Different DAWs: A discussion. What do you use and why?

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  • @siebass  May 10

    I've spent a lot of time researching the various DAWs out there (Digital Audio Workstations) to go along with my recently-acquired Izotope suite (thanks for the recommendation, @johnstaples!).

    I primarily until this point have used Audacity to do most of my recording and mixing, and FL studio for drum automation and any midi work. I recently have been running into the limitations of Audacity, however. Specifically, Audacity will not work with Rewire, a feature required for some real-time Audio eq, pitch correction, and other VST plugin tools that I truly need in order to get my mixes up a few levels in quality.

    The pro-level tools as I understand it, are Pro Tools, and Logic Pro.

    I was looking into finally biting the bullet on Pro Tools, but it costs a ton, and now is no longer purchase-able, but rather is offered on a subscription model. I hate that kind of pricing.

    For Logic, I don't have a mac with any kind of horsepower, so I don't think I could handle anything more than simple GarageBand.

    Reason and Reaper I have heard are both good DAWs, but have awkward workflows.

    I've heard good things about Ableton Live, but I'm looking more for production of music, mixing, and mastering, and not as much live performance with automation.

  • @siebass  May 10

    I ended up settling on upgrading my FL Studio fruity edition to the producer edition, simply to gain the rewire capability to run my new plugins for the least added cost, but I'm not sure if I want to be using it for the long haul, as the interface isn't the most intuitive.

    Basically I'm curious as to what you are using, and why you are using it, other than "It's the one I know the best" which is why I'm using Audacity and FL Studio (instead of Reaper, for example). You can get most stuff done with Audacity and FL Studio, but an analogy I've read recently is that it can be likened to building a house with a hammer and a hand saw. You can build the whole house with those tools, and it might be just as good as a house built using power tools, but you sure could save a lot of time and effort if you invested in a power drill and table saw.

  • @ampersandman  May 11

    First thing: It's not the gear that makes the difference, it's how you use it. You can get the most important things done with every DAW, and you don't need an extensive plug in collection, for most mixes you need EQ, compression, a little reverb and delay, maybe a limiter and saturation/distortion, and the plugins that come with your DAW will most of the time do the trick, except if you are looking for some really special effects.
    Personally I'm on Logic Pro 9 simply because I own a MacBook. It is an awesome program that you get for an amazing price. I haven't bothered to upgrade to Logic Pro X yet simply because I have all I need.
    What you left out in your list is Cubase, also a very powerful pro DAW with compatibility to all systems (ReWire, hardware, Mac and Windows).
    Ableton is supposed to be good for production too, not only for performance, but you really have to wrap your head around it and get used to the workflow and usage. I never have, but many people do and love it.

  • @sph  May 11

    I second @ampersandman 's words: it's how you use your gear.
    Two other DAWs that come to mind are Presonus Studio One, which I personally use, and Reaper.

  • @lvgd09 May 11

    @siebass "I was looking into finally biting the bullet on Pro Tools, but it costs a ton, and now is no longer purchase-able, but rather is offered on a subscription model. I hate that kind of pricing."

    If this is the case then Pro Tools can stick their DAW software where their sun don't shine. I won't allow "anybody" to force me to use the internet on my music system. Took me a long time to stop all those unnecessary services and virus software from taking over my computer.

  • @lvgd09 May 11

    Being a collector of audio software since 1992, I have found that the best software DAW available today is Studio One. That said, I've always been a big fan of Ableton Live. Once upon a long time ago, Cakewalk was my primary DAW. Once they moved to the X series their software went doo doo.

    Plugins? Too deep for me to get into here. Rewire? I used it a long time ago on a daily basis. Haven't needed it for years. BTW, Studio One supports rewire.

  • @siebass  May 11

    @ampersandman @sph I'm not disagreeing with either of you in terms of how you use your tools, but to use the analogy again, you can put a hole in a piece of wood with a hammer and a chisel, but it would be a lot easier to use a drill. I'm curious to know what people feel their tools are the "best" at. Audacity is fantastic at audio recording and editing. Chopping tracks up, moving things around, even basic mixing in terms of levels it's pretty solid. However it has destructive editing, so you can't just throw an effect on a signal chain to see how it sounds, you need to copy a track, modify the new track with the effect, decide if you like it, etc. It's more cumbersome. You can do it, it's just not as good as other tools.

  • @siebass  May 11

    Regarding rewire, Izotope's plugins require rewire for certain realtime eq's and for their vocal pitch correction VST. After getting it running in FL Studio last night, I may end up going back to purchasing Melodyne for vocal pitch correction, as the Izotope pitch plugin seemed only slightly better than free alternative like KeroVee.

    I have been finding that I can beef up Audacity with some cool plugins in order to do a lot of what I need for mixing, such as the great Voxengo Span, and some free EQs, tape saturation, and the like. Real time monitoring can be very slow in Audacity, however, and I'm finding most of my chunkier plugins run better in FL Studio, particularly on a mix I'm working on with 25 tracks.

  • @lvgd09 May 12

    @siebass I have FL Studio (not sure what version). The stuff is great but I don't make dance music, thus, never choose that software anymore.

    Melodyn Editor is the best pitch correction software, period.

    Audacity? I've been using pro DAWs and Sound Forge for so long I wouldn't even consider a "free" open source software. However, I hear good things about it. The truth is I don't need Audacity because I have better. This is not knocking the stuff...I'm just telling you. I've been doing this a long time. Oh, and my beat making sucks...lol If I find a need (I doubt that) for making beats I would probably be back in FL Studio, trying to figure that stuff out again.

  • @tcelliott  May 12

    I use reaper. It's the first paid for DAW I used and I like it well enough. Work flow isn't as bad as I once thought. But learning the DAW isn't necessarily intuitive. It works for me but a good part would be that I don't want the pain of a new learning curve for another DAW.

  • @lvgd09 May 12

    @tcelliott I thought I'd never leave Cakewalk. Now I have very little interest in their software. Their midi features are still superior. Also, the only real reason "Reason" is in the ballpark is the pricing and demo policy. Like Audacity, it is a FAWM favorite. I'd say "I'm sorry" I have the good stuff...but I'm not sorry at all. I'm a software hound and so I have tried them all (Windows Only). Learning curve? Come on, it isn't hard and it is fun. I'm pretty sure it's all about the money, which is perfectly understandable. That said, there won't be any more software upgrades for me. I have what I need, it is 32 bit, and I'm sticking with it the rest of the way....which might be tomorrow, who knows. Oh, but Reaper is the best low price DAW available. Most of those companies think they have a gold mine and try for $500 and up. Same thing with the plugins. The pricing for the good stuff is simply ridiculous for people not making money. To top it off, some of those high pr

  • @lvgd09 May 12

    To top it off, some of those high priced Softwares are crap.

    Edit note: Above I said "Reason". No, I meant Reaper. That said, Reason is good software. However, like the other good Softwares, there is nothing cheap about their pricing.

  • @radioovermoscow May 13

    I've never understood the 'Reaper is hard' crowd. Reaper is by far the most intuitive and easy to use DAW out there. I've tried others, and always come back to Reaper. Hell, some DAWs I couldn't even figure out how to get sound out of them! Others only ran certain bit VSTs. Reaper does it all, without hassle, at minimal cost.

  • @lvgd09 May 13

    Groove3 can tell you everything there is to know about Reaper. These guys are really good and I have tons of respect for their entire teaching staff.

    https://www.groove3.com/reaper-traini...

  • @metalfoot  May 13

    I saw Acid Music Studio on sale for $39 at a local store. Good/bad/ugly? Or should I just try to learn Reaper?

  • @lvgd09 May 13

    Hi, I spent 2 hours this morning in "Reaper". Of course, I had to re-learn how to use that software. So I opend an old midi project of mine inside of Reaper, and it worked out really well. Unlike "Ableton Live", Reaper can read the tempo map of a midi file. I expect that, yes, and so I have only one boo hoo about Ableton Live, and that is they still haven't gotten their midi compatibility right.

    Anyway, In Reaper I was able to add vsti, vst effects, and automation. One question maybe somebody could answer for me is - How can I make the track names appear on my stems? Thanks.

  • @lvgd09 May 13

    Oh, forgot something. I'm going to open FL Studio today. More on that later.

  • @lvgd09 May 13

    @metalfoot I don't think Sony is updating any of the Acid Softwares anymore. They actually stopped updating Acid Pro a few years ago. I think I mentioned in this thread that my favorite DAW is StudioOne. Too much money then I recommend Reaper over Acid Music Studio. I've only used the Pro version of Acid but I imagine the lite versio is probably pretty good. But if I can learn Reaper, then ____ can too. 😀

  • @metalfoot  May 13

    Acid is not under Sony anymore, I think? Different publisher on the box I saw.

  • @lvgd09 May 13

    Interesting, I just checked that out...appears Magix has bought the rights to the Acid software. But will actually work on the software? I doubt that. Oh, and Magix also has "Samplitude" in the catalog. I don't think I've ever heard anybody mention that software. Powerful stuff. However, behind the leaders because of a lack of keeping up with the newest technology. Don't get me wrong, Samplitude is powerful and once upon a time cost about a thousand dollars. I don't know what it is anymore but the pro x series appeared to me to be less than earlier versions. Yeah, Sony actually bought Acid and Sound Forge from "Sonic Foundry". Now they sold it to Magix...lol

  • @lvgd09 May 13

    In there messing with FL Studio...lol. I need to RTFM. The best I can do is make a beat, and rewire. Or possibly rewired their vsti synth stuff. I don't know. I do know there are a lot of tutorials for FL on the internet but I just don't have enough interest right now. I'm playing sing songs right now with an acoustic guitar and brand new raw lyrics. Totally different.

  • @siebass  May 14

    I just used FL Studio to mix a song for my band. I have no idea how to record in the program, but I was able to add my 20 some tracks, and use the mixer to group multiple channels into inserts, add multiple effects. I was also able to watch some tutorials on how to sidechain the kick drum to cut through a busy mix. Lastly, I learned how to automate effects, such as having a delay only on certain sections of the high hat/overhead mics. None of that is possible with Audacity's mixer, so I think I'm converted. There will definitely be more growing pains, but I feel like I did when I got a smart phone for the first time. The tool just does a lot more vs. Audacity.

    @lvgd09 it is definitely not intuitive, I spent about 30 minutes watching tutorials, and 15 of that was a sidechain video I watched 5 or 6 times.

  • @lvgd09 May 14

    Regarding Reaper: I think I just answered my own question, "How can I make the track names appear on my stems?"

    After watching 2 times I think I've got it. When you render stems you need to select wildcard - track. I haven't done this yet but I think this is what I was trying to find out. If I am rendering stems from a drums section, it needs to say what drum (kick, snare, hhat, etc.).

    Anyway, if anybody is interested he shows you in this video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAkAv...

    This is a learning curve. Most of the time I just make sure the track has a name and my software does the rest for me. But what I got the song title followed by a number sequence. That's not very helpful, especially if you are collaborating, or even having somebody else mix for you.

    I will go try that now. That's all I have to say about Reaper

    Update: I made mistake about Reaper's midi. That track I mixed this morning didn't hae a tempo change. The one I just attempted does, and some or all of the tracks are out of sync (rest of details skipped).

  • @lvgd09 May 14

    @siebass I didn't know FL can mix audio files. That's what you are saying, right? I know about Edison, but I always thought FL was based on samples and midi. I can't even imagine trying to record into that software. Mixing, hmmm....I don't know because I've never mixed in FL. Interesting hearing about your achievements with that mix today. I'm mostly interested because you said it is your band. 20 tracks of midi, I can see that, but mixing audio tracks in FL Studio...hmmm, I didn't know they have come that far. But I do know FL is good stuff. Still, I thought it was just dance beats or Doctor Dre kind of music.

  • @tootoobee  May 14

    @lvgd09 you know that there are quite a few videos on Reaper by Kenny here http://www.kennymania.com/reaper-videos/ ?

  • @lvgd09 May 14

    @tootoobee Nice!

    update: I just watched the gain staging video. I was a little surprised that it works that way. The proof to me was when he uses a phase inverted track. Good to know because I always wondered if I was doing it wrong. In other words, my tracks were too hot and I brought down the master channel. However, I think it might be worth noting that he used a "plugin" to bring the volume down, and not the master channel volume.

  • @tcelliott  May 15

    If you (I think) shift left click the top of your track you can reduce the volume of each individual tracks. Which is nice if you tend to record too hot (I STILL do this even after years of "knowing" better.)

    Re: Pricing. That definitely has something to do with it @lvgd09 - but honestly, I don't care how intuitive it is, I don't want to learn something new, either. I go in phases of mixing a lot to not mixing at all for weeks or sometimes even months. Even in Reaper I start to lose my work flow. I can't imagine something else. The down side is, I bet there is something else that would be more intuitive (to me) that I would like better. I'm just not interested in learning.

  • @lvgd09 May 15

    @tcelliott My friend, we all just want to play music. This audio stuff, and I've been saying it for years, is a totally different hobby than songwriting and performing. Both are passionate hobbies of mine. I study other stuff too. I personally just can't get enough learning. Except for math and political science...no interest in those. 😀

  • @johnstaples  May 15

    @lvgd09 & @tcelliott

    I have gone from "Wow, I can produce my own music!" to "Dang, I wish I had someone who would produce my music!" I still enjoy the whole process but I know I never put enough time/effort in my productions so they could always be a lot better. How come T Bone Burnett and Jeff Lynne won't return my calls???

  • @lvgd09 May 15

    @johnstaples The Beatles had George Martin. Talk about an Ace in the hole. I got my chance in a really nice recording studio back in the early 90's. I played but it wasn't my music. Anyway, having that pro engineer was far better than I could do on my own. I do ok for what I do. Oh, and I want to "attempt" to mix one of your tracks, please?

  • @siebass  May 15

    @lvgd09 True and proper mixing. I was surprised as well. 3 bass tracks, 2 lead guitar tracks, 4 rhythm guitar tracks, at least 8 drum tracks, 3 vocal tracks and a bag of chips. I was pleasantly surprised. Click and drag recorded audio (wavs, mp3s, etc) into the song sheet, and then use the mixer to get to business.

  • @brrrse  May 16

    Reaper was not the first DAW I tried - I tried ProTools because it came with the midi keyboard controller I bought - it was difficult to learn on my own and I quickly pitched it aside. I got Reaper because it was recommended online for newbies - and I've been teaching myself along the way. I've looked at a few other DAWS and while I can transfer some of my miniscule knowledge, it just doesn't look like what I'm used to.

    That being said - I think it's to each his own - The goal is to release your music so that it's heard the way you intend it to be heard.

  • @johnstaples  May 17

    @lvgd09 I'd be delighted to have you mix one! Let's do that during 50/90!

  • @jamkar  May 17

    I started with Sonar (hated it), and then got Reaper. I still haven't exhausted the possibilities with Reaper. My go to DAW.

  • @zecoop  May 17

    I used nTrack since around 2001 and had always been very happy with the interface, power and results. But I have had a couple major glitches in recent years that killed the saved mixes that I had (replaced them with a totally different song for no apparent reason). I had upgraded numerous times over the years too. The developers are still trying to figure it out, but I made the decision to switch over to Reaper. @guatecoop @kovbleu and @slawbleu from our band all use it, so it made sense for me to use it too. I like it so far and it has not been difficult to learn. It's very reasonably priced too, and powerful. I'd recommend it.

  • @lvgd09 May 17

    Thanks @johnstaples , I'm looking forward to that!

    In there yesterday recording in Ableton Live...it was ok. Today I said, "screw that" and jumped back into StudioOne...good move. So much easier and far better workflow. You know, my friend Jimmy (a group member) and I have been cranking out large amounts of lyrics and rough draft demos this week. The music "never" ends for me at the end of any challenge. I still have a shoulder problem though, and I'm dealing with it by standing up and using my strat rather than sitting with an acoustic guitar. Can't do that...no. My doctors are working on it and I'll be seeing a specialist soon.

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