Tag Archives: rant

Don’t use audiowarez

Note: this post was originally posted in 2012. For some reason, it seems to have picked up some SEO steam or something, leading to a lot of people who are okay with piracy feeling the need to comment that I’m wrong. Let me save you the time: this post isn’t really about piracy. If you read it, you’ll know why, and perhaps not feel the need to tell me how utterly wrong my opinion is.

Yeah, it’s soapbox time. After a nice discussion on DAW preference, I wanted to highlight some points I’ve tried to make in earlier posts on my blog, specifically those centered around using pirated software to make music.

In short: don’t.

The longer explaination as to why you shouldn’t use pirated audio software can be summarized like this:

  • It’s illegal. Ought to be obvious, but a shocking amount of people don’t know/care.
  • You start hoarding. You install “everything” you read about online, which leads to…
  • You won’t learn anything. This is the most important point!
  • Your system will turn unstable. Yes, it will. Bad cracks, malware (and loads of it) will turn your highly tuned audio-PC-monster into a sluggish 286 after a long night of partying. If you’re super-unlucky, you’ll also be hacked in some way or another. So much for “savings”.

Let me focus on the important point: you won’t learn anything by bathing in pirated plugins and softsynths. Why? Because you’ll just skip around, testing one plugin after another and never actually learning to know the plugin, what makes it tick, or even if it’s a good one to begin with.

Too much in the music production world is, unfortunately, about quick wins or “brands”. You see BT use this and that and think “OMG! That’s all I need to make music like BT!” — of course, this isn’t even close to being true, and everyone knows it, but self-delusion is a powerful force.

This is also the reason why today, in the days of Skrillex, that “Massive and FM8 = dubstep”. If I see one more “Make that signature Skrillex talking bass in Massive”-video on YouTube I’m going to vomit all over myself.

Therefore, instead of hoarding plugins and installing a gazillion softsynths, I recommend this alternative approach — it’s not littered with InstaMusic(tm) tips, but then again, that’s just the way it is:

  • Buy a legal copy of your favourite DAW and install it fresh. I like Reaper.
  • Check the bundled plugins, and IF you miss something — install just one of each “basic feature”-plugin. Yes, that means one compressor, one reverb, one delay, one EQ etc. This is to learn. You can expand later, but keep the count low.
  • Force yourself to use only those plugins. Learn all about them. Read the documentation!
  • Learn the built-in features of your DAW. They are better than you think.

The upside of this approach is that you’ll know your tools, which means that you’ll know what to do and when to do them! This means that you’ll be able to know exactly which plugins and methods to use later on, when you know all you need to know of the basics and want to upgrade.

End of rant. :)

How I learned to stop using ACID and started to love the Reaper

If you know anything about musicians, it’s that they hardly ever change their DAW software. If you didn’t know that already, well, now you do. I’m no exception to this rule. In fact, after my childhood years using trackers on the Amiga (and later, on the PC), and a three/four-year flirt with Cakewalk and Pro Tools, I started using ACID – and I loved it!

This was around 2000/2001, and back then it was released by Sonic Foundry – the people behind the quite excellent Sound Forge editing suite. A few years later, Sonic Foundry was bought by Sony (taking both products, and more, with them) and it was around that time that things started going tits up with the ACID suite.

Still – I kept using it. Both because I knew the program inside and out, and also because – despite frequent crashes and lots of limitations and annoyances – I could work quite fast in it. The third reason looming in the background was of course the most obvious: there wasn’t really any alternatives out there. So, I stuck with it – for 10 years.

I’m glad to say that has now changed.

V3-headss

A few months ago I became aware of DAW named Reaper. At the time I wasn’t really doing much music because of work and fatherhood, and I didn’t think much of it. I downloaded it, ran it, liked it fine enough and closed the program. It was about a week ago that I suddenly felt the urge to do a little composing again, and just for kicks I “forced” myself to try Reaper instead of just firing up ACID like so many times before, and boy am I glad I did. In about an hour I had learned pretty much all I needed to work both fast and efficiently with the program, and I started to feel at home in it.

Of course, I knew that the people behind Reaper (a former Nullsoft-founder (WinAMP) and the guy behind the excellent Stillwell Audio VST-plugins) had set up Reaper to feature a lot of the same shortcuts as ACID, in order to spur some conversion-wins from that camp, but there was more than that. The software didn’t crash, it didn’t lag, it loaded both softsynths and samples faster than ACID, and the ease of use was just breathtaking.

I especially liked how friggin’ easy it was to set up automation. It’s literally “right-click, pick the controller you’d like to automate, done!”

Reap_screen8

It’s sort of hard to describe how much of an advantage something like that is for someone who makes music using the computer, but it is is a really big deal. After I discovered that fantastic feature I kept delving deeper and deeper into the software and found feature after feature that I never knew I missed, but now cannot imagine living without.

At this point I should mention that Reaper runs on both Windows and Mac. For someone like me, who has a home studio with a pretty beefy Windows 7-machine and a MacBook Pro for work and travels, it’s brilliant. Not only is it cross-platform, but both versions actually work. In addition to that, I also use a USB 2.0 soundcard with a breakout-box, which also works on both my PC and my Mac. Brilliant! (oh, and I have a follow-up post with portable studio tips in me, I just have to find time to write it).

I don’t know what kind of people will end up reading this, but if you’re into musicmaking and you’re using something like Pro Tools, Sonar, Logic, ACID or one of the many other DAW programs out there, I urge you to give Reaper a try. The trial version is not crippled in any way, and if you decide to switch (something I predict you will if you just spend a few hours with the software), it will only cost you just $60 $40 to purchase a licensea bargain no matter how you see it!

This turned into more of a rant than I thought it would, but hey – that’s what blogs are for. :)

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