The Best Music Recording Packages for
your DIY Needs
I've been using music recording packages for sometime now (before we started
the band thing). They have come a long way since I've started using them.
With little effort, you can use them to record a decent demo to give away,
instead of hiring a studio and breaking the bank.
It wasn't until I did this whole band thing that I realised that some music
packages are just not suitable for band DIY recording. They are either too
basic, or too complicated.
As a band, you do not want to waste much time learning technical stuff.
You want to be concentrating on your music and your marketing. After all,
whatever you record at home now will probably be re-recorded in a professional
studio when the time comes.
For now, your goal is to record a decent sounding demo, using music recording
The Beginning was Fruity
Like many newbies, I started with Fruity Loops. Good old Fruity Loops hey, it
is fun to start with. Fruity Loops, or
FL Studio as they like to call
it now, is a music sequencer. It is packed with soft synthesizers and drum
sounds and it is relatively easy to use.
But when it comes to recording you own instruments and playing around with
wav forms, etc. it starts getting a little clumsy.
When FL first started, it fell into the "toy" category of music
recording packages. Then they released
advanced versions of the program, when they found themselves competing with big
dogs like Cubase.
But it worked out well in the end for them, because they managed to find a
sweet niche. These days FL studio is mainly used by RnB and Hip-Hop
producers. The way FL studio works
makes it attractive for producing modern RnB and Hip Hop records.
Unlike the main music recording packages out there, FL Studio is based on patterns. For example, you make an 8-bar pattern,
then you put it on a timeline and repeat it.
The sound quality of FL Studio has improved, where the latest version (FL
Studio 6.0) supports the industry standard 24-bit recording.
I let go of the delights of FL Studio a long time ago, and moved on to
something I though was perfect for a band.
Ableton Live Has Really Struck a Chord!
I've got to say that as soon as I downloaded the
free demo version of Ableton Live, I was hooked.
I was greeted by a clean
friendly interface. The coolest thing was when I hovered my mouse over
buttons and icons, a brief explanation appeared in the bottom left hand corner
of the window. very useful!
I quickly got used to the program. Within a few days,
I was thinking "I'm sticking with this one now".
From a band's
perspective, here's why I thought Ableton Live was the perfect music recording
Ableton Live is a fairly recent project. Before
developing the program, they must have looked at the flaws of, the then,
current music recording packages (Cubase, Protools, etc). They must
have realised that there was a big need for a package that is easy to use
(so amateurs can easily start using it), but at the same time have the
flexibility needed for advanced use. They managed to strike the
balance. All the positive reviews prove it.
Unlike many music recording packages, Live is so unbelievably stable. I use it on a PC,
and I can't remember it ever crashing. Use it on a Mac and you can pretty
much guarantee nothing will go wrong. Making Live a reliable
piece of software was a vital criteria for the developers, which brings me to
my next point...
It is called it Live
because it is a live performing
software, as well as a music making software. Musicians use it on
stage, as well as DJs. So it has to be reliable as! Live's
interface comes in two sections, a session view and an arrangement view.
The former is designed for "making and performing", whilst the latter is
designed for recording. There is no limit to what we, as a band,
could do on stage... From incorporating samples in our sets to inputting guitar licks and
The ability to time warp
make your jaw drop. And it is so easy. Hypothetically
speaking (cuz it never happens!), say we record a guitar riff into
Live, and it is a little out of time, we can easily stretch it or shrink
it so that it's in time. The best part is that it hardly affects the
sound and it doesn't change the pitch. Think of the possibilities!
...And that is why I decided to stick to Ableton Live.
I simply wanted to concentrate on one program with which I could record, mix,
master and use when playing live to take our sets to another
You know... they are now comparing how Live is changing
the way music is being made to things like the electric guitar, the
synthesiser, or how Dave Davies invented amplifier distortion by poking his
pencil into the amp!
Live is cool, not geeky... yet powerful.
Live is becoming industry standard for producers and DJs, as
well as bands and performers. The same package is used differently by
...apart from one thing. If you want to wave edit a sample
(chop bits of it, etc), you need to use an external wave editor or a sampler.
Live hasn't got one yet.
But fear not because you can use
Audacity, and it's free.
You can load Audacity up from Live, edit you waves from there and come back to
Or you could do what I did and splash a bit of cash on...
I've been playing around with Audition since it used to be called Cool Edit
Pro. I first got to know it when I was making jingles for a student radio
Audition is more of a recording / sound editing program. I
consider it as a sequencer. Its built-in audio effects engines are pretty
cool and straight forward to use.
I mainly use it to edit audio wave forms (which I can't do in Ableton Live),
and for mixing and mastering our stuff. It has a good quality multi-band
compressor in it, with presets, that I use to boost the levels on our demos and
make sound nice and CD like.
DIY Music Recoding Packages for Bands:
Unlike most music recording packages, you can use Ableton Live for making,
recording and performing our music. It's an all in one solution, except if
you want to do a lot of wave editing.
Using Ableton Live, Adobe Audition, a few plugins, our instruments and good
ears, I can easily record decent sounding demos. Any indie band
can do it.
Once you are ready for professional recording, and you've got a bit of dough
from your gigs, you'll be ready to hit the studios. That is unless you
start getting well into your music recording packages and the production side of
In which case, you'll slowly become less and less rock n roll.
Here's a set of free Ableton Live
tutorial videos, enjoy!
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