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Best Software for my needs


T-dubs

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So I know this seems to be a never ending debate! ;) I've been to so many forums and threads that I hardly know what to believe anymore! But I would really appreciate some advice from unbiased musicians!

 

I have been a keyboard/piano player since I was young but recently I've been experimenting more with the electronic/soft synth side of music. I'm not sure yet but I don't think I'll be doing too much real audio recording although maybe some vocals and the odd guest musician.

 

Here is What I know or have heard

- Pro Tools seems to be "Industry Standard" for real audio recording.

- Many people think Logic and Cubase are good for sequencing/midi/ and softsynth recording.

- I will be composing a lot of my own music, although I'm not theory based

- I have a new 24" Imac and prefer a mac based program.

- Logic comes with Mainstage which I think would be great for when I play live.

 

What I'm wondering

- What software might best suit my needs as a synth/keyboard player into textures, layers, drum loops etc?

- What do many of the artists such as Owl City, Lights, Keane, Coldplay, The Killers etc use for themselves?

- Even though I'm intending to do mostly midi and softsynth recording I will probably be doing some vocals etc and have heard that logic isn't as good for that type of thing. Is this a myth?

 

Right now I'm leaning towards Logic but I don't want to buy a program and then realize it's not what I wanted. I would love to hear from some unbiased musicians who might have suggestions that fit my needs.

Thanks so much!

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Since you already have the Mac - Logic would be a good choice. Whatever you use, there is a learning curve. There have been some recent threads on this forum about the most recent version of Logic.

 

With just about any of the upper quality DAW software packages (PT, Logic, Sonar, Cubase in general purpse) there will be the ability to do pretty much what one needs to do, limited by which version, available hardware, and computer power. It is really a matter of finding one that seems to work in a logical manner by your own though process. As with many things in life, once a certain quality threshold of software and hardware is passed, the ultimate quality of results depends more on just how skilled the person using the software is.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

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Since you have the Mac, I assume you're already using Garageband - if not, it's not a bad way to get started - and can actually do everything you mention above.

 

For better synths and samplers and a much richer feature set, however, for the price, Logic is a great choice.

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I say this all the time..... they are tools. If there really was only one right answer, that is the answer that we'd all be using.

 

If you want to keep using he machine that you have, then Logic is a good choice.

 

Each software is a little different, but among the popular choices they all do a great job at most common tasks, and it is more a matter of look and feel than functionality... because for every software that claims to be able to do this or that better than the competition, it has equal shortcomings in some other part of its arsenal.

 

My personal view is that one should find the software that he likes and get the computer that supports it, because the software investment is long term, while the computers get replaced every few years. But many people find it easier to just keep using the operating system that they are already familiar with rather than try to learn a new one, so they buy software to fit the computer that they already have.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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If you're just getting started, GarageBand might help you better evaluate your needs for growth into a more advanced recording program. I've never used it as my Mac is ancient and doesn't have garageBand so I don't have personal familiarity with it. Many people are quite happy with it; especially as s starting point.

 

I chose my recording DAW first, and that chose the computer OS platform for me. I had no prior experience with Macs so it was terrifying as I didn't have internet at first and so was 100% on my own trying to simultaneously learn Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Digital Performer 3.x, and everything about running a home computer (my first). I didn't know anyone with a Mac at the time.

 

If it weren't for Digital Performer, I would switch to Windows when I buy my next computer, due to frustration at Steinberg over poor support for the eLicenser USB dongle and other issues with lackluster Mac support from key vendors. But I tried Cubase several times for many hours (the free AI4 version that ships with Yamaha keyboards) and couldn't get it to pass MIDI (audio was trivial). I nearly had a nervous breakdown.

 

I have never used Logic, but look at their tutorials and on-line information now and then, and it seems greatly improved. I have considered buying the cheap edition just in case I collaborate with someone who uses Logic, and in case it does some things better, but the last two releases of DP (within a year of each other) are such giant leaps forward that I have no motivation to try Logic anytime soon.

 

Logic and Digital Performer are quite different from each other, but not as much so as either is from Ableton Live. Both are more or less based on traditional linear analog workflows. It sounds like you've already decided at least that you prefer a traditional approach to something more loop-centric like Live, Reason, etc. So you know your choices at this point.

 

Another new choice though is PreSonus StudioOne, which is cross-platform and growing quickly in features. It's still a bit immature and not full-featured but reviews are great and they might have a trial version. Some are saying it has the most intuitive interface yet, but of course that is subjective.

 

There is also cross-platform Reaper, but I personally found it confusing as it is so open-ended it's like using a modular synth and I prefer apps that know their domain and stick to them in a way that is logical and yet flexible at the same time. Reaper tries to be so accomodating that it makes very few decisions and thus to me is extremely confusing but to others is a gold mine.

 

Mackie also has its cross-platform Traktiion program, but I'm not sure if it has very advanced MIDI capabilities. It comes with their interfaces and as I recall is intuitive but basic.

 

It is too bad that neither Logic nor Digital Performer have a "try before you buy" version, but it would be hard to produce one that didn't get cracked. See what you can get out of their videos, tutorials, and anything else they have posted on-line.

 

Ignore what your favourite musicians use. That's what works for THEM, and even if you're doing a similar style, that won't necessarily be what works for YOU.

 

Also, the dominance of ProTools is irrelevant to your decision, unless you are making a living at producing others and have to "play the game" to be taken seriously. Nothing wrong with ProTools per se, but most people use the LE version which is a joke with its track limitations and lack of MIDI VI support (it's slowly being introduced, but PT is primarily for those who only record instruments and not those who also mix with VI's).

 

I am totally in love with Digital Performer. The changes in versions 6 and especially version 7 have more than quadrupled my productivity. MOTU is truly innovating these past few years, finding ways to build redundancy into the program such that they can have a unified interface that doesn't get cluttered and which allows you to minimise window-switching and to stay focused on one task at a time while "dipping" into other contexts from your active window without losing train of thought!

 

This is also their most stable version in years, and DP has the most advanced MIDI editing of any program. Logic introduced direct VI support first, but many of us feel that DP's approach is more direct and more intuitive. Both are good though.

 

SOmetimes when I buy software that comes with instructions for how to set it up for different DAW's, I read the descriptions for all of the DAW's, and that can be very telling. For instance, the instructions on how to set up Vienna Ensemble PRO as a hosting environment for VI's within your main DAW, tell a lot about the complexities of each program. Digital Performer's instructions for VE PRO are straightforward; Logic's are not, nor are ProTools or Cubase's. I forget which one of those had instructions four times as long as the ones for DP.

 

You might be able to download PDF's for Cubase; not sure. At least for AI4? They have around five manuals as I recall. MOTU does not publish a PDF as they consider the printed manual the anti-piracy dongle. Not sure whether Apple releases a public document for their versions of Logic or not.

 

Also, I'm not sure whether GarageBand gives you a taste of what it is like to work in Logic or not. Perhaps someone else on this forum can answer that question.

 

I personally would advise against Cubase as their support for the Mac is dwindling. If you were already using it, I would say it's personal choice and what you're comfortable with. Steinberg just announced a few days ago that they would not be supporting PPC's. Of course, Apple already made that choice.

 

So that brings us to another point, which is longevity. MOTU has the best track record of supporting legacy hardware and software on the Mac (better than ProTools). That may or may not matter to you, as ergonomics and ease of use have to come first. But it is worth considering if you are down to the wire with two close choices for your DAW.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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I have used GarageBand quite extensively and I'm definitely ready to move on to more advanced software. I also failed to mention that I used Cubase Le for audio recording to a certain degree so I'm familiar with the basics. I certainly agree with the fact that they are just tools and they need to work for your own unique working patterns. I'm not sure I should spend the time figuring them all out or just pick one and learn it well. Also, is their even a demo for the latest version of Logic Pro?
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- What software might best suit my needs as a synth/keyboard player into textures, layers, drum loops etc?

 

- Even though I'm intending to do mostly midi and softsynth recording I will probably be doing some vocals etc and have heard that logic isn't as good for that type of thing. Is this a myth?

Logic is a robust, full featured audio application, as good as any on the market. Whoever told you it isn't is full of it. For your first question, nothing comes close to Logic for the load of high quality softsynths, sounds, and loops that ship with it. Nothing.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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I would have said FL Studio, as I think it has the best MIDI features out there, and is great for recording too. Many of its native plugins are pretty sick as well. Its parametric EQ is honestly the best software EQ I've used.

 

Sadly, it's not available for Mac.

 

Did Garageband not fit your needs in some way? I see no need to spend big bucks on a DAW unless it's necessary, especially if you're just testing the waters.

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Well, Logic has several versions, and you could start with the $149 version which I think is missing most if not all of the soft synths and maybe some of the more advanced editing features.

 

MOTU also has a dumbed-down version of Digital Performer but it only ships as part of their hardware interfaces (then it entitles you to a cheap upgrade to the full Digital Performer).

 

The Logic soft synths are very good and at one point in time were each considered best in class and lusted after by those who didn't want to shell out $1200 (at the time) for the full Pro edition of Logic.

 

There are now many equivalent or slightly better solutions, but the ones from Logic are still up there in the top three, and are, after all, "free", if you're buying an edition of Logic that includes them anyway.

 

The latest DP update focuses on the needs of guitarists, which was an unexpected turn of events. They have this innovative new plug-in called "LiveRoomG" which is "sort of" like Audio Ease's Speakerphone, using convolution-related technologies to recreate different mic positions and room environment for guitar cabs.

 

Overall, the freebies that ship with Logic trump those that ship with DP. But it would be silly to buy a DAW for its non-DAW features. Those are just icing on the cake, when present.

 

It takes awhile to learn any program. And I don't recommend DAW-switching once on the path with one already, as the grass will always be greener until you're on the other side of the fence. Unless there is something absolutely crippling about a particular program, best to stick with what you know once you know it.

 

So, if you have enough of a feel for how you would work in a large project context, you might be able to tell enough about the respective programs from on-line literature, videos, and tutorials, to make a decision.

 

I don't have experience with Logic, unfortunately, so can only go so far in comparing it with DP. But DP doesn't get the respect it deserves (especially recently, as they have jumped so far ahead in such a short time), and gets unfairly trashed on GS (as does Sonar, which is also very good but Win-only), so I do feel the need to defend it as well as make people aware of some of its unique features (some of which don't get discovered right away). It also has an excellent on-line community of SERIOUS professionals helping each other out.

 

One feature unique to DP is projects with multiple sequences. I find this really speeds up my work, as most of my projects these days are for specific clients who become return customers and need related work done. It is much easier for me to hop back and forth between sequences in the same project than to hop between project files. It's faster, allows for sharing common resources and setups, and also allows for more cut/paste options vs. just the ability to drag/drop or import between projects.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Here's the link for PreSonus Studio ONE:

 

http://www.presonus.com/products/SoftwareDetail.aspx?SoftwareId=11

 

If I was starting from scratch, I would give it serious consideration. It is universally winning praise everywhere.

 

There is a demo, fortunately.

 

Most of us on this forum picked our DAW's years ago, so you are unlikely to get much feedback on Studio ONE here.

 

If you decide to download and try the demo, do let us know what you think of it. And also see if they have a helpful on-line support community (i.e. user forum).

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Here's the link for PreSonus Studio ONE:

 

http://www.presonus.com/products/SoftwareDetail.aspx?SoftwareId=11

 

If I was starting from scratch, I would give it serious consideration. It is universally winning praise everywhere.

 

 

It doesnt have a staff view. While this might not matter for many people, it's a huge problem for me. It also doesnt have any softsynths that I am aware of, at least it didnt when I tried the demo several months ago.

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I've heard that the softsynths / samples in Logic are good but not great. Maybe I would need to buy separate plugins for world class sounds? I'm not there yet by all means :)
The softsynths in Logic stand up with any comparable softsynths on the market, yet they're all there ready to go in Logic for $500. As with most things, it's the user that makes thing world class - craftsman, not the tools...
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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Digital Performer has excellent notation tools, and they became WAY more advanced with version 7. They now support lyrics that can be tightly bound to the notation vs. just serving as "comments" as in many other tools.

 

I'm not sure about Logic's notation tools, but someone said they're fairly advanced now as well. This indeed is something that sets apart the more established programs from the newer ones.

 

I have Notion as well but rarely use it. I really like having a well-integrated notation editor when working with MIDI, but of course dedicated notation programs are better for preparing publishable copies, as MIDI doesn't include much in the way of standard markings (for orchestral work, at least).

 

That's great that the soft synths come with a mid-priced version of Logic. I just can't imagine choosing a DAW for its soft synths. With money to spare, one might buy one for that purpose. But in the end, it makes a lot more sense to buy a DAW because of its DAW features, which are what make it unique and are the features that will get results. Some of the better soft synths these days are free or nearly so. I don't think anyone need worry their budget will be broken if they deal with them separately from a DAW decision.

 

ProTools puts people in a similar boat of being tempted because of Velvet and other ride-along soft synths and samplers (or effects plug-ins). It would be easy for any of us to accumulate a lot of desirable effects, soft synths, and libraries, by buying every DAW there is, but in the end, as each uses a locked format, it means we have to learn how to use all of those DAW's just to access the add-ons.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Logic 8 and now 9 have been a significant redesign from previous versions, providing a much more gradual step from GarageBand than before. You also have the ability to start a project in GB and move it to Logic when you need more features.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Thanks, I was wondering about the process of switching from Garageband to Logic. I like the interface, style of display so maybe that would suggest I'll like it. I'm thinking I should just pick one and go with it and learn it well instead of hmming and hawing!
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If you're anywhere near an Apple Store, you can go there and play with it on one of their computers.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Yes, Gearslutz is full of people who are constantly switching DAW's and who talk down to people who stay on their original DAW as "stuck in the past". Ignore those folks.

 

Mastering a DAW takes years, and the learning curve never stops. ALL of the DAW's available today do more or less the same thing, just in a different way. There is no one workflow that suits everybody equally, and so the style of each DAW may appeal to certain audiences more than others. That's really all you're trying to figure out.

 

I hated eMagic's Logic eight years ago (but it has been improving rapidly under Apple's guidance), and Cakewalk was transitioning to Sonar at the time in a way that made me nervous about continuity from version to version. I have no regrets picking Digital Performer, but I probably would have done just as well buying a Windows box and picking Sonar.

 

I had the benefit of "try before you buy" because I had different collaborators who used each of the major systems in play at the time. That really helped a lot, but still was only a superficial introduction to each DAW. And all DAW's have grown way more powerful in the last eight years.

 

Make-or-break feature decisions don't really exist today, if you're taking the long view of sticking with a DAW forever. This is similar to the constant leapfrogging of notation programs from release to release. It's called Competition. :-) There are people on Gearslutz who switch DAW's or notation programs every time one of the competitors adds a feature the others don't have. Then of course the other play catchup shortly thereafter.

 

I mentioned productivity issues with DP 7.1 because they matter a great deal to the EXPERIENCED recordist. It's harder to tell these things when starting out, and I wouldn't make a purchasing decision based solely on that criteria anyway -- I'm just happy to see my vendor improve my workflow with each release and maintain an overall consistency vs. a sea change with each new version like some vendors do.

 

I have been watching Logic for the past few years and it makes me nervous. :-) The nervousness is regarding the fear that Apple could kill off their competition on the Mac platform, leaving me stranded. The double-edged sword is that they have inside knowledge, which helps, but they also are less inclined to support older hardware and OS versions since they have a vested interest in selling new computers. Funny how that works.

 

There are some surprises with things that have problems, considering the inside knowledge, but again, I think it's silly to make a purchasing decision based on TODAY's bugs and problems. This is NOT a short-term decision, and not a cheap product. But fortunately, Logic offers more pricing tiers than most of the other DAW's, so for a beginner, it's the lowest risk, especially if they know GarageBand.

 

Unquestionably Apple is aiming for seamless transition from GarageBand up through the tiers of the Logic family. This is a very good thing. It puts all the other vendors at a disadvantage, but the decision should be based on overall comfort level with the philosophy behind the product. If you can find a copy loaded on a computer at an Apple Store, hopefully you can spend some time with it to get a feel for its workflow and how well you can hold your train of thought, even if that is hard to judge without working on a real project.

 

Although I said features don't matter, that's only true to a point. If you are working in film, the differences between the DAW's becomes greater in terms of what can be accomplished.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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I've heard that the softsynths / samples in Logic are good but not great. Maybe I would need to buy separate plugins for world class sounds? I'm not there yet by all means :)
The softsynths in Logic stand up with any comparable softsynths on the market, yet they're all there ready to go in Logic for $500. As with most things, it's the user that makes thing world class - craftsman, not the tools...

 

+1. Don't base your software of choice on what you "think" you should have. You have to know how to use the tools before they'll do you any good anyway.

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I don't use software synths, so I can't really talk about them other than to say that they exist in some form or another in most DAWs, I know that Samplitude has a couple built in, plus Vandal.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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I have been watching Logic for the past few years and it makes me nervous. :-) The nervousness is regarding the fear that Apple could kill off their competition on the Mac platform, leaving me stranded. The double-edged sword is that they have inside knowledge, which helps, but they also are less inclined to support older hardware and OS versions since they have a vested interest in selling new computers. Funny how that works.

 

Mark, I don't have sleepless nights worrying about this. This idea that Apple would buy up companies in the creative professional space in order to OWN/CONTROL these critical apps was a "strategy" concocted in the early 2000s. First there was Final Cut Pro and then Logic. But it seems to have stopped with Logic. Apple is a very different company today. In fact they are much more of a mobile device company than just a computer company. A breakdown from the last quarter shows that of the $15.7 billion in revenue, nearly $12 billion of that came from portable Macbooks ($2.8 billion), iPods ($3.4 billion) and iPhones ($5.6 billion). And another $1.2 billion came from iTunes.* All of the new revenue streams are coming from these small devices.

 

I read somewhere that 40 people from the Final Cut Pro group were laid off recently. I don't know what this means for the pro division within Apple but it's very obvious to me that the focus of the company has changed substantially over the last decade.

 

Busch.

 

* copy/paste from somewhere on the Internet.

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You are missing the bigger picture. Everyone fears Microsoft, but it is Apple that wants to control your world. The diversification only strengthens their position.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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You are missing the bigger picture. Everyone fears Microsoft, but it is Apple that wants to control your world. The diversification only strengthens their position.
:bor:

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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- What software might best suit my needs as a synth/keyboard player into textures, layers, drum loops etc?

 

- Even though I'm intending to do mostly midi and softsynth recording I will probably be doing some vocals etc and have heard that logic isn't as good for that type of thing. Is this a myth?

Logic is a robust, full featured audio application, as good as any on the market. Whoever told you it isn't is full of it. For your first question, nothing comes close to Logic for the load of high quality softsynths, sounds, and loops that ship with it. Nothing.

 

 

+ 1 :thu:

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Minus one to the above (I've never been successful on THIS forum, unlike others, in inserting the visuals).

 

Buy a DAW for its DAW features. The other stuff is icing. Only if you're dirt poor and can't afford any other software for the next five years, should your choice of primary DAW be based on non-DAW features. It's the DAW features that will dictate how well you can complete your projects, and each person has a different style.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Unfortunately, most DAW's do not offer demos.

 

PreSonus Studio One, and Reaper, are the only ones I am aware of that offer demos, off the top of my head.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari

Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold, G5422DC-12, T486, ES295, PM2, EXL1

XK1c, Voyager, Prophet XL

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Unfortunately, most DAW's do not offer demos.

 

PreSonus Studio One, and Reaper, are the only ones I am aware of that offer demos, off the top of my head.

 

Samplutude, SAWStudio (I kmow), Sonar ( I believe...) all offer demos. I think that most do. The problem is that new users don't know enough about the process to know if a given software works for them or not. The best way that I have found to learn a software is to work with someone who is knowledgeable about a given tool and is capable of showing you how it works. THAT is a lot harder to find.

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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