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PreSonus Studio One Pro DAW


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Does the world really need another DAW? PreSonus thinks so, and so we have the Studio One. It's based on from-the-ground-up code, courtesy of some of the main brains behind Cubase. The claim is that it's powerful, but not bloated, software that takes a different slant on the way to do a DAW.

 

Well of course I'm always interested in that sort of thing - I'm currently checking out Propellerhead's Record, which is also the subject of a Pro Review. I could see it making economic sense for PreSonus to have a DAW in-house; after all, they make a zillion interfaces, so why not bundle one of their programs instead of something from a different manufacturer? In fact there is a "lite" version of Studio One Pro, called Studio One Artist, that is bundled with a variety of PreSonus products. While that's not the subject of this review, suffice it to say I've seen it in action at trade shows, and it's not really all that lite.

 

But Studio One Pro is what interests me, particularly because the company claims a really seamless integration of the mastering process. Samplitude was the first DAW to really hit on that angle, but based on what I've seen StudioOne takes that further.

 

Well okay...this is a Pro Review, so let's start with installation because I just opened the box - and found two DVDs and two very slim printed documents: Quick Start Guide and Quick Reference.

 

Installation of the program itself was amazingly fast. Huh? Two installation DVDs with content and it just takes a few seconds to install things? Well, I guess you copy the content over separately...or maybe it's something that happens when you open the program. We'll see.

 

Next comes authorization. You first need to create an account on the PreSonus web site (if you don't have one already)...give me a couple minutes here...okay, done. Then you register through online activation, although you can activate offline if your music computer practices "safe data" and isn't connected to the net.

 

Registration was really fast, too. I guess they're trying to make a point here. According to the confirmation screen, there are also licenses activated for Toontrack EZ Drummer Lite, and NI Guitar Rig LE.

 

Next screen: Aha! Check out the attached image - this is where you decide what to install from the two DVDs. Might as well install all the "packets" (data content as opposed to auxiliary programs) as well as Toontrack EZ Drummer and the Cocktail kit. I won't install Guitar Rig LE, because I already have Guitar Rig 4 (which by the way will be reviewed in the next issue of the free Harmony Central Confidential - ditto the Kore Player and Kore Sounds Volume 1.

 

I have a feeling this is going to take a while, so I'll do what I always do when programs are installing: Remove some of the clutter around my workspace! I'll be back after all the packets are installed.

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Hmmm...after installing the packets, I went to install the Toontrack EZDrummer and the DVD wouldn't stay in the drive, but kept getting rejected. I'll try again later, although as this happened even after turning the computer off and back on again, I don’t think it has anything to do with StudioOne. I’d rather not have to take my computer apart tomorrow :(

 

When the program starts, it keeps a log of what's happening, including the scan of all plug-ins. If there's a problem with the scan (e.g., a trial version that timed out), Studio One makes note of it; this makes it easy to remove any VST plug-ins that are problematic. If Studio One crashes while loading a plug-in, it keeps track of the problem, and ignores the plug-in the next time around. They were all fine except for some reason, the Line 6 POD Farm wouldn’t load. I’ll assume there’s some way to re-scan from within the program to try a plug-in again…sometimes it just takes a couple tries.

 

I've been thinking about how to approach this review. I'm pretty sure most of you know what a DAW is and does, or you wouldn't be here. I don't think you're going to get excited if I talk about how to cut and paste, so at least to kick things off, we'll start with what makes StudioOne different from the norm, as well as describe some basic operational aspects.

 

If you want to do some homework during the review, go to the StudioOne Landing Page on the PreSonus site. You'll find specs (like supported operating systems), highlights, a description of plug-ins included with the program, and the like – as well as a downloadable demo version.

 

Okay, I’ve opened it and the start screen (see the attached image) is definitely different from the norm – there’s a place to stick your artist profile, and a newsfeed informing me version 1.01 is available.

 

Well of course I want to update, so click on the link, and I find there’s actually a version 1.02. So, let’s download that…okay, it’s updated, I opened up a song, dragged a loop in, and I’m hearing audio. So far, so good!

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Ouch! Well, it sure seems like my DVD drive has bit the dust - it won't read or act normally. So I have to put this review on hold for a bit while I go get a drive and repair my computer :( Oh well. It's probably not too surprising, I can't tell you how many zillions of Gigabytes I've copied to DVDs over the past couple years...backing up video files from trade shows exercises the drive a lot. Oh well, I'll return as soon as things are back up to spec.

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Okay, everything's back up and running and as a bonus, I found there are an extra two USB ports on the motherboard I can bring out to the backplane! Cool.

 

Anyway...let's talk copy protection. Studio One Pro uses no dongle or hardware, just a code and online registration. According to the EULA you can install on another computer as long as you're not using it at the same time. So, you can indeed have a copy on your desktop and laptop.

 

When you open Studio One Pro, you're presented with the actually-very-cool Start page. In addition to what we've already mentioned (like the newsfeed), This is where you select an audio interface and external devices, like MIDI keyboards. The process is simple and obvious; the first attached image shows the External Devices window for adding a keyboard or controller. I'm including this not so much because it's exciting to see how you assign a keyboard, but because it gets across the cool, dignified, get-down-to-business graphical approach of the program.

 

Other setup options include General (like whether you want Studio One Pro to open to a particular task, and where you set the language - for now, your only options are English or German). Locations is where you tell the program to look for VST plug-ins, user data, instrument libraries, etc.

 

Audio Setup is where you set up your interfaces, but check out the second attached image: Yes, Studio One Pro does the Cakewalk Sonar trick of letting you select 64-bit processing, even if you're running on a 32-bit system. I'll let the tweakheads debate whether you really need 64-bit precision, because my take is pretty simple: It doesn't make any difference with simple projects but can make an audible difference with complex projects, so I just leave it enabled.

 

There's also an Advanced tab for setting preferences for Editing, Devices, and Services (you can disable services from within Studio One Pro; not sure how this works on a Mac). I pretty much leave these kinds of things "as is" unless I have a compelling reason to do otherwise.

 

Now that things are set up, let's look at how you'd actually start working in Studio One Pro.

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From the Start page, you can choose to open or create a Song or a Project. The difference is that a Song is where you create/edit/mix a particular piece of music, whereas a Project is where you arrange Songs on a timeline for mastering. I'm chomping at the bit to check out that aspect of the program, but I'll be patient and start with the Song part of things.

 

So let's start with a New Song. When you do, there are a number of templates available. As I'm curious about the instruments included in StudioOne, let's start with the Instruments set, which according to the description "Loads a set of Studio One intruments ready to play" (yes, that really is how they spell "instruments").

 

I'm informed that a bunch of files are missing, and there's a cryptic message (the beginning and end are cut off) so I'm assuming this is probably some demo content that fell victim to yesterday's DVD drive adventures. After I finish this post, I'll go back to the DVDs and see what didn't get installed (I still need to install the version of Toontrack EZ Drummer that comes with the program anyway). There is the option to search for files, but what with the Terabytes of storage I have hanging off this computer, and the fact that I turn off indexing so I'm not always hearing the hard drive clunking in the background, finding anything could take days so we'll just pass on that option!

 

Okay, four instruments are loaded, so let's take a look at their interfaces. We'll get into the sounds and audio examples in subsequent posts, but of course I did have to at least sample some of the sounds, and I already found one interface feature I like: When you choose a drop-down menu of sounds, you can click on the preset and it loads instantly, but the menu stays up so you can check out other sounds - the menu goes away only when you click elsewhere. I like that.

 

The first attached image shows the Mojito synth, which was obviously named after my favorite drink in order to put me in a good mood. It's your basic monosynth single-oscillator/filter/envelope sound generator for bass sounds and such, with the option to thicken the sound via FX or LFO.

 

The second attached image shows the Impact drum box. It's laid out like an MPC, where you load samples on to pads, and have three modules for processing pad characteristics (basically pitch, filter, and amplitude). It was easy to figure out how to load my own sounds, trigger them, and save the sounds as a preset.

 

Next up, in the third attached image we have Presence. It seems like a preset/polysynth kinda module, but I can't tell because I think this has also fallen victim to the "where is the content?" issues I seem to be having. By the time we get around to covering this, I'm sure I'll have that squared away, but meanwhile check out the interface - looks like a pretty standard polyphonic synth.

 

Finally, in the fourth attached image we have SampleOne, where you load in samples (I did drag-and-drop from the desktop) and map them over specific keyboard ranges. I haven't figured out if it does positional crossfading or similar goodies, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.

 

Of course, there's lots more we need to cover, like the basic screen layout! But I figure that in the process of putting some tracks down with the instruments, we'll get to exercise most of the user interface.

 

Now, to figure out where that content went...

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Okay, I found the Sound Sets, they ended up in a different place than where the preferences expected to find them. So I took advantage of the situation to move them to my hard drive that's dedicated to sound libraries, and set up preferences to point to it. Now Mojito, Impact, and Presence all have a bunch o' fun presets.

 

Still nothing for SampleOne, though. I suspect that it loads SoundFonts, and it's not finding a folder called "SoundFonts" - I looked under Preferences, and it gave a location for the SoundFonts folder, but after checking that location I found the SoundSets folder but no SoundFonts (which is how come I knew where to find the SoundSets).

 

So...I don't think it's just me, I think that Studio One Pro may not have its default paths set correctly. Maybe someone from PreSonus can comment...meanwhile, I have the Windows search function looking for a folder named "SoundFonts" and since the search is going to take a while, I think I'll grab some lunch. :)

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Well...never did find a file called SoundFonts. I believe Jonathan from PreSonus is monitoring the threads - he's the guy who did the instructional StudioOne videos on the PreSonus site, so the dude knows whereof he speaks - and maybe he can clue me in to finding the SampleOne content now that everything else is squared away with the other instruments.

 

And maybe he can also let me know if the official name is Studio One or StudioOne so I make sure I get it right!

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I mentioned that the audio path can do 64 bits, but what about operating systems? For Windows, there's an x64 installer and the web site says Studio One Pro works with Vista, so presumably it works with 64-bit Vista. The site doesn't say anything specific about the program working or not working with Snow Leopard (or at least I couldn't find the info under specs), so maybe Jonathan could comment on that as well.

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I mentioned that the audio path can do 64 bits, but what about operating systems? For Windows, there's an x64 installer and the web site says StudioOne works with Vista, so presumably it works with 64-bit Vista. The site doesn't say anything specific about the program working or not working with Snow Leopard (or at least I couldn't find the info under specs), so maybe Jonathan could comment on that as well.

 

Studio One is compatible with Snow Leopard right now as a 32bit application, and we are working on a 64bit build to be available soon.

 

In XP, Vista, or Win7, we are compatible as a 32bit or 64bit application.

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Well...never did find a file called SoundFonts. I believe Jonathan from PreSonus is monitoring the threads - he's the guy who did the instructional StudioOne videos on the PreSonus site, so the dude knows whereof he speaks - and maybe he can clue me in to finding the SampleOne content now that everything else is squared away with the other instruments.


And maybe he can also let me know if the official name is Studio One or StudioOne so I make sure I get it right!

 

SampleOne has no included content, and is meant to provide basic sampling ability. Drag and drop files, as you did, and then play them back...very simple.

 

The proper name is Studio One (Studio One Pro and Studio One Artist).

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SampleOne has no included content, and is meant to provide basic sampling ability. Drag and drop files, as you did, and then play them back...very simple.


The proper name is Studio One (Studio One Pro and Studio One Artist).

 

Thanks Jonathan, I went back and corrected all those typos :)

 

I get what you're saying about SampleOne. It certainly was easy to bring in samples and map them. Does SampleOne open Sound Fonts? I'm not sure if I have any Sound Fonts on my system for testing...

 

Here's an idea: Make SampleOne .SFZ-compatible. I realize SFZ is kind of a Cakewalk thing, but Garritan and some other companies are getting into it now, and it is an open source/public kinda protocol. That would open up a lot of files that are on the web.

 

BTW Jonathan thanks very much for participating. I appreciate that you're not imposing any marketing-speak into the thread :), but don't be shy - I've gotten your demos at trade shows, and know you have a tremendous amount of knowledge about the program. So, please feel free to chime in with comments on anything I post. OTOH I know you're busy, so I'll certainly understand if you only have a limited amount of time to follow this thread.

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Hey all - we lost some posts during the outage. Jonathan replied to the above post as follows:

 

"SampleOne only deals with straight up audio for now.

 

The built-in Presence instrument will open any .SFZ file. In fact, all of the presets for it are actually Sound Fonts, sourced from Digital Sound Factory. There are TONS of Sound Fonts out there, which is one reason we went that route.

 

I'll be watching this thread, let me know if you need anything!"

 

I then responded in another post that I tried loading a .SFZ file, but Presence didn't recognize it - until I changed the suffix to one that Presence recognized, and then it loaded perfectly.

 

I also did an extensive post on using the Control Link function, and will reconstruct that as we go forward. If by any chance someone saved or downloaded that post, let me know!

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Before continuing...several people have wondered how the transition to the new platform will affect Pro Reviews. As you know if you've read the forum-wide announcement, the forums were captured for converting to the new platform on 12/20, so any posts added after that to these forums will be lost. But, fear not: the Pro Reviews will continue, with the only difference being that I'm writing all my posts in a text editor and saving the images so that they can be reconstructed on the new platform (slated to go live on 1/8 or possibly before).

 

I will also be copying relevant posts that you make so they won't be lost either - particularly in the case of Jonathan Hillman, as he's added many little clarifications and other useful tidbits.

 

Although the combination of the unexpected outage and the conversion to the new platform is definitely causing a bit of an interruption, in a way it's not so bad...I was able to log some more time with Studio One Pro, and from PreSonus's standpoint, instead of the review being done before HC 2.0 goes live, it will likely get a lot more attention as people poke around the new site. So, at least this particular cloud has a silver lining :)

 

Now, back to the review. Not to jump too much ahead, but...this is a helluva program.

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Let's look at how hands-on control works with Studio One Pro. Say what? Aren't there more important things to cover?

 

Well, yes and no. Personally, to me hands-on control is a vitally important part of working with a DAW, and before going further, I want to have things set up so I can work the way I want. But, this isn't just about taking care of my needs. Studio One Pro makes the process of hands-on control so simple that if you've shied away from this due to complexity, you no longer have that excuse :). So, let's set up a control surface.

 

First, you need to decide what you're going to use as an external controller, then you click on the External button to the left of the mixer area. You can add an external device; templates are set up for a variety of devices, including the one we're going to use for purposes of illustration - Line 6's KB37, because it's a keyboard and has some limited control surface capabilities. Besides, it fits easily on my (physical) desktop, and we already installed it as our keyboard of choice. Of course, you can also set up a generic control surface or keyboard if your device of choice isn't mentioned. In some cases, calling up a particular device shows info about it, and how to optimize it for use with Studio One Pro.

 

Referring to the first attached image, clicking on External shows the external devices, in this case the KB37. Double-click on the device, and a representation of the controller called the Device Control Map appears (second attached image).

 

Now, here's the genius part: Click on MIDI Learn, start twisting dials and pushing buttons, and they appear in the Device Control Map. Referring to the third attached image, the controls start off as generically labeled knobs, but you can change the look to correspond to the physical control (e.g., choose a fader instead of a knob), as well as label the controls. When you're all done, you have a cute little on-screen controller that looks like the fourth attached image. You'll note that the knobs represent real knobs on the KB37, and the buttons represent real buttons.

 

So, now our control surface is set up. It's time for the other shoe to drop, and link it to some parameters. After all, that's the whole point, innit?

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This is easy, too. Perhaps the most important aspect is that when you make assignments, they're context-sensitive. For example, if you assign the control surface controls to particular functions in the Impact instrument, whenever Impact has the focus the control surface will affect it based on the assignments you made. But if you made another set of assignments for the mixer, then when the mixer has the focus, the mixer assignments are in play. You don't have to think about this or switch anything; just call up what you want to tweak, and tweak.

 

As to the assignment process itself, you just click on the parameter you want to control - say, the Mojito filter cutoff. Its name and current value appears in the upper left Parameter Window, as shown in the first attached image. Then you move either physical control you want to use, or the virtual representation in the Device Control Map. Its name, the device with which it is associated, and the current value show up in the right parameter window (second attached image). To finalize the process, you just click on the Link symbol - done. Now whenever you call up Mojito, the assigned control will change the filter cutoff.

 

There's also an alternative assignment method that accomplishes the same result, but uses a "Drag-and-drop" technique - just drag the "hand" icon in the left parameter window on top of the desired control in the Device Control Map (third attached image).

 

To sum up, if you’re into using control surfaces, you’ll enjoy how efficiently you can make control assignments. And if you’re not into using control surfaces, Studio One Pro makes the process so easy you might become a convert.

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Sorry for jumping around among various topics but Studio One Pro is a totally full-featured DAW. I’m assuming most people aren’t particularly interested about aspects in common with other DAWs – of course Studio One Pro can record MIDI and audio, edit notes, etc. Instead, I want to cover the unique features first, and then we can circle back and get into how some of the more standard features are handled.

 

Take built-in effects. First of all, they’re 64-bit effects, which helps demonstrate why it’s kinda nice to design a DAW from scratch with all fresh code; instead of having to patch 64-bit operation to a 32-bit app, it seems Studio One Pro was designed with 64-bit computing in mind. (Jonathan, is that a correct assumption?)

 

Anyway, here’s a quick list of effects before we delve into details:

 

TEST EQUIPMENT

 

Phase Meter

Spectrum Meter

Tuner

 

FX PROCESSORS

 

“Analog” Delay

Tempo-Synched Delay

Groove Delay

Guitar Amp Emulator

Distortion

Compressor

Expander

Gate

Limiter

 

MASTERING PROCESSORS

 

Multiband Dynamics

Three-Band Compressor

 

MIXING

 

Binaural Pan

Mix Tool (like Sonar’s Channel Tools)

7-Band Parametric EQ

Channel Strip (low-cut filter, dynamics, 3-band EQ)

 

MODULATION EFFECTS

 

Auto Filter

Chorus

Flanger

Phaser

Tremolo

 

REVERB

 

MixVerb (insert reverb)

Room Reverb (models virtual rooms)

 

Studio One Pro can also accommodate external processors and apply them as plug-ins, Also, there’s automatic latency compensation. However, be aware that these plug-ins are “keyed” to Studio One Pro, so you can’t use them in other programs.

 

We’ll get into the details of some of the more sophisticated review, but let’s proceed to the concept of Micro Views, which is unique to Studio One Pro and is quite innovative.

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The Console view has Large and Small views, and of course, channels where you can insert effects (either individual effects or effects chain presets). In either view, you can not only show any insert effects as blocks with a name, but also, expand that into a "Micro Views" (sort of "thumbnails") of the effects settings. What's unique about these is they also include a subset of the effects controls - i.e., the parameters you would be expected to adjust most often.

 

The first attached image shows Large view, with the channels dragged upward to display the three effects Micro Views in the channel simultaneously (otherwise, you'd need to scroll up or down the "virtual rack" to see the various controls for the effects). You can see the main Mixverb interface, and to its left and somewhat below, the Micro View with its parameters: Predelay, Size, Damp, Gate Threshold, and Mix. So, the only controls that require the full FX view for editing are the Gate Release and Width parameters.

 

The second attached image shows the Small view (featuring the Pro EQ), but you can still see two of the Micro Views to the right of the fader. As with the Large view, you can scroll up or down through the Micro Views. Note that the cursor in the Micro View for the Low Frequency filter frequency can control the same parameter in the full view. (The two parameters being controlled in tandem are circled in red for clarity.)

 

So does this kind of system really work? Well, it works in conjunction with another feature. Normally when you open any effect's full view, it replaces whatever GUI was showing previously so you basically see one effect at a time (there's even a drop-down menu that, for any given channel. lets you switch the window to any insert effect GUI). This greatly minimizes clutter and leads to a cleaner layout, so having the Micro Views is extremely helpful if you want to tweak other effect parameters as well as those in the full view GUI. But, if you prefer to have multiple effects windows open at once, you can do that too; "pinning" an effect makes sure its GUI is always visible.

 

Verdict on the Micro Views: Very cool. In a way, it reminds me of when Cakewalk brought out four sliders to adjust FX parameters into Sonar's console view. The major difference is that Sonar lets you assign the sliders to any FX parameter, while the parameters in the Micro Views are fixed. But, Studio One Pro definitely does a better implementation in terms of user interface.

 

And I also have one sort of unrelated comment: While setting up loops so I could work with the effects, I found the whole process very intuitive. I was able to import the loop (drag-and-drop from the desktop, of course!), stretch it, loop it, and generally figure my way around without looking at the manual. So far, PreSonus's claims of user-friendliness seem well-founded.

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it seems Studio One Pro was designed with 64-bit computing in mind. (Jonathan, is that a correct assumption?)

 

That is correct, Studio One was designed with 64bit process precision, as well as 64-bit memory addressing in mind. We released out of the gate with a 64bit build for Windows, and it is likely we will be the first with a 64bit build for OSX. The only material advantage there being that you can access more than 3GB of RAM.

 

I should also mention that multi-core processing is central to our design, and S1 can use all of the cores you have on any machine, and manages the use of those cores very well.

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Is it possiable to route tracks individually from Ez drummer and superior drummer like you can with protools?

 

If you mean audio outputs from those VSTi's, yes, you can. There is a 'Ch' button (Channels) in the plug-in header which allows you to enable any output the VSTi has, and it will show up in the S1 mixer.

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First off,if you're a fan of Presonus (which you probably are if you purchase Studio One Pro)chances are you use Presonus gear.When using Studio One Pro with Presonus gear you get flawless interaction with your hardware,which is wonderful!

 

I had absolutely no issues with any of the installation or anything.I simply followed the install instructions,opened it after the installation and away I went, EZ drummer and all.

 

There are many features to love about Studio One Pro.First thing I did after opening the program was go to prefs to set up my key commands.I just love the fact that you can set up commands as if you are using other DAWs.(brilliant) I actually proceeded to track a 24 track session with it.At the time I was using a Firestudio 2626 with one Digimax FS and a Digimax D8.After a quick set up of my I/Os, everything ran great.Had no troubles throughout the entire session.

 

The real fun began later when I began the mixing process.The layout is nice, took me about 30min or so to get a feel for navigating.It almost reminds me of a cubase/Logic hybrid.(Which is a good feel)The only thing that really took some getting use to was the drag and drop when using inserts.The more I reminded myself to to actually drag the insert to the track the more I began to like the feature.They really have made Studio One Pro very efficient.Lots of key features to help cut back on production time.

 

My favorite thing about Studio One Pro is the integration you have when going from song to song to master to master.Its all right there.If there are slight changes I need to make to a song while Ive already got it in mastering mode,with a click of a button I can jump back to the song make my changes hit update master and its done.I dont have to worry about more bouncing and all of that.That feature alone cut back tons of time for me.

 

I could go on and on about all the different features,main thing is I have'nt come up with anything I really don't like about Studio One Pro.

Over all its a great system I strongly recommend checking it out.

 

I use plenty of presonus gear daily, and I have yet to find something I don't like.

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Anderton calls this a "full featured DAW".....I'm not sure which DAWs Craig has been using but S1 is a fresh new, but hardly "full featured" DAW.

 

No Quicktime support for scoring video (all other pro DAWS have this and have for many years)

 

No coherent way of modifying tempo or creating tempo maps to existing audio

 

No audio warp facilities

 

No way to use a buss as an input to an audio track (Cubase, PT, Logic, etc, etc).

 

Jonathan Hillman will certainly call this nitpicking, but as a working pro these are necessary for many of us, which is why the other DAWS all have them. They are not niche feature requests.

 

It can be argued that this is only a Version 1.0 and these features may (or may not) be added later, but the question is how a company could release a product into a market teeming with DAWs strong on features, and expect to compete in a meaningful way to anyone but advanced beginners.

 

TH

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Anderton calls this a "full featured DAW".....I'm not sure which DAWs Craig has been using but S1 is a fresh new, but hardly "full featured" DAW.


No Quicktime support for scoring video (all other pro DAWS have this and have for many years)


No coherent way of modifying tempo or creating tempo maps to existing audio


No audio warp facilities


No way to use a buss as an input to an audio track (Cubase, PT, Logic, etc, etc).


Jonathan Hillman will certainly call this nitpicking, but as a working pro these are necessary for many of us, which is why the other DAWS all have them. They are not niche feature requests.


It can be argued that this is only a Version 1.0 and these features may (or may not) be added later, but the question is how a company could release a product into a market teeming with DAWs strong on features, and expect to compete in a meaningful way to anyone but advanced beginners.


TH

 

 

then it would have just as much bloat as the other product.

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