Cakewalk vs Reason

Want to talk about music hardware or software that doesn't include Reason?
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Proboscis
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Post 01 Feb 2020

Yesterday I decided to take a look at Cakewalk, mostly out of interest, but also with the longer term view of abandoning Reason as a DAW since I don't believe there's ever going to be sufficient attention given to Reason's sequencer shortfalls. It's not something I've considered previously, but change may be a good thing.

EDIT: For those not aware, the Cakewalk DAW is FREE

Is anyone else using Cakewalk ? If so, what are some features that you appreciate that Reason does not have, that make workflow a lot easier ? I'm going to make additions to this thread as I discover stuff.

The obvious USP of Reason is the Rack concept, but with Reason available as a VST, that becomes a non-issue (not that I have R11, and intend to hold out for R12). But as it stands, where I might easily be able to hook up an LFO to a filter knob, there's no immediately obvious way to do this in a more conventional DAW. I would like to say I'll RTFM, but there is no user manual for Cakewalk in it's current state - I will look for an old SONAR manual, as Im sure its mostly the same.

And in Reason's favor, it seems far more straightforward, but maybe that's because I've been using it for 10-15 years.

And Cakewalk has very few built in instruments. It doesn't even appear to have a synthesizer ! And the lack of a Rex-style drum loop plugin is a shame.

Alas, onto Cakewalk's advantages....................
Last edited by Proboscis on 01 Feb 2020, edited 1 time in total.

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Proboscis
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Post 01 Feb 2020

Cakewalk shows the note of each sequencer entry (on the piano roll). Simply by hovering over the MIDI note, it highlights the whole line, back to the keyboard GUI, and the note displays over the corresponding key. And further to this, an option can be turned on where every single note is tagged, which shows also the octave it's in. Very handy

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cakewalk_note_display.png
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Proboscis
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Post 01 Feb 2020

Markers can be set in the timeline, as simply as hitting the M key and assigning a name to that marker. The only way to do that is by 'hack' in Reason, and using the Blocks entries (which if you use block for their intended purpose, this is not possible).

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cakewalk_markers.PNG
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Proboscis
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Post 01 Feb 2020

Cakewalk is the obvious winner by a mile for guitarists, with 15 amps, 12 cabinets and 15 effects pedals. And it is FREE

https://www.cakewalk.com/Products/SONAR/TH3-Cakewalk

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orthodox
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Post 01 Feb 2020

I use Cakewalk instead of Reason for the final mixing. It has 'Mix scenes' and several builtin 'Prochannel' plugins that I like to have on every channel. The builtin EQ is also much more convenient than that in Reason. I still feel more comfortable in Reason when working in the sequencer or in the rack, but when it comes to mixing, I only make a pre-mix in Reason then export channel stems and load them into Cakewalk. Though I have to abstain from using sends in Reason in favor of parallel techniques.
Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise. -- L.Carroll

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Proboscis
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Post 01 Feb 2020

orthodox wrote:
01 Feb 2020
I use Cakewalk instead of Reason for the final mixing. It has 'Mix scenes' and several builtin 'Prochannel' plugins that I like to have on every channel. The builtin EQ is also much more convenient than that in Reason. I still feel more comfortable in Reason when working in the sequencer or in the rack, but when it comes to mixing, I only make a pre-mix in Reason then export channel stems and load them into Cakewalk. Though I have to abstain from using sends in Reason in favor of parallel techniques.
Not that I spend too much time on the mixing side, my interest lies more in composing, but I've always thought that bouncing stems out for production in another DAW is a good idea, to avoid the distraction of endless tweaking.

As to Cakewalk's ProChannel, I love the approach. Reason's SSL, while an awesome idea, is too cumbersome to scroll through when all sections are unfolded. Cakewalk's side pop out of the EQ, Compressor etc relevant only to the selected strip is a very nice implementation. What's also excellent is that double clicking on the visual pane pops out a larger screen, with all control knobs right there in front of the user.

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cakewalk_eq.PNG
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Proboscis
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Post 01 Feb 2020

Metronome sounds can be customized, both for each beat and each quarter beat.

MIDI clips can be linked so that when you change the note of one phrase, it changes all instances !

In the space of only two hours looking at Cakewalk, it's becoming very obvious how much Reason is lacking.

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Jackjackdaw
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Post 02 Feb 2020

I think it makes sense to use the correct tool for the job in hand. I got Cubase and learned it for all the stuff it can do that Reason can't. Then got really frustrated about all the stuff Cubase couldn't do that Reason could!

Belltunes
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Post 02 Feb 2020

I’ve used Cakewalk for years. I agree with all the comments so far comparing Reason and Cakewalk. Freezing tracks was a positive addition to Cakewalk along with ripple editing.

I always enjoyed rewiring reason to Cakewalk, but could be problematic. Now I
Have the best of both worlds with the advent of the Reason VST plug-in. I still record in Reason separately as well. It just depends on the project. It’s all good!!

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Proboscis
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Post 02 Feb 2020

Jackjackdaw wrote:
02 Feb 2020
I think it makes sense to use the correct tool for the job in hand. I got Cubase and learned it for all the stuff it can do that Reason can't. Then got really frustrated about all the stuff Cubase couldn't do that Reason could!
In 2020, what can Reason do that other DAWs can't ? Instrument routing is no longer a unique reason to use it, since it can be installed to use anywhere.

So that leaves the SSL and the sequencer. I've had almost no experience with other DAWs and coming in to Cakewalk with fresh eyes and no expectations, after only a few hours I've found several very powerful stock features - no doubt that list will grow the more time I spend.

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Proboscis
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Post 02 Feb 2020

Belltunes wrote:
02 Feb 2020
I’ve used Cakewalk for years. I agree with all the comments so far comparing Reason and Cakewalk. Freezing tracks was a positive addition to Cakewalk along with ripple editing.

I always enjoyed rewiring reason to Cakewalk, but could be problematic. Now I
Have the best of both worlds with the advent of the Reason VST plug-in. I still record in Reason separately as well. It just depends on the project. It’s all good!!
In the 18 months since the software has been acquired, have there been any/many feature updates and bug fixes etc ? Was track freeze and ripple editing done under the new ownership?

It would be interesting to compare how much effort and resources a free DAW business puts into their flagship product compared to Reason Sudios / Propellerhead over the same period. I know that Reaper, at $60 for a licence, is coming out with updates and features all the time, and that's a two-man operation.

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Jackjackdaw
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Post 02 Feb 2020

Things Reason can do that other DAWs cant: Drum sequencer with probability per step. I have not found another DAW with this feature. Combinator instruments, Ableton can do this but Cubase can't. The ability to route an LFO to anything you want. Ableton needs M4L for this. Cross modulation of different instruments. Players have way more functionality than any midi fx I have come across. For e.g.. Note repeat, I can use to trigger a bass note at a slightly different time to a the chord change I play, and that delay can be slightly different each time. And delta midi player allows me to use a beatstep pro to play patterns with probability per step, and add probability to flams/Note repeats.

Not everyone needs these things. I make experimental electronic music and semi generative stuff is important to me. But I have experimented with other DAWs and the only one that comes close to Reason for this kind of thing is Bitwig and that has loads of DAW features missing as well. I think, if you need those features, use something that has them, and you are so that's great.

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Jackjackdaw
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Post 02 Feb 2020

I forgot envelope followers, show me another DAW that can increase a reverb decay(or any other parameter) based on the amplitude of an incoming signal!

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Proboscis
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Post 02 Feb 2020

Jackjackdaw wrote:
02 Feb 2020
Things Reason can do that other DAWs cant: Drum sequencer with probability per step. I have not found another DAW with this feature. Combinator instruments, Ableton can do this but Cubase can't. The ability to route an LFO to anything you want. Ableton needs M4L for this. Cross modulation of different instruments. Players have way more functionality than any midi fx I have come across. For e.g.. Note repeat, I can use to trigger a bass note at a slightly different time to a the chord change I play, and that delay can be slightly different each time. And delta midi player allows me to use a beatstep pro to play patterns with probability per step, and add probability to flams/Note repeats.

Not everyone needs these things. I make experimental electronic music and semi generative stuff is important to me. But I have experimented with other DAWs and the only one that comes close to Reason for this kind of thing is Bitwig and that has loads of DAW features missing as well. I think, if you need those features, use something that has them, and you are so that's great.
But with Reason as a rack/VST, this can be done in any DAW. The point of difference became void for the most part when Reason was developed to be used elsewhere. What them makes Reason unique, as a stand alone DAW anymore ? The sequencer is crap. Absolute garbage, when compared to others. And they drip feed feature rollouts and then sell it as if they've re-invented the wheel "because our goal is to help you make music".

Honestly with ever hour that passes, the more pissed off I am becoming that I drank the Propellerhead Kool-Aid for a decade and a half. In the space of 24 hours I've gone from thinking "i'll never leave Reason' to 'can't wait for R12 to I can pay my $129 exit tax and leave it forever" (as a DAW). In 24 hours ! It's becoming very clear how little they've actually done for workflow improvements, and how far behind they are.

And with MIDI out being on the cards, that makes one less argument in favor of Reason as a DAW. Do they even give a fuck anymore ? Ive noticed that in promoting R11, most of their marketing graphics don;t even show Reason as a DAW, but instead promote other DAWs. Perhaps they have given up, as I should have many years ago. Of course for many a year I thought that to move on was not an option, not only because of learning new tools.BUt also wasted money on all the REs I bought. Thankfully thats no longer a limitation.

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gullum
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Post 02 Feb 2020

Proboscis wrote:
02 Feb 2020

But with Reason as a rack/VST, this can be done in any DAW. The point of difference became void for the most part when Reason was developed to be used elsewhere.
(not that I have R11, and intend to hold out for R12).
so for you, all that he is saying is true, because you do not have the Reason Rack Pulginand you can't do it in Cakewalk as of now

EdGrip
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Post 03 Feb 2020

Although you can do all sorts of modulation of any parameter in Ableton Live using M4L, I find M4L devices heavy on CPU compared to doing the same things with CV in Reason. No doubt Bitwig is better at experimental modulation than Live, but I think Reason/the rack is still unbeatable for experimental sound design. Everything has strengths and weaknesses. You don't have make it all binary. Nothing is perfect, nothing is awful. Different tools for different parts of the process or different moods.

If you find you have to be able to tell yourself you're using The Best DAW(TM), you'll spend way too much time wondering if another DAW might be The Best DAW(TM). The DAW you are using is not the best DAW. That other DAW you're reading about isn't the best DAW either.

This is the DAW you are using, for this purpose, right now. There are other DAWs and you might use them at other times and that's fine.

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Kalm
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Post 03 Feb 2020

Jackjackdaw wrote:
02 Feb 2020
Things Reason can do that other DAWs cant: Drum sequencer with probability per step. I have not found another DAW with this feature.
Studio One has this in their step sequencer I believe
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QVprod
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Post 03 Feb 2020

Hold things loosely. Just use what you need. Reason has always had the ability to integrate with other DAWs, long before the plugin. The plugin just changes the method of doing so. Most DAWs are going to have a more feature packed sequencer than Reason because the sequencer in Reason has rarely ever been the focus for any version.

Also, the comparison of Cakewalk as far as a company caring about a product isn’t a good one. Cakewalk was a paid software up u til a year ago when it’s previous owner discontinued it and Bandlab bought it. Most of those features were funded by paying users over years. Ultimately though you’re going to like certain features of one thing while liking other features better in something else. If you like the rack feature of Reason, there’s no replacing it. Aside from that, it’s just preference in your way of working, but it’s actually quite normal for people to use multiple DAWs.

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guitfnky
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Post 03 Feb 2020

QVprod wrote:
03 Feb 2020
Also, the comparison of Cakewalk as far as a company caring about a product isn’t a good one. Cakewalk was a paid software up u til a year ago when it’s previous owner discontinued it and Bandlab bought it.
I have to respectfully disagree here. Bandlab may not have had their hands on Cakewalk for very long, but even a cursory look at their forums makes it readily apparent that they’re very much invested in Cakewalk. the devs are all over the forum, very responsive to issue requests, and they’re constantly working to improve the program. they put out updates on a very regular basis (every couple of months). and it’s not just bug fixes, but adding new functionality.

yes, Sonar was a paid product, and most of the main features were developed under that sales structure, but Cakewalk’s development team is pretty clearly dedicated to making it the best DAW they can.

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MrFigg
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Post 03 Feb 2020

guitfnky wrote:
03 Feb 2020
QVprod wrote:
03 Feb 2020
Also, the comparison of Cakewalk as far as a company caring about a product isn’t a good one. Cakewalk was a paid software up u til a year ago when it’s previous owner discontinued it and Bandlab bought it.
I have to respectfully disagree here. Bandlab may not have had their hands on Cakewalk for very long, but even a cursory look at their forums makes it readily apparent that they’re very much invested in Cakewalk. the devs are all over the forum, very responsive to issue requests, and they’re constantly working to improve the program. they put out updates on a very regular basis (every couple of months). and it’s not just bug fixes, but adding new functionality.

yes, Sonar was a paid product, and most of the main features were developed under that sales structure, but Cakewalk’s development team is pretty clearly dedicated to making it the best DAW they can.
Also, Bandlab’s customer service is over and beyond the call of duty. Truly personal, friendly and efficient. This alone makes me more confident in using their products.

zoidkirb
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Post 03 Feb 2020

Jackjackdaw wrote:
02 Feb 2020
Cubase...
Cubase does have an inbuilt lfo which you can route to any synth or fx that has midi learn, and it's even possible to route to any parameter using midi loopback.
A 'combinator' style multi track preset is possible too.
But honestly Reason absolutely kills Cubase at those features and that's why i love it as a place of creativity.

Ableton Live with M4L and instrument racks on the other hand is a much closer comparison and in some ways has more potential than Reason. It's a pity it's less stable for me and besides, personally I still just prefer the rack workflow. The primary reason I like Live for are it's clip/session mode and everything to do with it's sample chopping processs.

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Jackjackdaw
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Post 03 Feb 2020

They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Ableton's piano roll is even worse than Reason's but it's clip launcher and sampler/simpler are totally awesome. That Cubase LFO is ropey as, but the sequencer and channel strips are great and you can do video... Cakewalk has a great history and is obvs doing good things too. They are all amazing tools.

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guitfnky
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Post 03 Feb 2020

MrFigg wrote:
03 Feb 2020
guitfnky wrote:
03 Feb 2020


I have to respectfully disagree here. Bandlab may not have had their hands on Cakewalk for very long, but even a cursory look at their forums makes it readily apparent that they’re very much invested in Cakewalk. the devs are all over the forum, very responsive to issue requests, and they’re constantly working to improve the program. they put out updates on a very regular basis (every couple of months). and it’s not just bug fixes, but adding new functionality.

yes, Sonar was a paid product, and most of the main features were developed under that sales structure, but Cakewalk’s development team is pretty clearly dedicated to making it the best DAW they can.
Also, Bandlab’s customer service is over and beyond the call of duty. Truly personal, friendly and efficient. This alone makes me more confident in using their products.
1000%. I reported a bug to their forums that I encountered after an update, and within an hour the devs had chimed in. within 10 days they had a fix out, even though the issue was because of bad VST coding, not bad coding in Cakewalk.

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QVprod
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Post 04 Feb 2020

guitfnky wrote:
03 Feb 2020
QVprod wrote:
03 Feb 2020
Also, the comparison of Cakewalk as far as a company caring about a product isn’t a good one. Cakewalk was a paid software up u til a year ago when it’s previous owner discontinued it and Bandlab bought it.
I have to respectfully disagree here. Bandlab may not have had their hands on Cakewalk for very long, but even a cursory look at their forums makes it readily apparent that they’re very much invested in Cakewalk. the devs are all over the forum, very responsive to issue requests, and they’re constantly working to improve the program. they put out updates on a very regular basis (every couple of months). and it’s not just bug fixes, but adding new functionality.

yes, Sonar was a paid product, and most of the main features were developed under that sales structure, but Cakewalk’s development team is pretty clearly dedicated to making it the best DAW they can.
Presonus isn’t involved in their forums pretty much at all if we use that as a barometer. I think customer service is a slightly different conversation than Reason as a product but I’ll submit that that’s part of the product for some.

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Proboscis
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Post 04 Feb 2020

QVprod wrote:
03 Feb 2020
Also, the comparison of Cakewalk as far as a company caring about a product isn’t a good one. Cakewalk was a paid software up u til a year ago when it’s previous owner discontinued it and Bandlab bought it.
Why not ? Propellerhead have been in the game for 20 years, and most of the sequencer features that I'm discovering in Cakewalk could have been implemented long ago, right alongside Sonar/Cakewalk.

The clip cloning/linking that I mentioned (and was discussed in another thread, regarding Logic) would have been as powerful a workflow enhancement two decades ago as it is now, but in 2020 Reason does not have it. For the record, it was that other thread that got me interested in having a look at Cakewalk last weekend.

As to customer service - this is definitely a value-add to any business, now more than ever. In a market that is saturated with choices, consumer engagement is paramount to success and public perception. My intention for this thread was feature comparisons, but since the discussion has diverted from that, my view is that Propellerhead's customer service is a bit poor. My experiences have been a bit poor. They are slow to respond. Many times they have never responded, and when they do it's been 'oh sorry, your support ticket must have fallen through the cracks'. On several occasions they have replied with what amounts to 'it is your fault this doesn't work' (in relation to de-authourizing and re-authorizing, despite me following their suggested steps to the letter), and other times they have been on holidays. I'm at a loss as to how a business thinks it's a good idea to close down their support desk during extended national holidays.

The reality for me is that I really don't want to learn to work in another DAW environment. I am a Reason 'fanboy' I guess some might say. But it's reached a point where yet another release is upon us with R11, and they still haven't implemented features that I would assume are standard across other DAWs. I'm certainly not going to be DAW testing endlessly to find a better solution, and will focus only on Cakewalk for now. And I'm too conditioned towards the rack routing to ever not use Reason in some capacity, plus I've spend a lot of money on Rack Extensions. But effectively Propellerheads' have now provided me with an exit, with one final upgrade fee of $129, then I have no compelling reason to ever upgrade again. Apart from MIDI Out, which is rumored to be coming, there's not much more they can do to improve the rack. Which leaves sequencer improvements as the only proposition to keep me on board, and if history is anything to go by, it's unlikely they will implement all (even most) of what's standard functionality in Cakewalk.

Then of course there is the GUI. Reason is starting to look and feel old, with it's low resolution graphics. The browser is cumbersome. And Cakewalk... well it's looks and feels rather nice. As I mentioned, that 'Pro Channel' strip is fantastic in the way it's integrated. You see most of every control you need, for the channel you're working on.

Anyway, that's some of my thoughts and feelings. The optimist in me would like to think that the folks over at Propellerheads read these threads and actively have development discussions around forum suggestions. But the realist in me believe that not much will change.

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