Choosing a DAW for Guitars and Midi

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by 777, Jul 20, 2020.

  1. 777

    777 SS.Org's Irish Guy

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    I want to start recording and composing a bit. So Im looking for a DAW.

    I have ZERO knowledge of what each DAW brings but what I do know is what I want to record/compose.

    My Needs:
    - Great Midi Editor
    - Virtual Instruments included in software
    - Guitar recording and editing options
     
  2. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    Logic for Mac, Cubase for PC
     
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  3. Señor Voorhees

    Señor Voorhees SS.org Regular

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    Reaper is cheap and can do both but excels at audio recording. (guitar.) FL studio is the DAW I use and is great at midi, but less intuitive for guitar recording. (it can still easily do it, it's just a vastly different process.) Considering 90% of my workflow (that is drums/keys/strings/anything other than guitar/bass) is midi, I adore FL studio.

    I'd still recommend Reaper over that though, as it's more in line with other daw's and can be played with fully featured for free. (you're SUPPOSED to buy after like 60 days, but they don't force it. Not morally nice to keep using it after those 60 days, but nothing is stopping you other than a nag screen.)

    I've not found a nicer DAW for programming midi than FL studio, however. I wouldn't discredit it. I even personally prefer it's audio recording to other DAW's. It's very different, but much easier, imo, to route and keep de-cluttered.
     
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  4. PatientMental76

    PatientMental76 SS.org Regular

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    They are all pretty much the same, whatever works for you i guess
     
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  5. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    If you got a mac garage band is a no brainier

    While its far from my fav to use , its a good entry level package with everything built in
     
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  6. trem licking

    trem licking SS.org Regular

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    If on PC, get cakewalk by bandlab. Free and just as capable as any other daw
     
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  7. Merrekof

    Merrekof SS.org Regular

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    I use reaper! Great DAW. As a midi creator I used guitar pro since I use that for songwriting anyway.
     
  8. feilong29

    feilong29 SS.org Regular

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    I've been using FL Studio for over a decade and love it! I felt it was the most intuitive of all the DAWs I've tried. I haven't been able to mix consistently on it though. Any tips would be greatly appreciated! But as for midi, it's phenomenal! I finally got a midi controller/keyboard for it and it was super easy to connect.
     
  9. sakeido

    sakeido Contributor

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    Reaper crew out in force, apparently not realizing it doesn't include any VSTs like you asked, the MIDI editor is crap, and the software itself is a total eyesore. I really don't like the workflow either. On the flip side, it performs really well on all kinds of computers and is easy to install.

    this is the correct answer
     
  10. Merrekof

    Merrekof SS.org Regular

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    Oh yeah...riiiiiiight..my bad :ugh:
     
  11. sakeido

    sakeido Contributor

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    I mean, that's a pro for some people :lol:

    Cubase costs hundreds, came with VSTs I never use and can't uninstall, it's a little slow, and horribly bloated with 30 years of feature creep... Reaper is a lean, mean writing machine.
     
  12. Señor Voorhees

    Señor Voorhees SS.org Regular

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    It really all depends. The workflow is pretty similar to a TON of other good DAW's out there, and it can basically be obtained for free. If you learn Reaper, you'll have a pretty decent understanding if/when you move over to most other DAW's what exactly you're trying to accomplish. You can get boatloads of free 3rd party VST's too, like amps and cab sims, and probably even some half-way decent drum libraries. Most VST's that come with the software are just kinda bloat, and the actual EQ's and such that reaper comes with are a-ok and definitely useful. (most software has the useful stuff like basic EQ's, Compressors, and basic reverbs, but I know FL Studio and Cubase have a bunch of shit I don't ever really care to use. lol)

    I don't personally use reaper because, like I said, when I started recording music it was all EDM and such. 100% midi, and I learned how to accomplish what I wanted with FL. It is not by most people's standards intuitive for recording real instruments/rock/metal/etc, but I have tried reaper and various other similar software including cubase and they're all FAIRLY similar in how they function.

    Basically, I think it's a worthwhile option if not just for the fact that you can try it fully functioned for basically ever for free. If you wanna buy it, then it's sub $100 for most people, particularly hobbyists. You want Cubase, you'd probably want "pro" and not "artist" or certainly not "elements," which is pushing $600. The limit on how many VST/audio/midi tracks they allow is pretty bonkers for a nearly $340 product. Certainly not bad software, and if someone's cool to pay that much then certainly. It just seems a bit smarter to stay cheap when you're starting off, and Reaper (while ugly and maybe having a bit steeper of a learning curve,) is more than worth it imo.


    It's pretty much straightforward if you're just talking about normal mixing. (which I'm pretty bad at in general.) You just send audio tracks/midi tracks to their own mixer tracks and mix like normal. It's a skill set on it's own so just learning to EQ/compress/whatever you need in imperative. I do typically record my guitar DI signal, then I'll have 3 mixer tracks dedicated to, say, the rhythm guitar. First one contains an amp sim and maybe an EQ and is panned left. Second one is the same (maybe a different amp) and panned right, and the third is a bus that both of those tracks go through so I can EQ/adjust both of their volumes/etc at the same time.

    Something hugely important to also note about FL Studio is that it typically starts with at least one thing in the project. It's wise to start with the "empty" template. A lot of the other templates have some form of limiter on the master out track and that makes things infinitely more difficult to work with. If I recall correctly (been a while since I worked with it) it basically brick-wall limits your track. So moving volumes up and down on other tracks almost sounds like it does nothing because the limiter is perpetually squeezing the life out of your track.

    If you're talking something like Superior Drummer or EZ Drummer or anything with multiple outs (I can't for the life of me figure out Kontakt's routing system, but the process would be the same if you add the outputs.) you set each drum to it's own individual out in the software. They'll be labeled 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, etc with each being a separate stereo channel. In the case of SD3.0, if you set it to auto route, it auto routes kick to 1/2, snare to 3/4, hats to 7/8, toms to 9/10, then various overheads and room mics to other channels. Then it's just a matter of clicking the gear in the top left of the wrapper, selecting "vst wrapper settings" (plug with a gear), then click processing. On the bottom right you'll see each channel. (1/2, 3/4, etc). If you click "auto map outputs," it'll make the numbers go up sequentially. If it has "---" in the box, that means that channel (usually 1/2) is playing in the exact mixer track you set the the plugin to. If it says 1, whatever sounds are going through that track goes one mixer track higher.

    As an example, if you set Superior drummer to mixer track six in FL Studio, then set the shells to play through channels 1/2 and the cymbals/overheads to play in 3/4, you would set that processing screen to show 1/2 as "---" and 3/4 to show "1." This would have your shells play through FL Studio's mixer track 6 while the cymbals would come through FL Studio's mixer track 7. (because you told it to go one higher than the base output.

    Perhaps none of that is relevant information... I am the WORST at mixing drums and stuff, so I typically just put the whole kit on one mixer track and slap a defaulted "soundgoodizer" on it and usually turn the kick and snare busses down a bit. I'll usually use the multi-out for orchestral pieces so I can have one instance of software open and EQ/Mix the strings separate from brass while not having a bunch of different superfluous instances of kontakt/play open. I was considering recording tutorials at some point to kill time since I tend to have a lot these days. Much harder to put in words than it is to just show it.
     
  13. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    I know you want included instruments, but so many are available for free and flexibility is good. DAWs don't exactly include industry standard plugins either, it's usually pretty b-list stuff comparable with what you can get for free.
    LOVE Reaper. Don't care for bloatware stock plugins - I choose my own. It's stock mixing basics have very basic UIs sure, but they are good (and wow, there are so many!). DAW UI itself is fully customisable with many incredible looking presets. Incredibly resource efficient, and the most technically flexible and adaptable DAW with no real comparison.
    I don't know what makes a crap MIDI editor but it is a comment I've heard about it a few times. I'm extremely happy with it having used many DAWs, and again as mentioned, you can create whatever hotkeys, buttons, macros etc. you wish - also utilizing many user made addon functions.

    Considering the pricetag or lack of, especially compared to competitors, I'd say considering other DAWs really only makes sense if you try Reaper for a while, actively identify dislikes, and know other DAWs will solve them.

    Saving the pricetag of other DAWs by going with Reaper can easily get you a basic purchased starter instrument pack, free stuff aside!
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2020
  14. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I wouldn't lose sleep about bundled VSTs either for the reasons Winspear notes.

    I also wouldn't lose sleep about the merits of one DAW over another for recording guitars - all DAWs handle audio essentially* the same, and I don't think there is a single DAW on the market where creating and arming a track to record is somehow more troublesome than another. If it's a DAW, it can record gutiars.

    I'd focus on MIDI here. How robust do you need it to be? If you just need MIDI support to load MIDI drum loop files or step-edit MIDI drums or something, then the differences in DAW to DAW again are pretty immaterial and I'd try a bunch of demos (including Reaper, I'm another fan, and I definitely use it to write and "perform" MIDI drums) and just see if you find something where you like the workflow.

    I'm not a big MIDI user myself so I'm not sure what else one might do with it but if you're thinking something more robust involving MIDI, well, spending some time figuring out what your MIDI needs are and if one DAW happens to be better for that exact application you plan on using MIDI for than others would probably be how I'd go about this.
     
  15. drgamble

    drgamble SS.org Regular

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    If I was starting out fresh today, I would probably go with Reaper and save my money for good VSTs. Cubase comes with Halion and Groove Agent and a few other instruments. I use Cubase, but it's mainly because I've been using it for almost 20 years. It works for me and I know how to do everything I need it to do for me. That said, Cubase Pro is expensive and I don't really use any of the included instruments for anything. The MIDI editing is very good, I think this is where Cubase excels and with things like arranger tracks, chords tracks, etc it does help with the creation process and these are some of the things that Logic and Reaper don't have.

    You can do many of the same things in Reaper(I've dabbled with it). Going the Reaper will cost $60 and you can use the money you save to buy some of the more premium VSTis. Cubase 10.5 Pro right now will cost you 587 plus VAT. For about $80 more you can just get Reaper and Native Instruments Komplete and have a pretty solid DAW with a more VSTis than you will probably ever use.
     
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  16. pahulkster

    pahulkster SS.org Regular

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    Do you have an interface? Most should come with some type of DAW bundled in. It won't be a full version but you can see what you like. I use Ableton because it came with my interface and now I'm just used to it. Checks all your boxes but you won't really know what works for you until you try several.
     
  17. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    I couldn't get a handle on audacity or reaper during high school and college. Got a big tax return and bought a macbook mostly for GarageBand. Since then I've actually recorded things and released my own music. YMMV.
     
  18. Merrekof

    Merrekof SS.org Regular

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    I'm happy with Reaper, Audacity on the other hand, that was a trainwreck for me when I used it. Or I was just too stupid to work with it back then :shrug:
     
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  19. MSS

    MSS SS.org Regular

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    I run Logic on a mid level Mac mini and it works great. A versatile and cost effective solution IMO.
     
  20. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    I was given cracked superior drummer, had reaper, couldn't get things happening :lol:. Just couldn't get it figured out.

    I have a copy of Ableton too but haven't really used it.

    May upgrade to logic when I get a new computer but happy with GB for what I do.
     
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