6/3/2010 – After receiving a comment about this post that accused me of stealing, I changed the phrase “breaking the code” to “figure out how to use” in order to clarify. I apologize for the confusion.
Last week, I had some extra time in the office, so I once again attempted to figure out how to use Cakewalk Homestudio in order to make a few simple demos.
My dad has successfully incorporated demos into his volunteer system using a Tascam digital 8 track. He records 3 part harmonies and produces custom demos for every Sunday with each singers parts. This is an especially valuable tool in the world of cross-cultural ministry because it levels the playing field for non-readers and it communicates more effectively the elements of style that are not easily communicated on paper. So, I’ve been jealous of this tool for a while.
A few years ago, I bought a copy of the computer recording software, Cakewalk Homestudio. With a name like that I thought, “this will be for simple, home-based, user-friendly applications.” I was wrong. I found it very complicated to get set-up with the proper latency etc. to just roll tape and produce a quick mp3 demo. I made one concerted effort to produce a demo using MIDI instruments combined with audio vocal and guitar. It took me forever to figure out the program. I had to contact support, look in user forums, and decode all the recording language that I was not familiar with. Yes, I read the manual and did the tutorials. It was not helpful.
I abandoned Homestudio for about a year. I’ve been creating quick easy demos using our M-Audio Microtrack recorder. It has a little stereo mic and does a decent job, but no multiple tracks or editing.
Last week, I emotionally prepared myself and dove into Homestudio the process again. I found that it was a little easier the second time around, but it’s still not as easy as a cheap digital multitrack recorder. I also found that after I had completed the recording, I had to purchase a $30 add-on in order to export the demo into an mp3 format that could be uploaded to the web or burned. Argg! I ended up downloading the free shareware program, Audacity, then importing the raw wav files from Homestudio in order to produce a simple mp3.
After that, I realized that I could actually do a lot with Audacity by itself. It doesn’t have MIDI instruments or fancy effects. But, with just a guitar accompaniment, I could add all the vocals that I needed and produced a demo that was as good as the Homestudio product with much less effort or frustration. Did I mention that Audacity is free? Now, I should point out that I am using the M-Audio Black Box as my audio interface. It has tons of amp models and effects, so I can do a lot with that by itself. Still, I have been pretty disappointed with Homestudio.
Some of you are reading this thinking, “You should have bought a Mac. Garage Band is what you needed.” Well, if I had bought a Mac, then take the price of 3 or 4 Homestudio’s and add that to the cost of my rig (not to mention that I’m using a donated PC, so I don’t really have a choice.)
Here’s “I’m So Glad Jesus Lifted Me” which was done with Homestudio (then exported to mp3 with Audacity).
Here’s Soki Natali Monene which was recording entirely on Audacity. There’s some clipping and distortion on this one, but it’s more user error than the program. I tried boosting the signal with a compressor or something…it was overkill. Did I mention this program is free and this recording was done in half the time?
Can you hear any difference?