Audacity is a free piece of software that allows you to record, and edit audio on a Mac or a PC. I used this when I was first starting out, and I know plenty of budding audiophiles that started with it as well. The interface is a little clunky, but it’s still a great place to start. The Mac installation is a little tricky, but I will have a tutorial up shortly.
Garageband is a free piece of software — exclusive to the Mac that also allows you to record, and edit audio. It’s much more powerful than Audacity in my opinion, and also has a little bit of a learning curve. However, the benefits are awesome! The software comes with a lot of free audio files, and has some really outstanding templates to help you get started.
Logic Pro X is basically GarageBand on steroids. You have much more powerful tools, and can accomplish even more. Essentially, it takes Garageband’s tools and beefs them up with more control, and better plugins. However, with more control comes a higher learning curve. Just keep that in mind. One of my close friends took a liking to Logic specifically for writing music. The block style tracks worked well for him.
Pro Tools 11 is a work horse. Those familiar with any version of Pro Tools know how powerful this software really is. There’s a reason it’s the industry standard for audio editing. Seriously, pull up a Pixar behind the scenes video such as the one for Monster’s University and look at the computer screen: they’re using Pro Tools! Now I’m going to be very upfront with this. Pro Tools has a huge learning curve. If you buy it, be ready to do some learning. I managed to get it down in a year, and don’t worry: I’ll have a class up for the basics soon.
Mainstage 3 is one of the coolest pieces of software I’ve embraced. Basically, it gives you all of the plugins and processing power of Logic Pro X, but in a live application, and for $29.99. It’s freakin’ nuts! You get an all in one processing rack for 30 bucks that runs through your computer, plus you can control it all with midi. If this sounds like Japanese right now, don’t worry. I have articles and tutorials to get you up to speed.
The Sound Effects Bible by Ric Viers is an awesome resource for getting your imagination flowing. He outlines how to effectively put together a sound effects library as well as a guide on how a number of Hollywood SFX were actually created. It gets you thinking, and excited to go out for some field recording. I definitely recommend it to anyone looking to get into foley. Plus, the eBook is super affordable.
Sound Systems: Design and Optimization by Bob McCarthy is denser than you can imagine. It’s not an easy read, but the amount of insightful information is just staggering. If you can stomach the engineer driven text then this book is truly amazing. I’m not kidding when I say that it’s a dry read. If you can’t handle a nuts and bolts dry read, then this won’t be worth the purchase. If you’ve got an engineer’s mind, then it’s perfect, and you’ll be the smartest cat on the block.
Modern Recording Techniques by David Miles Huber and Robert E. Runstein is priceless. If there was any one book that I would recommend on audio, it’s this one. The book covers everything from mic types, to placement, to plugins, to studio design. It’s completely comprehensive, and actually a pretty easy read. These two gents do an outstanding job at making the information accessible, and easy to understand with plenty of diagrams, and images to help you understand what the concepts they’re explaining. If you were ever going to get yourself a book — as a musician or otherwise — then this is the easy choice. I’ve read it front to back twice, and use it for reference all the time. Plus, they were nice enough to make it into an eBook, so I didn’t have to carry around a textbook. — You’ll come to find that I love eBooks over traditional print. Being able to use a search bar in a text book… that’s where’s it’s at.