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Easy to use DAW

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Easy to use DAW

Postby dnmwales » Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:49 am

I've recently invested and setup the hardware of my home studio with a Rode NT1A mic and a Behringer UMC204HD. Everything works and sounds great but I'm now entering new territory when it comes to using a proper DAW. In the past I've used Audacity but find this isn't giving me the correct professional result and there is some latency on the vocals. My plan is singing with backing tracks and so far I've had a look at Studio One, LMMS, FL Studio, Pro Tools First, Cakewalk and Ableton and whilst I can sort of find my way through to record with a backing track I'm not getting any luck with producing something that sounds remotely close to professional and the amount of settings is pretty much blowing my mind. I appreciate that recording isn't an easy task and having tried several programs I know it's me thats being a bit thick when it comes to these programs haha but is there a program that anyone could recommend that is easy to use and navigate and gives fairly professional results without needing a degree in sound engineering? I saw a video of someone using Garageband and that seemed to have a control panel which was very easy to set the compressor, EQ and reverb all in one easy panel. Obviously with windows I cant use Garageband but is there something easy out there that can give me a fairly professional result just for my own use?
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:03 pm

Any DAW, including Garage Band and Audacity, is capable of producing professional results. The difference is the knowledge that comes from achieving a degree in sound engineering :D

Apologies for the flippant reply but, while changing to a different DAW may well be a good thing (as you say Audicity is fairly basic) it won't solve your problems. Other factors will make much more difference. So a couple of questions :-

1, What are you using for monitoring?
2, Is your recording/mixing space acoustically treated?

Finally vocal latency is probably due to monitoring through the DAW, if your AI has direct monitoring that should solve the issue.
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby dnmwales » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:17 pm

No need to apologise...I appreciate my question is pretty ridiculous cos I'm looking for an easy solution to something that is quite complicated and requires a great deal of knowledge.

I'm basically looking to record songs at home for my own amusement (for now at least) so was looking for something easy that would start me off on the right track. In answer to your questions I'm using headphones to monitor and whilst the room isn't properly treated acoustically it's not too bad in terms of how the vocals sound (at least for what I need anyway).

I think what I was looking for was something that I can easily set the compressor, EQ and reverb with and that this would then give me a fairly professional sound for what I need. When recording with some of the DAW's I get a bit lost at the moment when it comes to mixing and applying effects such as reverb etc.
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby desmond » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:25 pm

It sounds like what you need is to choose an appropriate DAW for your needs and budget, and set up a simple starting project template which has what you need already set up - a vocal track with an EQ plugin and compressor on it (preferably already set to a useful starting point), a send to an aux track with some reverb, and a few instruments tracks.

I'm sure people here will be happy to help you set that up if you're not sure how to do it.

Once that's done, all you really have to worry about is the song bit, without worrying about getting lost in options...
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby dnmwales » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:29 pm

Yeah that sounds exactly like what I need haha! I'm only using a backing track, no instruments, so just need something setup that makes it all comes together and sound adequate for my current needs...obviously as I learn more I'll hopefully progress further in time but for now I just need the basics and would appreciate any help.
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby blinddrew » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:38 pm

Depending on where you are, there are a couple of people on the forum who offer one to one tuition in the UK (Zukan in the south, The Elf in the north) and - as someone who's made use of their services previously - I'd heartily recommend spending a few quid and getting a bit of hands on advice. It'll make a huge difference.
Instead of / as well as that, I'd recommend getting a copy of Mike Senior's book, "Mixing secrets for the small studio" (the companion "Recording secrets" is good too but maybe less relevant for your current requirement). Really useful book that will remain a reference source for a long time.
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Oct 24, 2019 1:08 pm

dnmwales wrote:In the past I've used Audacity but find this isn't giving me the correct professional result and there is some latency on the vocals.

Latency is down to the way the system is set up and the interface settings in the computer.

Your interface has a MIX control in the phones section which allows you to hear your mic input directly on one side, and your backing track playback from the computer on the other side. You need to make sure that your DAW is set up so it only sends the backing track to the interface, without your mic channel. That way, you get direct, latency-free monitoring of your mic, plus the backing track, and you an adjust their balance with the Mix control.

Most DAWs have a function to mute a track output when it's recording.

When you've finished tracking your vocals, you can adjust the DAW to send out the recorded vocal track as well, so you can mix and process everything.

As for professional results, that's really not the gear or the DAW, I'm afraid. It's mostly the recording environment's acoustics (a voice recording made in a boxy-sounding room will always sound boxy and amateurish, regardless of how much processing you throw at it!) -- and your talent and skill to use the equipment properly. There are no easy shortcuts to the learning curve... But it is a heck of a lot easier now than it was thirty years ago!

Audacity is a good and capable DAW, but it's probably not the easiest or most versatile... but then again learning a new DAW is very time consuming. Don't be fooled with the 'grass is always greener' aspect of alternative DAWs. They all basically to the same thing and sound the same... choose one based on your preferred work flow.

... the amount of settings is pretty much blowing my mind.

Desmond's suggestion of creating a default template that loads just the core facilities you require is a very good one, and there will be people on these forums that can help you with that once you've picked a DAW.

But I would also second the suggestion of finding someone to spend time with you on your own system and help you to (a) optimise the recording environment, (b) setup the DAW correctly and for ease of use, and (c) start you off in the right direction as far as using the processing tools are concerned! A few hours would be a very worthwhile investment, and there are some excellent tutors on hand in these forums...

H
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby ef37a » Thu Oct 24, 2019 1:19 pm

You mention "latency" Dn'? Well you won't get that very low unless you use ASIO drivers and Audacity cannot, even though it is an excellent audio editor and totally free.

The the Behringer 204HD is an unknown quantity to me and I an not sure how low latency can be got with the interface? They seem to be very popular so I guess many people are getting good results.

"EQ and compression". I would not worry about them whilst recording. Just get as clean a recording as you can and at sensible level of around -20dB fs. Once in the can you can play around with it ad inf with effects in the DAW, no need to get into pluggins if they are confusing you.

I would urge you to try a demo of Samplitude or one of the "lesser" MAGIX DAWs. I find them pretty staightforward but it has to be said, no DAW is easy.

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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby The Elf » Thu Oct 24, 2019 1:22 pm

dnmwales wrote:I think what I was looking for was something that I can easily set the compressor, EQ and reverb with and that this would then give me a fairly professional sound
If you ever find this then you'll have the world at your feet! :mrgreen:

As the others have mentioned, there are a couple of us here that will undertake 1-2-1 tuition. I try to be the guy that I wish I could have met when I began recording! It does sound as if you need a basic grounding to get you headed in the right direction. If it's of interest I'm happy to discuss. Just drop me a PM.
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:09 pm

ef37a wrote:You mention "latency" Dn'? Well you won't get that very low unless you use ASIO drivers and Audacity cannot, even though it is an excellent audio editor and totally free.

Audacity can use ASIO drivers... but possibly not via a route that is practical for the OP.

The problem is that Audacity are not able to distribute the product with that support as the GPL license and Steinberg's ASIO license are incompatible. They blame Steinberg but IMHO it's a mutual incompatibility and could be resolved by either side using a different license. In their words:

"The ASIO technology was developed by German company Steinberg and is protected by a licensing agreement which prevents redistribution of its source code.

Audacity, as an open source program licensed under the GPL, is therefore currently unable to support ASIO, despite being ASIO-capable (providing the user's sound device is similarly capable). If ASIO support were distributed in Audacity builds this would either violate Steinberg's licence agreement if the code were included, or conversely would violate Audacity's GPL Licence if the code were withheld."


For anyone who really needs to, who has a slight technical bent and some time, you can legally create your own non-redistributable version of Audacity with ASIO support by compiling from source as documented here: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/asi ... rface.html
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby blinddrew » Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:02 pm

Probably doesn't quite fit into the 'easy to use' category! :D
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby CS70 » Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:58 pm

dnmwales wrote:No need to apologise...I appreciate my question is pretty ridiculous cos I'm looking for an easy solution to something that is quite complicated and requires a great deal of knowledge.

I'm basically looking to record songs at home for my own amusement (for now at least).

What you may be lacking is not equipment or more software, but the recording skill. No shame there as nobody’s born with it!

A month ago I started making a blog exactly with people in your situation in mind, you might want to have a look at it starting with this post, hopefully it helps :)
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Oct 28, 2019 4:02 pm

blinddrew wrote:Probably doesn't quite fit into the 'easy to use' category! :D

Oh, using it is easy ... it's just a bit hard to install :lol:

dnmwales wrote:... I'm now entering new territory when it comes to using a proper DAW. In the past I've used Audacity but find this isn't giving me the correct professional result and there is some latency on the vocals. My plan is singing with backing tracks and so far I've had a look at Studio One, LMMS, FL Studio, Pro Tools First, Cakewalk and Ableton and whilst I can sort of find my way through to record with a backing track I'm not getting any luck with producing something that sounds remotely close to professional and the amount of settings is pretty much blowing my mind.

I'd echo the previous responses ... getting the results you are seeking is more a matter of practice, research and more practice.

I can heartily recommend Samplecraze's video tutorials by the way, produced by Eddie Bazil (who is a moderator here). Loads of fantastic material in there, and you could do far worse than subscribe to his Audio Production Hub for a few months (it's very reasonbly priced) which gives you pretty much full access to the entire collection.
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby Zukan » Tue Oct 29, 2019 9:31 am

The best thing you can do is to download all the trials and see which suits your workflow. As to which is the easiest to conquer? Well, they all have a learning curve so best to try them and see.

I use 3 different Daws at the moment and each has its strengths. For composition I use Reaper. For mixing I use Cubase and if Harrison ever decide to get their act together and have re-sizable guis for their channels strip modules I will switch and only use that. I have had it for 4 years now and only used it a few times.
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Re: Easy to use DAW

Postby nathanscribe » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:37 am

Tracktion offer their T7 DAW for free now, no catch, fully operational. I tried T5 and T6 for a while when I was skint and looking for something simple – their strength is the single window with most parameters right there when you want them, but certainly on the older versions there are compromises and frustrations. That goes for any DAW, mind. As has been said before, I'd try a few demo versions and see what suits your workflow and sensibilities.

These days I use Harrison Mixbus, and have found it to be very stable. I don't much like the Harrison plugins, but the built in channel strips are fine. It's relatively cheap, sounds good, and operation is no more or less of a pain in the backside than any other DAW :D
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