Digital audio workstations
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is software used for recording, editing, and producing music. They are arguably the most important tool in the modern producer's toolkit.
At a minimum, a computer-based DAW (the focus of the page) must be used in conjunction with a computer, a sound card or audio interface, and at least one input device for adding or modifying music data (audio or midi).
Choosing a DAW
There is no straightforward answer for which DAW a produce should use. Depending on who you ask, you will get a wide variety of answers and no shortage of shit-talking. Many producers take pride in the DAW that they use. After all, it is a piece of software that producers spend countless hours in front of. In many ways a DAW is to a producer as an instrument is to a musician.
The reality is that most producers simply stick with the first serious DAW they use. As a producer learns the ins-and-outs of a particular DAW, it becomes harder to switch. For this reason, if you are just starting out, you have the advantage of being able to research and pick your DAW based on what is most important to you. Once you make a choice, the most important thing you can do as a producer is master your DAW. Invest time in understanding how the software works and production will come easily to you. The most skilled producers have lowered the barriers to creation by so much that musical ideas flow out of them, unhindered. And remember, always RTFM.
Comparison of DAWs
Below is a comparison of common DAWs. Rows highlighted in bold represent the most popular software. These DAWs are generally considered to be "safe choices". [citation]
|Make||Model||OS||Plug-In||Interface||Price USD||Well Known Users|
|Ableton||Live||M / W||AU / VST||ASIO / Core Audio||$119 - $899||Bassnectar, Justice, M83, Odesza, Diplo, Skrillex, Flying Lotus, Glitch Mob, many others |
|Adobe||Audition||M / W||VST||ASIO / Core Audio||$20.99/mo|
|Apple||Logic Pro||M||AU||Core Audio||$199.99||Disclosure, Hardwell, Nicky Romero, Brian Eno, Boys Noize, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, many others |
|Apple||GarageBand||M / iOS||AU||Core Audio||Free||Steve Lacy, Justice, Rihanna, Usher, Grimes, Haim |
|Audacity||Audacity||L / M / W||AU / LV2 / VST||Core Audio / WDM||Free|
|Avid||Pro Tools||M / W||AAX Native||ASIO / Core Audio||Subscription Model||Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys, Timbaland, Owl City, Dave Navarro |
|Bitwig||Bitwig Studio||L / M / W||VST||$169 - $399||Vessel, Claude Young, Opuswerk, John Tejada, Mamiko Motto, Zombie Nation |
|Bandlab (previously Cakewalk)||Cakewalk (previously Sonar)||W||VST||ASIO / WDM||Free||Wu-Tang Clan, Adventure Club, Ray Charles, Slipknot |
|Cockos||Reaper||M / W||VST / JS / DX||ASIO / Core Audio||$60 - $225|
|Image-Line||FL Studio||M / W / iOS / Android||VST||ASIO / WDM||$99 - $899||Metro Boomin, BOI-1DA, 9th Wonder, Lex Luger, Hit-Boy, Avicii, Porter Robinson, many others |
|NA / Open-Source||Ardour||L / M / W||AU / LV2 / VST||Free|
|NA / Open-Source||LMSS||L / M / W||VST||Free|
|PreSonus||Studio One||M / W||AU / VST||ASIO / Core Audio||$99.95 - $399.95||KATFYR, MVP Loops, James Reynolds, Pete Stewart |
|Propellerhead||Reason||M / W||VST||Core Audio / WDM||$99 - $299||Kill the Noise, Weval, FaltyDL, Super Flu, Tora, Cid Rim |
|Steinberg||Cubase||M / W||VST||ASIO / Core Audio||$99 - $559.99||Hans Zimmer, Chvches, Zedd, Kraftwerk, Nils Frahm, Tiesto |