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Best Home Studio Recording Software – All you need!

Already have your very first home studio all set up and ready to go? Looking for a quality and professional digital-editing software to complement your recording studio? Well, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will be looking at some of the best home studio recording software available out there!

Of course, take note that this article is based entirely on my personal opinions and experiences. I will go through 5 different software that are widely available and also quite popular among professional recording engineers and musicians alike. Software that are designed for other PC platforms will also be covered as well.

1) Cubase

Developed by Steinberg (the German musical software and equipment company), Cubase is a music software product that has all the functionality you possibly need as a producer, including music recording, arranging and editing. It will definitely be a great addition to your digital audio workstation.

Cubase

The very first version of Cubase, which ran on the Atari ST computer and could only be recorded via MIDI, was released in 1989. Later in January 2003, Steinberg was bought over by U.S. firm Pinnacle Systems, where it remained operated as an independent company before being sold to Yamaha Corporation in December, 2004.

Cubase

Photo by Angelo Rock / CC BY 3.0

Cubase will allow you to create projects with the ability to edit MIDI files, raw audio tracks, other relevant information like lyrics, and also to present them in various formats including musical scores, editing console, event lists, etc. You can also mix multiple tracks that you have recorded down into a stereo “.wav” file, and have it ready to be burned onto a compact disc (CD) in Red Book format, or even “.mp3” burned to CD or DVD as files, or to be published on the Web.

The latest version of Cubase is “Cubase 8.5” and can be used on both Windows and Mac platforms.

2) Logic Pro

Designed exclusively for the Mac OS X platform, Logic Pro is essentially a digital audio workstation and Musical Instrument Digital Interface MIDI sequencer software application. It is widely popular with music professionals and enthusiast everywhere. Originally created by German software developer C-Lab, later Emagic, Logic Pro later became an Apple product when Apple bought Emagic in 2002.

You will have access to software instruments, audio effects and recording facilities for music synthesis. Apple Loops (royalty-free professionally recorded instrument loops) is supported as well. Logic Pro and Express (its consumer version) share many of the same functions and interface. However, Logic Express is limited to two-channel stereo mix-down, while Logic Pro allows for multichannel surround sound.

Logic

Photo by Recording Connection Audio Institute / CC BY 3.0

Depending on your system’s performance (CPU and hard disk through put and seek time), Logic Pro can handle up to 255 audio tracks. It is also compatible with MIDI keyboards and control surfaces for input and processing, and for MIDI output. Real-time scoring in musical notation is also possible, with support for guitar tablature, chord abbreviations and drum notation.

Do take note however, that Logic Express have been discontinued and is no longer available in the market. The latest version of Logic Pro is “Logic Pro X”.

3) Reason

Developed by Swedish software developers Propellerhead Software, Reason was also created as a digital audio workstation for producing and editing music and audio. When you look at Reason’s interface, it actually emulates a rack of hardware synthesizers, samplers, signal processors, sequencers, and mixers. What’s cool is that you have the freedom to connect all of them in any way you want!

One of its latest features includes improved file browser that accompanies, or optionally fully replaces the rack window. Your will enjoy a more seamless workflow as now you can easily audition sound files, loops and instruments patches in the browser then drag the files from the browser right to the rack window or the sequencer.

Reason

Photo by Mariano Crivello / CC BY 3.0

The latest version of Reason also provides two free rack extensions; the “Softube Amp (a guitar amplifier emulator) and “Softube Bass Amp (a bass guitar amplifier emulator) designed by the veteran Rack Extension developer Softube. Both extensions are available separately for Reason 6.5 and 7 and do not require the version 8 upgrade.

Reason can be used either as a complete virtual music studio or as a set of virtual instruments to be used with other sequencing software in a fashion that mimics live performance. The latest version is “Reason 8”.

4) Ardour

Ardour

Photo by Thorsten Wilms / CC BY-SA 3.0

Developed by Paul Davis (who is also responsible for the JACK Audio Connection Kit), Ardour is designed as a hard disk recorder and digital audio workstation application, that is suitable for professional use. Other than running on OS X and Windows, it is also compatible with Linux and FreeBSD.

With a unique “anything to anywhere” routing system, you can have an arbitrary number of tracks and buses to be interconnected freely. Automation is available for all gain, panning and plug-in parameters, and all sample data is mixed and maintained internally in 32-bit floating point format.

Editing support such as dragging, trimming, splitting and time-stretching recorded regions with sample-level resolution are available, with a possibility to layer regions. “Crossfade” editor and “Beat detection” are also included. Ardour has unlimited undo/redo and a snapshot feature for storing the current state of a session to a file for future reference.

Ardour

Photo by WikiSylvia / CC BY-SA 3.0

The latest version of Ardour released in 2016 is “Ardour 4.6”.

5) Pro Tools

Developed and manufactured by Avid Technology, Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation designed to be compatible for Microsoft Windows and OS X. You can run it as a standalone software, or operate it using a range of external A/D converters and internal PCI Local Bus (PCI) or “PCIe” audio cards with on-board Digital signal processor (DSP).

Not unlike other digital audio workstation software, Pro Tools is in some ways, similar to a multi-track tape recorder and mixer, with additional functions and features that can only be processed digitally. It supports 16-, 24-, 32-, and 64-bit float audio at sample rates up to 192 kHz.

Pro Tools

Photo by Recording Connection Audio Institute / CC BY 3.0

Audio formats it can handle includes; WAV, AIFF, AIFC, mp3, Windows Media Audio (WMA), SDII files and also QuickTime video files. Other features include time code, tempo maps, elastic audio, automation and surround sound capability. The Pro Tools mix engine employs 48-bit fixed point arithmetic, but floating point is also used in some cases, such as with Pro Tools HD Native. Also, the new HDX hardware uses 64 bit floating point summing.

Latest release for Pro Tools is “Pro Tools 12”, released in 2015.

There you have it. I hope you had a good, basic idea of what each software has to offer.

Thanks for reading and do leave comments below!

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Farhan

When I'm not rocking out to great music, I'd prefer to be sleeping on a field on a windy day =)

5 Comments

  1. Hey Fahran

    Just checking out your blog post today for finding the best home studio recording software…

    Can say I know about Cubase and have used Pro Tools but the others are giving me some options. I don’t want to look into something that’s super technical as the software has come along way since I started sequencing.

    I’m still tracking down on my Yamaha AW2816, I plug my Guitar in and multi track the old way. I use it’s internal effects and have the sound coming out of my Genelec Monitors. Sounds rad still.

    But I think it’s time to get rid of the hardware and replace it with some software, after all I can still keep my old mixer.

    If you could sum it up in a nutshell and say which one would suit a fairly good all rounder for my home studio, which one would you pick?

    Nice one Fahran,

    All the very best

    Pete.

    • Hello Pete, thanks for dropping by again =)

      I have personally worked with Logic Pro for a while and definitely love using it. Of course, you are definitely going to need a mac.

      If you are looking for a cheap option to start producing music, then Ardour would be a great choice, however I would not recommend you using it with windows (although you can) as it has not been optimized for windows, and may have some bugs that have not been worked out yet.

      Pro Tools is great too, however, I’m sure you know that they might be too costly for some people (ProTools HD). But you could get the “pro tools express” that comes bundled with any pro tools interface (which might be a good deal for you), or you can just download “pro tools first” which is totally free from the Avid website!

      Since you are not interested in going into technical details, and might be on a budget, why not try “Sequel” by Steinberg (same company that made Cubase). Its an affordable entry-level software, and quite easy to use. Also, it works with both Mac and Windows.

      If you have doubts with sequel, then I recommend you download the trial version first (up to 30 days), before making the purchase.

      Hope that helps! Thanks Pete!

  2. Really surprised by this article – I own all of the above DAW’s and the most effective ( by far ) you seem to have missed out!
    Ableton Live is so far ahead of every other DAW on the market at the moment – compressors, EQ, fliters and the reverb systems are all top quality! When you factor in the ease of use and the support for 64 bit plugins – you are onto a no-brainer surely?

    • Hey there Chris! Thanks for reading my post. Unfortunately, I do not have any experience using Ableton live, nor do I have any friends (at the moment) using them. I am just giving my opinion on what I think is some of the more sought-after Digital Audio Editing software in the market.

      I’m not arguing that Ableton Live does not deserve to be listed. It is just a matter of opinion here, as I do know many producers using most of the software I have mentioned, and of course some that don’t.

      If you think Ableton Live is great, then good for you =) Some people may prefer others and have very different opinions. The debate on which software is better, is often very subjective and a never-ending process.

      Thanks for dropping by!

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