The DAW – Where the magic happens

Looks a little daunting doesn´t it? But that´s because it is how the screen looks once you´ve recorded over 20 tracks. Luckily, the program has a few templates to get you started. Lets select “Singer/Songwriter”. This is what we´ll see..

The program has already opened four tracks to start us off. Let´s have a closer look….

Track 1 is ready to record (the red box next to the letters “M” and “S”). All you have to do is press Record and sing. The program has even taken care of the various studio “gubbins” by adding effects such as reverb, delay, compression and EQ on each track for you. They are down at the bottom by the faders like this…..

So let´s suppose our female vocalist sings to a guitar (plugged into channel 3) accompaniment. Her vocals have been treated to some delay (this thickens the sound) and reverb (everything sounds a little better with a sprinkling of this “fairy dust” and this is set to a “Hall” setting so it sounds like she´s singing in a concert hall). The EQ is a sort of very flexible tone control and the compressor evens out the peaks and troughs of volume. The guitar benefits from all these plus a little chorus to make it sound even better. All these effects are editable and you can remove them if you don´t want them. After listening to it we decide to add a harmony male vocal so we select record on Track 2, turn it off on Track 1 and 3 and sing the harmony while listening to the tracks we recorded just now. That´s the general principle but there are so many other facilities available.

Here´s a small selection that I have available when I record. I have opened the “Delays” tag but there are lots more effects lurking behind the other headings. And all you have to do to add them to a track is to click and drag them into the track. Easy- peasy and all look onscreen like a real effects unit with lots of knobs to twiddle and switches to switch and buttons to press. Most come with some presets so the work has been done for you.

But suppose you want to add a little piano, or saxophone or a choir maybe or how about a complete string section or a single cello? No problem. All available from the sample banks included. Again, just click and drag the “Presence” instrument to a track and select an instrument from the huge selection. You can alter the sound in Presence too.

There is also a drum sampler, a synthesiser and another sampler included. If you decide to upgrade you can get the Professional version (which is what I did eventually but I recorded a CD and an EP using the Artist version). The Professional version includes a Mastering suite so you can put a complete album together and match volume levels between tracks, automatically put a set gap between tracks, encode song information etc (the thing that makes the title come up on your CD players screen). It also puts in the code that enables the Performing Rights Society to collect royalties on your behalf should your song be played on the radio. All nice to have but the Artist version will be more than adequate to record and export your music to Soundcloud, Facebook etc. and even burn your own CD.

You can also record using a built in click track – useful to keep you in time and that means you can change the arrangement later if you want to – take out a verse or add in an instrumental etc. There are also a large selection of “loops” included so you can build a song from bits of pre-recorded tunes or drum parts. I liked a four bar loop of a fiddle riff and built a whole song around it in “The Only Thing I Miss (Is You)” Hear the song here

Hopefully that will give you a flavour of how easy it is to get your music recorded. One place to find this package is here (I have no connection with Gear 4 Music except for having bought stuff from them in the past and I am not on commission!) There are alternatives to buying this package and I discuss some of them here.