What is your flavor?
Do you like Abelton, Protools, Reason, Fruity Loops, Apple Garage Band, or some obscure music composition software no one has ever heard of? Even if this is the case, if it works for you, stick with it.
There are many options for Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) on the market, varying in their usage, complexity, and price range.
Unless your pockets are deeper than the ocean blue, or you finance your new equipment with terms crueler than the meanest Mario Maker troll levels, you need to seriously assess what software components are important for your audio business. Narrowing your options to the most important functions will save you both money and time researching how to accomplish some simple functions on random message boards. Most DAWs are genre-specific—meaning that they have some features that will mesh better with some music genres and audio professions more than others.
I will briefly review five of the most popular DAWs on the market.
- Protools. It is in the name itself because this software is considered to be an industry standard. But its name also belies some usage barriers for fledgling users. Protools is great for editing, mixing, and mastering and can be accomplished relatively quickly. And it has unparalleled audio fidelity. Some may consider its user interface to be outdated, but it probably has not been altered to avoid mass industry appeal turning into mass confusion. This software has a formidable eye of the needle, but if you are looking for a powerful and integrated software for entry into the music industry, Protools may be what you are looking for.
- Abelton is on the opposite end from Protools on the ease-of-use spectrum. This software is user friendly and intuitive. I find it to be a valuable asset in writing music quickly. It is also great for live sets and is versatile, suitable for whatever your musical requirements. It also happens to be the go-to software for Skrillex’s musical masterpieces. Abelton is available in flexibly priced packages to meet your particular needs.
- Propellerhead (Reason) is a plug-in powerhouse complete with virtual patching (similar to the patching found on the Korg Kronos) and cinematic sound enhancer, “Scenic,” which can be purchased separately. It can be used as a third-party plug-in on your favorite DAW or as a stand-alone music studio. Reason has a real studio feel, and its design is both clean and intuitive.
- Cubase is the perpetual companion of prolific composer Hans Zimmer. Cubase does not have a formidable learning curve and is powerful enough to satisfy your DAW needs. It has been around probably as long as most of our readers and is known for pioneering the DAW market. It also has easy, visible articulation/dynamic controls or “expression maps” for added realism in your compositions. Here is a video link to a sit-down with Hans Zimmer and other famous composers.
- Pronus Studio One has third-party VST plugin support and a built-in pitch corrector. It also has a Score View for traditional notation enthusiasts, which is a plus for film and game composers, and it has an ultra-efficient drag-and-drop feature. You can purchase a complete license, or you can use its software for a reasonable monthly fee.
Though it is advantageous to have at least some working knowledge of various DAWs, you don’t want to fall in the trap of becoming a jack of all DAWs and master of none. These are just a few of the DAWS available.
I, Munchman, suggest that you take your time to find out what program works best for you. There are even some free trials for some of this software, so do what your best interest is. Just to make myself clear, please get a licensed copy of your software. I know there are a lot of “legitimate businessmen” out there getting their beaks wet bumming free copies off the internet. Don’t worry; I don’t look down on anyone, but I do look the other way. There is no greater time wasted in business than being out of synch with your tools. Using a DAW that is incompatible with your needs is like being in a bad relationship—the greatest cost is not money but time.
I will end this article with this proverb: What is taken in power is held by strength; choose your endeavors wisely.
I would like to thank Maury for supporting me with Game Music Jobs.
Find your DAW, keep learning, and always B#. I am Munchman with Game Music jobs.