Create tracks with audio and Midi instruments
Starting out making music on a computer can quickly become and expensive hobby with many of the professional tools worth several hundred pounds. They are undoubtedly very powerful but MuLab is a much better choice for beginners.
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The basic version of MuLab doesn't cost a penny to download and use. It can have up to four tracks in a composition and comes with some instruments to use with Midi tracks.
There's no installation as the download is simply a compressed folder. Extract the files and run MuLab to get started.
There are several templates and demos supplied with MuLab that give a good idea how it works. There is also a well written manual. Sadly this isn't included with MuLab but it can be downloaded as a compressed folder from here.
The layout is fairly standard with tracks arranged horizontally with their title on the left-hand side. What is less usual is that for Midi instruments, the choice of instrument is made with the boxes along the bottom of the screen. This feels a little more complicated at first but is a good way of ensuring consistency if you want to use the same instrument in more than one track.
Recording is simple for both audio and Midi. Select the track, click on the appropriate button for audio or Midi and then click on the record button.
There is an onscreen keyboard for controlling the Midi instruments. As the mouse isn't a viable option for playing music it takes over the Function keys. A proper Midi keyboard is still preferable but this is as good as it will get without one.
If your MIDI keyboard has extra controllers such as the volume dial on the Keystation Mini 32, it can be assigned to a parameter in the instrument. Right-click on the title of the instrument at the bottom of the window and then left-click on Map MIDI Controller. Turn the controller that you want to map and it should automatically appear in the source menu option. Make sure that the target module is set to the correct instrument and then click on Parameter. This will only offer gain, stereo panning, stereo width and mute for the controller. For more instrument specific controls, click on the Target Module drop down menu and expand the option for the instrument.
We were very impressed with the range and quality of the Midi instruments given that there is no cost and the download is only 17MB.
This download is for 32-bit Windows. There are separate versions for 64-bit windows and mac on the MuLab download page here. MuLab XT costs €25, can have up to eight tracks in a composition and can use more VST plugins at a time. MuLab UL costs €75, can have an unlimited number of tracks and VST plugins in a composition and use ReWire Devices.
The limits are what might be described as 'soft'. Rather than display an error message and refuse to do any more when too many tracks are added, MuLab simply plays the sound of wave at regular intervals. It means you wouldn't want to share the finished track but it does let you see what the extra features are like without having to pay for them first.
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A good Digital Audio Workstation that comes with some very respectable instruments and the potential to grow with your needs
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