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Cubase vs Studio One Compared: Which DAW is Truly Better?

Cubase vs Studio One Compared: Which DAW is Truly Better?

Although there are numerous great digital audio workstations on the market today, each of them provides a different set of strengths and features. Cannot decide between Cubase vs Studio One? This comparison will help you choose the best one for you.

Cubase and Studio One are two of the most popular and acclaimed DAWs. Amateurs and professional studio engineers alike widely use both, so you cannot go wrong with either of them.

Nevertheless, before you make a random decision, you should know a few specifics about each of these programs.

My Bottom Line Up Front

Studio One is an excellent choice for beginners and those on a budget. Nevertheless, experienced users or those able to invest more will benefit from the more complex and advanced Cubase.

Let’s begin with a quick overview of the DAWs’ key differences.

Main Differences Between Cubase vs Studio One

The main differences between Cubase vs Studio One are:

  • Cubase takes a little longer to master, whereas Studio One is easier for total beginners.
  • Cubase is more technically demanding, whereas Studio One works well with weaker hardware.
  • Cubase has an extensive library of sounds, whereas Studio One has a more limited soundbank.
  • Cubase offers crossgrade specials to owners of competitive DAWs, whereas Studio One does not.
  • Cubase is slightly more expensive, whereas Studio One is cheaper.

Key Specifications of the Cubase vs Studio One

Program Cubase Studio One
Producer Steinberg PreSonus
Free trial Yes (30 days) Free simple version
Free updates Yes Yes
Free upgrades Yes (conditions apply) Discounts only
Minimum installation requirements 4 GB RAM (8 GB RAM or more recommended) 2 GB RAM (4 GB RAM or more recommended)
Plugin compatibility VST 2, VST 3 VST, VST2, VST3, VSTi
System compatibility Mac OS, Windows, iOS/Android (app) Mac OS, Windows, iOS/Android (app)
Price range Check the prices here Check the prices here

Exploring Cubase vs Studio One features

Studio One

Now let’s examine Cubase and Studio One programs a bit closer:

Cubase

Cubase by Steinberg was first released back in 1989, so it’s one of the oldest still used DAWs on the market.

This software is considered one of the most sophisticated workstations, providing tons of innovative features and almost unlimited creative options for those who want to compose, mix, or model their audio in a digital environment.

Cubase is widely used by all sorts of music professionals – its famous users range from Hans Zimmer to DJ Tiesto. But would it suit you and your specific needs too? Let’s find out.

Cubase Versions

  • Cubase Elements: Streamlined, easily accessible music production with 16 group channels, 24 I/Os, 3 VST instruments, and >1,000 included sounds.
  • Cubase Artist: Advanced version focused on composing, recording, mixing, and producing with 32 group channels, 32 physical I/Os, 32 VST slots, and >2,600 instrument sounds.
  • Cubase Pro: The most advanced Cubase version with Enhanced Logical Editors, 256 group channels, 256 physical I/Os, 64 VST instrument inputs, and >3,000 onboard sounds.
  • Cubase Pro Competitive Crossgrade: Owners of competitive DAWs can crossgrade to the latest full version of Cubase Pro with this product at a special price.

Note that all Cubase versions are available as digital downloads and boxed products.

Ease of Use

Cubase is a relatively robust software often referred to as a professional-grade tool rather than a hobby program for at-home music enthusiasts (unlike simpler Reaper or Audacity). But don’t let that deter you.

The truth is that Steinberg puts lots of effort into making this program as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. If you’re a beginner in music production or you’re only learning to play the guitar and record, start with the streamlined Cubase Elements, and you’ll certainly feel confident in no time.

As you later progress to the more advanced Artist or Pro versions, you will quickly expand your know-how, as the whole platform feels very homogenous, and its individual elements cooperate smoothly.

Technical Requirements

Cubase

Cubase is not the most technically demanding DAW on the market, but its robustness and extensive set of features come with some expectable requirements.

If you’re using a PC, you’ll need ​​at least Pentium/Athlon 800 MHz (but Pentium/Athlon 1.4 GHz is recommended), Windows 2000/XP with an MME-compatible sound card, 4 GB RAM (8 GB RAM or more recommended), and 1024×768 (preferably 1152×864) display resolution.

If you own a Mac computer, make sure that it comes at least with PowerMac G4 867 MHz processor (although G4 Dual 1,25 GHz is advised), Mac OS X 10.2.5 (or newer), and a Core audio compatible sound card.

Features

With 30+ years of constant improvements and innovations, Steinberg’s Cubase is packed with an exceptionally impressive set of tools and features focused on all areas of sound-shaping, including recording, editing, composing, and post-production mixing.

Depending on the version of Cubase you buy, you’ll also get a range of industry-standard effects, sequencers, soundbanks, loops, MIDI tools, and video editing features.

Here’s a brief overview of the Cubase features I find especially attractive:

  • Chord pads: Combine Chord pads with a MIDI controller for fast and creative composing.
  • Channel strip: The core of Cubase’s impressive sound. Finetuned in cooperation with sound engineers and audio experts, this key feature allows you to apply modules directly to chosen channels.
  • FX Modulator: A multi-effect modulation plugin allowing extended sound-shaping by combining various modulation effects in an intuitive environment.
  • VariAudio: Advanced tool for vocal editing and pitch-shifting. Newest Cubase (version 12) comes with an improved Scale Assistant for an even smoother editing experience.
  • AudioWarp: Improved time stretching and format-shifting tool for your samples.
  • Comping: Combine recordings from numerous takes to create a perfect record with ease.

Who is it Good for

Cubase is a genuine all-rounder, so regardless of whether you’re a home recording guitarist, music composer, producer, or performing DJ, you are certainly going to benefit from its vast range of features.

Price Range

Compared to Studio One (and some other DAWs), Cubase is generally more expensive. Nevertheless, there are several ways to make it more affordable.

Besides opting for its simpler and cheaper versions, you can also take advantage of Cubase’s free upgrades from older versions of the software or even crossgrade from a competition at a discounted price.

Check the most actual prices of Cubasehere.

Studio One

Studio One

Studio One is another widely acclaimed and recommended DAW. PreSonus first introduced it in 2009, so it’s considerably younger than Cubase. Nevertheless, it boasts a comparable reputation for reliability, user-friendliness, and versatility.

Compared with Cubase, Studio One is a slightly more straightforward, less complex, and more lightweight software, which limits its abilities a bit, but it also keeps its price lower.

Studio One is suitable for a wide range of applications. It’s good for mixing prerecorded live music or editing purely electronic tracks. So, will it work fine for you too?

Studio One Versions

  • Studio One Prime: Free entry-level version with a decent set of essential features, including a limited range of effects, loops, and VST instruments.
  • Studio One Artist: Intermediate version with a single-window interface equipped with 32 native effects, a large bundle (7GB) of free loops, and a 14GB sample bank.
  • Studio One Professional: A complete bundle of tools and functions for music professionals. It suits both live-performing and recording applications.
  • PreSonus Sphere: In the form of annual membership, Sphere grants you access to all PreSonus products, tools, and sound libraries.

Ease of Use

Studio One is often recommended to beginners in audio production due to its intuitiveness and relative simplicity.

The interface of this software looks very neat. It allows you to initiate or manage most processes straight away without searching and clicking through extensive menus and windows.

Studio One also allows you to switch between formats smoothly or even drag&drop your tracks and files for an impressively fast workflow. Whether you’re entirely new to DAWs, or you just want to focus on the creative process and leave out the technicalities, this is a great software to choose.

Technical Requirements

Another good reason to consider Studio One is its low demand for your hardware. Whether you go with the simplest version or you opt for a complete Studio One Pro bundle, it is still a lightweight software that can efficiently run on just 2 GB of RAM (although 4 GB is officially recommended).

If you have a Mac computer, it should be equipped with macOS 10 (or later), whereas PC owners need to have Windows 10 installed. In both regards, you need an Intel Core i3 processor (or some faster alternative).

You can also run Studio One on a portable device (check here for the best tablets that musicians love). It must be x86-compatible and use either iOS or Android operation systems.

Features

Cubase

Studio One might be slimmer and simpler compared to robust and bold Cubase, but it still has many features and functions that will keep you inspired and creative. Again, most of them feel very intuitive, so you should be able to master them very quickly.

Here’s a short summary of Studio One’s most prolific features:

  • Melodyne: Melodyne is one of the best pitch modelers, and Studio One is equipped with it right out of the box, which is pretty unique – no other DAW has fully integrated Melodyne yet.

  • Chord Track: One of the new editions to Studio One allows you advanced monitoring and editing of your chords, which can be especially useful if you’re a guitarist (learn how to read guitar chord charts in our older article).
  • Independent Listen Bus: This feature resembling vintage analog consoles is only available in the Pro version.
  • Ampire: This modeling amp and pedalboard plugin is full of effects and amp modelers you will undoubtedly appreciate as a guitarist.
  • Clip Gain Envelopes: This helpful tool is ideal for correcting too weak or loud sections of audio without any additional plugins. Visual referencing and paint-style operation make it very intuitive.
  • Arranger Track: This feature allows you to copy, paste, or rearrange whole sections of your tracks. Now it also comes with innovative Scratch Pads.

Where Studio One stays behind Cubase is MIDI support. The essential functions are here, but you might miss some more advanced features if you preferably work with MIDI. Studio One also misses notation editor.

Who is it Good for

Studio One can surely satisfy all the different types of musicians and audio producers. It is well equipped for both recording and performing, and I found it particularly good for combined work on guitar tracks and vocals.

Thanks to its intuitiveness and simplicity, I believe it is also more accessible for beginners than Cubase.

Price Range

Studio One is cheaper than Cubase. Depending on the exact product of your choice, you can even save several hundred dollars compared to buying a similar product from the Cubase range.

Studio One also comes with many free updates and discounted upgrades, which can help you save an even larger portion of your budget.

Check the most actual Studio One price quotes here.

Cubase Pros and Cons

Studio One

Pros

  • Professional-grade software
  • Based on 30+ years of innovations and improvements
  • All-rounder suitable for all types of users
  • Some of the widest ranges of sounds and effects
  • Compatible with all major platforms and essential plugins
  • Advantageous offers for crossgrading and upgrading
  • Free 30-day trial

Cons

  • A bit too complex for total beginners
  • More expensive than the competition
  • Higher technical requirements than the competition

Studio One Pros and Cons

Pros

  • User-friendly and simple interface
  • Great for beginners
  • Good variety of effects and sounds
  • Some impressive features including onboard Melodyne
  • Less demanding of hardware than competition
  • It is compatible with all major platforms and many key plugins
  • It is more affordable than numerous other comparable DAWs

Cons

  • Fewer features, effects, and sounds than the competition
  • Advanced users might miss some sophisticated notation tools
  • Not so strong when it comes to MIDI

Are there Any Alternatives?

Audacity

Audacity

If you find both Cubase and Studio One too expensive, maybe you should try Audacity – a popular free, open-source DAW that will provide you with lots of powerful features and tools without the necessity of substantial investment.

Users praise this DAW for user-friendliness, so it’s a great choice if you’re only at the beginning of your sound editing journey. Nevertheless, you cannot expect it to be as complex or sophisticated as its paid counterparts. Using Audacity professionally is therefore not recommended.

Logic PRO

Logic PRO

If you’re mainly concerned about fast and smooth workflow, Logic PRO is one of the best DAWs to try. This well-known software provides versatile solutions for songwriters, musicians, sound editors, and recording artists.

The downside is that you’re most likely going to need some additional 3rd party plugins to take full advantage of this platform’s capabilities. Moreover, since Logic PRO is produced by Apple, you will need a Mac computer to use it.

Check out our Logic Pro vs Pro Tools comparison for more details.

FL Studio

FL Studio

Fully customizable environment, flexible interface, a vast library of sounds, effects, and editing tools – these are just a few of many advantages of FL Studio (former Fruity Loops). This famous DAW is currently available in its 20th edition already and, as always, it has a lot to offer.

FL comes with a slightly steeper learning curve, but if you’re familiar with Cubase, you will find many similarities between the two. On the other hand, this software is relatively affordable compared to some of the competition, including Cubase.

See our full Cubase vs FL Studio comparison for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cubase vs Studio One

Question: Which DAW is Most Similar to Cubase?

Answer: FL Studio has many similarities with Cubase, although it is believed to be a bit more complex and challenging to master. On the other hand, this alternative is also slightly more affordable.

Question: Does Cubase Have Autotune?

Answer: Cubase Professional comes with VariAudio, an excellent pitch tuning feature now equipped with a brand new set of innovative smart controls for even smoother and more accurate pitch correction.

Question: Is Studio One a Professional DAW?

Answer: Yes, many professional recording artists, studio engineers, or performers use Studio One – particularly the comprehensive Professional bundle with many valuable tools for production.

Our Verdict: Cubase vs Studio One – Which is Better?

Cubase and Studio One are both excellent choices for those looking for complex and powerful DAW with professional-grade features and qualities.

Nevertheless, Cubase is, in my opinion, on a slightly higher level when it comes to the wide range of features, sounds, tools, and effects it provides. If your budget allows it and you’re not afraid of a slightly steeper learning curve either, I would suggest investing in Cubase.

On the other hand, if you’re totally new in DAWs, you might want to try a slightly simpler and more affordable Studio One instead – or go with some of the open-source alternatives like Audacity.

Need more information before making your final decision? Read ourPro Tools vs Ableton comparison next for even more great options.

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