Everyone Starts Somewhere
Let’s be frank: 98% of us regular Joes and Janes out there aren’t going to be propelled to musical stardom and fame anytime soon, amateur musicians and aspiring producers included. This doesn’t mean that everyone should put down their drumsticks, guitars, microphones, trumpets, and various other instruments, however. If people gave up their instruments just because they aren’t (yet) famous, recognised, or haven’t yet received critical acclaim then there would be pretty much no musicians left in the world. So what does one do when one wants to make a collection of songs – either an EP, LP, or even a full-length album – without the backing of a record company or publisher? Well, DIY music production, of course. Music production, editing, and mixing software is a essential tools n any musician’s arsenal and allows many bands to lay down tracks at home with nothing more than a few mics (perhaps a cheeky condenser mic to record vocals), some leads, their instruments, and a piece of digital audio workstation (DAW) software. With this in mind, here is a short rundown of some of the very best music production software you can possibly get for your money, and some of them are entirely free of charge!
Image-Line FL Studio (Yay Fruity Loops!)
Price: €229.33 Platform: PC/Mac
14 years and still going strong, the software formerly known as Fruity Loops appears time and time again in the top ten lists of best musical production software out there, and its consistency, functionality, and usability have landed it the top spot here as well. The range of effects and synths is unbelievable and new features such as performance mode and multi-touch support show that fruity loops are continuing to improve on their hugely popular software year after year.
Price: $449 Platform: PC/Mac
Another name synonymous with quality musical production software, Ableton has an interface that is inviting and hugely simple to use. This software is massively useful as both a recording program and an instrument of performance as well. Refinements in the MIDI editing side of the program are much welcomed and it can even be used with the Ableton Push controller that allows you to get even more involved in your musical production.
Price: $225 Full Commercial License, $60 Discounted License Platform: PC/Mac
Not only is Reaper a fully-functioning piece of DAW software perfect for audio and MIDI recording, editing, and mixing, and also mastering, it is also affordable at a ridiculously low discounted price.
Price: £488 Platform: PC/Mac
Having had extensive experience with using Cubase, I can confirm that it is every bit as useful and versatile as it is advertised to be, allowing for a brilliantly versatile and highly professional recording and producing experience.
Avid Pro Tools
Price: £550 Platform: PC/Mac
Pro Tools has always been the go-to software for most amateur music artists out there due to just how easy it is to use, but it is also perfect software for professionals because of how functional this program really is. It can now be used without having to rely on external hardware, and is therefore becoming more usable by the minute (or more accurately, the year).
Price: £379 Platform: PC
This software has been used by a fair few of my wannabe music producer friends and has always resulted in some well-refined and brilliantly-produced tracks. Sonar X2 saw a 2012 release with many new features, and with X3 on its way, we can only expect this software to get better with age.
Price: £725 Platform: PC
Full editing of audio tracks is made possible with Samplitude as it has a fantastic editing system, great effects, and a generally pleasant interface though the price is a little off-putting for the amateur producer out there.
Sony ACID Pro
Price: £295 Platform: PC
Auto pitch-shift and audio timestretching once made this software a leader of the industry and though it has fallen behind of late, ACID still offers a great music production experience that is swift and powerful.
Apple Logic Pro
Price: £595 Platform: Mac
Perhaps one of the more flashy interfaces of all music production software, Apple Logic Pro is a powerful piece of software with a variety of tools and a simple interface.
Mixing, editing, and copying is simple with Reason Essentials, an entry-level piece of music software that has received acclaim from a fair few musicians I know. Check out its guitar emulator that allows you to use a huge range of sounds that simulate huge cabs and a massive range of amps.
There's not too much more to be said about such a simple yet memory-evoking soundboard, aside from the fact that it acts like a soundboard should from a purely non-Pokémon perspective.