Old 12-27-2017, 11:21 PM   #1
lolilol1975
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Default The big DAW comparison table

Someone has actually compared the major DAWs feature for feature.

It looks pretty good, and Reaper comes on top by a comfortable margin. I'm just surprised that Reaper has a 9 on update frequency while Cubase has a 10. Reaper has a new update every 3 weeks. Is Cubase updated as frequently ? I thought it was every 6 months only.
Also a few of major categories are missing: notation editor, and compatibility with the different types of plugins (VST, VST2, VST3, AAX, etc).

Apart from that, don't forget that you can change the weight for each section according to what matters to you. For instance, I put 0% to "Authorization prefer dongle" and 40% to "Authorization dislike dongle" (because who loves dongles, really ?).

So not perfect, but the closest thing to a fairly objective comparison of DAWs i've found on the web.
https://www.admiralbumblebee.com/DAW-Chart.html

My big surprises: Reaper trumps the competition on automation (not so surprising) and in general workflow, and it's almost as good as Cubase in MIDI editing.
Where it doesn't shine is included content (not surprising to anyone) and learning curve (it gets a harsh 0 in that department) and its defaults (it gets a 1).
Ableton Live is the big loser in that comparison table. Surprisingly, it is rated very low in all the major departments, aka mixing, audio, MIDI, automation and especially recording departments.

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Old 12-28-2017, 12:26 AM   #2
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When I read (the FAQ) that: "I primarily use Motu Digital Performer and Cockos Reaper", I had a feeling REAPER would not suck in the "test".

I think it was a little bit too, let's say, transparent.
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Old 12-28-2017, 02:09 AM   #3
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The article author is Robert Randolph (https://forum.cockos.com/member.php?u=115271)
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Old 12-28-2017, 03:18 PM   #4
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I must say I was very impressed with the setup! I only had an issue with a few points.


First-Party Learning:
I do not get why this is so low, I think the PDF manual by Geoffrey Francis is great, as are the videos on this site. I remember when we just had this forum and the wiki. I think a distinction should be made between native features and scrips, theme creation and so on.

Developer Support:
I do not know what the experience the writer has had with the developers. I doubt that the support you get from most companies is from the actual developer.
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Old 12-28-2017, 04:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zappsunzorn View Post
I must say I was very impressed with the setup! I only had an issue with a few points.


First-Party Learning:
I do not get why this is so low, I think the PDF manual by Geoffrey Francis is great, as are the videos on this site. I remember when we just had this forum and the wiki. I think a distinction should be made between native features and scrips, theme creation and so on.

Developer Support:
I do not know what the experience the writer has had with the developers. I doubt that the support you get from most companies is from the actual developer.
First-Party Learning:

I'm not a fan of the user guide. It lags behind official releases a good bit, has numerous errors and it's difficult to format.

I've reached out to the author to provide corrections, but I received no response.

Developer Support:

This isn't a jab at Cockos, but they simply do not have a dedicated support team like other products. There's a great emphasis on third-party resources for Reaper, which is totally awesome.

If I e-mail presonus with some beginner question, they will help, and to somewhat of an absurd degree depending on the support person you get. If you e-mail Cockos, the level of support that you receive is much lower. AFAIK, you can't call Cockos and receive phone support at any level. Many other companies do offer that.

My interactions with Cockos have been great, but compared to the services that other companies offer directly, Cockos simply doesn't compare in this category.

Once again I don't think this is an issue, but it is the way things are. I would even prefer it this way personally!

The other side of the coin here is that Reaper easily has the best third-party resources of any product that I'm aware of.

Also: I realized that I should maybe rename this category to avoid confusion. It should be called 'Customer Support', not 'Developer Support'.

edit: I fixed a few of these things. Hopefully that's more clear. Please let me know if you have any further suggestions or criticisms!
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Old 12-28-2017, 04:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lolilol1975 View Post
It looks pretty good, and Reaper comes on top by a comfortable margin. I'm just surprised that Reaper has a 9 on update frequency while Cubase has a 10. Reaper has a new update every 3 weeks. Is Cubase updated as frequently ? I thought it was every 6 months only.
You are correct that Reaper comes out with updates more frequently, however Steinberg releases consistently and have been addressing user requests directly.

Reaper's updates are awesome, but there's some very common longstanding requests that have been untended for a while.

I should rename this category to be more clear. The description says "How frequently the software is updated, the thoroughness of changelogs _and_ if the updates address common user requests." The title does not fully imply that.

edit: Category renamed to be less confusing.

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Originally Posted by lolilol1975 View Post
Also a few of major categories are missing: notation editor, and compatibility with the different types of plugins (VST, VST2, VST3, AAX, etc).
Notation is coming eventually. I'm currently researching that. I use a separate notation software, and as such I'm not as familiar with integrated DAW notation as I need to be.

I recently discussed this in the comments with another user.

Plugin format compatibility is an excellent suggestion. I will consider this! Thank you!

edit: Plugin format update scheduled for December 30th.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lolilol1975 View Post
My big surprises: Reaper trumps the competition on automation (not so surprising) and in general workflow, and it's almost as good as Cubase in MIDI editing.
Where it doesn't shine is included content (not surprising to anyone) and learning curve (it gets a harsh 0 in that department) and its defaults (it gets a 1).
Ableton Live is the big loser in that comparison table. Surprisingly, it is rated very low in all the major departments, aka mixing, audio, MIDI, automation and especially recording departments.
I'd like to address the fact that Live has a low score. I discuss this in the FAQ, but I'd like to make it explicit for the purposes of this thread.

This is a feature chart. It's not a usability chart. It's not a workflow chart. It's not anything except a focus on pure functionality.

Ableton Live has a great focus on workflow and ease of use that targets the large majority of needs that most musicians have. As such it will naturally lag behind on pure functionality, since that tends to obfuscate and complicate the UX and often the UI.

So I'd like to make sure that folks know that the score isn't my commentary on Live as software. I toured with it for a few years (drumming and handling sfx/lighting live). I think Live is fantastic for what the design intention is.

Thank you for posting this BTW! I'm glad some folks find this useful
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Old 12-28-2017, 07:23 PM   #7
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Thank you for the clarification and for the work.
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Old 12-28-2017, 10:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Randolph View Post
... you can't call Cockos and receive phone support at any level. Many other companies do offer that ...
Regarding the seemingly constant increase in Reaper user count, it might be a chance to start a business on that: either offer such support payed on a per-instance base, or re-sell Reaper for a price that matches that of other products with similar features and offer free support for the customers.

-Michael
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Old 12-28-2017, 10:47 PM   #9
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I did a feature by feature comparison of the things I care about in a DAW, and Reaper also won handily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lolilol1975 View Post
Someone has actually compared the major DAWs feature for feature.

It looks pretty good, and Reaper comes on top by a comfortable margin. I'm just surprised that Reaper has a 9 on update frequency while Cubase has a 10. Reaper has a new update every 3 weeks. Is Cubase updated as frequently ? I thought it was every 6 months only.
Also a few of major categories are missing: notation editor, and compatibility with the different types of plugins (VST, VST2, VST3, AAX, etc).

Apart from that, don't forget that you can change the weight for each section according to what matters to you. For instance, I put 0% to "Authorization prefer dongle" and 40% to "Authorization dislike dongle" (because who loves dongles, really ?).

So not perfect, but the closest thing to a fairly objective comparison of DAWs i've found on the web.
https://www.admiralbumblebee.com/DAW-Chart.html

My big surprises: Reaper trumps the competition on automation (not so surprising) and in general workflow, and it's almost as good as Cubase in MIDI editing.
Where it doesn't shine is included content (not surprising to anyone) and learning curve (it gets a harsh 0 in that department) and its defaults (it gets a 1).
Ableton Live is the big loser in that comparison table. Surprisingly, it is rated very low in all the major departments, aka mixing, audio, MIDI, automation and especially recording departments.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Randolph View Post
First-Party Learning:

I'm not a fan of the user guide. It lags behind official releases a good bit, has numerous errors and it's difficult to format.

I've reached out to the author to provide corrections, but I received no response.
I think a bigger problem with the manual is the fact that majority of images are still from v3 times. That's absolutely not cool.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by EvilDragon View Post
I think a bigger problem with the manual is the fact that majority of images are still from v3 times. That's absolutely not cool.
That somehow reminds me of another issue I have with the user guide: it's a user guide. It lacks a lot of technical details in lieu of demonstrations. I much prefer a reference manual than a user guide.

I'm not claiming that's a fault of the User Guide. Reference manuals are best put together by first parties. I simply find reference manuals far more useful.

But again that's part of the price we pay for Reaper, literally. I'm sure if the price jumped 10x, then maybe Justin could hire a technical writer, some support guys, a few extra artists, some content producers etc...

I don't think many Reaper users want that, certainly not me
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:32 AM   #12
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Also, with the myriad of options Reaper has and the way they are sometimes interconnected, plus having a million ways of doing the same thing differently, that reference manual would probably have a 5-digit number of pages
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:00 AM   #13
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And it still wouldn't cover everything.

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Also, with the myriad of options Reaper has and the way they are sometimes interconnected, plus having a million ways of doing the same thing differently, that reference manual would probably have a 5-digit number of pages
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:21 AM   #14
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i like reaper's manual, everything is briefly and clearly. i'm surprised, that it has rating "2", while Logic has "9". I tried to read Logic's manual once, it was boring, a ton of unneeded words for simple thing, that can be described in a single sentence.
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:27 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by mschnell View Post
... it might be a chance to start a business on that: either offer such support payed on a per-instance base, or re-sell Reaper for a price that matches that of other products with similar features and offer free support for the customers.

-Michael
After 11 years in tech support, my response to this is "you first."
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:28 AM   #16
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That's a difference between a "user guide" and "reference manual", that Robert is pointing out. First one is usually for casual users, second one is for more technically minded.
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Old 12-29-2017, 11:46 AM   #17
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Here´s my take on a (hopefully not too biased) DAW comparison table.
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:01 PM   #18
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i like reaper's manual, everything is briefly and clearly. i'm surprised, that it has rating "2", while Logic has "9". I tried to read Logic's manual once, it was boring, a ton of unneeded words for simple thing, that can be described in a single sentence.
I understand that there's preferences here.

Logic's manual has a 9 partially because of Logic's built-in help system. You can mouse-over nearly anything in the program and hit cmd-/ to pull up the appropriate manual page.

The manual is detailed, well-written and is always up to date. Nearly every feature is covered, and Apple has a number of non-manual user guides to supplement the manual as well.

I certainly understand if you don't like Logic. I completely understand (if you see my series I'm doing). Regardless of that, their technical references and help integration are fantastic.

edit: I also considered that simply googling for "How to X in Logic Pro X" comes up with an official apple document probably 75% of the time.

I forgot I considered that until I checked my notes.
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:35 PM   #19
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interesting comparisons but already out of date... i.e., 5.70 with automation items and more.....

also I'd have to say, which DAW has the best support forum?

you know my answer
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
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After 11 years in tech support, my response to this is "you first."
Maybe this is a main reason for the price of some other DAW products...
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:13 PM   #21
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Quote:
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interesting comparisons but already out of date... i.e., 5.70 with automation items and more.....
What's out of date?

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also I'd have to say, which DAW has the best support forum?

you know my answer
Reaper has a 10 in Community Support, so I clearly agree as well.
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Old 12-29-2017, 03:15 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mschnell View Post
Regarding the seemingly constant increase in Reaper user count, it might be a chance to start a business on that: either offer such support payed on a per-instance base, or re-sell Reaper for a price that matches that of other products with similar features and offer free support for the customers.

-Michael
Jon Tidey already offers 1 on 1 support: https://reaperblog.net/learn/reaper-lessons/

I suspect it's not particularly lucrative, but only he can comment on that.
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