Finale, sibelius, logic pro, pro tools

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Member Since: Oct 10, 2007

So basically I'm making this topic to ask other composers for their experiences with this programs. Part of the reason is that I'm going to be getting a laptop soon. I have done plenty of research and in the end I have found that while you can get tons of varying stances on the mac vs PC battle, in the end it comes down to personal preference, and any strong pull to one side or the other is based on being biased (like going to best buy and being told "You should probably just get a mac. They're just better computers, you'll see when you buy one."

Anyways, this still leaves one issue, because logic pro is made by apple and only offered for macs (I hate apple with a passion basically). If I get a PC, I only have access to pro tools (unless I successfully run an OS emulator on a PC, which is unpredictable and a bad idea to rely on from what I understand). If I get a mac, I have access to both programs. From what I have been able to find out, logic is by far superior for audio editing, but as far as work with MIDI goes, logic has tons of options and logic basically has nothing. Anyone want to confirm or deny this? It's basically the only thing causing me to get a mac and I dont want to regret my decision if I can do the same with a PC.

The other issue is Finale and Sibelius and any other music scoring program. From my experience with Finale and using it the past 2 years.... it sucks. It is the most ridiculously counter-intuitively designed program I have ever come across. Doing the most simple things can become frustrating and more or less impossible with finale, and it blows my mind as to how it is possible to be so well known and be such an incompetent and buggy program. As with everything else Apple comes up with, I find it to be unnecessarily showy with no purpose whatsoever for the pretty interface. Honestly, I dont care what it looks like, I just want to be able to use it. Sibelius, from my experience with it for 2 days, allows the same things as finale, but actually makes sense and tends to not screw me over and I can use the program without asking a question to someone very familiar with the program every time I want to get something simple accomplished. What are your experiences with these programs?

Another issue I wanted to ask about is inputting music into these programs. Finale has the monumentally inefficient way of pointing and clicking (I can write out scores more quickly, why would I bother with a computer program that is slower?), and then there is rapid entry, which takes some getting used to, but ends up being much faster. I havent used Sibelius enough to know, but is there a program that lets me customize my own method? IE if I hold down a certain key while inputting a note, it sharps it, if I press another key it switches the note value to half note, etc etc. Finale as far as I know has no such feature (*shock*)


Just wanted to get opinions of other users. Thanks :)

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Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Oct 10, 2007 09:45 pm

Welcome to HRC.

Have you looked into Sonar 7 PE from Cakewalk. That is what I use and although Finale and Sibelius have a few more bells and whistle's for working in staff view I have found that sonar give me more then enough to complete and entire movie score. The audio editing is now equal too or greater then PT in stock form. You get much more in the plugin department as well with this application. And for a whole lot less money.

Don't be fooled by someone telling you PT is the only professional application out there, as I can attest from using Sonar strictly for years. I have no problem competing and putting out commercials, sound tracks for movie and game with it, and have for years.

If your interested and want to stay with your PC then have a look here. www.cakewalk.com

And by all means ask me anything you would like about Sonar and how it compares to the others.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Oct 14, 2007 07:27 pm

Thanks for the reply. I've been doing some reading on Sonar and it looks very promising. The reviews I've read make it look pretty good, and I'm glad I asked before diving headfirst into a mac.

To be honest though, I dont really have any idea what a lot of the terminology means yet, so I dont know how to compare it to logic. Thanks for pointing it out to me though.

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Oct 14, 2007 08:07 pm

Ya, the nice thing is they have a great deal of choices to start with if you don't want to get into the PE version from the get go. But if your looking at Logic then Sonar 7 PE is probably a good choice. It come with some pretty heavy software synths and some killer top end pluggins right in the bundle so there is no need to spend more money on other software to get top end stuff.

I'm a long time Cakewalk user so if you have any comparison questions feel free to ask. There are several of us here that use it.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Oct 19, 2007 06:30 pm

Sounds good. I'm still looking at synth stuff with a professor of mine to make sure I wont miss anything really important if I dont get logic, but it doesnt seem to be an issue.

Anyone able to point me in the right direction for where I should be looking as far as brands and system specs for PC laptops?

Thanks!

Member
Since: Aug 14, 2007


Oct 21, 2007 04:50 am

Hey.,
I'd like to ask anyone here what they would suggest I get.
I am working off a pc, no mac...but my brother knows how to use logic and thinks it's great, he was using the old version of logic that still works on pc.

Really I am looking for software that is good but has the ability of adding virtual instruments through a midi keyboard. What products are there for pc that does this.

Again no need to ask I'm a complete noob to this at the moment.

Administrator
Since: Apr 03, 2002


Oct 21, 2007 06:14 am

Just about any modern multitracking app will do what you ask. I, like Noize, use Sonar, I have used a lot of virtual instruments and Cakewalk has, in my opinion, one of the best and easiest softsynth/midi implementations of any current multitracker.

Member
Since: Jan 24, 2006


Oct 21, 2007 11:46 am

All of the medium priced to high priced PC software does MIDI but much less of the cheaper stuff. Sonar, Acid, ProTools LE, Cubase etc. etc. all do MIDI

I think Reaper and nTrack are the only cheaper solutions that do it.

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Oct 21, 2007 11:57 am

Yep, you want to look for something that support's VSTi and DXi. Which are the software synths you wish to use.

As dB stated Sonar, or any of the Cakewalk line put a lot of effort into the midi creation process. They have now created a very customizable midi section for editing and working in midi. And I also agree they have one of the easiest midi sections to use of any of the applications out there.

And are VSTi even supported directly by PT LE? I thought they were still using an wrapper last I read.

Member
Since: Aug 14, 2007


Oct 21, 2007 01:31 pm

Hey,
I think I'm going to go for Sonar as alot of people have recommended it to me.

I want to say thanks for all the help this forum has given me in steering me in the right direction.
I really appreciate and would have been lost without it. As soon as I get my studio setup I will make a concious effort to try help and give something back as you really have saved me hours of searching.

Thanks

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Oct 21, 2007 07:11 pm

No problem, its what HRC is all about. And indeed, keep coming to visit.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Oct 23, 2007 02:07 am

Apple just slashed the price of Logic down to 500$ o_O

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Oct 23, 2007 04:19 pm

Still not cheap enough for an application that takes the better part of year just to learn the basics of. I have worked in Logic for years and still find it the most cumbersome piece of software to use ever.

Member
Since: Jan 24, 2006


Oct 23, 2007 04:21 pm

Noize, I suspect you are rather biased. Sonar probably would take a year to learn from someone who came from Logic. I've used Acid for years and can't make head nor tail out of anything else.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Oct 23, 2007 06:19 pm

Well to an extend I'd agree with him, in that things that apple make tend to make no sense. Sure, on one hand you could say that it's because I'm used to using PCs, but really I just find the menu organization of logic to be more or less retarded. I learned how to use logic in a class I took in spring of 06. I didnt use it for a while, and when I wanted to use it for composing something last march, I basically had to get the lab assistant to show me everything all over again. Even simple things like how to change the tempo I spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out to no avail. Then starting in september I'm taking a class that focuses on logic again... and I'm learning everything like it's the first time yet again. Another really annoying thing is that even the lab assistant who knows logic really well, when I have a problem, his most common answer (and it works which is the irritating thing) is "If you cant get something to work and you dont know why, try quitting the program and opening it again. If that doesnt work, restart the computer and then try again.

That is why I hate Apple.

Ok, but enough ranting. My issue now is that logic is now cheaper than Sonar, making me a bit more reluctant to just step around it without doing enough research, but the problem is that I dont really have resources to answer questions for me. Here is really my only concern. I want to do work mostly with MIDI. Audio can be taken care of with protools, so my concern is really just instrumentation, and I have no idea (nor do I have any idea how to find out about) what I'm up against when it comes to comparing Sonar and Logic. Sure, in the end everyone says "it's a matter of preference" but that's really not all it is.

Someone found me this website which I found really helpful

www.tweakheadz.com/compar..._logic_vst.html

But once again it just seems to say "program X is slightly better off here and there, but in the end it's a matter of preference" The logic being cut down to a price below Sonar just really threw me off.

So let me ask this. Does anyone know of a way that I could get access to some sort of version of Sonar just to get a feel for how it works to see if I find it easy to use or just as counter intuitive as logic?

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Oct 23, 2007 07:11 pm

Here is a quick look at Sonar 7 with Brandon Ryan. He gets into the midi of Sonar pretty heavy in this video and shows what it can do. www.sonicstate.com/news/shownews.cfm?newsid=5424

My use of Sonar is based heavily around midi and editing midi. And by far Sonar has more tools and adaptability then any of the others. And that isn't biased, it is a fact. Have a look at the midi tools in other apps and you will find that sadly they lack so much. I think you will find the audio recording in Sonar as well may get you going that direction as well.

Anyway, here is one of the Sonar pages with a good deal of details and more videos. www.cakewalk.com/crossgrade/

You do realize you can get a competitive cross grade price on Sonar 7 PE of like $349.00 don't you? I would look at their website and see about that.

AS soon as I here about the trial version I will let you know though. I know several people have been asking about it.

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Oct 23, 2007 07:40 pm

Oh my lord! I just read into that article. It is referring to Freakin Sonar 4. That was more then 5 years ago. Not even close to what it is now. He needs to update that thing if he is going to leave it up.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Oct 23, 2007 08:46 pm

He has updated it. There are yearly entries for new versions with updates on which programs have improved on what.

Thanks for alerting me to the crossgrade price, I wasnt aware at all. I'll check out that article.

Member
Since: Jan 24, 2006


Oct 23, 2007 11:37 pm

To be clear Noize, I am not saying there is anything wrong with Sonar at all, just that I don't think it's as easy to use as you think it is, especially if you have no experience or experience with a different product.

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Oct 24, 2007 08:13 pm

I know what your getting at tony. I'm just stating as opposed to Logic, and only Logic. I actually found Cubase easier to navigate in the early days, just lacked in the functions I truly needed.

But Logic to be blunt, is far from logical in its layout and still is. I can honestly say that as I was just using it a week ago.

But yes, Sonar can be a very deep animal. Having said that, they have refined it to the point that every aspect of it from tool tips to menu layouts can be customized to suit any users demands. That is what is now setting them far and above any of the others at the moment.

If you want it to behave and be like Cubase. Its as simple as a few clicks and drags and you there. Want it to look like PT, same with that. They eve offer a few templates for setting it up to mimic other DAWS.


Mans reach exceeds his grasp
Member
Since: Oct 23, 2007


Oct 25, 2007 01:09 am

I've used all kinds of DAWs, from Kristal to Acid, to Nuendo, Pro Tools HD, and many more with the studios I've helped and/or worked in, as well as my home studio, but up until 4 days ago, I'd never used Sonar before.

I gotta tell ya, it's the most practical, complete DAW you can get; not only for the price range, but for any level of user. I'll have to admit, I've had a couple 'head scratching' moments, but as long as you truly invest your attention to learning, I see no reason for a newbie with a little knowledge and time couldn't learn how to use it. I vote Sonar on my ballot, followed by Nuendo/ Cubase.

BTW, I have to agree with Noize, Logic is a pain in butt. I'd like to meet that software team, lol; I'd be willing to bet they're NASA rocket scientists moonlighting as software engineers.

The Eternal Student
Member
Since: Oct 08, 2005


Oct 25, 2007 12:53 pm

Quote:
be willing to bet they're NASA rocket scientists moonlighting as software engineers.


... and rocket scientists are the WORST kind of engineers for usability... fyi. I mean, the best way they can fly to space is strap on three gigantic tanks/boosters to a relatively smaller vehicle you actually want to get up there...

if we could only make ram/scram hybrids work...

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Nov 04, 2007 04:11 pm

Any recommendations as to where to start looking for a laptop? Brand, specs, etc....

So far I'm told I want as much ram as possible.... any other advice?

The Eternal Student
Member
Since: Oct 08, 2005


Nov 04, 2007 08:59 pm

for the reason of staying with the times, at a minimum get a dual core with 2gb ram and avoid hard drives that are under 5400rpm, as you'll find them quite sluggish. 7200 rpm is good for a laptop drive, but are only found in the more expensive laptops.

Get a high resolution screen as well, you won't regret it. Mine is 1920x1200, and it's awesome. I have a dell inspiron 9300 and have no complaints except for the extra crap they load on it when you buy it.

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Nov 04, 2007 09:03 pm

Well, several peeps here have looked into them and HP seems to be coming up as the best value most times. At work we have started using more HP for the reliability and such. They usually come without much bloat ware installed and what is there is easily removed to streamline the system.

Answer:On a good day, lipstick.
Member
Since: Jun 24, 2004


Nov 05, 2007 02:47 pm

The ONLY thing I'll disagree with Noize on is the 'bloatware' on HP. I bought a laptop for work (nice 17" screen..Heavy, though), and it takes an age to boot/shut down due to garbage loaded on it (perhaps it's just Vista...).

Keith Warren: Nuendo is wonderful (good scoring too), but not even close to the price point on Sonar. Can't really compare them.

I've been around/using Cubase products since the early days of the Atari SE 1040 SE, so I'm used to the GUI and stuff. I find it incredibly easy to use.
That said, I'm heavily leaning towards trying Sonar.

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Nov 05, 2007 06:58 pm

Ya, that may be a Vista thing. I know when I get a laptop in from HP it is pretty clean. Not saying that I don't have to clean up some crap as I do. Just not as much as on a Dell. And don't even mention Sony, they are so loaded it is incredible. But again, you can't get a Sony now with XP, only Vista.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Nov 12, 2007 09:27 pm

Anyone able to tell me about sound cards?

Basically I'm buying a dell laptop and I can either take the sound card that comes with the laptop, or I can go with more expensive options that can come with the laptop, or I can just take the included in price one and then invest in a separate sound card.

For the record, Dell offers

ExpressCard Sound Blaster X-FiŽ Xtreme Audio Sound Card

for 75$ if that means anything

Mans reach exceeds his grasp
Member
Since: Oct 23, 2007


Nov 12, 2007 10:19 pm

Take the one that comes with it and put that 75$ towards an audio interface, like a Line 6 UX-2. A laptop soundcard isn't going to do a thing for ya.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Nov 13, 2007 01:00 pm

doesnt the sound card affect input and output? How will it not do a thing?

Mans reach exceeds his grasp
Member
Since: Oct 23, 2007


Nov 13, 2007 05:01 pm

You can record with it, but the quality won't be any good. When you use an audio interface, it bypasses the soundcard all together.

The Eternal Student
Member
Since: Oct 08, 2005


Nov 13, 2007 06:12 pm

If you want to record with the laptop, you're much better off spending your money on an external audio interface that is designed to record instead of just play back in 7.1.

You will have to modify (i.e. disable) many of your programs and whatnot to record with acceptable latency if it's even possible to reach a low latency (Keith can attest to this fact) with onboard sound.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Nov 13, 2007 06:21 pm

So if I'm not concerned at all about recording on my laptop for at least the next year and a half, is getting the more expensive sound card going to be worth looking into? From what I've read (wikipedia mostly) a high quality sound card is important for synth work...

The Eternal Student
Member
Since: Oct 08, 2005


Nov 13, 2007 06:56 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but won't using synths will be mostly taxing on your CPU anyways? www.homerecordingconnecti...ory&id=1218

The reason people warn away from using soundblasters is that they are truly not "high quality" in the context of recording and are merely cards designed for gaming. When you get a recording interface, the soundblaster will be bypassed, as Keith mentioned.

Your playback might be slightly better with the soundblaster over the factory sound.

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Nov 13, 2007 08:50 pm

Ravich, While the SoundBlaster in its day was acceptable before the heavy use of software synths it is not a very usable card these days. Especially the card they are trying to sell you. It is nothing more then a standard AC97 chipset with a fancy driver which doesn't do much for the latency buffer which is what makes playing the software synths possible in real time. That card is fine for playback, but not for playing in real time.

I am a heavy software synth user and believe me, The card they are trying to sell you is not going to work well at all for that kind of thing. You are better off saving that extra $75 and putting it toward something as stated above like the Line 6 Toneport UX-2 or UX-1. They hare built for that type of thing.

Mans reach exceeds his grasp
Member
Since: Oct 23, 2007


Nov 13, 2007 09:08 pm

Yup, Noize is right; Ravich, the best thing you can do is get a Toneport UX-2. It's relatively cheap and it's all you'll need for at least a few years, if not more.

As far latency, don't get me started; if you plan on using alot of synths, you NEED and external interface. Stock laptop sound cards and even SoundBlaster cards aren't worth the solder that holds them together. I got really lucky with mine, but pulled my settings back in fear I'd fry something.

Do yourself a favor and get an external interface- you wont be sorry you did.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Nov 13, 2007 09:45 pm

k, thanks for the advice. Just for the record I need to knock the price up to 1400 anyway to get a coupon to be applicable, so the 75 dollars will just go toward something else that Dell has available. But I'll take your word on it if it really isnt practical.

Mans reach exceeds his grasp
Member
Since: Oct 23, 2007


Nov 13, 2007 10:26 pm

Yeah, I think you'll be much better off with an interface. Let us know the outcome and feel free to ask if you have anymore questions. That's what we're here for :)

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Nov 13, 2007 10:40 pm

K, one more then :)

Since I wont be likely to carry an interface with me absolutely everywhere I want to do and do stuff, will the built in card be able to handle most of what I do (not recording)?

I guess I'm just not sure to begin with what exactly sound cards do and the wikipedia article on them isnt enlightening me.

Mans reach exceeds his grasp
Member
Since: Oct 23, 2007


Nov 13, 2007 10:53 pm

Depends on what you're going to be doing; I'm still a little unclear as to what you're trying to accomplish. What do you need the laptop card to do exactly? Listen to music? Listen to music you're creating via headphones? I need a little direction to be able to give you a definitive answer.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Nov 14, 2007 04:10 pm

Yes, listen to music I'm creating via headphones

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Nov 14, 2007 05:02 pm

and..... any recommendations as to whether more space or higher RPM is more important on a hard drive? Basically choosing between 250GB 5400RPM, and 160GB 7200RPM

Mans reach exceeds his grasp
Member
Since: Oct 23, 2007


Nov 14, 2007 06:31 pm

go for the 7200. 160GB sould be plenty of space for everything. And as far as listening to music, yeah, you'll be just fine.

Member
Since: Oct 10, 2007


Dec 09, 2007 03:34 pm

Kind of a serious issue I'm having. My laptop arrived friday, which was good and all. I started taking care of bloatware and installing my own anti-spyware and anti-virus stuff.

Then I discovered upon trying to watch a movie that when using headphones, they emit this really awful high pitched frequency with crackling. Upon research I found out that the majority of 1520s have this problem. How I managed to not stumble upon this with all my review reading is beyond me, but oh well.

The thing is that not only is it a problem with the build of the computer, but Dell is basically denying for the most part that the problem exists. A former Dell employee has released info (including a powerpoint) on Dells take on the matter, and Dell is basically knowingly sending out laptops that have this problem.

When people call to address the issue they will say

1) This is normal for all laptops (lol)
2) Hang on we'll come and change your motherboard (doesnt solve the issue and Dell knows it)
3) Hang on we'll send you a replacement (chances are it will have the same problem anyway)

So as of right now there are 2-- well, 3 possible solutions that people are using.

1) Return the laptop for a refund. As tempting and possible necessary as this is, I dont know whether I could even get cash or whether it would be Dell credit, but either way getting a laptop of level quality of the one I have would be significantly more expensive because coupons arent available anymore.

2) Use USB/bluetooth headphones. This supposedly will deal with the issue. However I dont really want to have to rely on using certain headphones to be able to hear reasonably on a laptop on which I am doing audio work on. I would like anyone to be able to use their headphones.

3) Calling Dell and letting them know that you're not stupid and you know that they know that it is a faulty build in the inspiron line and they know it. They will send me an express sound card for free. Apparently this solves the issue, however it leaves one important question. I dont know much about digital audio workstations, but I know that I will end up investing in one, and I have no idea whether the alternate sound card will fix this issue when using a DAW. Like, basically I have really no idea how DAWs connect and whether they would bypass the soundcard and give me the same problem.

Anyone able to help me out? Cant believe I didnt know about this.

Czar of Midi
Administrator
Since: Apr 04, 2002


Dec 09, 2007 05:43 pm

Wow, that is kind of a bad issue there. Sounds like a few other companies I know of that just bury their head in the sand and hope for the best.

Installing an alternate sound card if it will solve the issue sounds like the best option as long as they are doing it for free. And no, it should not hinder your use of any DAW out there. The DAW uses the audio interface or sound card you tell it to use. So no matter what it will use an external card, internal card or whatever as long as you assign it in the options of the DAW.

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