Not sure what’s causing it, but in the last few weeks I’ve been getting a lot of people sending me emails about my Live versus Logic Sound Quality post from a couple years ago. Figured it was time to maybe update my views on the topic. Or maybe clarify my views my be a better term.
So no, I’m not really going to pick the best sounding DAW, sorry. 🙂
For years I was the guy arguing that (everything being equal) all DAWs sounded the same, or the differences were beyond the range of our playback equipment and hearing. Every test I’ve run or tried has shown the same thing, people can’t accurately hear the differences.
Then I became a full-time mastering engineer and spent a LOT of time talking to other musicians about how things SOUND. And I realized that everyone hears things differently, none of us hears things exactly the same way. Over and over I’ve been amazed at how different people focus on different areas of music, in how they approach conveying and describing it to others. In how they internalize and interpret what reaches their ears.
I’ve met people who could hear the tiniest changes to the most background parts in a song, but miss the fact that they had muted the vocal track in one section accidentally. Or people who swore two identical copies of the exact same song sounded completely different. Usually the differences are more subtle, but I’ve been surprised at what the human brain can honestly believe it is hearing.
Now, I’m not so sure all DAWs sound the same to people.
Personally, I think everyone uses a lot of other external sensory inputs when determining how things sound. Maybe one DAW is slightly brighter in it’s color palette, and for some reason that triggers something where that person hears things as slightly brighter. I don’t know, I have no idea how it works or what is happening. But I do think that for whatever reason, people can legitimately hear differences where others can not.
The question of are those differences really there in the first place is the thorny bit though, and for that I still turn to the cold hard science of digital audio. Maybe one day we’ll have a better way of describing and measuring sound.
Ultimately though, it’s a dumb fucking thing to argue about no matter what. If you can’t make a great professional sounding track in ANY modern DAW, it’s not the tool’s fault.