Production Tools:

Below are some brands of music production tools that provide products either well suited to or have entry level versions for the up and coming songwriter. Brief descriptions are provided with the novice user in mind. Links are included and can be followed for more detailed information and specifications. Educational or student prices are commonly available.

Music Sequencing or Recording Software:

Audacity is an absolutely free audio editor for those wishing to experiment with recording before spending hard earned $$$. As you can expect features are limited...you get what you pay for. Only available as a download. WINDOWS & MAC.

Reaper 3 is a cost effective audio and MIDI sequencer. Only available as a download is it free for a 30 day trial, after which a modest licence fee is due. It is compatible with most Virtual Instruments and audio plug-ins. WINDOWS & MAC.

Steinberg Cubase 5 Family: Cubase 5 is an advanced audio and MIDI sequencer. Audio plug-ins and Virtual Instruments are included. Studio 5 has less features but is still professional. Cubase Essentials is more of an entry level version and LE5 or AI5 are often included with many audio interfaces from a host of companies. WINDOWS & MAC.

Steinberg Sequel 2 is a self contained production package priced and designed for the beginner. The included instuments and loops are extensive and allow the novice to make an arrangement with very little previous musical knowledge. NOTE: The use of additional Virtual Instruments and audio plug-ins is not supported. WINDOWS & MAC.

Sony Acid 7 family: Acid Pro 7 is particularly well suited to the songwriter with NO musical skills. Included is a plethora of loops that can be easily transposed to different keys and that play automatically at the desired tempo. A huge range of additional loops are available from Sony and 3rd party companies called acidized files. Acid Music Studio is an entry level version and relatively in-expensive for the novice. WINDOWS.

MOTU Digital Performer is only available in the full version so price wise it is more appropriate for the semi-advanced user. Nevertheless its ease of use renders it suitable for any technological skill level. It is widely used by screen composers as it contains fearures well suited to the task. MAC.

Ableton Live 8 family: Live is well suited to pattern based recording techniques such as the dance genre. The realtime pitch and tempo engine also makes it widely used by DJs. 'Suite' is a professional package and includes a large array of Virtual Instrumensts and sample libraries. 'Intro' is a cut down version for those on a budget. A basic version of Live is often included with hardware. A free trial is available, follow the link provided. WINDOWS & MAC.

Apple's Logic Studio 9 is a collection of programs which includes Logic Pro 9 an advanced audio and MIDI sequencer. The package includes all of Apple's loop libraries, a host of Virtual Instuments and sample files. Logic Express is a cut down version. Apple's GarageBand is included with Apple computers and can be thought of as a small taste of the power of Logic Pro 9. MAC.
Fruity Loops or FL Studio is popular for those who use many Virtual Instruments, especially dance music producers. It is available in a number of 'flavours' with varying features at respective price points. One interesting aspect is that FL Studio which hosts Virtual Instruments can itself be used as a Virtual Instrument! WINDOWS & MAC.
Calewalk Sonar 8.5 is an advanced audio and MIDI sequencer. It included a range of Virtual Instruments. Related products such as Home Studio and Music Creator 5 are less featured editions at lesser prices. A light version is included in many hardware products such as audio interfaces from Roland/Cakewalk. WINDOWS.
Digidesign's M-Powered is a version of ProTools 8 that works with limited brands and models of audio interfaces. Currently supported hardware are most interfaces from M-Audio and the latest Mackie mixers with firewire audio interfaces. WINDOWS & MAC.

 

Mastering Software:

iZotope Ozone is a complete mastering package and includes very useful tools for amateur and professional mastering engineer. WINDOWS & MAC.

T-Racks from IK Multimedia is a high end mastering suite. Well suited to those that want to take their productions to the next level. WINDOWS & MAC.

Steinberg Wavelab 6 Family: Wavelab is a sophisticated audio editing and mastering package with advanced CD and DVD authoring options. Wavelab 6 is the professional version. Wavelab Studio 6 has less features and Essentials 6 is aimed at the new user on a budget. WINDOWS & MAC.

 

Virual Instruments:

Garritan personal orchestra is an extremly well prices virtual orchestral package. It is well suited to the budding songwriter on a budget. Follow the link for audio examples. WINDOWS & MAC.

Arturia produce a range of Virtual Instrument specializing in authentic models of vintage synthesizers. They also have a physical modeled instrument called Brass. WINDOWS & MAC.

Steinberg produces and range or Virtual Instruments. The Halion series are sample based libraries. Symphonic Orchestra is as the name suggests. Halion Player is well suited for those on a budget. The Grand is a quality virtual piano. WINDOWS & MAC.

Spectrasonics have a range of Virtual Instruments. Omnisphere contains a huge collection synths and textures. Trilian is the premium bass instrument and Stylus RMX provides a range of grooves that are easily customizable. WINDOWS & MAC.

Native Instuments Komplete is a complete set of Virtual Instruments. Included are over 7000 sounds and 60GB of samples. Guitar FX plug-ins are also included. WINDOWS & MAC.

 

Virtual Drum Programmes:

Toontrack's EZ Drummer is well priced and provides quality drum samples and patterns that can be 'dragged and dropped' into most music sequencing software. Superior Drummer is a more comprehensive version. A range of expansion packs are available seperately. WINDOWS & MAC.

Steinberg's Grove Agent 3 provides drum samples and patterns from vintage to modern dance styles. The unique complexity parameter is well suited to the novice as individual patterns don't have to be cued or selected. Groove Agent 3 will play a simple or complex beat with minimal fuss. The provision of electronic not just acoustic sounds as standard sets it appart from similar products. WINDOWS & MAC.

Fxpansion's BFD2 is a premium virtual drum package. The basic installation contains 55GB of samples. Numerous grooves or patterns are included. Expansion packs are available. WINDOWS & MAC.

 

Entry Level Audio Interface Packages:

Edirol UA25EX by Roland is not the cheapest yet is a reasonably prices audio and MIDI interface. It includes compressors on the audio inputs and Cakewalk production software for Windows. It connects to the computer via USB. WINDOWS & MAC.

Digidesign ProTools sotware is only available and is included with their own hardware. Pro Tools Le is a sophisticated audio and MIDI sequencer. Version 8 includes a range of Virtual Instruments. The audio interface will also work with most other brands of music production software. WINDOWS & MAC.

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 features 8 quality microphone pre-amps suitable for micing up a drum kit or the whole band. Expansion options are available. It connects via firewire. WINDOWS & MAC.

M-Audio Fast Track Pro is relatively in-expensive. Connecting via firewire it includes Ableton Live Lite and is compatible with M-Powered software. WINDOWS & MAC.

 

 


TECH TIP

Additional products with links are mentioned throughout this website.

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These are certainly not all that are available. Contact a specilized music technology dealer for the whole story.