I am becoming progressively less satisfied with my Sibelius 6 outputs (even with East West Quantum Leap Symphony Orchestra instruments) so am considering buying a midi/audio sequencing programme.
In terms of value for money it appears that REAPER is just the thing...and having read through the reviews it is very well thought of in the specialist magazines...it appears also to be fantastic value for money. However, having downloaded the trial version software (and its manual in PDF) and read through some of it (taken 2 hours so far) my mind has closed down of its own accord. It occurs to me that it will probably take 4 months of applied study to master the technicalities and, of course, this leads me to ask myself 'is it worth the time and effort?'
Any general comments/advice would be welcomed but also anything specific from existing REAPER users. (I'm off now to massage my brain to see if it can be kick-started back into operational mode).
Whether it's worth it or not comes down to what you're looking for and what you're happy with. If you want the most realistic midi version of your work, you have to spend a fair amount of time learning your sequencer. Four months will get you proficient, but mastering it will probably take longer than that. I use mine every day and i'm still constantly learning new things. A sequencer really is like another instrument to learn, and mastering an instrument takes quite some time.
I generally find YouTube to be more useful than the manual, but i like seeing things demonstrated better than reading how to do it. One of the upsides to Reaper is that it's quite popular so there are a number of YouTube videos and info on forums for it. If you haven't found it already, the forum for Reaper has a lot of information. http://forum.cockos.com/index.php
Also keep in mind that a lot of the other programs(Cubase, Protools, Digital Performer, etc.) have 30 day trials. One of them may feel more intuitive to you. They are more expensive, but you can often by used copies of some of them for cheap.
I'm using Reaper right now, have been for a little over a year. I can't stand that it doesn't have a notation function, primarily so that I could shake the monkeys off my back pestering me for scores, but also because it would save a lot of work to have it in the DAW (as opposed to having to export files elsewhere, convert, and then quantize everything, etc.), since I do ultimately prefer to have things notated, because, after all, some problems are just easier to solve in notation, anyway. However, it's true Reaper is a great, fully-functional (and highly customizable) DAW for an unbeatable price... But I was intimidated by it, too, and it actually sat around on my PC for about 4 or 5 months before I finally dove into it in earnest. And what I found out is that it isn't as difficult as it seems. I'd be willing to help you out with any questions you might have, but before I go any further, let me ask you this: Do you have a midi-keyboard to work with already, or were you planning on using the piano-roll?
Chris is also right, in that youtube tutorials can be immensely helpful in learning the ins and outs. I've also referred to those more than that ridiculous 450 page manual.
Thank you for your thoughts Chris; I'll take your advice and try 30-day trials of the other sequencers you mention and also have a look at the YouTube videos on Cockos. However, after seeing what Paul says about Reaper not having a notation function I'm put off that programme straight off - I'm personally much more comfortable using a notation format than otherwise.
Chris Carman said:
Thanks for the info Paul - most enlightening. The lack of a notation function puts me right of Reaper - I don't have a midi-keyboard and even if I did I wouldn't be comfortable using it because as a French horn player my keyboard skills are less than zero.
I'm very pleased with the responses from you and others as they have made my choice of sequencer much narrower than heretofore.
Paul Smith said:
Thanks Rodney....based on what you say I will have a very close look at Cubase and grab a 30-day trial if they do such a thing.
Your comments are most helpful so thanks again.
Rodney Carlyle Money said:
I am new to this forum, as I am getting into more scoring lately. My background is a professional audio engineer, and I also teach pro audio at a college in Nevada. I use Pro Tools, for my MIDI, only because I know it well, but also because it allows me (in it's basic form), to also import and score to video, as well as print out a very very basic score. I am not sure what the other programs will do video, but if that is a concern, then PT might be a good option. It's quite easy to use, and pretty straight forward...there is a piano roll feature as well, that will allow you to edit multiple MIDI tracks at the same time, all discernible via their respected instrument colors (your choice).
I was looking into Cubase myself, version 8 pro. I hear good things about it, and Steinberg, also makes Nuendo, which is a huge post DAW, but costs nearly $2k. Cubase is a fraction of that. In fact, from my research, Cubase is perhaps one of the most widely used DAWs for composing, along with Logic.
Give them a try.
I do have a side question, and if anyone can jump in on this, I'd really appreciate it. I am in search of a MIDI keyboard controller that will be expressive enough for piano, and perfect for string mockups. Can you or anyone please suggest or tell me what you all are working with? I had a weighted action piano controller, but found it too weird to play strings, or organ on. Or is it a matter of having both on hand? Thanks.
I think you'd be best served by finding a local shop that sells midi keyboards and trying a few of them out. It seems to me that keyboard feel is a very personal preference and what one person loves another mite hate. Personally i keep both handy. A weighted electric piano with midi out for when i want to play piano or soft, emotional parts, and a midi controller with more springy keys. The midi controller i have irritates me to try and play piano on, but the quick bounce back of the keys makes it easier to use for quick string parts and the like.
I've tried them ALL...lol and a few they don't have in stores I am interested in also. My curiosity is what are people using on this forum in terms of a controller for their strings? And DAW control as well. because aside from the keys being good, the controller needs to be stable,, and actually work as intended.
So let's say if the majority of composers here use the Akai MPK series, then I would have to think that it's a stable usable unit. The key bed can always be gotten used to, especially if it's only for strings and not piano. Although, many piano VIs nowadays, have plenty of velocity tweaking capabilities that even a semi-weighted controller can work for most things.
My mistake, i should have realized with your professional background you probably would have had ample opportunity to try a bunch of different ones. I use a Samson Graphite 49. Really the biggest factor in choosing it for me was the price, it has a lot of features for the cost. Transport controls, nine faders, eight pads, etc. I do regret going with only 49 keys and will likely upgrade to something with at least 61 in the near future. I've never had connectivity problems with it, and as far as reliable i almost never remember to turn it off at the end of the day so it's basically been on for almost two years. I do find that i don't hardly use the faders, transport buttons or other features besides the mod wheel though, especially since going to a touch screen monitor.