lkubuntu

A listing of random software, tips, tweaks, hacks, and tutorials I made for Ubuntu

Creating an Orchestral track under Ubuntu REDUX – Part 1: Choosing a DAW

So, I originally thought this series was useless, and, well, since I didn’t cover some of the more important sections, it pretty much was =P

But one person asked me to finish it, which was the first time I saw that it was useful, to at least someone, so I decided maybe it’d be a better idea if I make a redux of it, because the first one had many issues (and I’ve learned a lot since then).

One of the issues was that it took LMMS as the base DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), which, as I have learned since, is definitely not the best DAW for orchestral music production (IMHO). Since I have tried a couple of DAWs, I’ll share my thoughts on each one =) Next part will focus on setting them up.

  • LMMS:
    • Pros:
      • It’s somewhat easy to install (you might need to compile it though)
      • Linux-native
      • Very intuitive at first, and good for beginners
    • Cons:
      • Very buggy (minor bugs, but still annoying)
      • I personally hate the automation
      • Multiple MIDI inputs for a VSTi is very hard (I haven’t managed to ever make it work)
      • VSTi’s take a loooong time to load (though this is most likely an issue with having a linux-native DAW using windows VSTi’s)… especially Kontakt, which is probably the most important VSTi you’ll need for orchestral music production
    • Conclusion: Good for beginners, not good for orchestral music production
  • QTractor:
    • Pros:
      • Simple
      • Minimalistic
      • Logical
      • Intuitive
      • Consistent
      • Fast (the program is fast)
    • Cons:
      • More work to install and setup than LMMS (especially with setting up windows VST support)
      • Buggy
      • Crashes a lot
      • Piano Roll is pretty bad (IMO)
      • Not as pretty as most others (though, tbh, that isn’t too important XD)
      • Though the workflow is very consistent and intuitive, the word “fast” would definitely not be the best to describe it
      • I have never been able to successfully load a windows VST on it yet (when I was actually able to _find_ the VST, it crashed while loading it)
    • Conclusion: I like this one a lot, but its cons make it only really useful at a conceptual stage (IMHO, at least)
  • I will skip a lot of other Linux-native DAWs, because I haven’t had enough time with them to give a somewhat decent Pro/Con list to. However, I find that OpenOctaveMidi – though it never worked for me – seems to be (from the features list) the most promising linux DAW so far (sadly, it hasn’t been updated in 2 years).
  • REAPER:
    • Pros:
      • Free (kinda … the trial never really ends)
      • Well maintained (updates pretty much every week or 2)
      • Works almost flawlessly under linux
      • Very customizable
      • Piano roll has a _really_ useful time-stretching feature (when multiple notes are selected, CTRL+Drag on the edge of any of the selected notes, and it will time stretch it)…. something I really miss with other DAWs
    • Cons:
      • It isn’t actually free… but you can keep on using it as long as you like for free (the trial isn’t enforced)
      • (I’ll have to update this later… I know I’m missing a few, but I haven’t used it for so long that I forget >.<)
      • It might have frozen a lot, that may be why I don’t use it anymore (as I said, I forget)
    • Conclusion: It’s great, but I forget what I didn’t like about it…  TODO: FIX THIS!!
  • Ableton Live:
    • Pros:
      • As its name suggests (“Live”, not “Ableton” =P), it’s great for live performances, due to its really neat session view (basically, you can put a lot of 1 bar patterns in it, then play them at different times)
      • Its macro feature is _really_ useful, as it basically (AFAICS, I’ve never used it, but I’ve seen people use it) an automation that automates multiple other automations. Though its use in orchestral music is not that prominent, it’s very useful in electronic music (and since my style usually has a mix of both electronic and orchestral, I would use this a lot, if I still used Live).
      • Automations are really well made
      • CTRL+Drag. Seriously, it’s probably one of my favourite features from it… so simple, but so powerful (while dragging moves a clip or note, CTRL+Drag will duplicate it and move the duplicate… very useful!!)
      • Close integration with Max, a tool that kind of lets you create your own synths or effects
    • Cons:
      • Midi CC automations are terrible, and sometimes don’t even work! This is the main reason why I don’t use it, as in orchestral music, Midi CC automations are pretty much one of the most important things you’ll use.
      • The display is very buggy under linux
      • The Midi editor needs work (it’s workflow is rather slow)
      • It doesn’t bridge VSTs. So if you’re using the 64-bit version, you can’t use 32-bit VSTs.
      • It crashes a lot
    • Conclusion: Though it’s really great for electronic music, it’s not so great for orchestral music
  • Studio One:
    • Pros:
      • Best DAW for Midi CC automation that I’ve used so far (it works both on clips, and on the timeline!)
      • Automation is pretty good (you can create square, triangle, and sine waves really easy on it)
      • Very intuitive (I picked it up really quickly, compared to nearly all other DAWs I’ve used so far)
      • Its plugin browser is also really neat (you can organize it by vendor, category, folder, or just flat)… best one I’ve seen so far
      • Close integration with Melodyne, an apparently really cool audio editor (I still haven’t figured it out though XD)
    • Cons:
      • The display is very buggy under linux (sometimes the timeline time vertical bar indicator [for lack of a better word] doesn’t even show! Also, the rectangle selection doesn’t show either)
      • It’s buggy all-around (I don’t think this is linux-related)
    • Conclusion: Best DAW I’ve used so far for orchestral music production, but it’s very buggy!

I would have included the setup part in this one, but I realized that it would have probably taken 2 more articles (plus this one), so I decided to just give a quicker article at first, to kick off the new tutorial “series” =)

Oh, and, if I may add… I’m working on my own DAW right now, which is fully modular, so if there is something that isn’t quite right, then it’s easy to change it =) It’s kind of a precursor to SythOS (same concept…. 3D virtual environment, network-enabled, fully modular, timelines, timeline branches, etc…), but it’s much simpler (since it’s only an audio workstation). I’m planning on releasing it sometime by the end of this year =)

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2 responses to “Creating an Orchestral track under Ubuntu REDUX – Part 1: Choosing a DAW

  1. J.C. January 8, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    You’re working on your own one… amazing…
    On the other hand, It’s pretty useful having this kind of pro-cons classifications when you enter in a field that is completely new for you…
    I’m following your porgress, and waiting for more :D

    • MiJyn January 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      thanks ^^

      and yeah, that’s exactly why I do that… I find it super useful when people do that (pro/cons) on things that I’m completely new to too ^^

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