Deals On Gear and Software

Ask questions and get answers about how to make music in any particular way. Hardware or songwriting or whatever.
Lunkhead
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by Lunkhead » Fri May 31, 2019 3:24 pm

Ooh, thanks for the heads up Ken! I've been thinking about updating to get the incrementally easier to use audio pitch editing tools. $50 seems worth it!

Re: the MXL mics, and even Cubase, I know there are folks on here who are on a budget and are just using whatever stuff they had laying around or whatever free tools they could get and are just scrapping it together the best they can. I mostly try to recommend these sorts of things in that context, like, "if you don't already have at least an introductory large diaphragm condenser here's a cheap one that's a good start" or "if you don't already have a full fledged DAW app here's a cheap one that's a good start". Nowadays there are many options at many price points so I'm just trying to relay some experience about entry level stuff that I know is perfectly adequate and maybe even good value even for very little money.

Re: Cubase specifically, I got started with it back in 2003. It was mostly because if the first real DAW I was able to get a working pirate copy of for my Mac. I have many years of four track recording and computer MIDI sequencing prior to that. Cubase's UI just clicked for me for whatever reason. Back in those times I also tried ProTools and Ableton Live and later I tried GarageBand and I think I'd just gotten too used to Cubase. I'm more interested now in just making stuff than going through the process of starting over in a whole new DAW and taking a productivity hit for a while. Cubase is full featured and does everything I need, although I do sometimes get jealous of Logic's fake drummer. Cubase has something similar but I haven't figured it out yet, I don't think it's UI is as intuitive and it may not be quite as good. If you're looking to learn a DAW and be able to reuse that knowledge in a variety of environments I think you're probably better off learning ProTools or Logic, but if you're just looking for something that's pretty straightforward and has nearly all the same functionality as those DAWs it's fine.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by fluffy » Fri May 31, 2019 3:36 pm

Even as a die-hard Logic fan, I have to agree with what Lunkhead said. Cubase has most of the functionality, there's a couple of things it does a bit differently but more or less equivalently (like, its "take lanes" are basically the same as Logic's "take folders"), and while the UI isn't as intuitive it's certainly something you can get used to. Also, it has the huge advantage of being available on platforms other than the Mac. It doesn't come with as much in terms of plugins/instruments/etc. but there are so many free VSTs out there that are worth playing with, and all of the major paid plugins will work with both. It's also more likely for a free plugin to work with Cubase in my experience.

A lot of it just comes down to what you're used to. I sorta got used to Cubase but then I tried Logic and it made more sense to me. But a lot of people find the opposite - Cubase really clicks with them and they can't wrap their head around Logic! (Which is weird because they have the same basic model and setup, the main difference is just the keyboard shortcuts and a couple of fiddly UI things.)

If you do already have a Mac I'd recommend trying GarageBand first - Logic is the upgrade from that (GB is literally just Logic with a simplified UI at this point, and it comes free with every Mac). But if you're on Windows, give Cubase a try. Or, heck, you might even find REAPER to be fine for your needs, and if so, that's great!

Also, LMMS is worth checking out as well. It's fun to play with and some pretty good music has been made with it. It's also free.

And incidentally, I see absolutely no reason to recommend ProTools as someone's choice of DAW unless they specifically want to get into an industry where everyone uses ProTools.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by ken » Fri May 31, 2019 3:52 pm

fluffy wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 3:36 pm
the main difference is just the keyboard shortcuts
This is a real pain point for me these days as I'm very fluent in Cubase short cuts. It even bothers me when I edit video in Adobe Premiere. prayformojo tells me that professionals with these issues have a way to remap the shortcuts just to avoid this kind of thing and keep them the same across platforms.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by fluffy » Fri May 31, 2019 4:02 pm

Oh, absolutely, and as much as I dislike the ergonomics of REAPER's UI, one thing in its favor is that you can remap all the keyboard commands if you want.

Switching between Logic and Premiere is also a pain (in more ways than one). I think Premiere lets you remap the key commands though.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by jb » Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:05 am

Legit ppl use all of these DAWs, of course.

Song Fight alums that use Reaper include Brad Sucks and MC Frontalot.

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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by fluffy » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:20 am

Oh, sure. It’s all a matter of preference. It really bugs me when someone insists that “nobody uses X, it’s just a toy” or whatever. Hell, I’ve had people tell me I wasn’t serious about making music because I use Logic which “nobody uses, you should use ProTools if you want to be taken seriously.” Or people shitting on my music because they hear three seconds of it and assume I did it in FL Studio when like, even if I did, what does it matter?
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by jb » Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:43 am

People reveal a lot about their own level of craft, if not their capability of imagination, when they say things like that.

Avicii (RIP) made "Wake Me Up" in FL Studio. So I guess they can scoff all they want from their mom's basement before they head to their gig at Arby's.

I don't like FL Studio much because the way it works with vocals and other audio recordings doesn't make sense to me. But back when it was simpler, and called FruityLoops, I used it to make the instrumental arrangement of my songfight entry for "What We Need More Of Is Science". Then, if I recall correctly, I exported the instrumental to tracks in Cubase 3. I think. Or Cool Edit Pro. One of those.

I still have (I guess will always have) a Producer license for FL Studio. It's a lifetime free upgrade license, so it's totally a good deal all things considered-- especially now that they've ported it to OS X so I can theoretically use it again. Still and all, there is no better deal on a DAW, considering what comes with it, than Logic. Unless you include the cost of buying a Mac...

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fluffy wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:20 am
Oh, sure. It’s all a matter of preference. It really bugs me when someone insists that “nobody uses X, it’s just a toy” or whatever. Hell, I’ve had people tell me I wasn’t serious about making music because I use Logic which “nobody uses, you should use ProTools if you want to be taken seriously.” Or people shitting on my music because they hear three seconds of it and assume I did it in FL Studio when like, even if I did, what does it matter?
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by fluffy » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:34 am

Yeah, and like, I used to do something similar with most of my music, only using Impulse Tracker which is one of the pieces of software which inspired FruityLoops. The overall process was asinine and roundabout and the results weren't great but I learned a lot about songwriting and process while doing it, in ways which I probably wouldn't have if I had something as powerful as Logic available to me.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by vowlvom » Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:39 am

Ha, I used to make backing tracks on Impulse Tracker and then record the results to my four-track, allowing me to add guitars (direct recorded through a Zoom FX pedal, for that sweet tone) and vocals (with a sock over the microphone as a pop shield).
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by fluffy » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:50 am

Yeah, that was exactly the process I used for a bunch of my early Song Fight! songs! Birds of Our Own and Husky Youth were definitely done that way, and I'm pretty sure I did that also for Stronger Than and A Thousand Swords.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by ujnhunter » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:27 am

Just a quick note for anybody that was looking at that Cubase deal... I was curious... they had a "cross-grade" deal where you could get the Pro version for like $170 if you had another DAW on the list... sort of like a cellphone company trying to entice other users to their side of the street. Which I was somewhat interested in checking out... until they required you to purchase an extra $29 USB dongle upon checkout. So... buyer beware Cubase apparently requires a USB dongle to use. Steinberg couldn't even pay me $170 + $29 to use a USB dongle, not sure what they're smoking... maybe the same stuff that Avid/ProTools is smoking with subscription based nonsense. Boggles my mind how anyone would pay for these "conveniences". ;)
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by fluffy » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:30 am

Ooh, good to know. I knew Cubase still used a dongle but I assumed that would be included in the purchase price.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by Chumpy » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:03 am

So there is a upgrade/crossgrade sale for NI Kontakt/Komplete that is happening now. There is a clever way that you can bootstrap the upgrade process to get both Kontakt 6 ($124.50 instead of $399.00) and then crossgrade Kontakt 6 to Komplete 12 ($199.50 instead of $599.00) at reasonable prices.

The upshot here is you can get Komplete 12 for a grand total of $324.00, or just Kontakt 6 for $124.50. Kontakt is a pretty great sampler, and worth having if for no other reason than a lot of amazing third party instrument libraries use it and require it.
  • First sign up for Embertone's Arcade library for free.
  • In order to do this, you provide Embertone your email address, they will email you a serial number, take note of this.
  • Don't bother downloading Embertone's Arcade (it's over a gig) you just need the serial number.
  • If you don't already have an Native Instruments account, create one, this doesn't cost anything.
  • Login to the NI webiste, and download the Native Access application.
  • Install and run the Native Access application
  • Click "Add a serial" in the Native Access app, and add the serial for Embertone's Arcade
At this point, the NI website should know that you have a product (Arcade) that is eligible for a "crossgrade" to Kontakt 6. And once you purchase that, then you can crossgrade Konakt 6 to Komplete 12 if you so choose.

This crossgrade/upgrade sale I believe is running until June 30th.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by fluffy » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:16 am

Ooh, that's a great way to do things. Komplete is really amazing. I use it a lot and I highly recommend it. Lots of great sounds and synths in it.

I'm still running Komplete 11. I should see what this deal means for an upgrade to 12.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by vowlvom » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:22 am

I just upgraded to Komplete 12 last Friday when this sale kicked in and got a really good price!

Pleased to see there are still sneaky loopholes to get NI stuff for cheap, I went through a similar cheap / free library -> kontakt -> Komplete route a few years ago. Loads of great stuff in there, I love the pianos and Reaktor is an amazing rabbit hole to disappear down every so often.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by ujnhunter » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:58 am

I have to say that the way these companies obscure what the upgrades include really bothers me... like there is no information on NI's website telling me what I'm getting for $99.50 if I choose to "upgrade" my Komplete 11 to Komplete 12. For all I can tell it's Kontact 6 and Massive synth? The fact that these companies also have 3 different price points like Ultimate Collector's Edition MAXXX is even more confusing... and it's probably because they just want people to blindly update/upgrade etc... but it's super frustrating.

Edit: Still frustrating... but I found this link from some Blog detailing what has changed in Komplete Versions here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... edit#gid=0
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by grumpymike » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:14 pm

Oh wow... I just accidentally bought Komplete 12 Select. Should I upgrade to Ultimate for $500?
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by fluffy » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:26 pm

The only reason I wanted to upgrade to Komplete 12 standard from 11 was to get Session Strings 2, which I ended up buying individually (for the same price as the full upgrade now, lol) so I think I'll sit this one out.

Upgrading to Ultimate for $500 is a good deal if you want a bunch of the stuff in it. I just wish NI didn't slice their bundles quite so awkwardly.

[EDIT] Oh never mind, it was Session Strings Pro 2 which I bought individually, which still requires Ultimate to get. And that was the only reason I was interested in Ultimate. :)

Ooh, but I Might be interested in Symphony Essentials, and that's $400 on its own...
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by grumpymike » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:35 pm

Yeah, I just don’t know if I want any of that stuff because they have a ridiculous amount of nebulous “expansions” and indescript product names. It seems they make a lot of kitschy products to maximize their revenue.

So, I think the upgrade to Komplete regular is an obvious win (especially if this $25 voucher works on it). Ultimate seems like a good deal, but I only know for certain I want Massive-X. Are the samples alone worth it for the package, and/or are there things in there that are especially crucial? I only got sucked into this because Komplete cost slightly more than Massive, and now I’m afraid I’m just collecting NI products I won’t use. :)
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by fluffy » Mon Jun 03, 2019 1:10 pm

The voucher won’t work. NI is cruddy about that, it’s only good on non-discounted things.

NI makes it very easy to collect a lot of stuff you don’t need. Kinetic Metal is a lot of fun though and I’ve ended up using that a lot. (But keep in mind I like making wanky electronica too.)
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by jast » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:54 pm

When choosing editions I'd ignore the "expansions" altogether, along with most of the products that are basically just pre-recorded patterns and licks (Action Strings, Soul Treasures etc.)
Things that are in Komplete but not in Komplete Select that may be worth looking at, from my perspective (each of them has audio demos on the website):
  • Reaktor 6 - you actually get to design your own synths from building blocks. This is as flexible as it gets. If you ever wanted to go beyond just turning knobs, this is what you want. Includes a stupendous amount of synths, each with a stupendous amount of presets, plus you can download hundreds of user-contributed ones. Too many choices almost...
  • Absynth 5 - from what I've heard, crazy powerful synth, but kind of hard to get into if you actually want to make your own sounds.
  • Kontakt 6 Full - this includes its 43 GB library of instruments which I think the "Player" version in Select doesn't have, or is way more trimmed down. It has some nice goodies like standard electric pianos and choir sounds with vowels you can fade into each other (though they're not good for anything more than background fill IMO). Generally these instruments are quite good and for many purposes you don't need to get fancier versions of each instrument separately. The new "macro instruments" in v6 sound pretty nice, too.
  • FM8 - straightforward but quite flexible FM synth (it lets you build your own cascade of FM oscillators, for example). If you like "the FM sound", you can do almost anything with this one, if you can figure out how.
  • Polyplex and Battery if you're into electronic drum sounds.
  • Some of the sampled pianos. Una Corda can be an awesome sound for mellow/ambient stuff.
  • Abbey Road 60s / Studio Drummer - good but not really a big win if you have drum stuff you're satisfied with.
  • Discover Series - kind of fun for playing with weird stuff.
  • Session Guitarist Strummed Acoustic - nice for rapid prototyping, not so great for real songs IMO.
  • Kinetic Metal is kind of fun.
  • Guitar Rig 5 Pro / Rammfire - I really like these - I'm not someone who cares too much about having "real" amps, though.
The biggest selling points for me in Ultimate:
  • Razor - there's just something about additive synthesis that I like
  • All the other drummer packages - again, only really relevant if you're short on good-sounding drums
  • Symphony Essentials - if you don't have symphonic instruments at all, this is a good start, but it's not nearly as flexible as the full set
  • Rise & Hit - pretty cool for building suspense/build-up sections
  • Action Strikes - easy to use cinematic percussion
And, of course, the only appreciable difference in Ultimate Collector's Edition is that you get the full symphonic package instead of just the trimmed down version from Ultimate.

PS. according to the website, Massive X will be available in normal Komplete, too, not just Ultimate.
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Re: Deals On Gear and Software

Post by fluffy » Mon Jun 03, 2019 4:05 pm

Oh yeah! I love Polyplex and Battery, they're great.

I do use Session Guitarist a lot because it's more capable of doing rhythm sections than me anymore but it's definitely limited. But if you have trouble actually playing a guitar anymore due to agonizing chronic pain, it's certainly a workable alternative.

From that list above it seems that I'd get more bang for my buck from buying Symphony Series (which is the full version) than Komplete Ultimate (which only has Symphony Essentials), and I don't see any reason for me to upgrade Komplete itself (from 11 to 12).
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