Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!

Hey all!

I should be getting some money coming in soon from some work I have been doing with an indie game studio and I am looking to finally get a proper DAW. I currently use Sibelius 7 notation software and some use of Audacity.

Prior to leaving college, I had studied music technology and do have experience using Avid's Pro Tools however, this was about 8-9 months ago now and obviously, throughout that time, I've got a little rusty.

Of course, my composing has never slowed down and I feel my portfolio is at a good enough level now that I can finally set up my website and start sending out links to game and film companies to try and get some more work. The thing that has been holding me back, for some time now, is the fact I don't have a proper DAW. For a professional portfolio, Sibelius sounds simply aren't good enough, in my opinion. But I digress

Back to the point of this, I'll be looking to get a DAW soon. My portfolio consists of quite a wide range of genres, so I'm not looking for something like Logic, which specialises in dance music production, for example, though I am on PC not mac so Logic would be no use anyway! I'm open to trying out some new DAW's if one of you lovely individuals can link a good tutorial series or book, perhaps, that can teach me how to properly use it. Even with Pro Tools, this would be useful, since I could do with a bit of a "refresher" course.

I'm very much a composer first and a producer second. My music studies were always head and shoulders better than my music tech studies - though that's most likely because I've been studying music a lot longer.

Regardless, if any of you could provide links to DAW tutorials, perhaps recommend what you think I should get and the reason why, then it'd all be much appreciated. Does one have better classical sounds? Does one have better quality audio? That kind of information would be great, since I'm pretty much walking in the dark when it comes to DAW's.

Thanks in advance!

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Reaper is under $100 if you make less than 20k a year from music.  You could buy GP6 for $60, edit there and export midi to Reaper.  Or buy Logic or Digital Performer, DP has been used to score countless films, though most people know little of Motu.  You will have a rough time getting good sounds without vst.  I suggest getting demo's for all the Daw's mentioned in the forum. 

I am using Ableton Live mostly and loads of resources online for that in the way of forums, manuals and videos. It is not considered as high end as lets say Pro Tools and Ableton gets bad rap as it is used by DJs for live performances. But as for workable  issues with latency, a great collection of plugins and a smaller learning curve it is solid. I also have one of the big guns in the way of Sonar X2. It is awesome really and I am trying to figure it out here and there when I am up to it. Have done some recordings but I am so used to chopping up loops in Ableton I, of course, go back it rather than try to learn the new thing for now. But for a more serious DAW I am happy with Sonar X2. The resources are less than Abelton online but they are there. The user manual is pretty big and I do not need most of it and so found a trimmed down version. I think the full manual was like near a 1000 pages! Come on. I got one that is under a 100 pages online. There is a video series by some guy called Groove3 and you can Google that and he will come up. The thing I like about Sonar X2 is the built in sequencer, but you may not so that type of music. Learning curve is a little steep but doable. I tried the Steinberg things and like the new Sonar much more, but have yet to put together a full piece on it. The new look is a big step up, think it is called Skylight or something. Wonderful looking, much more intense in appearance than Ableton Live for certain.

I've been using Logic for a number of years now and it certainly isn't a specialist dance DAW. Like most pro DAWs it'll do whatever you want it to. Since you are on a PC though, Logic is a non starter-as you know.

Before I switched to Logic I was using Cubase and if I was going to return to a PC platform I'd probably go back to Cubase. The only reason I switched was because Apple bought Logic and I was/am a Mac user.

It depends on the spec of your PC and your budget. 

If you are entering the world of music production as opposed to purely composition, my advice would be to make sure you have a powerful PC with lots of RAM and the latest OS and of course 64bit. I only say this because although older and more modest systems are capable of excellent results, new VSTs and plug-ins are constantly being developed and gradually your system can become outdated as the newer software will require more processing power, more RAM and the most up to date OS.

There are lots of Steinberg tutorials. Curiously they seem to have been done on a Mac, though that shouldn't matter to learning the software.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3DTPL3UNk4&feature=c4-overview-...

In the end most of the good DAWs out there will do a good job if you've got good complimentary hardware and software.

Although your post is from 2013, perhaps by now you have discovered that what you decided to get doesn't really suit your needs. If you do a lot with the music staff, you should look into using a notation program as a front end for a sequencer. Although it may sound like my suggestion is just an additional complication, you would do yourself a favor to try it. I've spent a great deal of time creating in-depth video tutorials that detail every step of the way to using Sibelius notation program as a front-end for Presonus Studio One. The technique works for notation program that have playback and for most sequencers. A digital audio workstation (DAW) that uses both kinds of electronic music creation software is the way to go.

Steven, thanks for this post. I found it very relatable in that I also have far more training in music theory than in music technology. I am leaning towards FL studios myself but these responses have broadened my perspective a bit and I plan to do more research. 

I am a couple of years behind you and don't have enough of a portfolio (I also use Sibelius) to open up a website and begin reaching out to game developers. My question is how have you made decisions on what types of music to compose without any context? Where do you draw inspiration from? My challenge is starting a piece cold without any direction from a film or game. I suppose this is the age old question for writers of all kinds but any thoughts or suggestions (from anyone) would be greatly appreciated. 

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