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[GUIDE] Mixing for Free (updated 3/27/03)

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Discontinued MIDI sequencer(s):

WinJammer Professional 5.06


By Dan McKee © 1992-1997 Officially defunct as of 2003. (Archive.org does not have the discontinuation page)

Size: 3 disks (v5.03 not including update) or 1.5MB (v5.06 with registry file required)

MIDISoft Studio 4

unknown URL

unknown author © 1991-1995.

Size: Less than 1MB zipped

I have these to be distributed, though only for those that are interested. If you're willing to upload these to your webspace, let me know and I'll send you the necessary files.

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if you wish to try trackers, don't forget to give Fast Tracker 2 a try. it's really simpler to use than ModPlugTracker, imo. on the other side, it's definitely less powerful.

oh, and the head post is wrong about MPT, btw. it does support a midi keyboard, while it's pretty hard to use it properly. I'm not a great fan of MPT. my personal advice is to write music in FT2 and then import it in MPT for the final editings and to add some effects like reverb and/or other plugins (yeah, MPT is very customizable).

k. trackers for the win.

(oh, feel free to PM me if you use a tracker too and you're interested in some kind of collaborations or cultural exchanges)

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  • 4 weeks later...

are you serious?? FT2 is a dos program(!)

Just trying to get it work properly is a whole adventure for most people. Use milkytracker instead. This is a windows clone of ft2 with additional features.

If you want other trackers, here are a few:






recommended: madtracker, renoise, psycle

The ones recommended have most active developers, have the most useful features and active/friendly communities.

Try united trackers more information on trackers.

p.s. it doesn't hurt to stay up-to-date on trackers :P

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the reason people keep posting NEW topics for newbie questions is because the sticky topics like this one are 8 pages long (which means a lot of reading through posts that wander from one subject to another) and start out 3 years ago with outdated and still incomplete information.

I noticed in this thread:


that someone asked about trackers VS sequencers. I don't even know what the difference is.

I think 3 years is a good amount of time for you guys to restart your sticky threads.

forget about what programs to use at the start. I want to know the terminology. if I'm seeing suggestions for trackers but it turns out I should be using sequencers, I could potentially be wasting days trying to figure out something that's a dead-end.

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Yeah, this needs to be updated.

If you want a midi composer...



Yeah, I know it looks pretty ghetto (written in 98!), but if all you want to do is midi, you can't go wrong. I pretty much learned everything I do about midi from this pup, and if you look there are tons of advanced features hidden in there.

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I've just spent several hours downloading, testing programs and writing a new version of the remixing for free guide.

This is version 0.6, updated 5:53pm from 0.5.

-Added some links, more program info, a couple more programs, fixed some spelling/grammer errors, added encoding information and links.

TODO list includes:

-Glossary, to explain JACK, ALSA, ASIO, VST, SOUNDFONTS, LADSPA etc.

-MacOS programs.

-More information about specific programs, including links to their webpages.

-Clean up formatting.

-Credits! This whole community contributed to this guide, and I need to give credit where credit is due.

-There's tons of info on these forums, I'm going to hunt it down and merge some more information in where stable, and provides links to the more dynamic content.

So without further delay, I present version 0.6 of a Remixing for free rewrite. I strongly encourage contructive criticism and contributions. (OCR needs a WIKI for this sort of thing....)



A Remixing for free rewrite, 6/18/06

This is a guide dedicated to informing new and experienced remixers about monetarily free solutions for audio creation and production. Shareware is mentioned only if the missing functionality can be compensated with other free software, or if it is non-crippled & nag-free. Demo software is not mentiond as it is by definition crippled and not quite free.



An absolute minimum of a Creative Soundblaster Live! (street < $20). Cards with ASIO support such as the Soundblaster Audigy and better, and many Envy24-based DSPs are recommended.

It is a very good idea to get a MIDI keyboard, even if you don't play. Yamaha's PSR series is recommended as a good basic keyboard, but anything that will hook up to your computer and help you input MIDI data is useful. MIDI guitars exist, but due to the guitar being a more challenging instument, these are recommended only to those who are more comfortable with a guitar than keyboard.



There are many different ways to make music, some are more suited to specific genres than others.


A tracker is a loop-based composition program. The computer loads a number of "samples" (sound clips, e.g. bass drum, bass instrument, piano, saw wave) into memory and plays them back in a loop, adjusting the pitch of the sample as necessary to provide different notes.

Trackers do take some getting used to due to their particular interface design. Don't let it throw you off though, there's quite comfortable to use once you get over the learning curve.


ModPlug Tracker [f/oss]: Very popular with an active community. Able to load VSTi and MIDI samples (but not full instuments, just a single sample). A free starter pack with samples is available.

BUZZ [freeware]: Has tracking functionality, see SYNTHESIZER section.

MadTracker [shareware]: Powerful tracker. Highlights include VSTi, Rewire, and ASIO support. Includes a few free VSTis, many samples. Unregistered users cannot export as wav and cannot use higher quality interpolation for playback. Not a problem though, un4see development's XMPlay will pick up the slack handily.

Psycle [f/oss]: Very nice tracker. Supports VSTi and MIDI. Active community. Worth a look.

Skale Tracker [freeware]: FastTracker 2 clone. Supports VSTi, ASIO, MIDI in/out and soundfonts. Also available for Linux.

Milkytracker [freeware]: Powerful FastTracker 2 clone. Also available for MacOS X and Pocket PC. Can't load VSTs though. Free audio samples are available.

Schism [f/oss]: Aims to duplicate the Impulse Tracker interface. Based on ModPlug source code, inherits some features. Also available for Linux and MacOS X.


CheeseTracker: A QT-based FastTracker 2 clone. Supports JACK, LADSPA. Also available for MacOS X.

Soundtracker [f/oss]: Powerful FastTracker 2 clone. Includes sample recoder

Frinika: Cross platform music studio written in Java. Has tracking functionality, piano roll midi editing. MIDI in/out support. Supports JACK in Linux, usefulness may be limited on platforms without JACK.

Schism: multiplatform

Skale: multiplatform

Digital Audio Workstations:


Krystal Audio Engine [freeware]: Lightweight DAW supporting VST effects but not instuments, and ASIO. Missing many features of a commercial DAW, but the author has high goals for version 2.0. Might meet some needs.

Reaper [freeware]: Even smaller at approximately 1mb! Supports VST instuments and DirectX effects and synths. Can import midi, which can be mixed with audio (load some soundfonts in your card!). Supports ASIO. Very cool program, but the interface is a bit confusing. Use with a midi editor, some soundfonts, and a nice wave editor and you've got a setup.


Ardour [f/oss]: Very powerful digital audio workstation and recorder. Supports JACK (it better, they are written by the same person!) can be used as a mastering suite when paired with JAMin. Also supports LADSPA plugins.

MusE[f/oss] Not to be confused with MuSE! Excellent midi sequencer that also supports other audio formats, can be used as a DAW/Mastering suite. Also supports MIDI and sound recording. Probably easier to use than Ardour. Supports JACK and LADSPA.



anvil studio [freeware]: Anvil Studio has support for loading soundfonts from within the program, and features a piano roll editor which can make entering complex rhythms on a single track much simpler. (If you don't like it, there's also staff entry as well) Entering drums is quite simple, especially in piano roll mode. There's also a guitar note entry mode for those more familiar with playing guitar - it can do pitch bends for you as well. Most notably, Anvil Studio supports loops, so you can write a riff and have it played over and over again for you - this greatly speeds up composition time. Supports a MIDI keyboard. The registered version enables a couple features like a digital recorder and a digital audio track, letting you load wave files and use them as an instrument. Recommended.

JAZZ++ [f/oss]: Free midi editor with many features. Also available for Linux.


NoteEdit [f/oss]: Notation editor for KDE.

Rosegarden [f/oss]: Wonderful and very popular MIDI editor. Supports JACK, LADSPA. Has piano roll and notation editors. Supports sheet music export through Lilypond. Can use soundfonts through use of fluidsynth + qsynth.

Brahms [f/oss]: Piano roll, notation editor for Linux.

Dino [f/oss]: Dino is a pattern-based sequencer, which means that you write small patterns of MIDI events that you can repeat and arrange to create a whole song. Each track has its own patterns, so you can for example play the same drum pattern over and over again while you play different lead synth patterns and basslines. Supports JACK.

JAZZ++: multiplatform



BUZZ [freeware]: Buzz Machines itself is little more than a user-interface framework for user-created "machines" that do the actual sound production. Essentially Buzz is best described as either a synthesizer, or an "advanced tracker". There are over 500 (?) user-created machines that are categorized as either "generator" or "effect". Generators produce wave forms, and range from producing drum emulations of the 808, a kick drum, or a machine to produce basic sine, saw and square waves, up to samplers. There are even tracker machines that function similarly to ModPlug - you can then place multiple effects in the chain for cooler results. (There's a loader and player for IT modules and soundfonts too, so you don't even need a soundblaster live to make use of www.hammersound.net) Machines can be plugged together to route the output from one to the input of an "effect" machine to add reverb, chorus, flange, ring modulation, etc., or any combination of the above. Each machine can programmed individually with a tracker interface. There's also some preliminary VST support in Buzz for those who care about that sort of thing (read: lots of people). Finally, adding machines is easy - just drop the DLL file from www.buzzmachines.com in the appropriate directory in your GEAR folder. Note that the learning curve for Buzz is STEEP! Make sure you understand basically how a tracker works / use Modplug or something before you try this, or you will be frustrated and lost at first. A powerful program with loads of sounds, generators and effects. Recommended.

Rebirth [freeware]: The precursor to Propellerhead's Reason. Discontinued, and now set free!


hydrogen + hydrogen-drumkits [f/oss]: Simple drum machine for the JACK Audio Connection Kit. Easy to use and great sound. Recommended.

Beast [f/oss]: Beast is a powerful music composition and modular synthesis application released as free software under the GNU GPL and GNU LGPL, that runs under unix. It supports a wide range of standards in the field, such as MIDI, WAV/AIFF/MP3/OggVorbis/etc audio files and LADSPA modules. It has excellent technical abilities like multitrack editing, unlimited undo/redo support, real-time synthesis support, 32bit audio rendering, full duplex support, multiprocessor support, precise timing down to sample granularity, on demand and partial loading of wave files, on the fly decoding, stereo mixing, FFT scopes, MIDI automation and full scriptability in scheme.

bristol: Softsynth machine for JACK. Emulates Mini Moog, Moog Voyager, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Roland Juno-6 and Yamaha DX7 synthesizers. It also provides graphic interfaces and engines for the Hammond B3 and Vox Continental organs and the Fender Rhodes electric piano. Bristol also emulates a generic mixing board and the Yamaha Pro10 digital mixer.

fluidsynth + qsynth [f/oss]: Soundfonts for JACK!

timidity++ [f/oss]: MIDI softsynth.

LMMS [f/oss]: Attempts to emulate FL Studio's interface. Supports VST instuments. Unfortunately, this program is far from finished. Not a serious music production environment.... yet. Worth watching.


There are many available, but rather than detail them all I will just say this: get Audacity. It's f/oss, multitracking, dead-easy to use, multiplatform, powerful, and a small download. And there's a tremendous amount of plugins available for just about any effect. Almost on par with, and with plugins may exceed, many commercial wave editors.

[note: will be adding links to plugins and and adding other *FREE* multitrack editors, if people feel strongly enough to recommend them, in a coming version.


Soundfonts: Lots of free soundfont resources out there. Check OCR forums for more information.

Samples: Many MOD (the audio format) websites have free samples you can use. Also, you can leech samples from the many mod files freely available as well. Usually not the best quality, but may suit your needs.

Creative Commons sampling license: An alternative to full copyright. Many songs and samples are available for free under this license. Restrictions against commercial use are in place.

See CreativeCommons.org for more information.

VST: Free VST are available. Check OCR forums for more information.

Recommended Suites


DeMuDi: An EU-sponsored linux distribution designed for audio work.

Planet CCRMA: A suite of applications/kernels for Redhat/Fedora systems. Developed by Stanford University.


Encoding your music:

MP3, OGG and WMA and AC3(multichannel) are the most popular formats.

For MP3, use Hydrogen Audio's MP3 wiki as your guide to encoding.

For OGG Vorbis, look for OGGdrop XPd for you graphical OGG encoding needs. Get it at Rarewares. OGG Vorbis also supports multichannel audio, but I do not know of any players that will play multichannel vorbis.

Windows Media Encoder Available Here WMA is recommended only for low bitrates (<96kbps) when OGG is not an option. At high bitrates a properly encoded MP3 will almost always sound better, OGG especially. Source: Hydrogen Audio 128kpbs multiformat listening tests [will link later].

AC3: Quality for the bitrate is not great, but pretty much the only widely supported multichannel audio format except WMA9Pro, which is does not have a free encoder. Pretty much your only option is if your DAW has an encoder.

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Audacity is an excellent free waveform editor that I swear by. It is highly plugin-based, and it comes with essential tools for audio-capture (click-removal, noise removal). Also is compatible with VST and others, I believe. Check it out.

Also, for synthsizing and midi-editing, Melody Assistant and Gold Sound Base are incredibly cheap (20 dollars for MA, 30 for GSB), and there is a demo for MA with no time limit. With score editing, actual working music notation, and midi-keyboard compatibility, there is no excuse for the music-savvy to not get a decent sound out of it. There is also the option of recording your own instruments, if the strangely-limited soundbases aren't to your liking. I've been working with it for over a year, and... just be careful. If this catches on, I'd be more than willing to provide support for y'all.

I apologize if these tools were mentioned before in this thread, but I did not see them in the main listing of stuff. If my terminology is off, correct me! (And take a gander at my miniscule post-count... 2!) The learning experience is really what I'm here for.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Garage Band is free (it comes with any OS X Mac in the iLife package).

GB 2.0 has a lot of excellent features such as:

-basic, mono, pad, swirl, and sync analog synthesizers

-basic, mono, and stepper digital synthesizers

-a few decent drum kits, and many other decent sampled instruments

-tons of effects

Basically, its great bang for your buck (its $70 for the entire iLife package which is the only way to get GB ifg you don't buy an OS X Mac).

Biggest setbacks for GB are:

-no tempo automation

-no effects automation

-some effects and sampled instruments leave much more to be desired (crappy guitar amp simulation and weak drum kits come to mind)

-no support for VSTi (but strangely enough there is support forAudioUnits (AU), Dowlaodable Sounds(DLS), SoundFont(SF) and SoundFont2(SF2))

-MIDI import is supported, but not MIDI export (why is Apple so weird?)

-Files can only be bounced as AIFF (Must use iTunes or other encoder to translate to mp3, ogg, wav, etc)

-somewhat high CPU usage

ALSO I have heard of a free Mac OS X program called Anvil Studio(?) but I don't know much about it.

EDIT--Here's a link to a whole bunch of free, shareware and commercial Mac music stuff:


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Its not free, but a really good way to start mixing (at least for me) is to get a PlayStation game called MTV Music Generator. GET THE ORIGINAL ONE. MG2 and MG3 are PURE SHIT. Its like $14 (hell that was like eight years ago, it's probably lik $3 now) and it is incredibly powerful.




MTV Music Generator (don't let the MTV liscense fool you, this is a very very good music program)

*Over 11,000 samples of all genres:

Percussion (orchestral, rock, hip hop, dance, trance, dnb, you name it)



Classical Instruments (ya know flute, woodwinds, strings, brass, etc)

Guitars (clean, nylon, distorted, steel)

Organs (classical, rock, jazz, pop)

Lyrics (rnb, dance, rap, rock, pop, spoken word)

Sound Effects (musical, natural, machine)

*Over 3,000 premade riffs and loops in:


Drum n Bass

Hip Hop



Jazz & Blues

*Edit almost any note parameter:

Sample start

Sample end

Volume envelope


Pitch bend


Reverb or other effect (no effects chain, just one effect can be added)



Note Repeat

* Master tracks for:

Volume automation

Tempo automation

Reverb automation

Key change

*Lots of sample tracks put together on the CD for learning purposes.

*Music video creator synced to the music track

*Simple and inutive design and interface.

*Hotkeys assigned to all controller buttons for very quick acess of important tasks

*PlayStation Mouse compatible

The only drawback (and its a big one) is the sound quality. Listen to the old stuff on my website. That was what it sounded like and I know that program inside and out. The PlayStation just can't handle very high soud samples without completely killing its memory.

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Good day, good day...

I'm a little ashamed by the fact that I have to admit I know absolutely nothing about remixing. :oops:

Well, beside of this I'm very keen on composing and I've known OCRemix before. Now I'd like to bring my midi-composed (I'm using NoteWorthy for many years now) tunes in higher spheres.

In concrete words, all I'm looking for is to be able to use SoundFonts in NoteWorthy. I've been trying it the hard way though. I own the full-version of Cubase (don't worry, I didn't pay for it *psst*) and recently (this morning) downloaded Fruity Loops. Appearently my SoundCard (SB Live!) or Speaker System (a dolby surround system by Creative, although my soundcard doesn't support dolby surround at all, so only one out of four boxes sounds (btw I also experimented with other speakers and it does not seem to be a problem with those)) doesn't want me to use those programms and just keeps silent, whatever option I manipulate. So the opportunity to import my composition in FL or Cubase is nevermore.

But I read you can actually load SoundFonts on your Soundcard and then use them in NoteWorthy. I didn't understand how, though I searched and tried...

Sidenote: I also tried Anvil Studio and it seemed to work, but as I tried to use several SoundFonts at the same time I failed; I could only use one.

Maybe someone can help me by telling me how to set up SoundFonts on my Soundcard or showing me the failures I've made.

Oh, and don't you think I'm not intending to remix one day too, I'm just practising with my song, which will still be self-played for the biggest part.

I appreciate all your work folks! This guide would have been killer, if I owned a better computer... I got it when I was seven years old and that's about ten years ago... :roll:

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A very well written guide! I just wish that someone would create software like Garageband and make it free, though. The ease of use with it is very nice, but its got lots of potential. Alas, PC users like me will never use it. Is there any free software like that?

Souliarc, nice links! The second one is especially amazing!

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Speaking of Wikipedia, I found this the other day, and I've already found a few programs that look interesting. Most of the programs on the list have already probably been mentioned in here, but I hope someone finds something that will help them out.

Yeah, that list looks old, and mostly Linux-oriented. The most robust freeware for Windows has been REAPER for quite some time.

I go through a lot of the free VSTs that turn up on the KVR forum...considering doing a review of the best ones I've found.

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I go through a lot of the free VSTs that turn up on the KVR forum...considering doing a review of the best ones I've found.

Wow... can't believe I didn't notice this for a month.

I'd love to see those reviews, because KVR is very helpful but very big and overwhelming as well. Something like this can help to pare it down.

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