Studio Diary #45: The Logic(al) Next Step

Today’s the day I waved goodbye to my PreSonus Studio One subscription, and finally bought Apple’s Logic Pro to be my next major DAW.

Why Did You Stop Using Studio One?

Thing is, I never really started using Studio One. I just couldn’t find the motivation to learn it in depth.

Too Many WTF Moments

Every time I dipped into it, I just found it too quirky for me. Every DAW is different – what’s the point, otherwise, right? But Studio One just seemed to do things its own way for no obvious benefit.

It also felt very incomplete. Too many things felt like someone had given up after doing 80% of the implementation effort. I kept running into this while trying to figure out a workflow that would suit me.

When I first got it, I was hoping that new owners Fender would knock it into shape. It’s perfectly possible that they have begun to do so. I’ll never know. I’ve given up on it.

Priced Themselves Out Of Contention

I originally subscribed so that I could take advantage of their cloud features and collaborate with my band. Real life intervened, and we never took advantage of that at the time.

Since then, there’s been some steep price-rises.

At the time of writing, PreSonus wants $179 a year for a hybrid license. This provides a perpetual license for PreSonus Studio One 6.x, plus 12 months of access to their cloud features (and other subscription-only features). Or you can pay $238.88 a year for a rolling Studio One license plus all the cloud/subscription-only features.

I’m sure that it’s worth it for the right creators. For us, it just doesn’t make sense for Tess to sign up to their subscription at these prices.

Why Apple’s Logic Pro?

Why Do I Need A DAW To Replace LUNA?

I’ve really fallen in love with LUNA for producing my little audio demos for the blog. The workflow suits me, and the near-zero latency is my cannot-live-without feature.

Unfortunately, LUNA’s designed for UAD legacy business – their plugins that are tied to UAD’s physical hardware. I love those plugins, but as a band we’re not going to buy multiple subscriptions to each plugin just so that Tess can work on our songs from her home too.

And even just for me, LUNA sucks in one crucial way: it still lacks support for multi-channel virtual instruments. I can’t use my virtual drum kit plugin of choice in LUNA, because LUNA will only accept (at most) a stereo out from any virtual instrument.

So, I need something that comes with enough plugins to do everything in-the-box (for our band collaborations), and something that supports multi-channel virtual instruments well.

The obvious answer to that is Reaper. However …

Why Not Reaper?

Did you know that Reaper is the reason I got into Universal Audio’s hardware-based plugins in the first place?

It’s true. I got my first UAD audio interface all the way back in 2016, because my MacBook Pro at the time couldn’t cope with Reaper’s CPU usage. UAD’s hardware allowed me to offload some of that workload.

Today, in a post-Intel world, that’s probably no longer an important consideration. Modern MacBook Pros can run all the plugins we need without skipping a beat. And I’m sure Reaper’s had lots of optimisations too in the last 8 years.

The UI though … it’s just not friendly to older eyes. Too many UI elements and tiny fonts that don’t scale well on modern hi-res displays, and that we cannot easily increase the size of. Too many low-contrast UI elements too.

In theory, the way to fix all of this is for me to sit down and build my own Reaper theme. That takes time away from music. It’s not for me at this time.

Reaper’s a great tool at a great price, has fantastic cross-platform support, and its track record for shipping improvements and new features is the best that there is. But as I get older, I can no longer use the UI.

Logic Pro Because … It Sits In The Sweet Spot

Arguably Avid’s Pro Tools is still the industry standard. However, it’s prohibitively expensive for home hobbyists and amateur creators.

Ableton Live is first-and-foremost a DAW for virtual instruments and sound design. That’s definitely intriguing, just not where my interest is today. It’s as expensive as Pro Tools too. At least it seems to be a perpetual license, rather than a subscription.

Then there’s Cubase, the granddaddy of DAWs. Both of the more-featured versions – Cubase Artist and Cubase Pro – are more expensive than Pro Tools (but without the need for an annual subscription). It looks like Cubase Artist is missing useful mixing tools; without more research, I’m not confident that it would be a suitable edition for us.

I quickly want to mention Adobe Audition. I used to use this decades ago, when it was called Cool Edit Pro (anyone remember that?) I haven’t looked at the features it now offers, partly because it’s priced about the same as Pro Tools, and partly because Adobe seem to think it’s okay to grant themselves a free license to whatever their customers create. Adobe can jog on.

So yeah … Apple’s Logic Pro is kinda the last option standing, as it really does hit a sweet spot for anyone looking for a Reaper alternative:

  • Cheaper than the other options – and no annual subscription either.
  • Has great support for multi-channel virtual instruments.
  • Has a UI that works well on modern hi-res screens, even for us older folks.
  • Has sufficient stock plugins to work in-the-box with band collaborators.
  • Is an industry standard – if we ever wanted to send our work to professional mix or mastering engineers, they’d accept Logic projects.

The only major downside to Logic Pro (that I can see today) is that it’s not cross-platform in any way. If any of us ever wanted to (or had to) move back to using Microsoft Windows, we’d probably have to switch DAWs again.

Final Thoughts

Moving on from Studio One … it feels like a personal failure.

  • I didn’t do enough with the 30 day free trial to realise it wasn’t for me. But looking back, I could have worked that out from what little I did.
  • I kept the subscription after the price rises because those price rises only affected new subscribers. It felt like I was getting a good deal, when in fact I was just paying money for something I didn’t want to use.
  • There are plenty of professionals and creators who use Studio One. If I’d put the time in, it probably would have worked for me too. It was just too easy to go back to LUNA instead.

Anyway, it’s done. And hopefully I won’t find myself writing about needing another DAW in my next annual review blog post!

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