Home recording - PC DAW software recommendations

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So...

I've started dabbling in a bit of home recording via PC again after many failed attempts years back when i struggled with latency mainly on poor spec pc's and cheap interfaces.

Interface wise i'm using a Boss BR800 digi 8 track unit.  To be honest for the last 4 or 5 years i've used the BR800 for direct recording and just downloaded the wavs to pc and done some simple mixing for demo's etc.  

But, after a bit of experimentation and having the patience to actually learn how to use it as an audio interface i'm having loads of latency free joy and i'm willing to spend a bit of time working on some better quality recording and multitracking, hand in hand with my helix.

PLEASE REMEMBER: I'M UNDOUBTEDLY YEARS BEHIND EVERYONE HERE SO EXCUSE MY LACK OF KNOWLEDGE!


So, currently using Sonar LE which is fine.  But i imagine its a little dated.

Just wondering if there is any alternatives to consider, either free, or up to £100 cost.

Is Pro Tools first any good?


All i want really is ability to have probably no more than 24 recordable tracks and some good mastering tools.

Effects wise I only really need some EQ, compression and reverbs

I'm not at the stage where i'm dabbling with plug ins etc yet, that will no doubt come in the future.  


What's a good go-to, simple to use, feature heavy package?




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Comments

  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 62
    Reaper, all you need to get as advanced as you like.
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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 3944
    Tracktion (or Reaper) - see which workflow you prefer
    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

    Feedback
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 23170
    Reaper, to begin with.

    "And what would humans be without love?"
    “RARE, said Death.”

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  • 3 votes for reaper, cool. Downloading it as we speak.

    for some reason I thought I was talked out of this by someone recently but I on second thoughts I think I’m getting confused with Reason. 

    Will give it a whirl. 
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 903
    I like Reaper. It does all I need and more than I will ever need. That's all I can say because I've never used any other DAW so I'm not qualified to make comparisons.

    It's not a competition.
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  • equalsqlequalsql Frets: 3646
    As everyone else has suggested..Reaper. It's a no brainer. Powerful, small footprint, a great community and cheap as chips.
    (pronounced: equal-sequel)   "I suffered for my art.. now it's your turn"
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  • sweavesweave Frets: 8
    Agreed - Reaper to start with.
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  • mudslide73mudslide73 Frets: 1896
    Reaper ftw. Lovely and easy but can do everything I need. Great support community also.. there's nothing I've struggled with that wasn't fixed by a pre existing forum post.  
    "A city star won’t shine too far"


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  • siremoonsiremoon Frets: 643
    Reaper
    “He is like a man with a fork in a world of soup.” - Noel Gallagher
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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 62
    I would advise, start slowly with Reaper, it can seem overwhelming to start with. Kenny's videos will explain anything you specifically want.
    The interface is deceptively simple, but everything -EVERYTHING, is customisable.
    First step should be to find a skin you like, and theres plenty to choose from, you arent coming across from another daw so choose something that you think will be a long term pleaser ( I am using default Commala 5, which has just the right amount of features for me )
    When you have a setup that works for you-ie, folders and busses arranged how you like-save it as a template which you can uses to dive straight in, you will appreciate that when you have opened up an empty project, and find yourself doing the same things every time before you can get anything done.
    I came from both Protools and Logic, and work mainly on a laptop so didnt like the way both of those Daws heavily rely on becoming a shortcut ninja, I find Reaper a lot more mouse friendly, but there is a never ending list of things that can be done with it, with scripts and stuff like SWS extensions.
    Sometimes it is better to not let it get too personalised, you can even install it on a USB stick to carry around with you- to work on any host PC or Mac, but everybody will have their own needs anyway.
    good luck.
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  • MusicwolfMusicwolf Frets: 437

    The thing that I take from your post is that you appear to be going into this with the right attitude i.e. you recognise that it's going to be a steep learning curve but that you are prepared to put the effort in.

    Reaper is a good recommendation if you are starting out, not because it's in anyway feature light or a beginner package but because it is so cost effective (it is also well written to be processor friendly and, as others have pointed out, there is plenty of help out there from other users).  I have used it but I continue with Cubase because I've invested a lot of time learning it.

    If you are getting into recording then I would recommend publications such as  https://www.soundonsound.com/ .  A little daunting at first due to the amount of jargon but stick with it (articles older than 6 months are available free without subscription).

    Good luck

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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 903
    edited October 10
    andy_k said:

    ...First step should be to find a skin you like, and theres plenty to choose from, you arent coming across from another daw so choose something that you think will be a long term pleaser ( I am using default Commala 5, which has just the right amount of features for me )…

    It's very much down to personal taste, but I can see a possible benefit of using the default Reaper theme/skin in the very early stages, so at least the interface looks like it does in the manual and Kenny Gioia videos.

    But this is coming from someone who's used Reaper since version 1 and always goes back to whatever the default theme/skin is

    It's not a competition.
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  • Thanks for all the help and suggestions everyone.

    I had a very quick go of Reaper yesterday evening.  I think the interface and features are simple enough to navigate through.  I did a few quick tracks but noticed that it was pausing and stuttering whilst i was recording live with 2 tracks playing back.  Also, i had a bit of difficulty being able to edit and cut out bits of tracks out where there are gaps of silence.  I'm sure its simple when you know how but it wasn't an obvious fix based on what was on the screen. 

    I managed to get helix native plug in (currently trialing it for 15 days free) up and running quickly which i couldn't manage to do on Sonar LE.  

    I will be spending a bit more time on it tonight.  But generally like what i see so far.



      
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 20449
    If you don't get on with Reaper then I'd vote for Cubase Elements - £85 download. One month free trial. Steinberg has been owned by Yamaha for years now and Cubase gets better and better wit regular updates. It's fast and stable. Elements isthe entry level system that's easy to use and comes with everything a home recordist would ever need.

    Check out this video - Steinberg have lots of tutorials.





    Frexited
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  • BranshenBranshen Frets: 1089
    Thanks for all the help and suggestions everyone.

    I had a very quick go of Reaper yesterday evening.  I think the interface and features are simple enough to navigate through.  I did a few quick tracks but noticed that it was pausing and stuttering whilst i was recording live with 2 tracks playing back.  Also, i had a bit of difficulty being able to edit and cut out bits of tracks out where there are gaps of silence.  I'm sure its simple when you know how but it wasn't an obvious fix based on what was on the screen. 

    I managed to get helix native plug in (currently trialing it for 15 days free) up and running quickly which i couldn't manage to do on Sonar LE.  

    I will be spending a bit more time on it tonight.  But generally like what i see so far.



      
    Momentary pausing and stuttering is called "audio dropouts". the first few things to check are your audio driver (make sure you are using the latest ASIO driver available for your device) and make sure the buffer size is high enough. 
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  • markvmarkv Frets: 190
    edited October 12
    The official videos have been mentioned a couple of times - hopefully you've already found them via the Reaper website but if not, Kenny Gioa's videos are an excellent start and this playlist takes you through things from the beginning: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLM0xHqxaiT6926riNPAQ3kdy7ROE2K-F4

    If you're a complete beginner like I was then they were a bit light on the very very basics because I think there's a bit of an assumption that you've used a DAW before to some extent, but a bit of reading around helped with that.
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  • equalsqlequalsql Frets: 3646
    Here's a useful guide for optimising your pc.
    https://www.cantabilesoftware.com/glitchfree/
    (pronounced: equal-sequel)   "I suffered for my art.. now it's your turn"
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 1165
    regardless of DAW and PC optimisation, it's worth learning about gain staging.



    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • BodBod Frets: 256
    Fretwired said:
    Cubase gets better and better wit regular updates. It's fast and stable. 
     I like Cubase a lot, but sadly that's not my experience.  I use C10 Pro and it's riddled with bugs, some of which have been there for a couple of major version releases.  I really wish they'd put some serious effort into fixing them instead of chucking new half-arsed features in - ie ARA, poor HiDPI implementation,etc.  They're very much guilty of only fixing things in the next paid upgrade too.

    Sorry OP - mini-rant.  It bothers me :)
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 20449
    Bod said:
    Fretwired said:
    Cubase gets better and better wit regular updates. It's fast and stable. 
     I like Cubase a lot, but sadly that's not my experience.  I use C10 Pro and it's riddled with bugs, some of which have been there for a couple of major version releases.  I really wish they'd put some serious effort into fixing them instead of chucking new half-arsed features in - ie ARA, poor HiDPI implementation,etc.  They're very much guilty of only fixing things in the next paid upgrade too.

    Sorry OP - mini-rant.  It bothers me :)
    You must be a power user then ..works a treat for me although I probably only use 50% of the functionality.
    Frexited
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  • DodgeDodge Frets: 365

    Bandlab bought the rights to Sonar, which was one of the big players in the DAW world and was around £400 to buy IIRC.

    It's now free to download.  Bargain.



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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 62
    I wouldn't advise anyone to invest too much time with Bandlab, reports are that there are serious bugs with settings not being saved with a session, worth a look, but probably better to go with something stable and updateable. Another one to try is Harrison Mixbus, which is around £80, I think you need a decent sized monitor to get the best out of it, but it has a pretty good workflow for certain kinds of mixing  / mastering, not so sure about the editing features though.
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  • So... I had a weekend of playing around.

    I'm finding the best solution at the moment is doing all my recording and some mixing in Sonar LE as its a bit more stable for multitracking (until i do some more research and possibly do some RAM upgrading).  

    Then i'm importing the stems into Reaper and doing some more mixing and mastering.  I think the compression and EQ effects are significantly better in Reaper.  Also running a few tracks through Helix Native plug in as well and doing some finessing on some sounds. 

    I need to get my mate in to put his vocals down soon so i can finish things off but i have been doing some session mixes and mastering to learn a bit more about it.


    One thing i'm struggling with though is getting a good definitive bass sound.

    I've tried DI-ing dry bass into the desk.  Also going through some fx pedals first.  Also, DI but through HX Native.  The solo bass track sounds fine when isolated but i just can't get it to sit right in the final mix bandwidth when i master a full track.  I'm not getting the real low end chug sitting appropriately in the mix.  If i up the volume it just distorts.  
    Any tips for improving this?      



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  • markvmarkv Frets: 190
    Saw this free plugin mentioned on another thread:

    https://www.tseaudio.com/software/tseBOD

    Should be worth a try - the TSE stuff is decent.
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  • andy_kandy_k Frets: 62
    Hard to say without knowing the genre, it could be that your guitars are taking up a lot of the low mids, personally I would try laying in some midi bass synth to reinforce the lows, and maybe be a bit more aggressive with the high pass on the guitars, lots to learn about EQ, and the low mid and mid areas can get very congested giving a muddy sound without definition, you will have to experiment
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  • SnapSnap Frets: 2992
    andy_k said:
    I wouldn't advise anyone to invest too much time with Bandlab, reports are that there are serious bugs with settings not being saved with a session, worth a look, but probably better to go with something stable and updateable. Another one to try is Harrison Mixbus, which is around £80, I think you need a decent sized monitor to get the best out of it, but it has a pretty good workflow for certain kinds of mixing  / mastering, not so sure about the editing features though.


    I've used Cakewalk and Sonar since about 1997, and was one of the final Sonar Platinum owners. I've put the new free edition of Cakewalk on a laptop, but have yet to have a do with it. You get a lot of functionality in it though.

    I've also got the Sonar prototype on a Mac, and that works well. Stable.

    Sonar/Cakewalk is a cracking DAW with huge functionality, but, and this is a big but, it is glitchy. I've got some odd issues in my kit that I can't suss.

    But, having said that, it is so easy to use and has very accessible deep functionality. It handles audio and midi editing really well too.

    Platinum came with some brilliant VSTs too, which I will transfer into my new setup once up and running,

    I've got a DAW decision to make too as I think after 20 years, it's time to part company with Cakewalk. I am leaning towards Ableton, but may well have a proper do at Reaper first. I've had it installed for years, but CBA to learn a new set of processes.


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  • StrangefanStrangefan Frets: 3263
    edited October 16
    I have just moved from cubas to the free cakewalk and so far I'm really enjoying it, it's not limited and is very intuitive 
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  • PolarityManPolarityMan Frets: 4870
    Dunno why everyone is talking about cubase and sonor in this thread that is clearly about reaper :)
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  • McSwaggertyMcSwaggerty Frets: 194
    Snap said:
    andy_k said:
    I wouldn't advise anyone to invest too much time with Bandlab, reports are that there are serious bugs with settings not being saved with a session, worth a look, but probably better to go with something stable and updateable. Another one to try is Harrison Mixbus, which is around £80, I think you need a decent sized monitor to get the best out of it, but it has a pretty good workflow for certain kinds of mixing  / mastering, not so sure about the editing features though.


    I've used Cakewalk and Sonar since about 1997, and was one of the final Sonar Platinum owners. I've put the new free edition of Cakewalk on a laptop, but have yet to have a do with it. You get a lot of functionality in it though.

    I've also got the Sonar prototype on a Mac, and that works well. Stable.

    Sonar/Cakewalk is a cracking DAW with huge functionality, but, and this is a big but, it is glitchy. I've got some odd issues in my kit that I can't suss.

    But, having said that, it is so easy to use and has very accessible deep functionality. It handles audio and midi editing really well too.

    Platinum came with some brilliant VSTs too, which I will transfer into my new setup once up and running,

    I've got a DAW decision to make too as I think after 20 years, it's time to part company with Cakewalk. I am leaning towards Ableton, but may well have a proper do at Reaper first. I've had it installed for years, but CBA to learn a new set of processes.


    I have also been using Sonar Cakewalk for years and have recently got into Cakewalk/Bandlab.
    Can honestly say it's a terrific DAW, never given me any problems whatsoever.
    So, for as long as it... and me.. are both around, l have no need, no reason and no inclination to learn anything else. 
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  • soma1975soma1975 Frets: 1330
    Not had a single issue with Cakewalk the new version yet. 
    My Trade Feedback Thread is here

    Been uploading old tracks I recorded ages ago and hopefully some new noodles here.
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