When comparing FL Studio vs Sonar, the Slant community recommends FL Studio for most people. In the question“What are the best DAWs?” FL Studio is ranked 5th while Sonar is ranked 10th. The most important reason people chose FL Studio is:
With the producer or signature bundle, updates are free forever.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Free lifetime updates
With the producer or signature bundle, updates are free forever.
Pro Easy to learn DAW
The FL Studio DAW utilizes drag and drop, and can generally be learned quickly without any prior knowledge.
Pro Intuitive piano roll
Piano roll is a FL Studio's instrument step sequencer. It is considered to be among the most intuitive and flexible tools for quickly creating patterns and manipulating all aspects of each note. A single left click inserts a note, while a right click deletes it. It's possible to mute notes, splice them, stretch them, add shuffle, etc quickly.
The Piano Roll caters for those new to Music Theory as well, containing an array of chords from which to choose, be it a Major, Minor, Minor 5th, Minor 9th, what have you.
Pro Perfect for engineering because of the production style workflow
The workflow for creating beats in FL Studio is among the fastest which make mixing and mastering a breeze inserting plug-ins and routing on the mixer.
Pro Excellent for visual learners
All the stock plugins look really nice and really show users what is being done, it's a great way to learn mixing theory for a beginner. This approach makes FL Studio easy to learn compared to other DAWs.
Pro Easy to install
No complex activation shenanigans. No dongle and such.
Pro Each update is major
When Image Line releases an update, it's safe to assume that there are major improvements in there.
Pro Good for the studio
Some DAWs are good for live shows, some DAWs are good for production, but the FL Studio DAW has carved its niche in the studio recording arena.
Pro Scalable interface
The interface adapts to the screen size it's used on.
Pro Smooth UI
Compared to other DAWs, FL's UI moves at full monitor refresh rates while others are somehow laggy.
FL Studio has a very unique sampler which allows all kinds of sounds to be experimented with, be it a siren, a water drop, or more commonly, the infamous "Progressive House" Kick. The Sampler also allows the user to retune a sample to any key he/she desires
Pro Supports resampling
Supports resampling (non stretch) which is something some DAWs don't support.
Pro Sample/MIDI Manipulation in the Playlist Mode
The Playlist mode comes with various tools for cutting out sections of a sample, midi arrangement, or otherwise. One can also clone, mute, solo out, and stretch a sample by any degree, although the sample's key will change
Pro Very comprehensive plugin suite included
You have basic and advanced plugins right out the box.
Pro Fully open: accepts a variety of formats
Accepts VST/VSTi (v2,v3) Wav, Aiff, Rex, Acid, Apple Loop, Ogg, Mp3 as well as almost every video format including Mov and Mp4.
Pro Fully vectorial UI that will scale to virtually every screen
Because most DAWs don't scale well yet.
Pro Flexible internal linking engine
It's linking engine and controller plugins are very flexible and useful all across the software. For mixing and also for performance mode.
Pro It's possible to run FL Studio on Linux via Wine without a noticeable performance impact
Version 12 of FL Studio includes a new Generic ASIO driver that's capable of achieving same low latency performance as the native Windows version. Instructions on how to set up the DAW to run on Linux via Wine can be found here.
Pro The only DAW with a VJ graphic generation suite (ZG Editor Visualizer)
No other DAW has that.
Pro Imports video for scoring
You can open several video players.
Pro It comes as VSTi and Rewire
So you can use it inside another DAW....AFAIK there's no other DAW capable of doing that.
Pro Inbuilt cross 32/64bit plugin bridge
Because you don't need to install/configure a third party bridge.
Pro Patcher: Modular environment
Pro It is the only DAW where you can program real scratching sequences (Turntablism)
You can make your own scratches with the "Fruity Scratcher" or "Wave traveller".
Pro Complete control over multiple Launchpad Pro animation lightshow projects.
Live can, but working with more LPs is a pain.
Pro Non-invasive DRM
Forget copy protection USB-dongles and phone-home activation. Just import a reg key file and your license is activated.
Pro Reasonable and liberal license
Buy once, and you're allowed to use it on every computer you own.
Pro Can import/export 32bit audio
Just as the internal engine bit depth, there's no loss in quality. Go and try opening 32bit files in Logic....impossible.
Pro Unlimited Creativity
With tools in the piano roll like the "Riff Machine", and the "Randomize" tool, you can literally let the computer automate the production if you want. In addition to plugins like "Gross Beat", Slicex, DirectWave, the ideas can be limitless.
Pro Very flexible timeline
Pro Best stretching algorithms in the market
Pro Highly customizable UI
The Sonar DAW comes with a new and improved UI with extra focus on being customizable.
Pro Powerful mixing including ProChannel
A Pro Channel ensures that you have all the necessary plugins in a really good mixing rack with console emulation for all busses and channels. This feels and sounds like a real mixing console.
Pro Built in vocal comping and pitch correction
The Sonar DAW has some of the best pitch correction available, and it comes with the DAW.
Pro New version just came out no more x series its Platinum Professional and Artist now
Lots of new features to separate them from the pack and put them in the lead again like when they were the very first DAW to go 64 bits. New model for purchasing the DAW means a purchaser can pay a monthly fee to use the DAW instead of having to buy it all upfront, so now you can try it for a month or 4 and if it does not work for you, dump it without having spent the full price to buy the whole thing.
Pro Great bundled instruments
Pro Includes Addictive Drums 2
Pro Touch screen support
If your computer has a touch screen, use gestures to optimize your workflow.
Pro Integrated SoundCloud and YouTube uploads
When you're done with a project, upload it straight to SoundCloud or YouTube from the Sonar DAW.
Pro Integrated drum replacement
Pro Includes Melodyne Essential via ARA
Pro Session Templates
New projects can have the entire session defined from a template. Tracks, IO, folders routing, Etc
Pro Very Frequent Updates
The last few years they have given updates with new features AND fixes nearly EVERY MONTH! great support, constant innovation.
Pro Vocal Alignment tool
Pro Add effects plugins to individual audio or MIDI clips
In addition to an effects rack and ProChannel effects that you can insert into each track, SONAR also allows you to insert effects plugins on individual audio or MIDI clips.
Using the non-destructive editing, you can easily cut one of those clips into smaller pieces if you'd like to apply an effect non-destructively to an individual note or musical phrase.
Pro Track Folders
Group tracks in to folders to expand/collapse Solo Mute or Archive
For under 200 USD, you get the full version of the DAW with all the bells and whistles, and free stuff that comes in the bundle you would not get from another DAW.
For less than 200 USD more, you get free updates for a lifetime. Any future updates with the SONAR Platinum DAW is free when you have this pass.
They have sold the SONAR Platinum DAW with the LIFETIME Pass key as a bundle from June 01, 2016-Aug 01, 2016. It's already over but who knows when it will comeback? The team from cakewalk are just generously full of surprises.
Pro Highly flexible audio routing
In SONAR Platinum you can create an unlimited number of audio tracks, patch points, aux tracks and busses. Each track can send its output or an unlimited number of aux sends to any patch point or bus. A patch point can route to any number of aux tracks. Each aux track or bus can send its output or an unlimited number of sends to any other patch point or bus. (* A patch point is a destination where audio can be sent from any output or aux send, while an aux track is a track that receives its input from a patch point. This allows the track to be used similarly to a bus, with the additional flexibility of allowing multiple aux tracks to get their input from the same source point, and the organizational convenience of having the track alongside other tracks, instead of in the separate bus area.)
Pro Inbuilt bridge
Includes inbuilt bridge allowing a 64-bit software to use a 32-bit plugin and vice versa without having to painstakingly use an external bridge to bridge the plugins. This will save one from bridging every new plugin that isn't compatible.
Con Native Mac version is in beta
FL Studio for Mac is still in beta. It doesn't even yet support Yosemite or El Capitan.
Con No native Linux version
No native Linux version available. It's possible to run it using WINE with native performance. Instructions on how to set it up can be found here.
Con Not intuitive for track based recording approach
Con Has the tendency to crash
Always save before loading a new VST or doing something important: FL is extremely prone to crashes.
Con The soundfont player will trash your projects, no 64-bit version available
Remember that nice project with a soundfont in it ? Yeeeah, load it again and prepare to face stuck MIDI notes and a trashed project.
Con Windows only
This DAW isn't available on any operating system except for Windows. However, many Mac users operate the Sonar DAW in a dual boot environment.
A version for Mac is in the works. You can learn more about it here.
Con Gibson owned (they're almost Bankrupt, $500,000.00 in Debt)
Many feel with the "Lifetime" subscription, really hurt Cakewalk as there is no more monthly/yearly income. Most likely the IP will be sold as Gibson is in a bad financial situation (they owe about half a Billion $ due early next year) They are one of the all time "Great" guitar builders.
Con Steep Learning Curve
This DAW has a bit of a learning curve, if you're new to DAW software, this may not be recommended for a beginner.