Creating simple audio tracks
July 5, 2011 6:50 AM   Subscribe

How can I edit simple music tracks on a PC laptop without spending a fortune? I have pretty good working knowledge of music notation software (mainly Sibelius) but am looking for something that I can use with my Zoom H2 Digital Recorder to multi-track ideas using live instruments and have absolutely no idea what I need. HELP?!

I have used Audacity in the past, but not for anything more than basic editing of mp3s (cutting, fade outs/ins etc), so I never got around to trying anything more exciting. I think I'm looking for something like GarageBand where I can create 4-8 tracks. Apologies if this has been asked elsewhere recently, but I couldn't find anything in the past year or so that matched what I'm looking for.
posted by joboe to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Reaper is the standard suggestion that gets pulled out at times like these. It's pretty powerful, extremely cheap, and has a totally uncrippled, non-limited license.

Here's a previous thread, where the asker really liked a program called Mixcraft.
posted by Magnakai at 6:58 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know how much it costs these days, but Ableton Live is a pleasure to use. Very powerful and very intuitive and fun.

Reaper ought to be good too! Haven't tried it myself, but from what I've read, I can +1 it already.

Then Mackie Traction is also really really nice. Underrated IMO, but sadly it seems like it is discontinued. Very usable though!
posted by krilli at 7:12 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Ableton Live. The fully functional 30 day demo is free, if you want to try it out. I wouldn't exactly call it intuitive, in that you probably won't just be able to figure it out as you go, but it doesn't take very long to go through the tutorials, which is enough to get started.
posted by empath at 7:31 AM on July 5, 2011

If you have access to a Mac, Garage Band is perfect for this and comes with the OS.

If you're stuck on Windows or Linux, then get the free Reaper.

For $100, you can get Adobe Audition, which is just about a clone of Garage Band.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:33 AM on July 5, 2011

You can do multi-track editing with Audacity. Are you thinking it's just not easy enough to use?
posted by guitareste at 7:35 AM on July 5, 2011

Response by poster: Guitareste - I had a half-hearted go at it with Audacity but it just seemed a bit long winded to me, especially compared to the GarageBand, which I have used but I no longer have access to a Mac. I may try again once I've had a look at the other recommendations.

Thanks everyone. It's much easier to start trying stuff out when it's all been narrowed down a bit!
posted by joboe at 7:42 AM on July 5, 2011

Quick note about recording - you need a decent mic, though not a crazy expensive one by any means. A Shure SM57 has served me well for all kinds of bedroom studio recordings.

Also, create a click track on a drum machine of some kind and stretch that out. Have your musicians play to that, then you can mute it later.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:55 PM on July 5, 2011

That makes sense. The design of Audacity is not very intuitive. I'm used to it because I downloaded it before I had a Mac. I couldn't afford the PC editing software. Because it's been around (for free) for so long, I find it easier to use than GarageBand despite the fact that GarageBand is much more user friendly.

If you decide to go back and try again with it, there are a lot of good articles on
posted by guitareste at 5:16 PM on July 9, 2011

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