Cheapest Cubase (Elements) or cheapest Ableton (Intro) worth it?

Discussion in 'General Production Forum' started by Rabbitfrog, Mar 24, 2021.

  1. Rabbitfrog

    Rabbitfrog NI Product Owner

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    I am currently without a DAW, just wanted to get some opinions.

    Are these Intro/Elements versions even worth it? Like let' say I am not really interested in synths that come with it. I have synths from NI, I also know some cheap software synths which honestly I might be good for a while.


    I am mostly interested in editing/mixing/mastering since most of my arrangements will be done in Maschine. I have some effects stuff from NI and could probably get by with stock EQs and compressors.

    I never used any of these DAWs, I do not have a preference (maybe Cubase slightly since it looks more like a traditional DAW).

    Here are links to comparing Elements and Intro versions, if you guys want to take a look.

    https://new.steinberg.net/cubase/compare-editions/

    https://www.ableton.com/en/live/compare-editions/

    My main DAW used to be ProTools, I still have a working version which is old, but they are subscription now and it's crazy expensive, I am not sure I am ready to spend over $300 per year on a DAW.... and no Lite version or anything. So I am not sure I want to dig myself deeper into a DAW which I probably won't ever use again.

    I am asking because there is no way to try out the Lite versions, I will only sample the full version and won't be able to tell about the limitations until I buy. from what I see, if I bring my own instruments/synths and don't do any vocal and don't need any auto-tune type stuff then I should be ok. But want another opinion. And how do the lite versions compare to Reaper? Reaper is good and all but it feels empty and I am not sure how good the stock EQ and compressors are.
     
  2. Uwe303

    Uwe303 NI Product Owner

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    In this case I personally prefer cubase elements, with live 11 intro you have only 16 (was 8 before) audio tracks if I remember correctly, and only 16 scenes in the live jam view or how they call it. Also fx are too limited in live for my taste. In cubase you have in 10.5 (11 too I think) elements up to 48 audio and 64 midi tracks, up to 24 VST instruments, a nice channel strip on top and for me the linear workflow is ideal to use with maschines exported tracks, it's a perfect pair. If you have any specific questions I have both, elements 10.5 on my laptop and, just for fun and cause it was free, live lite too, I was just to lazy to uninstal it until now.

    I'm sure live has also advantages in that comparison, let's see if someone else can point them out

    Uwe
     
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  3. Rabbitfrog

    Rabbitfrog NI Product Owner

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    Oh cool. Well I have a weird question. Can you tell me why in the world does Ableton look so much like Maschine? It even has "scenes"... Is it even possible to have it in linear mode?

    But yeah, even with Cubase being a choice with more "value" are these light editions worth it? I mean Ableton Standard can be financed over 6 months and I can get Cubase 10.5 on Amazon in monthly payments as well. I just don't know if I need that much and would rather save money by getting just the essentials.
     
  4. Uwe303

    Uwe303 NI Product Owner

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    Yes ableton has a linear view too, but why also have a view with clips in ableton if I have it already in maachine, but it's really hard to tell someone else what's best for him and his needs and workflow. Maybe you don't know yet, like me in the beginning. Maybe you just use maschine a while, learn it inside out and think about what exactly you are missing. Then think again about buying a daw.


    Uwe
     
  5. Ian_Fu

    Ian_Fu NI Product Owner

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    Personally I'd go Cubase although both will do a job, so to speak. For me, I got Ableton free with my keyboard controller and I used it for a few weeks and it did ok, but maybe because when I played years ago I used Cubase and MusicX, I just didn't find it as intuitive or user friendly as I remembered Cubase being.

    Consequently, I went back to Cubase and I've been happy ever since. Certainly there are features missing from the stripped-down version but nothing that can't be worked around that I've found as yet.

    If you want to try before you buy, then Cubase 30 day trial is here https://new.steinberg.net/cubase/trial/

    For a breakdown of what is and isn't in each version, try here https://new.steinberg.net/cubase/compare-editions/

    Edit: Just noticed you've already listed the links. Other than comparing via those, I can't really think of a way to 'be sure' in your choice. Personally I'd go with the trial and if it's the full version and there's something you want to do, check against the comparison chart and if you can't do it in Lite, just be aware of that limitation.
     
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  6. Uwe303

    Uwe303 NI Product Owner

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    6,340
    Same for me I tried everything but ended at the end again with cubase, where I started, + maschine, I just use cubase for mixing.

    Uwe
     
  7. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

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    I have both, full versions tho (Live Standard and Cubase Artist) so I can't speak much on the free versions but I'd go with Live, because if you're looking into DAW's chances are you will eventually buy one of the paid version upgrades...

    - Live is cheaper overall, offers a ton of free (meaningfull) updates before a major version is released, with Cubase virtually ALL updates are paid.
    - Cubase pretty much barely has bugfixes, if there are issues, then it's pay up for the next version.
    - Cubase requires iLok/eLicenser crap, either a driver-based verification installed on only ONE computer or you can buy a USB dongle but you can never use it on more than one computer at the same time.
    - Live can be a linear DAW or a performance-oriented DAW, for performance there's a ton of compatible controllers and you can record a performance directly into a time-line.
    - Even paid Cubase versions have weird limitations, for example, I got Cubase Artist 11 and I cant export all tracks of a project at once, I have to manually solo each track and export one at a time... You would think it's normal for an "Artist" to want to export all tracks for mixing but for that, I have to pay 581,99 € (686 USD) and buy the Pro version... After I already spent a ton on updates over the years.

    Overall Cubase is a bit more traditional while Live is more modern and production and/or performance-oriented, Cubase has a LOT more advanced features for Pro Recording Studios while Live is more Electronic music friendly, IMO. I do prefer Cubase to record and mix vocals or instruments.

    For context: Live had Session View way before Maschine had Ideas View, Bitwig also has Clip Launcher even Logic now has Session View... This is the trend music software has been going towards in order to merge Performance/Production with traditional Linear workflows. Traditional DAW's were primarily built to record bands/instruments, as the music-making world evolved so did DAW's.
     
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  8. Rabbitfrog

    Rabbitfrog NI Product Owner

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    Haha, uhm, actually no. I mean I hope not. The thing is, I plan to stick with Maschine for a while, probably won't need a DAW until I have some tracks to edit and master. Seeing how I don't need the synths that come with almost all DAWS (note "need" they can still be good synths). I was basically looking for an editing/mixing platform. I am used to ProTools and Maschine. Reaper is $70, so I assumed that if I get Cubase Elements or Ableton Intro for double the price I will get an "empty" DAW similar to Reaper (with no synths). So I thought if I provide my own synths and plug-ins and maybe rent iZotope for a month to master, I should be fine with the basic versions of Cubase or Ableton which cost double the price of Reaper (they are not free by the way).

    Yeah, I am probably comparing this all to Reaper which at this point feels like slightly better value for money especially since I am going to provide most synths and effects plug-ins. But it feels very weird with how the routing works, but it may be worth getting over and taking time to learn especially since it's not a "light" or an "intro" version for half the price.
     
  9. Uwe303

    Uwe303 NI Product Owner

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    6,340
    Steinberg is dropping the dongle, but you will need a software activation anyway some kind, but that's in the future and they didn't say when. Reaper is an excellent daw, you didn't ask for, you can also try it out long time and then pay the 60 or 70 dollars for one big version,and if new big version drops update for cheap as far as I remember. You can add a lot of really good free vsts + the stuff you own from native, that's a good setup I would say.

    Uwe
     
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  10. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

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    If I was starting now I'd probably go with Reaper, it's very cheap if you decide to buy it, even if you don't it still works, there's no multi-version functionality segmentation, the number of features and customizability is insane, it's constantly getting updated, etc... The disadvantage is with a lot of functionality comes a high learning curve which can be overwhelming for someone with no prior DAW experience.

    Most people don't need a fully-featured DAW when starting, I didn't, but after a lot of releases it became essential, this seems to be the case for most users but it doesn't mean it will apply to you too. My point is that it is likely to happen eventually and I often see people unhappy with their choice but they are too deep into it to change and relearn a new software.

    Same here but synth and fx aren't the only areas where 'free' commercial DAW versions are limited, I'd say the amount of send fx channels, groups, tracks, and functionality is the main problem as you cant fix that the way you can fix lack of FX or instruments.
    Just keep this in mind: "Free" versions are a marketing strategy to get user used to the software. For example, Live Lite has a 16 track limitation, if you wish to route a full Maschine Group and give each Pad an Audio Track for "Better Mixing" then you are already out of available tracks.
     
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  11. ShelLuser

    ShelLuser NI Product Owner

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    1,307
    I can't really suggest either because I only know Live and after having worked for it for over 10 years I think it's fair to say that I'm biased as heck.

    Instead I'd like to touch another aspect: investments. D-One already hinted at this above but.. the thing is that if you're going to start out in this wonderful world of digital audio processing then it's going to cost you one way or the other. And while you may not need all functions now, what is to say about later? So, although not fully ontopic (?) my suggestion would be to consider getting at least the standard version of either program. Or, as D-One also suggested, maybe get Reaper as a starting point so that you don't have to spend any cash right now while you still get to figure out what might work best for you.

    If there's one thing I learned in the past 10 years its that getting started can be costly, especially if you want to do it 'right'. And IMO it can be a lot more relaxing and more worthwhile in the longer run to get the best you can get, provided that you're convinced that it'll work for you. Maybe also good to know: upgrading in this field won't result in having to purchase the software again, that's not how it works fortunately. Pretty much all vendors have massive upgrade discounts so....
     
  12. Reefius

    Reefius NI Product Owner

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    694
  13. Rabbitfrog

    Rabbitfrog NI Product Owner

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    150
  14. Reefius

    Reefius NI Product Owner

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    694
    But you can't use any VST plugins in it.
     
  15. Alex290

    Alex290 New Member

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    Late but I think it’s worth to think about FL Studio. You can get it for cheap and have Lifetime free Updates. You have all in it what you need and I personally love the Workflow a lot.
     
  16. Rabbitfrog

    Rabbitfrog NI Product Owner

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    You know what? I am really liking your advice. I bought FL Studio years ago (back then it was actually called Fruity Loops). And it saved my license, which means I can get the top, top version for cheaper then anything I asked for. Or I can get "Producer Version" for the same price as Cubase Elements or Ableton Intro.... If that's not an amazing deal I don't know what is.

    Question, how's post production on FL Studio, I never actually used it for such a long period but I am wondering about the mixing and mastering. I can see that over the years it became a more or less a full DAW, never actually produced anything on it though. So how's the mixing section? How's audio editing on it? I don't know what you used else to compare, but my personal DAW of choice for years was ProTools, so I am all about that linear workflow and the mixing that I could do in ProTools.
     
  17. Alex290

    Alex290 New Member

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    That’s perfect :)

    I had Pro Tools a long Time. It is really good to work with, but overall to expensive. I had Studio One, Reason and Cubase also. My first DAW was Fruity Loops 8XXL back then. FL Studio has changed over Time a lot and you can do what you want. It’s a full DAW and a lot of Pros work with. So I came back to the first love :)

    You can work with Patterns or linear Mode like Pro Tools etc. Bonus is the Lifetime Free Updates and the Standard Plug ins which are really good.

    You can start with the Producer Bundle or maybe you have it because your old License. I personally own the Signature Edition. This Version was the Best Bang for the Bug looking for me. And I wanted Gross Beat an Harmless.

    Mixing and Mastering it’s not a Problem if you can do it or you will learn it. There are unlimited Tutorials on YouTube. Workflow is nice and not hard to learn I find.
     
  18. 6xes

    6xes NI Product Owner

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    im approx a month late on replying to this thread,
    but im a fan of both reaper&maschine... and i believe they complement one another
    Maschine for its simplicity and quickness to lay down a foundation, and Reaper for its custom actions to do the niggly things which tend to make people post the "cannot do this... or cannot do that"

    The odd thing about the Reaper Daw.... is you actually want to support further development, becos after spending a little time inside the reaper community, you realise the growth & flexibility that Reaper allows users, this same flexibility is also reflected in the pricing... which gives you a insight into the philosphy held by its original developer, (Justin Frankel the original developer of Winamp)... theres a interesting history on his relationships with the corporates... needless to say he sold Winamp back then... and now returns with ongoing developments in Reaper,
    im sure some of us who used winamp understood how well programmed it was back then and how much functionality was on that tiny program...

    This holds true for Reaper too... a well optimised fully featured DAW that is compacted into a tiny little 14mb installer. no fluff just a barebones daw... with a handful of plugins.
    but boy oh boy... the wealth of the JS-plugins and custom scripts people have contributed to reaper... is a testament to the generosity given back to the community that is Reaper as a whole from the top down!!

    Native instruments has been a great starting point for me... having basically next to no knowledge of things midi or Daws in general 2 years prior, so the stepping into reaper was met with alot of question marks lol... not knowing much a year on from using Maschine..
    admittedly im still learning new things in both DAWS... but enjoying the challenges each Daw presents.

    you probably wouldnt believe me if i told you... but i got banned from the reaper forums, which is why im here trying to be helpful :D lol
    just look search the reaper forums for the ID 6xes... youll see LOL... thats life i guess, blown from one Daw to the next!! *winks