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Cubase vs. Reaper: Which is Right For You

In the modern world of music creation, there have never been more tools available to musicians and producers than now. Instruments have never been cheaper, music has never been easier to release, and artists have never been freer to express themselves. This creates a music environment that is open and inviting to anyone who has the creative drive to make music. There have never been so many viable options for music creators, and they have space to develop their own creative processes

But this can create an entirely new struggle for many musicians: having too many options. With the rise of the internet, almost anyone can have any sound that they want, any instrument they desire, and most importantly, any workflow they are looking for. While the process for recording music used to be entirely based on writing a song, recording it in a studio, and releasing it through a label, the new process for creating music is entirely different. Thanks to the advent of home recording, there are virtually infinite ways that producers can go about creating music. 

Often, the main tool that a musician will use to create their music is a DAW. There are many, many different options when it comes to DAWs, with options like Ableton, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, FL Studio, and countless others. As time has gone on, many DAWs have developed a following among producers. 

Two of these DAWs are Steinberg’s Cubase and Cockos’s Reaper. These are both powerful programs, but finding out which one is right for you is essential to creating a personal workflow that best suits your own style. 

What Is a DAW?

The initialism DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. These are some of the most important tools available to musicians and producers these days, thanks to their ability to basically function as an entire studio, but inside of a computer, and they seriously streamline the process. 

These programs allow people to  process audio and create songs in an accessible, convenient, and powerful way. They house multitrack sessions that allow users to process, record, and edit entire songs within the bounds of a single piece of software. While musicians and producers in the past would have to record bands live to tape or vinyl. A DAW gives you absolute freedom over the way that you write and record music. 

A good DAW will allow the user to have enough freedom and customizability to create music exactly how they want to, but also have enough power to handle a large number of tracks and channels. 

Different DAWs have different workflows, and these can either work very well for a specific person or feel entirely unnatural. The best way to find out which DAW suits your needs is to research them and try them out for yourself. At the end of the day, there is no “best DAW,” only the one that works best for you. That being said, finding out which DAW best integrates into your workflow will help to inspire your music creation and free you up to do exactly what you want. 

What Are the Strengths of Cubase?

Cubase is a DAW created by Steinberg. It has been a large part of the DAW scene on the internet for decades, dating back to the late 90s. It has been in development for all that time and has been a consistent part of recording setups. Many professional producers and musicians swear by its ability to create great music and its powerful and diverse set of tools. Here are some of the specific highlights of Cubase as a DAW. 

Large Amounts of Content

With Cubase, you get a ton of virtual instruments and plugins. Instruments like Groove Agent ONE, Prologue, and Spector, and audio effects that run the whole range of sound are available to users of Cubase, built in and directly integrated into the software. 

Professional Features

Due to the professional nature of many Cubase users, there are lots of features that can cater to the most demanding users. Users of every level of professionalism have what they need to do exactly what they want to do. There is almost nothing that an experienced user of Cubase can’t do in the DAW

Deep Functionality

Because Cubase has been in production for decades, it has a deep well of features available. The very large feature set allows Cubase users to do a large number of processes. 

What Are the Strengths of Reaper?

Cockos’s Reaper DAW  is another very viable option that has come onto the market over the past few decades. Released in 2005, Reaper has found a consistently sizable following as time has gone on. Reaper is one of the most inexpensive options available to musicians and producers, yet it still offers a large number of options when it comes to music creation and varying workflows. Here are some of the primary strengths of Reaper. 

Relatively Inexpensive

While some DAWs operate on a subscription basis, and others operate on relatively high one-time purchases, Reaper costs less than $100 for most people. The full version of the program is available to virtually anyone with a little bit of extra money who wants to get into music production. 

Very Lightweight

While many DAWs will take a large toll on the processing power of a computer, Reaper is a very small program that is less than 100MB when fully installed. This allows for much larger track counts and the ability to run smoothly under more demanding circumstances. 

Highly Customizable

Reaper has been in production for a very long time, and the developers have been working on the customizability of the workflow for a very long time. This means that Reaper is usable for virtually anyone who needs a DAW while still providing just as many, if not more, features as any other DAW on the market

Which DAW Is Right for You?

Both Cubase and Reaper have very strong suits. Cubase has long been renowned for its professional nature and diverse amount of built-in sounds. It has a lot of options available to users when creating music, and can be used by anyone, whether if they’re brand new producers or industry veterans. 

Reaper, on the other hand, provides a very low point of entry both in cost and usability, making it accessible to someone who wants to get their feet wet making music. It’s user-friendly and allows producers to create exactly what they want, as long as they have the external tools to do so. 

It will often come down to what the user is looking for when deciding which DAW they would like to use. Both provide demos of their software, so it is definitely worth looking into trying the programs first hand and seeing which one you vibe with. 

How Unison Can Help

At Unison, we provide all the specific sounds and tools that producers need to create music that is fresh and exciting. Our MIDI Chord Pack has tons of chord progressions that will help producers to create arrangements that are exciting, almost instantly. Our Serum Preset Packs allow producers to get incredible sounds right out of the box. Our Artist Sample Packs give producers access to sounds curated by top industry professionals—what more could you ask for? Your next masterpiece is right around the corner, and Unison is here to help you get there. 

 

Sources: 

What Is a DAW (And What Can You Do With It)? | Careers In Music

Cubase: Your guide to music production | Steinberg

REAPER | Audio Production Without Limits

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