a few words about a couple DAWs

(Not so) quick update-

I’ve been recording some stuff, but nothing I wanted to post here on the blog. For just about all the recordings I make these days, I shoot video as well as record the audio, so I’ll post stuff to my YouTube channel if nowhere else, so if you really want to check out everything I record, head over there and subscribe. My user name is BruceBurbank8. You can check out my friend’s band play a polka at Oktoberfest at Lake Arrowhead up in the San Bernadino Mountains and probably some other random stuff.

The Bong-Ra show is tonight up in LA, but I’ve decided to pass on it. I’ve recorded him a couple times before, and even though gas prices have come down a bit, it’s still quite an expense to drive up from San Diego. I’m undecided about the Monster X show in early December up there. I really like his tunes and I’ve never seen him play, and he rarely plays the US (is this his first time over here? Maybe, I dunno), and it’s a So Simple show so most likely there’ll be at least a few artists playing that night that I really like. So we’ll see about that one as the date approaches.

But in the meantime, here’s the real reason why I wanted to write this post-

I wanted to give a big ol’ recommendation and personal endorsement for PreSonus Studio One 2. I’ve been using it lately and it’s lotsa fun and sounds great. Here’s the story of how this came about.

I’m still very much looking for a job. Everybody in audio production knows that the industry standard DAW is ProTools, and the postings on many of the job sites affirms this. Back in the 90s and through about 2005, I was a super pro editor on ProTools, because I used it every day for 8 years at work. Lots of recording, editing, arranging, mixing, mastering. But since I left that job in 2005, I really haven’t seen ProTools at all. I’ve been on Logic the whole time since then. But I thought I’d be smart to jump back into ProTools and at least familiarize myself with the new layout and functions (I knew there’d been big changes in the software over the past 7 years, but I didn’t know exactly what they were), so if it ever came up in a job interview, I could truthfully say that I’ve been working in ProTools and maybe have some examples of the work that I’d done in ProTools.

So I have ProTools 8 HD and I start it up and check out all the preferences and start poking around a little bit and check out some YouTube tutorials and stuff like that. Some of the functions seemed like they had carried over from the version I was last working on in 2005, but not a whole lot, so I was more or less a beginner again.

Anybody who has ever taken on the challenge of learning some new software on their own knows that there’s gonna be a certain learning curve. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to not get frustrated and want to pull all your hair out. Well, it seems like I was in frustrationland much more than I was in productiveland in ProTools, and I tried and tried and tried and tried. I got to a point where I can do some stuff, but overall, the software is so un-user-friendly and so unintuitive, that I found myself constantly thinking ‘there’s gotta be an easier or better way of doing this.’ In some of those YouTube tutorials, some people were doing some super complex and impressive stuff, so I know it’s all possible, but it seems like so much of it is hidden in sub-sub-sub-menus, or is only accessible by some ungodly key command that I quickly found myself looking for alternatives.

Which is how I found PreSonus Studio One 2. I read some good things about it, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. Turned out to be a great decision.

The difference between Studio One 2 and ProTools was immediately evident, and significant. The PreSonus is much more user friendly, as I didn’t have to search through every nook and cranny for certain functions like I did in ProTools. The PreSonus is laid out much more logically and naturally, and everything that I looked for I found relatively easily. Maybe that’s because I’m most familiar with Logic, although the funny thing about that is that Studio One 2 actually more closely resembles ProTools than it does Logic, so that last statement doesn’t make much sense. But yet here I am doing all sorts of productive work in Studio One 2, and within a week of opening the software for the first time, I’d edited, processed and mixed down some recordings and had started composing some electronic music of my own and really kickin’ ass by leaps and bounds much more than I’d expected.

There are a couple points where Logic has the advantage over PreSonus: (1) The sound library that comes with Logic is much more impressive than the PreSonus library. Especially the orchestral elements. The PreSonus sounds are adequate and with some tweaking will sound pretty good, but the Logic sounds are simply head and shoulders better than that. And (2) Studio One 2 doesn’t do surround sound. That’s probably not much of a concern for about 99% of the audio engineers out there, but I guess, in this case, I’m in the other 1%. Hopefully someday they’ll build that in to their software. It’s sort of a wacky plan of mine, but I plan on composing all my music in PreSonus, exporting the stems and do all the reverbing and surround sound mixing in Logic. I’m not trying to set myself up for writing music for movies or computer games; I’m just a big surround sound enthusiast and it’s just the way that I want to make my music. I’m sure I won’t be ready to release anything for quite a while so don’t hold your breath. But hopefully someday.

I do sincerely plan on taking another stab at ProTools again some time. I don’t know when, but hopefully I’ll be able to be a little bit more patient with it. After all, it is the industry standard (although how it got to be that way I’ll never know, as it’s still (as far as I know) the only DAW that can’t bounce down audio in anything faster than real time. The first time I came across that, I was befuddled beyond words. I was like ‘Are you kidding me? Is this a joke? Real time?’ In the time it takes to bounce down an hour long mix in ProTools, in Logic I would have that first mixdown bounced, inspect that stereo mixdown in Logic’s mastering program Soundtrack Pro, make adjustments (if needed) back in the multi-track in Logic and do it all over agin. I could probably have 5 or 6 or 7 full mixes completed in Logic in the same time it takes ProTools to simply bounce the first mix down to stereo. How is this acceptable to people who use ProTools? How do they get any work finished by deadline? It’s absurd.)

So to summarize, if you have some need for some pro-grade, excellent and relatively easy-to-figure-out audio software, I recommend PreSonus Studio One 2. I can’t say I’d recommend it over Logic, though. The only thing that the PreSonus does that Logic doesn’t do is the audio stretching and auto-slicing and retiming (although I believe the newer Logic 9 does all that, but alas, I’m still on Logic 8).

I’ll let you know how everything goes.