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I know there are one or two amateur electronic producers around these parts. What's your preferred DAW, what would you avoid, and why?

@hugh I use Ardour, it's foss and very robust for recording and editing audio, mixing, prolly mastering too.

Most ppl I know use Ableton, which is good, and easy to find pirate copies of, and it's great, has a lot of awesome features and effects, but i found the process using it kind of boring personally.

LMMS is a free one, not really suited for recording though it's more like FL Studio

Reaper is a cheap one that is very well loved, i know a mastering engineer who uses it

@hugh There's none I'd really *avoid* tbh, some of the very obscure ones i've tried kind of suck but all of them are good for different workflows

@hugh I use Cubase Artist. Because it was the cheapest upgrade with the features I wanted from the edition of Cubase AI that came free with a Yamaha mixer that I bought.

The features I needed: time signature tracks, so I could make songs that have time signature changes in them; pitch correction, because oh, do I need it.

Cubase also feels like a descendant of the sequencer I used back in the 1990s (Music-X for Amiga) so the learning curve wasn’t super steep for me.

I looked at Ableton Live and Korg Gadget for iPad but they felt less useful for making a full song with intro/verse/chorus/ repeat/bridge/etc as my pop songs are structured. They are probably better for making pieces that are in EDM territory. They are probably also better than Cubase for live performance, which I definitely don’t do.

@hugh @raeaw @virtualwolf Brilliant, three answers, everyone mentions something different, LOL.

@futzle I asked for that really haha. But *reasons* for opinions are more useful than opinions alone.

I'm leaning towards Ableton because I'll be wanting to make EDM, but it's a little pricier than I imagined. Logic Pro seems to have a lot of complaints around it in more recent times. At least nobody has mentioned Pro Tools which I've already ruled out.

@raeaw @virtualwolf

@hugh @raeaw @virtualwolf I think Ableton Live is a solid choice for EDM. Lots of support from the community. It’s like buying IBM, no one gets fired for choosing Ableton.

I believe they have regular sales if you can wait. Or, apparently, one can pirate it, whatever that means.

@futzle I don't mind paying people for doing a good job, they do appear to have different levels. Trying to work out whether I can convince them I'm a "teacher" for the education discount.

@raeaw @virtualwolf

@hugh @futzle @raeaw @virtualwolf I’m also voting for Ableton Live. It’s geared towards music *production* a lot more than others which are more intended for multi-track recording and mastering.

@s0 that's the impression I'm getting. I guess when I think about the price is pretty reasonable if you compare it to say, a hardware synth.

@hugh @futzle @raeaw Oh interesting, what were the complaints about Logic out of curiosity?

@virtualwolf @hugh @futzle @raeaw I used Logic a very long time ago. It was OK, but not as friendly as Cubase (or Tracktion). But then it went Mac-only and I lost any interest.

@futzle @hugh Tracktion Waveform is free (not libre, you can pay for the pro upgrade, but I find the free version has all I need), easy to use, and works well on nearly any system (even a Raspberry Pi).

@hugh I'm using Logic Pro, mostly because it was a one-time purchase and you also get a _90 day_ trial of it so I could give it a good tyre-kicking.

@hugh I used to use Logic Pro quite heavily in another life but Ardour is supposed to be pretty good for a FOSS product and it's functionality.

@hugh I like that you know exactly what I mean 😂

@hugh I went for ableton. It's got a really nice user interface that plays nice with my knowledge of Adobe products, and you can test it quite well.

@hugh If I need to fire up a DAW, I use Reaper. Lightweight, fast, very customizable. It has a "batch export" option which has been super helpful for sampling.

Years ago I swore by Renoise. I love trackers and step editing. If I wasn't using my own tools, I'd be using Renoise.

The only DAW I'd avoid is LMMS. It objectively sounds bad, will randomly add glitches to your rendered output, crash often, and is just generally unreliable.

@hugh I went for Bitwig Studio for electronic music years ago, and switched to Cubase when I became interested in media composition. I personally can't stand the UI of Ableton, it's very counterintuitive to me. Bitwig has a very cool interface for live performances and seems to have matured into a very reliable piece of software in the years since.

I ended up with Cubase because it was easy to find templates, lessons and tutorials for it in the media composition area. I stayed with it because it just works for literally any type of music you want to throw at it.

@hugh I use Reaper and am quite happy with it. I do my sequencing with Supercollider so I’m not using any of the DAW’s MIDI stuff, it’s basically a mixing desk. When I decided to start recording as a lockdown project I took advantage of Ableton’s sale and I learned a fair bit about it, but I find that something about the interface takes me out of my creative zone, which is what made me try Reaper.

@hugh i use reaper, mostly because it was the best out of the free ones ive tried but its very easy to get started with imo and it works quite well for everything i need, which is a mix of recorded and electronic stuff--as far as i can tell, its just as fully-featured as ableton or fruity loops or any of the more common ones for edm. while it has a few less inbuilt plugins/synths for edm style music, the amount you save by using reaper definitely gives you some extra budget for plugins anyway

@hugh I use bitwig. It has a lot of similar features to ableton but it can run on Linux as well as Mac and windows. It has a very modular attitude to modulation which is cool.

@hugh
I use Reaper. I use a paid version, but you can trial for free.
Works on Mac, Win or Linux as needed. For me, I found it intuitive on the first try.

But I can't comment on its suitability for EDM, as it's not really my scene.

Another DAW I kind of like is CakeWalk for its simplicity. It was recently bought by the social media platform BandLab. If you signed up to BandLab you could dowload CakeWalk for free. Not sure if that offer is still the available.

I don't use a lot of plugins. Mostly try to get my sounds worked out before they hit my USB interface. So the PC is more or less just capturing, and mixing. Sometimes I just use a Tascam Portastudio because I don't want to fire up a computer at all. I don't know if some DAWs handle plugins better than others.

I'd recommend accessing trial versions of the DAWs that interest you and narrowing your choice from there. Learn with the one you find intuitive, and then move later if you have to.

@hugh for me having used cubase since v3 and cakewalk since similar ancient times, surprisingly Ableton is my fave. Perhaps it's because of the kind of loop-based songs I create or perhaps my dev mindset, but the session view makes so much sense to me and no other daw really does it like that.

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