Best DAWs Available

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There seems to be an endless amount of DAWs on the market. Choosing one can feel like trying to pick a needle out of a haystack. The truth is, there are only a few that are worth your time.

After researching, researching and more research, we have created this list of the top 10 DAWs for beginners! Read on to find out which ones made the cut and why.

In addition to these DAWs, we have also provided some other helpful resources for beginners.

What Is A DAW

A Digital Audio Workstation is a software program that handles all the details of recording, editing and mixing music. The DAW is the digital equivalent to your studio’s mixer and tape machines.

DAW Console

The DAW can be used for MIDI recording, audio recording and more. Typically, when you use a DAW to do “real” music, you will upload your music from your computer into it. Then the DAW will edit it (add effects or mix it) and output it through speakers.

Although a DAW is not required to do production, it is a tool that will allow you to produce, record and edit music. We recommend purchasing one as soon as you can.

Top Free DAWs

We have all been there, needing to record but limited on a budget. As a broke beginner guitar player I know the feeling. You want to record your ideas but you only have $200 in your bank account.

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Don’t fret, there are a few free DAWs available for you! Although the DAWs discussed below aren’t as advanced as their paid counterparts, they are still very useful for recording and editing audio.

Audacity

Audacity is the open source favorite when it comes to free software. Audacity features an easy to use interface and is incredibly lightweight. Audacity is also great for ripping old vinyl, making podcasts and recording your guitar.

Reaper

As a user interface designer, I love Reaper. With an interface that compliments the Mac operating system, Reaper is a joy to use. Although Reaper contains all of the features you would expect from a DAW, it’s not as intuitive as other DAWs we’ve reviewed here.

Although not free, it does offer a 60 day trial that can help you get up and running along with a discounted license for personal use or a low revenue producing commercial use. You can see the requirements here.

GarageBand

GarageBand is a free DAW that has quickly become one of the most popular DAWs available. Although it may not be as powerful as some of the paid ones, it’s hard to beat for its flexibility and price.

One of GarageBand’s best features is that it is easy to use and has a simple interface. It also has a finished sounding recording that can be used for commercial projects or websites.

Top Paid DAWs

Just as there were a variety of free DAWs to consider, there are endless paid options. Below we have listed our top picks for paid DAWs. We’ve evaluated these DAWs based on their features and flexibility.

FL Studio

If you are a new producer looking to get ahead, FL Studio is the go-to software. From the simple interface to the plethora of plugins included, FL Studio is an industry favorite. With its built-in effects engine, it becomes easy to use your own effects chains without having to load them into a plugin.

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With its ability to load effects from other programs, you can create a seamless workflow through your DAW. With the option to include automation using MIDI, FL Studio is a great choice for any beginner looking for an inexpensive recording solution.

Ableton Live

Ableton Live is a digital audio workstation that allows complete creative control over your music through an intuitive interface. Live’s Session View lets you see and hear everything that’s going on in your song in real time, so you can add, reorder or remove parts without interrupting your creative flow.

The Arrangement View allows you to freely arrange your song without the constraints of the timeline. It’s an easy to use DAW that allows for experimentation and gives you complete control over your project.

Logic Pro X

If you are an Apple fan, then you’ll love using Logic Pro. Designed for Macintosh computers, Logic Pro is a full featured DAW powerhouse. With a clean user interface and deep editing features, it’s an excellent choice for both enthusiasts and professionals.

We love Logic Pro’s MIDI capabilities, with full-featured support for real-time MIDI and hardware instruments. Apple also includes a selection of great plug-ins that are easy to use, making it a powerful DAW with a solid feature set.

Cubase

With version 9, Steinberg updated Cubase to bring it in line with its competitors on the market. With its intuitive interface and built-in effects engine, Cubase is a great choice for any aspiring producer.

The user interface and overall workflow is excellent for beginners. Cubase is also incredibly stable, passing Steinberg’s most demanding quality test – the “Loudness Test.”

Although it may be pricey for a beginner, it is an excellent first DAW that will help you develop fast. You can learn more about the Cubase offerings here.

Studio One Prime

With the Studio One Prime DAW, PreSonus has made a name for itself in the industry. With its intuitive user interface, Studio One makes it easy to record and produce right out of the box. It also comes with over 200 virtual instruments, making it one of the most complete DAWs available.

Studio One

Don’t let its price fool you, Studio One Prime is a complete DAW that has everything you’ll need to make music on your computer. You’ll even find an app store with apps for voice overs and other tools to help your music production.

If you are looking to create a lot of music (studio quality) and don’t mind paying for it, Studio One Prime is the DAW you would want to use.

Pro Tools

If you are serious about recording your music and want a DAW that will work with any computer, Pro Tools is probably the best choice for you. Even though the Mac version is quite powerful, it works very well on Windows machines as well. Pro Tools is known for its seamless integration with other audio devices and software, allowing for a very intuitive interface.

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Like Logic Pro X, Pro Tools has a unique built-in effects engine that allows for powerful editing of sounds. With its powerful tools, you’ll find it easy to achieve professional sounding results.

It is one of the most complete DAWs available, with a huge selection of plug-ins and virtual instruments. However, as you would expect from a product that is developed by Avid, Pro Tools can be quite expensive and takes some time to learn the interface. The benefit is many professional studios use Pro Tools to record their songs.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, production is a skill that anyone can acquire through practice and persistence. These are just a few of the best DAWs to consider. Be sure to consider the factors we mentioned earlier when choosing the best DAW for your needs. With so many great options available, you are sure to find the perfect DAW for your musical journey. Thanks for reading!

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