In the beginning, there was sound! Then we invented a way of saving those sounds (by using visual representations), not only for ourselves, but for others, too, so that they could play them. It was a way of communicating, like words. Both sounds and words can make you cry, love or hate. But the difference between these two is that music gives you a wider range of feelings and sensations than words.
We’re now living an electronic revolution. But what started it in the first place ? Well, people started inventing lots of devices that could process audio signals, modulate them, and so on. These hardware devices were ment to discover new sounds, new feelings. And they did, but whit a lot of work, a lot of patience, a lot of wiring and plenty of headaches. They all had lots of knobs, buttons, wires, some had displays, and they all needed a lot of knowledge – all these to make new sounds. But was it worth the effort ? Of course it was! Music is the universal language, and these smart people extended that language to a level of endless possibilities.
A short history about virtually crafted music
When the computers started to appear, they were not seen as a way of making sounds or even music. But armed with time and will, some people saw the potential of computers in the music industry, an industry that already reached adulthood.
Computer programmers started to create pieces of software intended to generate sound, and once that step was done, they already had everything they needed to make music and even save it for replaying it. The first music production applications were very complicated by means of handling, and also primitive, compared to the current music software. And even if computers had a great potential in making music, people were’nt ready to give up on their real hardware devices and musical instruments. So a new problem popped up for computer programmers, and that is connecting computers to real hardware. This was the biggest step ever in the music industry, because it allowed people to take music developing to a new level by combining real hardware with virtual applications.
So now, every music and recording studio has both computers and real hardware working together in order to get the most out of music making. The only problem was that people needed to spend some more money on special devices (hardware interfaces) to connect the hardware to their computers. So if you want to make your own recording studio, think carefully, because you’ll need a lot of money to buy all the gear, like mixers, some instruments, special “walls” for mastering and filtering the sound, speakers and amplifiers, microphones, signal processors, recordering accessories, studio monitors, outboard effects (compressors, reverbs, equalizers, and so on), lots and lots of cables, and do not forget the computers and all the hardware interfaces needed to plug the equipement).
Competitive issues between two well known DAW’s
First of all, what is a DAW ? It stands for Digital Audio Workstation, and it’s basically a system that records, edits and plays back digital audio. The “workstation” in DAW reffers to the combination of music software and real audio hardware that we talked about earlier. Some of the modern DAWs include software like Ableton Live, Adobe Audition, Cakewalk Sonar, Steinberg’s Cubase, Logic Pro, Sony ACID, Pro Tools, Propellerhead’s Reason and FL Studio (formerly known as Fruity Loops). I’ll be talking only about the last two DAWs, because these are the biggest competitors out there in terms of music production.
Both Reason and FL Studio provide the basic tools and techniques for recording, editing and playing back music. But as any competing software, they both have pro’s and con’s. Users world wide still debate the problem of competition between these two, and this debate started many years ago and I honestly don’t know if it’ll ever end. So i compiled a list of pro’s and con’s of these two DAWs after many hours of reading lots of forums and articles on the Internet. But before I present you this list, let’s look at some screenshots of Reason and FLStudio.
I will now list the pro’s and con’s of these two DAWs, but in a different way, meaning that for each DAW I will list the features that it has and that the other DAW doesn’t have. Warning: if you never used DAWs or any music software, the following lists will be meaningless to you!
Reason 4 ($449 + $99 for upgrading)
- sounds produced with it are more realistic and less digital, but it also allows you to make digital sounds;
- possibility to create sounds far better than any VST out there (VST = Virtual Studio Technology, an interface that allows using third-party plugins and effects inside a DAW);
- endless possibilities for making new original sounds;
- allows to reproduce any sound you wish;
- provides advanced mastering control;
- tons of soundbanks available on the market, so you never get bored;
- soundbanks shipped with the product don’t contain childish sounds (like FL Studio’s stock sounds);
- professional and “realistic” look;
- the user interface teaches the user about hardware interfaces, how they connect, signal processing, etc.;
- using many devices on one song won’t crash your Reason, like FL Studio crashes when using many or some VST plugins and effects on a song;
- it’s easier to use in combination with a midi keyboard;
- it hasn’t a “reason sound”, so you cannot easilly say “oh, that’s a reason sound” like you do for most FL Studio songs;
- provides advanced sampling with ReCycle and Dr.Rex;
- advanced hardware routing and connecting using the rear rack view (check the wires in the screenshot – this feature pops reason out from the other DAWs);
- doesn’t tend to lag in latency;
- better memory management;
- tempo and time signature automatization (it’s sick, in a good way!);
- has a full drum machine (see ReDrum);
- no skin support, so reason focuses only on its’ fuctionality and it doesn’t try to impress by using skins;
- combined with Ableton Live or Cubase, you can get your own virtual monster music studio inside a box;
- no limits for mixers, effects or anything else (FL Studio has limited mixer channels and effect slots per channel);
- full support for MacOSX (even for Ableton Live and Cubase), compared to FL Studio which has to run in a virtual machine.
FL Studio XXL 8 ($299)
- VST and VSTi support (this feature makes it extensible, and because of no support for VSTs in Reason, users tend to run away from it);
- easy to use user interface with no daunting “monster hardware devices”;
- excellent for beginners, so you can learn it as you produce music;
- creates loops much more easier than many other DAWs;
- tons of VST plugins and effects so that you can create lots of new sounds;
- provides support for audio recording;
- mp3 support (another feature that Reason doesn’t seem to think about, but you can use SoundForge or any audio converter to convert your songs from wav to mp3);
- better support for vocal processing;
- lifetime free updates for customers (this is really awesome!).
So, after a few years of using both of these DAWs and after all the forums I’ve read, I sincerelly recommend you to start with FL Studio, create some songs, and then switch to Reason. This is what I have done, this is what many have done, and that’s because learning to use Reason from the beginning could get very frustrating, but once you master the basic concepts and techniques in FL Studio, it’ll be a piece of cake to use Reason. Anyways, if you care about the price, you will definitelly start with FL Studio, and maybe never switch to Reason at all.
You cannot say that Reason is better than FL Studio, or vice versa. Both have their pro’s and con’s, that’s for sure. But in my opinion, Reason is far better than FL Studio. Hey, don’t I have the right to an opinion ?!
You could also do another thing, if it’s still a hard choice to make regarding which one to use. Propellerhead has developed together with Steinberg a technology called ReWire that allows you to combine two DAWs into a single DAW! Amazing, isn’t it ? So you could buy both Reason and FL Studio and then use the ReWire technology to connect them both into one big virtual music studio. And yes, by combining them with ReWire, you get all the features from Reason and FL Studio, so you could, for example, create music in FL Studio using Reason devices, and then export it to mp3! I, myself, couldn’t choose between these two DAWs, so I use them both when producing music.
Article written by Ursan-Mihalcea Razvan.