Differences from MusicSoftware:24 (red) to MusicSoftware:25 (green)
===What is out there?==
There are plenty of musical software options to download, it doesnt matter if you are a windows, a linux or a mac user.
From Audacity, the opensource audio editor available for Win, Mac and Linux, to Reaper, the friendly, affordable DAW for Windows, to Ardour for Mac and Linux rivaling 1000+ Euro/USD Software like Pro-Tools - the choice is yours.
All this software can be extended using so-called plug ins - smaller programs that offer sound-synthesis, sampling, effects and more.
===From no-cost to lifetime investments==
For MSWindows there are several proprietary programs on the market ranging from 50 EUR/USD (Reaper, MAGIX Musicmaker) to 200-300 for basic versions of Steinbergs Cubase, MAGIX Samplitude or Abelton Live! up to feature-packed DAWs like NUENDO or Pro-Tools available for 1000-2000 EUR/USD.
Plug-ins are also available for free or to pay for. Under Linux you can use about 200 free effect-processors and softsynths as standalones or in LADSPA or LV2 format. There are also some plug-ins in Steinbergs VST-format running OK under Linux. There are thousands of VST-plug-ins available as freeware for MSWIN and as to pay for packages ranging from 20 EURO/USD up to 2000. Under MacOSX you can use AU-plug-ins.
===What you need for starters==
Basically you will need a hd-recording system like Ardour or Samplitude and if needed a MIDI-sequencer like Rosegarden (can be synced with ardour under Linux) or Cubase or Reaper (the latter have MIDI-Sequencers on board and serve as very good hd-recorders also). If you are on MacOSX you can make your first stepps with garage-band, that is bundeled with MacOSX.
I recommend to start with a simple hd-recorder or sequencer and not too many different plug-ins. The multitude can be a major distraction from making music. Test the software and concentrate on learning how to work with the progs you like best. If you really know, what you are doing, you will get better results with one good reverberation-effect than with half-hearted preset-hopping in 6 different reverbs.... It is the same with DAW-programs: find the one you like and learn it in-deep.
All these programs can export single tracks so you can start with Reaper or garage-band and switch to bigger beasts like Ardour or Cubase later by simply importing the tracks you have made with simple beginner software.
===Myths and facts==
Do NOT believe, what the advertizing tries to tell you: to make music on a computer is much easier than in an analogue environment with tapemachines but it is still far from being a simple click-your-hit-whithout-learning-anything kind of thing.
There are many differences between the above-mentioned programs but there is NO difference in sound-quality between them. These programs do nothing more than to record, what comes from your sound card - so the basis for your sound-quality is the sound-card and errr...hmmm - yes: your playing ;-)
There are whatsoever differences in sound among plug-ins. Some sounds can only be achieved, if you have plug-ins flexible enough to make them. If you know, how they work, you can combine 3 or 6 plug-ins to get the very special sound you want to hear. But sooner or later you will find out, that there are plug-ins out there, that are badly programmed or simply broken. Delete those and find better ones: there is absolutely no plug-in that cannot be replaced by another one.
===Audio-software plays live...==
There are many linux-based live-cd/dvd out there. These systems run on your computer whithout any installation on harddisk:
musix is a latinamerican distro created for music creators, designers and for day to day use.
artistx is one of the best distros for linux musicians, it has tons of open software, and many tools to achieve great results. It is based on the popular UBUNTU-Linux distribution.distribution, that allows easy access to all the software and a convenient way to install the live-session onto harddisk. But as many others, that are made to be everybodys darling artistx and other multimedia-distros are NOT optimized for music as strong as possible. So to get a first glimpse, what software is available, artistx can be OK but if you want to use Linux to produce music in a professional manner, you should consider a distro, that is consequently build for sound.
jad 1.0 is another linux distro,such a linux, created by musicians for musicians, though jad is not developed anymore it has initiaded excellent sound-software support for OpenSuse Linux. If you install the realtime-kernel from Jan Engelhardt for Suse, you get one of the most powerful sound-systems available today. Running stable with less then 5 Milliseconds delay on any recent PC under normal pressure...
64studio is developed with the needs of a stable working studio-pc in mind, so is pure:dyne. Pure:dyne offers the same realtime-power as Suse+Engelhardt-kernel but runs more stable. I trades comfort and versatility for more stability. So the software tends to be 5-6 months older then the one on Suse. Both are available as linux live cds.cds that can be installed onto harddisk or run as pure live sessions.
For older computers the linux distro dynebolic could be a good choice. It is tested to run even full-force video-editing on a computer with less then 256MB RAM.
The most important Linux audio program is called ardour. It is a hd-recording/editing system with all the features, a professional producer really needs. Its recent stable version lacks MIDI-tracks but can be synchronized with several MIDI-Sequencers. Ardour is free software natively available for Linux and MacOSX.
So it is up to you:
* start with a live-CD, Audacity or the free test version of Reaper or under MacOSX with Garage-Band to make your first stepps without risking much.
* find out, what works for you and tune your OS and install bigger software as needed or install a Linux-audio distro like 64Studio or artistix (that is installable from the live-session)
I do all my music-production work with Linux: it works ;-)
Message from zotz -the initial editor of this page:
I wrote up a blog post over at kompoz, [[http://www.kompoz.com/compose-collaborate/storyId-1026/p-Free_Software_and_Kompozing/view.story.blog|Free Software and Kompozing.]] That may be useful for here as well. (zotz)