Trying to figure out which DAW is right for you?
Apple’s Logic Pro is a favorite among many Mac users (especially those graduating from GarageBand), and Steinberg’s Cubase has long been held as the “reference standard” for music production software, in no small part thanks to its innovation and longevity.
If you’re using a Windows machine, then your choices are limited (Logic Pro doesn’t run on Windows), but if you’re using a Mac, which you likely are, then the choice between the two DAWs isn’t necessarily an easy one!
In this guide, we’ll be pitting Logic Pro against Cubase, exploring their differences and similarities, and considering which is best.
An Overview Of Logic Pro & Cubase
Nowadays, DAWs are becoming so advanced that it’s getting harder to make an accurate assessment of how one compares to the other.
The basics of audio and MIDI recording, multitrack recording, virtual effects and instruments are the baseline standard. Every DAW is quite competent in this regard. The conversation has moved to spatial audio, multi-touch, automatic delay compensation, and other bleeding edge tech and features.
So, let’s untangle the mess and look at what both DAWs have to offer.
Here’s a brief overview of both.
Logic Pro is a DAW and MIDI sequencer built specifically for the macOS. Its initial release was in 1993 and it was created by German software developer C-Lab (which later became Emagic). After Apple acquired Emgaic in 2002, they renamed the program from “Logic” to Logic Pro.
Recent surveys indicate that, in terms of popularity, Logic Pro is number two, just behind Ableton Live. And that’s no small feat, considering Logic Por is only available for Mac.
Logic Pro comes with all the tools you need to write songs, make beats, edit, and mix your projects. It also comes with a suite of software instruments and effects, vintage and modern. This might even be one of the best aspects of Logic Pro.
Some of its new features include integrated Dolby Atmos tools as well as Logic Remote (the ability to control your sessions via your iPad or iPhone).
There’s little doubt in our minds that Logic Pro will continue to evolve with each new iteration.
Steinberg’s Cubase saw its initial release in April 1989, and at the time, it was just a MIDI sequencer. Of course, it has evolved into what many consider the “reference standard” of digital audio recording software.
Cubase is compatible with PC and Mac machines, and that versatility is enjoyed by many.
As with Logic Pro, Cubase is a good all-arounder. It’s a great DAW for all styles of music and genres, and it’s quite flexible besides. That said, it seems to have gained a lot of favor with composers and producers because it’s a powerhouse MIDI recording and editing suite.
Although it has features too numerous to mention in a sentence (one of its strong suits), the latest version of Cubase comes with audio wrap quantize, advanced channel strip modules, and Chord Pads.
Cubase simply knows no bounds in terms of its evolution, and future editions will be exciting to watch too.
What Makes Logic Pro Great
Logic Pro is a professional DAW at a price point that’s well within reach for most music producers and sound engineers with some experience (for beginners, it might appear cost prohibitive).
It’s versatile enough to handle a variety of musical genres, and regardless of what you might be creating, it’s a great DAW to turn to. It comes with virtual instruments and effects that would make knowledgeable producers drool.
If you’re working exclusively on electronic music, there are other DAWs that will better serve your needs, but if you need to remain flexible and versatile, Logic Pro is an excellent choice.
Here are some of the other factors that make Logic Pro worth a look.
Sure, there are cheaper DAWs for those who like to price shop. But what you get in exchange for the asking price of Logic Pro is considerable, especially in terms of plugins. Honestly, I would probably pay the same price for the plugin bundle.
If you go price shopping, you will probably see for yourself that Logic Pro is among one of the more affordable pro level DAWs.
It Has A Great User Interface
Generally, we’d consider workflow a key component of the overall success of any DAW. And while workflow is individual, it is the difference between getting your projects done faster without friction or frustration, and not.
Logic Pro has got a great interface. Onscreen elements boast great separation (with a great use of colors), and this makes for an effective, user-friendly experience.
Logic Pro is quite a bit easier to learn compared to most DAWs, and while you might think that means a less powerful DAW, that isn’t the case here. Logic Pro has a lot of great features too (and we’ll be talking more about those later).
This DAW also comes with built-in user help interface.
It’s An industry Standard
As with Pro Tools, Logic Pro has also established itself as an industry standard and is well used in a variety of professional studios, especially those running primarily on Mac computers.
Regardless of project or genre, Logic Pro can handle just about anything you throw at it, and you can create professional products with it too.
For those who like to, and want to stay flexible, Logic Pro is ideal.
It Comes With A Great Selection Of Virtual Instruments & Effects
See for yourself:
Samplers, drum synth, drum machine designer, drum kit designer, Studio Strings, Studio Brass, ES2 synth, retro synth, vintage keyboards (B3, electric piano, clav, mellotron), Sculpture physical modeling synth, ChromaVerb, vintage EQs (graphic, tube, and console), compressor, Amp Designer, Ringshifter, and so much more…
From vintage to modern, there are plenty of virtual instruments and effects to enjoy. Logic Pro also comes with a 70 GB sound library featuring vintage keys, acoustic instruments, cinematic sounds, loops, sound packs, and producer packs.
Some even say Logic Pro has the best plugins of any DAW. We think they’re quite powerful too.
Where Logic Pro (Might) Fall Short
Logic Pro is a great DAW, and it is even used in a variety of professional studio settings. It is the go-to solution for Mac users wanting to record and produce music professionally.
That said, no DAW is perfect. Depending on who you ask, there are different things about a DAW that drive them nuts.
So, while we don’t have any major gripes about Logic Pro, here are some areas where Logic Pro could be better.
You Can Only Use Logic Pro On A Mac
This one is completely understandable. There is no Logic Pro (let alone GarageBand) for Windows or Linux, and that’s going to be a deterrent for certain users.
If you want Mac software, you pretty much need to buy a Mac, and that’s not going to be feasible for some users.
If you do have a Mac, though, you can try Logic Pro for 90 days, and that’s more than enough time for you to figure out whether it’s for you. We also think 90 days is quite generous.
Editing Features Leave Something To Be Desired
It’s no secret that Logic Pro does not have the most advanced editing features, and this is where, perhaps, it falls a little short.
Obviously, this depends a lot on how much power you need. Logic Pro has the basics covered. You can still get your editing work done. But its editing features simply can’t compare to that of Cubase.
It Isn’t The Most Stable DAW
Again, this is a complaint that could apply to a lot of DAWs. Audio recording and editing can be quite processor intensive, and this means that DAW freezes and crashes are more commonplace than you might expect.
That said, we know where people are coming from on this. For the most part, Macs tend to be more stable than PCs, with fewer random glitches, and less of a need to restart as frequently (in my experience, though, you still need to restart Macs occasionally).
Just remember to save your project often and run with minimal plugins required until you’re ready to start mixing.
One of the most lightweight DAWs is Ableton Live, and neither Logic Pro or Cubase are as efficient.
It’s Too Expensive
As you’ll see later, this is also a common complaint with Cubase. So, while we can appreciate that the cost of Logic Pro might be prohibitive to some users, especially those just getting into music production, we’d encourage you do to a little looking around. What you’ll discover is that Logic Pro is still one of the most reasonable options among pro level DAWs.
What Makes Cubase Great
Cubase is one of those DAWs whose reputation precedes it, in no small part due to name and brand recognition. Because of that, it’s easy to assume it is the best DAW on the market.
Separate hype from fact, though, and you are still left with what is fundamentally a powerful MIDI sequencing and editing tool, which makes Cubase the go-to choice for producers like Zedd and many composers whose names you would surely recognize (more on this later).
Versatile enough to handle all project types (thanks to a customizable workflow) but specialized enough to meet the demands of the most demanding electronic producers and composers, Cubase has a lot to offer music producers cut from any cloth.
Here is some of what makes Cubase great to use:
Cubase Is One Of The Most Powerful MIDI Tools Available
Not surprising considering where it started. Cubase features a powerful set of MIDI recording, editing, and sequencing tools. And given that a lot of modern-day pop, hip-hop, and electronic music takes full advantage of MIDI (sometimes exclusively), this makes Cubase a great choice for EDM producers and composers.
If it wasn’t enough that it boasts so much versatility, despite its sophistication, the MIDI editor is quite intuitive to use. That is a massive achievement.
Of course, some might say it’s too much power for electronic music alone, and that’s a fair point, given how much more you can do with Cubase.
Cubase Is Loved & Used By Many Composers
Multi-award-winning film score composer Hans Zimmer is an advocate of Cubase, and composers like Kurt Oldman also praise its customizable nature, logical functions, and macros.
Of course, much of this is due to its powerful MIDI editing features. If you’re a composer making music for TV, ads, films, video games, or otherwise, Cubase is worth a look.
It Allows For Customization
It would be silly to think that, for instance, a composer would require the same workflow as a singer-songwriter. A composer is going to be working primarily with MIDI tracks. A songwriter is going to be working primarily with audio tracks.
Cubase has a customizable workflow based on the types of projects you commonly tackle in audio production (singer-songwriter, band, electronic music, compositions, etc.).
Cubase Is A Cross-Platform DAW
Unlike Logic Pro, Cubase works on Mac and PC machines. So, even if you end up working on projects in different studios with different machines, chances are you can use Cubase on any system without having to adapt to new workflows or operations. This makes Cubase quite effective and versatile.
Advanced Export Features Are Great
Knowing that their DAW would be used by those with complex multitrack project requirements, Cubase comes with flexible export options for audio and video alike. This is yet another reason it’s perfect for composers.
It Has Built-In Mastering & Processing Tools
To be fair, you can master in any DAW you want to. What makes Cubase great is that it’s quite ahead of its competitors in this regard. It comes with virtually all the tools you need to create a great master, and that makes it an attractive choice for mastering engineers or those looking to master their own tracks.
Where Cubase (Might) Fall Short
Cubase isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, especially as more doesn’t always mean more. With each iteration, Cubase becomes more sophisticated, and while that is certainly welcome to long-time users, it can prove quite intimidating to newcomers.
And while it can handle a variety of project types, you’ve got to get your workflow set up. And that can be quite involved, without having to worry about anything else.
Again, no DAW is perfect, and while Cubase certainly shines where it shines, here are some areas where Cubase might fall short.
Cubase Takes Time To Learn
If anything, it has a steep learning curve. As much as rave reviews, quotes, and testimonials talk it up, at base, Cubase is not an easy DAW to pick up and learn (good thing you can still get the 30-day trial version), and we can’t in good conscience recommend it to beginners.
All DAWs take time to learn (I’ve often compared the process to learning a sophisticated graphic design application like Adobe Photoshop), but Cubase is probably going to take the longest of any DAW to master.
Customization and versatility are nice, but in this case, getting the most out of the DAW isn’t going to come instantaneously.
The USB-eLicenser Is A Bit Of A Hassle
Who does dongles anymore? Well, apparently Cubase thought it was a smart idea. Their eLicenser is a USB copy protection unit, and you need it to be able to use Cubase software. We get that they were trying to protect themselves from piracy and the potential loss of income, but is this really the answer?
The problem with USB drives, as we all know, is that they’re easy to lose. And if that wasn’t enough, they can also break (e.g., imagine a scenario where your laptop is on the floor, it has a USB drive plugged into it, and you accidentally step on the to drive on the way to the washroom – this kind of stuff happens more than you might think).
And we certainly can’t say dongles are convenient solutions for travel either (as this is where they tend to get lost).
It Works Better On PC
Yes, it is a cross-platform DAW, and that is one of the great things about Cubase. But reportedly, it still works better on PCs compared to Macs.
Overall, this situation continues to improve, so it’s not the final nail in the coffin by any means.
It’s Too Expensive
We’ll be doing a price comparison in a little later, but what you’ll probably see is that while Elements is quite affordable, Artist and Pro Editions of Cubase can really get up there in price.
Again, you need to pick your battles here, because there are DAWs and DAW packs costing well over $1,000, and Cubase won’t quite run you that much.
Apparently, Taylor Swift, Brian Eno, Chris Martin (Coldplay), and even Ed Sheeran is known to use Logic Pro. Apple seems to keep this on the downlow, mind you, and while their copy is always evocative, they don’t seem to lean too heavily on celebrity endorsement.
By comparison, Cubase is a through and through hype machine. And that could easily be a difference in company culture, but it nevertheless factors heavily into their marketing. Amon Tobin, Hans Zimmerman, Zedd, and many other notables use Cubase as their DAW, and this fact is well-publicized.
Cubase takes every opportunity to take advantage of celebrity endorsement, and the more quotes and testimonials they gather, the more they pump their own tires.
This is not a good or bad sort of thing. But when trying to make an accurate assessment of facts, it’s important to see through the hype.
Logic Pro offers a free 90-day trial. Quite generous, but if you’re a complete beginner, then expect to spend at least 30 to 60 days just getting used to the program.
It’s $279.99 to purchase Logic Pro.
As you might expect, Cubase is available in a few packages as well. They are as follows:
- Cubase Elements – $150
- Cubase Artist – $500 (USB-eLicenser inclusive)
- Cubase Pro – $878 (USB-eLicenser inclusive)
Note that developers are liable to change the price of their software at any time.
Cubase has a 30-day trial option as well, but it pales in comparison to Logic Pro’s 90-day trial.
So, while Cubase Elements costs less than Logic Pro, overall, Logic Pro is more affordable than Cubase, and that might factor into your buying decision.
Logic Pro Vs Cubase – Which One Comes Out On Top?
Nowadays, comparing DAWs is kind of like comparing apples to oranges. Both apples and oranges are fruit, but fundamentally, they look different, they smell different, they taste different, and they have a different texture too.
DAWs are a lot alike where they are a lot alike. And they are very different where they are very different.
Many professional DAWs, in fact, are starting to look alike, even if they feature different workflows and features.
That’s where Logic Pro is kind of refreshing. It doesn’t look or behave like a lot of other DAWs. It has its own workflow, and that workflow is preferred and loved by many producers because it’s intuitive and straightforward.
Cubase looks and feels like a lot of other DAWs. And yet, a good argument could be made that it established the trend and isn’t merely following it. Its workflow, though, takes time to learn. This doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the effort, but calling it “intuitive” would be an exaggeration.
We find that both Logic Pro and Cubase are very capable DAWs. They are not the same. In a way, they couldn’t be more different. The most similar thing about them is probably that they are both versatile and can handle a variety of musical project types.
At the same time, while we could see composers buying Cubase for composing alone, we can’t see anyone buying Logic Pro just for composing, even though composing inside Logic Pro is also smooth and fluid. Chances are you would buy Logic Pro because you’re working on a variety of projects.
Logic Pro is an incredible tool to use when you want to add layers of vintage and modern instruments. Cubase is also great for that, but in a different way. It plays more to a composer’s sensibilities versus a songwriter’s or band’s.
We could go on and on, but you’re probably starting to get the point.
And so, the battle between Logic Pro and Cubase is kind of a stalemate. Which is better? Apples or oranges? It comes down to the individual. One will certainly be loved more by certain producers, and the other will be loved more by other producers.
Some Personal Thoughts On Choosing A DAW
My personal decision-making process generally revolves around workflow. If I can’t work quickly in a DAW, I ditch it for something else.
Some would consider this bad decision making, especially given the sheer power that some DAWs boast straight out of the box. But I’m offering a perspective here, and I know that some producers would resonate with it.
Some things just “click,” you know what I mean? If the process makes sense, I can figure out the ins and outs of making good music. But if the process is frustrating, being the best guitarist in the world isn’t going to make a difference. I can’t do anything if I can’t figure out where the “record” button is.
And on that basis, I would have to give Logic Pro the upper hand. I like its workflow better, and I also like the plugins.
Would I say that Logic Pro is my ultimate DAW? Probably not. I haven’t tried every DAW available, but of the ones I have tried, Waveform consistently comes out on top.
But you came here to hear about Logic Pro and Cubase, so let’s return to the topic at hand.
I’m a versatile producer taking on a variety of project types, so on that basis, Logic Pro is going to be my preferred option also.
If I was primarily working on compositions and / or electronic music, I might move over to Cubase, but that’s basically the only situation in which I could see being a Cubase user.
Cubase VS Logic Pro Difference, Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, my preferences don’t matter. No one else’s preferences matter. The only thing that matters when choosing a DAW is what makes sense, and what works for you. And that’s an individual choice.
Given that both Logic Pro and Cubase have free trials, if you’re really struggling to figure out which is for you, give both a whirl. I wouldn’t try them simultaneously, mind you. Use them back-to-back. Then you will see how different they are and start to get a better sense of which fits nicely into your workflow.
The type of music you make only matters to an extent. If you can do what you want to do within a DAW, and you can do it efficiently, that’s what matters more.
Finally, if you’re thinking about upgrading from a free DAW or a low-cost one, in most cases, Logic Pro and Cubase should prove solid upgrades, and are going to put a lot more power at your fingertips. Have fun!