DAWs, Synths and VSTs -

CrunkLord420

not a financial adviser
Local Moderator
True & Honest Fan
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Use this thread to talk about DAWs (Digital Audio Workstaitons), synthesizers, VSTs of all types and digital audio equipment like DACs and MIDI controllers.

I've been doing some sound design stuff recently and I want to share my experience with professional audio production on Linux. I feel I've distilled down a good set of software and recommendations.

=DAW=
Reaper is proprietary nagware (like WinRAR) but follows a bloat-free design philosophy. Notable for it's small resource footprint and native Linux support. They're even giving away free licenses during COVID19.
Ardour has to be mentioned since it's full on FOSS, but I used it for like 5 seconds and went back to Reaper.

=VSTi=
Helm has been my go synthesizer. Comparable to commercial software like Arturia Pigments or Serum. FOSS.
Surge is like Helm, FOSS.
Dexed is a FOSS implementation of the famous Yamaha DX7, supports original ROM bank patches.
Ninjas2 is a FOSS sample slicer.
ZynAddSubFX is a FOSS synthesizer notable for having fairly realistic sounding presets for acoustic instruments
Airwindows is a freeware set of plugins, mostly filters. Notably DeRez2 which seems to be one of the few native Linux bitcrusher plugins.

Pretty much everything marked as FOSS is available on the Arch Linux repository. Notable mention to u-he for supporting Linux in their freeware/proprietary plugins.

=Linux Notes=
You're going to want to run JACK. I use JACK2 with Cadence as a convenience widget, and Catia as a patchbay GUI. On top of this I run bridges for PulseAudio/MIDI.

Carla is useful for bridging in Windows VSTs into Linux. Carla's patchbay can be loaded as a VST into Reaper and the Windows plugin loaded into Carla.

Real-Time kernels are highly recommended for audio production. I don't use a proper RT kernel, but Liquorix which is designed for low-latency.
 

garakfan69

Mentally Enabled Schizoposter
kiwifarms.net
What do you think of Renoise? Follows the classic tracker format but comes with lots of modern DAW features and runs well on Linux.
 

oldTireWater

Incompetent as fuck
kiwifarms.net
I use Reason in Windows. I chose it because it's mostly self contained. Also, it has all kinds all kinds of pretty knobs and buttons which appeal to me because I'm a no-talent hack. Shit gets expensive after a couple version upgrades though. Reaper is probably the better choice.

Mostly I just noodle on the guitar with Bias FX.
 

Joey Caruso

The Coathanger In Your Man's Vagina
kiwifarms.net
I get almost all my VSTs from vst4free.com, lots of good stuff there as long as you're at least a little bit familiar with what all the knobs do and how to adjust them to your advantage instead of just sticking to presets only.

Also I'd recommend VSTHost if you're looking for a quick-and-dirty host that lets you just run the synth, have it receive input from a MIDI file or keyboard, and record the results. It supports proper chains of plugins and everything, my only gripe is that sometimes it hangs if you close one plugin and try to load another one without giving it a few seconds to catch up first.
 

Turd Cow

Mommy bought me a THOT for my birthday
kiwifarms.net
I'm barely starting to use lmms

I used to use this piece of shit software called caustic 3 on my phone. I made some tracks on it for two years, and the i've been noticing lately how poor the eqing on that daw is in general. Along with the limited effects and the limitation of making it run on anything. The app is capable but its pretty shit once you get too advanced for caustic itself to handle.
(Tbh, it performs well on most phones with all tracks used)
 

Just Here for A and H

Toxically Hypermasculine Necropolitician
kiwifarms.net
Anyone know which DAW would be best suited for a beginner who's never used a DAW before? /mu/ cyberbullies me whenever I ask, and I don't trust consumer listicles to not be paid-for shills.
 
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Ledj

kiwifarms.net
Anyone know which DAW would be best suited for a beginner who's never used a DAW before? /mu/ cyberbullies me whenever I ask, and I don't trust consumer listicles to not be paid-for shills.
It really depends on your personal preference for workflow and how you like to think about / visualize audio tracks.

I would recommend trying a couple of the GUI-oriented horizontal workflows like Reaper or FL (those both have approachable barriers of entry), but I would also heavily recommend trying a good tracker. Renoise is the first class tracker to try. It's a much more keyboard / programmatic approach; it's a very different experience but it really works for some people. For a rough analogy, trackers are to other DAWs what modal text editors are to standard text editors. Trackers can be a bit opaque initially because of their more foreign interface but they're actually quite easy to get quick and dirty results; they're also a lot easier (in my opinion) to really dive into granular control when you care about that kind of thing. Renoise comes with a preloaded set of demo songs and tutorials, so just boot a few of those up to get a good idea as to what the workflow looks like. The documentation on the website is also good.

With any of those three examples you can get high quality, professional results, so just choose the workflow and user experience that resonates best with you.
 

Turd Cow

Mommy bought me a THOT for my birthday
kiwifarms.net
Update: I stopped using caustic and switched to ardour on linux. Moving from a shitty phone DAW to a real desktop based DAW is very freeing for me. I now have access to plugins and everything else I missed out when using caustic.
 
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The meme in the synthwave community is that you pirate your FL Studio until you get enough money from your first release to actually buy it. It comes bundled with the Harmless plugin that can be tweaked to make decent synth sounds.

There's a free VST called Synth1 that can potentially do anything, but It's not something I'd recommend to those starting out, just look at it. Dexed is also something people recommend for synthwave stuff, but I personally never tried it. Most other synthwave VSTs people use are proprietary and can potentially cost a kidney.
 
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Pickle Inspector

True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
The meme in the synthwave community is that you pirate your FL Studio until you get enough money from your first release to actually buy it. It comes bundled with the Harmless plugin that can be tweaked to make decent synth sounds.

There's a free VST called Synth1 that can potentially do anything, but It's not something I'd recommend to those starting out, just look at it. Dexed is also something people recommend for synthwave stuff, but I personally never tried it. Most other synthwave VSTs people use are proprietary and can potentially cost a kidney.
Just a FYI for everyone who doesn’t know but when you make an account on FL Studio’s site on the date of your birthday (Or date you set as it) you get a 30% site wide discount.
 

K. V. Bones

Racism Entrepreneur
kiwifarms.net
You audio autists always intrigued me, coming from the more visual side of arts. I suppose a new audio mixing software is much like a video editing software in terms of comparing them to each other, am I correct?

I respect you all though, you guys make some of the crispy audio that satisfys.
 

Hesa

kiwifarms.net
You audio autists always intrigued me, coming from the more visual side of arts. I suppose a new audio mixing software is much like a video editing software in terms of comparing them to each other, am I correct?

I respect you all though, you guys make some of the crispy audio that satisfys.
It is in some respects but a lot of it really does depend on just how deep you want to get into it and how geeky you become. I've gone in the total opposite direction in the last 10 years but I still keep my eye on new music software.
I don't really use recording software that much these days and I'm quite happy using Audacity or Reaper for simple 2 track recording. I've got capacity to do a lot more via fire wire and USB but I like having a live rig.

One thing that has really changed over the years is the computer support for analogue synths and firmware support. Behringer are either really good at it or really shit at it depending which team has been working on their synths. Moog are pretty good at some of the software side of things but updating firmware can be a nightmare.

If you are using software and softsynths then getting a control surface and mapping the Midi CCs really makes workflow a lot easier. These are great for the price. You can use it to control 32 channels in a DAW or split the banks into 4x8 2x16. Use some channel to control the audio and the rest to control soft synths


Also keep a note of how to set Midi clock sources and local on / off. It's those bits that usually result in things getting smashed in frustration when using 2 or 3 Midi bits of kit. I'm currently regressing back to CV / Gate and that can be a new world of pain.

The only softsynths I still use are the Korg Legacy ones and FM8
 
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