PDA

View Full Version : Looking for OS X DAW recommendations




dXTC
Sep 12, 2013, 02:56 PM
Okay, fellow MR musicians, I'd like some opinions/recommendations on DAW software that runs on OS X.

A detailed explanation of my situation follows (those who don't want this, skip to the "tl;dr" part further below)...

So here's my current setup:
iMac (late 2010 Core i3), running Snow Leopard and XP via Boot Camp.
Audio interface: Tascam US-122 (USB).
Current DAW: Cakewalk Sonar 5 Producer, running in Boot Camp.
Other external gear:

M-Audio 02 and Korg MicroKey-37 USB controllers
Roland SH-201 synth (connected via USB)
Roland XP-10 and JV-880, Yamaha AN-200 synths/modules via MIDI-to-USB interface
Yamaha DD-50 drum pad used for MIDI input, via MIDI-to-USB
Roland TR-505 drum machine, not yet connected to my main rig, but would be via MIDI-to-USB if it were


Even though I have several hundred dollars invested in Sonar at this point (I bought Sonar 4 Studio, then upgraded to 5 Producer), I'm considering a switch to OS X-based DAW software because of the inconvenience of switching to Boot Camp. Sonar 5 does not run well (or at all) in Vista or Windows 7, so that limits me to Snow Leopard in order to keep XP in Boot Camp, and Sonar is the only reason I use Boot Camp at all. This setup will soon start to become a liability, as more and more applications now require Lion or later, and this will become worse when Mavericks is released.

I've played around with GarageBand, but find it only marginally useful as a "sketchpad" due to its extremely limited MIDI implementation and its consequential inability to use my external synths as sound sources. As a hobbyist electronic/synthpop musician, these limitations make it impossible to use GB as my main environment.

I'm sure I could get used to another DAW, but I really like using my external synth gear and Cakewalk's Instrument Definitions feature allows me to browse patches on my external synths by name rather than just MIDI bank/program number.

TL;DR summary: I'm looking for a OS X-based DAW that's comparable to or better than Cakewalk SONAR Producer, that plays well with external synths and modules. Snow Leopard compatibility is a plus.

Comments and recommendations are greatly appreciated.



ChrisA
Sep 12, 2013, 04:31 PM
....
TL;DR summary: I'm looking for a OS X-based DAW that's comparable to or better than Cakewalk SONAR Producer, that plays well with external synths and modules. Snow Leopard compatibility is a plus.

Comments and recommendations are greatly appreciated.

The obvious choose is Apple's "Logic". It just had an big upgrade to "Logic X". IT is priced to be a real value too.

Being am Apple pro app it uses the apple hardware to full advantage Also the user interface is "native", something you can't say abot most others DAWs. The interface widgets are all real Mac style widgets.

The other feature is the free iPad remote app. You can control logic from some other room, say where you have the microphone setup.

I just posted this in another thread: One good way to decide on a DAW is to buy a $25 subscription to this web site
http://www.macprovideo.com
and then watch the intro video course for each DAW you are considering. Yes this take TIME. but then you will have a feel for the DAW after watching a 6 to 8 hour video class.

dXTC
Sep 13, 2013, 12:22 PM
ChrisA, do you happen to know how intuitively Logic interacts/controls external hardware synths, such as the Roland synths I listed in the OP? Hopefully it's better than its little brother GarageBand.

Any opinions on Cubase, ProTools, etc? Anyone? ...Bueller?

ChrisA
Sep 13, 2013, 06:27 PM
ChrisA, do you happen to know how intuitively Logic interacts/controls external hardware synths, such as the Roland synths I listed in the OP? Hopefully it's better than its little brother GarageBand.

Any opinions on Cubase, ProTools, etc? Anyone? ...Bueller?

Logic has to be better than GB. Because GB can't send MIDI out at all. Logic is actually pretty good. But "intuitive"? Well that depends on who you are.

Logic allows some complex MIDI signal flow and filtering. New in Logic X is the Arpeggiator. It is a kind of plug-in filter for MIDI and knows about 100 different scales.

I don't thing Logic will do stuff like move samples down into a hardware synth, maybe you can figure some way to do that. But logic has a few of it's own synths and samplers that are fairly powerful. I think that is how most people use it.

When people decide between ProTools and Logic, ususally those who do more MIDI decide on Logic.

OllyW
Sep 13, 2013, 06:33 PM
The obvious choose is Apple's "Logic". It just had an big upgrade to "Logic X". IT is priced to be a real value too.

It's the obvious choice but it won't run on Snow Leopard though.

Minimum System Requirements
4GB of RAM
Display with 1280x768 resolution or higher
OS X v10.8.4 or later
Requires 64-bit Audio Units plug-ins
Minimum 5GB of disk space. 35GB of optional content available via in-app download

ScottishCaptain
Sep 13, 2013, 06:49 PM
It's the obvious choice but it won't run on Snow Leopard though.

What is wrong with Logic 9?

I'm on 10.8.4, and I still use it. It does everything I need, and I don't want anything more.

-SC

OllyW
Sep 13, 2013, 07:08 PM
What is wrong with Logic 9?

I'm on 10.8.4, and I still use it. It does everything I need, and I don't want anything more.

-SC

Nothing, I'm still using it myself on Mountain Lion and Snow Leopard. :)

I'm not sure you'd go about buying it now, probably have to pick up a used copy as it's no longer available on the Mac App Store.

ChrisA
Sep 13, 2013, 07:14 PM
What is wrong with Logic 9?...

Nothing is wrong with Logic 9. Except, I don't think Apple will sell a copy of it any more. Is is simply a non-option for someone who does not already own it.

Will Logic 9 work with Maverics when it is released? We don't know. At some point logc 9 users will be forced to upgrade. BTW the upgrade seem to be popular with Logic 9 users. They did not take anything away (except mmaybe the ability to run 32-bit plugins?? maybe.)

But I bet if you did upgrade you'd find a use for some of the new features. Of course you don't need them, all you really need is a tape recorder and a razor blade but this new technology comes along and we find uses for it, or not. I'm sure there are guys using analog tape who prefer it.

ScottishCaptain
Sep 15, 2013, 09:36 PM
Nothing is wrong with Logic 9. Except, I don't think Apple will sell a copy of it any more. Is is simply a non-option for someone who does not already own it.

Will Logic 9 work with Maverics when it is released? We don't know. At some point logc 9 users will be forced to upgrade. BTW the upgrade seem to be popular with Logic 9 users. They did not take anything away (except mmaybe the ability to run 32-bit plugins?? maybe.)

But I bet if you did upgrade you'd find a use for some of the new features. Of course you don't need them, all you really need is a tape recorder and a razor blade but this new technology comes along and we find uses for it, or not. I'm sure there are guys using analog tape who prefer it.

IMHO; if you use your computer for making money then you shouldn't be upgrading to the latest greatest OS just because Apple thinks you should. Forced upgrading is ********, plain and simple. It is the reason why I now own multiple systems (running Windows and OS X)- I can't afford to have stuff breaking just because "it's that time of year again".

That being said, life is exceptionally simple when you have one system that needs to remain the same for more then a year, and another system where you can just do whatever and it doesn't matter. I know a lot of musicians who work like this, simply because stuff like iLok isn't always compatible with the most recent OS or there are serious caveats that come with the software upgrade.

-SC

Kyle Turnbull
Sep 16, 2013, 04:51 PM
I love Ableton Live... Its great for live performance but also for all kinds of electronic music. The loop based sequencers are great for... guess what! Recording and arrange loop!!! I started on Reason which is another really good one. If you are just starting out in production its probably the best bet because it is much more graphically logical (badoom chhh) than other programs. It will show you the signal flow of your audio path.

ljusmc
Sep 17, 2013, 07:33 AM
I have to go with Logic as well.

dXTC
Sep 17, 2013, 09:13 PM
Logic allows some complex MIDI signal flow and filtering. New in Logic X is the Arpeggiator. It is a kind of plug-in filter for MIDI and knows about 100 different scales.

I don't thing Logic will do stuff like move samples down into a hardware synth, maybe you can figure some way to do that. But logic has a few of it's own synths and samplers that are fairly powerful. I think that is how most people use it.

When people decide between ProTools and Logic, ususally those who do more MIDI decide on Logic.

I might have to read up some more on Logic to make sure it's worth the upgrade to OS X 10.8. The Arpeggiator sounds pretty nifty, and fits with the 80s-style synthpop stuff I do very well. I agree with you on the ProTools vs. Logic comparison; ProTools didn't seem all that MIDI-friendly.

I don't have any standalone hardware samplers besides the Turtle Beach Maui sampler soundcard I have installed in a old PC, so I'm not worried about downloading new sounds to my gear. I have a couple of librarian applications (Unisyn and the Roland SH-201 Editor/Librarian) for that kind of stuff. I use sampler software plugins for drum sample playback in Cakewalk currently, so there's probably a similar sampler plugin for Logic, too.

... I started on Reason which is another really good one. If you are just starting out in production its probably the best bet because it is much more graphically logical (badoom chhh) than other programs. It will show you the signal flow of your audio path.

Some time ago, I played with early versions of both Reason and its predecessor, ReBirth. Although I liked their interface (that "back of the rack" audio path flow on the Reason UI was one of the first such GUIs in a DAW) and the overall concept of a fully software-based DAW, I didn't have a strong enough computer at the time to realize their full power.

ChrisA
Sep 17, 2013, 11:11 PM
.... I use sampler software plugins for drum sample playback in Cakewalk currently, so there's probably a similar sampler plugin for Logic, too..

Logic's sample is call ESX24. ESX24 is a big complex program in of itself. You it will map key velocity to different samples and has filters and scripts and on an on...

But many people evently end up with Kontakt. THis is a stand alone app but is mostly used as a plug-in inside a DAW like Logic. THere is both a free version and a very expensive version. LOTS of sample sets are sold in Kontakt format

There are quite a few soft instruments bundled with Logic, enough that I doubt many people have learned them all. They come in two kinds the sampler ESX24 and all the others are synths Each one of them will take weeks to learn
look at "Scupture". in is a string synth

Here is Apple's list and some demo sounds from each of them
https://www.apple.com/logic-pro/plugins-and-sounds/

bwhli
Sep 18, 2013, 10:41 AM
I think Logic X is great for composition, and many of the included sounds are very usable. With that said, I've experienced extreme GUI lag on one of my heavier projects. Has anyone experinced this? I have the latest Retina MBP, so it's not hardware issue. For mixing, Pro Tools does it for me.

Macman45
Sep 19, 2013, 04:51 AM
I'm on Logic X too. The new version has been vastly improved and I would recommend it. I had a free copy of Ableton but I'd avoid that. The interface is poorly written, and it lacks many of the commonly used features you'd expect from a high end DAW. I guess cubase is an option, but Logic gets my vote.

masterofbuckets
Sep 23, 2013, 09:24 PM
I am still a newbie in music production but thought I'd chime in.

I would suggest you to check out Reaper - http://www.cockos.com/reaper/

It is a very customizable DAW and I believe it still supports Snow Leopard. It doesn't come with much sample library but it has some very useful effects and other goodies. Oh and it is cheap for the budding musician.

dXTC
Sep 25, 2013, 08:19 AM
I am still a newbie in music production but thought I'd chime in.

I would suggest you to check out Reaper - http://www.cockos.com/reaper/

It is a very customizable DAW and I believe it still supports Snow Leopard. It doesn't come with much sample library but it has some very useful effects and other goodies. Oh and it is cheap for the budding musician.

I'm checking this one out right now, and I must admit I'm intrigued by the legacy cross-platform functionality (OS X back to 10.4, Windows back to 98/ME and even WINE) and the DXi compatibility, not to mention the price and the ability to evaluate a full, uncrippled version before purchase.

Thanks for the heads-up-- this could very well be a winner!

EDIT: ...Holey freaking you-know-what-balls -- Reaper reads Cakewalk INS files too! I don't have to give up my ability to select my external synth patches by name. Well, I know what I'll be doing this weekend...

ChrisA
Sep 25, 2013, 06:02 PM
Another good way to evaluate DAWs is to buy a one month subscription to macprovideo.com They have some really good many hours long videos on many of the more common DAWs. You can see what each will do in depth.


Cost difference of a few hundred dollars should not matter to much as you'll be making a hundreds or even thousands of hours of your time in this.


People fall into the specs and cost trap with cameras too. Canon will have good specs on paper but the Nikon might have much better ergonomics.

Same with iPhone vs. Android. The Android costs less and has some better specs. But you look at web server logs and you see that 80% of mobile internet usage is from iPhones. It seem those "better" androids were bough then just used as dumb-phones and paper weights. Again usability and design and ergonomics are the most important thing.

You can get some feel for usability by watching a few hours of video.

Fishrrman
Sep 26, 2013, 09:47 AM
I've been a Cubase fan for years.

I experimented with Logic Express a few years ago, and couldn't warm up to it. If Logic is still like that, I certainly wouldn't be interested in it.

Editing (cutting, copying, pasting, modifying) audio in Cubase is an order of magnitude easier than any other DAW I've seen (I will admit I haven't seen ProTools lately). As easy as copying and moving text around in a word processor.

If one hunts around, one can find a version of Cubase called "AI 5" that can be run for experimental purposes for at least 30 days, perhaps longer... :)

Actually, I believe Steinberg will let you register this without charge...

fastlanephil
Sep 26, 2013, 06:30 PM
Studio One from Presonus is another DAW with some nice features. It has drag and drop for loading plugins and can link to many keyboards automatically. You can also edit multiple tracks one track view.

Presonus just bought Notion and will be integrating it's notation features into Studio One.

There is a fully functional free version that you can download and keep but you'll want at least the Producer version.

I see that Gibson is buying Cakewalk. I remember the great Opcode/Studio Vision and what happened soon after Gibson bought them in 1998. :(

tevion5
Sep 27, 2013, 10:16 AM
What is wrong with Logic 9?

I'm on 10.8.4, and I still use it. It does everything I need, and I don't want anything more.

-SC

I thought the same and until I got Logic X. It's just more productive, more pro features and and a more simplified almost garagebandesque interface. Highly recommend it. :)

----------

I have experience with Logic and ProTools. ProTool's mixing, EQ and compression is just very easy to use and very to the point. I find logic a little more watery in these tasks but pretty good once you figure it out. Other than that though, Logic is probably my favourite for composing due to it's best in class instruments and legendary piano roll. Also it's price is nonsensically good! :)

Prodo123
Sep 29, 2013, 04:23 PM
I run with Logic. Logic 9 for 32-bit legacy AUs, but mostly Logic X now.
My friend, however, is a hardcore Pro Tools fan and complains when people around him favor Logic over it :p
Just try each of them out for a couple days and see which one you like best.

SimonUK5
Sep 29, 2013, 04:32 PM
I used to use ProTools and loved it, buttt

I switched to Cubase 6 last year, and not using Cubase 7, the BEST DAW i've ever used, really easy to use, the new mixer window is super easy, the channel strips are great, the processors and effects that come stock are super good as well.

dXTC
Sep 30, 2013, 10:37 AM
I see that Gibson is buying Cakewalk. I remember the great Opcode/Studio Vision and what happened soon after Gibson bought them in 1998. :(

Gibson and Cakewalk? Odd alliance for sure, but hey, more power to 'em if they can make it work. Think Gibson will make the Cakewalk devs come out with a version for OS X? (Yeah, I know, not bleeping likely, with most of the plugins being DXi and all, but I can pipedream...)

ChrisA
Sep 30, 2013, 11:05 AM
I just found out that Final Cut Pro X can export a project as an XML file. Yes, FCPX is a video editor and we are talking about DAWs. But the XML file can be imported by Logic.

This is a big deal if you also shoot videos. It means you can have rather seamless interface from Logic and Video. I can mix and edit video sound tracks in Logic. Logic can also play the video

Soif you thik of a DAW as just a musician you might like of of the others but if you think that down the line you might be producing music videos, logic looks better

DPUser
Oct 3, 2013, 02:32 AM
Don't overlook my favorite DAW: Digital Performer. At Version 8.04, it is now cross-platform and very mature. I don't work for MOTU, but DP works for me, every day, as it has for many years. Check out MOTUNation.com for a very helpful, professional community

MICHAELSD
Oct 8, 2013, 03:05 AM
Logic Pro X is the best by far.