Is free music recording software worth the time to explore it?

It is hard to believe that a free music recording software can produce professional results

I've never been messing around with free software.

Why, do I have too much money?

No, I was just quite dissatisfied with the performance of the top notch software offered at that time, not to mention free music recording software. I was constantly looking for improvements, hoping that programmers finally "get" what the user wants.

But now things have changed.

Computers are fast enough to run even demanding audio applications and professional programs often provide more functions than you actually need.

It's not that programmers improved very much on the human interface or the musical intelligence (in my humble opinion), but they have implemented so many functions, that almost anything is possible somehow. This makes software often more complicated than necessary for a specific task.

Therefore these days another wish arises.

A recording software that has a dedicated task, is simple to use and keeps you focused on your production idea.

This is where free music recording software comes in.

There are some great programs out there that give you all the sound quality and functions you need for a certain project. Sometimes even for free, nothing, rien, nada,....

What's important now?

  1. System requirements. Look if the software is available for your operating system and if your computer is fast enough for this application. Manufacturers recommendations are usually set a bit too low. That means, get a better computer than recommended.

  2. Audio Quality. You don't have to record on 64bit/192kHz but you don't want to record on 8 bit either. Your recording software should at least support recording in CD quality (16bit/44.1kHz)

  3. Low Latency. If you want to overdub (record, while you listen to what's already recorded), you need a low latency interface with it's drivers (ASIO, WMF, or similar)

  4. No serious Bugs. You don't want to loose half a day of recording work just to find out that everything is gone just because of a buggy software. Take your time and test the important functions on your own computer.

  5. Software does all you need. Yes, it might be love (according to the Beatles), but also some recording functions, effects, headphone mix, MIDI functionality etc. Think of what you actually need regarding your recording project and see, if the software provides all these functions.

I certainly don't want to talk you into using free software after you have invested into a big recording program. I know what's the difference, but for beginners it's a serious option. It's maybe good enough to record your first hit.

This free music recording software is usually easy to learn and not as feature overloaded, that it takes weeks to explore their functions.

But take a look for yourself. You can download and use this programs for free. Make your first steps into multitrack recording or try them just for fun to see, if this programs can make your life easier.

Kristal Audio Engine/ (PC)
A 16 channel multitrack recorder that supports ASIO, VST effects, up to 32bit/192kHz Audio files and is easy to handle. This software should be enough for recording small acoustic projects but with all effects, filtering and mixing.

Audacity/Audacity (Mac/PC/Linux/BSD)
A fast free music editing software that is capable of multi-track recording for Linux, BSD, Mac OS, and Windows. Supports WAV, AIFF, Ogg, and MP3 formats. Features include envelope editing, mixing, built-in effects and plug-ins, all with unlimited undo. Unfortunately no ASIO driver available because of legal problems.