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. GearGeek01

    GearGeek01 Tele-Meister

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    What I decided years ago was that I was a guitarist and not a recording engineer. Maybe just leave the recording to the people who know their business, and concentrate on your chops and don't pretend you are a recording engineer.

    The industry needs you to buy all that crap, but you don't need it.

    Don't be threatened and brain washed by the manufacturers that seem to think everybody needs to be a recording engineer. Its all marketing hype and what they need to do to stay alive in their business. But... by the time you buy some of their junk, and get sort of familiar with it (might take years) they have already started marketing the next latest-greatest piece of gunk, amd will soon stop supporting the piece tou just now because familiar with.

    AND ..... Get ready to read "War and Peace" sized manuals.

    Best tip >> just keep to the guitar and let the real recording engineers do their trade...

    Being a recording engineer from scratch (if you want to be any good at it) is like learning a new foreign language. Sort of like us dumb English speaking folks trying to learn Japanese or Chinese... I just deemed it isn't worth it, much easier to find someone with a reasonably priced home studio and pay somebody to do it right.

    What's next?... you think you need to learn to read music in order to make music... NOT...
     
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  2. Biffasmum

    Biffasmum Tele-Meister

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    To the original post, I’d apply the Iron Triangle - Good, Cheap, Fast - where you can only pick two.

    I cannot think of an alternative to a DAW that isn’t going to leave you lacking.

    You have Mac so GarageBand Is included and good. You just need a suitable audio interface.

    The best advice has already been given, but I’d add being good at Googling the right questions will save time and sanity. Just think about what you want to do and if the interface isn’t intuitive to make it clear, think about how to frame the question and ask the internet. Or us!
    :)
     
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  3. MervsMods

    MervsMods TDPRI Member

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    I have this.. It works for me. I'm like the OP, not too savvy with DAW's....
     
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  4. mandofrog

    mandofrog TDPRI Member

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    Another thing to consider is if you'll ever do any collaboration with another musician. Whether it's across the internet or across the street, using a DAW with common file formats (like .WAV) makes it easier to share/edit tracks. Email or Dropbox or SD card, just drag/drop and send tracks back and forth at will. Using an outboard multi-track unit (i.e. PortaStudio) or a DAW with proprietary format, you can still share tracks, but it's extra steps each time.
     
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  5. Daddydex

    Daddydex Friend of Leo's

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    I keep my Portastudio hooked up to my desktop at all times. No extra steps at all to share files.
    The OP already has a Tascam Model 12 which works as a standalone recorder AND as an interface for DAW. This thread is going around in circles. :)

    Dan
     
  6. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Afflicted

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    Since you say you "cannot think of an alternative to a DAW that isn’t going to leave you lacking," I'll frame the question this way. For those of us that like to use PHYSICAL faders and knobs, what is a good control surface to use with a DAW, or what control surfaces do you like or can recommend. If none, that is also understandable, but then a response is not necessary.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
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  7. braveheart

    braveheart Tele-Afflicted

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    I've bought a digital Tascam 8 track recorder and hoped to get back that 80s 4-track tape recorder feeling...

    but the annoying menu/button jumping and limited editing options etc. were killing my creativity.. so I'm back in DAW land
     
  8. loudboy

    loudboy Tele-Meister

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    The standalone boxes are user-hostile. They were a stopgap solution until computers became powerful enough to record multiple tracks, which they have been for 20 years.
     
  9. Mad Kiwi

    Mad Kiwi Friend of Leo's

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    I see you heading down the same path I (mistakenly) went and I have to admit, if someone told me what I'm about to....I would still have done it, for the GAS of new toys is strong!!!

    I learned in the long run and thousands of dollars later that the control surface was a manifestation of a desire to have faders (especially motorised ones) and not the actual solution to the problem.

    In my experience, the faders and other hardware associated with volume etc. are purely mixing related. Which is 100% POST recording.

    They have almost nothing to do with the recording process.

    The recording process is about setting up the instrument, the recording level, and then the performance.

    The performance and actually putting something down under the red light of recording is the hardest part.

    Adjusting the volume, stereo panning and mixing levels of tracks (i.e. using a control surface) has nothing to do with the actual recording. It is an entirely separate process done after all the recording is complete.

    The song structure, instrument tracks, recorded sounds (amps, mic's, guitar tone) not to mention lead guitar, rhythm guitar, drum tracks, bass tone/amp etc. all have nothing to do with faders.

    Worrying about a hardware console before you have got any of that down is jumping the shark. IMO...YMMV.

    I only realized this after buying all this stuff and still not having recorded anything years later, as soon as I bought the Tascam DP32SD.

    That the hold-up was getting off my ass and actually just recording to tracks.

    Getting off my ass involved cutting down ALL the options associated with VST's, software DAW's and limiting myself to just simply arming a track and getting on with it.

    Absolutely nothing to do with a hardware controller.
     
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  10. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Afflicted

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    Hmm, lots of information to digest. After recording the tracks, will need to mix 16 or 24 tracks down to 2 stereo tracks. I initially learned to do that on a portastudio with faders. So kind of makes sense to stick with a physical mixing board with real faders. Something simple, not too elaborate. You mentioned not needing motorized faders and I agree completely. Automated faders for a home studio are overkill. The last couple of studios I was in before the shutdown used ProTools but with a physical mixing board, patch bay & rack effects. I already have a lot of effects and a patch bay & once I get a mixing board for a control surface, it should be the last one I buy. I have no interest in upgrading every 2 years. That's why I'm asking for recommendations.
     
  11. vhilts1

    vhilts1 Tele-Holic

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    Digital recording largely is difficult to use and is of low quality on many levels


    Invest in

    1) A good basic drum machine you can adjust like the Alesis SR16. Great drum tracks made easy. As good as real drums with a good drummer ?? No. But ALOT easier to record and use

    2) Get a pro quality TASCAM unit. Stay away from the onboard effects on all instruments. Those have A LONG WAY TO GO before they are really even close to typical effects pedals. Vocals maybe. Instruments no.

    3) Good microphones are worth it. Build a collection over time.

    4) Great recordings never happen if you are constantly struggling to manipulate/understand/use your equipment. To a large extent digital recording has made things more difficult for most musicians. Particularly DAW. It’s going to be a long time before that changes.

    5) Most home brewers who champion this stuff are horrible at being honest about how their recordings really sound. Most aren’t any better than TASCAM cassette units from 30 years ago

    6) great recordings start at a basic level with great sounds. Then microphones that capture it in an organic manner. Then a recording unit. Then a mixer. If you aren’t getting great recordings follow that chain and be honest about where it’s failing. $$$ doesn’t always = better. It’s much more about being at ease using the equipment you have

    7) Get comfortable with what you have and what you are. No studio has ever had the best of everything. The great ones embrace less than ideal situations and look for creative ways to lay something down brilliant.
     
  12. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks! Your post really cuts to the challenges and hands on requirements of recording. Recording studios and engineers have for years relied on the "Good Rule." It is: good musician + good instrument + good performance + good acoustics + good mic + good placement = good sound.

    I have an Alesis SR-16 drum machine and about 20 mics I've accumulated over the years. What is your recommendation for a pro quality unit. The 2 models that Tascam has right now are the Model 24 or Model 16, and the Tascam DP-32 SD or DP-24 SD Portastudio. Both seem like good options.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2021
  13. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy Tele-Afflicted

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    I like Magix' approach. They have DAWs that you can learn from their basic platform and graduate to the next level if you wish. For your consideration, try out the Magix Music Maker. It comes with everything you need such as drums track makers, a bass line maker, synths, and tons of midi and audio loops. I used it for years with no problems. After years of using it, until I recently convinced myself to up my game and try its big brother, Samplitude Music Studio. So far, I am liking it. The transfer was easy as everything looked the same except that this was like it was on steroids!

    Also, it doesn't cost a lot.

    I know that Reaper is the standard nowadays and it is also really good! But, I am more used to Magix and Samplitude. So, I will stick with it.
     
  14. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks, at this point there have been plenty of recommendations for different DAWs. I'm really looking for which control surfsace to use with a DAW. Not which DAW to use.
     
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  15. mindlobster

    mindlobster Tele-Afflicted

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    Stick with what you have now, as others have said on here. It'll be hard to beat as far as hardware solutions go. I use computers for music every day, as a work thing, but I'm not going to try and sell you on it - it is a time-suck and often a pain in the tail region as well.
     
  16. matman14

    matman14 Tele-Meister

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    You're asking a rather DAW specific question. And not many have experience of multiple units in multiple DAWs. So it's difficult to get recommendations for just one piece of the puzzle.

    Avid control surfaces were designed for Avid Pro Tools DAW, Presonus control surfaces for Presonus Studio One DAW, etc. They integrate with the DAWs they were designed for seamlessly. They also work with other DAWs to a greater or lesser degree.

    Then there are third party surfaces made by companies that don't make DAWs.

    They also work with many DAWs but the integration is often far from seamless, and can be an extremely variable experience from DAW to DAW.
    Every DAW has varying levels of Eucon, MIDI or Mackie Control protocols built in that will allow them to integrate some or a lot of control surface functionality. It depends on which unit you pick, how it was designed, and how it matches up with your DAW of choice.

    Some DAWs will do a lot natively, some you will need to teach how to work with a control surface through MIDI learn or third party apps.
    Then there are variations in the unit's themselves. What kind of controls, how programmable/adaptable they are how many faders you want and so how many extenders you may need. And that's all before you even talk about budget.

    You can also go a whole different way and send audio out of the DAW to a mixer and mix there, and then return the master back to the DAW for final recording. The DAW becomes a tape machine, but then you need a lot of channels of good conversion, and a mixer and hardware FX of good enough quality to make multiple round trips in and out of the DAW worthwhile.

    Depending on which studio I'm working out of I, have used variations of both methods, and even others that integrate tape into the digital mix.
    However, In my own studio I use ProTools with a mouse and keyboard.
    As awesome as the Avid control surfaces are with a ProTools HDX rig, I just don't want to spend thousands on devices that do not pass any audio. But guys and gals I know who work in post production for film and TV could not operate without a control surface.

    Either way is not cheap and requires a good amount of setup.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2021
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  17. Mad Kiwi

    Mad Kiwi Friend of Leo's

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    Quoted for prosperity.

    Absolute golden advice
     
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  18. vhilts1

    vhilts1 Tele-Holic

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    If I had to choose I would get the Model 24 mainly because that seems the easiest

    But maybe consider just using what you have for a bit longer and focusing on developing a recording style and ethos that’s easy and you like

    I like to put a good number of mics in kinda permanent positions all over the room/studio I’m using. They largely stay in place from project to project and I access whichever ones I think I like in the mix down. Sometimes I listen to different combinations and try several in the mix

    I save a few mics for a more flexible mic placement approach to any given instrument/amp. Almost always I start with at least 3. One close up one farther away but kinda in the same sound line that I try to sing or play to while singing or playing “through” the close one and one in some odd angle/space that my ears are telling might yield a different unexpected tone. And of course my semi permanent room mics all over.

    I really wanna be able to conceptualize a dead simple repeatable step by step process. That’s important.

    For me that means:

    1 All my mics coming through....I will figure which ones I like best later....and sometimes that needs to change from my first thought as the puzzle pieces come together often of a picture I didn’t see at first

    2 I don’t worry TOO much about eq-ing/ mixing each mic perfectly as long as it’s close to what I feel or I’m hoping for.....I can fix in final mix down.....a fair amount of time a “bad” or less than I’d hoped for sounding mic becomes the perfect one in the sonic puzzle believe it or not

    3 once I get each instrument on multiple mics I just start trying different combos usually on top of a rough scratch track just me and an acoustic and maybe a kick and snare ....but those are really just rough outlines....just enough to give me some context until I have a few tracks layered I’m beginning to like....then I can do more and fine tune things

    4 learn to be happy with where you are....if you are trying to make a Stones sounding track get to a place close enough will make you content....the only people that really sound like your influences are your influences...

    5 cultivating contentment doesn’t mean being sloppy or lazy.....unless that’s part of the charm.....lol

    6 most great artists have about 3 vibes they can do pretty well....and they rewrite about 3 songs over and over again....that’s where some of the magic is....lol

    7 don’t ever forget be yourself and that most of your favorite music was limited by several factors but it got off the ground because the artists let it happen
     
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  19. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Afflicted

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    Cool, I'm getting some good info. My needs are simple. Record one track at a time, or a duo, trio or small band live in the studio type recordings. Mics in front of amps for electric guitars, mics in front of acoustic guitars, bass and keys direct to the PHYSICAL mixing board (control surface), mics for vocals, mics for live drums or outboard PHYSICAL drum machine direct. Probably won't get as elaborate as sending audio out of a DAW to a mixer and back to the DAW again. One manufacturer that you mentioned caught my attention. Mackie, I've had a couple of their boards circa 1990s and really liked them. Well I'll keep searching for a physical mixing board that will work for my needs.

    https://mackie.com/products/profxv3-professional-effects-mixers-usb

    Marshall&SM57.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2021
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  20. loudboy

    loudboy Tele-Meister

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    Even the most basic Drum VST is so far beyond an SR-16 that it's ludicrous. Choosing from one of hundreds of supplied patterns and dragging them onto a track is about as easy as it gets, and you can then edit them to your hearts' desire, if you want.

    Complete control over levels, panning, room mics, etc. If you're working on an actual project, you can bring in every sound on its' own track, for total control and the ability to use all your favorite processing on them.

    As an example, this is free:

    https://stevenslatedrums.com/ssd5/#SSD5FREE
     
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