When a new DAW announces features it can be easy to look at the one you don't own and wish you had those features. This week, Avid, the makers of Pro Tools announced Pro Tools 2018 with what they describe as a host of new features to help music makers work faster.
We know that many Pro Tools users have shown an interest in Studio One 3 with some switching or using it as their composition tool and mixing in Pro Tools. Has Avid done enough to stop more music makers moving to Studio One?
We decided to look at those new features in Pro Tools 2018 and ask if there's anything in Pro Tools 2018 that Studio One can't do, so here we go.
You might be asking yourself 'are you serious?' That's a fair question, Studio One users have been able to save plug-ins preset chains for a long time, in fact so long one would think it's normal to have that feature. Studio One can save track presets and store them in handy groups that can be used either on a current track or used when starting a new track. Pro Tools 2018 offers the option to save content like MIDI loops and audio, which is quite nice, however, it's unlikely you are going to want to use the same content in numerous songs.
One area that Pro Tools does excel is that a user can import a set of tracks, like a small session import into the existing session - again importing of both Studio One and third-party content from AAF/OMF is one area PreSonus needs to deal with soon if Studio One is to be taken seriously by professionals and power users.
Pro Tools 2018 offers the user the option to move around the MIDI notes using the keyboard as well as move MIDI notes using keyboard shortcuts. Again this is already possible with Studio One. One feature is the option to MIDI tab to note, which is similar to the audio option of tab to transient, you can do this in Studio One using the arrow keys in the Music editor window and move one or multiple notes fast using keyboard shortcuts. The MIDI options in Pro Tools are slightly more comprehensive but not enough to make a major workflow difference.
Playlist Comping Enhancements
In Pro Tools 2018 Avid has made track comping more elegant reducing the need to take up screen real estate when comping tracks. It's a nice feature but certainly not something a Studio One user would switch for.
Mixing UI Enhancements
In Pro Tools 2018 EQ curves can now be viewed in miniature in the mix view. Sadly for Pro Tools users viewing the EQ curve is where it ends, in Pro Tools you can't edit the curve in that view, simply look at it.
Compare that to the comprehensive mini view and editing of EQ, comp, gate etc. in Studio One and Avid has a lot of work to do to improve on this clumsy implementation of something many Studio One users take for granted.
Retrospective MIDI Record
A nice feature which in essence captures a MIDI performance even if you forget to press record, this is similar to the audio option you get in Studio One to pre-record audio. To be fair Studio One is one of the only DAWs that does not have retrospective MIDI capture; Logic, Pro Tools, Live and Cubase all have versions of this feature. However, if you want this feature then for $6.99 you can get a much more fully featured retrospective MIDI record option for Studio One using Capture MIDI, an Mac only application which is far more comprehensive and worth checking out.
iLok Cloud Licencing
Now Pro Tools user can use Pro Tools without having to have the physical iLok plugged into their computer and move between computers without having to take their iLok with them. Studio One doesn't need an iLok... enough said.
Stick or Switch? Our Summary
Pro Tools 2018 has been received very well by Pro Tools users, it has some nice new features, but as you can see from our outline above, there's not much to tempt a Studio One user to Pro Tools, and the real winner for Studio One users is the price of Studio One compared to Pro Tools. If Avid wants to tempt more music makers to Pro Tools then they are going to have to take a serious look at how much it costs.
Of course, none of this analysis takes into account that sometime this year Studio One 4 should be announced, from our discussions with those in the know, Studio One users can expect another fantastic update.
What do you think of the new features in Pro Tools 2018, would you switch from Studio One?