Everything Steve says is accurate, and a pretty succinct list.
Personally, I just switched to using Audacity as my “DAW” for most things, including tracking, mixing, and effects. So it can be done, especially if you’re dealing entirely with recorded sounds instead of plugin-generated sounds. I still use FL Studio to run plugins and export them as wavs to be edited and tracked in Audacity.
This right here is one of the main reasons I made the switch. I hate hate hate that you can’t see what’s REALLY happening to your sounds and samples in most DAWs (if people know of exceptions, please, let me know – I probably will start using some DAW again at some point).
This is the other major reason. I really got sick of just using sounds “out of the box.” Sure, you can “effect” things with plugin effects and stuff, but you can’t REALLY change the sound itself. It’s annoying. It is what it is, and you can only change it by fiddling with knobs, applying effects, setting up signal chains etc. The underlying sound itself is never really changed, just certain, limited things about how it comes across.
The last main reason, and probably the biggest one, is that I wanted to have the freedom NOT to quantize everything. In a free editing environment, I can create beats and sounds that have minor rhythmic variations that you just can’t do in a DAW (as far as I’m aware). Sure, some platforms allow you to “humanize” rhythms by adding little deviations from the target beat, and add some dynamic nuance, but I do not find them convincing, and you’re still pretty limited in what you can do. And even if they do sound “good,” you’re still kinda locked in to that way. I like being totally free, in a free editing environment like Audacity. Your imagination is the main limitation.
I’m curious about this, Steve. I can’t use it, because I’m on Windows, but I’m curious why you use Ardour. What does it have over the other “major” DAWs (Ableton, Logic, Pro Tools, Reason etc) don’t have?
And what is your opinion on the best DAW for Windows, given what I said above? Free or not free (although free is better, if it’s a close call )