definitely a good choice for Mac users, but you should avoid it if you are on the PC.
So what’s left for PC users? Steinberg’s Nuendo & Cubase along with Sony’s Acid and Cakewalk’s SONAR. Acid & SONAR are only to be used by Windows based computer but Steinberg’s Nuendo & Cubase are well suited for both Windows PCs and Macs.
If you are looking for the best audio quality you can get (and you’re willing to pay more for it) and you do not use MIDI very much then Nuendo is probably your best choice. It’s also the right choice for those working with audio for use with video and for those interested in working with surround sound.
Cubase & Sonar are great choices for those who use MIDI a lot. But you shouldn’t think that these programs are only about MIDI, they are also great for recording and mixing audio.
Sony’s Acid is for loop based music like electronica and rap. Really, I do not think it is a very good fit for most people. Unless you make loop based music, don’t choose Acid.
Mac users will probably end going with Pro Tools but Digital Performer & Logic are also great choices. I would recommend downloading the demo versions of each of these programs and seeing which one works for you. You may also want to choose Cubase or Nuendo. Remember that software also works well on PCs so it may make you more versatile in a way to learn those programs.
Marvin J Markus