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DAW opinions

Since I wrote a little personal rant about Nuendo, I’ve received a considerable amount of e-mails, fortunately most understood my intentions and didn’t try to start a “DAW war”. Originally I didn’t plan to write a follow up to that article, but because it seems that it is a topic which might need a little more attention, I give it another go here, trying to update and build upon the previous blog post.

As recently Nuendo 6 hit the market, I searched the web for videos, user experiences and downloaded the manual so I can research and understand the changes and new features beyond the usual and seemingly necessary marketing “fog”.

Features that we need (or not)

First I think I need to clarify a few things in order to avoid the misunderstandings and baseless DAW bashing.

I completely understand that many users don’t need those “pro” extra features in any DAW what the professionals want, request and actually use daily. But I ask one thing in return. Please understand that although you may not need the mentioned extras in a workstation, we still need and use them. I really want to avoid any futile and endless rant about this. We have different needs, workflows, but please appreciate that in post production, we really need those extras. I’m dare to state that those extra functions are vital to our daily jobs.

So this whole post is rather a thought provoking mini article and not a de facto list of what feature should be in a DAW.

Also be aware of the fact that I’m a heavy Pro Tools user who (now) daily encounters with Nuendo too, this is why I wanted to research the theme a bit more.

Anything you read here is merely my opinion and with all that said, I personally consider two DAWs to be adequate for serious post production:
* Pro Tools
* Nuendo
* (I didn’t forget Fairlight and other options, but it’s not in this price range)

Nuendo 6

As I saw it was coming I read many posts about it on different forums and I actually totally understood the excitement about the new release. We, Pro Toolers are equally if not more exited when we are about to receive a brand new iteration of our favourite. Of course it’s never so one sided. Around new version launch the tension tends to build up, and not only the cheerful voices emerge but the critic ones also, and I must say with a good reason.

Many time companies spend more time with marketing than with their product, which leads to premature release full of nasty bugs, long-forgotten bugs remained from previous releases, etc. I absolutely understand the frustration but also we have to understand that sadly today, you cannot sell a product with “features” like:

  • fully optimised
  • we made it rock-solid
  • ironed out 6000 bugs
  • spent time to listen to you and tweaked the options
  • tested on a million systems to ensure smooth operation

Let’s be honest, this is not going to happen anytime soon.


n6box

So let’s see the brand new shinny features of Nuendo 6.

  • New UI. Frankly I don’t really like it, but it is a matter of personal preference, so I won’t make any further judgement on this
  • Dedicated full screen mode. That’s right, we need it in Pro Tools too!
  • Voxengo curve eq. Great, but it’s not Steinberg’s own idea or development
  • Anymix Pro. Just as above, I don’t consider this a huge feature. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic tool, but it’s not Steinberg’s, it’s a question of money not vision. Still, I would be very-very happy to see something like this in the next Pro Tools version (hint: Maggot Spanner would be a fantastic candidate)
  • Fully integrated loudness metering. I applause this, very good idea. However still think that in this saturated market we may find better options like Nugen Audio’s one, but I won’t be negative here, it’s great that they included this feature.
  • ADR taker system. Although I’ve never used it and I’m not an ADR guy, this seems simply genius.
  • Channel visibility/zone tabs. Great, although a bit late, but don’t be so negative, at least from now on, it’s there.
  • Channel eq with spectrum analyser. A nice touch. I would say most of the time I don’t need a feature like this, but when we need it, it is very handy to have the option built-in.
  • Sound fx library. Frankly I really don’t understand this. Nuendo is marketed toward serious post production circles. While it could be a nice addition, I have yet to met anyone in this industry who don’t have huge sound libraries. If you’re a freelancer, you may already have it, if you work at any reasonable post facility, then they have it. This is what I feel a needless marketing trick. I’m not bashing the quality of it, I’m sure it’s great. The whole idea bothers me though.
  • Zoom mem/zap. Great feature, long time Pro Toolers surely recognise the equivalent…
  • Channel linking with options. Oh, thank you for it! Seriously! This is what made me crazy so many times, or better said the lack of it. I love and use the equivalent feature in PT daily. If I understand it fully, there’s still room for improvement here though.

So this short list highlights some of the new features in the brand new Nuendo 6. What is my honest opinion? Well, mixed. Some of the new features are great, but I can see many “new” things in there which seems to me only a simple “let’s catch up with the competition” thing.

Just a short reminder what I miss from Nuendo:

  • destructive record
  • automation overlay on waveforms
  • 16bit waveforms
  • VCA groups
  • Import session data function
  • Bus interrogation
  • Clip gain implementation seriously lacks

Couple of days ago I read Pro Tools Expert’s article about the upcoming PT11 that simply catching up is not enough. Now, this how I feel about Nuendo 6. Some nice additions, but mainly long requested features and still many things missing (see my previous rant).

All in all I still think that this is a very nice package, although I don’t feel that Steinberg really put itself into it, and certainly I don’t feel that this release is threatening Pro Tools in any way. Of course as usual, I can be dead wrong about this, but this iteration won’t shake the post world.

I’m very curious though. Interesting times as Avid has new CEO and Pro Tools 11 is hopefully approaching, as we can see Steinberg is trying to catch up and lead, and hopefully we, the users will benefit from this competition. And as always, use the tool which serves you better and don’t forget that these are just tools, you’re the operator.