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DAW for MAC ~ Minimal Amount of tracks with editing


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Hello Everyone,

 

OK, 1st post on the newly designed forum and hope everyone is doing well. The forum really looks great btw ~ so belated congratulations!

 

Speaking of new, I finally took the advice of my fellow forum members (Dr. Mike, Dave B) when on the forum hangs and responses from forum members here, and purchased a new Mac Mini M1 w 16 GB Ram and 1 TB SSD.  I was waiting for a Mac Mini upgrade, but it seems that Apple is not doing this right now.

 

This will be my computer for recording original tracks intended for streaming. I forgot how many mini / audio tracks can be running at the same time but know from some YouTube video's that this setup might be way more than ample for my needs. But I do have to make these as professional sounding as possible.

 

I wanted to ask what the best DAW would be to record (midi recording and audio rendering) in order to produce these tracks at a professional level. These recordings will mostly be piano based but might include other instrumentation as well. I would need to edit these after midi recording to make adjustments, so would need both a piano roll and midi visual representation. Also some sheet music rendering and printing options would not hurt. Also I wanted to ask if mastering software would be needed.  I know the company that produces EZ KEYZ has mastering software available as well.

 

At the moment, I'm really enamored with the 3D piano that's in my Nord Stage 3. It sounds extremely natural to me, especially when controlled when played from a weighted keyboard. But I know there might be better options being the piano needs to sound as authentic as possible to a live grand. A lot has been made of Ravenscroft but I even recall video's made by 7NoteMode on YouTube using the Ivory II American Concert D that sounded really nice as well. These were done a number of years ago though and he is using a Nord Piano now.

 

Also, in the event I want to load any large libraries, a suggestion for a 4TB external SSD would be welcome. I currently use a Passport 4TB for storage of online video's. Assuming from past replies that I still wouldn't need to go Thunderbolt for transfer of audio files and samples (Mainstage, Kontakt or KeyScape libraries). I think all of my software is 64 bit but may be wrong since I purchased some of it over 10 years ago.

 

Best Regards to everyone,

 

Anthony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Without a doubt as a Mac M1 user you are going to want to use Garage Band and/or Logic Pro written by Apple to run on Apple hardware, already Apple M1 ready with its substantial number of instruments, sounds and FX already included and already Apple M1 ready. 
 

Logic Pro does have notation /sheet music view and ability to print. You’ll have to learn how to use it though.  Alternatively you may find using a free notation editor like MuseScore perfectly adequate. There are also cloud based - running in the web browser notation editors that work well if you aren’t scoring large projects professionally - try noteflight.com or flat.io

 

 I’ve been going through a lot of software pianos - Logic comes with three that you may find entirely useful - on par with many of the libraries in your Stage 3.  But yes, you may find that most detailed and realistic piano instruments are coming from third party developers like Spectrasonics, Synthogy, Garritan, etc. 

 

Many plugins that are not M1 ready are in fact running with negligible processing hit in Apple’s emulation scheme called Rosetta.  You don’t need to do anything really. But each month we are seeing M1 native versions of plugins coming out.  
 

Installing your large sample libraries to an external SSD over Thunderbolt or USB-C is a great idea and will work very well. You may need to check the developer’s website on how to install the files there, or move them there after installation.  

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Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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As far as I know, Garage Band is 16 bit only. 24 bit will provide much higher headroom - you won't have to try and get your levels so close to zero, -6db will sound better on 24 bit than  -.05 sounds on 16 bit because you'll have more headroom. 

 

Any DAW that will run at 24 bits will more or less sound the same as any other DAW if you use the same interface and the interface is where the rubber meets the road, i.e. audio is converted to digital and digital is converted to audio. Interfaces have gotten very good as well, it's probably more a decision based on channel count than sound quality. 

 

If 8 inputs will get you there in terms of things you'd like to have at hand, 4 might fall short. 

 

I'm probably "odd man out" because I've been using Waveform Pro for many years. They do have full free version - Waveform Free. It has the features you need in your DAW and is easy to learn. The biggest advantage might be that you would have $200 to spend on other needs if you used Waveform Free instead of buying Logic. 

That might not be true as well, your research assignment.

https://www.tracktion.com/products/waveform-free

 

Be aware that if you add AU plugins to your DAW it will probably add a nice selection of plugins that Apple includes with every OS, I tossed a few and still have 28 useful plugins that came with my Mac mini M1. 

 

3 other places not to scrimp - Studio Monitors, buy the best speakers you can afford but not consumer grade - get Studio Monitors. These will tell you the truth about your recordings, warts and all. Those are paramount. It would be hard to go wrong with JBL or other well rated brands. Second would be room treatment, lots of options here including DIY so more research but a good set of monitors in a treated room will make the biggest difference in the quality of your mix down of any equipment you can buy. 

 

Last but not least and possibly optional for your project - get a good microphone. Lots of variables here, there are reasons to use dynamic moving coil, dynamic ribbon and/or condenser mics and some of those reasons change with your environment. If there is enough noise going on outside a dynamic moving coil microphone could be your friend. Generally speaking the ribbon and condenser microphones will pick up more background noises. This is something you'll need to decide based on your location. 

 

Never hurts to have a good desk, chair and lighting. Have fun!!!!

 

 

 

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It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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If you have a Mac you might as well go with Logic because it's a lot of DAW for $200.   Bit of a learning curve, but all the full DAW are.   Then don't scrimp on you audio interface that's your main connection between your Nord and your computer.   Than as mentioned in the last post a good set of studio monitors.   A good general purpose mic' and your all set to rest is all about getting up to speed with your gear and making test recording.  

 

 

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Hey Guy's - thanks a lot for the responses so far. So in reviewing everything you advised:

 

I don't have to tell you that I'm new to using a MAC for this specific purpose - so know absolutely nothing about using a DAW and mastering recordings! As a matter of fact I don't know if separate mastering software is really needed for just piano recordings.  That being said.....

 

1) I'm probably going to be using headphones rather than studio monitors - at least if I'm only doing piano tracks.

 

2) In the case of solo piano music, outside of basic EQ would I still need to master the recordings (compression etc) or pretty much use the straight signal coming from the Nord or internal VST? The mastering software I spoke of had channel presets that could be used to make things a lot easier for multi-track recording. But I am primarily concerned with just straight piano recordings at the moment.

 

3) In your opinion - is the Nord 3D piano comparable to using software. In some cases, the recording actually sound much cleaner without the extra level of detail VST's provide, like piano noise. As a matter of fact, I've turned off the pedal noise in the Royal 3D piano on the Nord stage and saved this as a new preset. If using an internal VST, I could save tons of money in not purchasing an A/D interface, since I could do everything internal to the computer.

 

Regards,

   Anthony

 

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I'm a PC guy, so all I can suggest is:

 

Skip the limitations of 16 bit recording. 24 bits is the way to go. Way more headroom to work with. Getting a hot recording level is not required @ 24 bits.

 

Reaper is a DAW option and free to try and works on both Mac and PC. 

 

For professional results, good studio monitors + good listening environment is important. You can treat the sore spots in the room without spending a lot of money and utilize room correction software on your monitors and headphones. ARC by IK Multimedia or SonicWorks  are a couple to look into.

 

Loads of good plugins out there these days for final mixing/mastering to checkout as well. 

 

You'll also need a lava lamp. 🙂

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25 minutes ago, AnthonyM said:

2) In the case of solo piano music, outside of basic EQ would I still need to master the recordings (compression etc) or pretty much use the straight signal coming from the Nord or internal VST?

 

Do your solo piano recordings sound good to you on your speakers, which you presumably have had for a while and have listened to well-recorded piano tracks from other commercially released recordings? Just compare with what's out there that you like. You may only need a limiter plugin on your master bus to raise the volume to the correct level. Most DAWs should have such a plugin.

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Hey Everyone,

 

Good Afternoon Reezekeys,

 

Actually I haven't fully set up the studio and have been more concerned with practicing and composing with the time I have available. That's why I'm using headphones, as to not inconvenience my fiancee', who also lives in my household. But they are nice quality Sony headphones with extended range and a nice flat sound as to not accentuate bass frequencies. Using the 7NoteMode video as an example, I believe the piano sounds fine, and would easily be good enough for most streaming and CD work.

 

And I know I have a lava lamp in storage.  That's one essential touch for any home studio! I really appreciate all of the suggestions and feedback guys, really. It's just that I'm very ignorant when it comes to home studio setup's and in particular DAW usage.

 

Really, I was hoping to use the Cuebase Lite that came with one of the keyboards I purchased, since I figured that most of the features of the advanced level DAWS would be wasted for what I need to do. But don't really have the desire to learn two programs.

 

It's bad enough that I never got around the OS of some of the keyboards I have here. I just miss the simplicity of earlier boards. It's worth noting speaking of Midi that my Roland A-88 outputs

 

Hope your all having a nice day!

 

~ Anthony

 

 

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Honestly, from the way you’re asking, GarageBand is the way to go. 

It’s the most newbie-friendly DAW out there. 
 

It’s FREE with your Mac anyway. 

 

It’s extremely capable. 
 

It does basic notation. 

It includes a HUGE library of virtual instruments and samples. 

 

There’s a direct and 100% compatible upgrade path to Logic if you ever outgrow its needs. 
 

Compatibility with system updates is never going to be an issue. 
 

The 16-bit/24-bit thing is far less relevant than people here make it out to be, especially for home recording, but either way, GarageBand has been able to record at 24 bits for fifteen years now. 
 

The ONLY real downer is that, while internal instruments can be played via MIDI, you cannot use MIDI to control an external instrument. 
 

 

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36 minutes ago, analogika said:

 

There’s a direct and 100% compatible upgrade path to Logic if you ever outgrow its needs. 

 

+1 The GarageBand interface is the same as Logic but simpler. You projects can be re-opened simply in Logic when you upgrade. No fuss.

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4 minutes ago, analogika said:

Hasn’t been since 2007. 

And, I learn something! Thanks!

I have Garage Band and have never opened it, time to explore... 😇

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It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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Garage Band and Logic Pro X are the same app underneath. They wrote a new interface for beginners - but they are the same code.   

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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