Sonar vs. Pro Tools
I've been a Cakewalk user since Pro Audio 8. I've recently started getting into Pro Tools as a necessity. I'm not posting this as a competition between the two, but rather as a comparison and source of suggestions to improve Sonar.
There are areas where Sonar is better than Pro Tools. I'll list the main ones from my perspective:
1. Implementation of 64-bit. The PT11 release is a disaster at this point, with few plug-ins available for use so it's impossible to say how it will work out. Sonar has been at the forefront, and 64-bit implementation is excellent.
2. MIDI editing. Pro Tools MIDI editor is not horrible compared to Sonar's piano roll, but Sonar's Step Sequencer by itself is a huge advantage. Drum Maps and many other MIDI features in Sonar do not exist in PT. Not surprising given the history of the two products, Cakewalk starting out as a MIDI sequencer.
3. Included plug-ins. In this area Sonar blows PT away. The instruments, Pro Chanel, etc are far beyond the few things included with PT, and probably any other DAW. The only drawback is that I feel they may have focused too much on that aspect and neglected some other areas.
4. Visual appearance. Superficial, but important when you're staring at something for hours on end. I really like the color scheme of Sonar X2, the way waveforms are represented, etc. Pro Tools is like a glaring rainbow of non-pleasing colors. The darker scheme of X2 is much more cool looking and "soothing" to work with.
This is where my wish list/suggestions come in. Keep in mind that it is my opinion, but I think these are valid points.
If Pro Tools had the features above, or even just the first two, I would probably switch to it permanently. The reason is that the workflow of editing and mixing in PT is much more efficiently laid out than it is in Sonar. The way tracks are displayed and the way you can manipulate them is much better. The drop-down minimize/maximize of Sonar is inferior to the multiple sizing options in PT. The end result is that you can get more tracks on the screen and access more of their functions more efficiently than you can in Sonar. The Group function in PT vs Track Folders in Sonar is not a huge difference for organization, but the ability to manipulate the views and parameters of whole groups in PT is a big advantage. The Mix Window vs Console View is slightly better in Sonar, but once again PT makes it easier to view a larger number of tracks at once without losing access to their essential parameters. The Inserts layout in PT is better than the FX Bin in Sonar. The routing of tracks is more flexible. The addition of take lanes and automation lanes in Sonar makes it comparable to PT, but as far as I know, there is nothing in Sonar like the playlist function in PT, which makes things like comping vocals infinitely more efficient. The way the transport, playback and recording work in PT feels much simpler and more efficient. If you have looped playback turned on, you select part of the timeline and it automatically starts playing back in a loop. Small features like that make a big difference in workflow.
In general, the overall layout of Sonar feels bloated and overcrowded compared to PT. The sticky windows in Sonar are a constant source of frustration for me. Cakewalk seems to be more focused on adding features, which is good, but in comparison it feels like PT has put a lot of thought into the core editing functions of the software, and making the workflow as efficient as possible.
This is far from comprehensive, but I hope it spurs some thought. It may not be as attention-grabbing as adding a new plug-in, but a focus on basic layout and functions with an eye towards simplification, intuitiveness and ease of editing should really be the primary focus of any DAW. I guess the simplest way to put it is that it feels like any given operation in Sonar takes several more mouse clicks than it takes to do the same thing in Pro Tools. They share a lot of features in common at this point, but it wouldn't hurt Sonar to steal more from them.
post edited by AJ_0000 - 2013/06/30 14:32:55