Cubase? Pro Tools? Logic?

Electronic musicians out there: Which is ‘best’, Cubase, Pro Tools, Logic? Or something else I haven’t heard of?

Better in the sense that it can meet my growing needs for a more professional setup. I want to be able to edit my tracks in greater detail than what my Triton is capable of doing on its touch screen.

I’d like to do all my mixing on the computer (the G5 I am going to get) because it is much more convenient.

I’d like something that can score my music as well, so other band members can play what I’ve written. I know Sibelius can do that, but it would be good if I didn’t have to purchase any more costly third-party software. If there is a plugin I can install, that would be great.

I have gone as far as to compile a list of musicians’s software preferences. Some entries are based on forums’ hearsay and assumptions. Contributions and amendments welcome.


Pro Tools

  • Andrew Hale (Sade keyboardist)
  • Bjork – this is a pretty big pull factor, seeing how she does a lot of grunt work herself. Respect!
  • Massive Attack – full Digidesign Pro Tool setup, with four Macs, according to this article.
  • Talvin Singh
  • Portishead, possibly


  • Jamiroquai (recently switched to this)
  • Depeche Mode
  • Enigma

A mix of software

  • Hans Zimmer uses both Cubase (for MIDI arrangements) and Pro Tools (audio)
  • Basement Jaax may have used all three.

I’m trying to find out what EBTG’s Ben Watt is using.

Lots of people have been discussing which software to use, but have yet to reach a definite conclusion.

Lastly, I know good ideas count more than whatever software we use. But if I can help it, I’d like to start off with the best possible system my money can buy.

[Update: A good discussion and review on various music sequencers.]


  1. ady

    What about Cakewalk? It does notation as well.
    As for ProTools, last I looked a few years back, they have a free version on their website.

  2. vantan

    Thanks, Ady.
    Pro Tools Free only works on Windows 98 and ME, of all Windows operating systems. It is also limited to 8 tracks. Most of my music requires 16 tracks.
    Cakewalk doesn’t seem to be taken seriously enough. I’ll look into it, though.

  3. Kristian

    Running on a Mac? Then you’ve got to see what kind of plugins you will want to. Have you considered Digital Performer as well?
    Logic will be the best choice, why, because it’s highly optimised for Apple’s hardware, but it’s got a very steep learning curve and expensive too.
    Also, you’ve got to think of what kind of hardware you are going to record with and whether they will be compatible with your software of choice.
    I would go with ProTools since I’m assuming you’re dealing with more midi editing then audio.

  4. Varian

    The “pro” software? Each can virtually (almost) do everything the others can. It’s a matter of getting used to the interfaces.
    1. Digidesign ProTools LE
    Most expensive, used-to-be industry standard but now #2 and #3 are catching up real quick, cos of the substantially lower-cost hardware control interfaces. My favourite s/w interface though. Probably cos am most familiar with it.
    2. Steinberg Nuendo 2.0
    One of the earliest to support 5.1 steering, used by local professional Don Richmond and producers at Mediacorp.
    3. Steinberg Cubase SX 2.0
    Best value-for-money. Interface is also slightly more cluttered than the other two, but i guess it’s just a matter of getting used to.
    #3 is also the one i’m playing with most often now. Have a rather extensive setup if you would care to come have a look some day. šŸ™‚ Got a Tascam FX-1884 (flying faders! yum!) emulating as a Mackie controller hooked up to Cubase SX 2.0 running on a Dual G5 with two 17in monitors (dual displays are almost a must-have if you’re serious about this).
    Also getting used to not having RTAS plugins with ProTools, and using VST instruments instead. Found some pretty nifty ones — Hypersonic being my latest discovery and sounds pretty good. Has the patch editing features of an analog synth.
    Lemme know if you have more specific queries. I can put you in touch with the Steinberg people too, know them quite well. šŸ™‚

  5. Varian

    Forgot to mention that yes, they all do automatic scoring / notation. But Sibelius is the way to go, if you’re aiming for maximum flexibility. (Used to be a Finale or Master Tracks Pro user, but the relatively newer Sibelius beats ’em all hands down, again imho.)
    There’s a Sibelius plugin that allows you to scan scores and have the score converted to MIDI! Now that’s a godsend of a plugin, works v. well too. Picks up all the Latin and dynamics expressions. šŸ™‚
    But if all you need is simple notation for other professional musicians to read, the built-in scoring capabilities will do just fine.

  6. jean-baptiste

    Dear electronic musicians ,
    i bought a cubase SE and Tascam midi interface 2 weeks ago and i have been trying some AUDIO recordings.
    The tempo is not always stable, and little pieces of the audio recorded parts are always missing …can you please advise what to do?Thanks in advance for your help.
    latence is very good.I’m using a laptop,windows XP ,pentium4..512MB.I am using ASIO US122.A special driver that works with TASCAM midi interface.
    Thanks once again

  7. lulu ong

    If you’re not too concerned about 5.1 mixing capabilities, OMF file imports, and music is the main thing, you could consider Logic Express.

    The Express version of Logic was something that was released only this year so not too many people know about it. It’s basically the same as Logic Pro, but without 5.1 mixing capabilities, OMF file imports and fewer plug-ins and software synths, but is less than a third of the price of Logic Pro at S$548.

    In terms of a value-for-money all round package that does MIDI, audio, scoring (not as good as Finale or Sibelius, but acceptable for printing out parts for band members), sampling (comes with a pretty good sampler that’s compatiable with various formats) and software synths, Logic Express has a lot to offer.

    But if you’re not familiar with Logic and are used to other software packages, you might find it difficult to find your way around at first. The interface and sheer number of features can be pretty confusing (and nobody wants to read manuals.) But if you can find a friend who can show you the basic steps for finding your way around, it’s one package that will keep you going for a long time without running out of features and things to do.

    I recently had the chance to sit in in studios of a few Bollywood film composers and was amazed at the way they used the package. (All those other funny windows with extra cryptic features I thought no one used now make sense!)

    Other artists that use Logic include Peter Gabriel and Linkin Park.

    Disclosure : The person who provided this information is related to Emagic in the following ways – Reseller.

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