When you start looking for some recording studio software you are usually focused on nice screen shots, fancy descriptions and price tag. However, most people never check the most important factors when selecting recording software. You should first ask yourself why do you need the software, what features are the most important for you, do you already have a computer or you would buy a new one, do you need compatibility with other studios, will this software work with your audio hardware or do you need to purchase also a new, dedicated sound card, etc. Selecting right recording software is not a simple task.
Why do you need recording software? Because every home or professional recording studio uses computers for audio production. Audio computers and software are indispensable tools in every recording studio. You can use computers with appropriate software not just for recording but also for editing, adding effects, sound synthesis, filtering, mastering, archiving, transfer, etc. It is also possible to build a cheap home recording studio with ordinary PC and some popular audio recording software. Computers and audio recording software have become an essential part of every recording studio.
What features do you need? Well, this depends on the individual requirements and studio type. Every recording software supports recording, editing and playback. You should decide if you need more emphasis on audio recording features (level matching, spectrum analysis, audio compression, conversion tools, mastering, etc.) or you need more emphasis on MIDI devices, instruments and sampling (sequencers, wave table synthesis, drum machines, musical notation, etc.). Many recording software solutions have good support for both, audio operations and musical instruments.
Do you already have a sound card or you don’t but can afford to buy a new one? Most music recording software works with standard sound cards that are supported by the operating system, while some of them work only with proprietary audio hardware. One such example is Pro Tools which works only with special Digidesgn or M-Audio hardware. The basic rule is that you first select your audio hardware according to the needs of your studio. The next step is to find a suitable audio recording software. However, in some cases these steps can be reversed. If you know exactly what software you need or would like to have then you need to find a sound card that is supported and has the connections compatible with your recording studio equipment.
If you don’t have a computer yet, then you might have a dilemma. Mac or PC? The answer is not simple. Both kinds work well and are found in recording studios. Most recording studio software solutions work on both platforms but not all. If you already have a computer that you intend to use then this question is redundant. Otherwise it is a good idea to check availability of chosen audio recording software on Mac and PC.
Do you need to transfer your music projects to another studio? If the answer is yes, then your software needs to be compatible with software in studios you intend to work with. A typical example of standard recording studio software which excels in compatibility is Pro Tools. All versions of Pro Tools support the “Pro Tools file” so you can easily transfer projects between studios that use Pro Tools. Of course, every audio software supports standard audio file formats like wav and mp3 for reading and for writing. The compatibility between different recording software is declared on the level of project files. This means that you save your unfinished project in one studio and open it in another one where it can be finished.
Price? The price of the most popular audio recording software starts at about $100. This is a very small amount comparing to the total price of your studio equipment. Therefore, the price of the software should be one of the last factors when selecting software for your studio.
Selecting the right recording software can be a difficult task but you can simplify it by knowing what exactly you need and how you will use the software in your studio.