I know these things have been discussed to death before but I haven't found a comparison between the relevant sequencers. I'd like to have a simple way of comparing the sequencers and see which one might suit me the best. I know I'm not alone and I think this is more useful for the community than me just ranting about Steinberg and asking which sequencer to buy. I'm using the term sequencer loosely for any software that has full support for both audio and MIDI which doesn't mean multitrack recording software without MIDI.
The reason for my interest: I'm using Cubase SX3 and am now alarmed of the way Steinberg is handling things. They promised a final update for SX3 months a go and now they have stated that they can't finish the update because they have to work on Cubase4 64 bit version. Another thing Steinberg promised months a go was a solution for the lost dongle issue. If your dongle gets lost you are screwed. My insurance company won't insure a software licence protected by a dongle and Steinberg hasn't offered a solution to this problem which leaves me scared when travelling. I know it isn't a simple issue but there are companies like VSL and East West who don't make copy protection the user's problem. There has also been rumours about Steinberg cutting down the support for OS X but atleast they claim this isn't true.
What I would like to do is first gather a list of sequencers, list of relevant things sample based composers need in a sequencer and then a list combining the two. If such a thing has been done in the past please inform me. Otherwise please contribute by answering and suggesting. I will update this post to include all the listed information.
Ableton - Live!
Apple - Logic
Cakewalk - Sonar
Digidesign - Pro Tools (versions?)
Magix - Samplitude
Magix - Sequoia
Mark of the Unicorn - Digital Performer
Steinberg Cubase SX3
Steinberg Cubase 4
I included both versions of Cubase because of the support issues and because a lot of SX3 users don't want to update to Cubase 4. SX3 works with some platforms while Cubase 4 doesn't and vice versa. I suppose the lite versions of the sequencers work as the flagship version. Please note if this isn't the case.
Relevant features and issues:
The current software version
State of support (update frequency, company commitment)
Platform compatibility (not official lists but user checked)
Audio device support (ASIO, CoreAudio etc.)
Plugin support (VST, DirectX etc.)
Included plugins and virtual instruments
64 bit support
Unusual system requirements (proprietary hardware etc.)
Features that make the product stand out from the crowd
Serious incompatibilities with hardware or software which should be supported
Distribution media (CD, DVD, downloadable, other)
Price (including competitive crossgrade pricing)
I assume that all the modern sequencers have enough audio and MIDI tracks and such.
Is there any statistics about the user base of different sequencers? There are about 20000 registered users on the main Logic and Cubase forums, about 5000 users in Samplitude / Sequoia forum, about 3000 users in the Nuendo forum and over 32000 users in the Cakewalk forum.
I'll begin with Cubase SX3 as it is the only sequencer I really know.
Software version: 3.1.1
State of support: infrequent updates, discontinued
Platform compatibility: Windows XP, works on Windows XP X64, OS X (PowerPC), does NOT work on OS X (Intel), VISTA???, both Windows and OS X versions are included without any additional cost
Audio device support: Windows MME and ASIO on Windows, CoreAudio on OS X
Plugin support: VST on Windows XP and OS X (PowerPC), DirectX on Windows XP
Included plugins: basic synths and plugins, most users will use third party products
Surround support: 5.1 panning, bigger setups possible through aux sends
Video support: linear playback of basic avi and mpg
Multicore support: two processing cores fully supported
64 bit support: works on X64 and can access theoretical 4 gigs of memory, no true 64 bit version and never will be
Copy protection: uses a Synchrosoft dongle, broken dongles get replaced (does a fee apply?), lost or stolen dongle means that you have to buy the licence again
Distribution media: DVD
Price: not available anymore, can be updated to Cubase 4 for 169 euros (official prices in EUR and USD?), licence is transferrable
Subjective evaluation [janila]: Works for me now and has worked for a relatively long time. Full of features and easy to use. Missing Macintel and 64 bit support make the program dated. I'm concerned about the future of Steinberg and Cubase. Old versions don't get finished before new are released and obviously Steinberg doesn't have the resources to support several products at the same time. Is this Yamaha's fault?