The recording studio is dead and the laptop musician is still going strong. This is because of the availability of powerful music production software. Another name for this is Digital Audio Workstations (DAW). These DAW’s give musicians the ability to create powerful headbanging tunes just by using a laptop. Hardware is an option, but not a total necessity.
All the big names in the music industry have at some stage worked on these music productions software. They are by no means new programs. Some have been around for decades. If you are new to this then I hope that this article will at least introduce you and give you some idea on the potential of these great pieces of software.
Bitwig Studio is a product that comes from a small music software firm based in Berlin. This company was founded by a group of engineers who previously worked at Ableton. They left Ableton in order to start up their own product. A bold move considering how crowded the market is for Digital Audio Workstations.
Within this crowded market, Ableton Live can be considered as a standout DAW. This is due to its unique workflow and live playback features. Bitwig Studio capitalizes on this by being somewhat very similar to Ableton in many ways. In fact, Bitwig has added more features to their DAW, making it an advanced version of Ableton.
Many producers move from one DAW to the other in the hope of acquiring some sort of a creative injection. Similar to when a musician starts using a new instrument or gear, they usually start by playing their hearts out. Moving from Ableton to FL Studio may be a great creative decision, but in doing so, you may end up losing so many features that you have come to love. So if you are someone who has been using Ableton for years and is perhaps looking for a change without compromising too many features, then Bitwig Studio may be the way to go.
For advanced users looking to try something a little different.
Ableton Live 9
Ableton Live is the Music Software that everyone has been talking about since the early 2000’s. It is a music production software made to be used in live performances. The software may not be a musicians DAW of choice, but they will still own a copy because of its cutting edge level of creativity, flexibility, and its live performance features.
One of lives greatest features is the ability to create studio quality DJ mixes using full-length songs. Most of the top DJ’s utilize Ableton just for this feature on a constant basis when creating flawless Mixes for their radio shows and podcasts.
Ableton Live 9 is a major update from its previous version 8. Version 9 is a huge improvement in terms of its sound engine. The sound quality was ok for live performance but was terrible by music production standards. Now you can expect a high level of sound quality to go with all those great features.
There has also been an improvement in workflow features and audio effect plugins such as the all new Glue Compressor. This makes Ableton Live Version 9 a proper all in one solution for an Artist who produces music and does live performances.
For those who perform music live or DJ. World class specific controllers such as Novation’s Launchpad and Ableton Push make this a unique setup.
FL Studio 12
In 1998 we saw the birth of a cute little piece of software called Fruity Loops. This 4 channel mixer DAW has since evolved into one of the most popular music making programs today. Even the name has evolved to FL Studio. FL Studio is developed by Image-Line, a Belgian company. A company which has now taken the famous DAW into its 12th Version.
If you are a lover of modern hip hop and big room dance music, then you would have probably heard a lot of music that with have been produced using FL Studio. This entry level, low priced DAW competes with the best. It has been voted best DAW on more than one occasion.
This software even out does DAW’s that are 10 times more in price. FL Studio 12 is such a rich and powerful piece of software in terms of its capabilities and content. Yet it is easy on computing resources and will run on basic PCs.
FL Studio can also work as a third party VST plugin. This means that you can use FL Studio and all of its components and instruments inside of another DAW such as Ableton live. Just imagine being able to record one of FL Studio’s legendary synths, like Sakura, into a clip in Ableton which u can then chop and edit to your heart’s content.
Perfect for beginners and for those looking for a reasonably priced and complete music production software.
Purist musicians and sound engineers have always relied on Cubase. This quality program can assist them in producing music of industry leading sound quality. This is definitely the DAW’s strong suite and has been for as far back as 1989. It may lack the live features of Ableton or the arsenal of synths and effects as FL Studio, but it certainly makes up for this with its outstanding sound quality. You can apparently make music on Cubase with a touchscreen tablet like house music artist Stimming.
Version 9 comes in three different packages. Pro, Artist, and Elements, each with different levels of features available. The graphical user interface has seen a sweet update with the addition of a resizeable lower zone. This interface is similar to most DAW’s, but Cubase has resisted the urge to switch to this style for all these years up until now.
Great Software if you are a professional musician looking to get the most out of your recordings.
Apple Logic Pro X
A huge chunk of electronic music producers either choose Ableton Live or Logic Pro as their main DAW of choice. Logic Pro is seen as the “default” music software choice for Apple users. The software is not available on PC. It is also seen as the big brother of the free Mac app Garageband. But Logic Pro is more than this. Apple owns Logic Pro and constantly pushes the technology and innovation of the product.
Seeing that Mac Book Pro laptops are so popular among musicians, Logic Pro seems like the most, err, logical choice. Logic Pro has support for the New Macbook Pro’s ‘Touch Bar’ opening up a new level of creativity and workflow. The seamless integration within Apple’s ecosystem continues with the iPad Logic Remote app. You will be able to fine tune and control various properties of Logic Pro (like mixer faders) with your iPad.
Logic Pro also supports Garageband projects. So it is possible to start a Garageband Project on the road with your iPad. Then come home and open up the project in Logic Pro to add expert level customizations.
Which Music Production Software Is For You?
We have just scraped the surface here with these great programs. They are capable of doing things that one can only imagine. When you add the ability to use external controllers and third party software, you end up with limitless possibilities.
Although this may sound great to most people, it can turn out to be a bit of a daunting task trying to understand all of these possibilities. It’s best to select just one music production software from this list and continue to learn the software inside out. Hopefully, this list will help in finding the right music production software for you.