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Recording Software
What the heck is a DAW, anyway?
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DanielB
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October 15, 2012 - 1:37 am
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For basic recording, I recommend Audacity.  It is free, and it works on all computers.  It is not fancy, but it gets the job done.

Other folks might like other things, but all I will usually recommend here is what is free or very inexpensive.  I myself won't use bootleg software, I don't use clever tricks to convince demo software that it is still in the demo period.  If you want to, that is your business, but I won't be personally recommending it.

Why limit my suggestions to what is free (or seriously inexpensive)?  Well, most folks here are more players than recording engineers.  And a player's budget is usually earmarked more for the instrument they are saving up for, bows, strings, rosin, important stuff like that.  Another reason is that the sort of work most folks here are going to want to do is destined for the internet or maybe putting out a small release CD or something.  While some software you can lay down some serious cash for might be a bit more professional, good amateur level software is enough for that.  Amateur level of today is in many cases so far past the professional level of a couple decades ago that it is just amazing.  

So some folks may go "Oh, you use that???  I like this, it is tons better."  That's cool.  But all I am going to be actually recommending is what any player here can get right away for free (legally) or maybe there might be something now and then that would cost very little.   And you never know, somebody may know something that is also free that actually *is* tons better.  I don't know everything about the software or recording, and I am generally delighted to find out there is stuff better than I am using. 

For basic recording, just getting a track (or few) into your computer so you can share it or do something with it, Audacity works.  There is a version for all the major operating systems (Windows, Mac and Linux), it is free and it will get the basic job done.  Sometimes life can be beautiful like that.  But some folks will want a bit more. 

In the next post, I'll talk a bit about what software you can use to get more of the sort of functions you need to do more than just basic recording.

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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DanielB
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October 15, 2012 - 2:49 am
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The next step up from very basic recording is DAWs.  Digital Audio Workstations.  Some years ago, you couldn't say those words without your bank account screaming in terror. 

These days, a typical computer can be outfitted with some software to allow it to do at least most of what some of the best recording studios in the world could do back in the 80s or 90s.  Being realistic, the average person won't get results better than that on a typical home computer.  But that is actually quite a lot, and with a bit of learning and work, you can make recordings that would at least come very close to the CD quality of that time.  That is far better than most of what you will hear on the internet, except for commercial projects with a good budget.

So back to DAWs, what do they do?  Well, you can record, sure.  They are usually set up well for being able to do multi-track recording.   Why would you want to do that?  Well, you might want to play a duet, and with multi-tracking, you can play both parts yourself and then put them together.  A DAW will usually have (or at least have it if you install the plug-ins for it) some effects andf things to make your music sound anything from nice to as freaky as you might ever want.  But they also usually have more than one way to input music.  MIDI is pretty common.  MIDI allows you to play an instrument equipped with MIDI (like a keyboard) into your computer and then you can see or edit the notes on a score with something at least close to standard notation.  Nice if you want to add another instrument or two into your arrangement. 

But you can also use it for your own click tracks and accompaniment tracks that maybe nobody has to hear later (like when Fiddlerman mixed down things like the Bile them Cabbages project).  You could learn to do that, if you liked.  maybe even play ALL the parts yourself.  You can play against whatever parts help for getting your playing so you do all the changes right and do the right parts at the right time, them mix it down so it is just you playing your instrument (or you and some friends and family, if you have that possibility) and actually get it pretty nice.  You can get it better than a lot of what you hear out on the internet.

Rather than going on and on about what all you can do with DAW software, I'll just recommend some.  Those that think some of this sounds maybe interesting can check them out and maybe some discussion can happen.

I run Linux on my main machine, so the DAW I use is Rosegarden. 

http://www.rosegardenmusic.com/

For Windows, a free one that is well thought of is Darkwave Studio I used it  bit years ago, and they have put a lot of work into it since then.

http://www.experimentalscene.c.....ve-studio/

Mac, I have no personal experience with in recent years (ok, decades).  I am not a Mac person, and I won't engage in the assorted arguments about which platform is best for what.  People need to use what they have, and there are ways to get good results on any platform these days.  Here's one I have heard is pretty good for Mac and where they have a free (limited) version..

http://www.mutools.com/mulab-d.....loads.html

 

Now, the demo recordings of most of these will be usually electronica/techno type music.  Some folks might hear that and think "well, that isn't my style".  But the demos are usually just what you can do with using only the software by itself.  Any of these could be used with tracks you record of your nice acoustic or electric violin to do some production and engineering and get results that aren't necessarily "electronic" sounding at all.   A lot of people do use the same software to do techno/dance music but that doesn't mean that you have to or that it is all you can do with it.

Anyway, so there's a little bit of info about DAW software.  It is a level beyond programs like Audacity that is more made for recording and editing.  DAW software is more angled for sound engineering and production needs.  It is one of the steps to get closer to something more like a professional recorded production of your music.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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DanielB
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October 15, 2012 - 3:43 am
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Now, if all this hasn't been scary enough or complicated enough, there is a stage beyond the engineering where a DAW would be an option in reach of pretty much anyone here.

Mastering.  Mastering is the final touch on a professional recorded production.  It uses tools that are beyond the scope of a section like this on a violin forum, and requires quite a lot of experience and specialized knowledge.  I don't claim to be competent at that, I've only gotten a few pointers from people who were.  So I am not going to really address it here.  We're talking about using things like 100 band frequency equalizers and some pretty advanced sound analysis and manipulation tools for doing mastering.

But there is software that can be used for it.  Mostly separate utilities, I have never seen a single "suite" that had everything one would need.  I figured I may as well mention it. 

 

I think most people who come to this forum can at least put together a simple home recording setup and learn to make recordings that can be at least "ok".  I think a lot of the folks who come here can, if they are up for the learning curves involved, learn enough about basic sound engineering to get their tracks sounding pretty good, and maybe put some tracks together to make a cool little project.  I am not going to claim that a home recording will sound every bit as good as one done by a good professional in a recording studio, but it can sound pretty darned good.  Good enough that the average person may not realize it wasn't actually done by professionals. 

I think that those are the realistic possibilities for folks here that are up for putting some time into learning a bit about home recording and how to use some software.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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MikeV
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October 15, 2012 - 10:15 am
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This may sound like a dumb question Daniel, but does the easiest software you mentioned first work for making videos too? dunno
I recently found out that my desk top and laptop don't have software loaded for recording video. I haven't made any videos yet.

"The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work." - Mark Twain

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myguitarnow
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October 15, 2012 - 2:12 pm
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Hi Mike, at this time you cannot import and edit video in Audacity but what you can do is record your video and with free plugins from the Audacity website, you can import the audio portion from your video to work on getting the sound the best you can.

http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

 

There is a free video editing program called Windows Movie Maker, " http://windows.microsoft.com " So you can import your video along with your finished Audacity edited audio tracks. You can also do some audio editing in Windows Movie Maker.

I'm assuming you have Windows because Mac's come with free video and audio editing software called iMovie and Garage Band.

And Daniel, I'm the one that did the click tracks and accompaniments for The Bile Em Cabbage Down project..... Give me a little credit ;-) <<<<< OOOPS no I did not do the tracks for Bile Em Cabbage Down, I did them for Red Wing.......

jimi-hendrix

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DanielB
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October 15, 2012 - 3:38 pm
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Apologios, a tip of the hat hats_off, and m-M-M-MONSTER KUDOS to MGN for being the one who actually did the click and accompaniment tracks for the Bilin' Cabbages.  One of the many things that I never knew I never knew. 

And MGN is also correct in that Audacity only will work on the audio portion of an AV (audio-video) recording.  You can usually split off the audio in your video editing software (at least by making a copy, deleting the video and exporting or rendering the track) to get it in to Audacity or your other favorite audio editing software.  Pretty it up and then recombine the audio with the video.  I hadn't known there was an Audacity plug-in for it, though.  That could save a step over the way I've usually tried to do it.

Didn't mean to worry or confuse anyone.  For most things one is likely to run into with recording some violin, Audacity can be your buddy.  I mostly was kind of explaining in this topic what the different stages of production are and that software does exist for doing them if/when one needs to. 

Most computers people are likely to be using here can manage it, with even a bit of freeware.  Not optimal, not as pretty in most cases as commercial software, some stages would be more awkward and take longer, but it can be done with at least reasonable results.  Without spending what could easily add up to literally thousands of dollars of hardware and/or software.  That is always one of my points when it comes to home recording.  It is a "can do" sort of thing.

 

@MGN: Err.. Ok, for Red Wing, then.. LOL

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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MikeV
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October 15, 2012 - 6:10 pm
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Hey, thanks for the info MGN! Yes I do have a Pc running windows.embarassed
way to go on the work with red wing. hats_off

Thanks for posting all the info Daniel clap

"The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work." - Mark Twain

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Pikachu
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March 2, 2013 - 9:49 am
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If you're wanting a little more power beyond Audactiy, Reaper is a powerful, yet pretty cheap DAW http://www.reaper.fm/. You can try it free for 60 days, and for most people the license cost is going to be $60.

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DanielB
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March 2, 2013 - 10:37 am
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Yeah, Pikachu, there are some more full-featured options available at very reasonable prices.  But I mostly stick to free software in any examples I do here since nobody will tell me they can't afford it.  LOL

"Try free for xxx days" I'm less fond of recommending, since almost always, you'll be in the middle of a project when the free trial runs out.  They kind of count on that, I think.  LOL 

But for those interested, there ya go, another option.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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