How to choose the best recording software…
There are many to choose from — Cakewalk Sonar, Mixcraft, ProTools, Garage Band, even the FREE Audacity program, which is slim on features, but hey it’s free! When choosing a home recording software for your home recording studio, there are several factors you need to take into consideration.
#1: What Features do you NEED?
This is your most important consideration. There are a ton of products out there, each with different strengths and price points. What you need to do is figure out what exactly you will be doing NOW with your home recording studio, and what you are likely to be doing in the fairly near future.
For instance, if you are just setting up a studio to write and/or record acoustic songs with guitar and/or vocals, you will not need much. If you don’t see yourself doing more than that for a while, then the free Audacity program will work fine for you. However, if you want to record a lot of tracks with different instruments, MIDI, and top notch vocals, you will want a more robust system. If you’re planning on creating recordings at home to then take into a professional studio to complete, you may want ProTools, as it seems to be the most common industry standard.
Obviously, Mixcraft (which you can purchase and download instantly) is my personal favorite for many reasons, but I know it will not be the best solution for everyone. I have also used Cakewalk Sonar and like it a lot, though it is less user-friendly than Mixcraft. That’s important to me, because I’m not very tech-savvy.
The point is that you need to figure out just how feature-rich you need your program to be for your own particular needs. I know we all want the big Rolls Royce or the fast Porsche, but if you’re going to be using it for a rural mail route, it might be better to opt for the Toyota Corolla. Y’know what I’m sayin’?
That being said, I will tell you that I personally can’t tell that any of the more expensive programs have any more features than Mixcraft does. And I’ve NEVER needed to do any musical task that Mixcraft couldn’t handle. So don’t think I’m saying it DOESN’T have all the bells and whistles. Just that you may at some point run across one that claims to have more features, however obscure or useless they may be.
#2: How Tech-Savvy are you?
I’ve just mentioned this point already, but I think it’s important enough to rate its own section. As I said, I’m not a real techie. I know enough to get by, but quite frankly I don’t want to invest the TIME to learning the detailed ins and outs of a complicated program, especially when I find that the results I get with something easy to use are more than sufficient for me.
This is where Mixcraft comes in. I don’t want to sound like a broken record on the Mixcraft, but that’s just how much I think of the program. It’s easy to use, it has a nice interface, and it has more features than I actually need. In other words, it exceeds the first criteria, and perfectly fits the second for me. Cakewalk Sonar, which I also own, exceeds the first criteria as well, but fails the second for me. Don’t get me wrong — I can use it, but it took me countless hours to master, and I still find it cumbersome compared to Mixcraft, especially when learning a new feature.
#3: How much do you have to spend?
I don’t recommend that anyone ever spend more money than they can spare on their home recording software. Don’t use your rent money to buy it. You can get Audacity free, and it should suffice until you have more money to spare, especially if you’re just recording ideas rather than actual music. Please don’t let me talk you into hurting yourself financially.
But if you do have a little cashola to spare, then you need to figure out how much it is, weigh price against the first two criteria, and come up with the best option for you. If it meets or exceeds the first two criteria and fits within your budget, it’s a winner. If it fails on any one of them, throw it out.
As I’ve said before, I’m a shameless fan of Mixcraft 6 and do not actively promote any other home recording software. I’ll proudly tell anyone who asks, and even those who don’t!