I have used multiple DAWs at various times and for various reasons. I'll go through each of them one by one and explain what I use them for and why, as well as their pros and cons, along with examples of things I made while using each DAW. By the way most of these DAWs are also FREE! The DAWs that I purchased will be noted as such.
First I would like to point out that I am a person who likes to work in layers. Which is one of the many wise concepts my Dad has taught me. As a person who works in layers, (I.E. when audio drama editing I do all the editing of all the dialogue as the first layer, then I add sound effects later all at once as a second layer, and Foley and musical scores are added as the third and fourth layers) I find that some DAWs work better for different layers and processes. So first, let's go through the history of DAWs I have used, and whether or not I still use them, and what layers I use them for.
The first recording device I ever used was a tape recorder. It was great fun to use! The concepts I learned with it eventually moved me from tape to digital through Windows Sound Recorder. There was even a time where I used the Windows ME version of Windows Movie Maker as my main audio recorder! Eventually I, like many others at the time, jumped on the Audacity band wagon when it first rose in popularity. A popularity that it still retains. Let's talk about it first!
AUDACITY - Audacity has gained huge popularity due to it's open-source and free nature, and it's common use in educational facilities. I've used a number of early versions that were buggy, as well as current ones that are smoother than some paid softwares. Overall I think a lot of my audio editing education was derived from playing with Audacity, but I would definitely say my needs have moved beyond it.
The greatest pros of Audacity are it's free and open source (ability for anyone to code changes to it) and cross-platform abilities. Basically anyone on any computer or operating system (virtually any version of Windows, Linux or Mac can run it).
The main cons however are a lack of ability to record simultaneous inputs, occasional bugs, and most importantly it's destructive editing nature. When you apply an effect in Audacity you can see the waveform change, and it's a permanent change, only removable by undoing, which sometimes can do more harm than good if you have made positive changes after adding the effect. To some this may not sound like a big deal, and if it isn't, then by all means use Audacity! However I think there are better free alternatives if you want to get into advanced editing (which I will mention later on in another post). The major strength of "destructive" editing is that you can see the waveform change, most non-destructive editors won't show an updated waveform when you apply effects. Which means you really have to rely on your ears!
What I do still use Audacity For
I do open Audacity from time to time, and end up using it for mastering. That's right! The normalization and leveler effects just seem to work much better in Audacity than in anything else. It really helps to get a nice and even final track of your finished mix. As I get better at other DAWs, I do find myself using this function less. But if you want to remove vocals for karaoke purposes or make really quick cuts without messing with a whole lot of menus, Audacity is a go to tool! Also, it does have the "LAME Mp3 Encoder" (as it's called) that you can download for it, which is nice for converting Mp3s. However the quality of the MP3 conversion is very low, so for another free alternative, I suggest using iTunes to convert to Mp3 if needed. NCH's Switch Audio Converter is another option, but needs to be purchased for commercial use.
Something I made in Audacity
Here is a short sample of something I did in Audacity a few years ago. The music was made in a different DAW (which I don't recall the name of at the moment and don't truly recommend) and the vocals were recorded in another DAW (which I also can't recall right now). The editing of the music was done in Audacity however. If you're curious what this is track is all about, go ahead and ask me. It's from a EP I made a while ago and never released. If enough people ask me nicely maybe I will post up some of the more finished songs :P
What about you?
What DAW do you use and why? Have you ever used Audacity? Do you still use it? What do you like or dislike about it? Let's discuss it in the comments below! :)
God bless and talk to you soon everybody!
PS: If you want to get another view point about DAWs, check out Tobin Fox's video about DAWs!