As I already mentioned I’m using software for recording. In my teens, recording software didn’t even exist. We were recording using tape decks or 4-track recorders.. Things changed. Studio’s started using software, expensive software.
Again, things changed, fast. Cheap and even free software like Audacity hit the market. Allowing ‘home recorders’ to go “digital” too. And now many albums are recorded and produced at home. On a ‘shoestring’ budget. In a garage, basement, bedroom or even the living room.
Mixcraft 5.2 – Recording Software
Most important is the “DAW” (Digital Audio Workstation), the recording software. There are many programs available for this. The past years I’ve used several programs for recording like QuartzStudio (free), Logic Studio “Student”-edition (no longer available as a Windows program after Apple bought it), EnergyXT, (came free with my UCA222 from Behringer, click here for a video I’ve made about this program), Reaper, Audacity (see this video I created on how to do some basic multitrack recording with it) and now I’m using Mixcraft and Ardour (LinuxAudio DAW).
I’ve installed and tested virtually any recording program I could find for free (or download trial versions). I did not use the expensive commercial products since I don’t want to pay that kind of money for software and don’t want to use illegal copies.
This is my current set of software programs i use for creating, recording and mixing music.
I love free and/or open source software, but sometimes the freebies simply aren’t fit for the job or crammed with adware. I am against using illegal “ripped” software. There’s no need to use illegal software, .. if you can afford, and pay for, a great mic, a guitar, a bass or midi-keyboard,.. why on earth do you use illegal software? The software below will cost you less than a good guitar amp or guitar!
- Ardour (KXStudio Linux)
In 2016 we’ve started building a new “recording engine”, a dedicated computer running on KXStudio (Linux) with Ardour for recording. For this computer I use a small mini-itx based system, I build myself. It has an ASRock 4core Intel Celeron CPU, 8GB RAM and 100GB SSD disk.
- Acoustica Mixcraft Studio Software
The best recording software for Windows I’ve found to be available for a reasonable (budget) price. Multi-track, audio + midi tracks, good manual, good support, supports USB Audio. Superb audio sound.
- FXpansion’s BFD ECO Drums (plug-in)
This program allows you to create real drums (sampled from many drum kits). It takes a midi-track and will play audio samples instead of midi sounds. Absolute must have for anyone who wants ‘real drums’. It also comes with a nice library of loops included. It has loads of options as far as customizing (bleed, humanize, eq on every possible part of the kit, room-settings and so on).
Allows you to create a backing track with drums, bass, keyboards,.. very cool and fast backing track generation. Free download doesn’t allow midi export. If you buy it (do! It’s worth it!) you can export tracks to midi, and you can use these midi tracks in Mixcraft or any other DAW that supports midi. After importing in your favorite DAW, you can edit the midi tracks to have a more ‘real’ backing band/track. I love it, it’s a must have for every home recorder and other musician that needs to have a backing track created. Good support.I started using ChordPulse & ECO Drums on the “Aggravator” album, on tracks like “Aggravator”, UPS Girl and Star of Woodstock. Drums, bass and keyboard on these tracks are created with Chordpulse, afterwards they’re edited in Mixcraft and instead of the default Mixcraft midi-drums I used ECO Drums. A very nice example of how natural this can sound are some of my new tracks like “Still not over you” (drums and bass on Chordpulse), “The Old Days” (drums, bass, piano on Chordpulse) and “Living on a Memory” (Drums, bass, keyboard, piano/strings on Chordpulse). Chordpulse doesn’t have ‘strings’ included, but Mixcraft has,.. i won’t tell you how i did this, but if you experiment with it, you’ll find out eventually how to do this.
- PC Drummer
PCDrummer allows you to easily create drum tracks and export them to WAV or MIDI files. I’ve been using it on and off for the past few years and like it’s ease of use a lot. Some good samples are included as well as some default patterns. An additional bass plug-inn is available. I have bought both of them, but never use the bass, it’s not very natural sounding.
- AmpLION Free
When you play guitar,.. you can’t do without some virtual amp on your computer. This is a very nice sounding amp, and I’ve used it on a few tracks. Can be used as ‘stand alone’ or as a VST in your DAW. The control knobs are a little small and not very sensitive, so no five stars but get’s close to it.
- Magix Music Cleaning Lab
(version 1.03, released 2000 – still does the job!)
This is a piece of software originally marketed as a tool to record vinyl albums on your pc and create digital recordings to be put on CD or MP3. Easy to use, stable, works great. Bought it back in 2000 (!) and still works, even on Windows7.
- Lame MP3 converter + Razor LAME
Needs no introduction for most people i think, but here we go: by far the best WAV to MP3 conversion tool and best of all it’s free – when you want to distribute your music on the internet, put it on your MP3-player, computer, USB (car audio!) or email it to friends,.. you need this!
Lot’s and lots of VST plugins are installed on my computer. I use them within Mixcraft. Here’s my top-list of VST’s. All of them are free!
- Kjaerhus Audio Classic Series
Available trough Mixcraft website, click here to download. This is a collection you will want to have and use. Some other cool VST’s available there too. The package contains easy to use VST plugins for:
– Chorus (includes great presets, inlcluding vocal presets)
– Compressor (very good, easy to use)
– Limiter (Great for mastering, love it)
- DeHelian plugins.
Several plugins by Jospeh DeHelian, like the bass plugin and several free guitar amps. Download them here. Some real good stuff there!
- Ferric TDS
This very nice plugin lets you add some “Ferro” tape ‘saturation’ to your track, like the good old days,.. very easy to use, subtle effects. Extremely easy to use but please beware! You’ll be temped to add too much on a track!
Does what it’s designed for and does it well – flipping channels. Original download link not available anymore, but search Google for it.
- Le Pou plugins.
Incredibly good plugins, lots of them, free. Get them! Esp. the ‘amp heads’ are cool. All free.
Very suitable for adding gain on drums.
- GSnap – poor man’s autotune!
While you’re at the site offering GClip, don’t forget to download GSnap, a pitch correction VST that can be used to do (subtle, please, subtle is the word!) ‘autotuning’ on vocals very well. It’s the poor man’s solution to autotune, well-kept secret (not anymore now :))
- GTune Guitar Tuner
You really don’t want to use a guitar that’s out of tune, do you?
- Major Tom – Compressor
Last but not least! Major Tom. Download it, and play with it .. you will end up using it more often than you’d expect! Although it’s ‘shareware’, it doesn’t expire. Has a short ‘nag screen’ but that’s all. So you can use it as long as you please. Very good quality. Takes some time to get the best results perhaps, but as soon as you’re getting the idea, you will really love it!
There are many more VST’s on my computer, but the above makes up the shortlist (or Top List) of VST’s I use.