jrocamora, you are spot on, and sadly this list isn't long enough. S1 is elegant in so many ways but so incredibly unfocused in others. I simply can't believe the numbers of "pros" (I'm a pro, by the way) who tout S1 as a replacement for Pro Tools. It isn't even close. It could be, but it's not. Is anyone at PreSonus paying attention?
Before I give you my list, I want to frame the debate, because here's the deal: there are a lot of DAWs and a lot of composers/mixers/etc, and diversity is a bonus. Avid, while owning the "industry standard," has created a horrific customer experience that leaves a huge opportunity for PreSonus (and others) to fill the gap. Well-intentioned commenters love what they love, but the debate must acknowledge that many pro users will need to keep Pro Tools in their arsenal for years to come and the winner of the DAW wars will be the company that makes it super simple to move in and out of PT with elegance. This isn't just about importing and exporting but about understanding workflows and finding strong compatibilities. It's not just about mapping key commands but about mapping the mind of the user and understanding her/his experience. This is where Avid fails and where PreSonus could succeed. The major updates in 4.5 were window dressing compared to what it's going to take. S1 still has a long way to go to be a real pro's tool.
1. Let's talk automation. Lanes? There is nothing special about lanes and frankly, they're clumsy. How about real "write to end" console-based automation like the kind that's been standard in computer-based automation since, uh, 1980? Did you just find the perfect level for your snare drum halfway through the song? Think you can set it and forget it? Think again. You'll need to stop, open those "lanes," fuss around with a bunch of stupid tiny dots and redraw the levels forwards and backwards.
2. Let's talk composing. Midi composing is a mess! S1creates new layers every time I punch in on a midi track. It hides the notes at the beginning of a bar if I punch halfway through. It hides the notes at the end of the bar if I try to punch on the downbeat of the next bar. No one noticed this?! Instead of composing, I'm futzing with GUI. I have to stop, go back and uncover the missing layers, and I still have all of these funky layers of midi takes to deal with. Layers? You can have it. It took me 60 minutes to compose something I'd have spent 15 minutes on in PT. (Of course, PT has a bug where it might arbitrarily erase all of my notes when I'm writing, so I pick my poison with caution.) But seriously, how can you mess up midi recording in 2019?
3. Let's talk solo buttons. I'm working with a group of four instruments, let's say I'm composing the horns, and I want to just solo the four tracks I'm writing, with one in record while I compose. Every time I stop playing/recording, the other three tracks fall out of solo. WTF? Stop it already, S1! Another feature, right...? Settings I make should not be undone by the software, that seems like a simple rule.
4. Let's talk instrument tracks, record buttons and composing workflows. Instrument tracks need to come out of record when I move to record into another track. Period. There is no functional reason instrument or midi tracks should ever remain in record when I jump to another track to continue composing. Composing in midi is a different kind of workflow from audio recording and needs to be understood as such. Moving on to the next track means leaving the old one behind, and so on. (For those actually recording multiples of these tracks, that would be a non-default special option, usually done with the alt key and the Rec button.) Oh, and by the way, I know that if I click a track in the mixer, the record button will follow, turning the old one off. But that's crazy! I have a lot of reasons I might want to click on a track. It's not a good work flow.
5. Let's talk ReWire. Reason won't load as ReWire in S1. It should be stupid simple.
6. Let's talk importing audio files. Some try to pretend that S1 has a super simple, just slightly different way of doing what the "shuffle" button in Pro Tools does, but this is a stinky lie. There is no reason in the universe that I shouldn't be able to drag in a new audio file/stem/etc and have it automatically locate to the very beginning of the session. No, I don't want to designate a marker, have it locate there and then move things around again. The word is "beginning." The b-e-g-i-n-n-i-n-g of my session. Please. Go there. Now. Most of us – and especially the ones desperately trying to secure a digital divorce from Pro Tools and find marital bliss elsewhere – have to work in stems or head-to-tail files for sharing. Why make it so hard on us?
7. Let's talk export range. Why the hell can't I EASILY set a range of time from which to export my mix? Start markers aren't the answer. Loop markers aren't the answer. It takes me four or five minutes to set this up, and god help me if I have to stop and change something. Pro Tools' solution isn't great, but at least it's a single tool dragged across the entire edit window that defines the range. It's no big deal. Cubase lets you define and save ranges – a great idea! S1...good luck, soldier.
8. Let's talk transport. The options for start and stop, especially with respect to what the screen does on stop, don't cover the waterfront. You get two choices: either you stop where you stop, then continue to play from there (a mostly useless option for a composer or mixer who needs to go back and hear/do it again), or you can set prefs to have the cursor jump back and start again from the same defined place. The problem is: let's say I start playing from measure 10 and play about 15 bars and at bar 25 I see something I want to fix and stop. In my version 2 of the transport options, the screen immediately jumps back to bar 10, my starting place. No! I needed to see the place I stopped! There is no third option for S1 to stop in place, then play again from the Go To bar already set. Yes, like Pro Tools does. Oh, and Cubase, DP, Logic and even Reason (the worst sequencer ever).
9. Let's talk console window. I mostly love the console window, but I'm one of those guys who almost never wants it attached to the main edit window, because I like it big. S1 seems to make no accommodation for this workflow, with every new session beginning with the console window built into the main window, and when opening it as separate, it opens up really small. Believe it or not, I kind of want what I want the same way all the time. Give me the option to have a fixed size for my console window from session to session. This should be an easy overall preference.
10. And while we're on the console window...I want my sends and inserts to be aligned horizontally. If I move the horizon for sends up on one track, I want all tracks to follow. I don't want a mash-mash of horizons. It looks bad and confuses my eyes. I'm fine with the idea that the verticals can scale, unlike Pro Tools and other DAWs where they're fixed, but I like straight, symmetrical lines.
11. Let's talk HUI/Mackie and Artist Mix. It doesn't work. Except that PreSonus documentation says it should but support blames Avid when it doesn't. Guys, let's do what others have done and get this working. The Artist Mix is one of the slickest little mixers ever made and more important, I own it! I don't want to buy another one. Why? Because as I said earlier, I will not ever be without the need to open Pro Tools, even if you fix all of this and I can make the full switch to S1. I have 15 years of legacy sessions in Pro Tools and I don't want two mixers.
I don't expect any of these things to be taken seriously by PreSonus, unfortunately. And that's a real shame, because the things that are supremely awesome about S1 are amazing advances for those of us trying to work a little faster, a little cleaner and frankly, trying to have a little more fun. My first week working with Studio One, before I started hitting all of these road blocks, was the most fun I've had with a DAW in a long time. But without real and professional workflow solutions that address stuff like I mentioned above and that jrocamora mentions, S1 ends up creating more problems than it solves. And despite the dozens of glowing YouTube blah blah blahs, the truth is eventually going to emerge that S1 is close – but not really there. I firmly believe that those pro mixers who claim to have fallen in love with S1 and abandoned Pro Tools haven't actually done that at all. Like me, they keep booting up Pro Tools and putting up with its shortcomings because the work flows are still better, and as long as you don't see beachballs, it sorta works. Pretty much.
And that is a real shame because Studio One is beautiful, super stable and sounds great. It just doesn't do enough. I'll be learning Cubase next week, in hopes of finding answers there, but by all means, PreSonus, look me up if you want to have a serious conversation.