Welcome to another DAW comparison. This time, it’s Cubase vs Pro Tools, two of the most popular DAWs out there. Which one should you choose? Well, it really depends on your use case. Keep reading to find out which DAW to get for your music production needs.
Before we start looking at the differences between Cubase and Pro Tools, let’s get a brief introduction of both DAWs.
Cubase: A Brief Overview
Cubase started out as a MIDI sequencer for Atri computers. After just a year, the DAW appeared on MAC computers. The DAW has evolved over the years, but it’s still known as a good cross-platform DAW.
Cubase is popular among composers and other people who score music. For example, Hans Zimmer is a user of Cubase. Also, Cubase is my main DAW, so please take that into account when reading this comparison of Cubase and Pro Tools.
Features of Cubase
Pretty much all DAWs have similar features. So, instead of going over every single feature each DAW has, I’m going to cover the main differences between Cubase and Pro Tools.
Cubase has various versions and each version has different features. There are many differences between the versions. You can check out all the differences between the Cubase versions here.
When going over the features of Cubase, I’m just going to cover the features that are available with the fullest version – Cubase Pro.
One of the most popular features of Cubase – and the feature that got me to purchase it in the first place – is the VariAudio3 engine. This allows you to change the pitch and timing of audio files.
This is great when you’re working with singers. If the singer misses a note, you can change it and make it correct.
Cubase has this great feature called comping. This lets you record multiple takes of audio and then combine the best parts of each recording into one take.
Again, this is really great if you’re working with a singer – or any other audio, really. If the musician or singer you’re working with can’t get a perfect take, that’s not a problem. Just record a couple of takes and you’ll be good.
As a drummer, this is one of my favorite features of Cubase. Pretty much all DAWs come with a piano roll that allows you to program MIDI tracks and drums are no exception. The problem is that using a piano roll with drums can get really messy if you’re programming complicated drum parts.
The drum editor in Cubase doesn’t consider note lengths when programming the rhythms, so it’s much easier to view visually. Here’s what the drum editor looks like in Cubase.
Cubase comes along with a video editor to help you score music. This video editor isn’t going to replace your main video editor, but it will still help you when writing music to a scene.
Pros and Cons of Cubase Compared to Pro Tools
Let’s look at the pros and cons of Cubase compared to Pro Tools.
Pros of Cubase Compared to Pro Tools
Cubase allows you to buy a version of the software while Pro Tools tries to get you on a subscription basis. The Pro version of Cubase can be pretty expensive – €559.00 at the time of writing this – but after paying for it, you can use the software as it continues to be supported.
Pro Tools, on the other hand, requires that you pay monthly or yearly. The price is $200 at the time of writing this article.
Like I said in the Cubase features section, the drum editor in Cubase is really great for programming drum parts. If you’re a drummer, you’re going to really like this feature.
Pitch Correction with VariAudio3
Cubase comes with pitch correct out of the box, while with Pro Tools, you’ll need to purchase a third-party plugin like Melodyne. That said, I’ve tried VariAudio3 and Melodyne and I like the look and feel of Melodyne much better than VariAudio.
Cons of Cubase Compared to Pro Tools
Here are the cons of Cubase compared to Pro Tools
Cubase has many different versions to choose from. While this is great for people on different budgets, it’s a pain trying to figure out what edition of Cubase you need to get. When I previously bought the non-Pro version of Cubase, it seemed like there were always one or two features I needed that didn’t come with the version I currently had.
Pro Tools: A Brief Overview
If you’ve ever been in music production before, then you know about Pro Tools. Pro Tools has been known as “the tools the pros use.” Years ago, the DAW was tied down to needing to use a specific audio interface with the DAW, but in recent years it has opened up and has been more accessible to non-professional music producers.
Features of Pro Tools
Pro Tools has a lot of the same advanced features that Cubase has. But let’s go ahead and look at them.
Pro Tools allows you to add tracks into folders. That means you can put all of your guitar tracks into one folder and collapse them. You can do something similar with drums – put all your drums into one folder so you can collapse them when you’re working on something else. Cubase also has this feature.
Convert Audio to MIDI
With Pro Tools, and Cubase, too, you can convert audio to MIDI. That means you can record an audio take and then use that audio data to create a MIDI file and double the part with a virtual instrument. This is a great feature to have if you just want to quickly record a take and play around with the MIDI data instead of recording the MIDI data itself. Cubase also has this feature.
Pro Tools gets a few major updates each year. Every few months Avid – the makers of Pro Pools – posts about new features that have come to Pro Tools. You don’t have to worry about buying Pro Tools and then losing support or not getting fixes.
Pros and Cons of Pro Tools Compared to Cubase
There are some things that Pro Tools does better and worse compared to Cubase. Let’s look at those pros and cons.
Pros of Pro Tools Compared to Cubase
Like I said in the features section, Pro Tools constantly has updates which means they’re fixing things and adding new features all the time.
The Industry Standard
Pro Tools is well-known for being the DAW that professionals use. That means if you want to be a professional music producer and work with other professionals, then you’ll probably want to learn Pro Tools.
Cons of Pro Tools Compared to Cubase
Let’s look at the things Pro Tools doesn’t do as well as Cubase.
Pro Tools is going to make you pay each month or year to use the software. That really sucks if you don’t want to get sucked into subscriptions. But the good news is that by paying for a subscription, you always have the newest version. You won’t have to worry about losing support for your DAW.
Not as Good with MIDI and Virtual Instruments
You can use MIDI and virtual instruments with Pro Tools, but I hear a lot of people that have problems with this with Pro Tools. Add that to the fact that Cubase does MIDI and virtual instruments especially well, and you’ll see that Pro Tools really lacks in this department.
Cubase vs Pro Tools: The Conclusion
Both of these DAWs are great choices. Many professionals use these DAWs. That said, if you want to be in the music industry, then you’re going to want to learn and work with Pro Tools. Pro Tools is supposed to be better when working with audio as well.
On the other hand, if you want to focus on MIDI and virtual instruments, then Cubase is the DAW to use. I will say that I’ve also worked with audio with Cubase and have no problems, so don’t think that you can’t work with audio with Cubase – just that it works with MIDI and virtual instruments especially well.
Alternatives to Cubase and Pro Tools
There are other DAWs to choose from besides Cubase and Pro Tools. Here are some other DAWs that we have reviewed:
Josh is the founder and main author of Songwriter Nation. He has played music for over twenty years and even studied music at university earning a minor in music.