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DAW Recommendation? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 20th December 2010
Here for the gear

DAW Recommendation?

So.. I'm ready to start recording more songs, and I'm faced with a delima.

I'm a singer/songwriter, play guitar and piano, and have used a boss br1600cd for the last 5 years. Its done me well, but I'm getting tired of the small window to work (which makes editing and looping a b*tch), and the limited tracks available are frustrating. It also doesn't provide much by the way of loading additional effects, pitch correction, harmonies (that vocal toolbox it comes with is pretty much useless).

I also have a 2005 version of Sony Acid that I haven't installed (was a bday gift, but I was happy with my br1600 at the time and didn't see the need for the program).

About 6 months ago I bought a Roland vs2000cd from a bass player I worked with, which has a VGA extension (which rocks.. I can actually see what I'm recording). Though, after turning it on, thinking I could just hit record and "go", I'm finding the learning curve looks pretty steep. Also, it only has the basic setup for effects, and to add any more (such as the pitch correction and more guitar effects) requires another expansion board (VS8F-3) which isn't manufactured or sold anywhere (can't even find it on craigslist or ebay). So basically I'm screwed there if I wanted any add-ons.

I went to guitar center, and they almost talked me into completely ditching the multi-track recorder and going with Logic, Protools, or Ableton, and perhaps adding an interface to keep a bit of the "hands-on" approach instead of using a mouse for everything.

But I also discovered there are other interfaces that come with software, like Yamaha's MW series, which is more plug-and-play.

Any feedback? I know Logic and ProTools are more of the "standard", but from your experience, what do you recommend? Is the Yamaha MW (and similar workstations) a good transition from the Boss 1600? Is the learning curve crazy? And/or should I just jump right into Pro Tools-type stuff?

Please help. My brain hurts.

-Justin Utley

PS: btw.. I've been a reader of this forum for quite some time. Bought a Babybottle and some KRK monitors after reading the forums.. and am very happy!
Old 20th December 2010
You have nothing to lose by trying Reaper - it will work on just about any computer, and the trial version is fully functional.

It is my favorite DAW software next to ProTools and Logic....and is substantially cheaper.

I recommend trying Reaper, learn how to use it, spend very little money. Then, after some time, you will either be addicted to it, or decide that you need different features...then your decision will be easier and your money better invested.
Old 20th December 2010
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
chessparov's Avatar


Haven't tried Reaper (yet), and though that seems like a great recommendation, another option to use at times IMHO is the freeware Kristal Audio Engine program. 16 tracks, pretty simple-even for a singerheh (like me).

You may get more songs DONE with a simple program like that, ala the 'ol 4 track cassette days of yore.

Old 20th December 2010
Lives for gear
Just keep it simple. How many tracks are you going to record at one time? That, as well as what sort of connectivity you got on your computer (pci, pcie, usb, firewire), should help determine the interface.

As far as which audio program, different things work for different people. I got no idea if your 2005 version of Acid Pro will work on a 2010 Windows system. If not, then I think that Sony offers a free trial of the current version. Reaper offers a free trial.
Old 20th December 2010
Gear Nut
Red2112's Avatar

All I can add is that all these DAW´s work about the same way. You will find the same trouble getting around on either one, if it´s your first time working with them. As they suggested above, best thing is to download trial versions and spend some time with them. Once you get a hang on how to move around in these programs, then you can decied which one fits your need´s or workflow. Be sure to think about how they are layed out.

Maybe "Ableton Live" is the eseayest to work with. It´s a simple layout with not to many windows. Still, you need to read in to them, any of them for that matter. But don´t let that scare you, as I said, they all work about the same way.

I find Sonar meets my need´s. Reaper is cool too, now that it has more MIDI inplantation.


Old 20th December 2010
Lives for gear

Yeah, the "learning curve" is a b!t$ch with pretty much any software. The good news (as a previous poster pointed out) is that once you learn one, learning another is much easier. The fact that you have used other recording gear means you won't be trying to learn how to set up a mic/signal chain at the same time.
You can usually get a free version of somebody's DAW as a "bonus" with some of the better interfaces. I got Cubase LE and some other free program (forget which one since I only used it twice, and went with the Cubase which had way more versatility) with my Tascam interface, and used it. Once I decided that was what I wanted to go with long term, I bought Cubase 4. That is of course the plan, get you to use the free version and then rope you into the full version. Still it's pretty generous I think, since I didn't find the "free version" to be all that "crippled". Most other "free versions" are probably pretty similar. They have to be good enough to get you to spring for the full version.
Old 20th December 2010
Here for the gear

Another vote for Reaper. As others have pointed out, the initial learning curve with any DAW can be steep at first. Download the trial version which is fully functional and give it a try. There are some great tutorials on youtube that will have you up and running in no time. If you decide to buy it, it's extremely reasonable.

Good luck,
Old 20th December 2010
Registered User

Old 20th December 2010
Lives for gear
MickeyMassacre's Avatar
I'm a protools guys, but definitely try Reaper. I have found it pretty user friendly and the included Plug ins are fantastic for the price!

You will need another program for editing though...
Old 21st December 2010
Gear Maniac

Presonus Firestudio Mobile (or one of their other Firestudio's). It comes with Studio One Artist which is awesome (though limited in that you can't use third party VSTs). If you like Artist you can upgrade to Studio One Pro which would cost you the same as buying either Logic or Pro Tools (and neither of them will come with an interface).

Then download Reaper and see how you like it. If you like it, it's currently $40. The "demo" is fully function and unhindered while you use it. It also doesn't expire after the 30 day trial, you simply get a nag screen reminding you that the software is not actually free.

That will give you two DAWs to play with, an excellent interface that's expandable. And it would cost you $400. The preamps in the Firestudio Mobile are excellent and will not hinder your recordings. The conversion is also excellent and will also not hinder your recordings. The included DAW is excellent and will provide you with everything you need to get great recordings. Reaper will also allow for EXCELLENT recordings.

The only thing that will make your recordings suck with any of the above if your recordings suck. In other words, make good music, use good recording techniques, play in time, sing and play in tune, and have FUN. Or, make bad music and be happy with that too!

Just don't start ANOTHER "Which Microphone" thread when you realize you need a microphone also. Arguably ANOTHER "Which DAW" thread was unecessary. And then when you realize you need new monitors DON'T start ANOTHER "Which Monitor" thread...learn to use the search function here.

The above purchasing options will give you expandability and everything you need to record what you're trying to record.

There are, of course, an infinite number of other opinions that are equally as valid as mine, which leads me to the final point: It doesn't matter what you pick as long as it makes you happy. Relying on the opinions and suggestions of others will only lead you down a long and expensive path. Find something that makes YOU want to make music and be done with it.
Old 21st December 2010
Gear Maniac

Originally Posted by MickeyMassacre View Post
You will need another program for editing though...
What kind of editing can't you do in Reaper?
Old 21st December 2010
Gear Maniac

Also here's a post from a guy with the name "TimO'Brian":

My obligatory standard reply-for-newbies that I keep in Wordpad so this is just a paste (I don't want to re-type this all the time):

First off, immediately get a good beginner recording book (spend $20 before spending hundred$/thousand$) that shows you what you need to get started and how to hook everything up in your studio:
Home Recording for Musicians by Jeff Strong - $15 Home Recording For Musicians For Dummies (9780470385425): Jeff Strong: Books
(Wish I'd had that when I started; would have saved me lots of money and time and grief)
You can also pick up this book in most any Borders or Barnes&Noble in the Music Books section!

Another good one is: Recording Guitar and Bass by Huw Price Recording Guitar and Bass: Getting a Great Sound Every Time You Record (Book) (9780879307301): Huw Price: Books
(I got my copy at a place called Half-Price Books for $6!!)

And you can get a FREE subscription to TapeOp magazine at

Barnes&Noble or Borders are great places to start --- they have recording books and you can go get a snack or coffee and read them for FREE! Don't pass by a good recording book --- this is a VERY technical hobby and you REALLY want to start a reference library!!!

Good Newbie guides that also explains all the basics and have good tips:
Tweak's Guide to the Home and Project Studio
Free beginner PDFs | Computer Music Magazine |
The #1 online community for musicians | Harmony Central
Tips & Techniques -

21 Ways To Assemble a Recording Rig: How to Configure a Recording Studio Rig

Also Good Info: Directory - The Project Studio Handbook - Digital Audio, Compression, Mixing, Monitoring, Microphones

Other recording books: Music Books Plus - Home Recording

Still using a built-in soundcard?? Unfortunately, those are made with less than $1 worth of chips for beeps, boops and light gaming (not to mention cheapness for the manufacturer) and NOT quality music production.
#1 Rule of Recording: You MUST replace the built-in soundcard.
Here's a good guide and user-tested suggestions that work: The Best Audio Interfaces for your Home Studio by TweakHeadz Lab
(you'll want to bookmark and read through all of Tweak's Guide while you're there...)
Another good article: Choosing an audio interface - Choosing An Audio Interface

Plenty of software around to record for FREE to start out on:

Sony ACID Express (free 10-track sequencer): Free Downloads: ACID Xpress
Audacity: Audacity: Free Audio Editor and Recorder (multi-track with VST support)
Wavosaur: Wavosaur free audio editor with VST and ASIO support (a stereo audio file editor with VST support)\
Kristal: KRISTAL Audio Engine
Other freebies and shareware: Music Software - Computer Music Resources - Shareware Music Machine

Another great option is REAPER at REAPER | Audio Production Without Limits (It's $50 but runs for free until you get guilty enough to pay for it...)
I use Reaper and highly reccomend it...

Music Notation and MIDI recording: Melody Assistant ($25) and Harmony Assistant ($80) have the power of $600 notation packages - Myriad: Music Notation Software and much more... / Myriad : logiciels de musique, et bien plus...
Demo you can try on the website.

And you can go out to any Barnes&Noble or Borders and pick up "Computer Music" magazine - they have a full FREE studio suite in every issue's DVD, including sequencers, plugins and tons of audio samples. (November 2006 they gave away a full copy of SamplitudeV8SE worth $150, November 2007-on the racks Dec in the US- they gave away SamplitudeV9SE and July 2009 issue they put out Samplitude10SE, November 2010 SamplitudeSilver. FREE. It pays to watch 'em for giveaways...)

Old 21st December 2010
Gear Nut
JL.'s Avatar

I use PT and Logic, but I think Reaper is great as many others on here, I would get that and use the money you would save on a nice interface.
Old 21st December 2010
Here for the gear

Thanks guys for the input. Very good info. I will only be recording 1 - 4 things at once. "Go Nigel Go" mentioned you liked Cubase.

Have also taken a look at the Yamaha MW Series which includes Cubase LE. Anyone used the Yamaha MW series before?
Old 21st December 2010
Gear Guru

Originally Posted by justinutley View Post
Any feedback? I know Logic and ProTools are more of the "standard", but from your experience, what do you recommend? Is the Yamaha MW (and similar workstations) a good transition from the Boss 1600? Is the learning curve crazy? And/or should I just jump right into Pro Tools-type stuff?
it sounds like you are already 'outgrowing' the hardware workstation type device. They are all computers inside anyway, so you might as well get something that has a keyboard and a mouse and a display, something that can be added on to, customized and upgraded.

I will go 'out on a limb' and recommend PT. heh I have used a number of different programs and never thought PT was any 'harder to learn' than the others. It is fashionable at this website to dis Pro Tools, but it is a very intelligently laid out program and there are more instruction books, videos and tutorials for it than anything else. Now that it is no longer tied to specific hardware, the main objection to PT has been blunted.

The most expensive thing is really your time. All recording softwares have a learning curve, all workstation hardware boxes have a learning curve, and IME it's about the same intensity, so pick your DAW and learn it.

Having PT will simplify matters when you need to transfer work to a pro studio, and depending on your local scene, quite possibly there are more people around you can ask for help or lessons.
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