Okay I don’t suppose I am the first nor will I be the last to raise this question that is which DAW is best out of Logic, Pro Tools, Ableton or Cubase but here is part one of my thoughts and coming up soon, part two and the thoughts of music production schooltutors, Al, George and Paul.

When I very first started in the olden days (early 902s) we all used Atari ST’s with a whole 512k of Ram for sequencing Midi and not much else. Obviously all audio was dealt with using 24 track 23 tape with up to 3 slaved together synchronised with lynx synchronisers. Back then for sampling, we had the classic Akai S900 and S950 and later the Akai S1000. I went freelance as an assistant as soon as possible as I got on well and was in demand from engineers and producers but didn’t get on so with with the management who ran the studios. Lisa and Maddy at the Roundhouse were the exception there – they went on to manage me when I went freelance as a mix engineer.

Cubase as it was in the early 1990’s

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The two most popular sequencers were Steinberg’s Cubase and Emagic’s Notator. from what I remember, Notator looked like the event list in Logic and that was it. Cubase on the other hand was a lot more intuitive giving us the ability to drag, drop, copy and paste blocks of midi information. Later on Emagic changed the name from Notator to Notator Logic then finally settled at Logic long before Apple bought them out of course. I think before Notator, they were called Creator but let’s not go there! Speaking of Apple, in those days Macs were quite new on the music productionscene and Atari ST’s were always thought of as more stable, and they were rock solid timing wise. So back then, Cubase was my sequencer of choice and I zipped around on it like lightning as I knew it so well.

Towards the mid 902s Macs were creeping in, they were better computers, even better than the Atari ST 1040 model, they had colour screens and it wasn’t long until we had the capability to record and edit audio to a degree. I remember once I was on a session with a producer called Ian Green at Metropolis Studios and two things stuck out; the fact that we were using a rack of Akai S1000 samplers so high, they were taller than Ian – he isn’t the tallest bloke but still. Obviously the more samplers you have, the more outputs to plug into the desk and more importantly, in those days, the more sample time you had. I think we had lots and lots of backing vocals and he wanted to keep all the harmonies separate triggered of course from the Atari ST running Cubase. We were chatting about computers with audio capability and I guess the first DAW. I’ll always remember that when we touched on audio capability, Ian asked me about plugins. I looked at him with a blank face because I had no idea what plugins were!

When I look at these dates as I’m writing this, unless I’m way off, things were moving FAST!!!! I think now with my 8 processors in my Mac Pro where five years ago it was a dual 1.8 PPC, I’m still doing the same thing on it, i’m just not thinking so hard about being economical with plugins and the plugins then were not so juicy as they are now. That’s the only difference between 5 years ago and now really. That and that people are finally realising that that the concept of DSP to be done outside of the computers processor is a dated one. Avid (used to be Digidesign) have a new generation of gear out now along with their Pro Tools 9. I really must make the effort to see what they have come up with. I do know that Pro Tools 9 software works on any audio interface which should be good news for some.

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