Convenient Links to free VST Plugins
Hi! I’m Dave from boyinaband and welcome to day 3 of the 7 day studio series, where I’ll be explaining how to set up a beginner’s studio, with my heartily-jawboned amigo Kieran here as resident n00b so that you guys have someone to relate to along the journey. Say something that everyone will relate to, Kieran!
Sometimes, I like to sleep in.
Don’t we all, you convenient everyman.
Today we’ll be looking at the Music Sequencing Software or DAW. If you’re wondering why that acronym doesn’t add up, it’s because DAW stands for something completely different: Digital Audio Workstation. However, if your name begins with “D” you can pretend it’s something like “Dave’s Awesome Wooo!” if you have a low self esteem.
[close up to me looking like I have a low self esteem for like a second]
So the purpose of a DAW, or Door if you you want to pronounce it with less syllables, is to take the audio and midi signals that you put into your computer and allow you to arrange them into something that, hopefully, will resemble music.
It allows you to process sounds with what are called plugins, bits of software that allow you to manipulate the sound in all kinds of ways like [show these on the voice] reverb, delay, distortion and everyone’s favourite – autotune!
Most if not all DAWs come with some of these built in, but you can get lots of them for free if you get googling or look at some of the links I’ve conveniently provided below. There are also some really good ones that you have to pay for, but that’s something that you can do later on when you know what you’re looking for – as a beginner, what comes in the box should be fine to learn the basics of producing.
Then your DAW will allow you to mix your track with the convenient virtual faders it provides for each channel.
Once you’ve recorded, arranged, processed and mixed your track, it’ll allow you to rip it down to a song that you can then put on the internet and proceed to become a gazillionaire, lose all your friends due to your suddenly inflated ego and detach from the real world as a result of your excessive alcohol and substance abuse, combined with the obscure religious cult you’ll inevitably join.
Phew! So that’s what they do, let’s take a look at some of the options we researched.
[read as if it’s getting more and more, then interrupt with]
Okay okay, we get it, there’s a lot. And there’s more than what I’ve said, but I’ll stick to software I have experience with.
Pro Tools and Logic are generally considered as the industry standard by most professional studios, but can cost quite a lot.
Cubase, Sonar and Nuendo are kind of the next level down for general recording and are used a lot in smaller and home studios.
Fruity loops and Reason are geared more towards electronic music making, but can deal with audio, at least from Reason 6 onwards.
Ableton is a cool one if you want to do electronic music live, since it has some really cool functions allowing you to switch between sequences live on the fly.
So Kieran, ideally how much do you want to spend on your DAW of choice?
Ideally, Zero pounds.
Spoken like a true musician. Fortunately, a lot of bits of kit, such as the sound card generally come with free light versions of the software we want.
Ours came with Ableton Live. Why don’t you install it and give it a try, Kieran?
So, what do you think?
I like it, but-
Fantastic. Great to hear your opinion, Kieran. Unfortunately the light versions generally restrict the amount of things you can do with software. So if you want to avoid paying hundreds for your DAW, there’s an option I haven’t discussed yet:
But I’m religious, will Reaper harm my chances of achieving eternal happiness?
Don’t let the name fool you, Kieran, Reaper is just the name for a fully fledged DAW. Now the cool thing is that the company that make it, Cockos-
*glare* Allow you to test it out for as long as you want until you’re happy with it, then pay the $60 license fee to use it when you’re ready.
So that’s a good choice if you’re looking to start out really cheaply.
If you do have a bit of money to spend, It really depends what you want as to which software to buy. For electronic musicians I really recommend Reason. I do the vast majority of my tutorials with it, so that’s a plus if you enjoy listening to obnoxious sounding british people making music related puns while you’re learning, but if you’re thinking about taking your act on the road Ableton Live is definitely worth a look.
If you’re recording live instruments or want extra plugins (since reason doesn’t have that option), to be honest Reaper is a good a place to start as any unless you can spring for Logic if you have a mac or Pro Tools if you have a PC and several grand spare. In my opinion, Logic is generally for musicians, whereas Pro Tools is more for technicians, though you’ll no doubt get used to whatever you use – PT does have a fantastically fast workflow once you get your head around it, however. All that said, I’ve used Sonar, Cubase and briefly Nuendo – all 3 seemed pretty good so if Reaper isn’t your cup of tea, give those a look.
But let’s make this absolutely clear – there is no DAW that sounds any better than any other DAW. You can make pro sounding tracks in all the ones I’ve mentioned, they just use different workflows.
So what do you want to try, Kieran?
I think I’ll go for Reaper.
Okay then, let’s tally Reaper on the budget. $60 is just under £40, so let’s round it up. If there’s any money left over, we can buy a paper plate and some blu-tac from the pound shop and write “Kieran’z studio – keep out!” then stick it to your door for that professional touch.
So Kieran, how does it tally up on the budget?
And on the super budget version of the studio?
Fantastic. So now we have our software and sound card – if you liked this video, hit like, then join me tomorrow in Day 4, where we’ll look at a microphone so we can actually put all this stuff to the test.