What is the best PC recording software around? Well before I say anything more, I should point out that I am in no way affiliated with any of the products I will mention in this article. I have simply been using them for several years now. One of my mandates (yeah I give myself mandates;)) is to help folks record professional sounding audio from a PC recording studio using knowledge as leverage, as opposed to money. And the knowledge I refer to starts out distilled down to several easy-to-learn key audio principles that anyone can put to work making their music, podcasts, sales videos, etc. sound AWESOME. Oh, and I also believe that anyone can start out with a budget of "0-to-5 dollars."
That last part isn't because I think you can rival top-notch gear with a 5-dollar studio. It's because it's important for you to learn how to squeeze the best possible quality from the cheapest possible gear. Once you understand how to do that, you can make wiser choices when adding gear to your home recording studio. Ultimately, this means you will be able to avoid the all-too-common pitfall of home recordists, which is buying way too much gear for way too much money, and then proceed to continue making crappy audio because they didn't understand some basic audio principles. How does that sound? Get better quality and spend less, MUCH less on the best recording software for pc? Yeah, I thought that might interest you.
When I say "best" in this article, I'm referring to the whole package, including price and capability. Plus this is all my humble (not really;)) opinion anyway. So let's get to it.
1. Don't Fear the Reaper
Remember, I have no affiliation here. But it is my strong opinion that you should run, not walk (or the cyber-equivalent) to the Reaper site on the web and download their free trial software now. The trial version is no different from the "full" version, not crippled in any way. The stated evaluation period is 30 days, but guess what? The program does not stop working after 30 days. You will simply be reminded every time you open it that it is not free forever. This allows you to be more flexible when testing it out, taking more time than usual if need be. It's on the honor system. Yeah, I know. Who does that? But that isn't the end. Once you are ready to purchase a license, you have two choices (and remember, the software is the same regardless of what license you have), the discounted license for $40, or the full commercial license for $150. Again it is up to your honor to decide which license to buy. The guideline for the discounted license says (from their site) you can use it if:
- You are an individual, using REAPER only for personal use.
- You are an individual or business, using REAPER for commercial use, and the yearly gross revenue does not exceed USD $20,000.
- You are an educational or non-profit organization.
If you do find yourself making $20,000 from the recordings made with Reaper, then you will not mind springing for the $150 full commercial license, I presume.
2. How Well Does It Work?
Really well. Oh, you want details. Alright, here goes. I use it every day to record voiceovers, podcasts, music, and any number of other audio products. Reaper does everything I need it to and a LOT of stuff I don't need often. IN fact, the capability is so vast that there are things it can do that I don't even know about. And I use it every day, and have for 5 years. Using Reaper, I've produced pop music CDs (Raven Boy Music), countless voiceovers, audio books, royalty-free music, podcasts, videos, etc. For a complete description of what it can do, go to their site. But if you want to record and mix multi-track, hi-resolution audio fast, including MIDI capability and built-in effects (lots of them), Reaper is what you need.
3. What's the Catch?
Reaper is tracking and mixing software. That means if you want to do destructive editing of audio files, you will probably want to also use an audio editing program such as Audacity (free), Sound Forge, Adobe Audition, etc. I have Adobe Audition, but since I have been using Reaper, I've used Audition less and less because Reaper offers a lot of editing capability as well, and it's non-destructive. The only thing I find myself using my editor for these days is noise reduction, and other treatment (some call it mastering ) of the mixed-down stereo (usually) end-product. One other thing I am led to understand is an issue with Reaper is its MIDI capability. But they are constantly upgrading that. And to tell you the truth, I love using Reaper for MIDI. I use it for virtual instruments all the time. I think it works great. But if you are like, a MIDI ninja, you may find this program a bit lacking, or so I am told. I am not a MIDI ninja.
So there you have it. You can start using what I consider to be the best PC recording software around for free, right now. After you've come to the conclusion that it's awesome, just pay $40 for a license. Then after you make $20,000 with it, spring for the $150 clams it will cost for the full commercial license. You will thank me.
For more information in the form of cool video tutorials on how to get started recording from you regular computer (as opposed to some super-computer the music store guy says you have to have), check us out here: PC Recording Tutorial Videos