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I'd like to start mixing Acapella and Instrumental Tracks together. I want something more than just bpm modification though. Id like to be able to make breaks and possibly sample some stuff out.

I don't care about doing anything live, I just want to mix the tracks and output a file.

Where should I start? I feel like what I need is Ableton Live or something, but I imagine there might be some free or cheaper software that meets my needs without costing so much or being so bloated with features. (I dont mind having a lot of features, I just dont want to drop 500 bucks on one of my tiny hobbies.)

Suggestions on where to start, what to get, pros and cons, where to get instrumentals and acapellas etc?

I'll keep a list of suggestion here for future beginners like myself...

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2nd hand vinyl comes pretty cheap these days. –  d-_-b Feb 19 '11 at 10:13
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4 Answers

I would suggest ableton trial version, there you can try out the features and see if its fit for you. You dont need the ableton suite for matching songs together, there is a cheaper version for that. or if you buy some hardware you can get a small ableton version etc.

Ableton is so easy to get started with and well executed when it comes to matching tempo of accapellas etc.

Also ableton has a big community, you can easily find videos on youtube, vimeo etc about what you want to do.

se this video for an example. just did a simple search :"ableton accapella tutorial"

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For easy samples, I recommend freesound search. Try searching for things like 'acoustic guitar' or 'beat'.

For software, Reaper, cheap and good, and with a free tryout version.

Since you are just starting out, you could have fun mixing ambient sounds and spoken words, for example, which would have you not need to sync BPM right off the bat -- these samples can be found on freesound. This way you can train your technique and experiment easily. BPM syncing is a bit more advanced, and for that Ableton Live Intro ($99) is probably a better choice, does the job well.

In the start, seek pure fun -- swap samples and post your creations on Soundcloud, show your friends.

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Try cockos reaper as your mixing software. Its' demo version is not limited in any way and if it's a one-time thing it should be most suitable for your needs.

http://www.reaper.fm/

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The very first thing you'll need will be some tracks to mix together. If you're just doing this for your own fun (and not to distribute, or anything where you'll get into legal entanglements) you can get tracks from anything you can find: movies, recordings, making your own, Googling for your favorite styles, whatever.

Once you have some source material, you'll need a tool suited to what you want to do. Start by picking one that sounds interesting and trying it out. If it costs money, try the trial; you probably won't be able to save your work but you can probably tell pretty quickly whether it makes sense to you and then decide if it's worth the cost. It sounds like you're already interested in Ableton Live, so try that one first. I personally like it a lot but it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Any serious audio workstation software ought to be enough for putting tracks against each other. You don't need to try all of them, just find one that you like!

Once you have some basic tools, learn about what goes into mixing a track - things like equalization and effects. See if your tool can handle the ones you want, or if it can integrate something that can. Lots of software can host "plug-ins" which act as virtual effects or instruments.

Finally, and I can't emphasize this enough, do it lots! Software is cool in that you can experiment pretty much as far as you want to. You can always just copy your files if you don't want to lose anything when trying something new.

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