What is a good alternative to a DAW for those with "computer anxiety"

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by Maguchi, Jun 16, 2021.

  1. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Holic

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    I've had "computer anxiety" for almost 25 years. In 1996 or '97 I was required to start using a computer and software programs at work, and have struggled with computers, programs and software since. Despite my almost 25 years of both professional and personal experience with computer programs and software, I've struggled with all types of computer formats. I'd like to keep this post to the best recording formats for those who struggle with digital recording and DAWs, and not posts about advice on how to improve or overcome "computer anxiety." That is perhaps a worthy subject for another post.

    Digital recording is unquestionably the way of the present and the future. I've spent months working with Audacity, Avid, Garage Band and even worked a little with Pro-Tools in a professional studio. I've really struggled with menus and commands and under what pulldowns things were hidden. I don't have the recall to remember multi-step commands. Some of our brains don't work that way and some of us are challenged and stressed out by DAWs.

    I learned a little about recording in professional studios as a guitar player in the late '80s and early '90s. Back then it was mostly 16 and 24 track magnetic tape and a mixing board. So now because of my initial experience and difficulty with computers, instead of a DAW, I use a Tascam Model 24 Mixer/Interface/Recorder that saves your work to SD cards (see the pic below). I pop in an SD card, save my work, label it, pop out the card and pop the SD card back in when I want to work on it again. I use the onboard compressors, reverbs, delays and occasionally the onboard chorus. There is still some menu diving, but it is easier and less stressful for me than the DAWs I've tried to work with. I like using the physical faders, knobs and pushing buttons instead of mouse drags and mouse clicks.

    I use a physical outboard Alesis SR-16 drum machine for scratch drum tracks. An actual electric bass with strings that goes direct to the board. An outboard physical Korg SV-1 73 key keyboard also direct to board or a 73 key Rhodes electric piano that gets amplified and mic'd. For guitar it's an acoustic to mics or a Telecaster and tube amp with a mic or two in front of the speaker, and vocals with a mic or two. I usually use a good outboard hardware preamp in front of any mics. For effects I like to use outboard hardware rack effects or pedals with bass and guitar.

    What do you here on TDPRI recommend for recording for those of us that have "computer anxiety."

    https://www.researchgate.net/profil...ence-and-Satisfaction-in-Higher-Education.pdf

    TascamModel24.jpg
    Not my photo and not my Recorder/Mixer

    RhodesElPiano1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
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  2. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Not sure what you're asking - ?
    Do you want to find a DAW that works similar to a traditional recording format?

    By the way you describe it, it seems that the Tascam 24 is working for you.

    Unless you buy a physical controller (to work with whatever daw), they're all still mouse clicks, drop downs and key commands.
     
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  3. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    Therapy.
     
  4. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Doctor of Teleocity

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    Why not just become more expert in that Tascam? My Tascam DP32 does it all, right through to final mastering. Those new mixer/recorders were very appealing.

    Both DAWs and advanced hardware will have their own complexities though. Can you edit and print some process crib sheet for less common procedures.

    i would say I rarely dive into menus on Garageband. The app versions on iPad are simpler still.

    What DAW things are you wanting to do? More detailed editing, soft synths, midi editing, final mix, etc?

    Easiest for me... and if you can get online, is bandlab editor in a browser. www.bandlab.com

    Do you have an audio interface? I assume the Tascam will act as one.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
  5. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for your attempt at a response, that's been suggested to me before. I admire those who are able to work well with DAWs and computers. However, I specifically asked to keep the answers to recording formats that might make it easier for those who struggle with digital recording and DAWs, not for advice on self improivement for our issues. I'd rather spend my time recording and playing musical instruments than working on self improvement. How to improve our abilities with DAWs, software and computers is a worthy topic for another post.
     
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  6. edvard

    edvard Friend of Leo's

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    Back in the early '90s I did almost 3 albums worth of music with a Tascam Porta-05 and various drum machines (I would have killed for an Alesis...), so modern DAWs are quite the godsend, even though I haven't fully recorded one song on what I have now. Go figure.

    I'd say if your rig works for you, then keep using it. There's no need to move to a DAW if there's no need, and you don't need the stress of forcing it. The only thing that a DAW might have as an advantage over what you have is the number of tracks (theoretically infinite, but reality is how much computer you run it on) and plugins that replace outboard gear. You can beat the track limit by simply getting a recording station with more tracks, and acquiring and trying out plugins is easily a rabbit hole unto itself that you may just be better without.
     
  7. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    As klasaine mentioned, at the end of the day all DAWs do basically the same things, and come with the same learning curves. I am far from computer savvy (I could probably brick an Atari 2600 given the opportunity), but I started with the basics (arm track, set levels, hit record) and worked my way up from there in baby steps.

    There are gobs of YouTube tutorials for just about every platform out there that can take you from the very basics all the way up to power user skills, too.
     
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  8. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    If you can work a tape recorder or a Tascam digital recorder, you can work a DAW. In fact, the DAW (if you choose the right one) is much simpler to use than the digital recorder.
     
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  9. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Holic

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    Yes, looking for recording methods, hardware and software that are easier/easiest for people not familiar with digital recording methods.

    OK, that makes sense. A mixing board that controls the DAW. I dabbled a little with a Pro-Tools program that was hooked up to a big mixer in a studio and that was easier than trying to do the moves and patching with a mouse. What are some of the more simple and basic controllers and digital recording software available?
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
  10. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Holic

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    I sincerely appreciate the confidence boost. However I've been down the digital recording road before and I'm looking to try alternatives. You say "if I choose the right DAW, it is simpler." In your opinion, which DAW is the right one?
     
  11. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I started out with a physical controller (more commonly called a control surface) with sliders, buttons, and knobs on it, but once I got to the point where I learned how to use the automation functions it was clunky and frustrating in comparison. But it was a necessary thing to have when I was starting out and served me well for quite a while.
     
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  12. Alcohen

    Alcohen Tele-Meister

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    It's not clear from your posts why you want to make a change. What's wrong with the old tech you've been using? How about the digital equivalent? I have one friend who uses a Zoom R8 rather than a DAW for recording. Plus, bonus, there's got to be a ton of old but high-end gear people are just throwing out because it's not digital.
     
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  13. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I use Reaper, but started off on 2 track reel to reel tape and worked my way up as better technology became affordable. I don't miss tape or Tascam portastudios at all.
     
  14. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I started off with two cassette decks and a mixer when I was a teenager. I would record a stereo track on one deck, then play along to that and record both parts together into the second deck, then rinse and repeat until I was done. There was no punching in, I had to play everything start to finish, and the generation loss compounded with every run. My first four-track cassette recorder was a godsend, but I was still forced to bounce a lot of tracks. Then I graduated to an eight track cassette Tascam machine, and fro there the Korg 32 track digital unit. It crashed, and I moved to a computer-based system and haven't looked back.
     
  15. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Doctor of Teleocity

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    The challenge is that any hybrid or mixed solution will bring even more problems... physical control surfaces = drivers and configuration tasks, etc.

    You really need to identify what it is you are seeking from a DAW that the current solution does not support.

    punch in/punch out points? Does the Tascam support a footswitch like mine?

    Midi-tempo synch?

    Wave level adjustments and editing?

    Why not a hardware synth workstation? Will do drums and the keyboards and quantise, etc. before you commit to the recording. I use an old QY700 hardware midi sequencer still.

    if you have a an ipad, you can get software like Logic Remote app (works instantly with Garageband if on same network) or DAW control which is a virtual control surface. Track arming, Transport controls and mixing.. no menus.

    Other than Save and Render, I rarely need to use a menu in any DAW. Most core tasks - add track, levels, inserts, etc are user interface icons. About the only menu item I use regularly is ‘normalise’ for when bandmates send me badly levelled tracks. What actions/outcomes are you seeking in the menus?
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2021
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  16. Tom Quartz

    Tom Quartz TDPRI Member

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    If I had the space, I'd totally go for something like your Tascam in addition to my DAW. There's a lot to be said for having physical knobs/sliders and not having to worry about patches/updates/etc.
     
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  17. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Holic

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    It doesn't really take up that much space. It's only 20" H x 23" W x 4.5" D. It weighs 22 lbs and I set it on top of a 20 space 19" rackmount rack with casters that holds my patchbay and outboard effects in it. You can roll it around and I have a low stool with wheels from Harbor Freight that I sit on when recording.
     
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  18. loudboy

    loudboy Tele-Meister

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    You could pick up an Alesis HD-24XR, some outboard gear, and an Allen and Heath or Soundcraft analog mixer and go semi-old school.

    People can't give that stuff away, and you could most likely put together a setup that worked well for way under a grand.
     
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  19. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Holic

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    I've heard good things about Reaper and I will take a look.

    Yeah, I don't miss the expensive tape, dealing with cleaning the tape path, transports, demagnetizing and storing boxes of 8 track and 16 track master-tapes. I do like some of the physical hardware; the mixers, working the faders, turning knobs for levels and pushing buttons to enable and disable tracks.

    I used to use a Tascam Portastudio too and still have it, even though I haven't used it in a long time.

    TascamPortaStudio.jpg
     
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  20. burntfrijoles

    burntfrijoles Poster Extraordinaire

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    Wouldn’t something like this be the simplest solution. Sure, it’s a Portastudio but it has faders, plenty of I/O, etc.
    [​IMG]
     
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