Waveform 11 Pro & Waveform Free, two new modern DAWs are now available and Tracktion gives us a look behind the scenes.
We live in a world that has many opportunities thanks to digital technologies. One of them is producing music from your own bedroom without a big studio infrastructure. Digital audio workstations (DAW) that run on PC, Mac, Linux or iOS make this possible. Even more so if they are affordable and easy to use. There are two DAWs that I recommend again and again to people who have few financial options. Reaper on one side, Tracktion on the other, now called Waveform.
Tracktion or now as Waveform has been around for some time and every year new features, instruments, etc. are added. At NAMM 2020, the developers presented Waveform 11 Pro, the latest version with many new features and improvements. The beginners were not forgotten here. They surprised music producers at NAMM with a new Waveform Free version that offers everything you need to start recording music apart of the new features & instruments only available in W11 Pro.
Waveform 11 Pro
Waveform 11 Pro is the company’s new flagship DAW with many new features and plugins. The Pro version adds an arranger track for creating, naming, dragging and dropping song parts with ease. It also comes with 5 new MIDI tools includes an advanced arpeggiator, chord companion, note repeater, MIDI monitor and MIDI filter. The developers added a new quick action bar to Waveform that lets users ad buttons for action they use frequently. This new function is fully customizable.
On top of that, the Pro version comes with 122 new plugins that have been added to the Artisan collection which is base on the widely popular Airwindows DSP codes. Each plugin is laser-focused on a particular task which can be used individually to add a specific edge to your sound, or in combination to build a rich multi-effect. There is a wide variety of tools in the collection – everything from really useful sound-shaping to some weird and wonderful surprises.
Waveform 11 Pro also comes with a number of free templates configure for a variety of use cases like singer/songwriter, band recording, podcast, EDM and more. New custom panels in the Edit window can now be individually undocked to put them on different monitors. This includes the arrange, mixer and MIDI editors. Other improvements have been made as well.
With Waveform Free, Tracktion is launching a new free DAW and sending Tracktion T7 Free to the pension. It has everything you need to produce music. Not everything. The Pro has a lot that the free version does not have onboard and therefore limited in some places. For example, it doesn’t offer a track editor, no arranger track, no quick action, and layout customizations are not allowed.
Even if a lot is missing, Waveform Free has many nice extras that you would not expect from a free DAW: 4OSC, an easy-to-use subtractive Synthesizer with a clean UI, micro drum sampler as well as their plugin sandboxing technology.
If you really need more features, there is a $69 in-app option available that allows you to unlock more functionalities. Another limitation is that users don’t get access to one-to-one or email support but thankfully there is a great and welcome community behind this DAW. Nonetheless, a fantastic piece of free software with which you can record music at no cost.
Interview With The Developer Of Tracktion Waveform 11
Tracktion Waveform 11 Pro is available now in three versions, each with a different amount of content: Basic ($119 USD), Standard ($259 USD) and Extreme ($649 USD). Special upgrade prices are available for existing users.
Waveform Free is available now as a free download. Both products are compatible with macOS (10.11+), Windows 7+ and Linux (tested on Ubuntu 18.04). Also, it runs on a Raspberry Pi 2, 3 and 4 with Raspbian 10 (Buster).
More information here: Tracktion
For the first time, the free version also works on Raspberry Pi! Could make for cool experiments with children or DIYers.
If I remember correctly, Waveform 8 was the first Pi-compatible version and it tend to lag behind in terms of updates. I was waiting for this one to become the free version, this year. At NAMM, we learnt that it’s actually the Waveform 11 codebase which is free, meaning that we don’t have to rely on W8 Free to install Tracktion’s full-featured DAW on multiple Pi boards.
To be honest, though, I still haven’t warmed up to the Tracktion workflow. Things could be much better if there were up-to-date, reliable, complete, well-crafted documentation. The manual hasn’t been updated since May and it could use a healthy dose of Instructional Design. Unlike some more mainstream DAWs, this isn’t one which is well-covered on learning platforms either. Sure, there might be enthusiastic users… which mostly works if you’re ready to enter into a new set of relationships with a group of strangers. No matter how welcoming the community is, many people find it very difficult to establish and maintain this kind of presence in a group unless they have incentives to do so. Even those of us who love joining new groups find it difficult to manage our time and efforts between many online groups (which are rarely communities, though they’re often called that).
My hope is that Tracktion starts by really improving its documentation. Then there can be group training for diverse people, including those who have Raspberry Pi boards (and do tend to create strong bonds). Eventually, there will be more of a presence on online learning platforms. At that point, the quirks and idiosyncrasies in Tracktion software might be less of a liability.