A DAW, otherwise known as a Digital Audio Workstation, is the heart of your home studio. A DAW is a software that allows you to record, edit, and produce your music. There are a lot of options to choose from. I will show you both the best free and the best-paid ones.
Best Free DAW For Apple: Garageband
If you’re using a Mac you can use Garageband to record and produce your song.
Why we recommend the Garageband: Because it is free and easy to use. As a beginner you can achieve professional results with Garageband.
What they could do to improve: However, great for beginners, Garageband does not give you full control over your project. The user interface is limited. There is also a lack of a dedicated mixer-screen and a lack of options in the MIDI editing section. If you have a $0 budget, then you can start producing and recording with Garageband, but the moment you have a couple of hundred dollars to spare, I recommend you upgrade to one of the paid DAW’s out there.
Compared to the competition: For their price (free) they are on top of the food chain.
Best Free DAW For Windows: Reaper
Reaper is a fully functional free DAW that works on Windows, Apple and Linux computers.
WHY WE RECOMMEND THE DT 770: It is free for the first 60 days. After that, you can buy Reaper’s license for $60, although it remains completely functional even without a paid license. If you plan to use it for commercial music purposes and gross more than $20,000 per year from your audio work, then the price will be $225.
WHAT THEY COULD DO TO IMPROVE:
- The midi editor could be improved
- Reaper doesn’t have built-in instruments
- Sometimes it struggles with midi latency
COMPARED TO THE COMPETITION: Reaper is often compared to Ableton Live and Fl Studio. All three are great DAW’s.
Best Paid DAW: Ableton Live 10
Ableton Live 10 suite is used by many damous producers including Skrillex.
I use Ableton live 10 Suite but there are also other great DAW’s out there. For example:
- FL Studio (Mac & Windows)
- Logic Pro X (Only for Mac)
- Cubase (Both for Windows and Mac)
- Pro Tools (Both for Windows and Mac)
- Reason (Both for Mac and Windows)
- Bitwig Studio (Both for Mac and Windows)
These are all professional DAW’s used by big-name producers. There is no wrong or right answer here, it’s all a matter of personal preferences.
That said, some groups tend to lean towards one DAW or another. Hip hop producers tend to use Fl studio. Electronic music producers tend to use Ableton more. And producers that record a lot of external instruments tend to use Pro Tools since it is the unofficial standard in the music industry.
I have used Reason, Fl studio (back when it was still called Fruity Loops), Bitwig Studio, Reaper, LMMS, and Ableton. You don’t have to spend months trying out every DAW as I did, but I do recommend making use of the free 30-day trial most companies offer. Try out 2-3 DAW’s and see which one “feels” right to you.
Remember, you won’t make better production by using one specific DAW. Instead, the trick is to learn all the software’s ins and outs no matter which one you’ll choose.