Simple workstation-like software for person who wants to play and records tunes on the laptop

The question may be a bit weird. My friend has a classical piano training and would like to play and record some songs with a pc/laptop, sometimes electronic, sometimes traditional music. I advised her to look for a midi keyboard like Novation. But then the question came - which software to recommend her? Should be something simple, effective and contain workstation like general-purpose timbres. It’s not about virtual analog or modular stuff :smiley:

On Macs there are Garageband and Logic. What can be suggested for the Windows? Korg Gadget is a mixed bag and it’s not a standalone app on Win. Kontakt too bulky and requires a DAW (even I don’t like it’s interface). Ableton-Lite is oriented towards sound-design and EDM-something… What people use nowadays instead of workstations and “keyboards”?


Maybe Waveform Free daw by Tracktion and the free Spitfire Audio LABS libraries

Edit: And with those she can just get a used midi keyboard and not have to pay for the included Ableton Lite and all the other fluff.


Thanks. Looks quite cool

Ableton is a digital audio workstation through and through. I think they’d be happiest with a DAW. Maybe Reaper or Studio One though.

The requirement is a collection of preset synths/sounds to start playing first. Reaper does not have it, unfortunately

FWIW, someone who has played extensively on a piano will probably have a much better time with an 88-key hammer action electric piano that has MIDI. Synth action controller keyboards can be pretty good, but $1k will get you a very nice Yamaha or Casio e-piano with good piano sounds and a great keybed. If the budget is in the $2k range, Kawais and the Korg G1 Air are in range.

You can get the presets with a Roland Cloud subscription or NI’s Komplete or various other sample libraries. Arturia has some stuff like that too.

Another vote for Ableton Live Lite.

To some extent, whichever DAW someone picks doesn’t matter. You have to take the time to learn it. But Ableton is easier than DAWs like Logic (I use both), and geared towards the live performer. It’s way more immediate, intuitive, and fun.

For us nerds, things like Bitwig and Reason have their attractions, but for your friend, it sounds like they don’t need to get esoteric.

Plus it’s a total industry standard, and they can easily get help.

Just show them Ableton’s retrospective MIDI capture and they will be hooked :slight_smile:

I’d vote for Reaper or Ableton both are very stable on all the machines I have installed them on.

If you are after plugins for sounds there are plenty of good free options. Check out Spitfire Labs and Surge which are great options to start.

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I wish id stuck with the piano and never touched a daw. Thats my advice.

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Omnisphere gets now standalone recoeding function with automation capture.

Depends a bit on how much depth is required with the ability to arrange complete songs but I’d personally be leaning towards something in the Komplete Kontrol line, with Native Instruments.

I feel like that gets you a really good environment for what your friend is looking for.

Unless they’re looking to invest time into getting into actual music production I wouldn’t personally push them toward a full featured DAW as it feels like overkill to me.

Maybe the MPC keyboard once they’ve ironed out the bugs.

Garageband is really good for this kind of thing. Might even be worth switching to a (secondhand) Mac for.

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googled “Garageband for windows”, gives soooo many weird results. Wtf

The level is absolutely basic and the budget is tight :slight_smile: No need for complex arrangements for the first time

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Get a midi keyboard that has a free copy of ableton lite

Top of the line MacBook Pro with maxed out RAM. An 88 keys weighted Komplete controller with the full version of Komplete.

BitWig, a dozen or so top VST’s, and some Mastering suites.

And outboard compressor, and don’t cut corners. Buy once I always say. A Nord Lead 76 key, plus a Moog Matriarch for those sweet mono and duophonic tones we all love.

An SSL mixer because, again, the sound, right? An OctaTrack for live looping and mixing, a Pro 5 to add character, Analog4 for the cool sequencing capabilities, a RYTM because we all know how awesome that is.

Add in the Syntakt, Digitone for FM, and a few choice pedals from Strymon, Chase Bliss, and Behringer. Definitely get a Microcosm.

Studio monitors you have a few choices, best to refer to the studio monitor thread. I’d also suggest 2x 4k monitors so you can have the timeline on one, and VST windows on another simultaneously.

Better grab some nice headphones for late night jamming and critical sound design work.

A full compliment of sound treatment, bass traps, and don’t forget the cloud overhead and thick Persian rug to tame the reflections.

… or maybe a nice midi keyboard with free Ableton as suggested. Either way and you would be up and running.

Cakewalk. I haven’t tried it, but it’s free and Windows compatible.


Gearspace posting style :smiley:

Yep, free Ableton sounds a good plan. Maybe even I got some copy. My friend is classically trained but loves synthwave music…

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You can get it free with Koala Sampler, plus some other apps/software.

And you’re right, the 2x 4k monitors might be overkill. I’m sure she’ll do fine with a single monitor. Good luck to her!

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The name of this software blows my mind, like… how they got rights to use it? It was my first software or so loooong time ago