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Music composition software anyone?


sroberson

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Hey all, I know we have some music gurus out there that know a lot more than I do...but I recently signed up for a songwriting and music production class and was wondering if anyone knew of some good music composition software.  I know I have downloaded and tried using some "free" software but it felt clunky and hard to use.  It can be free or paid for version, I just have an itch to try and get back into music again and always have a hard time figuring out which direction to go.  

 

Thanks in advance!

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I am no music 'guru', but I have used a program called Sibelius when I was at school, and that seemed to be pretty good. You gotta pay for it though.

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Yeah a quick search from Google brought that up as well.  Do you think its a pretty easy to jump into program?

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It all depends on how much you are willing to spend. There are DAWs of every kind for every price.

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I didn't know it fell under the classification of a "DAW" since I thought DAWs were for recording only.  I could be wrong though.  Do you have a preferred one Executor?  I could be convinced to shell out a couple hundred

 

 

 

EDIT: Ok...Color me stupid, apparently it is simply referred to as a "DAW".  I guess I am now asking for opinions regarding particular DAWs and ease to jump into.  

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It all depends on how much you are willing to spend. There are DAWs of every kind for every price.
speaking oh which, executor where the hell is my song? Lol .
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Alright. If you're willing, I'm not going to even start with the small, free, little baby shit. Time for a tempting tl;dr.
 
If you like using a PC or anything with windows...
 
Ableton:
This DAW is best used if you want to record live. It integrates MIDI components well. It's simple with a lot of good basic Instruments and effects with a simple view to make the automation envelopes looks like a sharp knife. Still most of the great plugins are bought separately unless you dish out the $1,200 dollars for the Suite package. Also, it's not the best if you're going to be making full commuter generated music (i.e. Techno, Dubstep to computer generated guitars.) This program is used to the garage bands who want to record their first album. When people use this. It usually means that they once used Pro Tools on a Mac and hate Macs. Or they're too hipster to use a more common one. 
 
Fruity Loops by Image Line:
This is the one I use today. And holy fuck it is a goddess. If you have a PC and want to write Computer generated stuff from scratch? Just stop reading and buy this now. No, really. Just stop and go. Just buy it. It has a great system, amazing adaptability, and can handle the toughest VSTi plugins even with most shitty sound cards. Even the default effects plugins are great. Not to mention cheap. $300 for the signature, $910 right now for the whole works. I got the Producer edition and just bought the ones I though I needed. Most of the default generator plugins suck though, a good 2/13 ratio of good to bad. The effects though are to die for. Very well crafted and can be automation to create stunning effects.
The only down problems is that if you're hoping to record live vocal, you're going to have a bad time. It used ASIO4All which is a driver for sound cards. It's not friendly. Better find an alternative recorder and just import the audio from there. Fun thing about FL is that it has all the plugins to edit audio clips, just can't record them. 
Some notable people how use FL (or have in the past) are Afrojack, Porter Robinson, and deadmau5. 
 
Logic Pro:
This would be the unchained version of Garageband. I've seen people choose this one and it's a cheaper, Apple protect version of Ableton. Not big on computer. Better with live audio.
 
Mixcraft:
This is the lesser yet more vocal version of FL Studio. Its a Windows running, audio recording, and a bit of MIDI mapping monsterfrisbee. It has visual instruments of all the rock bands (Guitars n' drums n' stuff.) plus some simple effects, but it's pride it it's work with loops. It gives over 6000 of them when you purchase it for $75. Yet that price also comes with video editing which is a red flag when looking for a DAW. But honestly haven't used this program much so I don't want to say something that I'll regret later. 
 
Pro Tools:
The workaholic program. This shit is expensive but great at doing what it does. This has plugins, effects, automation, which most of will cut burn decimate whatever you have in the bank. It has everything from vintage sounds to the newer trance chord synths. From violins to drums and so much more. It records well, it maps MIDI controllers well, it creates well, it's just a perfect little program that will take all your money. No joke. Some of the top products are sold separately and are a couple hundred now and then. It's a great program, I think though it's more than it's worth.
 
Cubase:
The old school-er, one of the first DAWs out there. Its a decent program for it's price of $500. A great recorder, great MIDI interface, and hot on the creating side. It's used by some big named artists like Zedd and Tiesto, but also tends to the rock side of things. It's a lot similar to Pro Tools. Outside of Cubase, there are also other great programs by steinberg for mixing and editing. I sometimes wish I started with Cubase. 
 
This is just some of the high end equipment if you're serious. I like FL. Cubase is great. So is Pro Tools if you have the cash. I recommend getting the free versions and testing the waters. Helps a lot.

 
EDIT
 
 
 




speaking oh which, executor where the hell is my song? Lol .

 
I'm trying to make everything sound perfect. It's hard to take someone else's song and finish it. :-P

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Whoa...I like this TL;DR.  :D  Thanks!

 

From what you have mentioned I may want to take a look at Fruity Loops.  I have been itching to explore a trance metal and electronic sort of genre.  I am confused though because I think you contradicted yourself saying that the default plugins are good, then bad :P .  How well do you figure it would handle guitars?  How's the drum machine? As far as hardware I guess I should invest in a audio interface for my guitar and a MIDI capable keyboard?

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I'm still kind of a n00b when it comes to music so I may not be the best persion to ask, but I mainly use FL Studios. It's a really powerful tool and simple enough for someone like me to learn.

 

Edit: Aaaaaaaaaand someone already mentioned that. xD

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Yeah a quick search from Google brought that up as well.  Do you think its a pretty easy to jump into program?

It is easy enough. If I could use it, you should have no problem. ;)

 

From what you have mentioned I may want to take a look at Fruity Loops.

Fruity Loops is also suppose to to be good. I would look into it.

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I am confused though because I think you contradicted yourself saying that the default plugins are good, then bad :-P .

 

I edit because I see what I messed up on. :-P

 

  

How well do you figure it would handle guitars?

There's one default generation plugin that is decent to an extent. I recommend other plugins like Nexus2  as a better choice.

 

How's the drum machine?

There is a real drum player that is a great plugin if you want a real drum machine. It's even better with a drumpad. And if you want a more computerized sound, it can use any sound clip.

 

As far as hardware I guess I should invest in a audio interface for my guitar and a MIDI capable keyboard?

To be honest. A MIDI anything is only necessary if you're really trying to make it as real as you can or just too lazy to move and adjust each note to what you want. In FL, any sound you want, be it guitar or violin, can be played with a piano MIDI.

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I just skimmed through this, but it depends on what sort of software you're looking for; mixing or notation.

 

Notation? Easy - MuseScore since it's free.

I don't really have anything else to offer right now.

 

Also, it's great to have 'ya back.

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DZ incoming.

3ozy6c.jpg

 

I just skimmed through this, but it depends on what sort of software you're looking for; mixing or notation.

 

Notation? Easy - MuseScore since it's free.

I don't really have anything else to offer right now.

 

Also, it's great to have 'ya back.

I think I was initially looking for notation when I started the thread but then found that I am looking for mixing software as well...so your suggestion is also appreciated :) .  And thanks! (I'll probably say that a few more times in other threads lol)

 

 

I think i'll be particularly partial to starting on Fruity Loops since my roommate has a copy of it I can play around with...Here goes nothing! 

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"Music Composition Software" ranges from chiptune trackers to MIDI sequencers to full-scale DAWs to notation software.

I will start by saying don't use Fruity Loops. It has just about the worst UI of any DAW out there, and transitioning from it to something else if you choose to upgrade later is harder.

Before I can make a specific recommendation, I need to know what you are planning to do with it and your budget.

It is worth noting that there are two "industry standards" (in the same way Photoshop is the industry standard image editor) .

For DAWs, the industry standard is Pro Tools. Every major recording studio uses it.

For Notation software, the industry standard is Finale.

Both are expensive, but especially Pro Tools. Pro Tools is a walled-garden and requires special Pro Tools-Ready hardware.

Most notation programs can drive a sound generating program, and most DAWs can create sheet music.

The question is which is more important to you.

DAWs give you better control over the performance of each note and the software instrument you are driving, but their notation output is generally pretty poor.

Notation programs, on the other hand, are great for producing sheets, but you sacrifice a lot in sound control.

If you want a DAW, I need to know what you want to do with it, your budget, and whether or not you're ready to go down the rabbit hole, because this is a hobby that to get sounding good you need to make significant investments.

Regardless, you can't overlook hardware. Your built-in soundcard won't cut it. You'll need an audio interface. Also if your computer was a low-end model three years ago, you'll need something better.

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I will start by saying don't use Fruity Loops. It has just about the worst UI of any DAW out there, and transitioning from it to something else if you choose to upgrade later is harder.

 

FL has really good user interface. Everything is there, it's simplistic all you need to do is figure out the bells and whistles. As for transitioning, I've seen some tutorial videos for Pro Tools and both work semi-close to being the same.

 

It's all Apples and Bananas. They're just not peeled or eaten the same way.

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Using FL is like using a Mac. You learn how to use it, but you don't really learn how to use a computer because of all the UI quirks that differ so greatly from the other OSes.

Learning FL teaches you how to use FL, but not much else. Yes, if you grasp the basic concepts of using a DAW you can transition to any DAW with varying levels of effort, but there are better workflows out there that in FL's price range, mainly because those programs started as DAWs while FL started as a loop sequencer (and its UI still feels like one).

Credit where credit is due, though. FL does have a pretty decent set of built-in sounds. I just don't think they're worth the rest of the package, especially since they're proprietary and can't be used with other software like a VST can. To use them you have to load FL as a VST (YO DAWG, I HERD U LEIK PLUNGINZ!!! SO I MADE IT SO YOU CAN USE PLUGINS INSIDE YOUR PLUGINS).

They also give you free updates, so credit for that, too. (Steinberg: Oh, you want to upgrade to Cubase 6.5 from Cubase 6? GIMME FIFTY DOLLAR! Oh, you want to go to 7? TWO HUNDRED DOLLAR!)

If I were to compare FL to a Steinberg product, I'd compare it to Sequel rather than Cubase. Sequel is not only a little bit cheaper than FL, but if you decide to go down the rabbit hole and use Cubase, their UIs are very similar (Though I still feel Sequel's is a bit Fisher Price like FL's) and you get about a 20% upgrade discount. Sequel's plugins are all VSTs. VST is really the industry standard when it comes to plugins, so if you upgrade to something else later, you can still use them.

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For now I think I want to treat this as just a hobby since I remember getting all worked up about trying work on something last year and it fizzled out after a while.  My main interest would be in working on rock/metal and some electronic stuff but would like the ability to try other genres out if I get interested (So I guess whatever software has an extensive set of plugins that can be used?).  Is a $500 budget enough to invest in some mid-grade software?  I never like the idea of going in too cheap and regretting it later, but afraid of spending too much and getting the wrong thing.

 

As far as hardware, I have an audio interface that takes XLR cables for input and plugs into the computer via USB.  It's my understanding I might have to find something to plug MIDI into in case I go looking for a keyboard and maybe a drum pad.

 

In the past all I have been able to do is take a crappy microphone line into the computer and stick it in front of an amplifier so I dare say any significant improvement over that will be a good start for me lol.  

 

 

Oh, I guess I should say I am on Windows...just in case >_> .  

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Does your audio interface support ASIO? That is important. Your software will need use it for audio processing instead of your cheap built-in soundcard.

Let's talk Hardware first:

For your MIDI controller, don't worry about a MIDI interface. These days USB MIDI controllers are everywhere. I use an M-Audio Keystation Pro 88. It's a full-size, hammer action, MIDI controller that is completely USB driven (It is a legacy product, though. It has been replaced by the Oxygen 88). I don't even need a power cable for it.

That said, I wouldn't spring for a hammer action 88 key controller until you're ready to go down the rabbit hole. The Oxygen 88 blows your entire $500 budget on its own. Especially if you're not a pianist. I'd start with a low-end cheap 44 key or less controller. Something like this this little Korg: http://www.musiciansfriend.com/keyboards-midi/korg-microkey25-usb-midi-keyboard/h97604

I wouldn't get a drum pad unless you know how to play drums. You'll have to clean-up your recordings so much that you may as well just step-sequence using your keyboard controller.

Make sure your computer can handle what you are going to do. The system requirements for your DAW will be misleading because they do not necesarilly include plugins.

If you want to record, start with an entry-level mic. Something like a Shure SM57 or an MXL 990. Note that the MXL needs phantom power.

Software. Before we get into recomendations, you're really not going to just buy one piece of software in this hobby.

There are three things you will need:

1. DAW software: This is the central hub of everything. The DAW drives everything else and is the place where you throw down your tracks.

2. Instruments: If you're not recording it, you need to generate it. This is where instruments come in. These plugins are responsible for creating the actual sounds. This can be anything from basic synths to full-scale sampler packages like Kontakt.

3. Effects: Reverb. EQ. Compressors. Distortion generators. These alter existing sound.

Many DAWs come with pack-in instruments and effects.

So, what to choose?

There are a lot of options out there, but first I want to draw your attention to the walled gardens. I would avoid these because you may find yourself wanting to switch DAWs later, and end up losing the ability to use your favorite plugins.

Fruity Loops - I discussed fruity loops earlier. I don't like it much, but it isn't terrible. Most of my problems are UI related. Also, its plugin standard is proprietary. FL Started as a loop sequencer, and that is still the core of its DNA. It excells at that. It's low entry price and how easilly early versions were pirated made it very popular in the video game music remix community, where it continues to see heavy use. Given it's history with loops, it is most suited for electroinic music and hip-hop. Though it has taken on more and more DAW-like qualities over the years and now can be considered one.

But, it is a walled garden. They do give you an out, as FL can be loaded into other DAWs as a VST, but that is clunky as hell.

Propellerhead Reason - Perhaps the biggest walled garden in all of DAWdom. Not only does it use proprietary plugins, it can't even load VSTs. Reason started life as a virtual synth rack, and as such is known as a virtual synth. Like FL, Reason can be driven by other DAWs if need-be. Reason's ability to quickly build synth setups has made it popular with electronic musicians, but it's lack of VST support holds it back from any serious use in recording environments. Unlike FL, however, Reason's cost of entry is comparable to midrange DAWs like Cubase and Sonar. Due to its roots as a synth rack and loads of synth options, Reason is most suited for electronic music.

Logic - I won't spend a lot of time here. Logic was once a cross-platform DAW that was aquired by Apple. As such, you need a Mac to use it. It also has some proprietary plugins.

The above programs are good at what they do, but they will leave you with nowhere else to go. Before buying one, understand that you are moving into a walled garden and if you move out, you won't be able to take everything with you.

Now let's talk about the other DAWs out there.

There are three teirs:

1. Entry Level DAW - They will get you started, but they lack a lot of built-in plugins and some are gimped in terms of number of tracks or channels you can use. This is especially true of entry versions of higher-end DAWs. Examples: Reaper, Fruity Loops, Sequel, Cubase Elements, Sonar Elements, GarageBand.

2. Midrange DAW - This is where you will likely eventually end up if you decide to go down the rabbit hole. Here you get a lot of features at a price that won't destroy you, but is not insignificant. Most come with a solid set of plugins, but you always want to bring your own to the party as well. Examples: Cubase, Logic, Reason, Sonar.

3. Professional DAW - These are the big boys. High system requirements abound, and often the requirement to interface with expensive mixer boards that you should have anyway if you want to go this far down the rabbit hole (the midrange DAWs are more than adequate to cover setups without such devices). Walk into a major professional recording studio, and these are the DAWs they are using. Of course this kind of prestige comes with a prestiguous price. Examples: Pro Tools, Nuendo.

THE RECCOMENDATIONS

The Requirements:

Budget: $500

Rabbit Hole: Don't want to get stuck with something gimped, but not ready to take the plunge.

Music Styles: Rock and electrionic with options to experiment

Plugins Included: High Importance

Hardware Costs:

MIDI Controller: ~$100-150

Mic: ~$100-150

Unfortuantely, there is a disconnect between what you want and your budget. You want tons of plugins, but at your budget you just can't get there once you facor in hardware costs.

Don't fret, though. This is why VST is a good thing: You can buy plugins peacemeal as your budget allows. In fact, you should be doing this anyway so you can develop your own sound.

You want a standard VST DAW. Definately avoid the walled gardens since you don't want to get stuck.

When it comes to the entry level, I normally reccomend Reaper due to its price and decent power for an entry level DAW. But in your case, I think you want to option to move up with little learning curve. Plus you want plugins. Reaper has very very few.

Because of this, I reccomend picking from this pool:

Lower-end entry options:

Cubase Elements (~$100) http://www.steinberg.net/en/shop/buy_product/product/cubase-elements-7.html

Sonar Essentail (~$100) http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/cakewalk-sonar-x2-essential-daw-software

Higher-end entry options:

Cubase Artist (~$250) http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/steinberg-cubase-artist-7

Sonar Studio (~$200) http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/cakewalk-sonar-x2-studio-daw-software

The higher-end ones have more plugins.

Cubase Elements and Cubase Artist allow an easy transition to Cubase. Cubase is ~$500, but these products qualify you for an upgrade discount when you are ready to take the plunge.

Sonare Studio and Sonar Elements allow an easy transition to Sonar Producer, the flagship Sonar product. Sonar is ~$500, but these products qualify you for an upgrade discount when you are ready to take the plunge.

Cubase Teirs Comparison:

http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/cubase/line_up.html

Sonar Teirs Comparison:

http://www.cakewalk.com/products/SONAR/SONAR-X2-comp-chart.pdf

So, now the big question for you is "Cubase or Sonar?"

I cannot answer that question for you. I personally am a Cubase user, but Sonar is a very nice package as well (though Steinberg has the market advantage). Look into both and go with the one that suits your needs the best.

DRM Note: Cubase uses eLicenser Dongle-based DRM. Sonar also uses DRM but does not require a dongle. A dongle is a special encrypted USB flash drive that must be instered into your computer to use the software. Thankfully, Steinberg includes a dongle in every Cubase box instead of making you buy one separately. Not all music software companies do this (I'm looking at you, EastWest).

Trial versions are always helpful:

http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/cubase/trial.html

http://www.cakewalk.com/Products/SONAR/Web-Trial.aspx

Unfortunately, Steinberg requires a dongle for the Cubase trial (Seriously, WTF?!).

Sequel has a simialr UI, though, and does not require a dongle:

http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/sequel/trial_version.html

There are also tons of Cubase tutorial videos on YouTube you can watch to help get a feel for the program.

Both Steinberg and Cakewalk have discontinued support for Windows XP.

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I had to read through that a couple times to digest it.  This is good stuff :D

 

I'll have to check on whether it supports ASIO, if not I figure i'll have to purchase one for myself anyways since, again, I have hijacked some of my roommate's stuff.  I know that could be another $100+ investment or so.  

 

Considering my space constraints i'll probably never invest in a 88 key keyboard, unless I do start to get into learning to really play one.  Regarding a drum pad, I have had a interest for a while in learning to play - so it would really be a cheaper alternative to a full blown electric kit (because i'll never purposefully subject others to a new drummer - probably worse than a new musician to anything else).  But what do you mean by cleaning up drum recordings?  Having poor timing/rhythm while trying to get used to the drum pad?  I can understand having that problem.

 

I'll have to check out the system requirements for Sonar or Cubase (since I might have decided on one of those), but I hope at least my CPU is up to par, I did just put together a new computer a few months back that I was trying to be a bit budget conscious about.  

 

I'm assuming the mic will be for voice recordings, which I am honestly afraid of putting myself through.  Last time I tried, I sounded like a country singer and that's a big 'no' lol.  Either way i'm sure i'll have to invest in one eventually, but for now i'll focus more on the instrumental side of things and use some other instrument to do the vocal melody.

 

Just to make sure I understand the software side of things, once I pick a DAW there are plugins for instruments and effects in the form of a VST that can be loaded into the DAW?  As you mentioned I will probably stay away from the super proprietary stuff other than Fruity Loops so I can just have the option to expand my options and have the ability to load it up into a "better" (for lack of better word) DAW

 

I'll have to spend some time looking at Sonar and Cubase - probably the higher end options.  Haven't decided if the use of a USB DRM key for Cubase would sway my opinion. I just get a bad feeling I would lose it somehow and the rage that would ensue.  Is there a particular reason(s) you are a Cubase user over Sonar?  

 

(Going through just a few videos I think I am leaning toward Cubase.  Something about the interface of Sonar just doesn't sit right.  I found one person that insists on Reaper being better, but still used Sonar...which was kind of confusing)

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I use Cubase because the first "DAW" I ever used was the super-gimed "Cubasis" that came with my audio interface. I knew that ecosystem, and plus Steinberg really is the market leader for midrange DAWs anyway. The dongles suck, but if you leave it in your computer you won't have to worry about using it. I have a USB hub that I plug all my dongles into. I leave it behind my keyboard so it is out of the way.

Yes, VSTs are the plugins spec for instruments and effects. It's pretty much the industry standard. If you buy a VST plugin, it will work in any DAW that supports the VST protocol version the plugin was written for (Most DAWs support them all). VST 3 is the current version. Most DAWs will come with a few plugins that cover the basic stuff: an EQ, some reverb, a compressor, a guitar amp simulation, maybe a few effects like a flanger or distortion and a handful of instruments.

You will eventually want to upgrade to something like this for sound generation: http://www.soundsonline.com/Ministry-Of-Rock-2

Note that that VSTi is about $450, and requires a separate dongle purchase.

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First, I don't know much about music in general, but I've been messing around with DAWs and MIDI software for a long time ! I even tried to make a simplistic DAW as a final project in College ! It didn't work all that well because we had underestimated the task at hand and waited waaayyy too long before actually coding it.. But it actually made me learn lots of things about music software, MIDI and such.

Such as, actually playing MIDI music is much more complex than you'd think, and is never truly accurate on a PC, unless you have a real-time OS like linux. I remember my first version of my midi player taking 100% of the CPU just to play notes at the precision required by the midi standard XD
Windows doesn't have a precise high resolution clock, at least windows xp didn't , so I somehow used fractions of milliseconds to approximate timings.. I think it was possible to write a driver to have much better precision, but, the windows driver toolkit is a piece of crap, and all my friends in electronic engineering told me to stay away..
But I digress once more.

sroberson, on 16 Jul 2013 - 12:15 AM, said:
Whoa...I like this TL;DR. :D Thanks!

From what you have mentioned I may want to take a look at Fruity Loops. I have been itching to explore a trance metal and electronic sort of genre. I am confused though because I think you contradicted yourself saying that the default plugins are good, then bad :-P . How well do you figure it would handle guitars? How's the drum machine? As far as hardware I guess I should invest in a audio interface for my guitar and a MIDI capable keyboard?


The guitar VSTi that comes with FruityLoops is probably the VSTi that sounds the less like a guitar I've ever heard ! It got a really recognizable sound, and it sounds like six chainsaws cutting through your ears in tune ! :-P
Someone actually managed to make it sound pretty decent :

Now, I've used FLStudio for a long time ! Mostly for making midi rips when I was younger, and attempting to learn how to work with music.
I used to use FLStudio 3.0 from a "portable" version laying around the web, it was really outdated even at the time though. But when I got really serious into my hobbies in 2008-2009 I bought FLStudio 8.0 ( Or was it 7.0 ? ), the fruity edition for $100. It had the piano roll editor and most of what I needed. It doesn't record audio though, you need the $200 producer edition at least for that..

Here's how they record their guitar lines with FLStudio and a cheap setup:

Though, I've lately discovered that the Linux scene was pretty well equipped in free and good audio tools ! Don't let some of the windows ports fool you usually most apps that came from linux over to windows works a thousand time better on linux..
You can basically just use a boot CD or better a bootable flashdrive with a fully equipped distro for music making, and boot your pc into that distro when you plan on doing audio related tasks, and then just reboot into windows when you're done. Linux can access NTFS partitions, so all your files are still accessible from linux, and you can write new files or modify them as well.

Here are a few links about it:
https://www.linux.com/learn/docs/694629-professional-audio-production-on-linux
http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/apps/start

Here are three distros fully tuned for the tasks:
http://kxstudio.sourceforge.net/ (<-Not really a distro, more like a pack of packages, you can put it on other distros than ubuntu, some people said they preferred to run it on Linux Mint (Mint comes pre-installed with a lot of proprietary codecs), which is based on Ubuntu, so its all compatible, albeit a little more work )
http://www.bandshed.net/AVLinux.html
http://ubuntustudio.org/tour/audio/

I'm considering buying myself an usb flashdrive and putting it on, with the bootable linux flash drive creator thing. So updates to the OS can be done easily, unlike on live CDs, and it has a little extra space to save personalized settings and etc, if you're on the move! I haven't had much time to mess around with audio production stuff on linux though. But I heard that the kernel on some distro is optimized to reduce greatly the latency when recording audio and such.

For recording audio, if you want to go the poor man's way, you could try to find one of those DIY projects to mod or build your own USB audio interface. Though it will take you time and money to put it together, and require learning a few things on electronics.. If you got a job and don't care about electronics, don't bother though, you'll probably make the money you need for a commercial audio interface by the time you're even done with your DYI project ! True story(except that I didn't actually buy a commercial one, given that it was mostly just a whatthehellletsdosomethingrandomtolearnelectronics kind of thing) :-P

If you want to go the poor man's way on a MIDI keyboard, you could do like me and buy a crappy $80 radioshack keyboard, that comes with a MIDI out, and get a cheap USB-MIDI cable. I still use this old RadioShack MD500 keyboard : http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com/html/2001-a/hr352.html (the last one at the left)
I don't know if velocity works with mine though, but its better than using your typing keyboard as a makeshift piano keyboard XD

You don't have to listen to those suggestions though.
I'm really cheap and I usually try to do the most out of less, and sacrifice quality, which isn't always a good idea..

Also, free VSTi and VST FX :
http://www.musicradar.com/tuition/tech/the-27-best-free-vst-plug-ins-in-the-world-today-277953/1
http://audio.tutsplus.com/articles/general/over-90-free-vst-effects-plugins/
http://www.vstplanet.com/
http://www.vst4free.com/
http://freemusicsoftware.org/category/vsti
http://www.vstwarehouse.com/
http://bedroomproducersblog.com/free-vst-plugins/
http://www.dskmusic.com/ (<-DSK is really decent, though not always super high quality)
http://www.kvraudio.com/q.php

You absolutely must get those VSTi :
- Synth 1 : http://veryrandomstreams.blogspot.ca/2012/03/over-10000-free-patchessounds-for-free.html
- Les Paul SG Custom : http://free.chokehold.net/kriminal-lp-sgc/
- Alexis DFour (percussion sampler thing): http://free.chokehold.net/alexis-dfour/
- Black Noah snare (a snare only sampler) : http://free.chokehold.net/black-noh/
(and I'm out of time for the rest..)

Those VST FX:
- Molot Compressor : http://www.vstcafe.com/2011/07/molot-compressor-unit.html
(and I'm out of time for the rest..)

You can also get some decent free soundfonts and sample packs:
http://the-filmmusic-group.deviantart.com/journal/Soundfonts-of-Sonatina-Symphonic-Orchestra-Free-244707791
http://www.geocities.jp/shansoundfont/
http://www.schristiancollins.com/generaluser.php

http://packages.debian.org/source/sid/fluid-soundfont <-Just download the fluid-soundfont_3.1.orig.tar.gz and open it with 7z. There should be another archive inside the first archive its normal.. (Fluid sounds really good most of the time if you can tweak it correctly and have a decent soundfont player !)

Those have an unknown/unclear license:
http://www.un4seen.com/download.php?x/ChoriumRevA

 

*EDIT*: The edit button cleared my videos again :(

Edited by psy_commando
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I'd be a little hesitant to ask the guy to learn a whole new OS just for this.

Though to be honest, I'm a bit surprised that a truely professional-grade Linux-based DAW-only OS hasn't been released by one of the major players in the industry. Getting the OS out of the way helps this stuff a ton. This could be especially good for a company if they start rolling their own DAWboxes.

Speaking of which, I need to upgrade my DAWbox. It has the original AMD Quad Phenom CPU in it and only 4GB of cheap RAM.

When I first built her, she was the beast in the house. Now my gaming rig mops the floor with her.

I need to get her one of those i7s, maybe the 3770. And 32GB RAM should do the trick. Of course, I'd need a new Mobo to run it. It'd be nice to not have a CPU cooler that sounds like a vacuum cleaner, too. I'm suprised that noise doesn't end up in my recordings.

I want this:

The Legato instruments in this library will melt your soul.

But my DAWbox probably couldn't handle it (Violin 1 section = 1.4 GB into RAM O_o ).

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I'd be a little hesitant to ask the guy to learn a whole new OS just for this.

Though to be honest, I'm a bit surprised that a truely professional-grade Linux-based DAW-only OS hasn't been released by one of the major players in the industry. Getting the OS out of the way helps this stuff a ton. This could be especially good for a company if they start rolling their own DAWboxes.

Speaking of which, I need to upgrade my DAWbox. It has the original AMD Quad Phenom CPU in it and only 4GB of cheap RAM.

When I first built her, she was the beast in the house. Now my gaming rig mops the floor with her.

I need to get her one of those i7s, maybe the 3770. And 32GB RAM should do the trick. Of course, I'd need a new Mobo to run it. It'd be nice to not have a CPU cooler that sounds like a vacuum cleaner, too. I'm suprised that noise doesn't end up in my recordings.

I want this:

The Legato instruments in this library will melt your soul.

But my DAWbox probably couldn't handle it (Violin 1 section = 1.4 GB into RAM O_o ).

 

Well, pretty much everything in those packages has a gui, and ubuntu can be surprisingly user-friendly(if you get a decent desktop manager). AVLinux has a very nice and familiar interface as well. I think as long as he doesn't want to recompile his kernel or install Gentoo it shouldn't be too complicated to deal with the OS !

 

(I just attempted to install Gentoo... And really, these guys are crazy ! So much manual steps, and config files to manually edit just to install the damn thing ! And if you install gnome, you have to change an environment variable to use the proper libs.... And you even have to mount and partition everything from command line.. I mean, command line is all good, but some of this stuff is really repetitive and having some kind of installer to install default setting would be much welcome ! )

 

As for no big commercial player on Linux, its most likely because free and GPL stuff scares their legal team, and their DRM development team.. Especially given how the Linux community shun and condemns proprietary software and DRMs usually.. I can't say I blame them, the entire computer software development field had grown very quickly due to the rare use of software patents, and the massive "software infringement"(which wasn't at the time).

But now with the patent wars, and copyright wars, software development has taken a serious hit.. Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc, they're all too busy suing the crap out of everyone and dealing with defending against others to put as much resources into development. And they're all taking a "fight fire with fire" approach and register bogus patents to take out competitors..

 

Linux has been continuing on its own, slowly and steadily. Five years ago, I would never even have considered using Linux on my desktop PC, but now...

However, I digress.

 

There's actually a commercial DAW for Linux that I know of : http://www.harrisonconsoles.com/mixbus/website/index.html

Its called Mixbus, but I don't know much about them..

 

I still have my Phenom 2 X4  955. I've had it ever since 2009 ! And it still has little problem with pretty much anything I throw at it ! Of course its not an i7 or Xeon 8 cores. But still a great CPU for the price !

As for cooling, you might want to buy the biggest heatsink that will fit in your case, with the most heatpipes and surface. Then get some Noctua fans for it, they're extremely quiet ! Also a motherboard that supports some form of active fan control would really help (using fans that supports speed control would be necessary, but the Noctuas do it I'm fairly sure ) ! Then its just a matter of trying to put the pc in a place where the sound is contained, and that won't block the airflow. Also, Intel CPUs usually don't produce nearly as much heat as AMDs AFAIK.

 

Unless you want to go for water-cooling, but that's ridiculously expensive, and the waterpump and radiator fan still make noise !

 

And for 499$ isn't it more rentable to hire an orchestra for an hour ? :P

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Oh man...we crossed into the dark side now.  I have some functional experience with using Linux systems, but more in the way of system administration than desktop use.  I was aware of there being some DAWs out there for Linux as I was initially looking at Ubuntu Studio - but there isn't much in the way of "research" out there that doesn't leave me even more confused than when I started.  I kept seeing others referring to other software that wasn't initially installed in the Ubuntu Studio package and I never like looking for software with Linux because of whatever weird requirements that would have me chasing another thread until I resolve it.  

 

I might fish out my spare box and try it out just for fun and see what I find - though this is a pretty basic Pentium R, 2GB kind of computer that might be better used as a doorstop or a dummy terminal for some other project I have been wanting to look at.

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