Pro Tools vs. Logic: A Songwriters Perspective
By Tristan Klopp
When it comes to Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), my colleague in the Creative Technology Center, Matt Ho, likes to say, "You can do anything with any DAW." I agree with him, and you (usually) won't catch me claiming superiority for any single DAW. However, we all have our preferences, and each DAW has its strengths. So, I'm going to take a look at my two most used DAWs, Logic and Pro Tools, and pick apart what I appreciate about each one, specifically from the perspective of a Songwriter.
There are countless takes on DAW preference and zero cookie-cutter answers. But as someone who has done a fair bit of writing/recording from apartment set-ups and professional studios, these are my main takeaways.
Logic, Pros & Cons:
The biggest thing Logic has going for it is that it quickly makes sense to a new user. This is especially true for people who have experience using Macs. It's about as close to "plug-and-play" as you can get with a DAW.
The stock instruments/plug-ins are solid.
Chromaverb and the Logic Compressor are some of my favorite plug-ins I've used, and they both come with the DAW. UltraBeat is quite nice for e-drums, and you have multiple options for piano sounds. Audio presets are easy to find, and they make sense. These are all additional ways that Logic is good for sitting down and quickly getting an idea out of your head and onto a recording.
So what's the catch?
Honestly, not much. If I'm brainstorming or creating a reference track to quickly send to a writing collaborator, you'll catch me on Logic. In my experience, Logic is great for personal use and is an accessible way for DIY musicians to create professional-grade work. So why even bother with Pro Tools? Well...
Pro Tools, Pros & Cons:
It's the industry standard.
Pro Tools has been explained to me as the Microsoft Word of music technology. If you want to work in a studio (or communicate well with an engineer who works in a studio), nine times out of ten, you need to be well versed in Pro Tools. And for good reason! The workflow makes sense and is conducive to organizing multiple inputs and outputs while recording lots of tracks at the same time (for example, a drum session). Becoming excellent in Pro Tools sets you up well for working in professional studios - it's expected (now is this changing...? I think a little bit, but not nearly enough to get away with blowing off Pro Tools, in my opinion).
Yes, it takes a minute (or a month) to get familiar with this DAW. However, once you understand it, you realize that it is quite an efficient system. From workflow to key commands, Pro Tools is fast once you know the ropes. Getting good at these things is a great way to look and feel confident in a new studio. (On a smaller level, I especially prefer Pro Tools' organization of third-party plugins).
If I am beginning the songwriting process (creating chords, lyrics, and melodies), I will rarely start in Pro Tools. The extra hoops to jump through are (for me) not helpful when trying to experiment with different ideas. The big exception here is if there is some electronic effect/sound that is driving the song that I want to be in the final recording. In that case, I will stay in Pro Tools through the whole project for the sake of continuity.
So Which To Use?
I use both Logic and Pro Tools on a regular basis. If I'm brainstorming, putting ideas down, and not necessarily looking for a record-ready recording, I'll likely lean towards Logic. On the other hand, if I have any indication that my project will be brought to a studio or sent off for a professional mix/master, I'll hang in Pro Tools. While both DAWs are capable of taking a project all the way, my experience has been that Pro Tools is the standard, and I want to be as accommodating to my collaborators as possible.
At the end of the day, use the technology that best serves the art. This article has been my rules-of-thumb for doing just that.
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