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Best DAW for Electronic Music

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Kruddler, May 2, 2011.

  1. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    OK, of course I am aware that the topic is very broad but I just want to get some ideas flowing here.

    I started out playing with Reason 4 on my Mac. It sounded good but for some reason, when I picked up Logic Pro 9, music just started coming out and I was happy with what was coming out. I wrote six songs in Logic and then I felt as though I was getting stagnent with Logic. So, the other day a friend introduced me to FLStudio on PC. I dusted off my old PC and fired FLStudio up. I must say I am getting some good sounds out of FLStudio but I haven't completed anything yet.

    I want to evaluate a couple more products before I settle down and decide on the DAW that best suits me. But I need some help to filter out the crap. What do other people recommend for creating electronic music (especially ambient/IDM - BOC, Tycho, Proem, Aphex Twin). I don't mind spending the money on a DAW if I can be confident that the product I am using will support what I want to do going in to the future.

    The things that I am looking for are: good video tutorials available, great out of the box presets, lots of flexibility and flexibility with the synths, easy piano roll editing (FL spanks Logic in this department), great effects, good plugin support (VST+AU would be great, or just VST), good ability to record midi playing from my midi controller, good tools to help with writing drum loops.

    What are other people saying?
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ableton Live
    Sonar X1
  3. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    If you are depending on software for inspiration, then....Houston we have a problem!
  4. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    Ok, so what advantages do Ableton and Sonar have?

    As for looking at software for inspiration: I'll admit it, I'm a noob. I create music by fiddling and then picking out the sounds that are good. One day, I'll get to the point where I can hear a sound in my head and then use whatever tools are at my disposal to get the sound out, but a) I'm not there yet, and b) differing tools make this process easier or harder. Hence, this thread.
  5. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Well, Logic is very very popular with what I would term "beat producers" who just churn out beats for aspiring rappers or divas to use as a basis for demos...
  6. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    That's an interesting perpective. I have often seen dumbarse hip hop producers wearing baseball caps demonstrating their ability to recreate in Logic the same hip hop beats that you hear in nearly every hip hop song (no offense to baseball cap wearers or hip hop fans). So perhaps you are on to something. But, at the same time, I have gotten some really good sounds out of Logic.

    I'm a bit of a fan of the ES2 synth. And, Logic's sculpture synth seems like it would be awesome if I could get my head around the way it works.

    But, following on from what you said, what tool seems to better suit people who are interested in creating Electronic music? As mentioned, I'm in to Ambient/IDM and I would like to know what tools are the best for creatings these styles. I know a great deal of the decision here is subjective and depends on your preferred way of working. But, some general perspectives on this would be very much appreciated.
  7. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Oh I absolutely don't mean it in any disrespectful way. I will happily put you in touch via PM with a hip-hop/um, not really sure of the terminology guy who is literally hunting out studios, including mine, where he can cram in his artists.

    POS being, they can come in with an idea, and you provide them with a beat, major or minor key, little hook, and it all gels together and suddenly a song is born. He owns the rights if so, and he pays the bills if no.

    And its always Logic.

    By "churn out" I didn't mean any lack of quality. I meant a surplus of quantity. Thereby, I assume its an easy system to go commercial with this kind of stuff.
  8. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    And these guys fly around, there literally isn't room for them in their home towns. There's a massive demand for pre-produced beats, I just subcontract it to this chap because its easier. We actually do the same with folk musicians and a guy from Thailand.
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ableton Live it the king for creating loops and being able to switch your sections you build on the fly. Its killer for creating electronic music without all the technical stuff that is standard with all the other DAW's on the market. Ableton Live is like no other DAW. Its actually something you should have like a tool IMO. If you get the Akai controller for it, you'll be golden.

    You should also get another DAW like Sonar or Reaper , Logic etc. I personally recommend Sonar X1 because it kicks ass in the midi and VSTi (virtual Instruments) arena. It is Window7 64bit native, miles ahead of the other DAW's in this area.

    Then there is all the others that are great too, but they lack virtual sophistication, compared. Electronic music is all about VSTi, music programming and combining long and short loops. There are some cool youtube video's on all the DAW's.

    FWIW, I've been programming music for 30 years. I love electronic music.

    My favourite DAW is Sequoia but this is for Pro Audio and mastering. Hope that helps.
    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Ableton Live channel&search=Search&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&spell=1
  10. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    Thanks. It really seems as though you've got some good advice there. But why is there a need to use two DAWs? Is it that Ableton is defficient in the area of midi and VSTi?
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Good point. As cool as Ableton is, its limited comparing it to a Pro Audio DAW. Ableton is very focused around looping and creating beats as I explained. If you are solely into electronic music and aren't planing to record acoustic instruments and groups of vocals etc... then there is no sense to even engage in this kind of DAW when there is Ableton, which is totally designed for the electronic gurus.

    If you are like me for instance, where you are interested in both worlds, acoustic and electronic, you may be cool with a high end DAW like Logic, Sonar, Pro Tools etc and get by with their basic midi editing capabilities. However, if are mosting into electronic music and would be using samples of vocals and other sounds, then go for Ableton right off the bat. You can still record live sounds but its not like a tracking system designed to record 16 tracks of drums and guitars and so on... Follow?

    But if you are into both, you may want both of these DAW's . Ableton is the King of electronic music and it is obvious the people who designed it knew what they were doing. They designed it for DJ's and all the musicians that love that scene.

    I suggested Sonar as an option because, out of all the DAW's, it is in my opinion the bridge between left and right. Left being Ableton and Right being Pro Tools. Sonar is in the middle. Be prepared for a big learning curve as this stuff is very complexed for the newbie. There is more to it than just buying some software and away you go. The guys here have hundreds of thousand invested in Pro Audio gear and years of experience.

    Try some downloads and spend a bunch of time watching the Ableton videos. Ableton has a demo you can download but before you download it, I would watch a lot of video's so you have a good idea how to get into it before its expiry timeline.

    I think Sonar has a 30 day demo as well.
  12. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Also learn music theory, so music won't remain a mystery.

    So that you KNOW when you hear a minor chord, KNOW when you hear Mixolydian scale, ect.
  13. Kruddler

    Kruddler Active Member

    audiokid, this is invaluable advice. Thanks so much for your time. I will definitely look at both Ableton and Sonar. I've been playing with Logic because that's what other people have recommended. But, from the picture that is building in my mind, Logic is designed with producers in mind who are looking for a high end package that does everything. It's not a specialist in any one area. Whereas, Ableton is a specialist and is great for building sounds with VSTi and great and creating loops which is at the heart of electronic music. I will download the trial version tonight.

    Haha. Ableton is the first DAW I've seen which enables a macro perspective of what they call "scenes". I've always wondered why DAWs don't have that functionality:

  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Now you got it! well done listening. Stay in touch.
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'll give you a little history here. (1978 I believe) I bought my first Drum Machine made by Roger Linn (LM1), the man who designed the Linn Drum is responsible for what you are seeing in Ableton (not the design but the inspiration and logic behind it). Everything in the old Linn Drum was so logical. He then ( take notes) designed the Akai MPC60 which is the drum machine that changed the music industry and the way an artist and producer creates music forever. Billie Jean was the beginning. Thousand of hit songs were made like this and anyone that owned one of these knew the secret to writing hits songs. When I bought the Akai MPC60, my world changed forever.

    Todays DAW are the vision of Roger Linn. Ableton is very cool. Welcome to the club.

    I'll stop now. Here are some cool links to follow:


  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Roger Linn Previews New LinnStrument Prototype on Vimeo

  17. Guelph_Guy

    Guelph_Guy Active Member

    I have Abelton Live as well, It's definitely the EDM tool... especially with all the products you can buy from novation to support it

    Launchpads and dicers and push tablets oh my ! as well as some pretty cool keyboards (Impulse)

    All kidding aside, It will pretty much make music on it's own .. if your pockets are flush, you can get Abelton push controller bundled with the latest and greatest Abelton live. The push controller is a monster and is "The Shizz" ..for EDM.. if you can't get a trance tune on "digitally imported "using a push tablet. You had best choose another career!

    Personally, EDM is lots of fun.. You go DEADMAUS !!!!!! (Wonder if Joel is on here)

    Best of luck

    On a side note ,My main DAW Is Sonar. As the workflow is more in line with the material I create now a days... acoustic guitar etch.
  18. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think it's important to distinguish what the main focus of production will be...

    If you want to record more traditionally ( guitars, vocals, amps, drums) then you should pick a platform that caters more towards that style. There are some which are more specialized in their layout and function - as mentioned, Ableton seems to be one of the popular choices for EDM; on the other end of that scale, Harrison MixBus is a platform that is mostly targeting those who want to mix in a more traditional analog-fashion, but still within a digital environment.

    DAW's like PT, Samplitude, Logic, StudioOne and Sonar seem to have all become platforms where you can easily do both... but that wasn't always the case. Pro Tools was way late to the party in implementing midi into their production platform.

    I remember a time when guys who were using PT for audio recording had to also have a separate midi program running in conjunction; because Digidesign's midi integration at the time was pretty much non-existent. Digital Performer was a popular program at that time, for midi integration with PT. Sonar was one of the first DAW's that provided seamless integration of audio and midi under the same "roof".

    However, the distinction between all the major DAW platforms has become much more "blurred" in the past few years, because platforms like PT, Logic, StudioOne, Cubase, Samplitude and Sonar all now offer serious integration when working audio and midi, and yet, I know of a few colleagues who use Ableton to record audio as well... so in the end, you should use whatever allows you to be the most productive, the most creative.

    Knowing your DAW platform inside and out - being able to get around it and do things without even really having to think about doing them, will prove to be invaluable - because the quicker you can get your DAW to do what you want it to do, the lesser the chances are of having those flashes of creativity vanishing... that creative spark can be elusive enough to begin with - you don't want a DAW that is going to bog you down, or get in the way of getting your ideas over to actual tracks.

    In the last few years, I've switched over from Sonar to Samplitude, and I feel that doing so has opened up doors to me that Sonar wouldn't have. To be fair, the last version of Sonar I was using was PE 8 ( Producer Edition) which I knew very well ... I was in the process of moving over to a 64 bit OS, and trying to decide what I wanted to do in terms of choosing a new 64 bit DAW. I had worked a little at a friend's studio on Sonar X ( I think it was X-1), and I felt as though so much had changed in the new X series, that I would have had to pretty much start all over again, with a brand new learning curve. It was at that time that Chris ( @audiokid ) and Tim Dolbear (@TimDolbear ) convinced me to give Samplitude a try - and being that I was going to have to re-learn my DAW anyway, I tried Samp. I was hooked within a week. I've been using it ever since.

    And although I still have PT, Sonar, S1 and MixBus on my system for those clients who may have projects sourced in those platforms, I've been using Samp as my main DAW for two years now. I find Samp's OBE (object based editing) feature to be a fantastic and powerful way to edit - and to mix. Samplitude does what I need it to do, works seamlessly in integrating audio and midi, it supports my creativity, it sounds great to me, and I think it's a very powerful platform... two years later, and I'll still occasionally learn new things about it.

    You're likely to get arguments over which DAW's "sound better", and honestly, I will admit to being one of those rare ( and unpopular) people who does so happen to think that different DAW's do sound differently. (I'm not trying to start a debate here, it's already been discussed and argued over endlessly, I'm just admitting to how I feel)... but, I also think that the "sound" of a DAW is only a part of it... because sonic differences - big ones - also lie within the recording environment, the mics, pre's and converters/I-O's that are used... and that's the case with any DAW.

    So, whichever platform you choose, whichever you feel is best for your creative vision, then you should use that platform - with the understanding that the quality of your overall sound originates with the quality of your room and signal chain, and, regardless of what style of music you are creating and mixing, your room's acoustics and the accuracy of your monitoring is also very important - so there's a bit more to it than just picking the "right" DAW platform - but it's still important to use a DAW which allows you the greatest support for your creativity, and that's a choice that only you can make.

  19. DM60

    DM60 Active Member

    Lots of people think Ableton is just for EDM. Really, I think it has a large focus on Live performance. I use Ableton for my main DAW for traditional recording. I learned it so I could help my daughter who wanted to use it for live work. I like it mainly because ut is the DAW I know. If you are going to perform, Ableton or Bitwig is a good way to go.

    That said, to record EDM, I can't think of one that wouldn't work. While Ableton allows you to record a performance from Session View to Arrangement View, it is not a must. With good plug ins and knowing what you want, any DAW can do EDM. I can't think of any DAW that wouldn't allow loops, plug ins or glitches, samples, etc.

    Ableton gets a lot of PR mainly for its Live work. Which I say, between it and Bitwig, there a very few DAWs that would do as well at live work. As far as recording, I think any of them would work.
    DonnyThompson likes this.
  20. DM60

    DM60 Active Member

    And as a follow up, this is a song recorded in 1986

    I'm pretty sure there was no DAW involved. Tape loops and hard work. I think this still holds up today. I think it is a wonderful piece of work for show casing EDM.

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