Before I get started check out Toxic Coma(VAC side project) all done on renoise tracker.
Overview: What makes a tracker so cool is that it is old school and written to the hardware in old school code. The code is more efficient than today’s modern sequencers and can do more without sacrificing audio engine quality. This DAW looks, feels, and operates cryptically. The interface is not at all like other mainstream sequencer applications. It always seems to be the new users who are used to cubase & logic styles of sequencing. This is not for the faint of heart. This style of sequencer started in the 80s on the Atari st and Amiga computers. I used to use these on the Amiga and Atari back when we made music for our joke band Toxic Coma. I am very proficient in using this interface. I can even use the hexadecimal code commands to pull off live sample manipulations. I don’t think any music application is easy to use, but honestly this one is particularly difficult at first but don’t be put off as this is one of the powerful audio manipulators on the market and its dirt cheap, 59 bucks or something. There are Renoise tutorials on youtube, so if you plan to use this, I recommend searching on YouTube. What you have to understand about Renoise, first and foremost, is that it is a SAMPLER. It plays samples in its native mode. Think Sampler Sequencer. It started out as an audio sample sequencer, unlike cubase and logic that started out as midi sequencers then added in all the audio later. I think this is why the sound quality is so much better. It was programmed that way from the ground up.
Below: Toxic Coma Using Renoise.
The interface is weird. It looks like code from an 8-bit computer. There are plenty of buttons and menus. The selection interface is pretty easy to navigate. Once you get used to it, it’s actually better than cubase for setting things up. Renoise has really beefed up the tracker, modernizing it in many ways, except the main notation interface is columns of letters and numbers and the whole screen scrolls. It defaults to a 16th note grid. Its a pattern sequencer. The default sequencer is 0 through 63, so 64 notes in each pattern per channel(you can change the patter lengths as well). You can add a ton of channels if you need them. Each column is a channel. It is really easy to step edit notes. It can record you live and in loop mode. The cool thing is that this is made for the computer. This makes the main qwerty keyboard your instrument. You can play a couple of octaves on the keyboard by default. This rocks if you have no real gear to use. This is how we managed Toxic Coma all those years at everyone’s house. All you need is a computer. I honestly love this interface. I am so used to it, been using it since 1989. So I understand it completely. Through the ages they have modernized this through the addition of effects, midi, high midi resolution, and vst plugins for instruments and effects. I love how the music is scrolling down the screen versus left to right which is typical of other sequencers. The big patterns by default force me to be more creative and stay out of looping 4×4 bars like you end up doing in cubase. So when you record audio into it, you have to edit it with the sample editor, assign it to an instrument slot, and then, trigger it with a note. You cannot lay audio down like a virtual tape recorder as you would in Cubase. I prefer everything being samples and not tape like chunks of audio, it makes me feel like sequencing and cutting up and looping anything how ever I want to. This style makes me edit and tweak everything way more than I ever do in cubase. In a way, I like how everything is accessible with out too much digging, intelligently placed tabs, the upper screen and lower screen contain important track and song functione. I love the track scopes, so cool, I love how the main pattern editor and sequencer is in the middle, and on the left is the pattern seq, on the left is all the cut, copy, past tools, set up for copying a whole pattern, track in pattern, track in song, everything you need to navigate and edit. You can highlight notes and programming data in a track and cntrl c and v them to copy etc. Once you figure this out, it becomes a breeze. I prefer this sequencer setup in all honesty.
The default effects actually work well. I love the delays and the compressors. They work ok, better than Cubase fx. I don’t care for the reverbs much. The chorus is ok. The flange is usable. The phaser is pretty damn good. I like the eqs as well. Everything is pretty usable. The cool fx come from being able to manipulate the samples with the numbers on the grid next to the note value. You can do amazingly crazy, high resolution pitch bends(256 resolution, twice that of logic and cubase). Think plague of babies on that Toxic Coma song. You can restart the sample position point with the code as well. Think Attack of the Wheenies by Toxic Coma. This is something you cannot do with modern DAWS. You can do automation as well.
Below: Fast Twitch tweaking with midi interface, Bad ass.
Supports Rewire, supports VSTi, and VST fx, has plug in compensation, high resolution timing thats tight, multi core/processor support, tons of keyboard shortcuts, a sampler and sample editor, Low Latency Sound Engine, instrument editor where you can select a slot and easily make a drum kit, split up the keyboard and put different samples on different keys, and supports many sample file formats. It also renders to wav file. The way it handles VST instruments is great, only puts a load on the processor when it is playing and using the synth. It is amazing. This has the best mixing engine I have ever used. The sound quality is amazing. I can get things so loud with this, and I never need mastering for loudness. You can stack up sample tracks. This is amazing, even when you over drive the mix bus. It gets mean and warm, not cold and crunchy like good old Cubase does. The core of this code was written in Assembler, and is efficient, using a simple graphic and making audio the priority. It sounds better than any DAW on the market. I’m not joking around. This thing renders audio way better than any other daw on the market. Way better sound quality. The sequencer is pattern based. You can cut, copy, and paste to and from any pattern. On the left hand side of the screen is where you find the controls to set the play order of the patterns. You can copy a pattern to a new one, etc. You can use higher resolution than 16th notes. I still don’t know how to though. When exporting your mix to a wav, this is called rendering. Always be sure to select the high setting, this is how it gets the best sound quality. It spits out .WAV files. You can make music so HOT with this, by stacking tracks, and using tons of compressors and limiters. The last two Toxic Coma LPS were -4 rms, that is super fucking hot. MEGA LOUD!!!!! It manages this and keeps it warm and aggressive, not cold thin and sterile like cubase does when you try to make things really hot. I all most forgot to mention that this thing pitches samples better than any hardware sampler, any software sampler on the market. Meaning, taking one sound and playing it up and down a keyboard, it is great with super low aliasing. AMAZING!
Ease of Use: 7.5
The learning curve is high, like any DAW. This one takes some getting used to. It is very unique. To us old school tracker users, this is not a problem. To the newbies who are used to Cubase and other similar programs, yes, this will be hard for you to grasp at first. I highly recommend the Renoise tutorials on youtube.
Below: Even others can make Toxic Coma like shit with Renoise :).
For me it is the best sounding computer application. It makes vsti instruments actually sound decent, unlike logic and cubase. The sound quality is amazing. This thing sums amazingly well and handles hot signals very well. It is easy to use and fast once you learn how to use it. I have made many lps with this software, and recently made Mental Twitch, which was on the last VAC Single. I am going to use Renoise a lot on the new VAC LP and make a more electronic record with it. I don’t think I will use Cubase or Logic ever again, I hope. Sick of the bad sound quality on those other DAWS. What really sucks is that I don’t write music as much as I should. Maybe with powerful laptop and Renoise with a lot of plugins, I will actually get things done. Portable as hell, I don’t need big midi keyboards. I can use the computer keyboard quite well because of how much better they mapped it for playing music. BUY THIS, LEARN IT, GET THE BEST SOUND QUALITY FROM A PC OR MAC! IT ONLY COSTS 58 EUROS!!!!!! Cheap! You can get professional results with this. MAC, PC, AND LINUX!!!!!
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