Cubase vs Logic Pro – Which is Better?
Cubase and Logic Pro are both more than capable of producing industry-standard mixes and professional quality music. However, each DAW has its own advantages and suits particular workflows better than others.
Cubase is very well known as a great DAW for composing and professional use because of its engineer friendly interface with the inclusion of a comprehensive channel strip and the availability of a great dedicated controller (CC121) whereas Logic Pro is great for songwriters and music producers due to its great and easy to learn user interface and sound library with the addition of live loops and drummer.
Cubase vs Logic Pro – At a Glance
|Pro 11||Artist 11||Elements 11|
|Track limits||1000 audio tracks1000 software instrument tracks1000 MIDI tracks||Unlimited Audio, MIDI, and Instrument tracks||Unlimited Audio, MIDI, and Instrument tracks||64 MIDI tracks, 48 Audio Tracks, and 24 Instrument tracks|
|Compatibility||Mac Only||Mac and Windows||Mac and Windows||Mac and Windows|
|Trial||90 days||30 days||30 days||30 days|
|Price||Affordable||Marketed for Pros||High end||Affordable|
- Cubase is available both on Windows and macOS. Logic Pro is exclusively available on macOS.
- Logic only supports AU format plugins whereas Cubase supports VST2-VST3 and AU formats (AU plugins only ever work on Mac though).
- Compared to Cubase’s channel strip, Logic Pro has a very basic channel strip. The channel strip modules in Cubase offer quick functions of Compression, Limiting and EQ without even adding any stock or external plugins whereas in Logic you must go in or add a plugin to make changes in the sound according to your taste.
- The stock plugins (Instruments, effects MIDI plugins), on the other hand, are excellent in Logic. Although you get great stock plugins with Cubase, they are not as capable as Logic when it comes to songwriting and producing.
- There is one version of Logic Pro, whereas there are 3 versions of Cubase with different pricing. This means in logic you must pay once, and you get all the features included whereas in Cubase you must choose among three options named Pro, Artist, and Element. The Pro version is mainly focused on Professional Studio setups and can also be used for professional recording setups elsewhere. The artist option is mainly for songwriters and bedroom musicians trying to get their ideas turned into demos or samples later turned into songs or scores with recording studios and professional musicians. The Element option is mainly aimed at beginners who are new to music production or Cubase.
- If you are planning to collaborate with other artists living nearby or even far away places, Cubase offers a separate VST plugin called VST transit and VST connect 5 (not included in Cubase Element) which can be used to collaborate with other artists in real-time.
- Hardware resources for Cubase are much more diverse and include audio interfaces like UR and AR series as well as Cubase controller CC121. Logic Pro on the other hand offers just software support like GarageBand compatibility and Logic Remote apps for iPhone and iPad.
- Although you can do all kinds of music production on both Logic Pro and Cubase, music composers and directors like Hans Zimmer preferably use Cubase because of its excellent scoring and notation capabilities. Logic Pro on the other hand is more well known among songwriters and musicians like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.
Logic Pro’s interface is very user friendly and easy for a beginner and the software is also very easy to use as compared to Cubase because everything is arranged in a proper way to find anything the user wants with presets and software instruments on the far left followed by the main arrangement window. The mixer section at the bottom with editor functions and the main control bar on top. This easy user interface is also very useful for handling large arrangement projects and bigger projects which only gets better with coloring the tracks and using icons to easily differentiate between them.
Cubase on the other hand has a steep learning curve. The interface does not look that user-friendly and you have to invest some time and effort in learning all the ins and outs of the software. With far-left being the individual track control followed by the main arrangement window and then the software instruments and sound loops on the far right.
The mixer section is combined with the editor and chord pad at the bottom and below that is the main control bar with not all the functions included but you have to go through and learn the different control bar options for each window separately.
Although there are several free tutorials available online to learn it easily and on the bright side all that hard work in learning the software does pay off in the long term because of the great features available in the software with channel strip and control room.
Once you get experienced enough handling larger projects or track arrangements is also very easy because it was designed for professional studios and it can process and work with large projects very comfortably but for a beginner, it’s a hard learning curve to learn how to make busses and FX channels, etc easily.
Working with Audio
The workflow of Logic Pro is very different from that of Cubase. Logic Pro is the songwriter’s best friend with fast and excellent virtual instruments and pre-sets available to get the sound as quickly as possible to get your idea recorded instead of breaking the creative flow to get the sound you are looking for.
The arrangement view also is very user-friendly to make the mixing of tracks easy and on the go to save time later. Comping and using busses are very easy as well to quickly put effects on the tracks. All these features can be later used while mixing and mastering songs as well to make the workflow more efficient. The default libraries of instruments, especially the drum kits are very easy and useful for songwriters to save time and resources while putting out their ideas.
Cubase on the other hand is a little hard to learn especially because it is focused more on professional setups. It also has a great sound library and pre-sets available for songwriters to use and get their workflow as efficient as possible but putting effects and using channel strips can be a little overwhelming for someone new to the software according to me.
On the contrary, mixing and mastering songs gives you, even more, control and freedom to get creative and experiment with songs with the included tools like control room and channel strip apart from the stock plugins already available. All this makes Cubase a great choice for professionals and music studios.
Working with MIDI
Since both software started their journey as MIDI sequencers, the MIDI processing powers of both are great. Both have an elaborate piano roll with various controls available and can be mapped on MIDI hardware devices as well. Both have features like Score Editor and exporter (although the score editor of Cubase is much better and more well-known). The software also has some level of scale assist features although it is much better in Cubase. Although each software has excellent external MIDI keyboard support, the Logic remote is very handy and useful in many cases where you might be traveling or just forgot your MIDI keyboard at the studio or for new songwriters and producers who cannot afford MIDI keyboards.
Starting from version 10.5, Logic Pro included a Live looping function that can be used to make projects with multiple looped tracked available to mix and match and create a new song from scratch in very little time. This is particularly very useful in Live Shows and a great tool for DJs to mix and match and create new remixes or songs in real-time while performing in a show or concert. Logic Pro X (now simply referred to as “Logic Pro”) introduced this feature primarily in competition Abelton Live Looping capabilities and to attract a bigger variety of artists like DJs and get them hooked on its abilities. Although it still has a long way to go and is not as good as Abelton Live as of yet, there is still a possibility to play and give it a try with a great-looking interface. The workflow is also lacking because to make changes to any track or loop you must manually select it and do the changes separately. On the bright side, you can still use the Logic remote app to control this which makes it a handy tool and easy to work and mix faster with no extra hardware charges.
Cubase on the other hand does not have a Live Loop feature of any kind which makes sense because the Digital Audio Workstation is focused more on professional setups in studios and engineers. You can still use it to make small loopable tracks and then use these tracks on hardware products like RC-505 or AEROS Loop Studio to play live loops and make music but as of yet, there is no built-in function in Cubase to do this.
Packed with a variety of Instrument plugins like Sculpture, Retro Synth, Vintage Keyboards, ES2, Studio Strings, and Studio Brass, Alchemy, AutoSampler, Drum Machine and Kit Designer, etc, Logic Pro X gives the user a higher variety of options to choose from and all these Instruments are very good as well. With such variety, you can get almost any sound required for your compositions.
Cubase on the other hand is also equipped with many stock instruments like Halion Sonic, Groove Agent, Padshop 2, Flux, Trip, Prologue, etc. All these instruments also come packed with millions of sounds that can be used or tweaked according to your taste and be used in your compositions.
In conclusion, both the software has great Stock Instruments but according to my taste and use, I’ll prefer the variety available to play with and create new sounds in Logic Pro X.
External support and connectivity of MIDI controllers or Ableton push etc. are supported by both Digital Audio Workstations and they work excellent on both.
Hardware resources for Cubase are much more diverse. It includes audio interfaces like UR and AR series as well as Cubase controller CC121. These controllers and audio interfaces are more useful for an engineer or a studio professional setup because most of this hardware is used in mixing and mastering like the CC121 which can be used for controlling the mixer section very effectively and precisely.
Logic Pro X on the other hand offers just software support like GarageBand compatibility and Logic Remote apps for iPhone and iPad. Although the remote can serve many functions according to the need but it lacks the physical hardware touch and feel. But on the bright side, it is free of cost for iPhone and iPad so it can be a budget-friendly option.
External Plugin Compatibility (VST, AU)
Cubase supports VST2 and VST3 plugins on Windows and additional AU plugins on macOS but since Logic Pro is only limited to macOS, it only supports AU plugins. Most of the big names in the industry of plugins and all the professional plugins generally provide VST2, VST3, and AU support but if you are a bedroom musician or just starting with music production and looking for cheap or free alternatives for plugins and effects, they may not be available in AU format so you should probably go with Cubase.
In case you are a professional who is making a switch or trying a new digital audio workstation you can consider both options because most of the professional software has Au plugins support.
Being a cross-platform software, Cubase struggles to perform equally in macOS versions when compared to Windows versions. It feels to me like it is more optimized for Windows as compared to macOS. It is not usually known as a CPU-efficient workstation, but it does perform well with proper setup. I found resolution issues and crashing issues on a lower-end workstation.
Logic Pro on the other hand because it supports only macOS, it’s well optimized for use. Since there are fewer things to worry about not being a cross-platform software it works very efficiently and is very CPU friendly. Apart from a tiny number of crashes I never faced any issue with working on Logic Pro.
Logic Pro only runs on macOS. The minimum requirement for it to run is MacOS 11 or later and it takes up 6GB of available storage space for minimum installation or 72GB of storage space for full Sound Library installation.
Cubase on the other hand needs a minimum of 25 GB free hard disk space, Intel Core I series or AMD Ryzen multi-core or higher CPU, 4 GB or higher RAM, 1440 x 900 or higher screen resolution, Graphics card with DirectX 10 and WDDM 2.0 support.
For Windows, the minimum requirement is 64-bit Windows 10 Version and for Mac users macOS Mojave or higher.
The USB eLicencer or Cubase dongle is a copywriting protection device which is required for Cubase to be activated and used. For Cubase, the dongle already comes with the software, but you may have to purchase it separately for other VST instruments or plugins.
There is also a software version of this called soft eLicencer which can also be used for activation of the products.
Steinberg is all set to remove the Cubase dongle or USB eLicencer altogether because it is known to cause issues with the normal operating system operation in the background and is also very notorious to cause issues with starting and stopping of Cubase which makes the workflow even more time consuming and breaks the creative focus.
Note: please visit the relevant websites to see up-to-date pricing. The pricing below was only accurate at the time of publishing this article.
Cubase comes in 3 different pricing for 3 different options available to choose from which are Cubase Pro for $587.98, Cubase Artist for $337.98, and Cubase Element for $99.99. Logic Pro on the other hand just comes in 1 option and costs $199.99 for all features included.
All major updates for software will require a nominal upgrade fee (for example upgrading from version 10 to 11) but all the minor updates are free of cost for existing users (for example upgrading from 10.1 to 10.2).
Initially Cubase was released in 1989 by a German company called Steinberg, was just a MIDI sequencer. The software currently comes in a newly released Cubase 11 version. It comes with 3 options. The Pro version is mainly focused on Professional Studio. The artist option is mainly for songwriters and bedroom musicians trying to record demos. The Element option is mainly aimed at beginners who are new to music production or Cubase.
Apart from that, lifting the track restrictions and introducing features like channel strip, chord pads, score editor, MediaBay, ARA support, scale assistant and audio warp quantize among other features makes it stand out from other available Digital Audio Workstations available in the market. Producers and Composers, such as Hans Zimmer, Amon Tobin, and Infected Mushroom are big names using this software.
Cubase comes in 3 different options, and you can find the latest prices below.
Logic Pro just like Cubase started as a MIDI sequencer in the name of Creator in 1987. Logic Pro and is made available in just one option with all features included and a 90-day trial period for new users. With new capabilities of handling 1000 audio tracks software and MIDI tracks, Logic Pro comes with packed and probably the best stock plugins available in the market.
With a huge sound library, Dolby Atmos Support, an endless variety of sound loops, score editor, 25 software instruments, 7 instruments, and 14 effects especially for 7.1 surround sound and many more features packed, Logic Pro always has everything you need if you own professional studio, or you are just a songwriter or bedroom producer staring their musical journey. Musicians and producers like Armin van Buuren, Daft Punk, and David Guetta are amongst the big names using this software.
Logic Pro comes with only one option, and you can find the latest price below.
· Score editor
· Control room
· Mix console
· Channel Strip
· Scale assistant
· Audio separation engine
· Great for Professional Setups and studios
· Smart tempo
· Live loops
· Logic remote
· User friendly and easy to learn
· Step sequencer
· Great stock sound library
Both Cubase and Logic Pro are a solid option for any producer, musician or composer looking to upgrade to a new digital audio workstation or a beginner just starting his or her musical journey. Both can do all the tasks required to do a professional-level project with different pros and cons.
While Cubase is more suited for professional setups and in-depth projects that include sharp precession and advanced audio altering jobs, it doesn’t mean other musicians, songwriters or beginners cannot use it. A professional may not have time to learn new software with such a steep learning curve and put the time and effort into it.
On the other hand, Logic Pro is more suited for a beginner artist or a songwriter musician who wants to quickly put down the ideas and record them with its user-friendly interface but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used by professionals to get a professional level result from it.
It ultimately comes down to your preference and which one feels more comfortable to you.
If you are still unsure try using the trial versions provided by both manufactures with a 90-days trial of Logic Pro and a 30-days trial period of Cubase and then make the choice.
I hope this comparison was helpful for you to make your decision.
Also, keep in mind you don’t have to pick one digital audio workstation and stick to it; many professionals use multiple software according to the need and type of project. You don’t have to pick from only these two either, there are many other options available to explore. So, take the time to explore all the options available and then make the choice of which one works best for you.