What Makes A Good DAW?

Introduction:
Hi Readers, Its Dean Barrett I have been composing music since 2001 and I have seen many DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstations) in my years of music production so I am back to answer this question I get frequently asked “What Makes A Good DAW?”

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You want a DAW that’s rock solid stable, reliable, up to date with a customizable ui and expandable plugin feature set with the ability to add third party VST instruments, tools whileĀ  supporting samples should you need them.
My top places to buy Loops & Samples (review)

As music producers we tend to stick to work with what best suits our workflow & offers native support & compatibility with our hardware and software instruments.
But many other factors determine a good DAW and most of it these days comes down to user preference.

In my humble beginnings, I was introduced to a software called Acid Pro, which was a really simple to use loop mixing DAW that had a boat load of features and was one of the easiest to use at the time, getting creative ideas out and released was very fast, especially when I was working on creating DJ Mix Sets and gathering as many sample libraries I could to put together sets for my DJ Friends.

Choosing A DAW

  • Stability

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  • Stability is very important when it comes to producing music especially when you are working to create a brand new song, you can’t have your studio software crashing in the middle of your project and the worst part is sometimes they do not even have automated backups of your work to protect against losing your work.
  • If you happen to have one such program that does often crash, my advice to you is to always remember to frequently save your work, because theres nothing worse than losing your entire song because an unexpected error occured in your project and daw.exe needs to close. šŸ™
    It can be very frustrating and more often then not, you will find yourself looking into the problem trying to find solutions to why the program is crashing and having to sort it all out.
  • User Interface

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  • A user interface that suits your workflow is really important because this is where you’ll most likely be spending up to four hours a day or more working and you need to have a user interface that helps you get things done rather than fighting your way around the application you can focus on producing the song. It is nice when DAW’s give you enough functionality and features but steps out of the way when your creativity is at its peak and you need space to work with less clutter.
  • User Preference while not one user interface works for everyone which is why so many DAW’s exist offering freedom to create in whatever fashion some offer complete customization and others do not. the best advice I could offer anyone going for a DAW for the very first time is to research the studio software you are interested in especially watching tutorial videos and look for free trials of those programs that way you can get hands on with the software before spending your cash on something you might regret.
    Check out my top 10 DAW’s for Beginners article
  • Compatibility
    • Though not quite as much of a problem as it used to be there are still lingering issues that may happen when you experience compatibility issues.
    • VST compatibility issues can plague older studio programs which don’t support the newer plugins available and you may experience crashes or abnormal operation of the program or a complete crash its no fun and its happened to me so often that I have limited the amount of instruments that I use in a given project or phased out older ones that are no longer compatible.
    • Operating System Compatibility sometimes your operating system can determine what can and cant be used so be sure to check with the software what operating system its designed for for example PC or Mac.
      Be sure to read the system requirements to make sure the system you are installing the software on is up to the task otherwise you may experience issues and abnormal operation.
  • FeaturesĀ 
    • When choosing a DAW features are very important, as software gets more and more feature rich we love having advanced functionality as a producer automation tools, built in instruments to get us started and excellent midi editing options really help with workflow, some studio programs even have techniques to aid in writing progressions faster and automatic quantizing as you play so that you don’t have to go back and manually edit the midi tracks all the time.
    • When I choose a studio application I make a note to check out all the features and find out which ones suit my needs and what can help me grow as an artist and improve my production techniques.
    • Mastering tools are also important allowing me to get a basic master done without having tons of third party tools can really improve workflow and save a bit of money as well.
  • Cost

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  • Choosing a DAW that fits your budget can be time consuming, that’s why I placed this low in the list, how much a DAW costs is not the most important aspect, however once you have purchased studio software, I’m wondering about its lifecycle before a new version is announced that I will undoubtedly have to upgrade to for my software to keep getting updates generally I aim for the Professional Editions of most studio software as you get the best value.
    Check Out My Top 3 DAW’s That I Use All The Time
  • User Preference does also apply here and it totally depends on your budget and all the factors above you will want to read reviews on them and learn about everything you can and check forums related to issues experienced by other users and see if solutions were provided to fix them.

Should You Use Automated Music Mastering?

What is automated music mastering software and how can it best help you to save time mastering your songs for online release or producing better music by Dean Barrett

ļ»æAutomatic mastering tools are just that, Tools,  they are designed to help assist the artist to analyze problems with a track and generate preview versions using a range of different presets depending on the application or other reference materials to allow the producer to hear the work under different mastering presets sometimes this can work and works well for quick and efficient time saving methods to get a draft out to the publisher or to DJ’s to use live once you have the sound your after but will it replace a professional music engineer no, but It can point you in the right direction and especially useful if you are producing a lot of music and need quick masters before sending off to a production library.

Should You Use Automated Mastering Software?

Automated mastering software have a place a s music producers toolkit
it can assist the producer in testing different audio environments and reference points allowing the user to determine which quality best suit a mix, this can effectively save time allowing you the producer to focus on getting more ideas into your song & doing basic EQ & Monitoring your levels and then moving the final mix down mastering to Automated Solutions.

If your work includes lots of production music releases where you are sending a large compilation away to a production library publisher and you are reasonably good at mastering your sounds already then you may find automatic mastering tools helpful especially if you have a good reference of your own to use for the whole album or style of music you are after.

So in short it could serve as a valuable tool to someone that produces a very large amount of music. but if you are releasing say your first album and your going to be putting this out on mainstream media and other websites where you want people to buy your album then I would give it a look but I would also look at getting a professional engineer to take a look at your work and assist you if you can afford this because the quality and attention to detail that an engineer would provide will get your product sounding its best.

Do Automatic Mastering Tools Replace A Sound Engineer

No, because a professional sound engineer brings experience and a keen ear to evaluate your music and provide input for your music

Known Automatic Mastering Programs

As a music producer I know a few that I have utilized in some of my productions such as Landr and AAMS.
I have mostly used AAMS recently due to the configuration options and presets you can go through for reference materials to get a good idea of hour my mix sounds under different reference tracks.

Overall Experience Using Automatic Mastering Software?

Using AAMS has worked best for me and I have found good results while using it its less of a one click tool and more of a bunch of options hear the result go back to my mix and make tweaks and re-master to hear the difference generally I do not focus too heavily on the mastering phase until my song is composed.

I don’t mind having automated mastering applications as long as I have some kind of control over the application and during my trial of AAMS it gave me the kind of control I was seeking.

Results

While using automated mastering tools to help with my recent projects I have found it to produce a better equalized track that plays better on multiple devices rather than just battling with my home studio setup or expensive headphones take a listen to my track Beyond The Stars Which was mastered using the AAMS tool for getting a quick master done for soundcloud. I was pretty impressed with the result and I am yet to try other settings.

Price

Paying for a software tool to master my songs for me is quite handy but I do like the affordability of getting quick masters done that are appropriate I am more of a DIY producer so I mostly do my own mastering and learn on the job as I work with different musical styles.
A license to use AAMS I believe is around $65 Euros or 105.00 Australian Approximately and that’s a pretty affordable price to pay for what it does.

Conclusion

Consider Automated Mastering tools for large batch mastering options, consider a professional mastering engineer for official album releases for download and consumer release.

What do you think of automated mastering tools and how has it helped your music career?

Introducing Micheal Barrett

Who is Micheal Barrett? many wonder who the hidden talent behind
DJ Mar N Dean is and why has he not revealed himself, read on to discover!

Micheal Barrett at the beach

Artist Interview

Q: What music inspires you?
A: My favorite musical style is chill-out, a Style of Jake Chudnow’s Turquoise is very interesting style to me and I discovered this gem while I was watching Vsauce, I love Vsauce.


Q: Are you working on any albums?
A: Yes I have just completed my albumDefinitywhich has been submitted to a publisher for release soon!

Two of my songs ‘Phased‘ and
Singularity‘ which have also been featured on my new album and available on my SoundCloud to listen to, is inspired fromTurquoise” and “Olive” both amazing works made by “Jake Chudnow“,


Q: What are your favorite plugins?
A: Oh this is a tricky question, I have so many that I use, so I’ll just list the top 5 plugin’s that I use and find a use in 90% of my music, first up is “Omnisphere by Spectrasonics” it’s hands-down the best Vst instrument money can buy, absolutely stunning quality and endless ideas stemming from this top-notch software, the amount of pieces I have come up with alone is generally from this software.

Second, my runner up is “Serum  by Xfer Records“, it’s quality is second only to Omnisphere in my opinion, with one of the easiest user interfaces I have ever worked with, I have created some bizarre and amazing sounds due to it’s automation capabilities and quality sound, I made “Singularity” using Serum.

Third, another plugin from the same guy would have to be an effect plugin “LFOTool” this easily creates the ducking affects that I so regularly use in all my music, not to mention it’s also fully automatable and follows the same interface as Serum, this tool is just amazing for creating jaw dropping effects.

Fourth, much like the previous plugin, I use “Stutter Edit by Izotope“, this plugin does exactly what the name suggests and it does it well, there’s rarely been times where I have not used this plugin in one way or another, with a few exceptions and even then, creating a stutter field edit on an ambient track is just a dream and easy to do with this plugin.

Fifth would have to be “Scaler by Plugin Boutique” I call this the Idea generator, you play some stuff on the keyboard and it tells you what key you are in and you can build all chords based off the chord you pick, if you know music theory then this probably won’t help you much.

At the time when I first started getting into composing my own stuff, I needed something to guide me and teach me music theory and still enjoy creating music and not to mention I easily get the ideas flowing, overall this plugin has saved me a lot of times from writers block or the 8 measure trap that you get into on DAW’s. It’s because of this plugin that overtime I have learnt so much more about music production and I will continue to study music theory outside of my DAW.

Honorable mention goes to “East West Studio’s Play VSTi” This plugin is generally a subscription service to access all of their instruments and it allows me to let out my inner soundtracks and classical styles that I have had buried deep inside me, while Omnisphere can do a lot of the work, EW Play just has all the authentic real instrument sounds that inspires me to create, the reason this is not top of my list is because I only use it on special occasions where I just need the ‘real’ stuff to inspire me.

Q: What do you primarily use to create your music?
A: I like to use Ableton Live 10 Suite for all my music production needs, it provides the most flexibility, I enjoy the ease of use and how easy it is tojust write an idea down and flow with it, such a fun program and has inspired me more times than any other DAW I have used in the past.

Q: With your first album completed, what new styles and music are you working on for your next big project in 2019?
A: This year is gonna be packed full of surprises and new content, I am looking forward to getting my foot in the door on some chill out house or even ‘feel good’ soundtracks like “Voyage“, which is also featured on my album!
I cant wait for you to check it out, it’s an exciting new year and I am looking forward to releasing more quality tracks.

Q: Would you like to leave a message for our readers?
A: Yes, hi everyone! Check out my Sounds and leave a like and comment, I really do appreciate all the support and maybe pop by my YouTube channel and subscribe for more content, it’ll help me be more creative and hopefully deliver more quality content for you!

Thanks Micheal Barrett for your valuable time, we look forward to your next album and whatever else you have in store for us.

Biography

Micheal Barrett is a music Producer/Composer and Re-mixer that has been apart of the DJ Mar N Dean team for about 14-15 years, he has also been the resident mastering engineer who handles our music before submission.


Micheal is well known for remixing songs such as:

Micheal Barrett has a roster of original songs such as “Good Times” which is quite popular, you will soon discover what sort of talent Micheal offers with his musical creations as we move on to his interview.

After four years of production Micheal Barrett finally completes his first album ‘Definity’ which will be released through US publisher Freeplaymusic.com

It’s been an exciting journey seeing the album being compiled, mastered and all the careful choices leading up to the release, you can see the passion Micheal Barrett puts into his compositions.

What music peaks your interest these days? leave a comment below and let us know what sort of music you are into!

Production Tools

Micheal Barrett has a wide range of VSTi instruments, software and midi keyboards to tackle most of his work, he generally uses Ableton Live 10 Suite as his go to DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).

Micheal's Studio Room Setup

Collaboration Projects

Micheal has worked with our team DJ Mar N Dean for many releases and he has also been working on a new project collaboration with his brother under the artist name Micheal N Dean,
Where they collaborate on a variety of new releases and remix each others tracks for EP’s and more.

Q: What do you do outside of music production Micheal?
A: When I am not creating music, I go out and enjoy paddle-boarding and gym training as it gives me peace of mind to focus on the next big project, I spend a lot of my time learning to play musical pieces on my piano and plan to improve my overall understanding of music by playing it more.

Micheal Barrett, Paddle-boarding at the beach!

Q: how does paddle-boarding make you feel?
A: Most of the time that I spend paddle-boarding, I am apart of nature and I feel in the zone when I get into it, I lay down and think hard about where I want to be in the next couple of years, this not only calms me, it helps me focus and I get to explore new ideas in ways I have never dreamed of before, it also allows me to think about the stuff that I have spent a lot of time learning, it gives me the ability to reflect on my choices and listen to my thoughts, overall it’s my way of getting out and relaxing and I get a decent workout, it’s a win-win that’s why I love it.

New Website Launch

Featured Songs

Dear Readers,
We are exited to announce the new djmarndean.net website which will serve as the new information hub for DJ Mar N Dean music and blog posts. lets take a look at some of the new things that will be up on our website and how we will be producing content for our readers and listeners.

djmarndean.net aims to provide new music releases from the team and act as a self publishing official website for all DJ Mar N Dean related music, blog posts Q & A and feature music from the team we wanted to get more work out to the readers as hassle free as possible and djmarndean.net allows us to do just that.

  • Content Delivery
    • Music & Information
      We want to provide a direct and authentic music listening experience to our listeners by informing the fans of new releases and in progress work allowing folks a chance to get a chance to listen to our work or support the music they enjoy listening to, this allows us to get to know our listeners and build music compilations and playlists that appeal to our listeners.
    • Quality Articles, Q & A Posts
      Our music production team have taken a different approach to learning music, mastering music and overall being creative in the DIY and Self Taught realm of music production, how we produce music and or how we learn goes against the grain of traditional learning methods while it may have its strengths and drawbacks we are working to produce quality blog posts that cover our experience in the industry and keeping a cool head even when times are tough.
    • Announcements & Releases
      Creating music is a fun and enjoyable process so we want to be able to centralize our creative process and write announcements publishing the latest releases new member introductions and biography where our composers will give us an interview to learn more about their creative process and what music inspired them to create the music they make today.
    • Transparency
      Our Website is about selling music that we produce and sharing a wealth of knowledge that we have acquired over the years, however we do not claim to be experts but we do want to share information about the music creation process and how we as producers have grown to who we are today.
Beach In Scarness QLD, Australia

A New Beginning

2019 Starts with a fresh new site and a new focus combining both music and blogging to reach a wider audience and produce quality content answering various questions and providing a great resource for producers getting started.

We may also be reviewing products and services and providing detailed content on why we use a product and how it has helped our music production workflow.