Cubase and Logic: a personal journey

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Disclaimer: I’m merely sharing my personal experience and thoughts, none of the below infers any kind of scientific fact or data.

I’ve been a Cubase user for a looong time, starting out with a crack copy of 2.0 on an Atari ST (yes I’m aging myself), pretty much sticking with it all the way up to my current 9.5 on a Mac.

Cubase has mostly been good to me. For a few years I dropped it in favor of an Akai MPC, but then I started working for a company where Nuendo was the main DAW and became fluent with it. So it didn’t make sense to learn another DAW when the time came for my own setup. I got back in with Cubase 4, loved the new features 5.5, hated the update price gouging but what are you gonna do.

Over the years I have occasionally worked on other DAW’s, of course. Worked a little with Logic, some more with ProTools, but I kept coming back to Cubase (and Nuendo) because I just knew it so well.

One thing that always did bug me about it, though, was that it seemed like it took a lot of work to get stuff to groove right. On the MPC or the internal sequencer on my Roland keyboards, beats felt tighter and more spunky. Cubase always felt a little sluggish.

As a workaround, I’d sometimes start to compose on my keyboard’s sequencer, and export the MIDI file to the DAW further down in the process. But this became a less viable option as I started to rely more on VI’s over time.

But switching DAW’s seemed like such a daunting task, I knew Cubase so well, and who has time for that anyway.
So I kept plodding on. Always mucking about with the timing in the editor, noodling with plugins to get more “punch” etc. And never really 100% satisfied that it felt right.

Until this project. There was more involved, and a greater incentive to go the extra mile to make it successful. And again, I kept mucking about in the editor, endlessly fiddled with track (pre) delay, but even after several remixes none of it felt right. But it had to BE right, a lot of people had invested time and money in this project, and the song deserved it.

I finally bit the bullet. I imported the vocal stems into Logic and started from scratch. By the end of the day, the beat was right, I got it to groove with little effort. It was an eye opener.

I started doing the same with some other things I was working on, and again: less effort, better results. I’m convinced now, I should have done this years ago.

For now, I have adopted a hybrid approach, as there is so much I don’t yet know in Logic, and Cubase does have its strengths. Audio editing is intuitive, and tuning vocals with VariAudio is super quick. Also, the routing is familiar, setting up buses, groups and sends/returns etc.

There’s other things I miss (or haven’t yet found) in Logic; Cubase’s MIDI track modifier is a very handy tool that I use a lot (to limit velocities going in, for example), and it’ll be months before I have unlearned all the key shortcuts.

I know there’s lots of folks being successful with Cubase, and mine is just one story.

But I don’t see myself going back. Rhythm is the most fundamental thing in music to me, and it just feels more “right” in Logic.

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