protools-leSean over at KeyofGrey.com posted a great article recently called “Why I Use Logic Studio.” The following post is in response to that article, so take a minute to read his article first. (Go ahead…it’s okay.)

What I liked about Sean’s article is that he gave his honest opinions about why he uses Logic. He also makes it very clear that he doesn’t use Logic exclusively. There are some tasks that he prefers to do in Pro Tools.

Having used both programs extensively myself, I feel that Sean paints a very realistic picture.

As you know (and as several readers have pointed out), I’m a pretty big fan of Pro Tools. All the tutorial videos I’ve done so far have been in Pro Tools.

So am I anti-Logic? Not at all! In fact, Logic was my primary DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for a couple years. I got to know it very well. I even won a songwriting contest with one of the songs I recorded in Logic.

So why the switch?

My reasoning for switching back to Pro Tools is very similar to Sean’s reasoning for choosing Logic. It was the program that I “cut my teeth” on. Everything I know about digital audio workstations, I learned in Pro Tools. I’ve taken courses, read books, and spent countless hours in front of Pro Tools, both in big studios and in my home studio.

Pro Tools was the first full-featured recording platform I ever learned. Had I learned Logic first, then I’m sure I’d be singing its praises today instead.

My Logic Sabbatical

As I mentioned earlier, I switched completely over to Logic for a couple of years. I did this for a few reasons.

  • I had outgrown my Mbox. I needed more inputs, and I didn’t want to spring for a 002.
  • I had become very familiar with all the non-Digidesign audio interface manufacturers. I was particularly impressed with PreSonus at the time, so I bought a Firepod.
  • I knew Logic was powerful, and I knew the basics of how it worked, but I wanted a more in-depth understanding, so I opted to learn it by using it exclusively in my home studio.

Switching DAWs is a painful process. While they all do the same basic functions, they each do them completely differently from each other. I had to re-learn keyboard commands and drop-down menus and workflow…everything.

I would be lying if I claimed that the process was without frustration, because my patience was tried many a night, as I struggled to do simple tasks like cross-fades and MIDI quantization.

After a few months, however, I was rolling. I wouldn’t say I was a power use, but I could run a recording session with confidence and produce a passable mix at the end of a project.

I remember the turning point for me, the moment that started me back on the path to Pro Tools. A friend and I were tracking drums at his home studio. He was playing drums, and I was running the session, which happened to be in Pro Tools.

Everything came naturally. I had always felt a little bit clumsy in Logic, like I didn’t quite have complete control of the session. Not to overly romanticize things, but sitting in front of a Pro Tools rig again felt like coming home for Thanksgiving after being gone since Christmas.

The Prodigal Son Returns

I knew I had to get back into Pro Tools. But why? Aside from the fact that I learned Pro Tools first, why couldn’t I just stick with Logic? Well, there are a few features I missed. I’ve listed them below. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are some of the big reasons that mattered to me.

Simplicity – A Blank Slate

When someone completely new to recording asks me what software to get, we obviously discuss Pro Tools, and simplicity is a word that I often use. Don’t get me wrong, Pro Tools is complex (as are all DAWs), but to me it has the most simplistic layout.

There are two windows – the Mix Window and the Edit Window. (Version 8 introduced a MIDI edit window, to be fair.) Logic, much like Cubase, Sonar, Digital Performer, etc., has a lot of windows to navigate through, and there are a lot of buttons in each of those windows.

It’s not a difficult thing to learn, but being away from the two-window layout of Pro Tools, I felt like my workflow suffered a bit.

The other simplistic aspect is the fact that when you open up a new session, it’s completely blank. You create exactly how many tracks you need, nothing more. There’s no need for 32 audio tracks, 12 Instrument Tracks, and 6 Aux Busses, etc. when you’re first starting out!

Industry Standard

Sean explained this well in his article. Whether naysayers admit it or not, Pro Tools is in virtually every studio. If you plan to work in a studio, collaborate with another engineer, or even send your songs off to be mixed, chances are you’ll need Pro Tools to pull this off with minimal headache.

Just because everybody uses something, does that make it the best? No, it doesn’t, but you have to come to terms with the extreme popularity of Pro Tools. It’s everywhere.

It’s like VHS vs. Beta. Beta was undeniably better, but VHS still won out. If you were in the business of creating videos, it would have been foolish to only make Beta tapes when everyone was using (and buying) VHS. Sure, you could still make some Beta tapes, but you would need to make VHS as well if you wanted to be successful.

In the same way, while Sean prefers Logic, he owns and uses (and is familiar with) Pro Tools as well. Good call.

Audio Editing

This is probably one of the biggest reasons I came back to Pro Tools. The audio editing is second to none. If I want to chop up a region and quickly fix timing issues, I can do it much faster in Pro Tools. Logic can do the exact same functions, but it requires you to use several different modifier keys and edit modes to do different types of edits.

For example, in Pro Tools if I want to simply select a portion of a region and move it, or delete it, I can highlight it with the mouse and press “Delete.” Done. With Logic, I have to select the Marquis tool to highlight the region. Then I have to select the Eraser tool to delete the region. Or I have to use the Scissor tool to make two cuts in the region, then select the newly formed section and press “Delete.”

Again, these aren’t difficult things to master, but Pro Tools takes the blue ribbon for me when it comes to audio editing.

Engineer vs. Musician

One underlying difference between Pro Tools and Logic is that Pro Tools seems to be designed more for recording engineers, whereas Logic is designed more for musicians. Generally speaking, if you want to do something in Pro Tools, you have to do it yourself.

For example, when setting up a reverb, you have to create an Aux track, open a reverb plugin, and create a send on the track you want to send to the reverb. In Logic, the send is already there on the track. When you direct a send to a particular bus, Logic automatically creates an Aux track for you. This is great, and quite handy, but I’d rather be in control of every step of the process.

That’s the engineer in me speaking. Now, I’m certainly a musician, too. But my inner engineer is more relaxed when I’m in complete control, and as a result the musician in me is more relaxed and performs better. (For more on this, read The Many Hats of a Home Studio Owner.)

All-or-Nothing Architecture

Logic is a smart program. If you have a virtual instrument that only plays on the chorus, then Logic will only allocate CPU resources to that instrument when it’s playing. Once it stops playing, that CPU power becomes available for something else.

Pro Tools, on the other hand, takes a more “all or nothing” approach. When a virtual instrument is on, it’s always on. (And it’s always using CPU power.)

At first, I thought this feature in Logic was awesome! But then it began to choke my computer. I’d put together these huge compositions, and while everything would play back perfectly at the beginning of the song, as soon as the extra guitars and orchestra came in, the CPU would overload, and playback would stop.

This isn’t to say Pro Tools doesn’t do the same thing sometimes, but it seems more consistent to me. I would know I was overloading the system as soon as I add that seventh violin track, as opposed to finding out twenty minutes later in Logic when I try to play back all the tracks at once.

The big difference here is that Pro Tools stops playback before audio quality is degraded. It doesn’t drop any samples. Logic, on the other hand, will slowly begin to introduce pops and clicks in the audio as the system works harder and harder to keep playback going. Yes, you may be able to have more tracks and effects, but you may also be degrading your sound quality a bit.

Conclusion

As I wrote earlier, all these DAWs do the same thing. You can get great results from Logic or Pro Tools or any other program, but these are some of the reasons why I use Pro Tools.

My advice, surprisingly, is not “Go out and buy Pro Tools today!” If you have recording software, learn it. You will accomplish so much more by knowing your system inside and out than you would by changing platforms every few years.

  • Bryson Chavous

    So like, I know Logic Pro a little, but I’ve never owned it. We have a recording studio in the library and i pretty much know the basics rather than any complex maneuver such as send or buses. What would your advice on me buying Pro Tools and switching in order to abide by the industry standard?

    • I don’t use Pro Tools anymore, and I don’t think the “industry standard” is really a thing. Meaning it doesn’t really matter what system you use. 🙂 Make music.

  • Michael Bach

    The engineer vs. musician is the probably best explanation what kind of user groups the tools target. In my opinion, as a recording musician Pro Tools is awful. It takes way less time (& clicks) to record a couple fo gutiar tracks in Logic or Cubase – heck, even in Reaper. When in comes to mixing, Pro Tools is way more convenient. Things like routing or audio editing seem to be more streamlined if you need more control.

    • Good thoughts. It probably depends on the musician too. Some musicians are super technical and nerdy and may like the more sterile “blank slate” feel of Pro Tools?

  • User

    Any software with iLok are for me absolute NoGo…

    • Then why are you reading a blog post about Pro Tools? 🙂

  • LarrySimple

    Pro Tools is the best there’s nothing else to say But fxck all other programs

  • On the VHS vs BETA front. VHS only won due to the fact Porn was on it and BETA thought it would take the “moral high ground” Guess a DAW needs to have boobs in it to be the next industry standard lol

  • Lamont

    I’ve been under the impression that you’ve moved to Studio One. Is this true?

    • Yep. Been using it a lot the last year or so.

  • Protools all the way. of course the only other DAW i’ve used is Audacity 😛 A composer friend of mine recently said he uses logic for writing and protools for multitrack recording… i might do the same if i had logic, but for now i use the mic/camera on my iPad for writing and protools for everything else.

  • Sigiriuk

    In a nutshell, if i want to compose i use Logic. More recently, I have used PT less and less, because it makes me think like an engineer!

    • Yep. Some people just find they’re more creative with one piece of software over another.

  • Konstantin

    Great article, Joe!
    It’s very hot topic
    It’s very funny to watch a battle on forums or social nets “Which DAW is the Best?”.
    In Russia beginners often ask such questions like “where I can get the latest version of Cubase?” “what are the differences between Cuase 5 and 6?” or “Will Logiс make my music sound better like radio-hit?” and I also say them that it is a wrong way 🙂
    I believe that they don’t use even 50% of potential and functions of their DAW, but all of the has a string faith that Logic or Cubase 6 sound better.
    I don’t know what to do, to laugh or to cry 🙂

    I’m using Cubase 5, I would like to jump to the 6th version but don’t have the opportunity 🙁 I found some new features like vocal comping of auto drumediting really great, as well as built-in in Cubase 5 vocal tuning using Variaudio. Every time I try to open another DAW I feel a bit frustrating, I think I can do that I want, but spending much more time than using Cubase. But I have learned a lot watching your and Graham Cochrane’s tutorials)

    I have your video of Understanding ProTools and I want to try Pro Tools but I don’t have an opportunity now 🙁 My friend told me that one can use PT10 without any payments, so may be some day in future.

    PS. I really found some simple things easier in Cubase, for example metronome. I have to just press “C”, while in PT I need to make a track, put a plug-in… And I really don’t love the click tone in PT 🙂

  • Em

    Hi,

    You seem knowledgeable on both protools and logic.

    I have recorded a few songs with lots of tracks using Logic, but want to send them off to be professionally mixed by someone who may use protools. will they be able to mix them effectively and open the files?

    Many thanks

    • You’ll have to talk to them directly to be sure. When I mix for someone, I have them send me the actual audio files (wav files), and I import them into my system. That way it doesn’t matter WHAT system they use, as long as they can send me audio files of each track.

  • Texex1

    Dear friend, I lot of questions I like to ask you. First of all: is there a possible way to make vst plug-ins sound
    like they were coming fron a real keyborad? if the answer is yes I like to know which type of audio interface 
    I should use, perhaps RME UFX, along with apogee simpnony digital converter …. At the moment I am using Logic Pro 9, 
    and a solid state mixer. As you well know these days keyboards are becoming quite expensive, and besides I don’t need to pay
    for things I will never use such as sequencer found in a typical workstations. What kind of midi controller
    you believe to be the best in the market nowadays ?? 

    My new home recording studio configuration wìll be a sfollow:
    – audio interface RME UFX
    – Apogee A/D convertors (symphony)
    – Speakers Adam A7X
    – Logic pro 9 / Pro tools 9
    – Mac Pro 8core 
    – Solid Sate superanalog mixer 
    – nordstage 2 sinth
    – midi controller Akai MPK 88
    – several vst plug-ins
    – Multi effect lexicom ( stil do not know which model)

    This is at least what I have in mind, please any suggestions form your side are very welcom. It has been my long held dream to 
    own an home recording studio, you see I want it to look professional as much as possible, as a keyboard player I do not pretend 
    to be an audio engineer, as a matter of a fact I like to playing and composing music in a digital enviroment possibly, but at the
    same time I enjoy listening to my music like it was coming out from a CD made by professional studios.

    Anyway, I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Best regards
    Giuseppe Saporito

       

    Thank you in advance.

     Giuseppe 

    • The audio interface really has nothing to do with whether virtual instruments sound as good as the real thing. It’s all about WHICH software you choose. You just need to spend time listening to samples from the various virtual instrument companies and decide for yourself.

  • The new Mbox’s are apparently a BIG step up in quality…from what I’ve heard. I haven’t used/heard one myself, though. If you’re just starting out, then just get whichever interface gives you the inputs you need and get started learning.

    As far as Pro Tools tutorials, I actually have one you can buy. Check it out here:

    http://www.understandingprotools.com

    Perfect for a beginner. Hope that helps!

    • Bob

      It looks like the Mbox with Pro Tools 9 is the best value. As Pro Tools 9 is $600, and with the Mbox it is only $820. Or if you went with the Mini, it would be like getting the mini for free bundled with PT9 for $620. But looks like the regular Mbox has better features than the Mini.

      What closed-back headphones would you recommend? I’m just recording guitars. So, I plan to use them to edit. And may/probably use them to mix/master. And what inexpensive monitors would you recommend incase I get them later?

      And I may or may not get a firewire external hard drive. But probably would be a good idea if I can get one reasonably. As sometimes I have problems with internet explorer and other things getting hung up in Windows 7. So, I’m thinking using an external hard drive to record to would help minimize any hang ups.

      • Closed-back headphones: Sennheiser HD280pro are my favorite

        http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HD280Pro

        Inexpensive monitors? I’d say save up and spend at least $500. M-Audio aren’t bad actually. Not super-accurate, but you can’t expect a LOT of accuracy for under-$500.

        Also, external hard drives are a must. See article here:

        http://www.homestudiocorner.com/2009/04/23/home-studio-necessities-7-externaldedicated-hard-drive/

        • Bob

          I guess I’ll just pass on the monitors and just use my headphones to do everything. I’m just recording some guitar tracks. And I’m already past $1k which is several hundred more than I was already wanting to spend for everything needed to record. Plus, looks like I’ll have to add on an extra $170 for a hard drive I wasn’t planning on buying. And that doesn’t take into account the $200 ISP Decimator I had to buy to kill my noise for recording and $150 for mic, cable, and stand.

          How good is Reaper? I’m almost thinking of just getting a cheap interface, and using Reaper to keep costs down since I’m only doing guitar tracks. I’m afraid of spending $1k+ on recording stuff just to come out sounding the same as if I had gotten a cheap interface with Reaper.

          • Reaper’s fine. If you’re going to go with a cheap interface, get something from Presonus like the Firestudio Mobile. It comes with a GREAT recording software Studio One Artist, which lets you have unlimited tracks, etc. It doesn’t support 3rd-party plug-ins, but you can upgrade to the Pro version later for around $200.

            That’s the best deal I’ve seen.

  • I’ve not used the Cubase/Wavelab EQ’s, but all EQ’s essentially work the same way. They just may look at little different. Check out my Intro to EQ video:

    http://www.homestudiocorner.com/2009/07/15/intro-to-eq-video/

  • christopher [chrisw92]

    I always wondered why it was only parts with more instruments at playing at the same time in the song that make it overload for time to time… I seem so silly now.

    I may go into protools later in life but logic does what I need perfectly for what I’m using it for.

  • Octavio

    Hi Joe, I know this topic as been out for awhile. But I for awhile was contemplating on taking up pro-tools. I dont record, I produce house music. But the main concern that I had was, since I have alot of gigs worth of sample packs, would i be able to use them to make drum beats. I know pro-tools has its own drum machine, but you are forced to use its presets. Is there another method of using my own samples? This reason was ultimately why I decided not to switch. Another reason was because at that moment I could only afford the ‘lite’ version of PT, which i think is the essential? which cannot be upgraded and you cant use third party plug-ins. Plus the horror stories of compatible issues also turned me off, as my machine is that powerful, anyway. Thanks in advance.

    • caleb

      If you make electronic music you should check out Ableton Live. It has some awesome sampling and automation features that make work flow really easy when it comes to producing electronic stuff. I use Pro Tools as my main DAW but always Ableton for any sort of remixing/DJing/electronic production.

  • Hi just hit “submit” on my ProTools order at Sweetwater. Thanks for helping me decide Joe. I can’t wait to get it installed and then sit with your video and make my first recording. I can see from your video it will be a big step up from what I’ve been doing, and I’m looking forward to that.

    Terry

  • One PRO about Logic now is that it is a able to be ran as a 64Bit application. And in a 64Bit OS environment, like say Mac OSX Snowleopard, it will now allow maximum memory to be available and also the Snowleopard OS manages the CPU usage better on multicore computers. It spreads the load smarter.

    Under 32bit mode an application can only use approx 3.5Gb RAM before the available RAM for the application is used (regardless of how may GB are installed in the computer).. This is a constraint of the 32Bit OS (Including 32Bit Windows) & the CPU chipsets. Simply an application and any plugins running IN that application can only access/use 3.5Gb RAM

    These constraints would affect both ProTools LE etc and Logic in 32Bit mode. It is not the applications fault per se. It is an OS/operating environment issue.

    In 64Bit mode this RAM constraint has been completely removed so the system can handle bigger applications and larger plugins or virtual instruments and mega more samples.

    To give a real example.. (not that you would do this but I am using it as an example only for simplicity of understanding sake – it is also something I have tried as a simple test)
    Say you have a multi-core Mac with say 8GB RAM. You load a Logic session running Logic in 32Bit mode. (even though the OSX may be running in 64bit)

    You start loading a tracks with just Stylus RMX as the instrument with a basic patch loaded in Stylus – Nothing more no other plugins etc.
    You then keep adding more tracks with a copy of Stylus exactly the same as the first track. After about 13 or so tracks Logic “crashes” out because of insufficient resources (actually available RAM) This is because it (Logic & it’s plugins) have reached the 3.5Gb ceiling.

    Now do the same with but thing time run Logic in 64Bit mode. At 34 tracks with Stylus on each you still have not ran out of resources. And the system still plays with no loss or obvious degredation. Why because the 64Bit Logic and OS is managing everything better and is enabling access to whatever RAM is in the Mac

    Now try the same first test with ProTools LE etc and I think you will have a similar issue as Logic 4 32Bit. The exact number of tracks will be slightly different but the overall effect will be the same. Why because ProTools LE etc is not 64Bit and so is “crippled” by the same memory and CPU constraints imposed by the 32Bit mode as was/is 32Bit Logic.

    All I can say is Digidesign – roll on 64Bit Protools LE – assuming you will be developing a version such as this rather than working on a 64bit replacement for ProTools HD.

    BTW. Disclaimer – I will use either system but at the moment I personally prefer Logic. Why because I learnt it first and I feel more at home with it.. And after all that is what matters the most. But if ProTools LE etc is your Shangri-La fabulous.. enjoy and make CD’s

    S.

  • The number one reason I switched to Logic when I outgrew my mbox2 mini is that whenever I wanted to use a virtual instrument in pro tools, it would crash, and no matter what I did with the setting, if it wasn't a vi made by digidesign, it wouldn't play nice. Logic is like “pro tools that works”, and that's what i need, crashing pro tools reminds of the days when I was making music on a PC before getting the relief a stable mac brought me.

    • Interesting. That hasn't been my experience, but it sounds like it was
      awful! I don't use a TON of VIs, but all the ones I do use (all non-
      Digi products) work just fine on my Macbook.

  • Pingback: QOTD : What’s your DAW of choice?()

  • Pingback: HomeStudioCorner's free eBook for creating your own home studio | Key Of Grey()

  • I debated about getting Pro Tools M powered because i have a m audio delta 1010 pci interface. That way I could still use my Sonar but have the flexibility of Pro tools if someone wanted to use that. But in the end I ended up buying Sonar 8 because that is what i was used to and have used for 8 years (starting with cakewalk 9.0). Plus I was using a crack version of Sonar for a few years due to lack of funds and getting used to recording in general. I guess my guilt of “stealing software” got to me and spending $400 bucks on software that i new would work all the time (crack versions just plain suck and don’t always work) was well worth it. M powered pro tools is about $250 if you already have the m audio interface so maybe one day i will get it just to say I have it just in case but for now I am goin to stick with eating my Cake.

    P.S. I just got the FMR RNP yesterday from Atlas Pro Audio and this pre is incredible. my microphones never sounded better 🙂

    • And I can attest to Nathan’s mixes. They sound great. A good mix is a good mix, whether it was mixed in Garage Band or on Pro Tools HD 6 system. : )

  • Great article Joe! I definitely agree with ProTools being geared more towards engineers. When I’m in recording engineer mode, I’m all about ProTools.

    One comment about Logic and opening a tonne of default audio objects: Logic 7 had the option of creating templates to bypass this. You could create a template with only one audio object if you wanted and open Logic with that. In Logic 8, they’ve allowed you to select in the preferences how you would like the project to start. I’m using a mode that asks you what kind of object to start with (usually an audio track for my uses). This is similar to ProTools’ default arrange window.

    Cheers!

    • Thanks Sean. I’d forgotten that Logic has the templates feature. Thanks for pointing that out. Pro Tools actually added templates to version 8 as well, which is pretty nice.