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Thread: Absolute beginner requesting help with MIDI device and DAW

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    Talking Absolute beginner requesting help with MIDI device and DAW

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    Hello

    I am very, very new to music production and I am (think) I am about to sign up with a music foundations class. I am currently deciding which DAW to go with as well as which MIDI device. I would like a device that is good for beginners but also will be able to grow with me and handle a few more complicated tasks later. I have a budget of around $300.00 - $400.00 ( really pushing it there) for the device. I found these two and wondered if anyone experienced could give advice on which they would go with and why...

    "Novation Impulse 49 key USB midi controller" (on Amazon, could not post link)

    "Akai Professional MPK249 49 key USB midi controller" (also on Amazon, could not post link)

    Also, the same with DAWs, which are good for the beginner to learn on as well as grow into later? I'm really into movie scores (like Hans Zimmer), movie trailer music (like 2WEI and All Good Things), remixes and fantasy orchestral in general. I'm looking into Ableton 10 the most right now, but I have seen there are many out there so I hoped someone could guide me toward the most intuitive and best all round DAW.

    Thank you!

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    There are plenty to choose, and most people go with what they've always used. Cubase for me.

    I'm personally not keen on short keyboards. orchestral movie scoring needs the more heavyweight sample packages and many use keyswitching - which is tricky with smaller keyboards - you can't play a heavy bass and a lighter top end at the same time, let alone use key switches. However, if you're not much of a piano player you can probably get by. both are decent enough products with plenty of useful features. just the 49 keys would be the stumbling block for me. most samplers really need lots of controllers and for some people (not me) the pads.

    Ableton is always spoken about nicely, but I won't ever change from Cubase, because I have used it since 1994 or so, and why would I forget everything and start learning again?

    Why not download some trials and c heck them out.Some need you to understand music in a conventional way, some don't - so you need to maximise your needs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    There are plenty to choose, and most people go with what they've always used. Cubase for me.

    I'm personally not keen on short keyboards. orchestral movie scoring needs the more heavyweight sample packages and many use keyswitching - which is tricky with smaller keyboards - you can't play a heavy bass and a lighter top end at the same time, let alone use key switches. However, if you're not much of a piano player you can probably get by. both are decent enough products with plenty of useful features. just the 49 keys would be the stumbling block for me. most samplers really need lots of controllers and for some people (not me) the pads.

    Ableton is always spoken about nicely, but I won't ever change from Cubase, because I have used it since 1994 or so, and why would I forget everything and start learning again?

    Why not download some trials and c heck them out.Some need you to understand music in a conventional way, some don't - so you need to maximise your needs.
    Thanks for the response Although I took band for two years in high school, that was ages ago and I can't remember a thing lol I guess I would need/be looking for a more "by ear" friendly DAW than one that requires a lot of conventional knowledge (even though I intend to relearn more classical ways of doing things along the way).

    Most people I have asked so far says the right DAW is the one you learn on, and they all can get the same results with the right understanding of the program. I guess the program I find easiest to understand would be the best one, if that is the case...it also means a whole lot of trial and error to find what works for me. After a while of asking around I've pretty much accepted there is no definitive answer on the DAW except demo, demo, demo

    The MIDI device is the thing I'm really trying to nail down in this question, and your answer regarding the specific movie scoring needs you need to feel comfortable with your device is exactly the type of feedback I was hoping for, based on your personal experiences So if I am understanding you right, basically you are more comfortable with a full keyboard (like 88 keys) because you are accustomed to the feel from playing the real thing, so shorter feels more unnatural and less accessible and versatile than a full keyboard...but someone who is not trained or used to playing on a regular piano or organ could learn to feel comfortable with shorter keyboards because they would not have that previous frame of reference and therefore would naturally be more comfortable on whatever device they learned on?

    I'm not sure what keyswitching is, but I will google it.

    Thank you for taking the time to reply

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    No - actually not what I'm saying at all. wHen you use things like kontakt and Spitfire style VSTi instruments you often get huge numbers of sounds and nearly all the 88 notes have things on them. Some percussion VSTi's have zillions of sounds spread all over, and then when you might have half a dozen key switches on the go too, the last thing you want to do is have to use the octave up/down buttons to access the big gong hit, or the bell tree, or weird synth sound. 88 is great - although even on that I use the octave buttons. 60 odd keys is still better than 49. It's not really about your piano playing. it's not that shorter keyboards are OK because you didn't learn on one. it's about instant access to the sounds you want. one of the things with movie scoring is spontanaity - you play something nice then need the thumps and bangs. You could press stop, then rewind and then add the bass note, then the other stuff - but that's a very unfriendly way to do this. You mentioned Hans zimmer - there are many examples of him working on youtube, plus you can look up spitfire and Paul Thompson and see how they compose. Very few people do this kind of music on smaller keyboards - they're fine, but just more awkward to work with, and that's the important bit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    No - actually not what I'm saying at all. wHen you use things like kontakt and Spitfire style VSTi instruments you often get huge numbers of sounds and nearly all the 88 notes have things on them. Some percussion VSTi's have zillions of sounds spread all over, and then when you might have half a dozen key switches on the go too, the last thing you want to do is have to use the octave up/down buttons to access the big gong hit, or the bell tree, or weird synth sound. 88 is great - although even on that I use the octave buttons. 60 odd keys is still better than 49. It's not really about your piano playing. it's not that shorter keyboards are OK because you didn't learn on one. it's about instant access to the sounds you want. one of the things with movie scoring is spontanaity - you play something nice then need the thumps and bangs. You could press stop, then rewind and then add the bass note, then the other stuff - but that's a very unfriendly way to do this. You mentioned Hans zimmer - there are many examples of him working on youtube, plus you can look up spitfire and Paul Thompson and see how they compose. Very few people do this kind of music on smaller keyboards - they're fine, but just more awkward to work with, and that's the important bit.
    Ahhhhh...ok, I get it... I need to look all that up, thanks (especially the Hans examples

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    Quote Originally Posted by PSV View Post
    Most people I have asked so far says the right DAW is the one you learn on, and they all can get the same results with the right understanding of the program.
    That is pretty much the case, but there is one other factor to consider. While they all get the same results, how they get them is also important. People have different ways of going about things, and if the programming of the DAW matches how you like to do things, you will be more comfortable with it. I started with Logic (pre-MAC days) and became quite fluent with it, but it always felt awkward. I switched to Reaper early in the new century, and though it did things differently, everything made sense. I will concede that learning Logic paved the way and helped the transition.

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    Everyone says it just depends on your "workflow" as to which one is better, and then I think "But I don't even have a "workflow" yet", I need a DAW and some great tutorials to find out what my workflow is and in order to do that I need to know which DAW would be best for my non-existent workflow XD

    A lot of people said they like Reaper, so I looked it up and I'm going to try it out too.

    At the moment I'm kinda considering going with a free one and dumping the money into a great midi device and some plug-ins LOL Maybe next year I'll know my workflow a bit better and can afford to get the appropriate DAW, which by then will be the free one I learned on and I'll be telling someone else who's looking for a DAW "The best one is the one you know!" XD

    Thanks for the reply, it's great that people are willing to give you a bit of insight when you are venturing into scary, unfamiliar territory

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    Hi. If you are using a PC, I highly recommend looking at Cakewalk by BandLab.
    It's totally free, with no restrictions. It is what SONAR Platinum would have been, if still around.
    All you have to do is sign up, and download the Bandlab assistant, and it takes care of the rest.
    https://www.bandlab.com/products/cakewalk
    Also quite a bit of videos to get you started.
    cakewalk by bandlab - Google Search
    All the best.

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    Thanks! And all the best to you as well

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