I have friends who worked at DigiDesign (and at Opcode too!) and if we were having this conversation 30 years ago Pro Tools, etc. of course would be mentioned. But a lot has changed over the years.
There are still Pro Tools users but it seems to me people use it because they have to for projects, not necessarily because they want to. But the same could be said of other DAWs like Cubase, Logic, and as time marches on, even Ableton Live.
I use Ableton Live 11 Suite for most things and find it really quick. I also have Reaper, Studio One, Cakewalk by BandLab, and FLStudio. I use them all for different things Reaper for tracking bands, Studio One to create mastered releases, Cakewalk for old projects dating back 20 years, and FLStudio for creating quick videos.
OK so this is officially my permission to say that Studio Vision Pro is the best DAW. Thank you. Still nothing has as great of MIDI & digital audio synchronization & integration. (It’s not Opcode’s fault that the Mac OS was built in such a way that an error condition would bring down the whole OS. Heh. On 8.6 – the last OS where Opcode arguably were still a going concern – it’s rock solid.)
OK, maybe I could try to replicate my success with SVP by really becoming dedicated to the latest versions of Live or Bitwig, granted… but SVP is just a dream. Input Effects – chef’s kiss. Slicing / strip silence, blocks, combo tracks (MIDI & audio), keyboard triggers, segments, algorithmic composition, looping (MIDI and audio), the faders & mixers, VST compatibility, Max connection via IAC, …MIDI to Audio and Audio to MIDI…
Shame what happened to Opcode. Funny when the first is still the best.
Wow you know a lot of DAWs! I’m happy so far with Logic and Studio One. Super easy workflow and mixing recording process for me and I don’t play out live so I’m sticking to these two for now. Cubase was good as well but I haven’t used that in a while. Ableton drove me crazy for long compositions abd mixing mastering work. It works better with the Push controller for live work before I used hardware synths. Hardware plays better with Logic and Studio One for me as Ableton would fight constantly with me to get certain audio interfaces and hardware synths and MIDI controller to work most of the time but that could be just my stupidity in failing to get on with Ableton Live. I’m self taught so Ableton was not user friendly to me. But I get why it’s popular with live clips interface. I was up and running with no training on Logic and only quick review of the docs.
Studio One 5 Pro is my favourite and I’ve come to appreciate a linear workflow in DAWs.
Bitwig is right there too, it has replaced Live for me after version 10, especially for a loop/clip based workflow.
I used to love Live, but Live 10 was soooo slow and unstable for me that I decided to switch to Bitwig. Live 11 seems much improved, and I’m tempted to give it another shot due to my familiarity with it, but I‘m bothered that they still don’t have eg ARA support…little things like that.
DAW usage is very personal, as in which will be perceived as best/most user-friendly etc really depends on the person who’s using it.
In terms of features, all of the major DAWs out there have more than enough power to make anything music related with them.
I’m a massive fan of Bitwig. I’ve used most DAWs. Ableton was my main for over 15 years. I started using Bitwig just for some sound design projects, but I liked it so much more than Ableton, that I made the full switch. It is a very innovative and unique DAW. It also runs on my computer much faster, and handles CPU a lot better than Ableton did. The Grid in Bitwig has become my go to synth as well.
The only thing I miss from Ableton is Push and slicing in the sampler. There are Push scripts for Bitwig, but it isn’t as streamlined as using it in Ableton. As for slicing in the sampler, you can add onsets (like transient markers in Ableton) and slice audio to multisamples, but Bitwig doesn’t have a slice mode in it’s sampler. Besides that, I love the the Bitwig sampler, but that is the main thing I miss from Ableton.
Since V4, you can even load Ableton sessions into Bitwig, and it converts everything perfectly.(except native devices have some problems, and frozen tracks don’t import as frozen)
After short period of cracked FL and some free bundled Cubase I ended up with Digital Performer when it was in its 7th iteration. I can’t even remember why. I sometimes feel like I am the only one person in Europe using it - it would be so easier at times if I used something more common, to ask for help. But after maybe 15 years I am still recording my stuff in DP11.
Partly just because it’s what I know - it’s just deeply ingrained in me now. I probably know a small fraction of creative techniques but the amount of possibilities means I’ve built up quite an arsenal if them after over 10 years of playing around and learning it.
The sheer scope of possibilities makes it always fun to come back to when the mood strikes.
M4L devices just elevate it even higher. There’s always some new novelty lurking just around the corner!
It’ll always be Reaper. Have tried PT, Cubase, Nuendo, Bitwig, Ableton (still use it for theatre productions in the clip view), but Reaper has been the main daw for over 10 years for me, the recording and editing is so seamless and fast for me, that I really cringe quietly seeing other people use PT or Logic doing the stuff in much more complicated ways, that takes seconds in Reaper. And don’t get me started on the size of the program, the ultimate lightweight coding which every computer handles really good… It seems a bit of a scam to me, how these simple things are made so important and as a “new feature” in many other DAWs.
Been using Reaper for 3 years now.
It weights nothing, is very stable and I like the way it can be customized to my needs.
Extensions are extremely helpful and mostly free.
Comes loaded with plug-ins. They are not as fancy as the reknown ones but work just as good.
I would not go back to Nuendo or Cubase.
Ableton just because a friend of mine offered me the Suite 8 a long time ago, and this was the DAW I learned to use.
Mostly for recording multi tracks and editing them though, so I guess some thing more dedicated would be more efficient.
For instance, one thing I like to do before mixing is cutting each track into pieces with homogeneous lvolume levels, then normalizing each of them so that I get everything to the max level. It’s only then that i can start to work.
I haven’t found a way to automatize this, even with Max. If someone has a suggestion to get this automatized through a script, I’d be very grateful!
Avid have just slowly made the PT experience worse and worse.
I needed to use it just to bounce stems of something a friend had worked on. It took me so long to try to get it working properly, it was quicker to import the individual audio into Ableton, realign it and do the edits from scratch.
Plugins wouldn’t appear despite being installed and licenced. Routing audio to the headphone out of my MacBook seemed impossible. All manner of other things too.
Add to that it’s insanely expensive as well.
I use Ableton for everything now. It has a few quirks but it so much easier and nicer to use, even for full live recording/mixing/editing.
I’m using Reason 10 because a friend of mine who’s a hardware nerd highly recommended it as someone who had already made a full-circle GAS exploration and went back to the DAW again. I agree, it has a lot of charming hardware aspects of it and as such it’s also very educational (like, you literally route an LFO’s CV out into a synth’s CV in if you want to add an extra LFO to a synth, just like you would in the physical world).
I wish it was better integrated with midi controllers, that’s really the only thing I’m missing about it. I guess Reason Studios is too small for controller manufacturers to bother with it, though I see some trends with recent releases being better integrated (like Arturia Minilab 3).
Like someone else said, this thing is rock stable. It just never crashes. And the mixer is truly excellent.
But as @ccmp said, it’s really about committing to whichever DAW you choose so you have a change of getting really good at it. My best tip is to learn the keyboard shortcuts inside out - it makes a massive difference.