Alternatives to LMMS

Recently my hard drive crashed so I had to start from scratch with a backup drive. I had been using Cakewalk Music Creator 3 for music authoring but it hasn’t aged well. It only marginally works on Vista, frequently crashes, and one solitary VST is enough to slow it down to the point of being unusable, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to try out alternatives.

I took advantage of Adobe’s mistake and got Audition 3.0. It has features I like, such as surround sound, but it’s missing pitch bend and there’s no clean way to edit MIDI automation. As often as I use pitch bend they might as well have left out the ability to enter notes. There are ways to work around it once you bounce the MIDI to an audio track but it also alters the tempo and you don’t have much control over it.

I saw LMMS had a Windows version so I tried it. It’s not bad but again, the pitch bends are an issue. I’m not the type who can draw in curves by hand. When I try I can’t get it to start right on 0, the detune function, which is the hack for applying a pitch bend, is quantized and even if I set the quantize to 64th note I can’t get a smooth bend. It just sounds like when a little kid plays with a piano and runs his hand up and down.

Does anyone know of a free (not necessarily open source. Freeware will work, too) DAW that can handle pitch bends properly and handle VSTs? I’ve searched for hours and I can only seem to find one or the other. If they handle VSTs they don’t do pitch bends. If they have proper pitch bends they don’t handle VSTs.

The only thing I can really think of for Windows would be Rosegarden. You could dual boot Linux and use something like Ardour though. You would have more options with that configuration.