Monthly Archives: April 2015

What Is the Best Music Production Software for Beginners – Get Started

Unlike 20 years ago, the amount of music production DAWs almost goes through the roof nowadays. When starting to make music, it is very important to choose the right kind of DAW to stay on the right track, because it is an investment for the future. Read on for tips and thoughts about what is the best music production software for beginners.

Getting Into It

Music production takes time. Photo Credit: I can't believe it's Fabio via Compfight cc

Music production takes time. Photo Credit: I can’t believe it’s Fabio via Compfight cc

Progression in music production doesn’t happen over the weekend. You’ll need to be prepared to spend years of your life learning music production and the software associated with it. This is exactly the reason why it’s important to choose a quality DAW for yourself to avoid the following situations:

  1. Change your DAW every once in a while
  2. As the DAW grows within you, you realize that it doesn’t have the features you need
  3. Working with the specific DAW is not fun

Do Some Research

Just like prior to any purchase, you wouldn’t want to blindly spend your money purchasing anything important to you. This is why it’s wise to take a few days and do some background research about DAWs. While doing this, you’ll want to consider the following features, and which ones of them are important to you:

  • Features
  • MIDI and audio capabilities
  • Recording
  • Visuals
  • Workflow
  • Mixing and plugins
  • Virtual instruments
  • (Ease of) Usage

Visit websites of DAW developers, watch Youtube videos, read reviews and even better, if people you know are using a certain DAW, go watch them work with it and ask to try it yourself.

Make sure the DAW is right for you. Photo Credit: Reel Youth via Compfight cc

Make sure the DAW is right for you. Photo Credit: Reel Youth via Compfight cc

You’ve Got Two Options

There are fully featured DAWs and there are stripped back DAWs. The former is the “pro” version and the latter is the more beginner friendly one, usually missing some features.

For some, it might be easier to choose the “light” version, to avoid all the confusion about every single feature and tool inside a DAW. These versions are probably relatively easy to use and to get started, too. These versions are fully capable of making music, but they miss some of the more advanced features. The flipside is, of course, after a point you might need to move on because you’re ready to take the next step, and get a “pro” DAW.

Which road will you choose - hobbyist or pro? Photo Credit: SergiooAF via Compfight cc

Which road will you choose – hobbyist or pro? Photo Credit: SergiooAF via Compfight cc

Now, choosing a fully-blown professional DAW from the beginning might be intimidating and slow at first, but on the other hand you’ll grow into it and learn everything little by little. The advantages of the pro versions are, they have everything you’d need in terms of features. By choosing this option, you’ll skip the hassle of having to upgrade your DAW, spending more hard-earned money.

Many DAWs have different versions. Let’s take Ableton Live for example. The differences between the Intro and the Suite versions are quite dramatic. The Intro is lacking the majority of synthesizers, plugins, and the audio and MIDI tracks are limited to 16. Of course, there is over 500€ ($540) price difference between the versions, but at the end of the day, you still might want to make the upgrade.

Just like Apple offers GarageBand and Logic Pro, it is up to you to choose. Neither is a bad choice. It’s always intimidating to learn new software anyway. If you’re a hobbyist and just want to record some music for yourself, you’ll probably be well off with a simpler DAW. But if you have bigger plans for yourself in music and have great passion for it, I’d recommend choosing a full-featured, pro DAW.

List of Common DAWs

DAWs are similar from the core, but have their differences. Photo Credit: alschim via Compfight cc

DAWs are similar from the core, but have their differences. Photo Credit: alschim via Compfight cc

…and many more!

Personally, I use Avid Pro Tools. Though I have friends who use Ableton Live and Apple Logic Pro, among others. Ultimately it’s a personal choice, and could be very hard to “nail it” right from the beginning.

Go ahead and start researching and downloading trials of the DAWs mentioned above to get started!

I hope this post will help you finding a great DAW for yourself for many years to come. Good luck!

-JP

Are you a total beginner? Or do you have at least minimal experience in DAWs? Are you having a hard time finding the right one? Drop your comments below.

Which Is the Best Software to Make Music – The Perfect DAW

To the question, which is the best software to make music, is no simple and easy answer. This is true because people are different, and so are the software designated for music making. If you’re lucky, you’ll instantly stumble upon the DAW that you’ll stick to, until the end. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll have to do some research and work to find the perfect one.

The Search

It is challenging to find a perfectly suitable package of software for your own musical needs. Usually, it takes years of experience to go through various pieces of DAWs and see which ones you constantly go back to. Let’s start with a few questions:

  1.  Photo Credit: rhome_music via Compfight cc

    Do you want to record your instrument? Photo Credit: rhome_music via Compfight cc

    Do you play an instrument and are you planning on recording it?

  2. Are you just sketching ideas or producing full tracks?
  3. Do you want to mix your own music?
  4. Do you need to use virtual instruments?
  5. Are you in need of good audio-editing capabilities?
  6. How important is working with MIDI notes to you?
  7. Do the looks of a DAW matter to you?
  8. What kind of a workflow do you prefer?
  9. Are you more engineer-oriented or creativity-oriented?

Think about these questions, as they will help you ultimately land the perfect DAW.

The DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

I’m just going to say this first. You can do everything you need to do in virtually any modern DAW. I’m also not listing any DAWs here because one is not better than the other. The main differences between them concern matters of workflow.

 Photo Credit: soft Picasso via Compfight cc

Which is your priority – audio or MIDI? Photo Credit: soft Picasso via Compfight cc

So you truly need to think of issues such as whether you prioritize recording actual audio or do you compose by clicking on MIDI notes. Do you need a mixer with advanced mixing features and routing capabilities or is it enough for you to be able to pull faders up and down? Do you want to look at a “pretty” DAW or do you prefer function over beauty?

Choosing a DAW greatly comes down to the question of what you need to do with it. All subjective issues aside, it is the smart starting point. Do research about different DAWs and see how they and their features are being marketed.

If your friends are using a specific DAW, go watch them use it. Download demos of DAWs and make a song with each of them, and see which one is the most pleasant for you. All DAWs have their own “logic” of getting things done, and you just need to find the one that clicks with your own personal logic.

Myself, I am currently using Pro Tools as my main DAW, because it happens to click with me in ways that just are right for me. Probably because Pro Tools is a more engineer-driven DAW. Well, it basically is a “digital tape machine” and mixing platform with great audio editing capabilities.

Know this though, I have gone through various DAWs throughout the years, and even though there are similarities between DAWs, I find them all unique in their own way. There’s a certain “feel” to each DAW, which is hard to describe without experiencing it yourself.

What DAWs to look at, then?

Take a look at the giants, and research their features. Ableton Live, Apple Logic Pro, Cubase, PreSonus Studio One, Propellerhead Reason and Avid Pro Tools for starters. There are many other DAWs in the market as well, but I’m fairly sure one of these would be a good fit.

Just download demos of each, spend a day of two with each you’ve chosen and mess around with them, making some music. I’m quite sure you’ll have some positive “a-ha!” –moments with some of them, which will eventually lead you to potentially stick with one.

Don't be scared by the complexity of a DAW Photo Credit: piddy77 via Compfight cc

Don’t be scared by the complexity of a DAW Photo Credit: piddy77 via Compfight cc

Don’t be intimidated by the initial impression of the DAW when you first set your hands on it. They’re not that hard to use, and they all have the same core functions.

In the End

If you already have a DAW and are happy with it, stick to it, because what’s the point of switching in that case? I have switched DAWs because my needs have changed. The workflows I had visualized in my mind could be only achieved with another DAW, or at least more efficiently, so I had to switch.

If you're happy with your DAW, stick to it Photo Credit: William Brawley via Compfight cc

If you’re happy with your DAW, stick to it Photo Credit: William Brawley via Compfight cc

And that is pretty much the only reason to jump to another DAW. So think about these if you are looking for your first piece of software to make music with, or if you have something you would like to change about your current workflow.

To conclude, no DAW is better than the other. It is always subjective. You can always make it work the way you want to, by using your imagination. Because when you think of something you need to accomplish, you can do it.

-JP

Are you having trouble finding a suitable DAW for yourself? Do you find yourself jumping from DAW to DAW? Or did you find the perfect DAW immediately? Drop your comments below.