JAW-DROPPING SEXY LOVE!!! -- A Comprehensive Review
I have been trying to find a DAW that fits my workflow for the past several years. Running a small project studio, I rely heavily on VST instruments and plugins. I rely heavily on the MIDI editor and mix console, editing, quantization, and automation must be convenient and fluid, and I must feel at home within my DAW.
To sum it up my response, Cubase 7 nailed it - and then some. It’s exquisitely beautiful - and I've never thought I'd say that about a piece of software. I no longer feel like I'm fighting with my software in order to get sound I want. Everything just falls into place like magic, and I doubt I will ever use anything other than Cubase ever again.
A list of DAW's I've used (in order I have used them):
Studio One Artist
Studio One Professional
Pro Tools M-powered
Pro Tools 9
Cakewalk Sonar X1 producer
Logic Pro 9
To briefly sum up my experience with each DAW:
GarageBand – This DAW will get your foot in the door, but my no means is it a professional audio workstation.
FL Studio – Surprisingly useful (to the point where I still use it as a plug-in for electronic synths and digital sounding drums). If you're used to a sequencer, this software might be a cheap solution for you. However beware, I have found the mixer's capabilities be excruciatingly weak.
Studio One – This DAW is like a weaker, but simpler version of Sonar X1. I hated the layout. The mixer is confusing. It's ugly and fairly limited. It's ok, but there’s way better.
Protools - Hated using maudio hardware when the software was tethered in M-Powered. Pro Tools 9 seem to be had at first. The mixing capabilities were astounding, it supported just about everything I wanted to do, however I wanted to use a lot of VST instruments (not RTAS) and ProTools did not support them. also the many editing was fairly ugly and frustrating.
Cubase 5 - I loved this DAW because of its flexibility, layout, midi editing, and high quality integrated plugins. The mixer would've been better, but it was still incredibly usable. My main problem with this software was that my RME Fireface could run sample rates of 192khz/sec and the highest cubase could run was 96khz/sec; this isn't much of a difference, but at the time it drove me to switch.
Sonar X1 - I found this DAW to be incredibly complex and frustrating. the countless slew of buttons and features were awkward and frustrating. Don't get me wrong, it had everything, but the way things were laid out and how everything was presented was incredibly frustrating to work with. Sonar x1 was like trying to cram a 32 channel board (with every single little visually displayed) onto a crowded laptop screen. With the edit window and directory cluttering everything up, it worked, but it was hard. Customization was there, but it wasn't convenient. I did a lot less recording when I switch to the software because I was so discouraged. The final mixes though, after a ton of hard work, sounded astounding. If you're used to working on analog boards and you have a big screen TV or a projector to do everything on, it'll work just fine, but for a mobile flexible setup on the run, beware.
Logic - Logic is the closest thing to Cubase 8. It is very functional and convenient. Everything is laid out in an aesthetically pleasing array, the mixer is great, integrated plug-ins are phenomenal, and final mix downs are in the highest caliber of sound quality. BUTTTT, I can't justify buying a mac, when I can build the equivalent PC for 3x cheaper. I'm a PC.
Cubase 6.5 - was like a catch-up in sample quality, an update in plugin quality and virtual instruments, and an improvement just a little on directories and mixers. 192khz/sec was available, so I switched back. The mixer could've been A LOT better though.
Cubase 7 - All of the greatest features of Cubase and completely reengineered all of its weaknesses. IMHO the mix console's flexibility and capabilities now surpass that of Pro Tools and logic. On top of that everything looks aesthetically sexy (yes, I called a DAW sexy). the demo videos online don't really do Cubase 7 justice because you won't really appreciate the flexibility until you've used the new mixer and balanced from screen to screen, feature to feature, part to part with ease. I love the new chord editor. IMHO Cubase has always been the leaders of MIDI editing and in Cubase 7 they've really gone the extra mile.
I feel like the designers of Cubase 7 worked long and hard to give their customers exactly what they wanted and then some. I haven't tried the "VST Connection" feature yet, but I find it incredibly cool that I can now collaborate on a project in real time with an artist anywhere around the globe as long as they have a reliable internet connection. I am excited to engineer a session from 300 miles away at the comfort of my home. In an effort to say thank you I am posting this review.