I recently wrote an article in which I proclaimed that Ableton Live is a superior DAW for music production , and I stand by that claim as Live is deeper and more flexible than both Pro Tools and Logic for this application. Live, with its unique use of Session and Arrangement views, allows the user to approach sound and music from a different perspective. I myself was in a band in college that made music using Ableton Live and Nintendo Wiimotes as our only instruments. We were, of course, called The Wiitles. The supportive and vibrant community of Live users and third-party software developers have made Live a must-own product for anyone interested in expanding their perception of what a DAW is designed to do.
The Push Push 2 now available simply needs to be played to be believed. It is the most fun, intuitive, and flexible controller on the market, in my humble opinion. Similar to Logic, certain producers absolutely swear by FL Studio.
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It has a colorful, but not oversaturated look especially the latest iteration, FL Studio 20 and the stock effects, features and instruments provide a great, easy to learn starting point, especially for users looking to create hip-hop or electronic music. Well-known users include the late Avicii, Martin Garrix, and Deadmau5. The Edison audio recording and editing tool is a really interesting plugin that provides a unique approach to sampling and slicing. Cubase is a truly impressive piece of software. It looks great, it sounds great and has a seamless and intuitive workflow.
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Steinberg, who developed and released the VST Virtual Studio Technology in , has always excelled at creating top-notch software designed for professional musicians and engineers. I believe that every DAW at this point should have a vocal tuning and editing suite as a stock feature, and Cubase gets it right with the intuitive and flexible VariAudio.
Nuendo was actually the first DAW that I ever worked on, and admittedly, my migration to Pro Tools did take a good amount of time and effort. Nuendo is a very robust piece of software, and is designed to be used by Professionals in the post-production for film, television, and gaming industries. For anyone interested in opening a commercial studio, Nuendo would make an impressive centerpiece. The randomizer is a beastly sound design tool, allowing the user to make changes to Pitch, Impact, Color and Timing of an audio file.
While Studio One might not have the history, reputation or popularity of some of the other DAWs on the market, it is a lovely piece of software packed with numerous practical features. For songwriters and composers who take their work seriously, and require a DAW that handles the demands of these fast-paced and hyper-competitive industries, the slew of unique capabilities including harmonic editing and chord detect make Studio One, which is also available in three versions, a serious contender. The chord detector is a stunning feature that quickly and intuitively allows Studio One users to determine the chords from an audio file.
Digital Performer is a tried-and-true, professional-level DAW. There is a vast-community of music makers that swear by DP, which is packed with powerful capabilities including multiple automation lanes, relative pitch editing, and more. Reason is one of the more uniquely designed DAWs on the market. I first used Reason via Rewire as a sort of virtual instrument within Pro Tools, but several substantial upgrades have cemented it as a viable standalone DAW.
The instruments and effects within Reason are intuitive, fun, and sound great. I have a hard drive that is nearly full with Refills, and I use them regularly. I am still not comfortable using it for recording and editing, but Reason has solidified its place within my music production workflow.
The rackmount-inspired workflow allows for complex routing scenarios and therefore wild sound combinations. Because of this, users can create textures that they might have never otherwise stumbled upon in other more typically- designed DAWs. Reaper comes with a healthy selection of plugin effects and instruments, and is compatible with the VST standard.
Without a doubt, the edibility via ReaScript places Reaper head and shoulders above the competition. Audition integrates well with the other Adobe Programs, so if you use them regularly, this is reason alone to give it a spin. Audition was one of the first DAWs to feature an editable Spectral Display, so for precise analysis and cleaning up of audio, Audition is a viable option.
For in depth audio editing, and then adding metadata and tags to your files, the audition workflow and capabilities are top-notch. This is in part because the software was developed by ex-Ableton engineers, and also for its clip-based approach to arrangement and production. Bitwig users love it for its highly-flexible modulators, which place it amongst the best DAWs for advanced synthesis and sound design. There are some differences in workflow and GUI that you may prefer to Live.
Polyphonic per-voice modulation allows users to create synth textures with a level of complexity that no other DAW on this list can achieve. A new-ish entry to the DAW market is Mixbus from Harrison, who are well-known for their classic recording consoles. High-quality, analog-inspired processing including Filtering, Equalization and Compression on each channel. Cakewalk has many of the features and flexibility of the other workhorse DAWs but is strangely only available for PC.
Users praise Cakewalk for its crisp interface, streamlined workflow, high-quality effects and features including touch-screen integration.
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My hope is that one day, all other DAWs follow suit and allow for touch-screen integration the way that Cakewalk has. Tactile expression is sorely missing from the workflow of most DAWs, and I believe that features such as this are the future. As well as being able to buy outright, you can now subscribe to Pro Tools on a monthly or annual basis, while new support plans are available, too.
There's also Avid Cloud Collaboration, cloud-based project storage and the Avid Marketplace, which is designed to connect you with others in the audio community. Pro Tools , meanwhile, puts the emphasis on workflow, adding features that are designed to speed up the music-making process.
Avid Pro Tools Better still, Reason 9. All told, now's a pretty interesting time to be a Reason user. Version Propellerhead Software Reason It's been a tumultuous year for Sonar; in fact, it looked for a while like it would cease to exist. Better still, it's now made the software available for free. The third-party content that was bundled with the paid-for version has been removed, but the DAW's key features, such as the Skylight user interface, flexible ProChannel modules and bit mix engine, are all here.
So, if you're a PC user on the lookout for a new DAW, you've got literally nothing to lose by trying this one.
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Cakewalk Sonar. Studio One has been gaining ground for several years, and it's now a DAW of real power and maturity, not merely matching its rivals in most respects but going beyond them in a few areas. There are new MIDI editors for drums and patterns, and a good assortment of workflow enhancements. Studio One has long been a DAW with the potential to genuinely change your musical life, and version 4 only reinforces that position. PreSonus Studio One 4. On the market since the days of the Atari ST ask your Dad , Cubase has been around for the advent of audio recording, plugin effects and instruments Steinberg actually invented the VST standard and every other major DAW development.
And the good news is that some of the big new features are available in all three iterations. One of these is the Lower Zone, a new area in the project window that's used for the mixer and other tool panels. There's also the Sampler Track, which provides you with an easy way of playing samples chromatically. These can be manipulated with filters and controls in the Lower Zone, and the Caleidoscope library gives you hundreds of samples to play with right away.
There are some Cubase Pro exclusives, of course: Other features are common to both Cubase Pro and Artist, though the software's built-in plugins have been enhanced across the board, and the deliciously-named Plug-In Sentinel is on-hand to scan plugins on startup and ensure stability.
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Steinberg Cubase Pro 9. Reaper 5 released in wasn't a massive step up from v4 in terms of new headline features, but it certainly consolidated the software's status as one of the most customisable and affordable DAW around. What's more, it's wonderfully responsive, with everything from scrolling and zooming to fader moves and Item editing feeling quick and fluid.
If you factor in some possibly significant budget for the soundware of your choice, Reaper 5 makes for a top-class music production environment. Roll on Reaper 6, we say. Cockos Reaper 5. While many DAW developers like to unveil 'full' version updates on a regular basis, Apple prefers to give us a steady stream of point releases.
Logic Pro X This offered a tweaked GUI that's designed to look more contemporary and be more legible, while the Touch Bar can be used to navigate your project in a timeline overview. As in GarageBand, it gives you access to volume and Smart Controls, and you have the option to turn it into a musical keyboard complete with various custom scale options or a set of drum pads, too. The Touch Bar can also be customised to allow access to your favourite keyboard shortcuts.
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