03-19-2011, 08:14 PM
So, a lot of musicians are moving to the Mac for their production needs. Whether you are a guitarist, drummer, singer/songwriter, Synth or MIDI enthusiast, engineer, or you just like to have a little bit of a jam now and again, there is an app for you.
DAW = Digital audio Workstation
Plug in = an virtual instrument or effect, that can be added to the program
MIDI = Musical Instrument Digital Interface
DSP = Digital Signal Processing
"ReWire" = Propellerhead's Software for integrating two DAWs (usually Reason into Pro Tools, Logic or Ableton) so that you can play the "slave's" instruments in the "host's" interface, and manipulate and so on.
Apple - GarageBand - Learn about Flex Time and other new features.
This comes free with any new Mac. It's a powerful production tool: you can record MIDI and Audio, through use of the Mac's in-built sound card, or through one of many third party interfaces available on the market. It comes with a large variety of virtual instruments, including piano, synths, guitars and so on, along with a lot of free effects plug-ins, including EQ and compression.
Can be expanded with "jam packs", essentially extra Loops and instruments.
Plug in format: AU (Audio Unit)
Price: Free (with any new Mac purchase, £8.99 on Mac App Store)
ardour - the digital audio workstation
Completely open source: so it's completely free! works with any Core Audio Hardware, and is a pretty powerful free tool. MIDI support, Automatic Delay compensation, among a whole host of other features.
Plug in format: AU, LADSPA, LV2
Home — Traverso DAW
Another open source choice. Powerful Recording and Editing facilities. takes a "lightweight" approach to the interface.
Plug in format: LV2
The Two "Big Guns":
Avid Pro Tools HD/LE
Avid | Pro Tools
Industry standard in recording studios. Great Hardware and software. Good range of included plug ins, good work flow, support for most formats. Slightly let down by the less common plug-in architectures, as freeware third party plugs are rare, and a lot of commercial ones can be expensive. (RTAS) MIDI is not as good as other DAWs, but does include a decent Piano Roll, Score Editor and automation.
HD systems use DSP PCI-E cards: taking the load off the computer, effectively running all the Signal Processing off the Pro tools Hardware. Makes for a very stable system. Unfortunately means you cannot run PT HD on iMacs, or Macbook, or Macbook Pros. There is however, a Pro Tools HD Native product line, which combines with an audio interface.
Pro Tools LE can be ran natively on the whole mac range, and as of PT 9 supports most third party interfaces.
Plug in format: RTAS (LE/HD) TDM (HD only)
£101/$163 for Pro Tools 8 M-Powered
£249/$402 for the Mbox mini/PT9 combo
HD systems vary, around £1600/$2587+ - there are alot
of options, most beyond most people's needs.
Logic Express/Studio 9
Apple - Logic Studio - Logic Pro 9
A Great step up from anyone used to Garageband, but wants more features. Support for all interfaces, and in particular, has massive MIDI potential. comes with a great range of bundled synths and FX. The Piano Roll and Score Editor are great, Automation is extensive, good tool menu. Editing Audio is easy, and exporting to samplers takes two clicks.
The upgrade to Studio (Logic Pro) includes surround support, and includes a few more features, also including around 40GB of royalty free Apple Loops, aswell as extra Applications for burning CDs, and performing live (Mainstage.)
Logic is compatible with Garageband Jam Packs.
Plug-in Format: AU
Price: £160/$199 (express) £298/$499 (studio) Student discounts available.
Home*Welcome to Steinberg*|*http://www.steinberg.net/
Just as powerful as Pro tools or Logic. good for Audio or MIDI. Uses a more common format for plug ins, meaning plug ins are easier to come by, so more instruments and FX.
Plug in format: VST
Price: various versions available, starting at £126/$203 for "Essential 5". comes bundled with many interfaces.
Ableton - Ableton Live Home
Ableton is an interesting app for production. It has a non linear workflow based on "clips", or sections of audio or MIDI that you arrange into a track. can be used in live performance situations, or for creating tracks, or DJ mixing.
This app is great for MIDI enthusiasts, but lacks great audio functionality.
It's a really interesting app for those who don't like to "work in a straight line".
There is a free demo "Lite" version available.
Can be used as a ReWire slave and
host. This is the only app that can do this.
Plug-in formats: VST, AU
Price: "lite" version bundled with many interfaces. Full Live 8: $449 (various other versions available)
Great MIDI production suite. Has some powerful synths, sampling and drum machines. can be "Rewired" (effectively "plugged in" to another DAW, such as Logic, or Cubase, to use the included instruments and FX inside that host DAW.) Record adds a whole host of Audio capabilities.
Plug in format: none.
Price: £299/$449 (Reason/Record Duo).
Native Instruments Traktor
NATIVE INSTRUMENTS : HOME | HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE FOR MUSICIANS, PRODUCERS, DJS, GUITAR AND BASS PLAYERS
Popular commercial app & hardware. Used by a lot of professional DJs.
price: Various hardware bundles; around £159/$257
VIRTUAL DJ SOFTWARE - Download VirtualDJ Home FREE
Another popular commercial app. A free "Home" version has just been released on the Mac App Store.
price: Free (Home) $329 (Full)
Open source DJ app, that is compatible with a variety of controllers.
Easy to use DJ application. integration with iTunes and multi-touch gesture support. $49.95
System Audio Recording/Podcasting
Audio Hijack Pro
Rogue Amoeba | Audio Hijack Pro: Record Any Audio On Mac OS X
Great for recording system audio, or specific applications, or podcasting. Can use a wide variety of effects. ID3 tag editing, supports most file formats, including AIFF, MP3 in multiple bit rates and so on. Can be automated to record at certain intervals.
Plug in format: AU, VST
Price: Single license: $32, 5 licenses: $59
Audacity: Mac OS X
Free alternative to Audio Hi-Jack Pro: completely open source. Uses FFMpeg and LAME encoder libraries, powerful options for audio editing. Edits Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files. Full feature list here:
Plug-in format: LADSPA
CD Spin Doctor
Roxio CD Spin Doctor 6 - Overview
Uses Gracenote for automatic tagging: analyses waveforms. Also good for recording LPs or other analog sources.
Plug-in format: none
Price: Free with Toast Titanium 10/11
Max from sbooth.org
multiformat CD ripper. for those that love obscure Music file formats: MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, AAC, Apple Lossless, Monkey's Audio, WavPack, Speex, AIFF, and WAVE.
Download X Lossless Decoder for Mac - Encode, transcode, and play various music file formats. MacUpdate.com
similar to Max.
(Ogg) FLAC (.flac/.ogg)
Monkey's Audio (.ape)
Apple Lossless (.m4a)
Audio Sound File Converter Software. Convert wav, mp3, dvd, midi, dvf etc.
Convert between a variety of formats. Requires Flip4mac for Windows formats (A little bit buggy, i recommend EasyWMA over this)
Price: various versions, starting at $12.49
In my opinion, the best way to convert Windows formats.
Download All2MP3 for Mac - Convert APE, MPC, FLAC, WV, AIFF, WAV music files to MP3. MacUpdate.com
Simple, easy to use drag 'n' drop MP3 encoder.
Soundflower – Cycling 74
Great app for routing Audio around your system. Comes up as an Audio device in System preferences.