In a recent survey by Pro Tools Expert many Pro Tools users said they used more than one DAW, some using multiple DAWs.
You may be thinking of moving to a new DAW but the very idea of having to learn a new DAW fills you with dread, not becuase you think other DAWs can’t cut it against Pro Tools, but because you’ve spent years working with Pro Tools and to move is almost the same as being asked to write with the other hand. Surveys suggest people get divorced more often than they move banks, we wonder if it’s the same for moving DAWs. In most cases it’s the pain in ass to move that stops people from making the leap to another DAW.
If you are a professional it is wise to consider having a plan B, the reason many businesses stick with Pro Tools is that they have built their entire business around it. With Avid’s current plans they hope to make you more reliant on an Avid ecosystem not less, Avid Everywhere is built on the premise of a proprietory one-stop solution for all your business needs. It’s not smart to be so reliant on one technology for your business, the recent events have shown that when things go wrong in the relationship many are left with a feeling of powerlessness.
With Avid’s current plans they hope to make you more reliant on an Avid ecosystem not less
So if you are considering moving to another DAW here are 5 things to consider.
All DAWs Are Mostly The Same - So Try The Demos
The reason it is so hard for many of us to consider which DAW to move to is that all of them seem so similar. There’s a reason for that, it’s because they are, there’s not a lot to chose from when it comes to features, most DAW choices are down to preference and taste not because one is better than the other. The best DAW is the DAW that works for you, simple as that.
Some DAWs are more focussed toward music production, for example Ableton Live and Reason, whereas other DAWs are focussed more towards audio production, for example Nuendo and REAPER.
Sadly when it comes to features most DAWs have better feature sets than Pro Tools, Pro Tools isn’t the best DAW on the market it’s simply the industry standard, which means it is the most commonly used - don’t confuse the two things.
The best thing to do is to download and try the demos for the DAWs you are considering and then try them out, you’ll get 30 days in most cases to see if the DAW is for you. Export one of your Pro Tools sessions and import it into the DAWs you are trying so you can try them out with a session you are already familiar with.
Make Sure Your Plug-ins Are Cross Platform
It’s highly likely that you’ve invested in a lot of plug-ins, so before you make the leap make sure your plug-ins are VST/AU native. It’s highly likely that they are, but if you have been using a Pro Tools HD solution then you may have some RTAS, TDM or AAX DSP plug-ins that are not available in other native formats. This is not the end of the world, it may mean using an alternative, but as many users found during the long wait for some AAX ports of their plug-ins and the lack of AAX DSP support that there are always alternatives. You might find that in exploring replacement plug-ins that you find something that works better than the one you left behind.
More and more plug-ins are becoming less dependant on DAW specific preset systems, this means the preset you create in Pro Tools can be used in any other DAW that hosts the plug-in. Exponential Audio, Waves StudioRack have platform agnostic presets to name two and we are guessing SoundToys 5 will offer the same functionality.
Every time a user invests in a proprietary technology then the maker smiles and thinks ‘got em!’
Invest In Non-Proprietary Solutions
Every time a user invests in a proprietary technology then the maker smiles and thinks ‘got em!’ One of the reasons that people stick with Pro Tools is that they have invested in proprietary technology, like HD hardware and DAW specific control surfaces, this means moving on is costly. However continually investing doesn’t make the job easier, it makes it harder, so if you want to create a plan B for your business then start to invest in non-proprietary solutions for your business. Choose hardware, software, plug-ins and peripherals that work across as many platforms as possible.
You may have invested in a lot of hardware that you think you can’t use in another DAW, there’s a couple of things to say about that. Firstly, in business terms you are not writing off the cost as money lost, for one it has helped earn you money so it’s been a capital investment in your business with a clear link to profits. Secondly, speak to your accountant because depreciation of those assets in the accounts mean that you’ve been getting other tax based benefits from the investment.
As a business owner never think that you’ve lost your initial investment, over several years that becomes less true.
Take Time To Learn A New DAW
The other thing that fills those considering a switch to another DAW with dread is learning a new DAW. If you’ve spent 10 years using Pro Tools then it’s unlikely you will be able to fly around a new DAW from day one, if like many Pro Tools users you have all the shortcuts in your head then unlearning them and learning new shortcuts is going to take time. However there’s resources out there that can help:
- Groove 3 have training for all the major DAWs, check them out, invest in their Annual Pass and then you can watch as much training as you like.
- Some DAWs have custom shortcuts - for example Cubase and Logic X are two DAWs that allow you to remap the key commands so that you can use your favourites in the new DAW. I did this in Final Cut, the video editor because I got sick of using the zoom key commands from Pro Tools only to find unexpected results. You may find some smart person has already created Pro Tools shortcuts for other DAWs to save you time, so check out resources in forums and on Google.
- Dennis from Logic Pro Expert has spent the last couple of years building an awesome site that shows you all the key commands for all the popular DAWs, check them out here.
The smart business owner creates options, it is foolish to build a business that is completely reliant on a single piece of technology or ecosystem
You Can Have A Foot In Both Camps - And You Should
Sometimes in a fit of anger or passion you think ‘f*ck em, I’m off.’ The problem is because you’ve built your entire workflow around one ecosystem you might find yourself making life harder rather than easier for yourself. Rather than just dumping Pro Tools overnight, which for most working professionals is nigh on impossible, instead start to transition your business with careful planning, so that over a period of time you’ve reduced your dependence on a single business workflow and can offer Pro Tools as a choice when customers need it, rather than the only thing you have to offer. It’s smart to keep Pro Tools on the menu for when clients need it or you need to open old sessions, like it or not it is the industry standard and whatever happens with Avid Pro Tools isn’t going anywhere soon.
The smart business owner creates options, it is foolish to build a business that is completely reliant on a single piece of technology or ecosystem, both in terms of needing redundancy and in terms of your client offering.
After several years I’m about to kick my business bank into touch, I’ve had enough of their incompetence and arrogance, it’s not even personal, they don’t have something against me, they just don’t know how to take care of their customers. It’s a right royal pain in the ass to do it, but sometime pain in necessary to find a business solution that is effective and more suited to your needs, moving DAWs that you’ve built your business around will be the same, there’s going to be some pain to get the gains.
Much of what has been written here has concentrated on the effect of moving DAWs for studio owners and professionals, but even if you just use Pro Tools for pleasure then the principles are the same.