Recording program?
January 9, 2012 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Free recording/editing programs more advanced than Audacity?

I'm trying to get some lo-tech music recorded/edited, and I was wondering if there are any programs out there that are both free and a little more advanced than Audacity. I have a Mac 10.5.8 and will be recording with my computer (no mics), and wouldn't you know it GarageBand 11 is only for Mac 10.6.

But anyway, I've looked at a couple so far, like Ardour, which requires some crazy plug-in I don't have. All the other ones I found require Terminal and/or coding (Chuck, Csounds), which I don't know anything about. I just need something straightforward yet useful. And ideally, something that grows with you (unlike Audacity). I'm trying to perhaps learn some recording skills as I go.

Bonus for extra features like 'spectral shapers' and oscillators or things that imitate analog keyboards...or something like this.
posted by lhude sing cuccu to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Brent Parker at 2:24 PM on January 9, 2012

Could you not use an older version of Garage Band?

Also, like Brent Parker's suggestion, I had a lot of luck with Reaper in the past, though it was on a Windows machine.
posted by ndfine at 2:25 PM on January 9, 2012

Response by poster: Reaper=costs money
I don't like "demo versions," it's going to make me buy it..
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 2:29 PM on January 9, 2012

would ardour fit the bill?

looks like it's a pay what you want application - but if you pay nothing some features are disabled. Maybe if you pay $5 those features won't be disabled? Something to look into.
posted by baniak at 2:30 PM on January 9, 2012

please disregard my obvious lack of reading comprehension.
posted by baniak at 2:33 PM on January 9, 2012

Best answer: Reapers is essentially free, in that you can try it as long as you want before they make you buy it. (And if plan on using it forever, please buy it.) But your listing of requirements [free + straightforward] are very hard to come by and between Csound, PD, Audacity and JACK plugins - that's basically it - everything is a derivative of those products in the free audio programs world.

IRT Audacity, what does it not do [because it is pretty full featured for that level of product]? Maybe we can walk you thru it.
posted by Brent Parker at 2:36 PM on January 9, 2012

I have a Mac 10.5.8 and will be recording with my computer (no mics), and wouldn't you know it GarageBand 11 is only for Mac 10.6.

Is there something about the version of Garageband that came on your Mac that doesn't meet your needs? That should be GarageBand 5, I believe.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:47 PM on January 9, 2012

it's pretty low-tech but i still use MultiTrack Studio. the freeware version only lets you mix a maximum of two tracks into a master one, but i'd mix two tracks down into a A file, and then load that A file into a new file and record another track on top of it and mix that down into my B file, and so on...
posted by entropone at 3:04 PM on January 9, 2012

Response by poster: Yeah, maybe I should re-look at Ardour and Reaper.
I don't know what a JACK plugin is, but it sounds complicated.

Audacity: I don't know how to use its many effects, and it only has one "fade in/out" option and only has one amplify feature (as far as I know).

Garageband annoys me. It has pictures of instruments I have to click out of and all that junk just to record. Not good.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 3:22 PM on January 9, 2012

To use an effect in audacity, select (highlight with your mouse/trackpad) the audio portion you want affected and then click the effect you want in the effect menu.
posted by Brent Parker at 3:44 PM on January 9, 2012

Best answer: Ardour is a reliable, awesome DAW if you're looking for free. Jack is confusing/painful at first, but it will quickly become old hat to you (I'm assuming you can offer at least a little perspiration/Google research time in exchange for the price).

The current release of Ardour is just for audio. There's not yet any MIDI support. And any looping you do will be "manual". It's a lot less like Garageband and more like someone has handed you an old 16 track machine and a board and you have to figure out how to put it together and what to do with it.

Audacity is decent for editing or for recording a podcast, but you wont get far multitracking with it.
posted by quarterframer at 3:58 PM on January 9, 2012

posted by TheGoodBlood at 5:19 PM on January 9, 2012

A lot of audio interfaces ship with stripped down versions of e.g. Cubase... maybe you could score one for free/cheap? Often people with an external audio card already own a DAW and wouldn't need the bundled version.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:19 PM on January 9, 2012

Though actually, there may be DRMish problems with that suggestion -- sorry.

If you're really committed to a free solution, Jack really isn't that bad. Couple hours, tops, and you should have Ardour up and running. But if you're not using any mics to record, Ardour may not really be for you -- there's no MIDI support, which means no softsynths without some hacking. Reaper is the closest thing in this list to what it seems like you want.

Another non-free tool you might consider, which at 40 EUR is even cheaper than Reaper, is EnergyXT, available here. Trial version also available.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:57 PM on January 9, 2012

Nthing Reaper. Check out their purchase page -- the "demo" version is complete and uncrippled & has an unlimited number of uses & no time limit.

All that happens with the "demo" version is that every time you open it a pop-up window opens that asks you to choose between "purchase now" or "still evaluating." Click "still evaluating" (or whatever it says, I'm not quoting verbatim) and you're good to go.

So you could use it for free indefinitely, AFAICT. Of course, if you like it, you should pay for it. It's an interesting business model - letting news of the product spread by word-of-mouth, offer the full version up for free, and hope that enough users will do the Right Thing and pay for it.

There's a very active user community, developing plug-ins, skins, and add-ons, answering questions and solving problems on the forums, creating user guides, so on and so forth.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:25 AM on January 10, 2012

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