The Top 10 DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations)
by Jessica Brandon
If you create music on a computer, your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) – is the most critical tool in your music gear. You will need a MIDI keyboard, audio interface, studio monitor speakers, microphone for your home recording setup, but your DAW music production software sits at the center of everything. The following are the Top 10 DAWs around for now:
1. Presonus Studio One 5 Professional
The best DAW for song development and it is available for both Mac and Windows. It offers Unlimited audio and instrument tracks, advanced automation features, virtual instruments, Buses, and FX channels. The good thing is that this DAW is easier to use with great workflow. Studio One comes in three versions: the standard-issue Artist version, the free Prime version, and the full-on Professional version, which will net you every new feature. Artist users don’t get to use Chord Tracks, but they do get Drum and Pattern Modes, plus the two new instruments.
2. Acoustica Mixcraft
A great entry level user- friendly DAW. This is the GarageBand rival for Windows users. Are you a beginner? This is a great for a starter producer or mid level DAW with killer adds. The good thing is that this DAW is easy to use with quick learning curve, unlike almost every other DAW. This DAW is great for those who know nothing about home recording and wants a fast quick start into home audio recording. It comes with a Loop library includes over thousands of royalty-free loops. It comes in two versions:
Mixcraft Recording Studio
Mixcraft Pro Studio
3. FL Studio
This is the best DAW for hip-hop. Orginally called FruityLoops, later called FL Studio. Rapper/Singer Post Malone uses this DAW after he left his heavy metal band, he transitioned to softer rock as well as hip-hop, before beginning to experiment on FL Studio.
4. Propellerhead Reason
The best DAW for synthesizer fans. Reason now allows adding your own VST instruments that you purchase. You have the rack – with your choice of synths, effects etc.
5. Ableton Live
This is the best DAW for electronic music. Ableton Live is designed to be an instrument for live performances as well as a tool for composing, recording, arranging, mixing, and mastering. It is also used by DJs, as it offers a suite of controls for beatmatching, crossfading, and other different effects used by turntablists, and was one of the first music applications to automatically beatmatch songs. The advanced warping lets you change the Tempo and timing of any audio in real time without stopping the music. Record virtual instruments, drum machines, guitars or audio from the real world.
6. Steinberg Cubase
The best DAW for Windows. This is one of the oldest DAW that is still around. The first version, which was originally only a MIDI sequencer and ran on the Atari ST computer, was released in 1989. Steinberg’s Cubase was one of the first commercially available DAWs and still has a strong following.
7. Cockos Reaper
Are you a beginner? Reaper is a very simple DAW that is capable enough to be a decent DAW for music production. The good thing is of Reaper is that you can get Multi-channel audio recording, mixing, and mastering at a bargain price.
8. Apple Logic Pro X
The best DAW for Mac. It is beginner friendly, extremely versatile, great for writing music with, great for recording, mixing, and mastering. This is a “One-Stop-Shop” for the Mac.
9. Avid Pro Tools
Pro Tools has been a music industry standard in audio recording, the ultimate Gold Standard. Pro Tools by Avid is probably one of the most well-known DAWs.
“Livin’ la Vida Loca” was the Billboard Ht 100 #1 hit to be recorded without using then-conventional recording studio equipment; instead the track was created at Desmond Child’s Gentlemen’s Club Studio, which utilizes a 169-track Pro Tools system. And the rest is history!
10. Apple GarageBand
The best DAW for beginners. Sometimes the best things in life are free and GarageBand a surprisingly capable DAW. If you do not wish to spend a lot of time learning a DAW software, you will like this stripped-down version of Logic Pro X. Garageband is the perfect place to tinker with tracking, MIDI, and mixing before taking the plunge with weightier software. Its intuitive design makes it easy for beginners to jump in and test the waters.
Rihanna’s hit song “Umbrella” song used a drum loop from the GarageBand program, tweaked into what we know as the song that reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts and the rest is history.
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