Which daw? Guitar, vocals, possibly keyboards

Hi all, was wondering if anyone can advise on a DAW that is pretty easy to use. Just want to record vocals guitar and possibly keyboards as a practice aid and for a bit of fun

Have tried Cubase (free with my Steinberg audio interface and have the Ableton live Suite(free trial) - both are very high spec and have a bewildering array of functions. Struggling to get to grips with them (Could be an age thing :sweat_smile:)
Wondered about getting Ableton Start up or Reaper.
Spending more time shouting at the laptop instead of practising . . .

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I started with Logic and found Ableton simpler afterwards. There’s a personal element about what feels simple to different people. But it sounds like you found some comprehensive DAWs complex, did you consider checking out Garage Band?

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Any DAW has a learning curve.

I personally use Ableton Live Lite, as it was free with my Focusrite Scarlet 2i2, and I’ve not reached it’s limitations for what I do.
I did briefly try Reaper, but couldn’t quite get my head around how it works, and the purchasing nag pop-out annoyed me.

The key things to get recording in Live, is ensure the audio interface is configured correctly.
Options → Preferences

The main thing is selecting the correct Driver Type, and Audio Interface.
The rest should configure itself automatically, and the defaults should be more than good enough for home recording.
To check it’s working, plug in a set of headphones/speakers to the interface, and click the Test Tone button.

Once that’s done, when you open Live, it should default to the vertical screen-

Plug your guitar/mic in, and check the signal shows up on the little channel indicator-
(note the little green bit next to the 1 )
Now if you click the Arm Recording button, the signal will show on the level indicator-

Now if you hit the record button at the top middle of the screen, that channel will get recorded.

However, I prefer to use the horizontal display for recording, as you’ll see the track getting recorded. These buttons near the top right let you select horizontal/vertical display-

And this is showing a quick sample I just recorded-

If you want to use the built in metronome/click track, set it in the top left-
Just click on the tempo and type in the tempo you’d like.
The drop down next to the enable button lets you configure the basics.
I’d normally suggest a 1 or 2 bar count in (remember anything payed during the count in does not get recorded!), but I was using 4 due to the high tempo I was trying.

Then once you’re done recording, you can save the Live Session (saves all the tracks you’ve recorded, along with Live settings), and/or Export Audio (file menu) into something more shareable (FLAC is the usual option)

And that’s the basics covered.
If you want to find out about more advanced stuff, I’d suggest having a search on YouTube as there are lots of videos on how to use it, but I never found one that explains the absolute basics of how to do a simple recording :confused:

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Hi Frank :exclamation:I’m not a high tech guy… I’m riding a Apple computer, so I got the LOGIC program witch is the elaborated version of GARAGE BAND witch is free when your on Apple (I don’t know if Logic is compatible with other kinds of computer). Logic is very elaborated but is quite simple when one use the basic fonctions like I do. Have a good day. :grinning: :upside_down_face: :grinning:


Any DAW is going to be fairly complex to start with, as there’s a common baseline set of capabilities they all have.

This includes some sort of input selection and “channel strip”, some track configuration to set up the tracks you are recording, track editing features to let you navigate, select, and manipulate sections of your recordings, and a mixer interface with export.

All of these things need some sort of human intervention to operate, so there tend to be a lot of controls.

And most DAWs these days also support MIDI recording and editing, so that’s another thing, although you can mostly ignore that if you don’t use it.

IMO it’s worth spending some time learning a good DAW. I don’t think any are necessarily that much “easier” than others, although if you have a Mac, Garageband is a good shout.

There’s loads of tutorials online for any DAW, especially for Reaper and Ardour.

It’s worth spending some time watching some YouTube tutorials and learning the basics of how DAWs and computer-based recording works.




+1 for Garageband

Hi, and thanks for taking the time to put together you guide notes for Ableton live - much appreciated :+1::slightly_smiling_face:
Like you, I found lots of YouTube content for the more complex functions of Ableton,but not much around basic functions.
I have heard that the ‘buy me!’ pop up on Ableton Live was a pain, so was considering the Ableton Start-Up as the version to get.
Thanks again, Frank

Hi, Garageband not an option as all my tech is non-Apple. (Hope that doesn’t make me the enemy!:sweat_smile:)
Thanks for the reply though👍

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From a personal experience perspective, I started with Ableton Lite based on the links to it that came with my Focusrite 2i2 (like many others).

It worked fine when I started to record either guitar and vocals simultaneously or to overdub vocals over a single guitar track. But at a point when I started to add drums, bass, and piano tracks using midi plus vocals and multiple guitar tracks I started to hit the limits of the lite version. I also struggled to get certain things to work consistently using midi tracks. I forget all the details now.

I explored other options based on the constraints, challenges, and cost of the license for the full version.

I am a Windows PC user, so GarageBand not an option. As others have said, if you are an Apple user then I think GarageBand is the way to go.

I ended up giving Reaper based on Community recommendations, the cost relative to other commercial products like Ableton, Cubase, Pro Tools, the quality of tutorial videos on the Reaper.fm website, and the fully functional trial version. Contrary to what some here have said, Reaper is not free and the pop-up that @mc mentioned is the prompt to either purchase the license or uninstall after the trial period. But you are not locked out after the trial period.

I think @Majik is right in his comments about DAWs in general. I have invested time in Reaper over the last few years and it works well for me. I know there are a few other members here who make use of Ableton and Cubase plus of course the Apple-based users of GarageBand or Logik.

So you’ll get answers to questions as you learn should you stay with Ableton, switch to Reaper, or perhaps look at Ardour (which can be obtained for a donation rather than a license purchase). Make a choice, invest some time to learn a little more about DAWs in geenral and your tool, and you’ll soon get up the learning curve.

And when you begin to shout at the laptop that means you are overdue in posting a question to get help on whatever you are trying to do.


Exactly. I was considering making a post similar to the one @mc showing the equivalent setup in Ardour.

At the end of the day it is extremely similar with the main difference being which icons/menus to click. The same is true of Reaper and other DAWs.

If you are interested, I came across this short series of tutorial videos on YouTube for Ardour:

There’s also this Ardour tutorial:




Thanks @Majik

Again my personal opinion, I think I’d go for Reaper or Ardour. My reasons being the cost of the full Ableton license. As one gets into home recording I think the probability of hitting the Lite version’s limits is high, then unless spending hunders of US $$$ is not an issue, a switch to a more affordable option becomes a necessity. So better to switch early and invest learning time in an option that has less constraints.

Less significantly, I think Ableton’s work flow and super powers lie in live music performance. That is not to say it can’t be used in general, but as I recall, I think I found some of the features that support that difficult to use for my home recording purposes.

And maybe on a Windows machine, there may be other options in addition to Reaper and Ardour.

Assuming you are a Windows user, not Apple, @Frankybaby .


+1 for Reaper.
The three criteria that clinched it for me were the user community; the Tutorial Videos on reaper.fm & YT; and “bang for buck”. My AI is a pre-loved Focusrite 4i4 into PC.
All that said, I am a DAW novice and can still see daylight over my shoulder down this “rabbit-hole” … :confused:


I’ve just got Magix Music Maker on the PC. It’s free but I’ve paid for a couple of upgrades. I’ve had some other Magix audio software for years and am used to how it works.

+1 Also on Garageband on the Mac which I surprisingly learnt on here years ago:


I’m no expert, but I started learning reaper about a month ago and it’s starting to make sense.


Since it is used by several people here, I just bought Reaper. That way I can get help from the community, in case I get totally stuck. - I have watched few videos and it was a real nerd. I luv nerds, so that was an extra plus for me. :nerd_face: - I wrote few hours ago on my learning log, that getting into DAW will come further into the process. Guess few hours is enough for me, to be further into the process :joy: :joy: :joy:


If it was Kenny you’ll be ok. He is the man when it comes to Reaper. :sunglasses:


Go for Reaper. Every DAW has a learning curve, and Reaper’s no exception to that. However, there are many Youtube tutorials on how to use it for whatever you need. I use Reaper myself when recording and mixing multitrack recordings such as multiple vocals. Plus add in the free plugins and it is definitely worth the $60.


My preference is Ableton Live, myself, but I’m also using it for electronic music production (or, well, will be again once I can afford a Splice subscription to get Live Lite). It’s got the workflow that’s clicked with me the best out of what I’ve tried.

Saying that, I’d suggest checking out Cakewalk by BandLab–it’s free, was born from Sonar, and has a great deal of community around it thanks to BandLab. My impression when I first tried it was that it’s more made for recording music than it is producing it electronically, but that was just my impression coming from an Ableton Live Lite 11 Trial. Its Matrix view is supposed to be brilliant for recording. Sonar was around as a paid DAW for years before BandLab acquired rights to it and made it free.

I hope you find whatever works for yourself. :raised_hands::heart_decoration:

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