I started home recording my music about six years ago and I started using a programme that an acquaintance gave me, but no longer exists. The software was fairly easy to use and allowed me to convert albums and cassettes into a digital format. I tried recording lyrics over a friends song and that was the start of what has been an absorbing and creative occupation form me.
I quickly built up the hardware required to make decent quality recording as well as software to record the fruits of my labour. I bought Mixcraft Pro-Studio after reading and researching software that was easy to use and worked on Windows computers. This software was inexpensive, flexible and came with a wide assortment of add-ons.
After using Mixcraft I continued to investigate and Pro-Tools was clearly the market leader, as it was used by recording studios and was highly recommended. I purchased Pro-Tools 11 and, after some difficulty and annoyance with installation using the key that holds the licence, got it up and running. I must say that after finding Mixcraft so user friendly, I found Pro-Tools a pain and I quickly reverted to what works for me. I am sure that if I had started with Pro-Tools then I would probably be using it now, but Mixcraft has capabilities that I am only just mastering and upgrades add more. The programme is reliable and I have only ever had a couple of problems and then Acoustica help proved reasonably quick and supportive. I believe they are a German company. Like most things, you can get lost in the technicality, but what really matters is the quality of the songs and music, not the intricacies of the recording. You can record rubbish brilliantly and yet it will still be rubbish, whereas songs from the sixties and seventies are brilliant, despite the technology that recorded them. Some would say that the lack of technology adds to their charm and sound.
Mixcraft comes with hundred of sound loops, but I have never used them. It seems to defeat the purpose of creating and recording music to use ‘Paint by Numbers’ techniques. Some people , clearly do use them and if it keeps them happy then I suppose it is OK.
Another feature, again that I have never used, is the ability to edit film with the same software. You can edit your own music videos if you wish, but I don’t think you will have the same features as stand alone film editing software.
There appears to be no limit on the number of recording tracks available. I have used 35 on one song, but it clearly can handle more than most people would need. It also has the ability for sub-mix tracks, output bus tracks, video and virtual instrument tracks. I won’t go into the technical side, but will just say that if you are looking for inexpensive recording software that you can not go wrong with Mixcraft. By the way, I am not linked in anyway to the manufacturers and I am only giving my opinion. If you prefer another software then that is fine by me. If you want to start out then there are a couple of basics you must have. Apart from the DAW, the recording software, you will need an audio interface. This is an electronic gizmo that will change analogue sound into digital so that the computer can use it. These can be purchased for a relatively small amount, but can cost a lot if you want to spend it. Into the audio interface you can connect a microphone for recording acoustic instruments and voice, or you can connect electric, guitars, keyboards etc.
You now have the basics required to get recording in your own studio, with capabilities that early musicians would have died for. Your DAW will allow you to manipulate sound, add echo, distortion and a myriad of effects. The world is your musical oyster and you will learn the rudiments as you get going. There are many help sites on YouTube etc. and many will confuse and overcomplicate, so don’t be put off. Dip your toes in before you commit too much money and understand that a cheap microphone in 2018 will give you a sound comparable with the very best and most expensive of a few year ago. You may not become a star, you may not become a millionaire, but you can get tremendous pleasure and satisfaction from creating and sharing music.