Are you in a world where professional studio recording time is an expense?
A world where artists are making hit records at home?
A world where you know there is home recording software out there but you don’t know where to start?
How about with an overview of home recording software is out there.
And an explanation of what a DAW is.
DAWs or Digital Audio Workstations are simply pieces of software that have replaced the multi-track tape recorder and then some.
Having researched some music forums and some music technology magazine websites, such as Sound on Sound, I drew up a short-list of the most talked about DAWS – software programs for recording music on a computer.
If you’re thinking of investing, you will want to do your own research. Begin by clicking on some of the links below.
Feel free to add your findings and links in the comments below.
The percentage in brackets reflect the results of this recent survey on the popularity of the different types of DAWs as of July 2011.
Avid’s Pro Tools is the industry standard for professional recording studios. Now in to its ninth iteration, Pro Tools is now giving customers what they want which is a version of Pro Tools that is compatible with or without most audio hardware. Historically, with previous versions of Pro Tools, you had to buy a compatible interface such as an M-Box or a device made by Digidesign. For studio-to-studio collaboration Pro Tools is the choice of most professionals.
Click here to learn more about Avid’s Pro Tools
Steinberg’s Cubase began as a capable MIDI recording tool then grew to include all the features you would now expect from a modern audio workstation. Steinberg also have a product called Nuendo, for those at higher levels of productivity. For the home recordist, Cubase 6 is now where it’s at with different products offering different functionality. There’s the full version of Cubase 6, a basic version Cubase 6 Elements (which is suitable for most beginners) and Cubase 6 Artist offering functionality somewhere in between the two. Naturally, the offerings come in at different price points.
Click here to learn more about Steinberg and Cubase
Apple’s Logic allows you to write, record, edit and mix your compositions as with other DAWs. Logic boasts a large collection of modelled and sampled instruments which allow you to emulate real life instruments so you can start composing quickly once you’ve grasped the basics of operation. I’ve seen Logic in professional studios although it’s important to note that Logic is only available for the Apple Mac.
Click here to learn more about Apple’s Logic Studio
Apple also offer an entry product that comes with the Apple Mac called GarageBand. You can plug in a USB instrument, without an audio interface, and rock out straight from the box. GarageBand is aimed at entry level recording enthusiasts yet boasts it will take you all the way to mix, master and even launch your own ringtone!
Click here to learn more about GarageBand
Cakewalk offer a number of products for beginners such as Music Creator 5 and Sonar LE; the light edition of their award winning product. Cakewalk is brought to you by Roland, of hardware fame (think synths and BOSS effect pedals) so expect to see some versions bundled with hardware.
Click here to learn more about Cakewalk and Sonar
Cockos Reaper comes without a lot of extra software often associated with music recording software such as plug-ins, samples and modelled instruments. With Reaper you simply get the raw components needed to create a functional home recording studio (once you have an audio interface) with which you can then hand-pick your own choice of plug-ins from elsewhere. The advantage is that and you’re not installing anything on your computer you don’t need. This makes it an attractive DAW with a low price starting at $40 for a discounted license.
Click here to learn more about Cockos Reaper
Ableton live is more about making music using a non-linear and a more intuitive flow which makes it popular with live performers. In essence, you can build and create music as you go. To quote their website, “you never have to stop the music.” You can drop loops and samples in and take them out again. From a compositional point of view, Ableton live sounds like a unique way to write and create. Ableton Suite 8 is their complete studio software.
Click here to learn more about Ableton Live
Research Before You Buy
Selecting the right software (for you) often comes down to personal preference, price and compatibility so it pays to do your own research. You’ll need a piece of compatible hardware for your computer called an audio interface so before you splash-the-cash and go buying software you need to be sure that your computer is up to specification. Home recording software can eat up disk space and system resources so getting a DAW that meets your machine is important.
If you’re a beginner, don’t get too caught up in the differences, you can always change. Go with the recommendation of a friend who has experience or look out for entry level deals that include trial versions that come with hardware.
I bought a Presonus Firebox, many years ago, an audio interface that came with a trial version of a DAW by Steinberg called Cubase LE. I ended up sticking with that to get started. I was impressed with how much it could do.
If in doubt consult a professional such as the one in your local music technology shop.
Stardom Is Your Limit
The power and capability of both hardware and software today allow for great home recordings. Once you know what you’re doing, you can learn to make recordings on a par with the material you hear coming from professional recording studios. The software has the capability. The only thing then between you and your records are your hardware, instrument and enthusiasm.
What DAWs interest you and why? Leave your comments and links below.
Photo Credit: © Agenda Red