DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
Platform: Mac, PC, Linux
For The Money is a feature that covers the sweet spot that exists between free software and the expensive software available in big pro audio stores.
This is a post that I have been looking forward to writing. I have tried many, many DAW's over the years, and I use Reaper for all aspects of my music production, except for really advanced MIDI editing. There is so much to say about Reaper that I could fill the entire page with its well-thought out features, but I don't think I will do that. I have made a page with only Reaper's features, though, in case you are interested.
The last 10 years have seen me using Pro Tools, both for my own projects and for the commercial recording studio I owned at the time. I taught Pro Tools classes as well at a college in my hometown. However, I became frustrated with it and was forced to look for other options about 3 years ago. I auditioned anything I could get my hands on, and chose Tracktion. (This was about the time that Mackie bought the program from original developer Julian "Jules" Storer.)
I used Tracktion for about 2 years, and although I loved most things about it, I needed a little more advanced features. So I again auditioned just about everything I could find. This time I began with a list of over 70 programs! I narrowed that list down, then down again until I had only 3 left contending for my money: Cakewalk Sonar, Zynewave Podium, and Cockos Reaper. After weeks of much experimenting and consideration, I committed to Reaper.
Some of my favorite features are:
- Completely customizable interface.
- Over 200 effects included! Many are .js, which are unique to Reaper.
- The most friendly and knowledgeable music forum I've even seen.
- Ability to have real-time sessions with other remote Reaper users.
For example, you could have a bass player in Florida, a keyboardist
in California, and you doing vocals in Chicago, all at the same time!
- Macro-style time savers. Just program an entire series of actions
that you repeat often, then assign a key command to automate them.
- Many of the built-in effects replace expensive commercial plug-ins, such as an Auto-Tune, a convolution reverb, and guitar amps and cabs.
- Helpful videos and an enormous help manual (over 400 pages!) available
as a downloadable PDF, book, or web wiki.
- Distributed processing power using more than one computer for FX.
- significant update about every 2 weeks! This DAW is the DAW of the future!
- much, much more.......
There is also a generous demo of Reaper available. It is the same full version that paid customers get, with no restrictions at all. What's more, the demo never expires! Hopefully your mind isn't thinking "Woohoo - free DAW!" because companies like this really should be rewarded with our business. There is a stated 30-day tryout period, but no functionality changes after the 30 days. He is saying that he trusts his customers and doesn't want to punish them with complicated protection schemes just for the sake of the warez community. Bravo, Justin - I for one really appreciate this move! :-)