Eye-catching and award-winning tracks and mixes wouldn’t be as great as they are without a DAW software. DAW software are used to make music editors and producers (among others) a lot better.
With the best one installed on your computer, you’d be one step closer in creating awesome soundtracks.
This is why getting the best DAW software would really make a huge difference. But, how do you ensure you get the best one for your preference? Here’s how.
Factors To Consider When Buying a DAW Software
Before we start digging up the factors to think about before choosing the best DAW software, let’s first define what a DAW software is.
DAW, or digital audio workstation software is a software app that’s mainly used for music production. DAW software can be used for composing, producing, recording, and editing everything on your tracks and mixes, like its sound effects, tempo, etc.
In DAW, music editors and sound engineers can have multiple tracks mixed on a time-based grid.
Here’s a video from one of the brands included on this list to give you an insight of what a DAW software is.
So, what makes a certain DAW software the best? How can you choose the best DAW software when there are a lot of brands thrown at your face? To make your life easy, below are factors to consider when buying a DAW software.
Its Main Features
The best DAW software should have these features to create your own masterpiece. The first and most important job of a DAW software is to record audio. DAWs can record tracks, and can be edited after.
Another job of the best DAW software is to mix. It should feature a mixer, which is usually displayed with faders. On this part, you can mix levels input /output gain & volume, pan, mute & solo.
DAWs should also have a wide range of audio effects. One way to make your tracks fun and unique is to play with the audio effects, like the EQ, compressor, and many more.
Aside from these, DAW software can also read MIDI Data or Musical Instrument Digital Interface Data. This way, you can plug your keyboard directly to your computer. With the MIDI data, you can edit the pitch, key, and others.
Lastly, although not all, but some DAWs feature VST plug-in which allows editors to choose from ranging choices of different instruments or allow a VST plug-in. With your MIDI keyboard, this feature can switch it from a Grand Piano to an analogue synthesizer.
Free or Paid
It is normal to go for free things, especially when you’re just starting. It’s normal to feel unsure when investing in something you don’t have much knowledge about. However, free DAW software has its fair share of pros and cons.
Free DAWs don’t let you create music tracks that would sound very professional, which makes it one of the cons of having a free digital audio workstation. Because it’s free, there are a lot of limitations when it comes to working with you music. You wouldn’t want to compromise your ideas and creativity, right?
However, free DAW software have a user-friendly interface which will attract beginners. So, using a free DAW software might be a good idea, if you’re just starting. But, as you spend your time more and more on editing your tracks, you’ll realize that you need more features to create a masterpiece.
That’s when paid DAW software comes in.
They say that investing in paid DAW software will be worth every penny you spend. You can showcase your skills fully with its premium features that are really necessary to create outstanding tracks. Paid DAWs are capable of a lot more, and you might just produce your next big thing from it.
Limited or full version
Now that the “Paid or free?” debate is out of the bad, here’s another one. Should you go for the limited version of a paid DAW or just go full?
A lot of companies offer a limited version of their paid DAW so smaller home studios could still have a taste of its features, even for a limited time.
Trying a limited version of a paid DAW is a great idea if, someday, you want to upgrade to its full version. That way, you won’t feel new to its interface and take time learning how to use it.
5 Best DAW Softwares for Recording 2019
- Award-winning 32-bit floating-point Steinberg audio engine with up to 192 kHz, flexible routing and full automatic delay compensation
- Simultaneous playback of 64 audio tracks, 128 MIDI tracks and up to 32 physical inputs and outputs
- MixConsole for pro mixing desk experience and integrated high-end channel strip with dynamics and EQ
- Comprehensive set of 8 outstanding instruments with over 3,000 sounds, including HALion Sonic SE 2, Groove Agent SE 4, Padshop, Retrologue 2 and LoopMash 2
- Suite of over 70 high-end audio and MIDI VST effect processors, including Pitch Correct for vocal editing, VST Amp Rack and VST Bass Amp guitar and bass tone suites, Quadrafuzz v2 and many more!
Another top choice for the best DAW software is the Steinberg Cubase Pro 9 Recording Software. With its unlimited audio, instrument, and MIDI tracks, the Cubase Pro 9 is a great DAW to work with your tracks. Featuring a Full Control Room integration, different cue mixes, and different sound effect meters, you’ll be finished with your soundtrack in no time.
Offering over 90 high-end audio and MIDI VST effect processors, the Cubase Pro 9 lets you incorporate different music styles into your tracks. With its VariAudio, your monophonic audio tracks will have a MIDI-styled editing. Complete with harmonization and auto-tuning effects, your tracks will be 10 times better with the Cubase Pro 9.
- Excellent MIDI workflow
- Great audio effects
- Might work slow with Windows 10
- Multitrack Audio recording and MIDI sequencing of software and hardware instruments
- Unique Session View for nonlinear composition, flexible performance and improvisation
- Real-time warping of audio: automatically sync music and loops, regardless of tempo
- Unlimited audio and MIDI tracks
- Includes 5000+ sounds (70+GB), 57 effects and 10 instruments (Wavetable, Operator, Sampler, Analog, Electric, Tension, Collision, Simpler, Drum Rack, Impulse)
Editing your tracks will be done professionally when using the Ableton Live 10. Boasting its new features and improvements, you’ll be one step closer to creating the best tracks of your life. The Ableton Live 10 is your top choice for the best DAW software, and one can’t argue with that.
Featuring a range of new sounds, loops, and samples, the Live 10 will trigger new ideas and boost your creativity. It also offers an improved browser, updated Arrangement view for quick editing, and cleaner and easier overall user interface.
The Ableton Live 10 makes sure to capture all your work, even if you forget to hit record. Simply click Capture after the work you have done, and Live will then match your tempo and timing. This feature comes in handy for on-the-go moments or times when you just playfully try out different options on your mixes, but fortunately turns out to be pretty good.
- MIDI Capture is useful
- Complete Package for Production
- Multi Track Audio Recording
- Powerful mixing and automation
- The best Piano Roll in the business
- Flexible Browser and workflow features
- Support for all VST standards
- Over 80 instrument and plugin effects included
Another name that’s not a stranger when it comes to being the best DAW software is the FL Studio 12 Producer Edition. Purposely designed to produce music, the Producer Edition comes with handy features which would really be useful when editing, arranging, or mixing your music.
The FL Studio 12 Producer Edition allows its users to record both internal and external audio. You can record a full orchestra or just a single vocalist with the Producer Edition, all with an option to edit the audio’s beat, pitch and time. All with a simple mouse click, you can produce your own masterpiece.
- Comes with lifetime updates
- New & Improved User Interface
- Records Both Internal & External Audio
- User interface still feels a bit cluttered
- Elegant single-window work environment with powerful drag-and-drop functionality, multi-touch support, unlimited audio and Instrument tracks, virtual instruments, buses, and FX channels
- Content browser lets you search, find, preview, and drag-and-drop tempo-matched loops, samples, effects, instruments, presets, and more
- NEW Presence XT expandable sampler and Mai Tai polyphonic, analog modeling synth; includes 36 64-bit Native Effects, and 5 virtual instruments in all
- Native Fat Channel plug-in from StudioLive AI mixers includes low-pass filter, gate, compressor, parametric EQ, and limiter
- Advanced features such as transient detection and editing with groove extraction, multitrack comping, editable Folder Tracks, step recording, event-based effects
Next on our list is the PreSonus Studio One 3. Known to be a DAW software that’s easy to use, the Studio One 3 is all that you need if you want to produce top-selling music. You’ll be motivated to create wonderful tracks with its premium features that would keep all your creative juices flowing.
With its interface that’s both easy to use and understand, the Studio One 3 features a various virtual instruments to be incorporated to your music. You can also find backing tracks and sequence tracks without any hassle. It also features advanced tools like groove extraction, step recording, event-based effects, and multitrack comping.
Record and produce your music the fastest and easiest way with the PreSonus Studio One 3.
- Updated browser for easy effect, tempo, and preset searching and more Advanced editing tools
- Single-window work
- Advanced editing tools
- Does not allow third-party VST
- 2 new powerful synthesizers & 3 new instruments
- Full VST plugin support
- 3G of cutting edge loops & samples
Comes with everything you need to finish a work of art, the Propellerhead Reason 10 features lots of effects, and musical instrument sounds. Create the perfect mix with its easy user interface and advanced tools. The Reason 10 will wake all your creative senses up and inspire you to create more music.
Boasting its new synthesizers, the Reason 10 introducers Grain and Europa to spice up your tracks and give it a fun touch. New live-sounding organic instruments like Pangea World Instruments, Humana Vocal Ensemble, and Klang Tuned Percussion are featured to make your music even better. Aside from the mentioned instruments, the Reason 10 also has piano and drum loops and samples.
- Nice editing tools and arrangement overview
- Allows third-party VSTs
- Easy to use
- Upgrade price does not justify the actual upgrade
To create incredible music and soundtracks that are sure to sell, the Steinberg Cubase PRO 9 is the best DAW software for you. Featuring a wide range of new sounds, loops, and plugins, you’re off to a wonderful start. The Cubase PRO 9 is flexible, improved browser, and has an easier and cleaner interface.
Its users love the fact that the Steinberg Cubase PRO 9 usability and design is a huge plus. Its MIDI Capture is also a great addition. However, you might not like its price tag.