I've spent my life making music on my keyboard, but now I really want to start producing my music properly on the computer, to a professional standard.
At first I thought DAWs were the way to go, but the more I researched DAWs the less I liked them. A few of the things which put me off DAWs are:
• I like to have precise control over the properties of every note
• I want all my notes to be precisely on the beat, every time, unless I say otherwise
• I like small, simple programs and hate the huge bloated size of most DAWs
• I like a program that can accesses samples directly, rather than needing a VST for everything
• I generally prefer step sequencing (inputting tunes note-by-note)
So now I'm leaning more towards the idea of using a good old tracker (I used them a lot in the 90s) and Renoise was highly recommended. It looks like a great program, totally my kind of thing.
I just have a few questions/concerns, if anyone would please be kind enough to answer…
While I generally prefer step sequencing, there are some more expressive parts (eg piano parts) which I sometimes like to "perform" on the keyboard. If I hook up my MIDI keyboard controller to Renoise, will it record the velocity I hit the keys?
2. Non-rigid timing
I'll want most of my instruments to be "rigidly" on the beat (eg drums, bass). But what if I want to add a more "flowing" piano piece on top of the rigid drums? Then I'll want the timing to be recorded accurately, rather than being "quantised" into distinct beats. Can Renoise do this - adding the exact delay to each note?
3. Sound fonts
This is a big one for me… I remember in the old days of trackers every instrument was just one sample. That probably still works fine for dance music. But for me, with orchestral music, that is simply not viable. I need to use sample "packs" or "fonts" such as SFZ or NKI, so that every key on the keyboard is mapped to a different sample, with variations for velocity and "round robin" variations. Can Renoise use these kind of sample packs?
4. Organising a library of instruments
One thing I really want to do is have all my instruments accessible as a single library, all neatly organized into categories (eg all my violins together in one "folder", all my pianos together in one place etc). This is something you can't do with DAWs because all the instruments have to be brought in through multiple VSTs, each with their own interface, which means you can't pool them all together into one neat library. Will Renoise allow me to access all my samples as a single library?
5. Previewing instruments
Another big problem I have with DAWs is that every instrument has to be "loaded" before you can hear it, so you can't just "preview" samples. For example, say you're looking for just the right piano sound, there's no way to simply go through all your pianos and hear what they all sound like on the keyboard (like you can with a physical keyboard). Can Renoise let you preview all your instruments without having to load them? Ideally just by tapping a key to cycle through each one?
EQ/mastering is very important to me, and something which DAWs actually do well, but it's not something I associate with trackers. Can Renoise let you adjust the EQ of each track while the song is playing? Again, this is important to me.
7. MIDI compatibility
How "compatible" are the files? If one day Renoise was discontinued, would my music be unplayable? Can music data be taken into Cubase? One thing I'm planning to do is this: I have a bunch of stems (song parts) I recorded from my keyboard years ago and at some point I would like to use a program like Melodyne to convert these audio files into MIDI so I can change the samples and mix them properly into a song.
Really hoping Renoise can be skinned? I do like having a black background (especially for night viewing), but I don't like everything so stark 'black and white' including all the menus. I prefer a more friendly look.
Sorry to ask so many questions!