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Francois van der Merwe

Improvements needed, according to review of Mr. Bumblebee

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3 hours ago, mettelus said:

[Side comment, potentially related] One thing I find concerning is that this new forum seems to be populated predominantly with members from the old. I *assume* this is open to everyone (perhaps in error), so find it odd that more new members are not present.

AFAIK, the only notice about the forum was posted in the old forum. My guess is this was by design to allow for a soft roll out. The next release of CbB will have a link to the forum. It will likely be mentioned in the release notes. This may have an impact on new user activity.

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I think he was attempting to be fair, but tough and honest in his stated opinions.  These could be taken as constructive suggestions for enhancements by the development team.

As a 20 year user of Cakewalk products, I cannot argue with some of his conclusions:

  • Cakewalk is littered with half-finished features.
  • Luckily, the core features necessary for basic music making are in tact. For simple recording and mixing, Cakewalk is excellent.
  • I can understand why people enjoy the software. There’s no shame (or anything negative at all!) about having basic needs. Cakewalk gets the basics right for the most part.
  • As a free product Cakewalk is fantastic. If I was paying $50 a month for it, I’d be quite unhappy for the value. I know that the paid version came with a lot of bonus plugins/addons, but the core functionality is behind the competitors.
  • I can say that Cakewalk is worth the price you paid, possibly a bit more.
  • Hopefully bandlab can do something with the software to shore up the half-finished features and enhance the core workflows. I don’t even care about the features that aren’t there.
  • If Bandlab just took what’s already there and fixed it, it would be a great product.
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In his DAW comparison chart, one thing that jumps out is the zero score Cakewalk gets for stability.  If the software you are using/reviewing fails to perform as described/intended, crashes, or otherwise leaves you tearing your hair, it is likely to color your impression of everything else.  I have little experience with other DAW's, but it has been my impression over the years that many people have had the impression that Cakewalk/SONAR was exceptionally flaky compared to its competitors. My own impression was that it was too often pulled from the oven half baked in order to try to fix or add an "unfinished feature" that was being published  primarily so that the developer could claim it was there. Of course I usually just told myself, it must be user error, resulting in more hair loss, or that buggy is an essential quality of truly state of the art complicated programs, and diligently set about crafting my own kludges or scouring the old forums for the genius of others. Then I would gleefully download a new version after learning that they had fixed a problem that they had never officially acknowledged existed. I am hopeful that the freedom from having to justify the cost of each upgrade, or monthly membership will take some of the pressure off the developers to turn out something for everyone (...a comedy tonight), and result in a shift to making sure that what they have devised is close to bullet-proof. The vast majority of the users of  DAW's (as opposed to those who visit DAW self-help forums) are musicians (or want to be) looking for a tool that just works. 

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Posted (edited)
On 1/3/2019 at 6:26 AM, Tobias said:

(Recording and Mixing) would be what 99% of the userbase use it for, so good stuff then ! :)

Perhaps but that is a pretty broad label to apply to all users.  It is also a narrow vision statement to follow while trying to broaden the user base.

What about users that want to create primarily with midi or loops?

I took my time to read the review and absorb the thoughts that were presented.  While not wanting to review the review I will say I think the review is worth reading as two critical issues were brought up.

Stability is critical for obtaining and retaining users.  The review was published in December, 2018.  Even before then, Cakewalk developers have concentrated on making the product more crash resistant and stable.  Still, there remains more maintenance work to be completed before Cakewalk will be as stable as it can and needs to be.

The review also points out that much of the product feature set seems to be unfinished or incomplete as though the developers had great ideas but marketing did not allocate the time needed to properly implement features.  From different things I've read in this forum, the old forum, third party forums, etc. I believe there is some truth behind this sentiment.  Hopefully, BandLab will continue to let the developers work not just on fixes or new features but will also allow time for the developers to revisit some of the existing feature sets and tweak as needed.

I've bookmarked the site as I want to look deeper into what Admiral Bumble Bee has said and continues to say.

Edited by fogle622
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On 6/7/2019 at 4:47 PM, fogle622 said:

What about users that want to create primarily with midi or loops?

That is a very important type of user, just look at the success of Ableton Live and FL Studio, both of which started as nothing but that and flowered into fuller-featured DAW's.

Heck, BandLab's other DAW's, the ones that run in Chrome and on iOS and Android are loop-oriented.

And there's the hybrid user, not just "the kids," but people who do backing rhythm tracks of drums and bass with their vocals as audio. MIDI and loop tools need to be strong for them, too. I sometimes compose drum parts using the DAW, then play live to them  while recording, using the MIDI track in place of the metronome.

I found Admiral BumbleBee's to be a very thorough critique, and one that I couldn't disagree with overall. He may have gotten a detail wrong here or there, and personal opinions are just that.

Having worked in the software industry myself for many years, that is one of the basic reasons that bugs persisted in shrinkwrap programs, and in truth, one of the reasons I got out of software development. With the traditional licensing model, there is a built-in disincentive to fix bugs, and it's because no, people don't open their wallets for bug fixes, they open them for new features.

Programmers' time costs the company the same amount of money whether it's spent fixing bugs or coding new features. New features=more licenses sold=income. Bug fixes=loss. Businesses exist to generate income.

Over a long period of time, a program such as SONAR could lose new licenses by gaining a bad reputation for crashing and having half-assedly implemented features, one I would say after working with the program as it was in April of 2018 not entirely undeserved. But it would also take a long period of time to correct that reputation. A reputation is a difficult thing to change, of course, especially once damaged. How many of us have worked at companies capable of that level of foresight vs. immediate profits? Yeahhh.

I'd love to see TPTB reach into the Feature Request bin and pull out a couple. I believe if you don't do that every once in a while, people give up and stop making requests. That's why I was so pleased to see the Ripple Edit Indicator, even though I personally seldom use Ripple Edit. So many people had been begging for it! And they not only got it, but one with multiple modes.

Now it seems like the Matrix would be the hot one to put a bit of ingenuity into, since Cakewalk is one of the few programs to offer such a feature. I'd like to learn how to use one of those that is really good.

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Posted (edited)

The review made some good points (e.g., lack of console undo is not great, there are some half-baked features)  but overall I think the review was WAYYYY too harsh. He's also constantly saying "tons of other DAWs do (feature X) better" without mentioning any examples. He also doesn't seem to really know how to use CW all that well. For example, he bases his statement that crossfading two clips is a really hard thing to do on... the number of steps they use to describe it in the manual. If he were to have actually used the feature he would have realized that crossfading two clips is one of the easiest things you can do in CW: just drag the edge of one clip over the top of another. At least two other DAWs I've used require you to do that and then do some sort of keyboard shortcut to do the actual crossfade. CW, and, I think, Cubase are the only two DAWs I've seen that do it as easily as CW does.

Anyway, the bakers should definitely take some useful feedback from the review, but let's not pretend it was balanced or objective.

Edited by Jeremy Jensen
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This review was a bit bizarre for me. He first reported there were no Track templates or project templates. That was soon edited from his review once someone called him out on it in the comments. He also suggested that Traktion is a better choice for a free DAW. That is almost laughable. Sure im partial because I use Cakewalk but I sure as hell wouldn't do a review on Pro Tools if I knew nothing about it.

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4 minutes ago, Chuck E Baby said:

...

He first reported there were no Track templates or project templates. That was soon edited from his review once someone called him out on it in the comments.

...

 

On 7/1/2019 at 8:30 PM, Jeremy Jensen said:

...

He also doesn't seem to really know how to use CW all that well. For example, he bases his statement that crossfading two clips is a really hard thing to do on... the number of steps they use to describe it in the manual. If he were to have actually used the feature he would have realized that crossfading two clips is one of the easiest things you can do in CW: just drag the edge of one clip over the top of another.

...

 

This seems to be a common theme with a lot of the CbB reviews that are out there, and one of the downsides of the skylight interface - there's a lot of hidden features in Cakewalk, that unless you know about them, are almost hidden away.

This used to frustrate the hell out of me - especially when I went through the transition from Sonar 8.5 to X1.

Here's the thing though... once I learned how to use a feature and started using it a lot, there's absolutely no way I'd want to do without it. The smart tool & clip editing is probably the best example. It's incredibly confusing to a newbie, but once you get to know it, it's so powerful and very quick to use.

Sometimes I do sympathise with the frustration both newbies & reviewers have, but on the other hand... if someone is going to start using a program as complex as a DAW, do they really expect to be able to use it properly without reading the manual or watching some tutorials?

If I took the same approach as most "box opening" reviewers took with something like PhotoShop, I'd give it a pretty scathing review.

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While there is disagreement about the review findings, I'm very glad to see Cakewalk by BandLab appears to be gaining in popularity and is a subject worth bringing up in DAW conversations.

There are a lot of computer based DAWs to choose from.  The more the name is raised the better chance the program has of continuing to advance in popularity.

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