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Propellerhead Reason I would have said if I did not mind using something like JBridge to make use of my ancient 32 bit VSTis. Because of the best workflow and least amount of visual clutter I picked up Mulabs next, but dropped it when I learned that it supports NEITHER 32bit VSTi NOR Rewire. If it had Rewire, I would have picked it over Reason and get a third party bridge like JBridge. . Therefore, instead, I would recommend Reaper as the main DAW to anyone starting out or looking to change their favorite. Look at its PROs on this site. My second choice for main DAW is Reason with JBridge, third/fifth MuLabs with JBridge and so long there is no user need for Rewire, third/fourth LMMS, and the other third/fifth being FL Studio. Reason for Reason being my first thought: it would have been my first choice because it imports MIDI files with minimal to no loss/change of MIDI data. LMMS, Reaper and FL Studio freely and ably play ancient 32 bit VSTi I have had. Why LMMS lost the contest as the winner is something I feel pathetic - I point it to the folder of third party VSTi, and it fails to include them in its list of "instruments". But, luckily, there IS a workaround, although manual. Underneath its instrument picker is also a utility like Windows file explorer. When a folder I open contains a VSTi, it is marked with a big-old V as its Icon, and double clicking on it either loads it, or tells me that it is not compatible with LMMS. I ended up finding (and saving) a bunch of usable VSTi in folders of all the other DAWs I tested. Not all, but several instrument and effects VSTi were usable in LMMS. FL studio opens as a VSTi in LMMS like a charm. I say above after also having tried current Sonar Platinum (it played very files differently I had recorded with Sonar itself back 15 years ago.), FL Studio, Ableton Live Lite, Tracktion, Studio One Prime, Pro Tools First, Digital Performer, Podium, Logic Pro, Garageband. I have not yet tested current Acid, Cubase, and Nuendo and other high-end offerings. After a hands-on trial of about two months, I ended up buying Reaper, FL Studio, and Reason. I also got download for free Kontakt 5, Guitar Rig 5, and Reaktor 6 from Native Instruments website. I only had to register there as a user and provide only my email address and a name. Right now I use either Reaper or LMMS as the front end while running FL Studio and Reason as VSTi, and several others through Rewire. Also do look at something called Ignite, from Air Music Tech. Not to replace anything, but as an addition. To me it is a free standalone soundbank for controllers. It came free upon registering my Alesis Vortex, I use it for noodling and recording. It has great collection of instruments and patches, and I am deep in its source code to figure out how to get it best loaded in the DAWs. See More
Vijay Raj Singh's Experience
The depth of Reaper is exceptional. In recent times it has incorporated premium features such as ARA2 that I feel have taken it to the next level. The value of the basic license is unrivalled. The audio/midi routing flexibility is brilliant. Drawbacks are the massive amount of configuration often required to get it to behave how you want; having to use add-ons to achieve what other DAWs do natively, and often at the cost of full integration (e.g. Playtime session view, as ingenious as it is). I continue to find some elements long-winded or unintuitive in spite of customiation options; for such a deep DAW it falls down quite a bit in sysex implementation, being a way behind Cubase and Digital Performer and even Live with M4L in this respect. See More
Essentially shareware. After your 60-day free trial runs out, the program does not enforce the end of the trial period, and you may continue using the software for further evaluation or non-revenue generating purposes indefinitely. The only "DRM" is your conscience, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the fact the program is awesome. See More
When using a 64-bit installation of Reaper, all 32-bit plugins will still work alongside 64-bit plugins. On computers with an x86-64 CPU and an OS that supports multi-architecture, you can also run bridged 64-bit plugins on 32-bit Reaper. See More
Without prior experience with DAW, you can install Reaper, set up ASIO drivers, connect to your amp and mikes, get the hang of recording/re-recording tracks, and render an mp3 in just a few hours. You can accomplish the basics very fast. See More
The Reaper DAW offers 2 licenses. A commercial license at $225 and a discounted one at $60. Both licenses give access to the complete DAW. The discounted license is for non profits, educational programs and personal use as long as yearly gross revenue does not exceed USD $20,000. There's even an indefinite free trial with no limitations for evaluation purposes. See More
In Reaper, a track is a track is a track. There is no distinction among MIDI, stereo, mono, surround or any other tracks, and that means it's possible to put clips of all kinds on the same track. This approach makes the Reaper DAW seem a lot more intuitive than other DAWs. See More
Ableton's session view gives a much quicker, more flexible way of experimenting with ideas than a typical linear interface. In session view, each instrument part is a separate entity that can be mixed and matched with other parts without having to rearrange anything. Any and every effect is consolidated into one clean looking interface. It allows users to experiment with effects and other manipulations very quickly. Because of this, Ableton is known as one of the most creative DAWs out there. See More
For example: If you freeze more than the allowed number of plugins on a UAD DSP device, when you open your session, Ableton will open and close all the frozen plugins on every channel even though they are not active in the session. The UAD control panel application displays the DSP usage of the hardware. During loading the levels (bars) will fluctuate by extreme amounts and typically will produce errors once the Ableton session is loaded. After the session is loaded, UAD plugins that should be running are disabled because there wasn't enough DSP available during load. The user then has to open and look at each UAD plug in to see if they are disabled and turn them off and on again to enable them. This illustrates there is enough room for the DSP load for unfrozen plugins, but that the loading process was at fault. See More
Plugins on frozen tracks are loaded and unloaded as the session opens slowing down opening and creating DSP limitations.
The browser lets users choose from live Sets, tracks, clips, devices, presets, samples, etc. There is also an auto-play function for audio clips that enables users to browse samples quickly. The search function is also handy, but only for clips that are labeled appropriately. See More
The Ableton DAW offers a great sampling experience, which can be approached in many different ways. Audio can be directly chopped, quantized, warped, and even chopped into MIDI clips. Ableton's built in sampler also allows clean pitching along with useful loop functions. See More
Skeuomorphism is described as retaining antiquated aesthetic features on an updated version of a device. For DAWs, this happens when an interface is littered with analog nobs, wires, and other things that are reminiscent of older technology. While this can be considered a stylistic choice for some DAWs, it tends to block progress towards better practices in music production. See More