DAW workstation preferences.

The place to sound off on all things related to audio, from sound cards to speakers.

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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:05 am

Reason is definitely used by as many people as Sonar.

I went with Sonar because the interface is the absolute best available on Windows. Cakewalk's interface has always been pretty solid, going back to Pro Audio 3 on Windows 3.1 and Home Studio 9 on Win2k.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:22 pm

Meadows wrote:For that price, you get the XXL edition of FL Studio complete with half a dozen synths and awesome presets, and still have money left to buy 3-5 more Image-Line synths as extras, ending up with nearly 2000 presets and an easy-to-use, easy-to-learn, powerful interface that also has a large support community. Lifetime free patch/version upgrades for all your synths and the DAW itself.

I haven't used FL Studio, so... But it seems to me that the general opinion is that that's half a dozen (if even that) pretty mediocre synths, and the 3-5 more you can buy for that price is even worse. If you want the relatively good quality stuff you're up in the $150-$200 range per synth. While the quality of the synths out-of-the-box in Reason is very highly regarded. But again, yeah, Reason is not a true DAW. But both your notion about flexibility (which seems to be founded on nothing else than that you can't resize the stack window) and the notion about some sort of being-different statement, doesn't seem very well founded at all.

derFunkenstein wrote:I went with Sonar because the interface is the absolute best available on Windows. Cakewalk's interface has always been pretty solid, going back to Pro Audio 3 on Windows 3.1 and Home Studio 9 on Win2k.

I remember I sat down with Cakewalk 9 (HS or PA or whatever) eons ago, for some recording. At the time, it seemed to be a miracle if you got Cubase to even start, so Cakewalk was nice, I guess. But comparing it to *any* of the software *today*, it was a pretty unstable affair nonetheless. I haven't used the absolute latest, but last I checked it looked and felt pretty much the same, yeah. And what can I say, I like the Reason interface better, and I also feel Reason is so much faster aswell. I feel Cakewalk have hiccups every now and then from ever so slight interaction, where Reason is snappy as hell. But then again, with todays hardware, and the stuff you're looking at, that's probably not an issue.

If live music is to be recorded then, yeah, you're right that Sonar is a much better all-in-one solution. You could probably solve it relatively well with some open source or cheap audio recording utility, and import it into Reason, but it would be a fair bit trickier. But with nothing but a MIDI keyboard, I much rather stick with Reason. :-)
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:30 pm

Imagine that...an interface maintains a similar look and feel across versions. When it works, don't mess with it (hear that, Apple? Logic 4-7 all used the same interface and they totally butchered it with 8...at first I liked the new look but then I discovered I couldn't find things that were second nature in old versions) and you'll keep your users happy.

I dunno, even using ASIO4All and its accompanied CPU overhead, I don't have many projects that go over 30% CPU usage (and this is on a mobile Core 2 Duo, so nothing exotic) and none go over 50% in real-time, and I'm only limited by the speed of my hard drive when loading sound libraries, which is a 5400RPM mobile drive. IMO you can't make things go much faster than with Sonar 8. From what I've read online, that wasn't always the case - by everyone's measure on the Cakewalk forums and elsewhere, Sonar 8 is upwards of 1.5x to 2x as fast (in other words, much less CPU usage at real-time and much faster audio exports) as Sonar 7. So maybe Sonar wasn't always the fastest kid on the block. It's never crashed on me - the only time any Cakewalk product has ever crashed on me was in Windows 98 when I was futzing around with the Yamaha soft-synth that shipped with Final Fantasy VII, trying to get latencies somewhat close to real-time.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:07 am

FubbHead wrote:I haven't used FL Studio, so... But it seems to me that the general opinion (?) is that that's half a dozen (if even that) pretty mediocre synths, and the 3-5 more you can buy for that price is even worse.

Instead of resorting to weasel words like you did, I can tell you from first-hand experience that synths such as Ogun, Sytrus or Morphine are not only excellent-sounding, but their prices are pretty good as well (Sytrus for example is one of the bundled additions in FL Studio XXL, and easily the most powerful bundle the DAW has, whereas Ogun has a freeware variant!)

I can always count on them and I get nice results.

As for the more "mediocre" synths bundled, such as SimSynth or WASP, they're still decent for emulating certain retro sounds - that's what I use them for at least -, and WASP practically saved me the trouble to torrent or ebay old synthesisers such as the reFX Claw or that Korg Polysix VST.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:22 pm

Well, I crashed Sonar today. Took some birthday cash and bought ToonTrack EZ Drummer at Guitar Center. Weirdly enough it is $150 on GC's site but the store had it marked down to $110. I installed it and fired up Sonar, and when I inserted the VST it crashed. Registered and found a patch on ToonTrack's website for Vista compatibility and the crash went away. So it wasn't Sonar's fault.

Overall I am happy with it - there's a hint of "humanity" in the drums (so don't buy it for trance music) which at least initially I really like. Programming a drum track is probably my favorite thing about working in a DAW, and I take alot of pride in trying to make them sound real. Hopefully this will halp.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:08 pm

A friend of mine let me have a go with his copy of EZ Drummer - sounded pretty good, but I'm pretty crap when it comes to percussion unfortunately, even programming it in cubase :(. I need more of a drum/percussion program with a load of extensive midi parts I can mangle up. (I know EZ drummer has them, but I always had problems dragging them across, though as I said, I only had a few tries with it - (and used it on a couple of my tracks, quickly).

(I specialise more in tunes/melodies/harmonies than percussion, but then, I am a fiddle-player).

As for Reason, I had a quick fiddle with it on it's own, then quickly swapped to using it via re-wire in Cubase instead, and haven't looked back. The only (big) problem I've got with it, is trying to figure out how to make it sound like I want - most of the sounds in it are far too narrow and dull for my liking. (TBH Reason isn't alone in that - quite a few virtual instruments suffer from the same problem). I've yet to figure out properly what to do about that, and make things sound like I want them to - (which is why I've been using synths etc. that already sound like that, and then use them to base a piece off instead).

Unfortunately I badly need a new comp/DAW atm before I can go back and work on my music again - my old one died, and I wouldn't trust it on this comp as far as I can throw it. Got £400 saved up so far, but am trying to get about £600 or so for a basic core i7 920 at least, which should help a lot. (Using 100% software instruments means lots of CPU needed). Not sure if Lynnfield will be out by the time I get the money together though... Not sure where to buy it from here in the UK either TBH...).

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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:51 am

derFunkenstein wrote:there's a hint of "humanity" in the drums (so don't buy it for trance music)

Trance music can use percussion like that too - for example, check one of my old favourites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDIBvKXacT4&fmt=18

Also, if you prefer cheap schoolkids' music, there's always Safri Duo with their horrible tune compositions and their drum sets. Seriously, everyone I know practically "grows out of" Safri Duo, the older they are, the less they like them, and I notice a sort of cartoony tune leading that I would otherwise expect from an underage Pixar production's score. Theoretically there's nothing wrong with their stuff, but you still don't want it.
But there are drums.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmzSVwwIDr4&fmt=18 - check this out, they even pussified the intro progression (oh mistress why), but they have drums.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:08 am

Before I go on, I will open the possibility that I missed the point of a pun based on the title of the song. The drum rhythm in the second one wasn't bad, but...ugh...the music. Just not my thing. :lol:

I don't think I got across what I was trying to say. What I mean is that the timbre of, for example, the snare or the kick drum can change slightly depending where on the head it's hit. There's a function built into EZ Drummer where it can do the same thing - ToonTrack took multiple samples of each drum so that you can hear minor (if you listen) details and slight differences on each hit, if you enable that function.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:58 am

I've decided I won't get good drums until I bought myself a MIDI drumkit. I'm useless getting the drums the way I want them "programatically", making them sound relatively "live". When playing it live, you can just change and try new things on the go. And playing the drums on the keyboard (like, say, this) is a no go. :-)

edit: Can't you use a "sweeping" detune (at a relatively fast interval I guess) with the drums, to get that effect?
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:11 am

derFunkenstein wrote:the possibility that I missed the point of a pun based on the title of the song.

That was accidental.

Now I get what you mean, I think I've seen similar things in synths called either a humaniser or randomiser or inharmony knob, but that usually just adds some random cents to each note, unless it's a serious synth and considers multiple values. I'm not sure how AAS String Studio does it for example, but I know you can scare children with it if you turn up inharmony to max.

To me, what you found is the next best thing to recording live performance and using the resulting .wav in a project.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:13 am

FubbHead wrote:edit: Can't you use a "sweeping" detune (at a relatively fast interval I guess) with the drums, to get that effect?

No, pitch is not the same as timbre. However, that's usually the thing I resort to, regardless.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:28 am

I'm such a drumming klutz that it'll be a long time before I invest in an electronic drumset. :lol:

And I'm content with that. I'd put up an MP3 earlier that was recorded with the Roland TTS built into Sonar playing the drums, and I was very happy with how it'd come out, but in EZ Drummer it's much more realistic. tweakheadz had a pretty good article on getting started. The key is to find a single bar of drum line you REALLY like, copy and make a change into the next bar, and then copy both of those bars into another, and make a few more tweaks. Eventually you end up with a 4-bar pattern that sounds great. The big thing is to be careful with note velocities. With something laid back, you can toss in a 2-stroke roll on the "e" of the second and fourth beats once in a while (1+e+and+a being four sixteenth notes), or maybe a single hit. But the thing I've observed is that hits like that are just the stick being "dropped" rather than forced down, so the velocity of the note should be way lower.

I also think it's easier to make kick and snare hits a velocity of 127 and then adjust the velocity of the hat/toms/cymbals to match, and control loudness with the volume slider. That's a habit I developed when Apple started integrating Garage Band support into Logic and it seems that other drum VSTis work the same way.

And just remember that you only have two hands and two feet - and if you have a closed hi-hat, you only have one foot. I've seen very coordinated people pull their left foot off the hat pedal to hit the kick bass twice quickly, but it's something I've avoided writing. I'm not really into metal, where a double bass pedal comes in handy. The biggest mistake I made when starting out is that I'd have to have a drummer with 3 and 4 arms.

edit: Like Meadows said, a detune doesn't really do what you want. raising or lowering the pitch doesn't change the nature of the sound, just the pitch. This has the added benefit of not having to go through note-by-note and detuning by hand, as well. :p
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:33 am

derFunkenstein wrote:Before I go on, I will open the possibility that I missed the point of a pun based on the title of the song. The drum rhythm in the second one wasn't bad, but...ugh...the music. Just not my thing. :lol:

I don't think I got across what I was trying to say. What I mean is that the timbre of, for example, the snare or the kick drum can change slightly depending where on the head it's hit. There's a function built into EZ Drummer where it can do the same thing - ToonTrack took multiple samples of each drum so that you can hear minor (if you listen) details and slight differences on each hit, if you enable that function.

It's called the "humanizer" and it variates intensity of the hits. Conversely, since DFH/EZDrummer (they're the same back-end, different front-end and sample quantity) have several samples per drum according to intensity, the hits get varied. From my limited experience, it does this variation automatically VERY well. The only time where you can relatively easy spot that it's electronic is when you do lots of double-kick lines in heavy rock/metal. But I still have to say that I was very impressed with what that "one button" trick does.

Also if you can, use the built-in patterns in EZ-Drummer as they were played in-studio by Morgan Agren (check this clip and watch him do 3-4 rythms concurrently) with a real drum kit w/ triggers on it, so they're pretty realistic by themselves.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:53 am

I hadn't had time to get into the loops yet, but I've heard great things about them. I usually do my own, but if they're that good I might just use them from tiem to time.

I'll pick up DFH at some point. GC didn't have it in stock, but if they had and it was as heavily discounted as EZ Drummer was, I would have at the time. It looks like DFH has a different drum for every note in the GM drum kit, which would be pretty awesome to have if only for variety.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:39 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:The biggest mistake I made when starting out is that I'd have to have a drummer with 3 and 4 arms.

What keeps a group from having 2 drummers in well rehearsed roles? :P
Something like Safri Duo, but both drummers desynchronised in their own role.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:16 pm

The best programmed drums I have heard are on Meshuggah's Catch Thirtythree. That album is probably greatly aided because the samples used for DFH are Tomas Haake's... the drummer for Meshuggah. You could tell they were programmed but I had to concentrate on it.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:55 pm

Alright, as soon as I get some spare cash, I've been convinced, I'll pick up DFH as soon as I have cash again. I can't imagine I'll ever need another drum VST again. Session drummer and the Roland TTS are OK, but EZ Drummer by itself is awesome, and if DFH is as professional as it sounds, it'll be an awesome add-on.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:08 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:Alright, as soon as I get some spare cash, I've been convinced, I'll pick up DFH as soon as I have cash again. I can't imagine I'll ever need another drum VST again. Session drummer and the Roland TTS are OK, but EZ Drummer by itself is awesome, and if DFH is as professional as it sounds, it'll be an awesome add-on.

"In The Air Tonight" would be a good first runthrough of the digidrums.
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Re: DAW workstation preferences.

Postposted on Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:26 pm

But Phil Collins sucks, right? ;)

Actually the only part I'm interested in playing with is that part where Mike Tyson punches the guy out in The Hangover.
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