Choosing a music creation software is far from easy when ” you don’t know more than that,” whether you’re a musician or not, for that matter. To make the right choice, you would have to have tried them all and practiced them for a while. Need a little help getting started? Follow the guide.
Whether one is a confirmed musician or a complete neophyte, it is difficult to ignore the central place of the computer in musical creation today. The home studio has brought “the studio at home,” and the software is carrying machines that would typically have required meters and square meters of space. Direct consequence: anyone is capable of composing, arranging, recording, mixing, or even mastering, in short, producing. If only this “anyone” had a little ear, imagination, patience, and useful software.
However, it is clear that the MAO (computer-assisted music) is increasingly accessible. The production software, called DAW – the acronym of the English Digital Audio Workstation that can be translated into a digital audio-takes advantage of increasingly fluid workflows and almost all have a trial version as well as a French version. Also, like graphic design software, video tutorials are legion; this dramatically simplifies learning.
Note that, for all that, these software do not lack advantages or particular points of interest: Ardour is free, Ohm Studio highly collaborative and Reaper extremely versatile. These may include fewer “default” tools or instruments than their more expensive counterparts; however, you can easily find the free VST plug-ins you might need on the internet.
A fixture in the world of free software, Ardour is a sequencer for recording and mixing audio. This digital audio workstation allows sound engineers, musicians, and composers to record, edit, and incorporate an unlimited number of audio or MIDI tracks. Among its strengths, Ardour supports many external interfaces, the use of an audio JACK server, as well as VST, LV2, and AudioUnit plug-ins. It also has many options for editing and mixing audio and extracting a soundtrack from a video.
Although it is free software, only the demo version of Ardour is entirely free. To download the full version, the user can pay developers from $ 1 for the current version or choose a subscription, from $ 1 per month, to take advantage of regular updates and support.
- Ohm Studio
In the MAO field, the vast majority of software allows only to work as a monopost, making it difficult to share and send projects. To address this issue, the French Publisher Ohm Force and its Ohm Studio software integrate features of collaborative and community composition. Musicians and composers can then compose pieces in several, remote and real time.
Ohm Studio does not have to be ashamed of its many editing functions between virtual MIDI instruments, the many integrated effects, and the use of VST plug-ins. The interface is clear and easy to handle, collaborative features such as Project Management and chat room allow for near-instant management and editing between multiple users. Among the different versions available, let’s note that the free version of Ohm Studio allows to create up to 10 projects, some features are limited. The software is also available in two paid versions Studio Pro (39 euros) and Studio Pro XL (99 euros) with additional export possibilities, effects, and plug-ins.
If Reaper is undoubtedly one of the best feature/price ratios in this selection, it owes it to its long list of recording, editing, and audio mixing functions. This digital audio workstation supports an unlimited number of audio and MIDI tracks and has excellent compatibility, either with controllers or with a host of effects plug-ins or instruments VST, VST3, Audio Unit, DX, and JS. Moreover, this solution is appreciated for its plug-ins integrated under the ReaPlugs suite including, among other things a multi-track pitch, effects like delay or reverb’ as well as several synthesizers. It is also used to extract soundtrack from a video.
To download Reaper, you can try it out for free in a 60-day demo version or take advantage of the full version for 60 euros.
Designed for both composition and Live, Reason adopts a material-oriented philosophy. Indeed, this software emulates a rack of studio instruments and controllable effects whose virtual cabling can be fully configured by the user. It includes a full mixer of quality and among its racks, polyphonic synthesizers, rhythmic samplers, equalizers as well as a pattern sequencer and many effect racks.
Reason supports the recording, editing, and mixing of an unlimited number of audio and MIDI tracks. It is also compatible with external plug-ins VST, VSTi and Audio Unit on macOS. The process of musical composition is made more intuitive thanks to its elegant and pleasant interface. A 30-day free demo version is available to try out all of Reason’s features. To definitively adopt it, two versions are available for purchase: a lighter edition with Reason Essentials features at 69 euros or the full version at the price of 369 euros.
- Ableton Live
Ableton Live is a music production software dedicated to living audio composition and arrangement. It has two primary interfaces, usable on two monitors, a Session screen to manage the clips and organize them into scenes, then the Arrangement screen to record the scenes live and arrange them according to the various effects, settings and plugins integrated or external. On this point, the VST and Audio unit standards are supported.
Also, this solution also includes a host of audio effects modules and virtual instruments. On this last point, let’s note the presence of Drum Rack, Impulse or Simpler to add quality samples. It is also compatible with a large number of MIDI controllers. This sequencer will find its place during rehearsals or concerts thanks to the plethora of features dedicated to Live.
The free demo version is limited to 30 days’ trial. For the full version, three editions are available including several supported tracks and different plug-ins: Intro at 79 euros for essential tools, the Standard full version at 349 euros and a final Studio version with samples and effects at 599 euros.