What midi composing software do you guys use (pc based), cakewalk etc?

Hi -

I’m finally getting back into composition using midi with my roland d50 and sound machines/rack effect (dsp128) and wanted to ask, what’s the best midi pc-based composing software out there that you all use for production?

I’ve got acid which is fine for loops, but I need a regular intermediate+ level 16+ track midi sequencing software, like what I had decades ago but better I hope, which moving notes across a 16+ staff music page with programmability, so I can import/modify midi tracks, then playback out to my midi synth (D-50) keys and hardware.

any favorites? thanks…

(I havent used a computer midi sequencer since the 90s, so I’m decades out of touch on what’s best…) so far i think cakewalk is best known… any review sites/personal experience?

I’d like to do both realtime and corrected input from my synth keyboard directly to the computer, eg play into it… i used to use my alesis hr 16 and mt drums/hardware sequencer when I used to play at nightclubs live, but I’m sure the pc software is a lot better now than it used to be, so want to find out what’s best… thanks

Cakewalk stank the place up with a long line of mediocre products until about Sonar Producer 6.

Right now it’s on Sonar X1 - which is the best edition of a Cakewalk product perhaps ever, and for your needs, you can probably get the Studio edition. If it turns out you want more, they make it easy to upgrade to the Producer Edition.


Cakewalk used to be a bit of a joke in the industry, but, no more. Best thing about X1 in my opinion is the stability, particularly in 64-bit. It took other sequencers a long time to catch up with Sonar in this respect. I’m not saying other sequencers are unstable, just that Sonar has a track record. It helps that they are PC-exclusive and have a close partnership with Microsoft. Though don’t read too much into that because (IMO) Logic has been getting progressively worse since it went Apple Mac exclusive!

There are a whole load of other alternatives for PC , of which I will recommend Cubase, and Fruity Loops. Again, for your needs I don’t think you need to buy the fully featured versions of the software and if you do, you can just upgrade later.

A review page, but Google search is your friend here - http://emusician.com/daw/

I’m sure others will have their thoughts. Hope this was helpful.

There are certainly plenty of comparable options out there most of which have trials/demos. I reccommend you try as many as time allows and roll with the one that feels most comfortable to you workflow wise in the end.

It’s really tough to switch from one DAW to another once you have a workflow ingrained in your veins and dozens of projects under your belt IMO so I say take advantage of not having this “handicap” and try as many as you can.

But to answer the OP, I use Ableton Live :slight_smile:

I also use Ableton Live, and I use the light version, which can do a lot for the relatively inexpensive price of around $100.00 USD. I find that it is very stable and you can definitely find a nice 30-day trial version of light, live 8, or suite 8 by going to this link: http://www.ableton.com/downloads

I hope you find one that works best for you.

hey thanks guys, I’ll try both the ableton and cakewalk studio DAWs, good to know. I miss playing my keyboards…the new software will help

You could also try Reaper, which offers a load of features at a reasonable price. Not quite as known though.

+1 for Reaper. Though I’ve never used it personally, I’ve known some game composers who used it with great success, and for the price, it seems a no-brainer.


I’m on a Mac now (using Logic Pro), but when I worked on PC, I used Sonar without a ton of issues. And, I’m sure that product has matured and gotten even better in the 5 years since I last touched it.


In september 2011 Propellerhead’s REASON 6 will be released! If I understood it right, the sequencer called RECORD is integrated in the new REASON version! So you have a real complete DAW which will rock! Maybe his could be also a great solution for you :slight_smile:

I use Steinberg Cubase 5 and Image-Line FL Studio 9 :smiley:

Hi, graphic4444.

Any software can perform your tasks. I work with many programs, but I recommend Sonar or Cubase. Because this product is very well-known manufacturers. For Cub and Sonar there are many additional plug-ins produced by third parties.

Another +1 for Reaper - excellent price and a newer code base than some of the more established products.

I normally use Cubase 6, just because I’ve been using Cubase for a long time and as ZtarrZound said, it’s hard to switch to another DAW after getting used to the workflow of your current one. However, Cubase full version is $500 vs. I think $40 for Reaper.

jhunger said

Another +1 for Reaper - excellent price and a newer code base than some of the more established products.

I normally use Cubase 6, just because I’ve been using Cubase for a long time and as ZtarrZound said, it’s hard to switch to another DAW after getting used to the workflow of your current one. However, Cubase full version is $500 vs. I think $40 for Reaper.

Yeah, when I moved from FL Studio to Cubase… oh boy… that was not a pretty sight haha.

It’s a real shame Garageband is Mac-only…


good tips, thanks everyone… I’ll start with trial versions of all those, to check out which works best… one thing I remember from decades ago, a tip, is that when I did a lot of composing mostly on the pc with midi, my creativity suffered… seems like standing up in front of the keyboards and playing uninihibited, even just for simple things like noodling around the bass lines, made for much better tracks… import/record those to midi while practicing/experimenting on the keys, Then go back into the software to edit and find what works best, and arrange it w/verses/chorus/coda/intro … I’ll bet the software’s come a long ways in decades, looking forward to trying those all out - thanks!

Cubase and Protools are my favorites.Every DAW has his possitives and negatives.In your inspiration is the key for makiing music if so then you can work with almost all of them.Plug-ins are high recommented where new sounds and loops are very helpful for composing new tracks.

I too use Ableton (I have Suite 8), and I do enjoy it quite a bit. However, I think there probably are programs that are more efficient for composing…the MIDI interface for Ableton is a little hard to get used to, and sometimes requires a lot of patience. It’s really the only program I know how to use currently, but it certainly does all I need it to. I’d just do some free trials and then pick one and learn it inside and out.

Guitar Pro is the only real choice. :grin:

Wow Toivo,

I was just going to mention Guitar Pro. I use Guitar Pro 6 for writing in standard notation, and then export as midi to my DAW. For guitarist’s and musicians who understand and use tablature, it is a great tool for both creating midi files, and scoring. But, it’s not really a DAW. I do recommend it though, especially to guitarists and bassists, and those artists that compose in standard notation.