Best software for getting things done before losing the mojo

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by EvilPuppetMaster, Jan 26, 2008.

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  1. Hi all,

    I was wondering if any of your pro-audio expert selves could help me out by recommending the best audio software for my situation.

    I am chiefly looking for something for a home studio situation (PC) that does the basics with a streamlined interface. I want it for recording ideas and jamming, with a view to composing and arranging whole songs. But not for final production quality mixdowns.

    My problem with home studio software that I've tried in the past has been you spend so long faffing around trying to work out how to do some simple thing that you lose all inspiration and give up. It's been quite a problem for me.

    Some background: I am not a newbie. I had a lot of experience with this stuff 5-10 years ago, back in the days when Logic was a PC program and protools required 10s of thousands of $ of hardware. But I got sick of the endless feature creep of those high-end programs which seemed to the detriment of ease-of-use. And just went back to jamming things out with my band and going to studios when we needed to record.

    So I've checked out the main contenders that I remember from back in the day. Logic/Garageband looks a lot sexier since Apple bought it and would probably be my choice, unfortunately I don't have a Mac. The Cubase family look OK but I worry that the low-end versions would be the same old incredibly complex interface, but just with all the guts removed. Cakewalk I never much liked so I haven't seriously considered (but I'm willing to reconsider if you tell me they have improved a lot since back in the day). I've also read up on a few of the more dance music oriented packages like ableton, acid, and FL studio. I actually tried out Ableton and it was quite nice but it was far too loop oriented for me (I'm more of the indie-rock genre with a bit of electro). I also used to use ACID a fair bit for this stuff back in the day but it didn't have MIDI support.

    I'm kind of hoping there's some new kid on the block that is perfect, but maybe one of the packages I've mentioned is in fact the best for me. I haven't tried them recently, just read the stats pages and a couple of review sites. But it's just hard to believe pro-audio sites that say that something is easy to use, because you know that these people are pros who grew up splicing 16 track tape and patching 128 channel mixing consoles with real physical wires.

    My minimum tech specs in terms of features are:
    - ease of use and entry, that's the biggy, in case you didn't get that :)
    - audio recording/editing (1 track at a time is fine)
    - midi recording and editing
    - multi-track mixing and arrangement
    - VST instrument/FX support

    I hope someone can help, thanks in advance.
  2. bent

    bent No Bad Vibes! Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    Cocoa, FL
    Home Page:
    Welcome to RO!

    I've been using Sonic Foundry (now Sony) Vegas for years.
    I haven't upgraded to V.8 (still running V.5), so I can't really say how intuitive the interface is now, but on V5 I've never had to fumble for key commands - adding tracks, recording and mixing, even creating CD's is as easy as pie.

    I'm not sure about MIDI, but it does everything else you're looking for, and using it is no more difficult than writing a Word document, plus it works with nearly any dang on ADC you can think of - I've run multiple EWS88MT's, MOTU 24 I/O's, and Blaster types without a hitch.

    The new version might support midi (the version I've got has a MIDI drop down in preferences), but I can't tell you for sure what it does or how it does it.

    At RC we have ProTools 6 TDM, I feel your pain regarding that specific DAW! Whenever I work on it I feel like I've regressed 10 years!
  3. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    I'm not sure what your musical situation is (band, solo, 1-man-band, etc). With several of the bands I' ve worked with, instead of using software for that, we've just recorded live to 2-track Mini-disc. Since its a band, they are jamming/composing on the fly and don't want to have to stop and have me move crap around. They just want to jam and work it out. The nice think about MiniDisc is that if there is something they want me to find and play back it's REAL easy to get to it. I just use an old DOD mixing board with a couple 57s into a portable MiniDisc recorder.

    Then, once we've got all sorts of things recorded, if the song still needs some work, I'll dump the 2 tracks into Cubase and there we can get into more heavy re-arranging work.

    If it's not a band thing, then I can see where you might want a software solution instead...record one track, then jam with that track just loop recording until you get the right part...then on the next.

    I use Cubase and for me it was intuitive. For other people it isn't. I guess whichever you use, you'll need to spend a couple weeks with it to familiarize yourself with it and then you should be able to do it with your eyes closed.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I've always found Cool Edit/Adobe Audition to be very intuitive for me to use. I find it almost like working in my old-fashioned analog control room with Neve console. I don't quite find other interfaces quite as user-friendly? So I really think it's more what you find intuitive to use than what its feature set maybe? There is no one single piece of audio saw where that I deem appropriate for all purposes. No way! I need to use numerous different types of audio software's to get what I want. Maybe that's why I also have a motorcycle, a Toyota, a Chevy van & a Mercedes-Benz 1117 turbodiesel 25,000 pound truck?

    Of course my second choice is Sony Vegas. It really serves more than a double duty job. Just try editing 5 camera video while mixing 24 simultaneous audio tracks in any other program! Right... What other program? BTW: it's now supplied with DVD Architect 4.5 version 8.0 of Vegas. This gives you a very powerful production package with DVD authoring and Dolby 5.1 AC 3 surround encoding included! And the price has come down! I guess they don't need gasoline for this one?

    Actually, your dilemma is precisely the reason for using a dedicated hard disk multitrack audio recorder like the Alesis HD 24. Cram a button. No waiting. Low latency. Reliable dedicated performance. No glitches. No mess. No fuss. Transfer a hard drive. Mix down in the computer by transferring the hard drive from the HD 24 to the computer. Then, you'll still have plenty of MOJO.

    BTW: I HAVE A RANE Mojo for sale if anybody is interested? It's a three-way electronics speaker crossover for tri-amping.

    You can win in Vegas baby!
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. thanks

    Hey all,

    Thanks for the great tips! It definitely sounds like I should check out Vegas, I never have before, and I am a big fan of sound forge and acid. I had always thought vegas was for video editing.

    I might check out audition too.

    progr4m: yeah I am pretty much in a one man band situation right now. I've been in bands where we jam stuff out before, but I also find it helps to have some ideas to start with. So yeah, this question is for the one-man jamming thing. I'd actually really like to find something where I can just lay down a drum track and loop it. Jam a bassline along, loop that, play some guitar/keys etc.

    Remy: I've tried out the hard disk recorders before also. I'm not sure exactly which one. Alesis of some kind I think. It was pretty fiddly to use I thought. But it was a pretty old one too.

    Anyway thanks all, some great suggestions which should narrow down my search a lot!

  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    The unit of which I speak is available in the 2 different versions. The original can be had for around $1500 when the extended resolution version, whose list price is $1999 can be had for around $1700. About the cost of a decent laptop but a single purpose built device. Works as nicely and as intuitively as an analog machine would. So for tracking to a hard drive I believe this, not ProTools and others like it, is the way to go. Too much fidgety stuff when working with your computer. The HD 24 is Slam Bam! Thank you ma'am. And in spite of that, it's still fun. That, along with Pro tools LE is almost like having a full-blown Pro tools system and far cheaper. So start saving up the money from your paper route. You're almost there man.

    Happy HD 24xr owner
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  7. silverspeedo

    silverspeedo Guest

    I'm not very good with computers but the time I've spent learning cubase was well worth it.

    We all must live through the lose of mojo. Mojo comes and goes anyone can work when the vibe is flowing its when its not that ccan determine the out come of our project. While mastering my mojo drains to nothing. good luck.
  8. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005

    Its the easiest app to get to grips with (IMO) while also being powerful and flexible enough to produce 'pro' results (in the hands of a pro of course).
  9. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    One more vote for Tracktion. It will virtually hold your hand through your entire session via pop ups(which of course you can turn off). All help files and even the entire manual is available within the program via the "Help" button(go figure). All connections are drag and drop including aux sends/returns.

    I've been using Cubase for a long time but I'm quickly being converted to a Tracktion addict.
  10. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2005
    ... and if you buy the 'ultimate' bundle you get a comprehensive tutorial video thrown in.

    (thats basically 4 hours of me talking you through it all)
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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