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.