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#996055 - 02/16/13 05:45 PM looking to upgrade recording software  
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Tom W. Offline
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I am currently using Garage Band to record my songs. Because it came standard with my Mac it has provided an affordable alternative to some of the rather pricy options out there. I've reached the point where I would really like to increase the production quality of my songs. I'm wondering if I am maximizing Garage Bands potential or if it's time to start looking into other options. Although I'd love to purchase Pro Tools, I'm not sure if I'm ready to bit the bullet on the $700 it costs. Are there any other more affordable options that would be a significant upgrade?

Also, if anyone is using Garage band and getting better results than I am I would love to get some suggestions. I am currently using a Mackie Satiate interface and some decent quality mics so I'm guessing it is my lack of recording skill or just a limitation of Garage Band. Here Is a link to the most current song I have recorded. I'm sure it wont take long to hear why I need help! LOL!

http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12152749

#996068 - 02/16/13 08:04 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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I am not a Mac guy so I can't comment on Garage Band but nearly all recording software records at the same level of quality. The various programs do offer different features and limitations.

I recommend Reaper which you can download and try for free for a month. If you like it, you can buy it for about $50 and it is frequently updated at no charge. Reaper is also unlimited in terms of number of tracks. There is never any pressure to upgrade to the next level because there is only one Reaper.

Reaper operates in a similar manner to Pro-Tools which I am also familiar with. Reaper is not a loop based DAW like Ableton, but based on listening to your sample, that is not what you need.

Let me know if you need any more info.

Colin


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#996224 - 02/17/13 08:31 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Tom W. Offline
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Colin,

I just downloaded Reaper to try out. Thanks for the suggestion! From what I see it looks like a pretty simple program. I'm not looking for a whole lot of bells and whistles so that's not a bad thing. I'm sure a lot of my issues have less to do with the software and more with my not using it properly.

#996226 - 02/17/13 08:52 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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"Although I'd love to purchase Pro Tools, I'm not sure if I'm ready to bit the bullet on the $700 it costs" - Tom

Since you have a Mac Tom... I see Logic Pro 9 is only $199.99 from the Mac App Store. A great piece of machinery (equivalent to Pro Tools). Make sure the specs on your Mac can handle it.

Best, John smile

#996236 - 02/17/13 10:49 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Thanks John! I have actually looked into Logic Pro before but it seemed to me it was a lot more expensive. $200 would be very reasonable. I'll look into it for sure. I'm currently using a Mac mini but it has the newest operating system and is only used for recording so I hope its enough. Thanks again!

#996244 - 02/18/13 12:30 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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It was more expensive when I purchased Logic Pro 8 (which I still use). I think around $500. The extras in Logic Pro 9 didn't sound like anything I'd used, so I never updated.

John smile

#996270 - 02/18/13 02:28 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Tom W. Offline
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John,

I'm thinking this might be a nice option. I researched it a little more and it seems like quite a lot for the money and being familiar with Garage Band the learning curve in theory would not be as steep. Thanks again!

#996286 - 02/18/13 04:25 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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There was quite a learning curve Tom, but if you purchase it at an Apple Store you can sign-up for their one-to-one training sessions. I think it's around $99 for a year of one hour weekly classes. Also what was a great help is this authorized website: http://logicprohelp.com/forum/ - saved me hours of fiddlin' around.

Good luck, John smile

#996330 - 02/18/13 11:35 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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Originally Posted by Tom W.
Colin,

I just downloaded Reaper to try out. Thanks for the suggestion! From what I see it looks like a pretty simple program. I'm not looking for a whole lot of bells and whistles so that's not a bad thing. I'm sure a lot of my issues have less to do with the software and more with my not using it properly.


Reaper has all the bells and whistles but it is simple when that's all you need. Download the manual - if you print it, it will take 400 pages!


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#996342 - 02/18/13 02:29 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Colin Ward]  
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400 pages is a lot of printing. Maybe Reaper has a quick start manual. Logic Pro 8 comes in 2 manuals. Close to 2,000 pages. Probably Logic Pro 9 has even more. Thank goodness for the one-to-one classes. Saved me a lot of dry frustrating reading.

John smile

#996436 - 02/18/13 10:52 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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John,

Thank God for youtube tutorials! I was not suggesting it would be easy, just that it might come around a bit quicker being somewhat familiar with Mac software. Thinking optimistically here!

Last edited by Tom W.; 02/18/13 10:57 PM.
#996439 - 02/18/13 11:44 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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Originally Posted by Tom W.
John,

Thank God for youtube tutorials! I was not suggesting it would be easy, just that it might come around a bit quicker being somewhat familiar with Mac software. Thinking optimistically here!


Yeah, keep in mind that I don't have a techie brain. I'm slower than most to catch on to this tech stuff. If it weren't for the Apple Store trainers, I'd still be trying to figure this stuff out. One of my trainers was a good musician to boot. It was easy to explain to him what I needed to accomplish.

This Logic Pro website was a Godsend: http://www.logicprohelp.com/forum/ It filled in the gap between training sessions. I always brought a list of question to the training session.

John smile

#996493 - 02/19/13 12:11 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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I'll check it out. Thanks again John!

#996692 - 02/20/13 04:56 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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I took a listen to the song and I can say that there is not a lot wrong with the recording......especially as it is an amateur home recording. You seem to have the basic skills down pat and what you produce is pretty good as a good demo or worktape. OK you may have a bit to go to produce radio ready fully mastered tracks BUT most people cannot achieve that without thousands of bucks worth of equipment and the tech skills to match.....to achieve that is a very long curve of learning indeed and a lot of people would use the experts like a pro studio or specialist for mastering etc. I would agree with Colin that most DAWs are similar and will all produce good results when used properly BUT I doubt very much if Logic Pro or even Reaper will make much of a difference quality wise to your results. What you may benefit from is some more tech expertise on how to get the best from what you already have. This may involve some sound engineer classes or tutorials and reading specialist books or online courses. There may be a local college or studio that can offer these....or Google.
Remember a good sound engineer can get great results from pretty average equipment but someone who does not have these skills has no chance regardless of the quality of gizmos at his fingertips. In short to reach the next level it is your skills that need an upgrade not your equipment. That will take time and is a big learning curve.....but hey you are well on your way already.

#996698 - 02/20/13 06:03 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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I agree with Big Jim here. The recording and mixing quality is pretty good here. Now reaper and logic probably have better plugins available for final shaping of the sounds -- but the percentage of improvement might be not be that big.

If you want to get that pro studio sound, then you need the room treatment, the monitors, the hardware, the plugins, the expertise that the pros have. At the moment, there is no way to tell if your recording environment/techniques are holding you back from getting you the sound you want -- or it is in the mixing and post production.


"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The 'hard' is what makes it great."
Kevin @ bandcamp: Crows Say Vee-Eh (and Kevin @ FAWM 2017)
#996730 - 02/20/13 09:42 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Kevin Emmrich]  
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I noticed the other comments on this thread and went back to listen again. I agree that there is not much wrong with what you have done.

A couple of things that stood out though....the sibilance on the vocal and the lack of bass. Your vocal has a lot of hissing and spitting(!) going on. You should either use a de-esser to control it or use less compression which emphasizes it (or carve out the hisses from the track). Also the song is crying out for a bass guitar to come in at some point after the beginning, and possibly some big sounding drums (toms) to complete it.

But overall, it sounds pretty good.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#996907 - 02/22/13 12:55 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Jim,

I really appreciate your thoughts. Nice to hear that at least I'm getting the fundamentals down. I know I'm not going to get studio quality from home any time soon but I'd like to keep learning and striving to get better. I always seem to come away with something useful from these types of open forums. I'm going to research on line tutorials and other avenues to see what I can pick up. Thanks again!

#996908 - 02/22/13 12:56 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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Kevin,

Thanks for taking time to chime in and for giving some good food for thought!

#996909 - 02/22/13 01:07 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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Colin,

You are right about the vocals. I hear the hissing as well. I'll take your advice and see if I can work with what I have already recorded. If all else fails, I can always try to re record the vocal track. Thanks again!

#997135 - 02/23/13 07:43 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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I have heard a lot worse sibilance on pro records but if you want to de-ess download Spitfish. http://www.digitalfishphones.com/main.php?item=2&subItem=5
It's one of the best freebie de-essers for vocals out there and it's free which makes it a great value product.... can't go wrong if used in moderation. Some of the other free fish plugins available via link are useful too. Remember you need some ssss for any song to sound natural. You can of course use a multiband Eq and search for the frequency of the offending esses by reducing the gain on that particular frequency you can also solve the problem. I remember reading an interesting article on sibilance in SoS mag and have managed to find a link.
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may09/articles/deessing.htm
Let me know how you get on.

#997151 - 02/23/13 09:38 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Originally Posted by Colin Ward
...I recommend Reaper which you can download and try for free for a month. If you like it, you can buy it for about $50 and it is frequently updated at no charge...


Recently the Reaper developers increased the trial period to 60 days.
Even if you ultimately settle on a different DAW application, Reaper is a handy tool to have on your computer for various tasks.

#997228 - 02/24/13 01:18 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Patrick Bryant]  
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Mike, I completely understand what you said about keeping the vocal track more natural sounding. I'm not a fan of over doing it with any type of effect. Better sometimes to live with the flaws than take that away. That being said, Spitfish sounds like it might be useful to have and use as you said "in moderation". I'll also be sure to check out the artificial you recommended. Thanks again!

#997229 - 02/24/13 01:21 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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Patrick, I did actually go ahead and download Reaper. I really need to spend a little time with it and explore it's capabilities. It certainly dose not hurt to have other options. Thanks!

#998765 - 03/08/13 05:45 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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an easy solution for decreasing sibilance is to simply angle the mic. I've lost the link but there is a video of Frank Sinatra recording one of his hits and they have the mic angled so that his vocals are picked up at an angle that lessons the direct imput that is the primary reason for the sibilance.

#998866 - 03/09/13 01:41 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Sue Rarick]  
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Sue is correct many problems can be solved or eliminated by setting up the mic properly. The two most important points are mic placement and levels. This involves trial and error over a few test recordings to find the optimum distance and best angle of the mic and pop shield and of course setting the correct gains. Once you have got ALL that down it will improve things and provide a standard or benchmark for future sessions. Remember every voice, mic, pop shield and room is different each time and can also change during a session so it is worth spending a little time tweaking and getting things right before doing an actual take. My tip is to record at a slightly lower level than 0db. say between -3 and -6 this will allow headroom for fx to be added post record and avoid the dreaded clipping. Here is a tutorial and some vids worth watching. My fav is No.11 it is funny but shows just how stupid some folk can be about mic technique and placement. The girl was born to be a pop star and it shows. I have met plenty like her.
http://audio.tutsplus.com/articles/general/11-videos-to-improve-your-vocal-microphone-technique/

#999281 - 03/13/13 01:47 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Following up on something Jim said...

Don't fall into the mindset that if you only had Mic a-b-c etc your vocals would become magically wonderful. Each person's voice is different and you need to test a lot of Mics to find the one that is most sympathetic to your voice.

Over the years I've found that a Sterling ST51 for the studio and a Sennheiser E835 for live performances are what work best for me. There are more expensive Mics I've tried but those two just happen to be a good match. You'll probably find a different set of Mics for you. BUT you need to go out and test test test as many Mics as you can to find the set that works best for you. If you do find out that a very high end Mic is what works for you there is usually the option of renting that Mic for your recording.

#999602 - 03/15/13 10:47 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Sue Rarick]  
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Tom W. Offline
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Tom W.  Offline
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Sue,

Good advice. Thanks!

#1000702 - 03/22/13 10:45 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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bobbyearlray Offline
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bobbyearlray  Offline
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Nashville, Tn.
Sue and Jim- Very sound advice. I normally do that even with guitar to get either a wash strumming , or more direct for picking. Thanks for your expertise-Bobby

#1002258 - 04/04/13 12:41 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: bobbyearlray]  
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Tom W. Offline
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Tom W.  Offline
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I just purchased Logic Pro 9 a few days ago. I think it's definitely going to take some time to get acclimated to it. So far I have only been able to figure out the most basic functions. But hey, that's what youtube is for. Time to hit the tutorials. I'm not incredibly patient so I'll have to keep reminding myself there will be a learning curve. I am well aware that no software can make me play, write or sing better. I'm just hoping there are some tools that can help the end product sound a little better.

#1003458 - 04/13/13 12:02 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
Tom good luck. In all probability you will only need to use the basics for what you are doing. So concentrate on that...the rest you can learn as or when you need them. Concentrate on getting a good clean recording, setting up multi tracks, simple mixing and then adding FX etc. If you can do that...well that is really all you need.

#1003560 - 04/13/13 10:46 PM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Tom W. Offline
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Tom W.  Offline
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Thanks Jim,

Yeah, my songs are pretty basic and don't require a whole lot but I did not consider the $199 a significant investment even if it only provides a few extra twists. The basics have already come together rather quickly. And again you are right when you say I should focus on making good clean tracks first. You can't really put a polish on a bad recording. I'm finding as far as learning the ins and outs of the other features offered it's easier to open up some of my existing songs in Logic and experiment. One advantage of already having songs recorded in garage band is they open up seamlessly in Logic. An added bonus is there is a good assortment of instruments to choose from. Many of these sounds a lot more realistic than what Garage Band offers. The piano and string options in particular sound rather nice. the flex time feature is kind of a cool and there are many other useful editing features. All in all, I'm pretty satisfied it was worth the relatively small investment.

#1003683 - 04/15/13 08:39 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: Tom W.]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
Tom you just opened up a whole new can of worms.....pretty soon you will be spending a fortune on $1000 plugins....there are lots to choose from.... LOL


some freebies are also worth looking at.

#1015076 - 07/11/13 02:56 AM Re: looking to upgrade recording software [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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R&M Offline
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R&M  Offline
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It seems to come down to expectations. Some like to record music with their own ideas and passions of their dream sound even if the recordings do not amount to much or what pros or a musical intellegensia may like. What constitutes better between you and the listener as opposed to musicians is also diffrerent. The alt and trad scene from a couple decades back is a fine example of that.
I prefer little recording devices and eq's other then wall mounts. Maybe some integration here and there.
I have used the free Audacity player at least for multitracking.


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