Recording Software for OSX
October 13, 2004 2:49 PM   Subscribe

My brother would like to do some recording (acoustic guitar mainly, maybe other things) at home and is looking for recording software for OS X. The ideal price would be $500 or under, but it should be something decent rather than just cheap. He "doesn't need pre-recorded loops, etc, so [he] figure[s] GarageBand isn't what [he's] looking for." Any recommendations?

Hardware recommendations, too, would be appreciated. He doesn't have a mic or mixer or much of anything yet besides an eMac and his guitar.
posted by Utilitaritron to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
I use Ableton Live for the software. Version 3 was about $350. It does a host of other things besides recording, but it will record and mix and it has some killer effects.

Many people use Pro Tools but Pro Tools requires buying Digidesign's proprietary hardware, and the drummer in my band has had multiple problems with his Digidesign hardware.

Good hardware runs about $400 on the cheap - try M-Audio or Mackie for good two-channel input devices.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:58 PM on October 13, 2004

Considering GarageBand is only $50 (well, less than that if you get any value at all out of the other iLife programs) and will in fact record stuff, in addition to having pre-recorded loops, I'd suggest he try that first. It may well do everything he wants.
posted by kindall at 3:00 PM on October 13, 2004

Good point about GarageBand. Provided you have good hardware to convert the audio signal to digital (one with a preamp in it), GarageBand does just fine for simple recording. And GarageBand's effects are also quite nice. That would allow him to spend his money on hardware rather than on pricey software.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:07 PM on October 13, 2004

My husband swears by Cubase and his AudioBuddy. He bought both of them on eBay at significantly less than list price.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:14 PM on October 13, 2004

I bought a ProTools home setup (the Mbox) a few months back and have just started to play with it. I've used PT since version 3 with their NuBus setups, so it seemed like a natural choice... but I'm actually starting to feel like their interface is cluttered and it annoys me that it requires the MBox to be plugged in to even output audio (so I can't curl up on a couch and mix) unless I want to drag the darn thing with me.

It also came with a version of Ableton live, which I'm starting to like.

I also bought Garage Band off of ebay for $30 and am playing with it.

You may want to check out a related audio gear AskMe thread that I posted before I made some of these decisions.
posted by weston at 3:36 PM on October 13, 2004

I rarely use the prerecorded loops in Garageband. There's plenty to do just tracking my guitars, bass, and vocals into it, then timestretching them, panning them, easily adjusting their relative and absolute levels, DSP-ing them with very flexible and professional quality effects, exporting as AIFF, and all the other things you'd pretty well be thinking about doing.

I think one might be making a large error to consider a more-expensive suite without checking out GB first.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:01 PM on October 13, 2004

Garageband caveat: you need a DVD drive to install it. That one caught me by surprise. I was using ProTools Free on OS 9 but there won't be a OS X version.
posted by tommasz at 4:34 PM on October 13, 2004

If GarageBand isn't enough, Logic Expressfor $299 is a nice step up.
posted by nathan_teske at 6:06 PM on October 13, 2004

I use ProTools but also use Garageband. I would certainly recommend Garageband to get going on... it isn't quite as good for the incredibly precise editing work, but it's perfect for creating multi-layered recordings. Imagine if the Beatles or Beach Boys or Bee Gees had been given access to Garageband!

Incidental point: I use Garageband a lot for scratch ideas when I'm travelling because I can record audio via the laptop's mic and edit without needing to bring along a sound card (even things like ProTools' MBox are rather hefty.)
posted by skylar at 12:11 AM on October 14, 2004

How about Reason? It's not made for recording acoustic guitars, but it's so damn good for recording music in general; it may open up new doors for your brother. Personally, I think it's the greatest peice of software ever written.

Screenshot of a Reason rack.
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:34 AM on October 14, 2004

I love Reason, but it doesn't take direct audio input, and so if you're interested in recording vocals or acoustic instruments, you have to go through a bunch of acrobatics to get them into a sampler or REX loop.

If/when Reason adds audio input and VST processing, it will probably 0wnz0r.
posted by weston at 7:38 PM on October 27, 2004

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