REAPER Is free to try. Cheap to buy.
Hey everybody, I could use some help/advice. I've always had an interest in writing my own music but I have yet to find any capable of playing drums or bass well enough to make any decent sounding tracks. I have a friend thats been playing with garage band and has made some interesting tracks and I want to give it a try. What im looking to do is be able to take me playing guitar, and doing vocals,and add bass and a beat and some effects to it. Are there any really good free music production programs one can download online? and if not what is a good relatively inexspensive one to start with that has some room to grow later on if i dicide to pursue this futher? I would like it to be rather simple to use as thats stalled me in the past. All help is appretiated. Thanks...
P.S. Im using a PC running windows 7 as im sure that makes a difference.
Now I wouldn't do this, but I have heard of people who download Sonar 6, Cakewalk, GarageBand, etc... via torrents on tpb. They are reported to work fine. I think I even have a LE copy that came with my Tascam that is unregistered if you are interested.
We could never recommend such illegal acts. Arrrrrr me hearties.
GarageBand comes free with the Mac, and there's nothing quite like it available for Windows. Apple put a lot of thought into making a music production program that would be easy to use and fun for the average Mac user to casually dip into. It has some surprisingly good amp simulators, backing tracks with automatic chord changes, and several GB worth of loops if you install the optional package that came on the DVD with your new Mac.
Underneath the hood it is a cut-down version of Logic.
Reaper is a digital audio workstation similar to Pro Tools. I don't think it has the "band in a box" capability of making up a backing track for you.
My favourite DAW nowadays is Ableton Live, available for Mac and PC. It comes with a good amount of premade loops, but they seem to be aimed at electronic and dance styles. I mostly use it for looping my own guitar playing to make practice more interesting, but it gives the impression it could do anything.
"Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"
Wittgenstein...please don't advocate the use of pirated software. Those of us who actually buy it might have to spend less if EVERYONE who used it bought it, and maybe they'd lower prices (from more volume sales=more profit=better upgrades and/or lower pricing), or at least keep them more reasonably-priced. Maybe they could offer Sonar for a lot less if people weren't stealing it? If you owned a liquor store, could you keep your prices low if the mob came in every week and demanded 20%?
Anyway, to Broken Flyer:
What you will be attempting is doable, but extremely difficult. A much better thing would be to put down at LEAST the drums, first, if not the drums AND bass. I've tried to fit drums into an existing acoustic guitar/singer recording, and it's extremely time-consuming and frustrating to get drums to try to follow the slight inconsistent timing of a lone guitar.What im looking to do is be able to take me playing guitar, and doing vocals,and add bass and a beat and some effects to it.
If you know the song, it's better to arrange the drums...main beat, fills, breaks, etc.,, then put in bass. That will give you a consistent timing reference to play to, plus the bass pattern will help you keep track of where you are in the arrangement. You'll likely also "get into it" more, since you'll essentially be playing with "a band".
Trust me...trying to fit software drums into an existing guitar/vocal recording is not for the impatient. I had to resort to a combination of a main beat loop that I created with several passes of MIDI-triggered keyboard (kick and snare, tapped out...back it up...add toms, etc....back up...add cymbals), and THOSE had to be micro-massaged in a MIDI editor for timing, etc. Then, I had to manually enter into the editor the fills, etc...note for note. Took a long time.
My advice would be to construct the backing tracks and arrangements FIRST, and then play/sing along with them.
Yes, if you want it to work, you have to play along to a rhythm generated by the computer so everything will be in time and easy to edit.
"Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"
Coincidentally I've just bought the new Garage Band for my Mac...for the whopping price of U$ 14 bucks. I can second Steve Conner's opinion on Garage Band, though I'm still learning, but already impressed with it.
As for piracy, you know SOPA is just around the corner and I'd never advocate you download illegal software, especially considering the Patriot Act and DMCA, you can probably be labeled a terrorist and get waterboarded, detained forever and finally executed if you download illegal software. Having said that I'll just leave this here isoHunt
Don't search for expensive electrical engineering books or music programs there, you might end up clogging your download pipe which is a criminal offense under SOPA.
Speaking of pirated software in the past many recording studios used pirated copies of software they had purchased because it was not prone to all of the problems associated with copy protection (and those damned dongles!) I don't know if this applies to audio programs, but many mainstream programs these days insist on "phoning home" before they will run which requires an internet connection. At least for Windows-based DAW's it is strongly recommended that you install only the software you will need for recording and have it connected to the internet only when absolutely necessary for installation or updates. For one thing, if you are never connected to the internet (or a network) you probably won't have to run an antivirus program 24/7- just be sure to test anything that you load onto that computer.
The reputable sites that distribute pirated audio software strongly encourage members to purchase any program that they find useful for their musical projects and will be using on a regular basis. Although many of those programs have trial versions available, their limitations can prove to be a real deal breaker. I might use a trial version for a few hours one day and not need to use it again for a month or two, by which time it had already expired. (I guess that is one program that I will not be purchasing. )
I have a shelf full of programs I purchased that I was never able to use for one reason or another (usually my own fault because I could not figure them out.) Much of the DAW software is priced on the assumption that it will be used for professional applications so that shelf full of unused programs represents a large chunk of money.
IMO people using pirated software do not increase the price of software for everybody else- the mfgs usually charge as much as they can get away with whether there are 1,000 paying customers or 5,000. However if everybody was using pirated versions and nobody was buying them then the companies would not have the money to develop new versions and new applications.
Just my own 2 cents worth...
P.S. It does bother me that it seems like there is an entire generation who does not believe in spending money on music or programs since they have always been able to download whatever they want for free. An attitude like that will kill off the golden goose that they think they have found.
P.P.S. Getting back to the question posed by the OP, I would recommend Band in the Box for the PC. It has been around for over 20 years, starting out as a MIDI-based program but they started adding samples of real instruments about 10 years ago. While MIDI geniuses could get great results in the old days mapping the MIDI data to their own hand-picked sounds and samples, that is now available for the rest of us (the 99%). The basic BIAB package is $129, but you can pay more to get more styles and samples ($669 for the complete library which is a good price compared to what some companies charge for DAW plug-ins).
I am not crazy about the BIAB user interface- I wish it could parse text files so you did not have to enter chords manually in the program. IMO it is much easier to use Notepad and type in something like that:
Add in symbols for repeats and codas and you would be cooking with gas! I have a hunch that someone with a background in programming could come up with a utility program that would do exactly that- convert a text file into a BIAB song file.
Last edited by Steve A.; 12-16-2011 at 07:27 PM.
I hadn't considered trying Reaper myself, because I thought it was Windows only. But I see they brought out a Mac version. Guess you're right about the constant upgrades!
It looks like a great tool for more hardcore users, and I'll definitely give it a try. I used to use Pro Tools LE for everything that Ableton wouldn't do, and it looks like it could beat that easily.
But I still don't see it delivering a Garageband-like experience.
"Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"
Hi, everybody. I'v been rather busy and just finally got around to looking at all of your suggestions and think for starters ill try that reaper program. I already have audacity and use it occasionally but i wanted something more catered to music production. Also I'v got some more computer audio related questions so i figured id ask them here. Well i recently built a computer and after using it awhile iv decided id like to upgrade/change the audio set up a bit. My main issue/concern is that the case i have, "raidmax skyline" has some really really crappy useless 1/8th stereo jacks on the front of it. The is a mic in and a line out but both are so cheap/make a bad connection so not really useful. The integrated audio on the motherboard is great and that's what iv been using but it is very big inconvenience to pull my computer out from the wall every time i need to plug or unplug something which is getting to be more and more as im started to experiment with recording music. What i would like is a better audio interface on the front of my computer. Possibly something that fits in one of the cd drive bays as i have 4 not being used. I think i would like multiple 1/8th jacks "6 would be good" and if possible maybe some rca jacks or even a few 1/4th stereo/mono jacks as well. Im not sure whats available for front mounted aftermarket audio interfaces so i thought id check. So far the closest thing to what i want that i found was this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820162031 but this doesnt do much for me as you loose all of the jacks on the back of the computer with this setup.
I would just get a discrete audio card but i really really want the jacks to be on the front of the computer vs. the back. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks...
I just looked up cubase and it looks very cool. I would very much like to try it if you want to send me your legal copy that you mentioned. I just sent you a pm to get the details. Hopefully it sent.
I wonder how much Microsoft charges vendors for the copy of Windows included with the computers they sell. You *know* that cost is passed on the consumer.
P.S. The copy of Cubase LE mentioned in this thread may have been bundled with hardware and is only to be used with that hardware. (Sometimes the software will search for proof that such hardware is installed in the computer.) I think that we should get some sort of credit for all of the unused limited edition software we have received over the years. I guess what I am suggesting is an unlimited site license good for all updates and upgrades once we have spent a certain amount of money on specific operating systems and programs.
I think the the software company Borel had the best attitude towards copy protection and the sharing of their programs. At least for awhile they never used copy protection so that customers could make backup copies of the program discs (5 1/4" and 3 1/2" floppies). Their policy was that their software was like a book- you could loan it out to someone else to read but whenever you loaned it out you shouldn't be using it on your own computer- just like you couldn't be reading a book while loaning it out to someone else. A great policy but Borel did go out of business...
P.P.S If people could acquire lifetime licenses to software then how would the software companies have enough money to invest for R&D? Perhaps they could continue the practice of business customers buying site licenses and paying for upgrades. Or perhaps switch to the subscription model where the businesses pay so much a month for each computer running a particular OS or program.
Shush, you'll have the DMCA all over us.
I've been playing with Reaper. They claim it is lightweight and runs fast, so I installed it on an ancient IBM Thinkpad 600 with a 500MHz processor. I used a M-Audio Transit audio interface plugged into the laptop's only USB 1.1 port.
Not only did it work, but I was able to make a glitch-free recording with a couple of tracks, and even get the latency low enough to play guitar through the amp simulator. It has a "Dumble Overdrive Special" preset, WTF. The user interface is indeed easy to work, and reminds me of my old favourite Cubase VST.
I don't know whether to be impressed that this laptop (which was about to go in the bin) is actually a functional recording tool, or depressed at all the bloat that the other popular DAWs must have.
For serious recordings you probably would not want to use the motherboard audio or a soundcard- they make digital audio cards and USB or Firewire devices which are capable of higher resolutions and low latency duplex operations (necessary if you want to record a new track while listening to an existing track). There are many digital audio adaptors using USB 2.0 that work great, and avoid some of the problems you can run into with cards plugged into a computer bus. Pro-Tools is one company that makes high quality devices, M-Audio is another.
Sorry don't know what happened with the link. I'll give it another try. Never had any issues with links before. Newegg.com - Koutech IO-FPM530 Multi-in-1 USB 3.0 Multifunction SuperSpeed Front Panel Card Reader with eSATA / HD Audio Ports (5.
Sound cards and on-board audio work fine with Band in the Box for creating backing tracks. Another option is to use an external digital recorder to record the backing tracks along with your overdubbed vocals and guitar. I have gotten great results using an external device for the actual recording and my computer for editing and mixing those tracks but YMMV.
P.S. It looks like the audio jacks on that $35 device from NewEgg are basically like color-coded extension cables terminating in 1/8" jacks. I think it would be better to use your own extension cables and have them match what you will be plugging in.
I don't know if anyone has addressed this issue yet but mobo mic inputs are for cheap condensor mikes (the ones that terminate in a 1/8" jack.) IMO you really need a decent mike preamp which would be plugged into the line input jacks or a USB port. Two channels and two microphones if you intend to record your vocals and guitar amp simultaneously. If you want to plug your guitar in direct rather than miking an amp you would want to use a preamp designed especially for that. You might want to stop by a local store to get an idea of what is available.
Yep, I think you'll be wanting an outboard audio interface like the M-Audio Fast Track.
I haven't used the Fast Track but I've owned several other M-Audio products and they all worked great.
GC has the Lexicon Alpha at 50% off for $99.99:
Lexicon Alpha USB Desktop Recording Studio and more Audio Interfaces at GuitarCenter.com.
M-Audio Fast Track Pro MKII $119 ($30 off MSRP):
M-Audio Fast Track MKII USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools SE and more Audio Convertors at GuitarCenter.com.
Both of these have a high Z input for guitar and an XLR input for a microphone. The M-Audio (now just called the "Fast Track" on the M-Audio site since the original single channel Fast Track has been discontinued) has phantom power while the Lexicon doesn't. However, the Lexicon has line inputs as well as the XLR/Instrument inputs so I think that makes it more versatile.
One complaint about both of them (as well as many other portable adaptors) is that they are powered only by the USB bus so you cannot use them as stand-alone mixers.
P.S. In the past M-Audio was outstanding in updating the drivers for their digital audio cards. I don't think that drivers for USB connected devices are as critical as the cards but it tells me that the company is concerned about their customers rather than just taking their money and running for the hills.
Best deal I found so far today: the Tascam US-800 with 8 inputs (6 analog, 2 digital) and a 5vdc power jack (hooray!) for $99.99 (Note: it is not powered by the USB bus)
The Tascam US-100 is your basic 2 in / 2 out USB audio with a choice between Mic/Inst and Line inputs. But what is way cool is that the line inputs can be switched to a phono input with the RIAA curve perfect for vinyl rips, or just listening to your LP's with a stereo that lacks a phono input. $69.99
IMO it is much easier to browse through MF offerings on the Amazon site- on the MF site everything is buried so deep that unless you know exactly what you are looking for you probably won't find it. And Google usually shows MF hits on the Amazon site before the hits on the MF site.
I dl'd the manuals for all of these adaptor since I don't trust sales blurbs. The Windows or Mac control panel for the US-800 gives you a lot more control than the knobs on the front of the mixer. Like mixing the 8 channels of the mixer with 6 channels from the computer.
Last edited by Steve A.; 01-02-2012 at 11:47 PM.
I've been reading the manual for the Tascam US-800 (a great deal for $99.99!) and the phantom power can be switched on for all 6 mic inputs or none of them. The manual mentions that you do not want to plug in an unbalanced mic when phantom power is on. That makes sense since there is 48vdc to ground from both halves of the balanced signal; with an unbalanced mic one of the signal lines is connected to ground so there would be a dead short. Pzzzzt!
Ok here is my question about how Neutrik jacks are normally wired and how they are probably wired in the US-800 (for channels 1-6). If you use the 1/4" line input for Channels 3-6 it is a balanced TRS jack. When phantom power is on is it sent to the balanced 1/4" TRS jacks? I ask because the line output for many devices uses an unbalanced cable so the ring is shorted to the sleeve, which would work fine unless there was phantom power going to the Tip and the Ring. Pzzzt!
I would guess that phantom power is not usually used with a 1/4" TRS jack since the act of inserting a 1/4" stereo plug in the jack would create temporary short circuits as the tip and ring touch the grounded sleeve. (With an XLR jack the 3 conductors are not shorted together.)
I am asking for confirmation of that since I think it is critical: I might have two mics plugged in that require phantom power along with unbalanced line outputs from a drum machine or a sound module. And I want music not Pzzzt!
Here is a link to the US-800 page at the Tascam site:
P.S. This looks like the hands-down winner for a full featured USB digital audio adaptor for under $100 (or $150 for that matter).
The Neutrik combo jacks have 6 separate contacts. 3 for the XLR and another 3 for the TRS.
I'd be very surprised if phantom power were fed to the TRS jack. Seems like it would Pzzzt any equipment you plugged into it, too. It should be a separate circuit with maybe a pad to raise the impedance, or maybe it even bypasses the first stage of the mic pre.
Thanks! I ordered the US-800 last night. I guess that dynamic microphones with an XLR plug will not short anything out if the phantom power is turned on globally? I read something like that with a warning that some ribbon mikes could be damaged.
So I guess the phantom power on my M-Audio MicroTrack for the stereo T-mike is not quite the same. It has a 1/8" stereo plug- each mike is unbalanced. The voltage is much lower and I think it is connected like a bias voltage on each output lead. (I had to make attenuator adaptors for the original MT24/96 which required diodes to keep from shorting out the power supply as a simple voltage divider would do. The volume control was actually a gain control and it did not go all of the way down to silence; set as low as it could go I got horrendous digital distortion recording a band playing at normal bar levels.)
Provided the dynamic mics are proper balanced ones, and wired up correctly, it shouldn't be a problem. The phantom power is applied in the common mode, so the guts of the mic just float at 48V. I used to own a mixer with a global 48V switch and did it all the time.
If you miswired the mic cable, you could conceivably put 48v across the ribbon of a ribbon mic and launch it into hyperspace. Or maybe some ribbon mics have odd internal wiring that isn't floating.
Recording bands with low-end gear can be touch and go. I've had lots of recordings ruined by distortion. The IRiver H120 does it no problem, handling very high sound levels when used with the little electret capsules. The secret of its success is that the mic input is also the line input, and it has an oddball Philips codec chip with a very wide, seamless gain control. The Rockbox third-party firmware takes control of that and gives you a very useful auto level.
Once I made the attenuator adaptor the live recordings with the MT2496 came out pretty good. I made the mistake of leaving the hold switch on while charging which trashed the internal battery in less than 6 months. I was able to use it with an USB external battery pack but it was kinda flaky. Sometimes it would lock up and the memory card would be trashed. I replaced it with the second generation MTII which had a better gain circuit so I didn't need the attenuator anymore. But it was also kinda flaky and you'd never know when a live recording was trashed. I still don't agree with M-Audio's decision to have a gain control rather than a volume control. I think that they wanted to make sure that users got some kind of recording even if the settings were at the minimum.
Getting back to the Tascan US-800, I do have a few amps and other devices with XLR outputs so I need to make sure that they are wired correctly if I will be using them with phantom power. I was thinking of looking at the circuitry to see if I could defeat phantom power on the #5 and #6 XLR inputs.
Steve "Have Dremel, Will Cut Traces" Ahola
Man, you've got it bad. The unit hasn't even arrived and already your Dremel finger is itching.
Phantom power is always applied to the signal lines through 6.8k resistors, so you just need to locate those and remove them.
Thanks for the tip about the 6.8k resistors!
P.S. I've been using the Harbor Freight rotary tool to make minor adjustments in my new dentures between office visits. Same globe-shaped bit that I use on printed circuit boards. The low power is a big plus since it takes off just a little at a time- and just a little makes a big difference in how the dentures fit.
Last edited by Steve A.; 01-06-2012 at 09:56 AM.
Ill have to take a look at that US-800 as well as it sounds like it might be just what i need. Does anybody know of any good music production/garage band/band in a box, type deals available for linux? I recently installed linux mint on my pc and am now running a dual boot setup with windows 7/linux mint 12. I was just blown away by all the amazing free software for linux available for download threw the system itself and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if there is a garage band substitute in there somewhere. Anyone know of such a thing?
Ardour is "the" DAW for Linux, but you won't get a "band in a box" because of copyright issues with the sample content.
Check Linux compatibility of the US800 before buying.
Steve, I have the lithium ion cordless Dremel, B&Q (closest we have to Harbor Freight) had it on sale. It's a bit more delicate than the AC powered one.
We have a cheap and nasty Dremel clone in the workshop, but it's useless for delicate work. It vibrates like crazy, and the tips are all bent or inaccurately sized so that they keep slipping in the collet. And it's not powerful enough for heavier work. Every time I use it I end up cursing it.
Ya, ill check for compatability but i also have windows 7 so worst case senario i just buy some software, and the us-800 and use it either in windows 7 or run it in wine on linux.
Here is the Harbor Freight rotary tool kit:
Rotary Tool Kit - 80 Piece Set
I bought it only for the 78 pieces that came with it and never figured that I would actually be using the tool itself. I also have 2 of the Craftsmen rechargeable kits that use the round B&D battery packs- handy for light work when you don't have AC power. But what is great about the Harbor Freight is how the motor lugs down with any kind of load. You would normally think of that being a disadvantage but it is what makes the tool so good for fine work like denture adjustments. One caveat: there is no wrench to tighten down the chuck for the bits- you are supposed to use your fingers- so the bits could come loose if you aren't careful.
Other than those two specific uses it is the real Dremel that I use all of the time. (I had given that Dremel tool kit to my girlfriend's husband as a Christmas present 25 years ago but ended up buying it back from him when he moved out of the house that we all owned together.)
P.S. Getting back to the original issue here, my idea of a perfect PC would be a dual boot scenario with Linux used for browsing and WinXP used for applications not available on the Linux platform- with the Windows partition never connected to the internet unless absolutely necessary to activate a program (or whatever). My idea is that if the Windows partition is never connected to the internet you can dispense with all of the crap that slows down your computer like anti-virus software. (Speaking of which is there any portable anti-virus program that can be run from a USB flash drive without having it installed on your Windows computer?) In some cases I might use a separate Windows PC to activate a program to keep internet connections to an absolute minimum.
Last edited by Steve A.; 01-06-2012 at 08:01 PM.
I was all set to order me up a tascam us-800 audio interface when i changed my mind about what i needed. I was telling my father about this and he pointed out that it might be better to have something more portable so i could record tracks without having to drag my computer along, so then my quest to find a 8 track audio interface turned into a search for a portable 8 track recorder. I think i might have found the perfect thing but i figured id check here before making the leap and buying it. What i stumbled across is the Zoom R24. It has the ability to record 8 tracks simultaneously, but can work with 24 tracks at a time. I could use it as a stand alone recorder when im away from my computer but when i want to use my computer it doubles as a 8 track interface and also a controller when using a daw program. It retails for $499 but i think it might be worth the extra money to get all the freedom that comes with it vs. being tied down to the computer. It also has a drum sampler/machine and guitar effects, vocal effects and what not that would be useful for me when i need to record something by my self. I was also researching this and i thought i saw somewhere someone said they where using it as a mixer for when they perform live too and if i could actually use it for that that would be yet another bonus. What do you guys think/what do you all know about this item?
Zoom — R24
My experience is that hard disks can't cope with the intense vibrations of operating in close proximity to a live band. After 3 failed in my Roland VS under waranty, I built a sealed padded isolation box for it but #4 still failed. Converted to a compact flash card and it's fine.
So I really wouldn't take a PC into there.
That Zoom seems to do everything and more, and uses SD cards, for a very reasonable cost.
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