Best DAW Software: The Definitive Guide for 2019

Best DAW Software

Do you find it challenging to choose a DAW that fits your workflow in your Home Recording Studio?

Most modern producers use DAW software.

But which DAW is suitable for you?

I think many of you still have an old tape recorder somewhere at home, right?

But really

…Let’s be honest with each other:

Recording music these days happens with a computer, especially when you have a home recording studio.

We are going to help you find the answers you need.

So let’s take a closer look.

12 Best DAW Software – for Beginners and Professionals

#1. Avid Pro Tools 12

Avid Pro Tools

General

Pro Tools is probably the most celebrated (or most used) workhorse for (bedroom) producers.

ProTools Ultimate 12

It has a rich history dating back 30 years now.

For starters, this software is a creation of Avid Technology (initially Digidesign).

Primarily, it offers all it takes to record and produce music for both Mac and Windows users.

And it can operate as a standalone DAW or by using external converters and so on.

Digital Audio Workstation Software Pro Tools

But, more importantly, Pro Tools has stood the test of time due to its sound quality and hassle-free workflow.

Thanks to a wholesome range of powerful tools, users can hone of performances in every imaginable way.

Of course, since the first-ever version released in the late ’80s, it has been augmented and upgraded over the years.

Pro-Tools 1.1

Specifically, the latest Pro Tools 2019 has defied long-existing barriers to meet contemporary professional production demands.

The cleanliness, neatness and the beautiful outline of Avid’s Pro Tools make it one of the best available for any aspiring music producer.

Wondering what’s in store with the latest version of this DAW?

What’s New in Pro Tools 12?

Well, it has everything from double MIDI tracks, nonstop audio creation, new virtual instruments, samples, and more.

Avid Pro Tools Daw Software New Virtual Plugin Bundle

To be a little specific, doubling MIDI track count takes the ceiling higher so you can run up to 1024 from a modest 512.

Double MIDI Tracks

Things get even better with a fluid workflow that allows more seamless interaction.

Users can now enjoy flourishing creativity updating tracks, and timeline sections during playback.

Meaning, one can also try out effects, presets, and more without pausing the performance.

Updating Tracks During Playback

As if that is not enough, Avid also scales the heights with smarter control features.

Interestingly, it is now possible to name tracks automatically as they materialize.

Naming Tracks Pro Tools DAW

Sounds impressive, right?

How about compatibility with MacOS Mojave?

Mojave Compatibility Pro Tools

Smile, smile Mac users- Pro Tools nails it for you too.

And if you’ve ever imagined collaborating with other users over the cloud, that’s now a reality.

As much as ten users can work on a single project simultaneously from different locations, thanks to the Pro-Tools cloud collaboration tool.

Pro Tools DAW Music Collaboration

Want to take hands-on control of your mix?

With this as your DAW, users can now integrate with EUCON enabled controls.

The result is speedy recording, editing, and mixing tasks with unlimited access to relevant resources just from the control surface.

We could go on and on…

Basically, you get a variety of new features that supports and helps you make the most out of your creative potential.

What makes it stand out?

Pro Tools is a powerful all-rounder as far as recording, editing, and mixing are concerned.

It is loaded with probably everything both professional, and bedroom producers need to get the job done.

Check out this Pro Tools Promo video from Avid – What’s new in Pro Tools 12.

Pros & Cons
  • Provides for quick and creative mixing
  • Maximizes creative possibilities with Avid Complete Plugin Bundle
  • Allows secure connection and sharing of works
  • Features immersive and advanced audio editing and automation tools
  • Offers sufficient presets for inspiration
  • Compatible with all MIDI controllers
  • Comes with free instruments and effect plugins
  • Excellent audio engine
  • Flexible subscription options
  • Full version is a little costly
  • The layout is a little complex
Conclusion

Pro Tools is, by all standards, a good bet for any creative type hellbent on producing great music.

It will take some learning and practice to master your way around.

Nevertheless, anyone will find it competent for contemporary production needs.

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#2. PreSonus Studio One 4

Presonus Studio One

General

Next, here comes a personal go-to DAW for many seasoned producers.

As the name seems to suggest, you can think of it as a real complete studio package right on your computer.

Here’s a little background before we proceed.

The development of Studio One began under the name K2 around 2004.

From K2 To Presonus Studio One

After that, it transitioned under several collaborating developers until everything settled in 2009 under the PreSonus label.

Since then, it has improved from strength to strength, offering both MacOS and Windows users all the essential features that define a real DAW.

Talk of multi-track and audio mixing functionality and integration with virtual instruments and more.

What’s New in Studio One 4.5?

Now at Studio One 4.5, you’d expect some great transformation.

PreSonus Studio One 4.5

Yes!

The latest version doesn’t disappoint. Let’s have a look at what it has to offer.

To begin with, Studio One 4.5 is underscored by a fast, flow-oriented, drag and drop interface.

Check out this Drag and Drop Tutorial Video for Studio One below:

Once you lay your hands on it, you can get deep into creativity in no time.

Well, there’s no denying that PreSonus has delivered more of what conventional recordists and modern non-linear producers care about.

Presonus Studio One 10 Year Anniversary

Beyond that, you get multi-core optimization for virtual instruments.

It means the CPU load for engaging several instrument plugins has been reduced, making it easier to get the best of your computer.

Users will also appreciate deeper integration with existing PreSonus hardware.

It doesn’t stop there.

Studio One 4.5 opens the world to expanded input, polarity options, gain staging and channel customization.

Input Channel mixer

And thanks to a new channel mixer section, it offers additional controls that even hardware couldn’t provide.

All you can imagine as a result is more flexibility and precision with executions.

Similarly, this DAW now has much better routing and metering updates.

Studio One - Routing and Metering

It’s multi-channel input-output routing to individual sources or destinations is a touch away.

Don’t forget.

There’s also an alternative reverse sidechain workflow, global pre-fader metering, and an all-new cross-cutting RMS/peak metering options.

Presonus Studio One 4.5 - Reverse Sidechaining

Also, it presents new note editing capabilities that go deep beyond MIDI actions.

Studio One Note Editing

A re-designed Note Action Menu optimized for prompt and intuitive editing with all the creative options and short cuts.

It’s all in there. Still, not enough?

There’s more.

Presonus Studio One Redesigned Grouping

From re-designed grouping to expanded import-export options.

Expanded Exporting in Studio One

A streamlined plugin manager.

Studio One Streamlined Plugin Manager

As well as a custom Lock capabilities, perhaps there is little else one can ask.

Studio One - Lock it Up Capabilities

What makes it stand out?

Studio one has always been all about the user.

It has been crafted to help users get creative with being overwhelmed with too many controls.

And now, you can customize vital commands to your taste.

And perhaps the icing on the cake- it presents presets for critical controls for other software such as Pro Tools and Logic.

Pros & Cons
  • Works better and faster
  • Sufficient tools for limitless creativity
  • Organized and easy to use interface
  • Great for collaboration
  • Flexible integration options
  • Presents a complete production package of world-class instruments
Conclusion

Although Studio One 4.5 is a significant update, it still makes it easy to create and record music in no time.

The experience will be different between greenhorns and seasoned users.

Still, with intuitiveness as its core, it should be easy to convert mere musical ideas to reality.

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#3. Ableton Live 10

Ableton Live

General

There are many reasons why top electronic music producers use Ableton Live.

The first thing to note, unlike other digital music sequencers and DAWs, Ableton Live mainly thrives when it comes to Live Performances.

Ableton Live Performance

And yes!

Ableton Live not only works for composing, recording, mixing, and mastering but has that little extra.

It’s worth highlighting that it sits among the first musical applications credited for introducing automatic track beat matching.

Currently, at version ten, one can’t help but feel impressed over the transformative journey that dates back to 2001 when the first-ever Ableton software hit the market.

Ableton Live 4 back in 2004

 

Today, it is still inclined to facilitating live performances but hasn’t wavered on other features that support music production.

What’s New in Ableton Live 10?

So, what can you expect from the latest version?

In the first place, Live boasts of a new set of automation elements like automation shapes, and stretch and skew automation.

Ableton Live - Automation Shapes

But, the real kicker with the improvements is the ability to customize by typing in specific values from a numerical keypad.

To add to that.

There is a Session View feature that allows hassle-free access to clip modulation and facilitates easier editing as well.

Ableton Live - Session View Clips

Also on the menu of improvements is custom user wavetables- certainly a welcome addition for synthesists.

Ableton Live Wavetable’s Interface

It’s now possible to import your wavetables or samples into the DAW to expand the factory library of the wavetable oscillator section.

What else?

Viewing just got better.

Live now boasts of more streamlined viewing with enhanced zoom and scroll capabilities.

Even better, these new capabilities are accessible via fluid keyboard shortcuts.

Switching between detailed views and editing can’t get any easier.

And while it hasn’t exhausted imaginable video features, it has reorganized existing delays and brought in a third EQ.

Ableton Live - Ping Pong and Simple Delay

You will appreciate the new channel strip EQ and rationalized delay effects.

Ableton Live - Channel EQ

That is to say, you’ve got sound sculpting got a boost all through the various audio sources.

Other welcome additions include new export options and Track Freezing with Side Chains.

Ableton Live - Track Freezing with Side Chain

And to top it all, you’ll no doubt be swept by the arrival of the long-awaited VST3 support.

What makes it stand out?

Quite simply, Ableton Live has long been considered the gold standard of live DAW’s.

And for all its worth, it is hard to dispel this assertion.

In other words, if you are into live performance recording, this DAW remains your best bet.

Pros & Cons
  • Perfect for beginners and professionals
  • Easy to use
  • Rich sound library
  • Includes wide-ranging instruments and effects
  • Great fit for electronic music production
  • May experience CPU issues with older computers
Conclusion

Ableton is one flexible DAW well-placed for experimentation and creation for pro-grade audio projects.

But, if there is only one reason why you should try it, it should be the impressive support for live performance recording.

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#4. Steinberg Cubase 10

Steinberg Cubase Pro

General

Here’s the thing!

Cubase is one of the oldest DAW optimized for electronic music production.

As an old-timer, its origin goes back to 1989 when the pioneer version- a MIDI sequencer that ran on the Atari STe computer got launched.

Cubase Atari 1989

Of course, that has since changed significantly.

For clarity, Cubase has been developed by Steinberg and serves as much as a typical digital audio workstation designed to help in music and MIDI composition, recording, and editing.

Notably, when it comes to editing and sequencing MIDI and audio as well as hosting VSTi’s and effects, it has proven to be a real workhorse.

From its early days among the very first music software to run on a computer, Cubase has kept the pace with massive music-making technologies.

For instance, it has been at the heart of developments such as VST and ASIO formats, surround sound, time-stretching, virtual synthesis, and more.

What’s New in Cubase Pro 10?

And now, the latest version- Cubase Pro 10, you can expect breakthrough additions as follows.

First and foremost, one can’t help but notice the new look.

Steinberg Cubase 10

 

Although the layout isn’t any different from the previous versions, the buttons and icons have been given a makeover.

The re-design has led to a fashionable flat look that makes the general layout even more inviting.

Moving on, users can now enjoy new creative opportunities thanks to a VariAudio 3 feature that caters for improved workflow.

Cubase 10 - VariAudio 3

Again, there’s a new Audio Alignment tool credited for time-saving automation.

Audio Alignment Panel for time-saving Automation

Steinberg has also introduced Mix Console snapshots that ease the process of alternating from one mix set up to another.

Cubase - Mixconsole Snapshots

Other key takeaways with the Cubase Pro 10 include a better audio engine, clean-crispy graphics, improved Groove Agent SE, and REVerence plugins, as well as compatibility with ARA plugin and MPE.

Cubase - Groove Agent SE5

Check out this amazing guide I wrote about Virtual Drum Plugins.

Let’s not forget the instruments and effects.

Cubase has increased not only the number of samples, sounds, and patches, but quality too.

The selection covers everything from reverbs to dynamics, modulation effects, delays, and more.

Cubase - Reverence Reverb Plugin

One particular highlight is the new Destroyer plugin. So, honing and tuning gets better.

Cubase Pro 10 - Distroyer Processor Plugin

But perhaps, the icing on the cake is the Virtual Reality Production Suite.

Cubase Virtual Reality Production Suite

Well, Steinberg is tuning Cubase to be a futuristic DAW that can help produce content for Virtual Reality.

Amazing, right?

What Makes Cubase Stand Out?

Cubase comes in different flavours that serve varying needs.

Depending on your projects, you can choose a matching package.

Otherwise, it goes without question that the core features deliver industry-standard functionality.

Check out this Promo Video from Cubase showing you what’s new in Cubase 10.

Pros & Cons
  • User-friendly
  • Supports cloud collaboration
  • Full support for high-resolution displays
  • True surround capability
  • Refined interface
  • Flexible controls
  • Massive instruments and effects library
  • Takes time to master all the controls
Conclusion

As one of the biggest names in the industry, Steinberg has continuously improved Cubase to suit changing needs.

The features are not only useful for completing projects but designed with great user experience in mind.

And now, with the latest version, creativity in music production gets better.

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#6. Reason Studios 11

Reason Studios

General

Formerly known as Propellerhead, Reason is another decent DAW for creating and editing audio and music.

The Swedish brains behind the software initially built it as a digital emulation of a rack of randomly interconnecting hardware synthesizers, samplers, signal processors, sequencers, and mixers.

Reason 2.5 back in 2001

For your information, the first-ever version of this DAW dates back to November 2000.

That’s almost two decades in the game.

Unfortunately, for the better part of this period, it seemed to hold back.

Of course, they are opening up now with Reason 11.

Reason Studios Reason 11

For many veterans, the shakeup leading to Reason 11 stirs mixed feelings.

Should the developer have preserved the original design of a self-contained virtual studio?

Or is opening up with new features far better?

Well, let’s run through the new offerings, then you can decide. Right?

What’s new in Reason Studios 11?

Two main changes make Reason 11 worth giving attention.

First in line is the newly introduced Reason Rack (VST3) Plugin.

Reason Rack VST3 Plugin with Ableton

And what’s interesting about it?

It enables users to exploit Reason’s core tools as a distinct plugin in another DAW.

Secondly, Reason Studios breaks out by introducing new Master Compressor, Channel Dynamics, and Channel EQ tools.

Reason Studios Rack Extensions

In other words, it presents the ability to use elements of the DAW’s SSL-modelled mixer as distinct devices.

And to add to that, it brings onboard new creative effects- Quartet Chorus Ensemble, and Sweeper Modulation Effect.

Reason 11 DAW - Quartet Chorus Ensemble

Reason 11 - Sweeper Modulation Effect Plugin

Other welcome enhancements include workflow improvements like curved automation, audio clip crossfades, improved zoom function, and mute on individual MIDI notes.

Reason 11 - Curved Automation

As a bonus, you can also enjoy a more accessible overview when editing or playing your MIDI considering Reason 11 now displays ‘played’ and ‘selected’ notes in key edit.

What makes Reason worth considering?

While one may easily argue for the Plugin-Studio combination, it’s the sound that makes it a winner.

Everything from the synths to sampled instruments, drum machines, and effects inspires unbarred sonic experimentation and creativity.

Pros & Cons
  • Great for beginners
  • Massive sound library
  • Inviting and easy to use
  • Delivers high-quality sound
  • Inspires experimentation and creativity
  • Rack Plugin is an enormous game-changer
  • Having the mixer channels as separate effects allow more flexibility
  • Rack Plugin can’t host VSTs or load Reason projects
  • Rack Plugin is currently VST3 only
Conclusion

Even without the latest significant changes, Reason was already a good bet as a Virtual Studio.

Now, things just got better.

There’s room for improvement, but at least it makes sense to Rack it up!

Hope you agree?

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#6. Image-Line FL Studio 20

 

Image Line FL Studio 20

General

Get this! FL Studio (formerly FruityLoops) is a creation of Belgian outfit Image-Line.

As a DAW, it was built primarily with a UI emulating a music sequencer.

Until now, it remains available in four editions, all available for both MacOS and Windows users.

And interestingly, FL Studio is available for mobile and can also be employed in other DAWs as a VSTi or with ReWire.

FL Studio Mobile

Now, the first-ever FL Studio (then FruityLoops 1.0.0) hit the market in 1998 as a four-channel MIDI drum machine.

Fruityloops 1.0 1998

Since then, upgrades have kept coming giving rise to the advanced version available today.

So, the current version 20 is over 20 years of innovative work.

Perhaps it is essential to mention, FL Studio 20 was released on May 2018 to celebrate the 20th anniversary.

That explains why the developer bypassed versions 13 to 19.

What’s New in FL Studio 20?

Tell you what, though?

Apart from introducing native 64-bit MacOS support, FL Studio 20 boasts of the following new features.

FL Studio 64 bit MacOS Support

FL Studio now supports multiple time signatures.

FL Studio - Time Signatures

Users can set varying signatures over playlists within the selected FL Channel Rack.

On top of that, it presents up to three ways to consolidate audio and has flexible avenues for managing songs in a playlist.

FL Studio - Playlist and Browser

So, now you can easily design several versions for remixing and so on.

FL Studio Mixer

To aid better playlist management, it now offers unlimited playlist arrangements.

For example, to keep the playlist area neat, you have the provision of hiding groups of tracks.

So even though the tracks have increased to 500, you can keep everything tight and tidy.

FL Studio Playlist Arrangements

Other key additions include MIDI and audio clip consolidation, improved plugin delay compensation, and the re-introduction of the Step Sequencer Graph Editor.

FL Studio Channel Rack Step Sequencer

Don’t forget.

FL Studio 20 now supports VST1, 2, 3, in effect allowing access to unlimited plugins.

You can no longer complain if the selection of native instruments and effects doesn’t cut it.

For users keen about the interface, you’ll find the multi-touch interface fulfilling.

Moreover, it is possible to resize and rework the user interface to your liking.

And perhaps the best for last- the improved Piano Roll.

FL Studio Piano roll

With it, sending note and automation data to plugin instruments is now a breeze.

What makes FL Studio Stand out?

You can be sure FL Studio is one of the most affordable DAW’s in the market.

Even better is the fact that Image-Line is well-known for offering free lifetime updates.

At the same time, it comes with some game-changing features.

Such as the standout Piano roll and non-linear playlist capability, which brings more freedom around the working space.

Pros & Cons
  • Supports rendering of files between Mac and PC versions
  • Flexible browser and playlist
  • Free lifetime updates
  • Automatic recording and editing
  • Great for electronic music production
  • Available in multiple editions
  • Advanced help system
  • Limiting for film music producers
Conclusion

FL Studio is an all-in-one package for composing, arranging, recording, mixing, and mastering music.

It’s relatively easy to work with and offers all it takes to better your audio files.

So it’s a decent pick for everyday electronic music production needs.

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#7. Apple Logic Pro X

Logic Pro X

General

Generally speaking, Logic Pro X remains a top-rated software, particularly for Mac users.

Although it is considered Apple’s flagship DAW for the MacOS platform, its development began way back early 1990 as Notator Logic.

Notator Logic

Then, it was a brainchild of German software company C-Lab (later Emagic).

Apple bought Emagic in 2002, so they came up with a new name- Logic Pro.

Emagic Logic Platinum 5

And over the years, Apple has released a variety of versions with improvements flowing all the way.

For instance, they have in the past developed light model dubbed Logic Express that used a similar interface and audio engine though with fewer features.

However, it has since been discontinued.

Today, we have Logic Pro X at version 10.

Logic Pro X 10

Want to know the latest key features in there? Let’s dive in already.

What’s New in Logic Pro X?

The top of the list is a new single-window customizable user interface.

Just on a single window, users can now work on multiple elements in one uncluttered interface.

That, combined with the newly introduced smart controls, you can now map parameters from a collection of plugins in just one window.

Logic Pro X Smart Controls

Amazing, right?

It needs no mention that there are additional tools included in the package.

Key among them is a Drummer, which is an automatic virtual session player that delivers a wide array of playing styles and techniques.

Logic Pro X Drummer Software

When it comes to pitch-editing, Logic Pro X now has a Flex Pitch feature, a Flex Time equivalent for reworking audio recordings.

Logic Pro X - Flex Pitch Logic Pro X - Flex Time

Then again.

Not only has it included re-designed keyboards and synths.

Apple has also brought in new stompboxes, bass amps and drum kit tools, and a chord arpeggiator.

Logic Pro X Pedal Stomboxes

Logic Pro X Bass Amp

Likewise, things got better with the made-over sound and loop library as well as patch architecture.

Logic Pro X - Loop Library

Logic Pro X - Patch Architecture

Need more tracks?

Logic Pro X has increased track and channel count big time.

With up to 1000 audio tracks, 1000 virtual instrument tracks, 1000 auxiliary channel strips, and 1000 external MIDI tracks.

Moving on, Logic Pro X has also improved track arrangement.

Now, it is possible to cluster multiple tracks in folder-like groups, say acoustics, vocals, or percussions.

And for each group, it provides the ability to trigger volume, solo, and mute controls

Logic Pro X Improved Track Arrangement.

Other improvements of interest include enhancements of score editing, exporting, and the introduction of MIDI plugin support.

Logic Pro X Score Editing

Also present is a new DeEsser 2 plugin with options to reduce sibilance on audio tracks, a renewed retina interface for Expander plugin, and more.

Logic Pro X DeEsser2

Lastly, you will enjoy a more responsive Mixer and Event list even when working on multiple sessions.

Logic Pro X Mixer

What makes Stand out?

Despite being MacOS only software, Logic Pro X packs incredible power expected of a full-service music production tool.

Given its extensive sound library, intuitive interface, and handy controls- you can expect value for money in there.

And as a bonus:

Logic Pro X IOS Devices

you have the advantage of working on your project on mobile devices thanks to the recently launched Mobile App.

Pros & Cons
  • Great virtual instrument library
  • Versatile
  • Easy to use
  • Ideal for both professionals and beginners
  • Available for Mac users only
Conclusion

As Apple’s professional music production application, Logic Pro X is optimized to exploit the power of Mac Pro.

With all the features, you can get creative with your music as you wish no matter your experience.

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#8. Cockos Reaper 5

 

Cockos Reaper

General

For starters, Reaper is a creation of Cockos Inc., an ambitious digital audio technology company from California.

In fact, Reaper is a short form of Rapid Environment for Audio Production and Recording.

Now, while Reaper has been around for just over ten years, it packs the power and flexibility of a complete digital audio workstation and MIDI sequencer.

Granted, its range of features makes it quite competitive in an industry dominated by big guns like Ableton Live, Pro Tools, and FL Studio.

Till now, Cockos has distinguished itself by including a provision for users to build custom menus, toolbars, and macros, not to mention the ability to alter the appearance of the interface in its entirety.

Cockos Reaper 5

But more importantly, the development team has kept the fire burning through constant improvements and functions.

In an attempt to provide a viable alternative to already dominant DAWs, they seem to focus more on delivering advanced functional capabilities over the quantity of media content.

And the resulting flexibility and capabilities have reached a new level in Reaper 5.

What’s New in Cockos Reaper 5?

Some of the headline features you can expect from the latest version are as follows;

To begin with, it comes with a re-done default theme that brings in additional layouts.

The layouts can be applied full scale or per channel to influence aspects like fader size, pan pot position, or even what’s on the Track header.

Following closely, the DAW now has a Theme Developer Panel included in the Action Menu from where color modifications for existing themes can be accessed.

Similarly, Reaper now boasts of a new VCA grouping capability that enables users to manage the output level and dimension of multiple tracks.

 

The feature especially comes handy if you want to implement collective changes without conflicting already recorded track automation.

Cockos Reaper - Track Groups

Another key-improvement involves automation envelopes.

With Reaper 5, users can now apply automation either track-based or to individual items.

In case you shift an item or track, the set automation remains regardless.

Cockos has also improved Scripting courtesy of an enhanced ReaScript development environment.

You can now write and debug scripts in Lua, EEL, and Python just by accessing the feature from the Action List.

The beauty of it all- it opens room for creativity with everything from simple macros to deep customization.

Next, you have the introduction of Smart folders that provides for folder-specific file searching and grouping of keyword plugin in the FX browser.

Other functional developments include better video support, responsive interface with seamless scroll, zoom, and fade actions.

What makes Reaper worth considering?

Reaper prides itself as one of the most customizable and budget-friendly DAW.

It’s easy on the RAM and CPU usage and continues to introduce headline features required of a top-class soundware.

[email protected]

Pros & Cons
  • Powerful and highly customizable
  • Compact disk footprint
  • Efficient workflow
  • Usable of both Windows and Mac
  • Avails a great selection of plugins
  • Supports third party effects
  • Minimal bundled plugins
  • Novices will need some learning
Conclusion

With Reaper, you can enjoy the features and functional flexibility of a full-fledged DAW without spending a fortune.

In short, if you want a budget-friendly tool for recording, editing, and mixing your audio, you could try it out.

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#9. Bitwig Studio 3

Bitwig Studio

General

Here’s the thing, Bitwig Studio shares significant workflow similarities with Ableton Live.

Why is this?

It’s for the simple fact that former Ableton engineers are among the brains behind its development.

Bitwig Studio 3 User Interface

Now just over five years since the first version was released, it continues to build a name for itself by shedding various aspects of that have been points of comparison.

Although it remains a relatively new DAW, it has continued to build its impressive modular synthesis environment and networking tools.

What’s New in Bitwig Studio 3?

Confirming the DAW is no longer an infant, its latest release is now version 3.0, where advancing the modulation system seems central to everything else.

Specifically, at the core of the latest rendering is The Grid- an all-new system designed to help users build their own synths and effects.

Bitwig Studio 3 The Grid

The Grid is basically a new tool that equips the DAW with a full-scale modular environment.

Further, it features two iterations- Poly Grid and FX Grid for polyphonic-sound generation and creation of audio effect processors, respectively.

In use, the system enables both native and third-party devices to attach as many additional modulators as possible.

It seems simplistic, but considering it also works alongside Bitwig’s MIDI and CV input/output devices, it turns out quite powerful.

The result is that users can add over 150 modulation tools carefully selected from envelope generators, randomizers, LFOs, and more.

Check out this video from Bitwig about The Grid:

Beyond The Grid, Bitwig Studio now features an improved device mode menu.

Bitwig Devices

Version 3 presents a re-designed Instrument Inspector with three voice modes, namely polyphonic, digital mono, and true mono mode, with each offer distinct voice options.

For instance, digital mono offers alternative voices, while true mono provides just a single voice.

What else?

Bitwig has made working on project files safe with an automatic backup feature.

Also, take note “the Studio” has also been improved with support for version 3 of Ableton Link for ‘start/stop’ synchronization.

Other impressive additions include a Real-time Ruler for highlighting timelines and VU Meter Routing Choosers to help in signal selection.

Lastly, over and above the functional tools, you now a more refined UI with new global contrast settings that make the interface unusually inviting.

What makes Bitwig Studio Stand out?

Bitwig thrives when it comes to facilitating music production as well as supporting live performances.

Moreover, its ability to support linear music arrangement and non-linear music production makes it worth considering.

Pros & Cons
  • Open and user-friendly design
  • An extensive selection of effects and filters (though there’s still room for improvement)
  • Exceptional I/O and control options
  • Intuitive layout
  • Expanded sound library and editing tools
  • Supports real-time collaboration
  • Strong modulation and intuitive automation
  • Ideal for beginners and experts alike
  • The Grid with unique sound design options
  • Toolbars can be confusing especially for beginners
Conclusion

If you are looking for a dynamic DAW for producing your musical ideas live or in the studio, Bitwig Studio is a good pick.

If anything, it operates as a full-service digital audio workstation complete with in-built instruments.

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#10. MOTU Digital Performer 10

Motu Digital Performer 10 DAW Software

General

The Digital Performer by Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) is yet another DAW/sequencer software package for full-scale audio production, recording, and mixing.

Its humble beginnings go way back to mid-’80s when MOTU founded an application dubbed Performer for the Macintosh.

Then, it relied on Macintosh’s high fidelity graphics for printing music scores.

Later, more improvements followed.

Currently, it sits among award-winning DAWs well-set for recording audio, scoring music, and arranging sound for post-production.

What’s New in DP 10?

It’s no secret MOTU has consistently worked on new features and workflow enhancements with each released version.

True to it, the latest Digital Performer 10 now includes long overdue capabilities.

Let’s have a look. Shall we?

To begin with, Digital Performer 10 boasts of a new content browser that allows instant access to all the resources.

Motu Digital Performer Content Browser for Instant access

The browser now leaves the virtual instruments, loops, clips, and plugins just a click or two away.

Next is the streamlined Waveform Editor.

DP 10 Waveform Editor

Now you have an all-out environment for editing waveforms with everything from zooming shortcuts, beat editing, pitch correction, embedded tempo maps, and so on.

 

DP10 Pitch Correction

It not only opens up for creativity but speeds up workflow significantly.

Next, Digital Performer 10 has now opened up for unparalleled audio tweaking.

With a new Stretch Audio tool, users can now enjoy more carefree, quicker, and more accurate manipulation of individual beat timing, global tempo changes.

Just by letting the Stretch mode kick in, you can easily have the parameter conform without experiencing unwanted effects.

Remember, DP 10 has also implemented a new beat detection engine that works in tandem with the Stretch Audio feature to ensure the quality of sound remains consistent all through.

Then again, MOTU has dropped a whole new instruments soundbank.

It presents a massive gallery of instruments, including classic synths, loops, and phrases, among other sampled sounds.

Digital Performer DAW Software

That means users now have access to a versatile collection catering for every style and genre.

But, even better is the fact that these instruments have just the basic features, so they are in no way overwhelming.

Granted, the new sample browser from where you can access whatever you want, drag and drop to the project’s timeline and get creative in no time.

Another revolutionary improvement involves the clips window.

MOTU has implemented an Ableton Live-like interface, thereby enabling a live control over audio playback.

You can visually confirm clips on the queue via a window display once you play a track.

That’s not all.

You can now run your favorite VST plugins and instruments, now that it supports VST3

And while all these improvements are significant, nothing settles it like the feel and scalability of the user interface.

With DP 10, you can make the most of high-resolution computer display for a more clear viewing experience.

Pros & Cons
  • Large and efficient library
  • Speedy workflow
  • Great editing controls
  • Intuitive and scalable interface
  • Efficient sound engine
  • Some parts of UI not as clear
  • Lugs behind in collection of virtual instruments
Conclusion

Why consider the Digital Performer?

DP is simply a powerful DAW and MIDI sequencer that’s only be limited by your computer’s specifications.

For all it offers, MOTU Digital Performer is well oiled to cater for everyday audio production needs.

It may not have the charisma like some of the rival pacesetters like Ableton Live but remains a decent alternative.

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#11. Acoustica Mixcraft Pro Studio 8

Acoustica Mixcraft Pro Studio

General

Looking for a Windows-only DAW?

Here comes Mixcraft, a multi-track recording tool by Acoustica.

In principle, it works as a digital audio workstation, MIDI sequencer, virtual instrument host, a non-linear video arranger, and track loop recording software, all in one unit.

With competition getting hotter among top DAW developers, Mixcraft hasn’t been left behind.

For one, it supports a wholesome variety of advanced audio production resources.

Even though it designed for PC users only, it comes feature-packed just like any other stellar alternative out there.

Just at face value, it’s already easy to notice it comes packed with functional features and a lot of extras as well.

Now, let’s find out what Acoustica adds to the existing package.

What’s New in Mixcraft Pro 8?

First off, Mixcraft Pro Studio 8 comes with six more virtual instruments, 28 additional effects, and plugins worth more than $1250.

Secondly, Acoustica takes the software to the next level with an integrated Melodyne Tuning Software.

Mixcraft Pro 8 - Integrated Melodyne Tuning Software

With Celemony’s revolutionary application now directly linked into Mixcraft’s clip sound edit window, it really speeds vocal pitching.

Next, Mixcraft Pro Studio comes with additional synths.

The new inclusions are nothing but accurate emulations of revered analog and virtual models such as the Moog Memorymoog and Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer.

Of all the additions, one highlight is the Kastelheimer Veldberg XD – which is by many standards a goldmine for analog and digital timbres.

When it comes to virtual pianos, Mixcraft doesn’t disappoint.

With the peerless Pianissimo, it is now easier to imitate the warmth, response, and playability of a grand piano.

Mixcraft Pro Peerless Pianissimo Plugin

Pianissimo blends high-quality piano samples, advanced physical modeling, and desirable characteristics; like sympathetic resonance, great tonal control, over 200 polyphony voices to bring an aura of realism during audio production.

What’s more, you can now achieve higher fidelity levels in your tracks thanks to superior mastering tools.

Mixcraft Pro - Superior Mastering Tools

With virtual tools such as iZotope’s Mastering Essentials suite, TB parametric EQ, SideKick6 Sidechaining Compressor, and more mastering moves to a whole new level.

Mixcraft Pro Studio also introduces the warm, smooth sound of tubes.

Mixcraft Pro - Vacuum Tube PSEQ-1

 

Users can now worry less when it comes to tuning harsh frequencies.

Other key takeaways you can expect, include innovative sonic shapers, live performance recording, XBass Enhancer, MP4, and VST3 support.

Mixcraft - Sound Shapers

Why is Mixcraft Pro Studio worth considering?

For PC users, Mixcraft gets everything right.

From a powerful audio engine to global automation for parameters not to mention high-quality sounds and instruments.

Generally, it has all the basics for making pro-grade music.

To top it all, at its price, you can even consider it as a backup to your primary DAW.

Pros & Cons
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Impressive global automation recording
  • Flexible rendering options
  • Extensive range of tools and effects
  • Powerful audio engine
  • Great selection of sounds
  • Seamless controls
  • PC use only
Conclusion

Mixcraft Pro Studio combines excellent recording capabilities and all the right tools in a sleek interface.

Though it still has to improve- it is good enough for now.

Overall, a powerful tool you can consider next time sonic inspiration strikes.

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#12. Magix Samplitude Pro X4

Magix Samplitude Pro X4

General

At the tail end of our list is another Windows-only DAW.

Being a flagship software from the German developer- Magix, the Samplitude Pro X dates back to 1992 when the first version for Amiga platform was released.

Samplitude Commodore Amgia 1992

It took them another three years to release a version written for Windows.

Needless to say, changes and improvements have kept coming with the latest update being Samplitude Pro X 4.

 

Read on for a run down the new additions you can expect from Samplitude Pro X 4.

What’s New in Samplitude Pro X4?

First up, it’s now possible to view and edit automation lanes within a track.

Magix Samplitude Pro X - Automation Lanes

Alongside essential controls, the new capability turns out handy for tweaking parameters such as synth settings.

And with that, users can achieve more exciting and dynamic results.

The editing MIDI has been improved with re flawless plug and play function and setup.

Samplitude Pro X Improved MIDI Editing

Likewise, MIDI automation has also been elevated with more efficient functions for manipulating or even stretching automation data.

Samplitude Pro X MIDI Automation Improved

Also, the update included a newly designed audio engine.

In other words, Samplitude Pro X now supports 32-bit and 64-bit CPU audio processing.

Accompanying the engine is a new ASIO boost priority option in the settings.

What that means is- you can engage the setting, to ensure audio processing gets optimal CPU power for better results.

Another inclusion is the new docking system that allows interface optimization.

The system makes adjustments to ensure you get the best of the key components of DAW, depending on your computer’s specifications.

Ideally, the system allows a user to customize the program’s interface via drag and drop for a neat display, which makes it easy to adapt to different projects.

What else?

Thanks to spectral track level editing function, users can now eliminate unwanted effects without interfering with the original signal.

Samplitude Pro X4 - Editing Objects

With the new Spectrogram, the corrections are effected right on the arrangement, which also makes it easier to recognize unwanted sounds for removal.

Of course, Magix couldn’t have released an update without adding a new set of instruments.

Samplitude Pro X - New Virtual Instruments

So, expect a more solid collection of virtual instruments and samples.

Perhaps the best for last is a plugin browser that enables Samplitude users to find and load plugins.

Why should you consider Samplitude Pro X?

While Magix has a lot of catch up to do, it offers value at its price.

It can competently handle audio production, mixing, and mastering, among other things.

The precision audio engine, fully customizable interface among other functional tools, gives it just enough edge to match contemporary producer’s basic requirements.

Pros & Cons
  • Fully customizable interface
  • Efficient processing wit 32-core CPU support
  • Audio and VST parameter automation
  • Seamless workflow
  • Great editing tools
  • Windows only
  • Still lugging behind feature-wise
Conclusion

Samplitude has a robust set of tools and features for recording, editing, and mixing audio.

A little observation, some of its latest improvements have been in other DAWs for a while now.

So, while it can deliver, just don’t expect it to be the same class as Pro Tools, Ableton Live, and the likes.

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Final Thoughts:

As a producer identifying an ideal DAW for your needs should be first your port of call.

Otherwise, you’ll be nowhere close to achieving your music production objectives.

Hopefully, this article gives you enough insight to make a decision over which software gets a spot in your toolkit.

Just don’t forget you’ll need much more than a good DAW to deliver professional sounding music.

All said and done.

If you wish to produce great music conveniently, you shouldn’t miss at least one of these DAWs in your production arsenal.

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