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What Recording Software Do You Use and Why Do You Use It

Hi, I'm new here and this is my first post!

I have been using a Roland VS1680 but now I want to buy a delicated Computer for recording and get serious about it.

All the information about Computer recording can be mind blowing and I figure the first step even before I start to put together a computer system is to get a handle on which Software would work for me...

There are many different recording software programs out there and for a newbie, it is very hard to determine which package is the right way to go.

So I was wondering if the Pro’s here could chime in and give an overview of what recording Software you use and more importantly:
Why You Use It?

Thanks

Comments

Ethan Winer Thu, 01/15/2004 - 09:02
Ken,

> now I want to buy a delicated Computer
Smart move.

> give an overview of what recording Software you use and more importantly: Why You Use It?
For me it's a no-brainer. I refuse to buy any software that is copy protected, which rules out Cubase, Logic, and most of the other DAW programs. Fortunately, the one program that's not copy protected is also the one I prefer for all other reasons.

I use Sonar 3 Producer, and it's simply fabulous. It does everything you could possibly want, and does so easily. Not that there isn't a learning curve! But it's laid out logically, and the Sonar support forum at the Cakewalk web site is an excellent resource when you have questions. For me, Sonar is easier to use and more intuitive than any of the others. It also hosts software synths and samplers elegantly.

I'm sure others will chime in explaining why they prefer whatever other program they use, and that's fine. But for me and the way I like to work, Sonar is as good as it gets.

--Ethan

teleharmonic Thu, 01/15/2004 - 09:10
Originally posted by Ethan Winer:
For me it's a no-brainer. I refuse to buy any software that is copy protected, which rules out Cubase, Logic, and most of the other DAW programs.
Ethan, is this simply due to the pain-in-the-ass factor associated with copy protection keys,locks,dongles etc.?

I hope i am not hijacking this thread i was just curious...

greg

Ethan Winer Thu, 01/15/2004 - 10:23
Greg,

> is this simply due to the pain-in-the-ass factor associated with copy protection keys, locks, dongles etc.?
Yes, copy protection is a pain in the ass, but it's much worse than that. For the complete story see "Copy Protection: The Audio Industry's Dirty Little Secret" near the end of the list on my Articles page:

http://www.ethanwiner.com/articles.html

> I hope i am not hijacking this thread
Not at all! Copy protection is a huge problem that many more people need to be aware of. Companies that copy protect their software should be shunned, not rewarded with sales.

--Ethan

henryrobinett Thu, 01/15/2004 - 11:20
I use Digital Performer. I've been a Performer user since version 1.2 - 1985. Don't want to jump ship from sometihng that is so intuitive for me. It's easy to use and sounds great.

I certainly don't want to start a debate here. What you do is your business and more power to you. But I will not shun people who copy protect their software until the users become honest enough to buy what they use. It's a two way street. And we're not even close to the honesty quotient on this one. Developers need to protect their investments. The Poweredplug-insare a brilliant solution. Short of that I don't know what else is.

anonymous Thu, 01/15/2004 - 11:37
I currently use Sonar XL 2.2

Mainly because I have been using Cakewalk products since their DOS version. I just stuck with them through all the years. I cannot comment on whats best for all I know are cakewalk products. If I wasn't using midi I would probably use something else. But I think that Cakewalk products have gotten just that good whereas if all you recorded was audio it would be all you need.

mjones4th Thu, 01/15/2004 - 11:50
I'm a Logic User. Very deep program, GUI takes some getting used to (screensets help tremendously) abd there's a steep learning curve, but, like the rest of the sequencers, it'll basically be able to do whatever you need.

What'll happen for you is that you'll arbitrarily pick one, and fall in love. Logic is Mac only, though.

And the Logic Copy protection dongle doesn't really bother me. What I hate is when, in the normal course of using and maintaining my mac, I lose a hard disk authorization for a plug in.

anonymous Thu, 01/15/2004 - 12:49
I use DP 3.11 which is for Mac only. I started using it because I wanted the stability of a Mac, it wasn't too expensive and I bought their 896 interface. I really like it with a few exceptions. The GUI is very easy to get used to. I would highly recommend using a Mac but if that isn't in the stars for you I like Nuendo for PC. That's just my opinion though.

anonymous Thu, 01/15/2004 - 13:10
Hey Ken, I also have a 1680 and I "switched" to Sonar (2 at the time, but I've upgraded to 3 not that I've really gotten used to 3 yet). One of the reasons I chose Sonar was that I wanted to work on a PC, I felt that buying a properly tweaked out dedicated PC for audio would be significantly cheaper than buying a mac, plus I'm used to PC's and not macs-- though from what I understand that should not be a major factor for most people. I can't say for certain which route is cheaper-- mac or custom built PC, but when I was researching it, the PC seemed more easily attainable.

I was strongly considering Logic, but then Apple bought them out. It seemed like Cubase had more bugs than Sonar; there is way to much self-defensivness in the Sonar vs Cubase arguments you see all over the net-- people wishing to justify their purchase than honestly weigh the pros and cons of each product-- but it does look like people get up and running with Sonar much faster and with less problems than Cubase. Or, at least it seemed to me at the time I was considering one verses the other.

I've had no real problems with sonar or my DAW-- which I talk about in other posts on this site.

Which ever way you go, you really should consider the computer, the soundcard and the software as a team and if you see many people using a similar team and having no complaints and "success" then go with it. If you want a particular software then see which sound card people are using with that software, for me when I decided on sonar it didn't very much matter what sound card made logic users or cubase users happy. When it comes to the quality of your PC recording experience, sound card and PC will matter more than software in that while each software product is different it would be wrong to assume one will produce a better CD than the other-- it is not the tools but the mechanic provided he has tools he can use.

anonymous Thu, 01/15/2004 - 17:39
I use Sonar 2.2 XL because it was an easy upgrade from the Pro Audio 9 that came with my Aardvark Q10 box. I figure I won't go wrong with Sonar, as it is widely used.

Ditto the copy protection boycott... too bad it is mandatory with commercial Windows XP. Those in large corporate IT shops can get the site-license version which requires a serial number, but does not hook to the internet and puke if you change a card or hard drive.

I had no idea so many DAW products were copyrighted... as W.C. Fields would say, "I was going to make a donation, but on second thought, f*ck 'em."

anonymous Thu, 01/15/2004 - 18:54
Ethan, you are just down the road from me! How do you like this cold weather :eek:

And Thank you all for your feedback.

One thing, I have noticed is that no one here has mentioned Pro tools LE with the Digi 001 or 002.

Through my reading, I see that many refer to Pro Tools as the "Industry Standard" and as I look around the internet I see many Pro Studio's using Pro Tools.

Is there a reason not to go for a Pro Tools system like the Digi 002?

Thanks Once again and after reading what I could so far today, this Forum strikes me as the best Recording information Forum on the NET!

Thanks for all your time and consideration.

mjones4th Thu, 01/15/2004 - 20:48
Pro Tools is indeed an industry standard, however, LE stands for 'Limited Edition' which is definitely not an industry standard, rather a product designed (IMO) to prime you to the PT world and pre-preference you to their products.

But... it gets the job done, in some ways better than its competition, in some ways not quite as good. One common complaint is the lack of in depth MIDI features. One bonus is advanced and intuitive audio editing.

Pro Tools is expensive with a capital expensive, because its based on proprietary DSP hardware. you're talking $25k just to get a basic system going. But PT LE is native based, just like the rest of its competition. And in that arena PT LE doesn't compete as well because it still carries what I like to call 'the cost of the Nike swoosh". In other words you pay for the name.

mitz

mjones4th Thu, 01/15/2004 - 20:53
Pro Tools is indeed an industry standard, however, LE stands for 'Limited Edition' which is definitely not an industry standard, rather a product designed (IMO) to prime you to the PT world and pre-preference you to their products.

But... it gets the job done, in some ways better than its competition, in some ways not quite as good. One common complaint is the lack of in depth MIDI features. One bonus is advanced and intuitive audio editing.

Pro Tools is expensive with a capital expensive, because its based on proprietary DSP hardware. you're talking $25k just to get a basic system going. But PT LE is native based, just like the rest of its competition. And in that arena PT LE doesn't compete as well because it still carries what I like to call 'the cost of the Nike swoosh". In other words you pay for the name.

mitz

falkon2 Fri, 01/16/2004 - 04:44
IMHO, SONAR gives a huge bang for the buck. I haven't found anything I wanted to do that I couldn't with SONAR. Not to say that other programs aren't as capable, but yeah - SONAR's been really working out for me.

It's (SONAR 3) also got the most intuitive effects sends/returns/inserts/busing setup of the software I've used. The grouping and routing features are just... pretty logical.

The default plugin package has really gotten heavy-duty with the release of SONAR 3. SONAR 2 had a bad rep for pretty harsh-sounding plugins bundled with it, but I don't have any complaints with the new Sonitus set.

jonyoung Fri, 01/16/2004 - 06:23
I use Sonar3 studio edition, main difference from producer edition is that if you want EQ on a channel, you have to call it up, whereas on producer, it's automatically displayed on each channel in the console view from the outset. There might be a couple of others, Ethan? BTW, I'm still learning how to use it, but so far it's not painful. I had a friend with a few years experience bring some tracks over on CD so I could do some training flights, I haven't crashed yet!

teleharmonic Fri, 01/16/2004 - 09:16
Originally posted by ILOVESOUND:
And, any opinions about Nuendo or Sequoia?
I have not used Sequoia but i have used Samplitude (Sequoia is basically a beefed up version of Samp). Generally recordists use Samplitude as it is significantly cheaper and few require the more intense editing features in Sequoia. I am currently a Logic user but since they discontinued the PC line i've been looking where to jump to.

I have to say that Samplitude is an amazing program. You can go right from recording to mastering to burning a CD without switching apps. What i appreciate the most (especially coming from Logic) is the extremely well thought out interface. It is really easy to get up and running despite the fact that it has a deep set of features.

Samplitude started as an audio program (as opposed to cakewalk, logic and cubase which started out as midi sequencers) so it has a less developed midi side of things. It runs VSTinstruments and such but it is no Logic in this regard... which is fine for me. Certainly worth checking out.

greg

anonymous Fri, 01/16/2004 - 10:13
Hello,
I was using Cubase for 3 years and recently upgraded (note that I said upgraded!) to the Digi002 Rack. Simply put, I love it. While there are certainly those that feel that the LE isn't "industry standard" I would disagree. That is because I have done many projects on Cubase and been very happy with the results, just to find that there are very few other studios using that software. If your client wants to make any changes they will have many more hurdles in finding a studio with that platform than with Pro Tools. LE is COMPLETELY compatable with the more expensive PT systems. That also makes the cross platform very beneficial to you by allowing a client who has recorded on PT at another studio to come to your studio and say just do some punchins, etc. Well worth the price IMHO. Yes, there are limitations to LE (32 track limit, can't use direct-x) but the pros outweigh the cons. And really if you think about it, if you are actually paying for the software you're using, you are getting a better deal with the digi002 because you get a hardware interface as well (though I still prefer my outboard pre's. Just my 2c.
Joel
Mhumhi Studios

anonymous Fri, 01/16/2004 - 10:30
Thanks for the observations. I definitely am looking for something intuitive and fairly straight forward as far as the basics of the program go. I do mostly audio, but like using virtual instruments (sample tank, battery) to set up drum beats for tracking or try out instrumentation. So basic midi is fine for me.

As far as PTLE is concerned. I agree, it's easy if you want to take it to a studio for overdubs and mixing etc. However, and correct me if I'm wrong because I've never done it before, it isn't that difficult to take the wav files from other apps and import them into the real Protools is it? Granted, you loseplug-ins but you'd probably be using the higher end plug ins or hardware effects the studio owns anyway.

The most frustrating thing about PTLE and PT for that matter is the incompatibility of it's software with other hardware. Either you get a 001 or 002 and have to add external converters and better pres, or you get an HD system and have to spend $10,000 which will only get you the card and an interface - no midi and no pres!

Thanks but not thanks on digidesign. Just my opinion.

ILS

anonymous Fri, 01/16/2004 - 10:58
It's an interesting argument. I look at it like this. The compatability issue is complex because I also feel like many of the software based things aren't very compatable with eachother either. I had to fight hard to get my sound card to work with my cubase to work with my band in a box to work with my dirx to w...etc. Just because these programs don't have dedicated hardware doesn't make them all compatable. That said, when I got my 002 my computer WASN'T compatable with PT and I had to build a new computer. It was a $800 investment but now I have a much faster and much more stable system than I ever had with cubase. As far as importing wav files, sure you can do that-you can do that with any of them, but wav files don't contain timecode info, so say you have 8 tracks and 3 of them were punchins, if you import them ,you'll have top manually nudge them into the right place. Also I just had a bad experience where we did some recording at another studio that doesn't have protools and we want to get the files into PT and the only way we can do it is to go there with my computer set it up and dump the files in realtime via ADAT-at $75 an hour this doesn't make me happy. If he had PT, he could just burn it onto CD's or better DVD's and that would take 20 minutes.
I look at it like this. If you want to do things in your home only and don't care about compatability with other studios, then go with whatever program you want-if you want the highest % of compatability with other studios, go with PT. I don't know about Sonar but I do know well the support of Cubase and PT and PT wins hands down. Check out the forums of Cubase and then check out the PT users forum and you'll see what I mean.

teleharmonic Fri, 01/16/2004 - 11:32
Originally posted by Mbira:
Also I just had a bad experience where we did some recording at another studio that doesn't have protools and we want to get the files into PT and the only way we can do it is to go there with my computer set it up and dump the files in realtime via ADAT-at $75 an hour this doesn't make me happy.
Mbira, i am wondering why you couldn't just time align the audio files in the program that the studio uses (adding digital silence to fill in blank areas... merging snippets of audio into single seamless tracks) burn the separate tracks to CD and then bring them into protools at home?

As i stated earlier, i am currently using Logic and i am able to swap projects back and forth with protools users this way. It has worked without a hitch.

greg

jonyoung Fri, 01/16/2004 - 11:37
I track on a Mackie SDR hard disk 24track, then fly into Sonar via Firewire. The format is broadcast wave file, which is timestamped. When Sonar is installed, you simply tell it to accept .bwv files. That being said, there is a little nudging to do ie: a punch will appear in Sonar as a seperate track, but it is time aligned with the original track it's part of. The only trick is to be sure to press and hold the shift key while you drag & drop the punch clip, this keeps proper time alignment.

maintiger Fri, 01/16/2004 - 12:28
I've been using first Performer, the Digital Performer for about 12 years and I'm very happy with it. I currently have the latest version, 4.12 on a dual 867 mac and it runs very smooth. I get about 24+ tracks with effects before the computer starts to get a little jerky and if I need more tracks, I just open a new mix and print some of the tracks with the effects to disk. I also have Mach Five, the soft sampler from motu, that comes with about 2GB of samples plus it lets you convert from other formats, such as giga sampler. Mach Five and Digital performer run beautiful together, and if you need an audio/midi program and great sampling, this is the ticket-

I also have soundtrack, a loop program from apple that is a lot like acid. I am not much of a loop guy but neither am a drummer and this lets me build drum tracks for demos that later I export to DP- later, when I'm ready to record for keeps I call a drummer-

I used to have a vs880 several years back when I had a wimpy mac and I used to used for some of the audio tracks alongside DP- then in '98 I got a decent mac and I tell you, the vs880 was used nomore! THERE IS A BIG DIFFERNCE IN AUDIO QUALITY BETWEEN THAT BOX AND DP!! I do hear it loud and clear!

Good luck to you and happy traxs!!

Xavier :D

anonymous Fri, 01/16/2004 - 13:25
This is an interesting thread, I'd like to chime in. After looking at a number of audio programs--I was starting from scratch, so I really wasn't limited--I decided to go with a Macintosh and DP4. Choosing Mac really helped narrow the field. After looking at several programs, DP looked like the most reliable, flexible and compatible, without going to a ProTools rig.

Do I presume correctly that most Mac users are in the PT world and DP users are a minority?

I've used PT in the past, and nothing wrong with it, but I have a real problem with locking into proprietary systems with high $$ box seats just to pretend I'm one of the big boys. I'll let my DP-based system pay for itself several times over, then when a gig comes along that will justify a PT system, maybe I'll change then... or maybe not. :)

Tim

anonymous Fri, 01/16/2004 - 14:18
"Mbira, i am wondering why you couldn't just time align the audio files in the program that the studio uses (adding digital silence to fill in blank areas... merging snippets of audio into single seamless tracks) burn the separate tracks to CD and then bring them into protools at home?"

I can-at his studio for $75 pr hr. :mad: But seriously, I think everyone should just use whatever they like to use. I don't want to get into a "mine is better than yours" thing. Simply put. I used to use Cubase SX. I really liked it, though I wouldn't say my system was the most stable in the world. I enjoy some direct-x effects that I sadly can't use in PT. They just came out with a VST to RTAS wrapper that allows vst plugs to be used in PT therefore giving us more options, though.

I stick by what I said earlier.

If you want to make music in your home or studio where compatability of your files with others isn't important-go with what you like. Yes you can swap files with other progs using various workarounds-it just takes longer.

If you want to have a system that you know is compatable with the majority of digital studios out there, go with PT.

And it's true that for better or worse (worse I think), PT does have "name recognition" I have gotten more work now that I advertise that I have PT. It's the same as if you say you have a Neumann in your studio. You don't even need to bust it out, but people will come just cause it's there.

PS I personally have never felt limited by PTLE. I for one have no intention of someday getting a "real" PT system. I get everything I need from LE.
Just my 2c.Joel

Barkingdogstudios Fri, 01/16/2004 - 15:02
Ken,

I use SONAR 3.

The ProTools vs. "other tools" argument seems to be a bit like the old (ancient?) fight between Excel and Lotus 1-2-3 users : in terms of overall functionality, they pretty much do the same thing, it just depends on which one you started on and what you're most familiar with.

The second dividing line seems to fall with "Professional" vs. "Non-professional". I only know maybe five or six people who actually make their living as a musician or music industry professional, and they all use ProTools. Probably because most of their colleagues and peers use it as well. The guitarist in my band works as a professional in a recording studio and uses ProTools. He would put most religious zealots to shame in his efforts to "convert" me. It's hilarious.

It doesn't mean you can't get very "professional" results with other software, IMO that depends more on a) the hardware you're using, b) whether you know what you're doing in the first place, and c) the performance of the musician.

I must say my due diligence in searching out other options was hobbled by the fact that I have used Cakewalk products before, and that the interface I chose (Aardvark Q10) also happened to be compatible with SONAR (in fact comes with a SONAR Lite-like package). I was also driven by the computer hardware. I didn't want to have a third system in my house that a) wasn't compatible with the other two (althought some may argue that would be a good thing) and b) if I eventually decide to get out of the music/recording hobby, I'll have a PC which I can use for other things.

In my initial search I also seemed to read fairly often that the learning curve for PT was much longer than for SONAR. I would have to say, without having ever used PT, that I was up and recording with SONAR within an hour of installing it. If you're from the old school mixing console crowd, you appreciate the GUI that SONAR offers because it's very intuitive. I can't speak for other non-PT products.

All that being said, I think you need to ask yourself what your goals are. If you intend to make a living at recording and want to be taken seriously by other professionals (rightly or wrongly), I would say go with ProTools. If you're doing it on a semi-professional or hobbyist basis, I'd say invest the difference in price in better hardware, room treatments and studio furniture.

anonymous Fri, 01/16/2004 - 15:18
Originally posted by Ethan Winer:
Ken,

Again, I'm serious about the invite. Since you're so close, if you'd like to come by some evening to see Sonar in person, I'd be glad to have you over.

--Ethan
Ethan, thanks for the offer! I would like to take up your offer in the near future, as it sounds like a very educational experience...But I must tell you, I'm a guitar player that doesn't Drink :eek:

But A Pepsi would work!

mjones4th Fri, 01/16/2004 - 15:26
Mbira,

Al you would have needed to do is print each individual track to a wav file, with or without effects (your choice), starting from bar 1 to the end of the song. Same for VSTi's or DXi's or whatever.

Take those 12 or 24 or 95 tracks, burn each one to a data CD or two or three, take that CD(s) to the new studio and import each individual track into the Pro Tools session to a different track. Simple.

I tell everyone I work with that my Logic studio is compatible with PT and every other studio, because it is.

Because you weren't aware of it, you let the owner of the pro tools rig milk you for a couple extra billable hours.

mitz.

anonymous Fri, 01/16/2004 - 15:59
Mark-
Let me clarify. I've got the PT rig. I had a band that recorded at a "pro" studio that did all the tracks and overdubs to his mackie hd system. We are unhappy with the mix that we got from him, so I want to get the files into my PT rig. Now there are only 3 songs (about 30 min. total) with 24 tracks used so far. There are also punchins on some of those tracks (on their own tracks). Now he's telling me that the quickest way will be to play back the tracks in realtime and I'll get 8 tracks at a time thru ADAT. basically taking about 2-3 hours w/ setup. Now remember this is a studio where they just want my money. For CD burning, he only has a masterlink which you may know, needs to be imported (realtime) into it and then burnt to disc. 4x max. It sucks. I wish he had PT and could just get me the files that way. Joel
I'm off to build some PCB's so take care! :)

teleharmonic Sat, 01/17/2004 - 08:02
Originally posted by Mbira:
I had a band that recorded at a "pro" studio that did all the tracks and overdubs to his mackie hd system.
ahhhh... got it! i wasn't trying to suggest that you didn't know what you were doing Mbira... just trying to simplify the process and maybe save you some bucks...

Is $75 his regular studio rate? Seems a little slimy to charge you full price for data dumping... it's not like the guy has to be a seasoned pro to hook up the systems and press play. Your the one whose has to set your PT system up to accept the audio files... that's the harder half of that exchange... all he has to do is hand you one end of a cable.

I know that those Mackie systems have a removable hard drive bay... i don't suppose that would help you at all? does Mackie uses a proprietary sound file type or something you could work with?

cheers,
greg

[ January 17, 2004, 01:58 PM: Message edited by: teleharmonic ]

jonyoung Sat, 01/17/2004 - 11:10
Mbira, Do you have firewire on your PT rig? The Mackie external drive bay is set up to accept a Lian Li RH-58 drive caddie. You can take this drive setup over to him and copy the songs onto the external drive (once formatted to the Mackie OS, takes about 3 seconds) in about 10-15 minutes, then dump them onto your PT drive. The file format on the Mackie recorders is broadcast wave. This works in Sonar, I have to believe it's PT compatible also. You can also take an external drive (any configuration, ie: standalone drive in its own case) and hook up to the USB Mass FTP jack on the rear panel of the Mackie...a little slower than firewire, but a lot faster than what he's suggesting. Sounds like he's trying to settle a score to me.

anonymous Sat, 01/17/2004 - 16:51
Hi,
Unfortunately-another downside for PT :D -is that the 002 only has audio and ADAT inputs. Yeah-I feel a little -er- violated that this guy won't lower his price for this simple operation. This after giving him $1500 for a demo that we're not really happy with. I should have spent that on a descent studio channel which I believe was the only thing at the time keeping me from getting the results I wanted in the first place. The Mackie does use external HD's but they are a propriatary thing and beed a special mounting thing to make it fit with a regular PC-gee, maybe he'll let me borrow his :D . Though he did offer to sell me the HD that we recorded on for $200 :roll: Oh well. PS the studio I'm referring to is considered the "best" studio in New Mexico. I wouldn't say the name of the studio here, but if anyone out there is in NM get with me before you check out studios...Joel
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