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Time to get back in the game! But what should I consider for DAW?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by junglist, May 16, 2013.

  1. junglist

    junglist Active Member

    Hi guys.

    Well it's been a while but I want to get back into creating, recording and mixing music but it's been so long and much has moved on. Pro Tools has got to version 10 with 11 how far off I don't know! Digidesign is no more, Avid taking criticism & making losses, and my Pro Tools certification & training went out the window as quick as it was acquired. (not that it ever mattered much!)

    As I'm having a fresh start I'm wondering whether I should be considering other DAW's. And with my computer's useful life coming to an end (see my gear list, it's a 2006 PC) I'm looking to weigh up my options and wonder whether it might finally be time to try out that acidic over expensive fruit that is the Pink Lady Apple Mac and it's friend Logic, amongst other things.

    I'm on 7.4 on a PC that I'd need to remove XP service packs from in order to make PT work again! And as I never had many plugins back in the day I think it's time to upgrade things overall, moving to a DAW that is value for money, comes with a handsome amount of good plugins (or is of a plugin type where decent freeware is readily available). It's time to think about PC's/Laptops, DAWs, and audio interfaces.

    Money is an issue however and so I'm wondering what you guys with experience think of the options out there. Quite conveniently at this time of getting back into stuff I am now a full time student at university and so I imagine there are educational discounts to certain purchases available. So whilst some things are terribly expensive to the normal hard working citizen, they may be well discounted for the economy sapping student. (The Pro Tools discount was fantastic when I was at a certified training provider in 2006.)

    After being taught and using Pro Tools I liked it. I liked it's look and it's reputation in times past. Other than the odd dabble in Cubase, and some BBC's own audio editing system I used, I haven't much experience of anything else. But with Pro Tools being such an expensive long term proposition I'm wondering whether as I'm effectively starting afresh if it's time to change to something different or cheaper. (Anyone else seen those Hitler videos on Youtube mickey taking Avid!?)

    Whilst I remembered Logic as being raved about, cheaper, and not interface restricted, the cost of a mac is troublesome. Are macs and logic really worth my consideration now? I remember Reaper being well received and see it has somewhat continued that. Might it be worth my using that to save a chunk of money and invest it in other areas? Sony Acid? MOTU? I need to pick and stay with something now to get best value for money. The main usage will be for electronic music but recording audio/artists will still feature.

    I know it's hard because each DAW has it's own perks. But as I'm so long out of the loop if you have any thoughts or pointers on what might be best value for money/consideration nowadays I'd appreciate it. The bad vibe coming off Avid at the mo has really got me open to trying other things now.

    I have about £1500 as my budget, potentially stretchable on the new computer's behalf. But that budget needs to satisfy daw, decent plugin pool, couple of midi controllers (axiom kboard & pad style thing), sample packs, an interface improvement on mbox2's noisy circuitry, and a beginners foray into DJ equipment! I also would like an electronic drum kit and a collection of random percussion....I suppose I should admit the budget might need some serious stretching!

    Thanks though guys for reading and for your thoughts, looking forward to them!

    Cheers,
    Shaun
     
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Samplitude/ Sequoia without question. It is king at math and has all the tools you need for tracking, mixing and mastering. The new frontier for the modern studio.

    Before that I used PT for 8 years. Since I switched I have never looked back. PT is the supermarket king for 3rd party plug-ins and mass population. Its the Walmart of DAW's IMO.
    I have since gone even further away from ITB and use the DAW more like a recorder that takes full advantage of the clinical and finishing side and use analog gear for tone and sound shaping. The two worlds at their best, hybrid.

    I do not think of the DAW for tone anymore. In fact I see it as a tone killer but its also very transparent which makes it ideal for mixing and mastering. Thus, why it is the choice mastering DAW and why I upgraded from Samplitude to Sequoia. I now have two full versions of Sequoia 12 in my studio. Start out right and grow with it.

    I love how a DAW keeps everything under one roof and remembers what I need it to remember. I love how easy it is to bus out stems into an analog domain.

    I don't think you can go wrong with Samplitude and a well built ,properly optimized PC running Window 7 64bit.
    Reaper is another
     
  3. junglist

    junglist Active Member

    Thanks audiokid, I'll have a look into it!
     
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    a used mac quad core starts aroundr like 600 bucks. and is just a turnkey system. there are plenty of nice pcs out there too. it basically doesn't matter much from a technical POV because a capable machine is gonna cost about the same no matter what name is on it.

    i really like reason besides they way you kinda have to menu surf a bit to for plugins. I use MOTU digital performer, and while the stock plug-insare weak, it's a very capable DAW, from surround, to sequencing, to video capabilities, to the best pitch correction algorithm i've used. it's pretty cool. there are many big name concerts, like roger waters' the wall, that run off digital performers sequencing capabilities.

    it's not the most popular, and isn't talked about much, but it's very stable, and has alot of the best features of all the programs. i haven't used Sequoiabut i take audiokids word that it's killer, otherwise he'd use something else.
     
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Does your £1.5K budget have to include a new computer, an audio interface and DAW software? If so, what do you have already for an audio interface and/or what are you thinking of getting?

    Reaper is a very low cost highly-capable DAW that would even run on your existing PC, giving you a way to get going again in audio before making major purchase decisions on the type of computer.
     
  6. junglist

    junglist Active Member

    Thanks for your opinion kmetal. good to hear people's experiences on these.

    I've also just worked out the name link between audiokid and his chosen daw.......a day later!


    Hi Boswell. To your first sentence I would say so yes. My PC built in 2006 used to start moaning loading a Hybrid or two into a session. For lower loading plugins I could get a good amount in. It's an AMD 64x2 4200 on 2gb ram, XP. It's getting old now and although it still works nicely, I feel it's time for me to come into the 21st century with PC's. (I have a laptop from 2008 on Vista of similar tech performance). Hell I only just bought my first smartphone (Nexus 4 - it's amazing, get one!)

    As for audio interface I have the Mbox 2 and then software version 7.4, with the music prod toolkit. PT has stopped working due to the XP service pack, so I'd need to roll that back and freshen up the computer to even get 7.4 working. Yes I could carry on with that in some respects. I understand RTAS is still around for version 10 of PT but changes with the next relentless juggernaut update installment. I made use of well received freeware plugins to widen my toolkit cheaply, but I imagine there won't be a million of these around in the early days of the AAX extension's life.

    The MBox2 is still working fine but the pre's are noisy. I could re-use the Mbox with another DAW I guess. If I get another interface I'd want it to be future proof as far as my work is concerned, something with around 8 inputs, with maybe the option for additional ins through optical. Although for now the Mbox would suffice, when I do upgrade it I'd like it to be something of slightly better quality with good features for mon outs & h/p outs etc. Overall something not too expensive but decent quality.

    But yes the main thing here is DAW. Although we talk about the fact it's not having the latest shiny kit, it's how you use it; getting something fresh and more up to date will give me that extra excitement and fresh start desire.

    Yes I've been trying to read up on Reaper. There's a plethora of information that I've missed out on in my years away from recording. I was thinking about trying it. But in the end I'm due a fresh computer, something more powerful, maybe with an SSD, plenty of RAM. With my looking to get into digital DJ'ing too, a new and stable computer is the order of the day. Maybe then I'd keep my old one just for PT 7.4.

    Any Logic users around? Logic on Windows?!

    Also what do people recommend for control surface options now? Coming from the PT background I always liked their Command 8 but are there any similar size cheaper better value options. As I say I'm after midi controllers, pads etc. I've seen an old Control 24 available for a grand with tons of plugins thrown in too...sooo tempting despite it's age!

    Thanks gents
     
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Mackie - Mackie Control Universal Pro cross platfor compatible, assignable buttons, expandable. not too shabby, although not as 'strudy' feeling as the command 8 it gets the job done. i've used it a few times, works okay.

    it's always a gamble buying old, used motorized fader type things. they may have been used quite a bit, or just sat around cuz someone prefers a mouse. people don't ususally spend 10k on a control surface, keep it for 13 years, and not use it. i'd be weary of that c24. waves has sales constantly on plugins, if you check up routinley, you'll eventually get what you want/need cheap. plus if your indecided on a DAW, or want to use multiple DAWs for different things, the c24 won't work for you.

    you'd be surprised at the performance you'll get on your same cpu's w/ different DAWS. it's a known fact that protools is a cpu hog. even 'qualified' by avid machines i've seen crap out w/ like 8-10 tracks, and like 10 plugins. my protools program just does what it wants, sometimes i can't even run a stereo track w/ an ultra maximizer, the next day i'll get 20 tracks w/ amp sims and low buffers. go figure, i gave up long ago, after too many 'optimizations', and the like. not bashing an otherwise nice software program, it's just not the most efficient, reliable program out there. i know a guy who teaches pro audio at a college, and even the hd version acts up on 8 core macs. it's one of those things, where your like, afraid to shutdown the computer, cuz something 'wierd might happen'.

    try it, see if this is true of your system. max out a protools session, then do the same on a reaper session, or cubase, or whatever. see if they max out at the same point, or you get error messages.

    Product: US-1800 | TASCAM this is one of the many many budget 8-pre amp interfaces out there, MOTU.com - 896mk3 Overview this and it's older versions are a first step into the professional realm, and has 8 pre's as well, and this one has very handy dsp for real time effx during tracking.
     
  8. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Logic is Mac-only, currently only available as a $299 download from the Mac app store.

    Works great for me.
     
  9. cris

    cris Member

    Seeing as you are just getting back into the game i think Studio One by Presonus would be great for you! Very easy learning curve everything is drag and drop too. To be honest all D.A.W.s do the same thing and it is just down to preference. But I have used several of the big name one's and Studio One does all that they do and with a lot more fluidity! I highly recommend it to anyone beginner or seasoned pro. But whatever you end up using have a great time making music!
     
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Not to be a stick in the mud, but after a long road in the business and owning a lot of digital equipment, including many leading DAW's, this is the biggest misconception going.

    Once you start packing code , adding third party software, this no longer stands true in my testing.
    I have a difficult time reading thread after thread about equal.

    DAW's bleed, can have dirty signal, noise, phase and sync issues that turn music into quantized code that doesn't always line up. In fact, you don't even know quantization is accruing long after the fact. And, I'm not just talking about timing 16th in a loop. Digital issues creep up like a virus that ultimately effect the mix. Code needs to line up with other code. Don't be fooled.

    I know it all starts out equal, but it certainly doesn't end that way. Otherwise, why is everyone buying additional software. How many eq's do we need?


    I'm more of the mid set, find a DAW that works on its own and you are at least closer to stable. The more third party we add, the more chance you'll break something.
    I've not used Studio One but I hear really good things about it. It works on its own. :)

    Just saying....
     
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    There are several choices and, contrary to myth, they are not all the same.

    I'm currently a Sonar user, but I can tell you that I also recently started using Samplitude, and there IS a difference.

    Yes, all DAW's pretty much start out the same in terms of what they are designed to do, but it's how they do it that becomes apparent, especially after you start using plugs/processors and VSTi's.

    Many people stick with their original choice - what they originally started with - because they get used to a certain layout and overall feel. I've been with Sonar for so long now that I can pretty much get around it with my eyes closed, and being familiar with your DAW, especially if you are working with clients, is important. You need a quick work flow. You can't afford to be turning to the inter-program help files while a client is waiting to get to work.

    If you want instant-easy, Reason, or the newer Studio from Presonus, may be the best choice.

    If you want global compatibility, or feel that the name will bring you more clients, then PT.

    If you want solid math that results in a more sonic purity, especially if you are using a multitude of plugs, I would recommend Samplitude - but it's a bit of a difficult nut to crack in terms of getting used to it quickly.

    Sonar and Cubase are both solid platforms, almost as universally recognized as PT now, and they handle the midi/audio integration very efficiently. It's why I chose Sonar originally... back in 1997, Mac based PT was what I was using, but it wasn't really set up to handle audio/midi integration very well. I tured to Sonar because that integration was seemless, and didn't require another program to work with midi, like PT did with Performer was doing at that time.

    Regardless of the DAW platform you use, you'll still need a good preamp / Audio I-O. It doesn't matter which DAW program you run, if you are inputting through a device that lacks gain, is noisy and uses cheap converters, then any platform will only sound as good on the audio end as the device that controls the audio input.

    The power and ram requirements of the computers needed to run DAW's have increased greatly from what they used to be, because there are so many add-on RTAS, VST's and VSTi's that are very memory and processor hungry. I limped by on a dual core with 4 gig of ram on an XP machine for the last 6 years, and finally, last month, purchased a quad core 3.6 ghz machine with 16g of ram. It made a world of difference in how my DAW operated.
     

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