Music Program

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Re: Music Program

Postby armandtanzarian » Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:04 pm UTC

FL Studios is near perfect for electronic-based music.

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Re: Music Program

Postby LikwidCirkel » Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:04 pm UTC

I've been off and on into computer music for almost a decade now, and am just recently getting into it.

If you want something entry level and easy to figure out, FL Studio would work. Do you want sample and loops and something that will get you started fast? Yes, use FL Studio. If you want something more professional and versatile that will keep you learning for years, check out Cubase or Ableton Live. They are both more "instrument and effect" oriented than "loop and sample" oriented like FL. If you're not planning on paying for anything, Cubase can be a real pain. Ableton Live has great demos that you can re-register every 2 weeks with a new email if you're cheap.

I used Cubase in the past, and it's good, but I've really got hooked into Ableton Live more recently. It has an amazing interface, and unlike Cubase, Sonar, Pro-tools.. whatever.. the designers have actually gotten over the fact that it doesn't HAVE to look like hardware with the knobs and controls and such, and so it has a remarkably clean interface.

I don't like pro-tools stuff because it's very lock-in. Ableton Live comes with a decent assortment of instruments and sounds, and has really great built-in tutorials. Both Live and Cubase fully support VST, and hence open you up to hundreds, perhaps thousands of free and non-free instruments and effects.

I would recommend getting the Ableton Live demo, going through the tutorials, and seeing what you think of it.
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Re: Music Program

Postby Paranoid__Android » Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:52 pm UTC

^^^this

I have Ableton live 7 and it is amazing, It is really easy to use, basically everything Likwidcirkel said.

a powerful PC helps but isn't vital.
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Re: Music Program

Postby diotimajsh » Thu Feb 05, 2009 7:41 pm UTC

Actually, FL Studio has been continually expanding and improving over the years, and it's really become something more than a toy to play with. Not that I use it myself (I generally prefer Live, Reason, and Renoise), but I'm just sayin', don't dismiss it too quickly. I wouldn't call it a mere "loop and sample" program; it's definitely capable of doing many of the same things Live can do (including funky routing), although I do find Live's interface more intuitive and friendly myself.

Um, so on that note, there's also Propellerheads Reason, which is pretty great as far as a program that comes with tons of decent synth and sampler patches right off the bat. Admittedly, its GUI is a little cumbersome--it pretty much tries to exactly imitate a hardware rack, which is kind of cute, but outdated and sometimes annoying. It also has a lot of limitations (can't use VSTs, can't edit wave files, can't record audio) and there are these perpetual debates about the "professional"/"non-professional" quality of its sound engine. But, you can connect it to pretty much any other host through ReWire, and I recommend it nonetheless.

Quick list of (I think) the most popular "pro" hosts:

Pro Tools -- the "industry standard", but most oriented toward working with audio and recording rather than MIDI sequencing, or so I understand.
Cubase/Nuendo
Ableton Live
Digital Performer (Mac only, very much like Pro Tools, or so I hear.)
Logic (Mac only)
SONAR (Windows only)
Samplitude/Sequoia (Windows only, I think).

Then, programs more popular among the non-professionals*:

FL Studio (Windows only)
Reason (has the limitations I mentioned above)
Traktion 3 -- very intuitive, I recommend this a lot if you like Live but can't afford/acquire it.
EnergyXT (lightweight, modular, rather innovative design)
GarageBand (Mac only)
ACID Pro (Windows only; I really hate this program, honestly. Don't recommend it at all.)
REAPER (only started supporting Mac recently, I think. Its interface is a little like ACID's, but it's much better.)
Project 5 (Win only)
Orion (Win only)




*I'm not claiming that these programs aren't capable of professional sound; and there are certainly a few pros who openly used them (BT uses Reason, for example, and Prodigy did for at least one of their albums). Just, being cheaper and/or easier to pirate, these tend to be the most widespread among "bedroom producers". Ableton Live could conceivably belong on this list too, but I understand a lot of pros use it for performance, if nothing else.
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Re: Music Program

Postby causalfault » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:46 am UTC

buy a mac and use garage band.

seriously, you'll never need anything else until you get a job with/start your own studio. you can make great, professional-sounding recordings with nothing but garage band and a cheap midi controller. the native instruments packs are pretty phenomenal, and the interface is super easy to use.

i'm planning on buying a macbook/imac/mac pro in the next six to eight months for recording/producing. it's a great program, and best of all, it doesn't cost anything extra. face it, you're going to want a mac sooner or later if you're doing any kind of serious music editing, why not take advantage of what they've got to offer already?

[i feel like i should mention that i don't currently own any apple products of any kind, but i have seen and am a fan of what they are truly capable of.]
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:28 am UTC

MartrK wrote:Hey, I'm looking for a great program for making songs with (of a techno genre, generally), and have no idea where to start.
Yes you do :) You start by asking people for advice.
I gave Sony CineScore a try, but it didnt have enough customisability for my liking. I want to be able to make every track myself and have a large amount of instruments to choose from. If you could also point me in the way of some easy tutorials to get started (I'm quite the noob at this sort of thing still =P), it would be muchly appreciated...

Provided you're not going to record audio tracks, but instead generate all your sound within the computer, I would say Reason is a plan. It was my first producing software (that I actually paid for), and I absolutely adored it. It is basically a rack of instruments and effects designed to look and behave like a physical studio, along with a sequencer and a whole bunch of sound libraries. The tutorials are great, an the interface is hands on and intuitive, so it is great for beginners. There is a thriving user community. Every instrument is fully customisable and programmable, and the feature set is so long you'll have to follow the link to get an idea of it. It is also Mac/Windows compatible, so you can switch platforms down the line, and works very well with underpowered computers.

Reason is one of the very few things I would absolutely say was the best possible decision when I was starting out in production.

The only thing it doesn't do is handle audio recording and playback. You can't, for instance, record your singing as a vocal track in Reason. It does, however, come with software called ReWire, which syncs it with audio recording software if you need to do that.

Also, tell us more about your intentions, and we can help more.

EDIT: And there's a demo version.
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Re: Music Program

Postby codyhotel » Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:40 pm UTC

Dream wrote:blah blah Reason blah blah


best idea EVAR.

Reason is fucking amazing, and if you want to compose techno from scratch, there is literally nothing better. I have basically every program mentioned here (except Mac only ones) and therefor I think my opinion is fairly valid.
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Re: Music Program

Postby SkaBassist » Thu Feb 12, 2009 2:28 am UTC

I have a question in the same vein:

As an amateur (not for long!) composer, I have wrestled with various music programs for some time. I hate Finale, I hate Sibelius, and I hate the huge price tags on both. The only program I really like is Guitar Pro; it has a great way to to navigate, is easy to use, and is comparatively cheap. The problems I have is that it's only really ment for guitar, not score composing. Because of this, you're limited to inputting notes as guitar tabs. This isn't such a big problem since I know guitar, but it's way easier to put the notes in in standard notation. Another thing GP doesn't have that programs like Finale do have is the option to put everything in concert pitch, plus, without changing the tuning of the guitar, you're limited to the range of the guitar.

Are there any programs out there that you guys use that you're satisfied with?

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Re: Music Program

Postby codyhotel » Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:31 am UTC

SkaBassist wrote:I have a question in the same vein:

As an amateur (not for long!) composer, I have wrestled with various music programs for some time. I hate Finale, I hate Sibelius, and I hate the huge price tags on both. The only program I really like is Guitar Pro; it has a great way to to navigate, is easy to use, and is comparatively cheap. The problems I have is that it's only really ment for guitar, not score composing. Because of this, you're limited to inputting notes as guitar tabs. This isn't such a big problem since I know guitar, but it's way easier to put the notes in in standard notation. Another thing GP doesn't have that programs like Finale do have is the option to put everything in concert pitch, plus, without changing the tuning of the guitar, you're limited to the range of the guitar.

Are there any programs out there that you guys use that you're satisfied with?


As of Guitar Pro 5 (just got it last week!) you can now input music as a tab OR a Score! You can also switch the default instrument to say, a Grand Piano and have that set to concert pitch as the standard tuning! You can also go far beyond the range of a guitar when you switch to a staff only (tab not shown) mode! Its really quite wonderful!
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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:48 am UTC

I recently picked up a midi controller/synth and I'm getting a PC as well. I've heard a lot of good things about Ableton Live, that it cuts away all the crap you don't want to think about that Cubase and Pro Tools have there, and makes recording a breeze, but I've also heard that Cubase and/or Pro-Tools are deeper packages and better for adding effects and generally fiddling with a track after you've layed it down.

I'm only just starting out, and I'm leaning towards Live, but I've used older versions of Cubase and didn't seem to have too much trouble recording on them.

Are there any further opinions on comparisons between these?
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:07 am UTC

You have it fairly straight there. Ableton's biggest strength is looping. I would think hard about the methods by which you're hoping to compose, and if looping is a big part of it (think Daft Punk or eighties hip hop) go with Ableton. If you will be using more detailed programming, like for techno or IDM, Cubase or Pro Tools are better choices. Each, however, can do the other's strengths to a limited but satisfactory degree. I haven't seen Ableton's bundled effects and instruments in a while, but I recall them being limited by comparison with the competition. Check this aspect out yourself. Pro Tools has fewer bundled instruments than some of the competition, but those it has are far, far better quality than any bundling might lead you to believe is possible. They sound fantastic. In Cubase I don't know much about the quality of instruments and effects.

Your impressions about Cubase and ProTools being better for mixing are correct. I've done good compositional work in Ableton, but I would never give up the EQs and compressors in ProTools or Logic (Apple only, don't worry about it if you're PC). This is only something to prioritise if you're planning on releasing your work soon. Otherwise it's better to go with what you want to write and compose with, and worry about mastering and mixing software when you have to. As before, any of the programs will do it well enough to get by.

Again, if you're just starting out, and you're not using recorded audio, Reason is wonderful. Get the demo and see if it's your thing.

I hope that makes sense. Can you tell us more about your intended style of music and goals? That always helps with these things.
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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:38 am UTC

Mostly I'm attempting to write music for games, but I'm hoping to experiment with interactive music as well.

On the most basic level, I'd like to have some solid instruments for a range of styles; folk, rock, tribal, electronica... Essentially for mood or ambient music to go in the background.

In terms of interactive music, that probably won't happen for a while and will require a lot of experimentation, but it's essentially building layers and movements that can be added or removed or segued in and out in short notice without dissonance. It's more loop oriented in that sense.
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:56 am UTC

OK, for that you'll need a really good sound library, broad and comprehensive, and a good sampler to play it through. The looping in computer game music isn't heavy enough to merit Ableton, in my opinion. Since you referred to background/mood music, I'm thinking you won't be trying to sync forty or fifty different loops over the course of a track, which is what Ableton does best. Ableton, as I recall doesn't come with a large sample library. I'd still recommend Reason, and grab a few third party sample sets for the kinds of music you will be playing. That will set you up for creating music of a broad range of styles using only your computer and allow you to add (via something like Cubase) live instrumentation at a later date.

What do you mean by interactive music? Interaction from the listener? If so, you may want to look into a music programming language like Supercollider or CLM. This is very high end stuff, but it is the best way by far to get other people in control of your music while they listen.

Also, if you want to have a crack at it, you could grab a music production Linux distro like Dynebolic. It will have everything you need, and be totally free, although the sound libraries won't be a patch on commercial stuff. The learning curve is probably steep, and certainly a lot steeper than the super-friendly Reason, but it is free, and comprehensive.

Since you're talking about starting now, and with as broad a palette of sounds as you can, I think Reason is still the winner. As I said above, don't take my word for it, grab the demo and check it out.

EDIT: Hey, wait a minute, I just connected you to the Roland Juno-D thread from a while back. Is that the synth you bought? If so, that's a very solid sound library to begin with.
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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Sun Feb 15, 2009 7:21 am UTC

Yeah, I've been playing around on the Juno-D and enjoying myself. Just going through the library, getting a feel for it. I'm rather happy right now.
I'll be getting the computer whenever I can be bothered going down to pick it up then setting it up and finding somewhere to put it, but for the moment I'm just playing around on the Juno by itself.

You're right, syncing 3 dozen loops over 1 track shouldn't be necessary for me. I'm mostly thinking of making meandering several minute long tracks that can go from finish back to start seamlessly (as in, it sounds nice looped, but I don't mind having a silent moment there if it works).

The interactive music is tied to gaming, as well, but I don't have many specifics just yet. It's all theory. Creating variables that track various aspects of the gameplay. Presence of enemies, player health, stuff like that. You tie various layers of a track to certain variables and fade them in or out based on the state of of the variables controlling them. Designed in such a way so that it doesn't result in something horrible sounding. I'd imagine that would be leaning more towards the dozens of loops over one track, but it's the sort of thing I won't be ready to have a really good go at just yet. Baby steps. ;-)

I'll give reason a go when I get my computer and see what I think.
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Sun Feb 15, 2009 1:40 pm UTC

Bear in mind that if you're planning on integrating the hardware synth with software instruments, you'll need an external audio interface that can handle the Juno's outputs, which I assume are 1/4 inch jacks, and MIDI control for the synth, which is either a USB connection of a separate MIDI interface. You might do very well by looking into buying an interface that does audio and MIDI together, and comes with a bundled with a version of either Cubase or Sonar. These will let you control the Juno from the software sequencer, and route the audio the Juno produces back into the software and record it. They will also let you control the software with the Juno, playing software instruments with your hardware keyboard.

Hopefully this isn't a dynamic link. This is what I'm talking about, or this.

You might also tryProTools M-Powered. It is more comprehensive than other OEM bundles, and will offer more scope, though you have to buy the software and hardware separately, I think.

Basically, for all the wonderful things about Reason, it doesn't handle audio input, and doesn't do MIDI output, so it won't integrate with the Juno. I'd still check it out, because it is still a fantastic package, and it will integrate with whatever the software you end up using is. You can plug both Reason and the keyboard into the main sequencer. But that main sequencer (Cubase/ProTools/Sonar) software is necessary to use the Juno within the computer's production environment.

Sorry to backtrack a bit there, but I didn't realise you were already using a hardware synth. On the plus side, the Juno will have all the sounds you need to get started right now, so you don't have to worry too much about the libraries bundled with the software.
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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:53 am UTC

Okay, I'm getting a little confused, but I very much appreciate this help, Dream.

The Juno has twin 1/4 inch audio outputs, you can use the left only for mono. It has midi in and out, but not thru. It does not have USB. It also doesn't have its own internal speakers.

I know I need some form of hardware to connect the Juno with my PC. I was unsure whether I needed a Sound Card or an external device (DAC? ADC? I read about people referring to DAC's serving this purpose but when I read about them they don't sound like what I need). By the sounds of it you're saying that Reason is designed for Midi controllers, hence accepting midi in only and audio out only (midi in for the controller, audio out for the speakers?).

I was under the assumption I'd only need to connect the midi in and midi out ports to a sound card or DAC to interface with the PC and my software sequencer. The Juno doesn't have an immense range of effects so I can mess with the sound once it's in the sequencer. If I want I can connect the Audio outs from the Juno to speakers, but if I'm going to be editing via the sequencer I'd be better off connecting speakers to the PC and playing through that. The PC has enough grunt I don't expect any sound lag or anything...

But if Reason can't send midi out then I can't get samples from the sequencer sent down to the Juno to play and get the result sent back to the PC to output... I don't want to be limited to just what the Juno has, as extensive as its range is. Is that why Reason might not be everything I need/want?

I've deliberately left Sound Card/DAC and speakers out of my rig set up because I wasn't sure what I needed; the rig specs are still sitting over on the Hardware forum. I haven't purchased it yet, but once I know what I need from the Audio side I should be good to go.
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Tue Feb 17, 2009 4:48 am UTC

InstinctSage wrote:By the sounds of it you're saying that Reason is designed for Midi controllers, hence accepting midi in only and audio out only (midi in for the controller, audio out for the speakers?).

I was under the assumption I'd only need to connect the midi in and midi out ports to a sound card or DAC to interface with the PC and my software sequencer. The Juno doesn't have an immense range of effects so I can mess with the sound once it's in the sequencer. If I want I can connect the Audio outs from the Juno to speakers, but if I'm going to be editing via the sequencer I'd be better off connecting speakers to the PC and playing through that. The PC has enough grunt I don't expect any sound lag or anything...

But if Reason can't send midi out then I can't get samples MIDI(Actual audio samples can't be sent over MIDI, just control data. If the Juno has audio inputs, you can use these, but software is probably a better way to do anything of that kind anyway) from the sequencer sent down to the Juno to play and get the result sent back to the PC to output... I don't want to be limited to just what the Juno has, as extensive as its range is. Is that why Reason might not be everything I need/want?


All of this is exactly it. MIDI out of the keyboard and into the sequencer, out of the sequencer and into the keyboard. Audio out of the keyboard and into the sequencer, audio out of the sequencer and into the speakers. This setup means you can control the keyboard from the sequencer directly, for drum programming etc. and and record your keyboard performances as MIDI data, so they are editable afterward. Then you play the MIDI sequences back through the keyboard to replay both the sequences and performances together, and then layer tracks in the software as audio, to have more parts than your keyboard has multitimbrality. And that's just the keyboard. You can add any instruments and parts from within the sequencer to that recording.

To do this you need an interface for MIDI and for audio. Both the minimum, and the most useful for the moment specification would be 1 MIDI in, 1 MIDI out, and a stereo pair of 1/4in in and out. This lets you send MIDI both ways between computer and keyboard, and audio from the keyboard into the computer, and finally audio from the computer to the speakers. You won't need any more than that unless you buy lots more hardware instruments and effects, and less than that won't cut it at all, as each stage is essential. These interfaces, like the ones I linked above, have both DAC and ADC converters in them.

In as much as I can tell, your PC specs look fine. (My software is Apple only, so I haven't considered PC numbers for music production since pentiums were cool...) You may want to consider a dual output video card, as even a 22 inch display can get cluttered with music software. It has lots and lots and lots of windows, but don't if it's a big spend.

Again, I hope this all makes sense.
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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:50 am UTC

Thank you thank you thank you!
I went to a dedicated synth forum first up and they seem to spend all day talking about what they found on craigslist and what synth band x uses. Trying to get useful information out of them was like pulling teeth.

The motherboard I picked can support twin videocards, and the videocard I picked is designed so it can perform very well when paired with a second exactly the same. That'll give me twin video outputs if I feel the need to grab a second monitor, but for the moment I'll leave it as is (trying to keep a modest budget :wink:).

But now I know exactly what I'm looking for in an interface. Midi in/out, Audio In/Out, some way to connect to the PC and everything else is fancy.

I should be able to send audio out from my PC to the interface for getting sound in games and the like to play through the speakers, too, right? Since the motherboard is actually processing the 5.1 on board and just passing it through, so long as the interface is turned on it'll accept that and pass it through to the speakers, with fancy knobs and effects to boot...
But I'd need an interface with 2 sets of audio inputs for that. I can work out the cabling easy enough as long as I have the inputs in the interface.
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:56 am UTC

InstinctSage wrote:I went to a dedicated synth forum first up and they seem to spend all day talking about what they found on craigslist and what synth band x uses. Trying to get useful information out of them was like pulling teeth.
I'm not a member of a single music technology forum for exactly this reason. The only appropriate place to use the word slut is in the phrase gear slut.
InstinctSage wrote:The motherboard I picked can support twin videocards,
As I said, I know sweet FA about PC specs. Good call.
InstinctSage wrote:But now I know exactly what I'm looking for in an interface. Midi in/out, Audio In/Out, some way to connect to the PC and everything else is fancy.
Yes, and these are very widely available, so you'll be fine. You may want to also include a microphone input as well. They are easy to come by, many, many interfaces have them. Down the line it will allow you to include vocals, even just brief samples of voice, or record instruments if you pair up with a player. Being able to do this simultaneously with your performance on the Juno is the only thing I can think of that might make more than two inputs a plan. If you get two inputs, one of which is a mic input, you will still be able to layer one performance over the other in separate takes.
InstinctSage wrote:I should be able to send audio out from my PC to the interface for getting sound in games and the like to play through the speakers, too, right?
Yes, you can set the interface to be your default sound device. Then load up something with a good shotgun blast and love those big woofers :) Also, buy actual reference monitors, designed for nearfield use, and for computer equipment. It's a whole other discussion, but using commercial speakers will guarantee your mixes will be crap. Even if you only buy 10 watts a channel, you're far, far better off than with consumer equipment.
InstinctSage wrote:Since the motherboard is actually processing the 5.1 on board and just passing it through, so long as the interface is turned on it'll accept that and pass it through to the speakers, with fancy knobs and effects to boot...
Not quite. The software processing, such as effects, and the digital to audio conversion in the interface are separate functions. For games and video, you'll be using the DAC to output audio to your speakers. The sequencing software and its effects won't even be running. Even if they are running in the background, they will behave as separate parallel sources, not sequentially linked, so you'll hear both, but the video can't be routed into the sequencer to process it through effects. Unless you get Soundflower, which will route audio from anything to anything in software, meaning you could conceivably merge a skype conversation, a game of Quake, and heavily processed DVD soundtrack audio into the one sequencer project and listen to it all together while recording it all on separate channels for sampling later. If you've got the horesepower for that. Which sounds like fun to me :)

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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:38 pm UTC

Dream wrote:You may want to also include a microphone input as well. They are easy to come by, many, many interfaces have them. Down the line it will allow you to include vocals, even just brief samples of voice, or record instruments if you pair up with a player. Being able to do this simultaneously with your performance on the Juno is the only thing I can think of that might make more than two inputs a plan. If you get two inputs, one of which is a mic input, you will still be able to layer one performance over the other in separate takes.

I can get a Tascam box similar to the one you linked earlier for $300 (AUD) new. Haven't checked out the used market, but it seems reasonable and it'll do all that. It's pretty much the cheapest around that'll service my needs. Everything else here is pricier M-Box series stuff.
Dream wrote:Also, buy actual reference monitors, designed for nearfield use, and for computer equipment. It's a whole other discussion, but using commercial speakers will guarantee your mixes will be crap. Even if you only buy 10 watts a channel, you're far, far better off than with consumer equipment.

I dunno... I'm kind of swayed by the argument that making a mix sound good on the speakers 90% of people will have is good enough. Particularly for my purposes, I'm not pretending to be all pro here or anything. It's not that I have anything against $1500 5.1 systems and I'm very tempted looking at shiny, precisely manufactured speakers, but the miser in me says "You don't need that." At least not right now.
Dream wrote:
InstinctSage wrote:Since the motherboard is actually processing the 5.1 on board and just passing it through, so long as the interface is turned on it'll accept that and pass it through to the speakers, with fancy knobs and effects to boot...
Not quite. The software processing, such as effects, and the digital to audio conversion in the interface are separate functions. For games and video, you'll be using the DAC to output audio to your speakers. The sequencing software and its effects won't even be running. Even if they are running in the background, they will behave as separate parallel sources, not sequentially linked, so you'll hear both, but the video can't be routed into the sequencer to process it through effects. Unless you get Soundflower, which will route audio from anything to anything in software, meaning you could conceivably merge a skype conversation, a game of Quake, and heavily processed DVD soundtrack audio into the one sequencer project and listen to it all together while recording it all on separate channels for sampling later. If you've got the horesepower for that. Which sounds like fun to me :)

I meant the knobs on the interface itself, not the stuff in the software sequencer. I don't know why I said 'effects' as well. But Soundflower does sound like fun. I don't know why you couldn't just capture audio separately if you wanted to record yourself playing quake or having a skype conversation and mix it in later, but going all at once is the kind of ludicrous functionality that just might come in handy one day.
Anyway, now I can't wait to have my little Juno sitting next to me while I surf the net or do some work, ready to just have a little play about now and then.
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:19 pm UTC

InstinctSage wrote:I can get a Tascam box similar to the one you linked earlier for $300 (AUD) new. Haven't checked out the used market, but it seems reasonable and it'll do all that. It's pretty much the cheapest around that'll service my needs. Everything else here is pricier M-Box series stuff.

Sounds about right. Just make sure you inform yourself as well as possible to avoid unforseen problems. Cheaping off so much that you're buying junk is a really bad idea in this game, because you won't miss the extra cash months from now while the niggling not-quite-bad-enough-to-fix problem is still annoying you. But that is no different for any discipline, really. Tascam is a very recommendable company by all accounts, and have an excellent reputation.

Bear in mind the bundled software vs buying a separate package thing. Make sure you understand what you need to get out of your setup, and whether the software delivers that, or if the compromises are acceptable.
InstinctSage wrote:I dunno... I'm kind of swayed by the argument that making a mix sound good on the speakers 90% of people will have is good enough.
No. Noooooooooo! This is a misconception. You are creating these sounds and tracks from nothing. If your speaker setup boosts the low range by 4dB or so, just to give some extra oomph to the sound, when you mix on them, you will get a directly opposite sound in your finished files. There will be 4dB less bass than you thought was "right" in your mix. The 4dB difference that makes the bass just right will not be in the file, just in your speakers. So the mix will only be right on your own speakers, not on anyone else's. Then if you play the file back on speakers that don't have a boost in the low end, you will find that the bass is thin and weak. (i.e. it will sound awful on anything from earbuds through to non-pimped car stereos.) If you play it back on a subwoofer system, you will get little in the way of woofer "thump." Most reference speakers are either as close to perfectly flat as possible, adjustable to suit the room dynamics (mine are like this), or are set to have a slight roll off at the low end so that the bass will be more powerful on consumer systems. Mixes made on consumer systems necessarilyhave holes in the frequency spectrum at exactly the points that consumers are used to hearing spikes in their audio. The speakers are designed that way.

But. You don't need to think about this until you are actually going to play your finished work for other people on other systems. Until then, you just have to make it sound good on your own setup. If you are going to be lashing stuff up on the net within a few weeks, shell out for the monitors now. IF not, don't worry. When you do, however, get ready for clarity. You will likely never have heard such definition and pristine detail in a piece of music.

InstinctSage wrote:Anyway, now I can't wait to have my little Juno sitting next to me while I surf the net or do some work, ready to just have a little play about now and then.

And that is the best reason by far to have a hardware synth right there. No fucking around with software libraries, just press the keys and the sounds happen. Before I moved to the antipodes I used to have an old electric organ as part of my home studio. I made many posts here with it under one hand and the laptop under the other. Good times :)
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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:27 am UTC

Maybe I am cheaping out a bit since I committed $1500 to the PC, then carved $350 out of the savings for the Juno and had to work it back, and now I'm looking down the barrel of another $1000 at least to get it all set up as a fully functional home studio...

I mean... The Tascam box looks good hardware wise. If I can plug my Juno in and have a free input for my cousin's guitar or my other cousin's bass, all the better. If I can plug a microphone in to record vocals or anything else, even better. I don't need to do all at once but 2 at once is handy. So it does all that. Honestly I don't expect to be recording jam sessions in my room. But if someone else can record their stuff and we can mix it together, all the better.

Getting the right software is important, but I was pretty resigned to buying that separately. I want to trial a few different ones to see what works for me. I used Cubase in high school, but that was years ago. I could start fresh on anything, but you know, you want something you feel comfortable with.

Dream wrote:[No. Noooooooooo!

I was actually going through the maths in my head last night. Probably the priciest consumer 5.1 system for your average PC is a Logitech setup that'll retail for $250 or so. I used to have a Creative labs 5.1 that now sells for $80, but it died after being moved around too much during house moves, LAN parties and the like.
The 5.1 I had was a good system for its price. But from what I've been reading, spending $250 on a better consumer 5.1 would pretty much be pissing more money away for nothing, because while it might be 'better', how much difference is there between something I never minded the sound of, and something I wouldn't mind the sound of either, but wouldn't be any more useful for studio work?

I don't know. Without even hearing the difference I'm intrigued. And I know I could get say, a pair of nice monitors and then later add a woofer and a rear pair, right? Much like my decisions on the PC, I'm very much into not spending more than I need to, but not buying crap I'll just have to throw out later when it comes time to upgrade.
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:47 am UTC

InstinctSage wrote:I mean... The Tascam box looks good hardware wise. If I can plug my Juno in and have a free input for my cousin's guitar or my other cousin's bass, all the better. If I can plug a microphone in to record vocals or anything else, even better. I don't need to do all at once but 2 at once is handy. So it does all that. Honestly I don't expect to be recording jam sessions in my room. But if someone else can record their stuff and we can mix it together, all the better.
That sounds like you've chosen the right tool for the job, then.
InstinctSage wrote:Getting the right software is important, but I was pretty resigned to buying that separately. I want to trial a few different ones to see what works for me. I used Cubase in high school, but that was years ago.
The past couple of years have seen huge improvements in the major DAWs. It will be well worth checking them out first hand.

I'm not the best person to ask about 5.1 mixing, as I haven't ever done it. I would imagine that it would be seriously throwing yourself in at the deep end in terms of production, and it requires specialised software to mix properly. just like with the consumer speakers instead of monitors, you would be mixing in a very compromised environment, in that the frequency responses and channel splits in your system will colour your final mix. I think the way it is done is with six separate outputs, each one feeding a different active (internally amplified) speaker in the 5.1 set. But I might be wrong.
And I know I could get say, a pair of nice monitors and then later add a woofer and a rear pair, right?

I believe so, though you should check that against a better informed source. I'll try to look it up for you. Certainly until you are spending lots and lots of money on 5.1 mixing software, you'll be better off spending the money on the best possible stereo pair. Reference monitors can be had for as little as 100GBP a pair, ridiculous currency rates allowing. At that price, either relying on consumer gear or splurging on a 5.1 setup that might do more harm than good would be madness.
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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:13 am UTC

To be honest, actually mixing in 5.1 is something I hadn't thought of originally. Looking at say, Cubase, I could buy the most basic package that suits me right now and upgrade later if I really wanted to do that. It is rather delightful to think of the possibilities with that, though.
Realistically, I wanted a 5.1 setup for playing games and watching movies on the PC. I didn't deem it essential for my recording purposes. Hence why originally I was looking at consumer speakers and probably just a good set of headphones for recording.
But damnit, now I want to hear what all the fuss is about with fancy speakers! :twisted:
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:50 am UTC

Ah, now I understand. I can't imagine why you couldn't do this, though remember that your monitors will have built in amps, where consumer systems usually have a single amp that handles all the channels. You'll need to be careful with the levels.

If you want to try out the awesome speakers, go to a good music tech shop and ask to try some of them. Bring along a couple of CDs of music that is both very well produced and very well known to you. So, Tool, but not Metallica. Late 70s Bowie (is my preference), but not Joy Division. Then listen really, really carefully, and pick out all the wonderful detail you didn't hear before :) While you're there, compare a $2-300 pair of monitors to a full on thousands-a-side pair, and realise that it isn't all just hot air from idiots with too much money.
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Re: Music Program

Postby billiamo » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:48 pm UTC

MaxMSP is a great program, you can use it to construct programs and patches to do all sorts of interesting stuff, whether it's make purely electronic music generated from your computer, or edit live audio in real time, or build your own synths and drum machines from simpler software. It's used both by modern composers and by crazy breakcore-style DJs (I think Autechre uses it a lot). It's really very versatile.

Reason is also pretty good, in a totally different way, the latest version has an awesome synth called Maelstrom (I think).

That's my only real contribution here, though it makes for very useful reading!

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Re: Music Program

Postby invisibl » Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:52 pm UTC

Fuss about fancy speakers: You most likely will be disappointed initially if/when you get reference Monitors. They have been suggested as they dont colour the audio that is played back. Which is why they are a good option.Also if you buy amped speakers, You get the benefit of matched amps and should be able to get a pretty close to perfect stereo field from these.

Note: As soon as you playback sound in a room, The room becomes a filter, Meaning the room imparts a colour on the audio heard. SO if you are serious now or down the track, Look to treating the room you are in for reflections and standing waves, Pay attention to the symmetry of the room ( hang a mirror on the opposite wall from a window ) research the benefits of acoustic fibreglass. This will ensure that you can benefit from what ever sound reproduction system you end up using.
Also dont be intimidated by this as it will use very basic physics to worrk out the room dimensions and treat accordingly, Also you can treat a room quite cheaply with a bit of research and basic carpentry skills. ( I did and I am crap at it)

As far as SW goes. Look to a modular solution. such as ableton or reason rewired into Cubase or Protools taking advantage of 3rd party plug ins soft synths etc.. Bear in mind that for ProTools to run you need ProTools hardware but it is the industry standard for a reason, Has been around for ever and you will benefit from the various ideas that are implemented in it.

Cubase is quite similar in how PT works. But as Cubase uses the DX and VST plugin tech it and as these can have plugins written by most anyone it seems to be less stable but has a wider variety of free stuff as well as paid stuff available for it.

PT has come along way since its veeeery humble beginnings and despite me having used it all of my audio career I always thought it was conceptually held back by its history, especially when itcame to usingit for free creativity.
Mixing or editing music or TV shows, Well it peed over anything else I tried.

If coin is a big issue and you dont/cant afford ref monitors then make sure you take all the treble/bass/sound enhancements off your stereo or playback system.
Then learn what your room sounds like by listening to well produced music over and over again in that environment.

Lurk on some audio fora and develop a good BS filter for the postings. Dont just cherry pick the fora either. There are some universal truths that exist in audio and if you are an electronic person dont ignore a mainly rock oriented fora (or vice versa) Because learning mic placement or thoughts on ear fatigue or understanding signal chain etc etc are necessary things to think about understand and employ.

Rant over. But I have plenty more if any of this is useful and desirable

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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:28 am UTC

Coin isn't so much a huge issue, it's more that I'm early days at the moment, and spreading what I have a bit thinly. I'm moving into a new place in 3 weeks and I'll get the whole setup then. Already have the Juno, so what's left to get is the PC, the interface, the speakers, the software, and a desk that'll fit it all. Plus anything else that crops up, for example pedals and a stand for the keyboard. I've been conned into joining a jam session at the local pub so now I will be taking the synth to and fro a little bit. I knew I didn't just go for a midi controller for a good reason :wink:

I have about $2000 right now, but I'll probably be able to tack an extra $500-$600 or so onto that by the time I'm ready to finalise all the purchases. Down the track I'll be able to commit more funds to adding onto the rig, so really the most important thing is that I'm not pissing money away on something I'll throw out down the track. Hence why I'm sold on getting ref monitors. No sense having speakers that are no good for recording just so I can have 5.1 right now. It's not that essential.

I'm all about versatility. As I mentioned, the PC I've got lined up is set up to be easy to upgrade. I can throw in a second Graphics card and pick up a second LCD no worries in future. I can add extra hard drives if I like, too. The Juno is nice and versatile since it's got so many sounds, but can also act as a midi controller for any software patches. The Interface is nice and versatile because I can plug in a guitar, or even just a good microphone to record any other instruments.

I'm normally pretty good at researching this stuff, but for some reason a lot of it is coming off as a bit esoteric. You lot are putting it in a nice, succinct manner that lets me run off and research deeper into what you're talking about, which is really handy. Thanks again for all the input.
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Re: Music Program

Postby invisibl » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:15 am UTC

OK

Go to http://duc.digidesign.com/forumdisplay.php?f=17

Great but long thread about best PC hardware for Pro tools. IF you decide to go PT way here are some great PC assembly component tips.

Mixing in 5.1 is a mare. Stereo is a mission by itsself. 5.1 is exponentially harder. Hated it. fun to do when you are stoned but making mature decisions in any state is hard.

Dont buy microphones . Hire/Borrow them when needed.Good Mic's and preamps cost a lot and it doesnt sound like you will be utilising them proportionately to the purchase cost yet.

Have you used Fruity Loops/Reason/Abletoin/PT/Cubase at all?
I suggest that if you have a history or preference for one then pretty much ignore the rest and go with what you know.

A big question that needs to be asked in light of your staement of writing Interactive music for games is: What application will these games be made in and thus what application will export to them easiest and most elegantly?

Google ethan winer for room treating considerations.; This is amazingly important. http://www.ethanwiner.com/acoustics.html


Also be prepared to wade through tons of wellmeaning misinformation.

HTH

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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:05 am UTC

I had a brief glance at the links, but I will check out more on the weekend.

Well I'll get started on stereo and work my way up, eh?

Yeah, I've got a mate that has a fairly decent studio microphone so there's no worries there for now.

I've used Cubase before, so I'm probably going to stick to that. Reason doesn't sound like it'll give me all I want in one package, and Ableton seems neat but perhaps not aimed at what I'm doing.

I'm going to be coding in C++, and scripting in Python.
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Fri Feb 20, 2009 5:45 am UTC

I'm in agreement with invisibl, except in terms of weighing importance. I'd say you should get making music as fast as possible, and not worry about room treatment until you see a need for very good quality mixes on the horizon. He's (?) absolutely right about the importance, I just think nothing is that important until you have some music written to make it important. If you're thinking of ProTools, duc.digidesign.com is actually a very good resource. I totally overlooked it (and the Logic forums at apple.com/support) with my sweeping statement earlier, although in my defence, neither is a good place for very general basic information, as they are very specifically about their respective environments.

If you're already programming in C++ you might find Supercollider interesting. I've only played around with it a bit, never really used it, and have never been a coder, but hey, it could be fun :)
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Re: Music Program

Postby invisibl » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:13 am UTC

One of the coolest things about Reason is its ability to rewire into cubase.
As such it is a fairly low cpu overhead to high return option for basic synth and sample play back and can be played with or without Cubase So at least consider something like this as a possible future option, Especially as a very good music notepad.

In my last post I was just spitting out ideas that surfaced prior to me leaving work: As such I didnt think of the order having priority or relative value ( Me being in a rush). Dream says dont listen overly to some of what I wrote as you need to play lots/make lots and I agree.
Dont discount them completely however, all aspects of audio are intimately linked and you have an enjoyable learning curve in front of you no matter how intelligent you are lucky to be...

I have been playing a little bit with the sugarbytes bundle in ableton over the last few months. Just a tiny bit just experimenting with getting to know the application and mainly with twerking the Bundle. I see great potential in it, But at the same time I am a little putoff by the fact that most of my work flow and expectation level is coming from a strong protools background, So I can appreciate and would encourage your desire to go with Cubase. I know the Sugarbytes stuff is VST platform.

I admit to being interested in
I'm going to be coding in C++, and scripting in Python.
Care to elaborate a little. I haz intrigued

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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:29 pm UTC

D'aww I haven't coded in years. I'll be rusty as all hell, but I'm planning a Finite State Machine based AI scripted in Python for a relatively basic game coded in C++.
I actually have a number of game ideas, but you know, start small. Gonna see if I can make a platformer.. Maybe just a scrolling shmup to start with.
As I get back into the groove and explore more I'll see what I'm capable of. I've got a lot of crazy theories/ideas but a serious lack of chops. Right now it's going to be a headache just to get back into coding anything.

Basically I'm finally starting to do all the stuff I always wanted to do, but never had the courage to go ahead and try.
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Re: Music Program

Postby Poiesis » Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:20 pm UTC

I used Reason for years, from version 1.0.1 to 3.0, and while it is amazing (and a great place to learn synthesis theory on a computer), it begins to feel very cumbersome and limiting after a while, as mentioned above. It can make some absolutely amazing sounds, and the sequencer as of v4.0 is quite nice, but I feel like it has a pretty distinctive "boxed-in" sound to it, and even Properllerhead themselves have said it is best intended for use with other DAW software via rewire.

Last year I finally bought a macbook pro specifically to use Logic 8, and while the interface is more tucked-away and less streamlined than what I've seen of Ableton Live, it is a far more powerful program overall, and has arguably one of the best audio/mixing engines of any other software, including ProTools. It has broadened my production and writing exponentially, and I've been doing things I had no idea I was capable of. There are loads of great beginner to intermediate tutorial videos on youtube, which helped me out a lot as well.

If you want a ridiculous amount of control over every aspect of the sound, then Logic is probably your best bet (Ableton a close second) but it can take some digging and researching to really learn to use it (the endogenous help file is terrible). The build in instruments and effects are really good, too, though I'd recommend getting some others, too. Native Instruments, as someone mentioned above, makes the best sounding software instruments I have ever heard. The only qualm I have with logic is it only supports Audio Units, and not VSTi plugins, and there are less of those around for free.

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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Sat Feb 21, 2009 2:43 pm UTC

Dare I paraphrase the above:

The various DAWs on the market are very, very powerful. Each of them can do practically anything you will need. There is no need to rush in to choosing anything as yet, as you will over time get to know your own needs and wants, and choose the best for yourself.

Try everything you can get your hands on, and find out what fits. Then make your own decision as to what will suit you yourself.
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Re: Music Program

Postby invisibl » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:17 am UTC

Dream wrote:Dare I paraphrase the above:

The various DAWs on the market are very, very powerful. Each of them can do practically anything you will need. There is no need to rush in to choosing anything as yet, as you will over time get to know your own needs and wants, and choose the best for yourself.

Try everything you can get your hands on, and find out what fits. Then make your own decision as to what will suit you yourself.



Agreed. Although a wee bit of thought now will help you make better decisions in the future.
Perhaps this discussion needs to go to the abstract and define what the original posters workflow is?

There are other concepts that will escape MartrK with conversations around focussing just on applications also. Such as the benefits from outboard processing through different adc's or stompboxes that impart mixes and creation versus composing and mixing all in the box.

Saying "Try everything you can get your hands on" is good but flawed from a point of having to stop workflow and turn this into an exercise of application sampling.

Hmm

Not sure that i am being clear here. I am waay too close to the whole process that I am anxious that I will be projecting my own work style into the mix before making clever and effective solutions/suggestions.

ALso Invisibl is a he.

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Re: Music Program

Postby diotimajsh » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:28 pm UTC

Poiesis wrote:Native Instruments, as someone mention above, makes the best sounding software instruments I have ever heard.
Agreed. <3 Reaktor and MASSIVE very much.

Not that I have either of them, this is just based off of playing with the demos and listening to demo tracks. Also, they'll sap your CPU pretty quick like. But <333.


Dream wrote:The various DAWs on the market are very, very powerful. Each of them can do practically anything you will need. There is no need to rush in to choosing anything as yet, as you will over time get to know your own needs and wants, and choose the best for yourself.
Very good advice.

Yet,
invisibl wrote:Saying "Try everything you can get your hands on" is good but flawed from a point of having to stop workflow and turn this into an exercise of application sampling.
This is true too. Getting bogged down in the technical and GUI differences between programs can kill creativity and motivation rather quickly.

So, I'd suggest play with demos a little bit, but maybe choose something to play with more seriously for a while. Maybe look for a good deal on something that you'll be able to cross-grade later. (if you're a student/teacher, I highly recommend checking out http://www.academicsuperstore.com ... though technically you won't be allowed to use them for commercial purposes, and I'm not so sure if you can cross-grade from educational versions). The so-called cross-grade is a nifty thing that many of the big players do, where if you send them proof of purchase from another major host, they'll give you a discount to buy their own product. You should investigate the sites of companies you might want to cross-grade to before buying, though, to see which hosts are most widely accepted for the discounts.

You could also find a limited (light) version of a popular host that seems vaguely appealing and commit yourself to learning it. If you find that you're still liking it after some time, you'll most likely be able to upgrade to the full version for a cheaper price than buying from scratch again. (This is what I've done with Samplitude; I bought the Music Studio, and I'm now becoming convinced that I want one of the fuller versions. Definitely feels better to me than Digital Performer, SONAR or Cubase have. I might be able to get a better crossgrade price, though. Hmm...) If you find you simply loath it, you can switch to another host without having lost too much money on the investment.

Actually, a lot of the time you can get light editions of hosts packaged together with some piece of hardware--although it may be an older edition or something. My keyboard controller came with Ableton Live Lite 6, for example. If you're going to make an investment on a piece of hardware which you know will be useful to you later, this might be a good way to go.

Basically, it's still going to be like trying a demo version, but (possibly) it won't have some annoying limitation like shutting down every 30 minutes. Probably have others like, "only 16 tracks at a time", though.
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Re: Music Program

Postby Dream » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:32 pm UTC

invisibl wrote:Agreed. Although a wee bit of thought now will help you make better decisions in the future.

Agreed agreed. But the important part of my post, which I should have bolded or something, was not to rush. Do check out as much as possibly, and take the time to do it right. Think in detail about everything. Certainly don't just tinker with thousands of dollars worth of software for shits and giggles. There is little useful knowledge to be gained that way.
invisibl wrote:I am anxious that I will be projecting my own work style into the mix before making clever and effective solutions/suggestions.

Thankfully, I'm using Logic, so my personal experience with my current DAW isn't a plan for InstinctSage.
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Re: Music Program

Postby InstinctSage » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:56 am UTC

Yeah, the lite versions are all I'd likely go for since it doesn't seem much to upgrade.

I don't like the sound of severely limited track amounts, but the feature lists don't seem to cut out too much from what I remember (haven't checked again recently)

But I'm getting the impression that so long as I can work my way around the interface and find things that make me go "Hey, wow, that's neat!" then I'm likely going to be sold. Coming from the perspective that I'm not really being sure about what's possible and how to manage workflow means I'll likely be impressed by what I discover and not be savvy enough to say "This should be easier/I should be able to do x and I can't with this/etc."
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Re: Music Program

Postby diotimajsh » Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:04 am UTC

16 tracks is probably an exaggeration =P. Samplitude MS allows 64, for example. But it does only allow 8 VST instruments in a project at a time, which bugs me a bit. Fortunately, there seems to be no limit to the VST effects.

But yes, definitely check the feature list to make sure it's not missing anything that you think would irritate you profoundly to be missing.
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