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> there is free software out there

If anyone is interested in a Free/Libre/Open Source Software option (cross-platform Linux/Windows/Mac) I've really enjoyed producing with LMMS over the past 18 months or so: https://lmms.io/

It's definitely got room to grow in terms of functionality/interface but the development community is of such a size that it's possible to still make meaningful code contributions. I've contributed a couple of small patches to improve the Mac UI as a way to get familiar with the code base.

Of course, the downside is that I have to decide whether to write code or make music whenever I sit down to use it. :)

There's also a new project called Helio Workstation https://github.com/peterrudenko/helio-workstation it doesn't have much built-in instruments so you need plugins for everything, but the UI looks awesome

I like LMMS but it has enough vst issues that I just went with a cheap Reaper license. Plus I need an audio recorder as well.

I wouldn't say that "LMMS has vst issues". I would say that vst has a serious issue: it is not a open standard. Although it seems they are trying to improve that for the linux community: http://cdm.link/2017/03/steinberg-brings-vst-linux-good-thin...

Good to know. That said Reaper enabled me to use the 7-8 vsts I was really interested in using that didn't work (or worked poorly) in lmms. If I new c++ better I would contribute.

For recording, there's Ardour (among several other FLO options)

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