Best Multitrack Recording Software

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There are lots of options for multitrack recording software out there, what is best or worst depends on your needs, techniques and habits, here are some options.

There is no shortage of multitrack recording options out there for the computer based home recording musicians. Some are more or less expensive, some are more or less easy to use, some or more or less feature packed, some have more options than you would ever use, some are very limited.

The decision to be made by any home recording musician is a balance of personal preferences, recording and mixing styles and budget.

Here are a few options that one should look in to and consider when one is building their home studio:

Major Brand Commercial Products

Lesser Know Shareware or Freeware Products

When making the decision of which application to use, you need to first understand your needs, some things to consider when putting together your list of needs are things like this:

  • How many band members do you have, and will they be recording all at once, or one instrument at a time?
  • Do you need MIDI capabilities?
  • What type of computer do you have? (meaning OS, chip sets, input/output port types and such)
  • What type of audio interface do you have? (number of ins and outs, for example)
  • How technically savvy are you? (be honest!)
  • What is your budget?

All these factors, and more, can affect the decision of which one will fit your needs. For example, while Kristal Audio Engine is a great app, it is audio only, no MIDI functionality at all, which is fine if you don't use MIDI, but if you do, even one MIDI device, it limits that app.

Reaper is a very functional app, audio and MIDI, and does it well. However, it lacks the audio wave redrawing functions that some of the bigger name apps have. Those bigger name apps can cost many hundred dollars, Reaper costs $60 for personal, if you would like the redraw option, is it worth $500 for just that?

Multitrack Studio is a fun application, I enjoy using it, and it can do a lot, however, it does work much differently than some of the more conventional apps. I look at the differences as welcomed, and if it works with how you think or work, it might be a great fit for you, if not, you may want to try something else.

FL Studio is a very interesting hybred type of app, that started years ago as a beat/loop maker, and was quite good at it, and went by the name "Fruity Loops", it has evolved into a pretty darn capable tracking app that still has strong ties to it's beat and loop making roots. Also has audio manipulation tools and much more. There are many versions of the app that goes from very reasonable prices to "might as well by Cakewalk" prices, but it is worth a look.

The big name apps all do pretty much everything, the big differences are in usability. A key component to being productive is getting an app that works how you work, what makes sense to you. Most application have download demos you can look at and use, though in somewhat limited capacity. But it's enough where you can get a feel for how they work.

Consider Your Other Software

If you already have some software synthesizers, or effects you want to use, make sure you know what sort of host they require. Very commonly VST is the standard by which such tools are used, but there are other standards out there, and some, particularly little known freeware, may not support such things at all, rather only supporting their own, bundled effects and/or synths.There are still DirectX effects out there, they are far less common then they used to be, but they are out there, as are ReWire based tools, mostly for synths, not sure if I have ever seem a ReWire effect. ProTools has their own proprietary standard for effects, so if you plan on going the ProTools route, be sure to keep that in mind.

Consider Your Supporting Hardware

Hardware can make a difference in available choices in some cases. High end hardware, such as audio and video interfaces, are very highly tuned for the optimal throughput of data as fast as possible. Any delay that happens from the time that data goes into a device and the time it comes out the output device (be it speakers, monitor or whatever else) is referred to as "latency". The lower the latency is the better. At time, these devices have special components and special software to help them perform their best. Sometimes this special designing comes with a price and needs the latest and greatest supporting hardware, or even will require, or at least perform best) with specific brands of chipsets and other computer components. If such a condition exists for any hardware or software you are considering is something very worth investigating to help lessen any unnecessary headaches while configuring your system.

Good luck, and if you have any questions, feel free to bring them to the forum!

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