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Your one stop guide for everything you need to know about PC and Mac sequencers


Breaking News

Tweak's City Desk:


1/02/2010  Happy NY all you SEQ Freeks!  Over the past few weeks I have been working in 4 sequencers.  Yep Crazy.  Cubase 5, Sonar 8.5 Pro Tools LE 8 and Logic 9.  I have them all and yes they are all legal. I also have my reviews better organized and incorporated in the Guide.

Now that i am so well traveled I can get back on my soapbox.  My message to the coders in the industry:  These applications crash TOO Much.  I mean really, if my car worked as well as my sequencers I'd be late for work every day, the gas guage would read full when  the tank was empty, airbags would be deploying at every left turn and overdrive would drop you down to first gear at 50 mph (hate that!) 

To be fair I'll tell you that Logic and Pro Tools LE seem to be more crash resistant than the other 2 listed.  But all of them crash and its simply unacceptable. Demand more.  The greatest cause of crashing for all platforms is when running software synths, particularly 3rd party ones. 

Part of the problem is the fierce competition over attracting the newest customers.  There is a rush to develop new features that the current generation wants.  Last year it was to have a pitch corrector that made you sound like T-Pain.  Interestingly the companies that worked the hardest on this are less stable than the others.  So think about that.  When you see "new features" perhaps that should be cause NOT to upgrade.  Wait 6 months till they get it sorted.  Tweak Out.


12/12/09 64 bit or bust?  Today i installed Windows 7.  Yep, you can bet it was a day without music.  Crash, bing, bang, boom...smoldering ruins. So I type this in Vista.  But I digress.  Most interesting when i opened the Win7 package was the presence of BOTH at 32 bit and 64 bit versions of the new MS OS. Is the studio world ready?  Not a chance on my system.  What is this all about you might ask.  Well imagine you are on a highway with 32 lanes and you see an exit to the new SuperHighway with 64 lanes.  Only the problem is this is a toll road, and it only accepts certain supercharged vehicles, not your 1972 Datsun. Even though your sequencer may say its 64 bit that is not all you need.  Memory, motherboard and drives have to be ready.  And you weren't thinking of keeping all your 32 bit plugins were you? 

64 bit aside, I think its wise to wait a bit more before launching into Win 7 for a stable DAW, unless you like troubleshooting things.    


4/20/09  You heard it here first.  I just ordered Cubase 5.  Yes it is true I am a die hard Logic guy.  But sometimes one needs to change their approach.  Now that I have updated my DAW to a Mac pro system, I am delving into new software.  Part of the reason for this is that plugins (in which logic has the crown) is not the whole story when it comes to creating a masterpiece.  Innovative processes for manipulating and generating better sound out of raw material is equally important.  With pitchcorrect and variaudio, Cubase 5's audio editor pulls out way ahead of Logic, shifts to overdrive, and leaves the "90's style" Logic editor in the dust.  cubase5



Namm 2009

Tweak Trivia: Not everyone knows, but this is not the 1st time Cubase reached version 5.  Cubase VST came out in version 5 before they renamed it Cubase SX in 2002. 

Cubase 5 Announced

Talk about Steinberg at studio-central

More features, less money
Why spend money on a 3rd party pitch manipulation tool when you can have it integrated into your DAW? Makes sense to me and Steinberg has seen the light too. VariAudio and PitchCorrect do exactly what you would expect them to do in a simple, streamlined and integrated manner. The interface allows quick fixes for vocalists that need it or just want it. Steinberg has also decided to look into the future by providing 64-bit compatibility with Vista and upcoming Mac operating systems. Other new features include Groove Agent ONE drum machine, Beat Designer MIDI plug-in and LoopMash.  Check out my review of Cubase 5

(Tweak wonders about the quiet over at Apple regarding Logic Ni..Nin... ine.. (Lookout, don't want the search engine thinking I know something).  Cough.  GarageBand now offers music lessons inside GB.  LOL, imagining the day when your sequencer tells you, "hey man, that track really sucked bad, would you like a lesson?" <insert cymbal crash> ROFLMATICO, erm..)


PTLE and M-Powered are now at Version 8.  (as of Namm 09)
Logic is at Version 8 and has been for a looong time
Sonar is at, you guessed it, 8 (As of Summer Namm 08)
Cubase would be at 10 if they did not go back to 1 in 2002.  (as of Namm 09)

All eyes to Apple. 

Breaking News 11-26-08


Coming soon:  The Sonar V-Studio 700

Tweak's take:  Whoa!  Isn't the V-name a Roland gig?  Yep.  V-drums, V-Guitar, V-Synth and Now...tada..the V-studio.  Apparently Roland and Cakewalk are having a little cake in Roland's bed.   Lol.  But jokes aside, this is going to make people happy.  20 ins and 24 outs, and get this, it has an integrated Hardware Fantom VS synth that will even take the new ARX expansion boards.  Now you add all the great soft synths and samplers that now come with Sonar and you got serious sound making artillery.  Sonar 8 now comes with Dimension Pro which can load all those old emu sound sets that put dance music and hip hop on the map. 

So what's it all mean?  If Cake-Roland can make this work they will have leapfrogged over Cubase for perhaps the first time in history.  It will be interesting to see if other sequencer makers follow suit or if Roland branches out to include V-studios for other sequencers.

A year has passed. Where is Logic 9?  This is getting to be an internet joke.  Logic is still at version 8.  Of course, Apple's not going to drop any clues.  There have been some pro application updates and minor housekeeping things.   

Cubase has been notched up to Version 4.5.  The update adds more support for the Yamaha Motif XS Synth and KX controllers.  Steinberg itself is offering some new controllers like the CC121 which has a number of control surface features.  There is also the coming MR816 CSX and MR816 X Advanced Integration DSP Studio for Cubase.  These are 16 channel audio interfaces with DSP and monitoring control.  Read more at Logic Studio package contains more than just Logic pro 8, but also Sound Track Pro 2 and Main Stage.  Its a suite.  Review?  But of course.  Right here.

Speaking of suites Twelve Tone Systems (i.e., Cakewalk) has unveiled its suite.  Tada, the Cubase 4 and Cubase Studio 4 earlier this year to replace Cubase SX.  VST3 was implemented with a complete new set of instruments and effects.  SoundFrame was introduced.  It is touted as "a Universal Media Library" for managing any sound from any soft synth.  You can also assign attributes like sound category style, character, etc.  Sounds a bit like Kore, eh?  We can tell Apple was listening as there is a new library function in Logic Pro 8 as well.  Read more about a href="">Cubase 4  

Steinberg has announced that the VST3 SDK will be released to developers in January 2008. This could shake things up a bit on the PC side of the sequencing ocean. VST3 promises to provide improved performance, multiple i/o's, better automation, window resizing and more. Read more.

Propellerheads have just upgraded Reason to version 4.  Reason 4's new features include Thor the Polysonic Synthesizer, the RPG8 monophonic arpeggiator, a Re-Groove Mixer and a redesigned sequencer.  The upgrade from Version 3 is $129.95 at zZounds.  You can

Digidesign site.

MOTU's Digital Performer is now at 5.1. Acid Pro is now at version 6.  


Breaking News 03-06-06

If there is a mover and shaker, it appears to be Cakewalk, having managed to bring about a whole number change to version 5 before 4's dust settled.  Take a look at some of the new features in Sonar 5.  Cakewalk also has some new soft synths out, that are, shock me, Mac compatible.  Start up the rumor mill boys! There is also the addition of Roland's Variphrase technology--another 1st for those that would eat Cake.  For the second time in history Cake has something neither Logic or SX has.  (The first time was when they brought in Acid Loops)

The Steinberg camp has released Nuendo 3, a further professionalization of a application for those in everyday production and post pro environments.  They professionalized the price too.  It's now out of range for nearly all home enthusiasts.  Cubase is still at to be exact. Kinda quiet over there.  It's been a period of unusual tranquility, which is a bit disarming. Logic 7.2 is released with relatively few changes, except for that it is now compatible with Apple's new Intel machines.  That's a big deal for Apple, but for the end user on a G5 who want's Logic to step up to the plate with new features, this is a non-deal. Ear to the ground, are those rumblings of discontent among logic users?  Perhaps so.  Or perhaps Apple knows better? They are focusing on all there small apps--iLife, GarageBand, iPod...hmmm Ok I will tell you a new thought which occurred to me recently.

You gotta think 10 years ahead.  What is important is not that a music making application has 5,000 production features, but that it can carry it in your pocket and connect it to your TV, then upload it to your personal server in cyberspace.  It will be just you, your i-box thingie, a keyboard, mics and input mixer. Everything else is soft.  Your studio is anywhere.  Your music is everywhere.  Instantaneously.

Now lets witness the event of the new Intel-based Mac Mini.  Definitely on the road to the vision just articulated.  Look at how GarageBand can create and upload a podcast in an afternoon.  While the other guys are still seeing things in terms or production features, requiring a big and bulky studio, the Apple camp is out laying the pipes for the future.  If Less can communicate and More cannot, people will choose Less and thereby get more than More.  Ok that's enough for today.  :)



Breaking News 07-12-05

Today, yes today, Steinberg released news of a coming Cubase SX/SL 3.1 update.  Its due in August and will have over 50 new features.  The release says "Cubase SX/SL 3.1 offers new features and capabilities including full integration of external hardware instruments and effects including Studio Connections Audio integration, support for Steinberg’s Dolby Digital and DTS Encoders and expanded editing and mixing function" Studio Connections will allow greater integration with Yamaha gear.  The surround encoders will keep the dudes making music for video DVDs pretty happy.  Bundling in an encoder is a first for any sequencer.  Usually, you have to buy an add-on.

The Heat is ON.  Of course its summertime and the living is greasy.  Lol.  In the world of sequencers we have an announcement by MOTU about digital performer 4.6 to include some melodyne like pitch transformation features.  Oooo la la!  This is something none of the other majors have done.  Basically, the feature allows you to repitch audio, including vocals.  This is quite different from an auto tune like solution.  You can actually change the melody of a vocal moving words around. 

Logic 7.1 is now out, a $20 upgrade from Pro 7 and worth much more.  You get a lot of new instruments and several new features. There's a new "follow tempo" function for audio files.  Yep you read that right.  Record a bass track at 100BPM then adjust the tempo to 120 an viola!  The bass track follows the new tempo.  Amazing!  You can also make Apple Loops from right inside Logic now too.  There are plenty of small new features too.  And with Mac OX 10.4.1 (Tiger) the program feels quicker and smoother.

On the Sonar front, a new version 4 of Home Studio is almost in the can and will be shipping by the end of the month.  Sonar V4 is doing well.  Kinda quiet otherwise.  But in the land of walking cakes, that means they are busy! 


Breaking News 11-24-04

Ah, busy at work we are here in the lab.  With New versions of all 3 sequencers here, its hard to get to them all.  I have done extensive work with Logic 7 and its working well here on the G5.  Also spent a good number of days in Cubase SX3 and it too is an enjoyable way to work.  Performs well in OS X (though it's a bit faster, graphically, in Windows XP).  Sonar 4 is here too, but haven't had much of a chance to play with it.  What I did see was an impressive change in graphics, particularly with metering.  I know a lot of you wonder which I think is better for the PC, Cubase or Sonar. Here's a one sentance answer.  As of CubaseSX 3 , it's a tie. Go to my forums to bash me on this.  On the Mac, Logic7 is King, but Steinberg and MOTU's sequencers do have their features Logic can't touch.


Breaking News 10-01-04

Yep, its upgrade time at sequencer city!  It seems like all the software makers are upgrading their code.  The Ableton Live was first, now at version 4, including full MIDI support and some nifty note editors.  Now Cakewalk is releasing Sonar 4 and Steinberg has released Cubase SX3.  Apple has announced Logic Pro 7.  Exciting news everywhere!

You can view my handy comparison chart of the new features introduced by Cakewalk and Steinberg.  Most impressive is SX3's new feature incorporating Acid Loop functionality, which Sonar has had for years.  Likewise, Cakewalk is offering a "Freeze track" feature that was the killer feature that during the first launch of Cubase SX.  This means it will be harder than ever to make a choice between the two applications.  The truth will lie, as it always does, in how well they help YOU make music.

I will be reviewing all of these products extensively soon!


Breaking News 2-25-04

Namm is over and the world has changed.  But not too much.  The big sequencer news is what Apple did with the emagic line.  All the old distinctions between platinum, gold, silver, audio, are now history and there are only two lines, Logic Pro 6 and Logic Express.  Both are Mac only and rumors are about that the future is Mac OS X only.  Logic Pro 6 includes components previously sold separately. Now you don’t need to worry about extending Logic’s functionality. The ES1, EVP88, EXS24mkII, EVOC20, ES2, EVB3, EVD6 and Space Designer are all available right in the box. Logic Express 6 is specially designed for the aspiring pro, offering an economic entry into the world of professional audio production. This powerful Logic version features over 30 high-quality DSP plug-ins, the EXSP24 sample player, the ES1 virtual analog synthesizer and the EVP73 vintage e-piano. Compare the features of Logic Pro 6 and Logic Express. Logic Pro 6 is available for order at zZounds in both the full version and in the upgrade.


 Logic Pro 7 Order the full version or the upgrade online.  Tweak: if you already have Logic the upgrade is a no-brainer.  otherwise Logic Pro is perhaps the most endowed sequencer on any platform with a total collection of plugins and software instruments bundled in. For a starter version, consider Logic Express


Breaking News 11.15.03

Yep. I am in the process of going Mac. That is if I truly like the Mac platform.  And believe me I am not going over because I think Macs a re better or or that that have a better OS--none of that!  I am moving for one reason, Logic Audio 6.  Can it stand up to the PC version? What's all this jive about AU and No VSTi's?  Of course I am going to tell you, the whole truth, blemished as it is.  So check out the review in progress


Breaking News: 10/17/03

Things sometimes do get better, and sequencers are making quite a jump this season.  The huge news of the moment in Sonar 3.  This is without doubt, the best upgrade in Cakewalk's long history.  It has, at least to my mind, finally come of age as a serious professional tool, surpassing Cubase SX 1.06 and the last PC version of Logic 5.51 by quite a margin.  Cakewalk has erased all the reason's why you didn't want Sonar in the past.  They replaced the old ugly mixer with a sleek and functional device that works similar to SX's.  There is a track inspector and you can see the screen update as you record (something that has always bugged me).  Sonar 3's rewire implementation is awesome--you can run Reason, Ableton Live and Project 5 together if you want to.  I expected more bugs than I have found after a few days of playing with it.  3.0 is solid and stable right now.  See my review to see if anything has changed.  But overall, I am delighted.  Logic PC users, Sonar 3 is the #1 reason why not to go Mac.  It is friends with sound forge, it will run your VSTi's with a little shell adapter. In short it plays with all your toys. Umm Apple, nudge, nudge we have some strong coffee a' brewin' here... can thee smell it?


Cakewalk SONAR Studio Recording Software (Windows)

Speaking of Rewire, the Cakewalkers now have Project 5 in their arsenal.  Its sort of like a soft synth/audio loop sequencer.  In many ways like Reason, and in other ways like the Live and Acid.  Like Reason Project 5 does not sequencer external midi synths, only it's internal softsynth and your VSTis and DXis on your system.  VSTis? You bet.  The VSTi shell comes with Project 5, so you can add all your softsynths into Project 5 now. 

We'll have to see how Cubase SX 2.0 fares against Sonar.  Details will come here, so stay tuned. 

Logic has not been standing still in the meantime.   Now that the application is solely over on the Mac platform, the emagic developers have been bringing Logic 6.3 to life with a new high end reverb plugin called Space Designer.  "The Space Designer is a high-end reverb plug-in for the Logic Series. Featuring a real-time convolution process, it is now possible to produce a reverb in Logic that is virtually indistinguishable from that of a real room or hall"

Apple Dual 1.8GHz G5 Desktop Computer
 Tweak: Yes, this is the new G5 dual 1.8 that has just replaced the 1.8 single processor.  Nearly all the speed and benefits of the 2gHz machine for 500 less.  Pre-orders taken now at zZounds.




The happy news is in the control surface area.  Emagic and Mackie have apparently shook hands and buried the hatchet.  Now Mackie Control and Logic Control are the same machine and both control the same softwares.  If you have either, download the update patch at up and running with a guide to Logic 6 with a ton of screen shots.  Check it out!  I just bit the bullet and got Spectrasonics Atmosphere. While I am a big fan of Eric Persing, I do have a few bones with their licensing agreement. Argh. Read it first. Look for more in a review. Big news at the Tweaklab is Vegas4+DVD, a sonic foundry product capable of making full surround sound DVDs in Dolby Digital.  Now all the incomplete surround features in Logic and Cubase SX are a lot more useful now that a decent musician friendly AC-3 encoder is out. BTW, once you get that AC-3 encoder, you can burn your acid4 songs in Full surround to DVD too.  Reaktor 4 has finally seen the light of day.  The price has gone up too. Check it out. 

Emagic has a bunch of bundles out, the synth collection .  A good way to fill Logic will possibilities. There's also a new Emagic Hip Hop collection for the EXS sampler.  Really nice. 

We are all waiting for Steinberg to update the "poofy" Cubase SX 1.05.  What's a "poof"?  Its when the program suddenly disappears without warning, like you never really ran it.  No error alerts, no system crash, just your desktop staring at you.  Hmm, maybe I wasn't working on a song all day and just thought I was...Kinda spooky.  Spookier is that Steinberg was bought out by Pinnacle systems--hope the poof is not some kind of bad omen.

Mac Logicians are waiting for OS X to incorporate VSTis.  There are some work-around shells available now. 

Sonar 2.2 is out. Another free update. What a great company. At least no one has bought them out yet!  I mean that. Sonar can now use asio drivers, so people with a digi 001, 002 and other cards that favor asio can use it.

Ok that's the news for now.



The news from Namm 2003 is coming in and the verdict is--it's going to be a great year for computer musicians!

Lets just take a look at two new flagship sequencers:

Announced by Emagic Logic 6

Tweak: Tons of enhancements for Logic Mac Users, like offline bounce, grouping in the mixer, time stretching in the arrange, better cpu resource management, more.

Project 5 Announced by CakewalkProject5 Screen Shot

Key features

  • Studio-quality instruments and effects
  • Pattern-based sequencers and processors
  • ACID™-compatible audio looping tools
  • Real-time, live-performance features
  • Open environment (ASIO, DX, DXi, MFX, ReWire client, WDM, VST*, VSTi*)


There's more news from Namm on my HOT NEW PRODUCTS PAGE



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Sequencers and DAWS Index
Review of Cubase 5
Logic Studio 9
Pro Tools LE 8.1
Logic Studio 8
Review of Sonar
Review of Reason
Reason (1st review)
Ableton Live
Logic Pro 7
Logic Pro 6
Logic Platinum 6
Logic Platinum 5
Digital Performer
Sony's Acid
Vintage Sequencers
Early History of Logic
Mac vs PC for Music?
Project 5
Sequencer City!
Cubase SX (original)
Cubase SX3
Using a Mac Pro as your DAW
Using Notebooks as your DAW
Which Sequencer is Best?
MIDI Time Code and Sync Issues
Custom Bank Select Methods in Logic
Write a Sonar Instrument Definition File
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