If you fancy yourself something of a musical genius but aren't quite ready to spring for professional programs then it might be time to consider free software. Free downloadable music studio software is ideal for musicians who want to get comfortable with the recording process and create basic demos. It is also a great resource for the aspiring studio engineer who wants to learn the tools of the trade.
Where to Download Free Music Studio Software
The sites listed below are the top picks for free downloadable recording software. Explore each software program carefully to ensure that you are choosing the one best suited for your recording project.
For those musicians only working with audio and not MIDI, Audacity is the best free music studio software available. It includes a full mixer with unlimited audio tracks, a full range of mixing effects and dynamic processing, and it works with any digital music file format except MIDI.
Anvil Studio Software
Anvil Studio Software Program's free version for PCs allows unlimited MIDI recording, a rare feature for free music recording software, and two one-minute audio tracks. The software is very easy to use, with clear instructions throughout. For a one-time fee of $19, you can upgrade the software to allow eight tracks of unlimited audio in addition to unlimited MIDI. This simple software design is ideal for beginners who want to work with both MIDI and audio.
Jokosher comes from the same folks who created Sound Forge, one of the most popular audio editing programs ever made. Jokosher fulfills their vision of creating free audio recording software for both PC and Mac that features a full mixer and a user-friendly layout for people who do not have a background in sound engineering. Instead of using the typical technical jargon of audio production, they renamed the components with intuitive descriptions that anyone could understand. Jokosher does not support MIDI.
Kristal Audio Engine
The makers of Kristal Audio Engine offer an audio recorder and mixer that have high-quality effects, especially for dynamics processing. Musicians who are new to recording often have trouble getting the volume of their recordings right. Kristal Audio Engine's "Kristalizer" does advanced dynamic processing automatically for you. This is an attractive feature for musicians who are frustrated with poor volume on their songs. Kristal Audio Engine is for PCs only and does not support MIDI.
Traverso's unique selling proposition is its interface. It uses a graphic-based menu system to complete all navigation and tasks. This highly rated, user-friendly visual design makes the recording process move very quickly. It works for both PC and Mac, and it has a fully featured mixer with effects and unlimited audio tracks. It does not, however, support MIDI.
Things to Keep in Mind with Free Software
Before you download free music recording software, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Be realistic. There are many free software options that will let you accomplish high quality recording and mixing, but there are limitations to what you can without a price tag.
- Think ahead. Consider in advance what kind of recording you need to do. What kind of music is it? What instruments will you use? How much mixing capability do you need? How many tracks will you typically mix per song? Will your music require many effects or will its production be simple and stripped down? Your answers to these questions will guide you in choosing the right freeware.
- Be cautious. Do not download files from sites you do not trust. Many free studio software programs come with bundled spyware and adware. Make sure your virus protection is up-to-date and avoid sites that are not reputable.
If You Own a Mac
Although some of the free software programs above work with Macs, the question of free downloadable music studio software is more of a PC concern. When you buy a Mac computer, their music recording program Garageband is included at no extra charge. Garageband is superior to all of the freeware options listed above. It offers more effects, more loop resources, guitar amplifier modeling, advanced processing options, and it supports unlimited MIDI with advanced MIDI editing features -- even a built-in notation program that turns your MIDI songs into sheet music. If you own a Mac, learn to use Garageband. It is well worth the effort. If you do not own a Mac, the freeware options listed above are superb alternatives.