Whether you are a church looking to upgrade your tape system, or a musician looking for recording gear, there are some notable points to make regarding recording equipment. There are some misconceptions about recording that I feel the need to clear up, particularly pertaining to gear and software.
Lets first engage in the long standing debate about recording software. Let me first start out with this statement: there is no right or wrong way to do things, every situation is going to have unique needs and applications. That being said, there are 3 main categories that most people fall into.
Category 1- I call these people the beginners to digital audio. If you have never been acquainted with working in a digital audio workstation (DAW) I would recommend getting a copy of Audacity and start editing some audio. Audacity is free, open source, and a great way to get your feet wet. I use audacity constantly when I need to edit audio files quickly, there is no simpler tool. Many Macs come with Garage Band, but Garage Band comes pre loaded with all these presets and often times when you are trying to do something simple, it takes a complex work around. Garage Band is great the starting off musicians who need to record something quick on the fly, but for a real introduction into DAW’s I would lean towards Audacity
Category 2 – These people are musicians who are starting to record. There are tons of cheap audio interfaces out there that will all work with practically every DAW. We will talk more about gear later, but its generally a good thing to double check and make sure that your interface will work with your software. Some interfaces even come with a discounted version of software, such as ProTools. Any Avid interface will work with just about any recording software. This is a new feature, before Digidesign fizzled out they made their hardware proprietary to their software, you couldn’t use the 002 (or any other interface) with other software other than ProTools. The one advantage proprietary software brought to the table was that ProTools was designed very simply. The ease of use of ProTools is now one of its primary selling factors. ProTools had become the industry standard for a while, but as gear and software became more widely available prices began to rise. To do anything besides basic recording, mixing, and editing ProTools requires an extensive plug-in library that will cost a near fortune. This makes ProTools scalable, but at a very high price.
Category 3 -These are either audio professionals or professional musicians (professional = you’ve been paid for a few gigs). Those who are well seasoned in the recording industry will almost always lean toward Logic. What costs a fortune in plug-ins for ProTools comes stock with Logic. Logic is extremely powerful, but not for the beginners. Logic has a bit of a hefty price tag at $500 just for the software. Oh, and you need a mac. Get a mac anyway. Everyone should have one, especially if you are in the music/recording industry. Back to the topic at hand -$500 and you still need to get an interface.
There is other recording software out there, but these are the best for the specific categories mentioned.