Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes
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Ambient / Downtempo Discussion of music similar to Brian Eno, Sigur Rós, FSOL, The Orb, Biosphere.

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Old 27-09-2012, 11:24 PM   #1
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Feedback needed on DAWS used for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

Before anyone flies off and starts posting what a shite thread this is..and that this topic is so basic as to be redundant..hear me out first!

I've looked over this forum..even contacted the Mod staff there about this..and it seems most, if not all, threads which deal with the subject of DAWS on here tend to be "Well, my daw is best" affairs..and that's all well and good, but the kind of music members are producing are as different as the people themselves!

What I'm trying to do is find "THE" best DAW out there for those interested in making ambient music/soundscapes..and I'm not talking personal taste here..but the tools and effects offered by same said DAW, which makes it the ideal tool for producing that kind of music. I think this might prove to be very handy, seeing as we have a Ambient Beat Tape planned and some of the members here might benefit from knowing this stuff.

I know all DAWS will let you do more or less the same thing, but nearly all come with their own little add-ins that the others don't have, which allows them to do stuff a little differently/better than the rest. So, with this is mind, which one tends to offer the best tools for getting the ambient job done?

If you are going to post a reply to this, then please try to be as technical as possible and explain in detail just why you think the DAW you are suggesting is the best for ambient music. Also, if you can included a few points as to why you thought any other DAW you have tried fails in the same area when it comes to tools and effects relevant to ambient music.

I'm hoping to put together a "report" on this that will be posted here on the forum for future reference for everyone. So far, I have looked online and on various forums, but there doesn't seem to be any such guide out there..plenty of feature comparisons..but this is usually from a standard music production point of view and not from that of the ambient artist.

In short, if you can help me by posting your own experiences here, then that would be a great help to me.

Thanks in advance.

EDIT: PLEASE..PLEASE..PLEASE!!! If you are going to post a reply to this thread..don't post telling me/us all DAWS can be used to make ambient music..I/we already know this and that is NOT what this thread is about! Also, please don't post replies countering / criticizing the replies of others to this thread..EVERYONE'S comments are each just as valid! This is about FEEDBACK..what you have used and have found useful when making ambient music.

If you still don't understand, re-read my post above and then the first few replies.

If you follow the above "requests" then your replies should go a long way to helping me with this.

AM

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Old 27-09-2012, 11:28 PM   #2
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

Good post and good points. However, unless there is someone who has used all of the DAWs or at least a heap of them to make purely just the music your talking about, I think the results of this will be inconclusive. Should be interesting to see how it goes

So for my own experience, I can only speak for myself as an FL studio user, but I have'nt found myself limted in making ambient music with it

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Old 27-09-2012, 11:41 PM   #3
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

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Originally Posted by Barry Acid View Post
Good post and good points. However, unless there is someone who has used all of the DAWs or at least a heap of them to make purely just the music your talking about, I think the results of this will be inconclusive. Should be interesting to see how it goes

So for my own experience, I can only speak for myself as an FL studio user, but I have'nt found myself limted in making ambient music with it
Thanks, Barry..appreciate the reply.

I don't need somebody who has used a ton of DAWS..just those who have made ambient music to post what DAW they used..and how good that DAW was at doing the job..by explaining what features they found in it that made it a good tool for making ambient music. Hopefully there will be enough answers for me to compile the info from and turn into a repost on the subject,

On that point, if you can add or expand on your reply above, it would be great.
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Old 27-09-2012, 11:49 PM   #4
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

Personally, I think the fact that FL Studio allows curves in automation tracks would really lend subtly to evolving soundscapes and I also think this is a great feature overall for all genres. Other than that all I can say is Patcher would probably be useful for modular routing, though I hear tell that Abelton can route anything to anything to hell and back...

I don't typically make ambient music (I'm going to submit to the beat tape though!) I do always make a point of spending time on the ambient bits of my tracks and I will say curves on the automation envelopes make things seem more subtle and natural.

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Old 27-09-2012, 11:52 PM   #5
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

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Originally Posted by relic View Post
Personally, I think the fact that FL Studio allows curves in automation tracks would really lend subtly to evolving soundscapes and I also think this is a great feature overall for all genres. Other than that all I can say is Patcher would probably be useful for modular routing, though I hear tell that Abelton can route anything to anything to hell and back...

I don't typically make ambient music (I'm going to submit to the beat tape though!) I do always make a point of spending time on the ambient bits of my tracks and I will say curves on the automation envelopes make things seem more subtle and natural.
Thanks Relic..great reply..containing the kind of stuff I am looking for..much appreciated!
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Old 27-09-2012, 11:55 PM   #6
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

No worries! This is interesting DAW wars thread for once, lol.

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Old 28-09-2012, 12:15 AM   #7
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Icon2 Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

I think the session view in Ableton definitely is a plus.
When I create slow evolving stuff it's so much easier to do that kind off "live", I really like spending some hours jamming and really getting in the mood. It doesn't sound very good in the end but it is fun ^^

And yeah, those curves in Fl Studio also are a really nice feature, miss that in Ableton
(although I'm not sure if it really matters soundwise but it looks so much better...)

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Old 28-09-2012, 12:38 AM   #8
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

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Originally Posted by Inertia View Post
I think the session view in Ableton definitely is a plus.
When I create slow evolving stuff it's so much easier to do that kind off "live", I really like spending some hours jamming and really getting in the mood. It doesn't sound very good in the end but it is fun ^^

And yeah, those curves in Fl Studio also are a really nice feature, miss that in Ableton
(although I'm not sure if it really matters soundwise but it looks so much better...)
Thanks for that, Inertia. Already FL seems to be standing out, but hopefully there will be more posts to this and who knows which one will stand out as the clear choice in the end.
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Old 28-09-2012, 01:04 AM   #9
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

i agree with Inrtia, ableton's session view really benefits the creative workflow,
its very intuitive to use (you can basically drag&drop everything :p ) and very flexible when it comes to grouping and busing
+with the operator synth you can make tons of great atmospheric pads, which could eliminate the need of expensive vst's...
i recently made 2 ambient tracks in ableton (without external synths or effects) and tbh i had much more fun doing it than any
other genre (and also pretty happy with the way they turned out)

other DAWs i've used were pro tools and cubase some 7 or 8 years ago, and they were really a mood killer back then...dont
know about the new versions though, i hear they also incorporated some good new features, so i guess its all a matter of
personal preference & which features you like best
btw, i think both Ableton and FL studio have 30days free trial demos, so my advice would be you try em both

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Old 28-09-2012, 01:18 AM   #10
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

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Originally Posted by chooko View Post
i agree with Inrtia, ableton's session view really benefits the creative workflow,
its very intuitive to use (you can basically drag&drop everything :p ) and very flexible when it comes to grouping and busing
+with the operator synth you can make tons of great atmospheric pads, which could eliminate the need of expensive vst's...
i recently made 2 ambient tracks in ableton (without external synths or effects) and tbh i had much more fun doing it than any
other genre (and also pretty happy with the way they turned out)

other DAWs i've used were pro tools and cubase some 7 or 8 years ago, and they were really a mood killer back then...dont
know about the new versions though, i hear they also incorporated some good new features, so i guess its all a matter of
personal preference & which features you like best
btw, i think both Ableton and FL studio have 30days free trial demos, so my advice would be you try em both
Thanks, chooko, for posting to this..nice info there to add to the mix..excuse the pun.

For the record, this is not strictly for me, but for everyone interested in making ambient music..but it's handy to know about the free trials in any case.

I'm hoping enough folks will post replies with detailed info, based on their own experiences, so I can correlate it all into one report/file and post it to the forum..so guys can then read over it and see just which is the best..based on real member experiences..for producing ambient music/soundscapes.

Granted..everyone does have their own preference..but I'm interested in hear "why" they have that preference. as this is an important part of it and a main point of interest. With members posting just why they think their DAW is best for making ambient music and explaining why, I should be able to piece together a clear "winner" for those us who make this kind of music.

Anyway, thanks again for the reply..much appreciated.
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Old 28-09-2012, 01:42 AM   #11
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

Pure Data or CSound


100% Absolute control over every aspect of everything. Best DAW for absolutely anything.
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Old 28-09-2012, 01:46 AM   #12
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

Any DAW will work for ambient music. They all pretty much do the same stuff, it's more about what synths/effects you're using. But the DAW for ambient depends (slightly) on how you plan to compose, what gear you have, etc. With any DAW you can record some hardware and put some effects on it. With pretty much all of them you can load in a VST and play and record it and put some effects on it. I think all DAWs at this point let you draw in automation curves for parameters on your VSTs and effects.

That said, the only major thing to note with regard to ambient music, imo, is Ableton's ability to compose and record live and the amazing routing. If you want to play stuff quite a bit of stuff simultaneously inside your DAW and mess with it in real time and record it than Ableton is a must. You can also do a lot of good ambient texture stuff by routing channels into one or multiple other channels (you can do this in kinda any DAW, though there is some really good integration in the stock ableton plugs). But none of that is exclusive to ambient, it can pertain to any genre.

I write dark ambient and use cubase. i mainly record in a bunch of hardware in real time (sometimes midi and sometimes absynth), mess with it a bit inside cubase, and add in some percussion, field recordings, and samples and shit. ..but there really isn't anything I do that is specific to cubase

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Old 28-09-2012, 02:01 AM   #13
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

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Originally Posted by relic View Post
Personally, I think the fact that FL Studio allows curves in automation tracks would really lend subtly to evolving soundscapes and I also think this is a great feature overall for all genres. Other than that all I can say is Patcher would probably be useful for modular routing, though I hear tell that Abelton can route anything to anything to hell and back...

I don't typically make ambient music (I'm going to submit to the beat tape though!) I do always make a point of spending time on the ambient bits of my tracks and I will say curves on the automation envelopes make things seem more subtle and natural.
No ambient without curves. Also resampling with Edison and Harmor combined is the bees knees.
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Old 28-09-2012, 02:03 AM   #14
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

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Originally Posted by twilitez View Post
No ambient without curves. Also resampling with Edison and Harmor combined is the bees knees.

I have Harmor...haven't busted that out in a hot minute. Maybe I will for the Ambient Beat Tape...

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Old 28-09-2012, 03:35 AM   #15
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

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Originally Posted by worms View Post
Any DAW will work for ambient music
Pretty much.

My preference is Reaper but that's mainly for workflow reasons (I find it quite easy to use) and also CPU reasons (Reaper's one of the more efficient DAWs out there, saving the CPU for high-CPU plugins). I also keep a copy of FL Studio because it can run as a VST and I really like its piano roll / MIDI sequencing abilities, something I find that Reaper lacks to the same degree.

There is, however, nothing wrong with the others. Ableton stands out for its live manipulation and its unique workflow, but there's nothing wrong with other track based workflow DAWs like Cubase or Sonar or Logic. It really is personal preference.

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Old 28-09-2012, 03:38 AM   #16
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

You dont need sample manipulation at all if youve got resampling options. Ambient sounds have slow movement there is no need for quick edits.
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Old 28-09-2012, 03:41 AM   #17
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

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Originally Posted by twilitez View Post
You dont need sample manipulation at all if youve got resampling options. Ambient sounds have slow movement there is no need for quick edits.
yea dude totally shoot down alternative ways to make a sound,
especially when you can blur the sequences with delays, pitchshifting, and reverb

come on...


quick editing sequences in 1/64th notes can be real fucking efficent for creating long atmospheres when you time stretch/downpitch it

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Old 28-09-2012, 01:25 PM   #18
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

Audacity + Paulstretch..

Best because it's free.

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Old 28-09-2012, 01:52 PM   #19
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

Another vote for Ableton's session view.

It's so easy to (for example) record yourself jamming for a while with one pad, loop the best 16 bars of that, then record-jam with another instrument indefinitely while the first loop plays, and carry on along those lines.

In another DAW, you'd have to mess around with the arrangement view, and you'd have to stop jamming when you get to the end of the arrangement(or overwrite what you've already played). Session view will play whatever loops you've set up for as long as you like, while indefinitely recording a new one, without the need to overwrite what you've already played.

Once you've got your clips sorted in session view, it's very easy to get a rough song arrangement by recording yourself as you play back your finished clips and ride volume levels etc in whatever order sounds good. After that, you just need to make final adjustments to the arrangement.

You can follow the above steps in any genre of course, but I think they are particularly well-suited and easy to follow for an ambient piece.

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Old 28-09-2012, 03:38 PM   #20
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Re: Feedback needed on BEST DAW for Ambient Music/Soundscapes

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Originally Posted by Dugg Funnie View Post
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100% Absolute control over every aspect of everything. Best DAW for absolutely anything.
jeskola buzz is also a free modular
besides evelon has said that buzz machines can fsu real good especially the granular and fm synths

you could also probably build a spectral morpher or your very own absynth in a modular enviroment if you knew how

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