What software for recording.

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I have only really used regular studios with an engineer or Audacity for radio shows.
 I’m looking to set up a small home studio, a mate recommended garage band as a free option. 
Bearing in mind, I only want to use it for basic demo recording ie guitar bass and drum machine. 
Thoughts or tips please.
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 27445
    Garageband is a great place to start (not least because it's free) provided you've got an iPad or Mac?

    Beware though, it's Apple's gateway drug into Logic Pro which is very not free.

    You still need to buy an interface through which you connect instruments to computer, and the software (like GB or Logic) running on that computer.

    Oftentimes, the interface will come bundled with some free DAW software.  I used mine first set-up for a good few years before I hit its limitations.

    Search Amazon for Presonus and look at their bundle deals - generally £100-£150 will get you up & running.
    Having trouble posting images here?  This might help.
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  • KurtisKurtis Frets: 633
    Reaper. 
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  • koneguitaristkoneguitarist Frets: 4136
    I have an Allen and Heath ZED10 which acts like an interface, I should have searched first as a few threads are about this subject, so will follow those as well. Cheers
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  • StratavariousStratavarious Frets: 3665
    edited March 26
    If you want lots of stock help with drums and synth sounds, Garageband is a no brainer.  Assuming you are in Mac.   You won’t need a drum machine, GarageBand drummer is quite versatile.

    You will need an interface.  The number of inputs would depend on how much stuff is playing at once.  Is this going to involve a live band or multiple mics at same time?

    I use and pay for Reaper on Mac and PC these days as I am almost always dealing with live recordings though Garageband and has lots of drum, virtual instrument (for use with midi keyboards) loop and amp sim help to do more in the box for making demos.




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  • TheBigDipperTheBigDipper Frets: 4768
    edited March 26
    The computer you use to post on tFB will inform your starting point. I note you have an audio interface in the ZED10. Can   I assume you have headphones and/or speakers to hear the results in the room? If you've got a stage vocal mic, that's enough to get started, too. 

     - Windows? Reaper is the favourite choice of tFB. I've never used it myself. 
     
    - macOS? GarageBand is included with macOS and will do far more than you're intending to do. 

    - iOS? GarageBand on iOS (also included) is slightly different to the macOS version, but it's what I started off with and will also exceed your intentions. 
     
    - Much of the recording I do with/for my band mates, though, is just into the phone (iPhone) using the Voice Recorder app. The others have Android phones and there's a similar app on that, too. If I want to make an initial demo, I'll do it in mono with an acoustic and let the others work out their own parts. 

     The best advice I can give you - after starting from scratch about 10 years ago and going down several blind alley and distractions is this...  

    Just get started with whatever you have to hand easily, and let that teach you what you really need as part of your growth process.

    The keyboard player we used to have in the band had an incredible setup he'd bought from scratch before starting to record, and his recordings and workflow were rubbish. He spent far too much time learning how to use his gear and become an expert before even starting to record anything. Don't put together a shopping list with the idea that it will be great, buy it before starting, and fall into the trap he fell into. 

    We all record differently and have different outcomes in mind. You need to find out what yours are by trying it. 



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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 33791
    If you are on a Mac then use Garageband until you graduate to Logic.

    Logic is 100% worth the money.
    It is a total bargain for what you get but be aware that Apple sell it as a loss leader to keep people buying Macs, which are expensive.

    If you are on a PC then Reaper is cheap but complex and clunky in places.

    Studio One is very beginner friendly and not crazy expensive.

    Pro Tools is the industry standard but expensive and has some odd quirks, but if you ever have any interest in doing audio professionally then you 100% need Pro Tools skills.

    Cubase is often overlooked but has a great feature set. I use the post production equivalent (Nuendo) quite often and I love it.

    Get an entry level 2 channel audio interface with a couple of onboard preamps.
    Focusrite, Presonus, Audient, Arturia and SSL are good options here- you get what you pay for and everything around the £100-200 price point is pretty good with not much to separate one from the other.

    In terms of monitoring, if you want to release anything you are making then you will be coming up against *quite* a few limitations. A lack of technical (mixing) ability plus audio performance of cheap monitors plus the room sound will all coalesce. Spending your way into expensive monitors without fixing the room is a mistake.
    Spending some money on acoustic treatment is never a bad idea but almost everyone ignores this advice and regrets it.
    But don't just buy loads of foam and think it will work, it won't.
    Rooms treatment needs to be planned around the specific issues- way too much to go into here.
    Happy to talk about it if people want me to though.

    It takes years to learn to mix well.
    I'd done it for more than a decade before I was releasing things I actually liked.
    Even now I can still nit pick things.
    It is a constantly evolving thing and a mountain to climb that has no summit.

    If you don't want to release anything soon then get some £100-200 monitors and work on the craft.
    Avoid spending loads of cash on plugins.
    You can make records with stock plugins- Steven Wilson did that for years with Porcupine Tree.

    A good set of headphones is worthwhile although I hate mixing on headphones.
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  • TTonyTTony Frets: 27445
    octatonic said:

    Studio One is very beginner friendly and not crazy expensive.

    And has some excellent - professional - free "how to" video series on YT.



    Worth watching (some of the above) and equivalent for Reaper/Logic et al to get an idea of how each of the DAWs works, and which interface you think you'd get on with best.

    TBH, all DAWs (once you get out of the "free" options) are going to have more or less the same basic functionality, but how you access that functionality, and how you interact with the software will be different.  Pick the option that appeals most to you, jump in and learn to swim.


    octatonic said:

    A good set of headphones is worthwhile although I hate mixing on headphones.
    I do most of my work through headphones, if only because it avoids disturbing the rest of the house and having to get into room treatments!

      But be aware that "a good set" is defined differently for music/hifi headphones vs studio/mixing headphones.  I love my Bose headphones for listening to music, but they're not good for recording/mixing work.
    Having trouble posting images here?  This might help.
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  • SnapSnap Frets: 6264
    I always say the same, and it's always overlooked, but if you are on Windows get Cakewalk by Bandlab. You won't find anything better for free.
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  • duotoneduotone Frets: 982
    edited March 26
  • vasselmeyervasselmeyer Frets: 3671
    If you want a full DAW at an amazingly low cost with exceptional community support then Reaper is really hard to beat. Windows, Mac and native Linux support.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 24235
    Reaper.

    Easy to use. Loads of tutorial vids on youtube.

    It has an endlessly renewable evaluation period if you want to be really cheap too.
    But if you like it - buy it. It's dirt cheap.
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  • Fingers657Fingers657 Frets: 657
    We have a few different DAWs here but Reaper is always my go to if I need one.
    It’s easy to use and Thick friendly .
    I hate Protools and leave all that to my son.
    Im still old school when it comes to studio recording I still love tape all analogue systems.


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  • swillerswiller Frets: 1204
    Reaper or cakewalk (windows) by bandlab. The latter is free, reaper is not free (well it is, but advertised as not).
    The latter i think is a better daw. used to be quite expensive and prefer it to what i use now, logic pro.
    But if after something simple, garageband all the way. The above are big complex beasts, but do professional quality off the bat and well worth the learning curve.
    Dont worry, be silly.
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  • icu81b4icu81b4 Frets: 368
    Snap said:
    I always say the same, and it's always overlooked, but if you are on Windows get Cakewalk by Bandlab. You won't find anything better for free.
    This, loads of free tutorials on YT and plenty of free plugins and some instruments. 

    Cakewalk by Bandlab version 2024.02 will remain free whilst Bandlab are bringing a paid version of Sonar soon. 
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 2939
    I'm going to throw my mixbus hat into the ring here. The advantage is that you don't spend all of your time messing about with endless plug ins and watching tutorials to learn how to mix. It's a console simulator attached to the open source editor Ardour. Each track has a channel consisting of all the tools you need like compressor, pan, limiter etc... and the great sounding Harrison eq.  You can drop in plug in effects if you like (the free Tokyo Dawn plugs are great).

    I don't mess about with complex daw now. I just fire up mixbus and in minutes I've got a decent mix going.

    You can use it free if you don't mind the occasional short buzz noise it puts in (which you can mix out if you want) and they will send you offers to buy it cheap or the 32c version which has more elaborate eq built in.
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • koneguitaristkoneguitarist Frets: 4136
    Thanks for all the replies, this is mainly me playing everything and getting a singer in for main vocals. Doing radio for 10 years I have a nice Audio Technica studio mic, and already have an SR 16 drum machine which I have used since they came out. 
    I have 6m x4.5m garden office, double insulated made of timber which is carpeted. I have recorded very basic stuff before for myself, but also used quite a few pro studios so luckily have a fair idea of what I want out of the recordings. 
    The main issues with me will be learning all the overdubbing and making things sit in the mix and how to use compression as I’m not a fan of lots of effects. 
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  • stonevibestonevibe Frets: 7140
    edited March 29
    If you use a Mac, then UA's Luna is pretty decent just for recording, and the standard version is free.

    https://www.uaudio.com/luna.html


    Win a Cort G250 SE Guitar in our Guitar Bomb Free UK Giveaway 


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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 4038
    edited March 27

    The main issues with me will be learning all the overdubbing and making things sit in the mix and how to use compression as I’m not a fan of lots of effects.
    Reaper.
    If I were doing music full time as a pro, all the time, then I'd likely pay top dollar and go with Logic / Pro Tools just to be part of that world and it would make professional collaboration easy with others at that level.

    But seeing as one has to learn a workflow with every DAW, including the expensive ones, then learning Reaper isn't particularly hideous and Reaper can easily give you music and sound quality which sounds professional -- or so bloody close to professional that only the full-time pro would notice.  Reaper is so inexpensive it's almost free which can lead to the thought, "Well, is it any good?" 
    Yes, it is. Very good.  For me, I've only ever used it like a big, glorified tape recorder.  Nice and simple, multi-tracking and layering.  Editing out errors and replacing them with better takes.  And mixing it all together.  (Which is easy to learn and do, but only about 5 percent of what the program is capable of.)


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  • koneguitaristkoneguitarist Frets: 4136
    Just thinking aloud, I have a couple of Mixers a  16 channell Yamaha MG16 U and also the Allen and Heath Zed 10. The Zed 10 has the USB connections for laptop and the Yamaha has all the channels, but am I right if using Garage Band or Reaper you would mix on LapTop not the mixer? 
    Never done it that way before, would I just be using the Zed 10 purely as an interface? 
    Or would there be a better way or desk to go? 
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  • MusicwolfMusicwolf Frets: 3654
     am I right if using Garage Band or Reaper you would mix on LapTop not the mixer? 
    Yes
    would I just be using the Zed 10 purely as an interface? 

    Yes

    I had a ZED10FX and used it this way.  The ZED10 is only 16 bit so just be careful not to get your signals too hot at the recording stage (less headroom than 24 bit).

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