Are you having a hard time comparing Studio One vs Cubase?
You’re not alone! With so many options out there, you wouldn’t believe how many people struggle to make a decision.
I know how buying a new DAW can be intimidating (especially when you’re just starting in music production). Choosing between all the options out there is no simple task.
But don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place for answers.
Below, you’ll find a list of several categories to better understand where each DAW shines.
The 6 different categories we’ll use to compare Studio One vs Cubase are:
Read on to see which DAW comes out victorious!
Let’s face it, this is probably the first thing we all consider when thinking about buying a new DAW.
I remember back when every music software company out there had only one product, which made decisions much simpler. But these days, there are several different versions of a single DAW available to us.
Studio One, for example, offers the “Artist” and “Professional” versions, which go for $99.95, and $399.95 respectively. They also offer a monthly $14.95 subscription called “Sphere”, which includes the Professional version and all the company’s plugins.
I know… that’s a lot of money! But if these prices seem too steep, hold on to your seat!
Cubase also has different versions available, such as “Elements”, “Artist”, and “Pro”, which go for $99, $329.99, and $579.99 respectively. Yes, you read that right, almost $600 for the “Pro” version.
That price tag alone is enough to scare anyone off unless you consider all the features Cubase Pro has to offer. Compared to Studio One Professional, it has a much higher number of instrument sounds and sound banks.
This may justify the $180 price difference if you use those a lot.
Another thing that’s really important to consider is operating system compatibility.
Unlike some other Windows-exclusive DAWs, both Studio One and Cubase have Windows and Mac versions available.
But there’s a catch.
Sadly, whenever companies have any product released for various operating systems, they tend to lean a little more towards satisfying the larger portion of the market.
Since both Studio One and Cubase are much more popular among Windows users, it would seem like macOS performance is a little wanting. In fact, several users have reported problems with their macOS that are not present in the PC operating system.
Apparently, this is much more of a problem for Cubase than it is for Studio One.
Now, this is not to say that if you have a Mac, you should not get Cubase. There’s a really good chance that the issues said users have experienced are unrelated to the DAW, but still… I want you to have all the details.
The winner of this section will depend on whether you value storage space or content more.
Let me elaborate.
In terms of file size, Studio One boasts a significant 32 GB when installing the Professional version with all the available plugins. However, this is nothing when compared to the whopping 70 GB Cubase Pro 12 needs of your storage space for a full installation.
It all comes down to your perspective. If you want to see the glass half-empty, Studio One is the better choice, as it will be more forgiving on your system’s storage. And if you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, Cubase’s larger file size means more options and sounds for you to work with from the get-go.
At the end of the day, the best DAW will be that which adapts better to your workflow.
If you don’t care much for stock plugins and sound libraries and prefer third-party plugins, go for Studio One and use the extra space and money to buy and install a good plugin bundle. Waves Audio has some fantastic options.
On the other hand, if you’re used to recording, mixing, and mastering “in the box”, get Cubase Pro and take advantage of the thousands of different sounds and instruments it comes with.
Following up on the previous section, let’s take a look at the stock plugins each DAW has.
As we’ve already established, Cubase offers a much higher number of options in this area, but is quantity better than quality?
Both programs have incredible stock plugins, including EQs, Compressors, Saturators, Distorters, Limiters, and much, much more.
You’ll be hard-pressed to notice an audible difference between the stock plugins of either DAW, but when it comes to customizability, precision, and control, there’s definitely some room for observation.
When compared to the plugins on other DAWs, like FL Studio, you might be a little disappointed with the aesthetics, as they’re mostly gray and simplistic.
But let’s be honest, looks aren’t the reason why you buy recording software.
Both Cubase and Studio One are focused on productivity, efficiency, and the maximum degree of precision possible. Where some Cubase stock plugins may be lacking, there could be a Studio One alternative that shines, and vice versa.
The bottom line is that both DAWs offer high-quality stock plugins that will prove extremely useful to 99% of producers and musicians. Besides, when you need something more specific, you’ll likely get a third-party product, so why worry about it?
Although ease of use is not at the top of the list in terms of priority when buying a DAW, it’s definitely important.
Not unlike any other software out there, a learning curve will always be present when you’re making your way through either Studio One or Cubase.
It’s just the way things are.
That being said, as someone who has used both programs, I can tell you that learning how to use Cubase took me a lot longer than perfecting my skills on Studio One.
To me, everyday actions, like Bus routing, FX sends, Quantization, and volume automation seemed a lot simpler on Studio One. But then again, I was coming from FL Studio, so there’s a good chance I had a mindset set on simplicity rather than functionality at the time.
Moreover, if you’re someone who uses a lot of virtual instruments, such as Kontakt Player or Superior Drummer, you might have to do some experimenting to set them up properly in Cubase.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, but when compared with the ease of a simple drag-and-drop process like the one present in Studio One, it’s certainly a little harder.
With every new version of our favorite DAWs, there are several new features implemented and many more problems that are solved.
That alone justifies the 2-3 years between new releases.
That being said, not everyone buys the newest version of a DAW as soon as it comes out. Just as it happens with Smartphones, people usually make the most out of their current version and upgrade once every 2 new releases.
Companies like PreSonus (Studio One) and Steinberg (Cubase) noticed this a while ago and decided to offer discounts for upgrading or migrating from a DAW belonging to the competition.
Upgrading to Cubase Pro 12 from Cubase Pro 4-10.5 costs $159.99 while upgrading from Cubase Artist 12 to Cubase 12 Pro costs $249.99.
Studio One, on the other hand, charges $149.95 to upgrade from any Professional version to Studio One 5 Professional, and $299.95 to upgrade from any Artist version.
As you can see, both are highly upgradeable, but it comes at a price. My recommendation would be to upgrade your DAW once every 3 years or so.
Trying to decide between Studio One and Cubase can be very stressful. You’d think that having many options would be a good thing, but it can often be nerve-wracking instead!
Especially considering that you’re making a sizeable investment.
I hope this piece has helped clarify the main differences and similarities between both DAWs and how they can adapt to your needs for the best possible price. At the end of the day, it will all come down to your personal preferences and production style.
That being said, I’m sure that any choice you make will be the right one.
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Best of luck to you.