When it comes to home recording, the heading ‘Software’ covers a myriad of products. Here are just some examples you’re likely to come across:
I have knowledge of a relatively small number of products based on those I have tried, and on the next couple of pages I’ll describe some I recommend and/or you might find useful. If you want to know more of what’s out there I recommend the numerous specialist recording magazines that publish reviews and ‘how to’ guides for recording software. You can also find out a lot from downloading suppliers’ demos and visiting suppliers’ and general forums. I’ve put some useful inks to magazines, forums and web sites on the Links page.
Some words of wisdom:
DAW or Sequencer Package: I use Cakewalk’s Sonar Platinum. Click here to visit the product's home page. It began as a DOS program in 1987, became Cakewalk Pro-Audio and then Sonar. Choice of sequencer is a lot to do with personal preferences, but I like Sonar because it looks more 'Window-y' than the others and I find it easier to move around in. At the end of 2010 it was given a radical overhaul and the current version is Sonar Platinum.
There are many other pro sequencer programs out there, for example: Cubase (Mac and PC), Logic Pro (Mac), Digital Performer (Mac), and Pro Tools (Mac and PC). If you’re on a budget then the best one to go for is Reaper (Mac and PC), or Audacity (Mac and PC) if you want a free one. Go here for a DAW comparison table.
You may have seen Pro Tools mentioned in the music recording press and sometimes in the credits in music CD booklets. This is a top-end program that goes with dedicated hardware so involves a lot of investment, although a 'lite' software version is also available. It has gained a lot of acceptance in professional studios and has become the generic name in those circles for a computer-based audio and MIDI sequencer. In my view it has in the past lagged behind other DAWs in terms of some features and didn’t deserve to gain such rapid pre-eminence. In fact studios that the un-initiated believe to be ‘Pro Tools equipped’ often have one of the other leading DAW packages.
Most of the above sequencer packages provide a try-before-you-buy demo version and the Sonar one can be downloaded here.