Another week has come and gone, and your minds have successfully absorbed everything there is to ever possibly know about audio interfaces. Spouting off audio knowledge that nobody asked for at parties that nobody directly invited you to is now kind of your thing. Embrace it. I suggest getting a monthly subscription for black t-shirts now—I’ll even get you a StitchFix referral code. But why stop this wagon train now? This week, we’re going to discuss the reason you needed an audio interface in the first place: Recording Software!
Digital Audio Workstations
Think of your recording software, or digital audio workstation (DAW), as a more feature-rich mixer/tape machine combo: your incoming signal is recorded track by track in your DAW, just like a tape machine, then is mixed within the software later. Rather than cutting tape with a razorblade to make edits, basic editing is now little more than pointing and clicking with your mouse, with the added bonus of the undo option when mistakes are made.
After you’ve recorded and edited your content, you are then able to balance levels and add FX like eq, compression, reverb, or delay, just like you would on a mixing desk in a recording studio, only without the need for patchbays and expensive hardware.
Picking the Right Software
I’m not going to lie to you. I have my favorites. Eventually you will too. How do you find your favorite, though? Why, through free trials, of course! Programs like Mixcraft, Sonar, Reaper, and Ableton Live offer risk free trials for 15-30 days. If you’re interested in trying Pro Tools, which is the industry standard software, a free trial is available but still requires the purchase of a $50 authorization dongle called the iLok.
If you’re recording a Podcast, you’ll typically find yourself working on a slightly more stripped down software and be totally fine with it. That isn’t an indictment of your podcast, your production skills, or the validity of your medium, it’s that quite simply put, you don’t needa bunch of features. I often find myself recommending software like Sonar Home Studio because it’s relatively inexpensive at around $50, and also won’t overwhelm the beginning podcaster with a UX cluttered by functions irrelevant to your application.
If you’re seeking a program geared more toward music production, you might first stop and ask what your main ‘style’ might be. DAWs like FL Studio and Ableton Live are geared heavily toward electronic music production. That isn’t to say that this is all they’re good for, but if your music is heavily focused on creating loops, it might be worth checking out a free trial on one or both of those programs. If more traditional instrumentation is your main focus, you might check out Studio One, MixCraft Pro, Logic, or Pro Tools.
Stick With It
Whichever software you choose, don’t expect to be ninja skill level overnight. Learning a recording software is a lot like learning a language in that you have to learn the basics before you even really know what questions to ask. As always, we are here to answer whatever questions pop up in order to set you along the right path. Now go download your free stuff and tell us which you like best in the comments!