What is a DAW and What does a DAW do?
DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation and is a sort of program you use to record, mix, and process digital audio.
They can be as simple as a single software program on a laptop or as complicated as a multi-component system managed by a central computer.
Yet, each DAW has a central interface that allows the user to edit and mix various tracks into a beautiful final product.
The DAW lets you (the user) record and edits multiple audio files at once, adding effects to the tracks, pan tracks, and much more!
Like with a mixing console, the DAW shows each track and controls that allow the user to control the volume, equalization, and stereo balance (pan) of the sound on each track.
This allows you to tweak each portion of the song you are working on.
You can adjust the volume of each track one by one and hear them individually and then the whole song together as a whole. Once you are satisfied with the way your track sounds, you may export the final mix!
• Pro Tools (Windows/Mac OS)
Pro Tools is the industry-standard DAW. Most audio professionals and experts swear by it.
And you’ll most likely find it in every professional studio.
In short, Pro Tools is software users utilize for traditional recording in a studio setting, and it shines at every stage of the process.
It was one of the first software to integrate digital audio recording, editing, and mixing into one package.
Basically, whatever you can do with a DAW, Pro Tools lets you do it, such as using the built-in virtual instruments and loops.
It costs about $600, and you do get a free trial before you have to buy it.
• FL Studio (Windows/Mac OS)
FL Studio (previously known as Fruity Loops) is popular among hip-hop and electronic artists for its simplistic interfaces that let you get started creating songs instantly.
Representing more than 20 years of inventive development includes everything you need in one unit to compose, organize, record, edit, mix, and master studio-quality music.
In addition, It comes equipped with many native plugins, including samplers, synthesizers and virtual effect units.
The price ranges from approximately $99 to roughly $499.
Image-Line also provides free lifetime updates to the software.
That means if you buy once, you’ll get access to every version from here till infinity.
• Ableton Live (Windows/Mac OS)
Ableton Live is among the key players in the DAW industry, and for a good reason.
Its innovative style and simple “session view” has earned it a popular spot amid electronic producers.
Ableton’s integrated sampling and synthesis plugins are world-class sound-design resources.
Its composting process is one of the simplest and finest for obtaining results quickly. The session interface also enables you to jam your compositions live by firing clips and loops in various combinations.
If that weren’t enough, Ableton continues to add great sample packs to their enormous collection of material you can incorporate in your projects.
The price at around $400 to about $700.
• Logic Pro X (Mac OS)
Logic Pro X is Apple’s Signature audio program.
If you have used Garageband, Logic Pro X will appeal to you since they share a convenient design.
Recently, Apple has been refining the built-in plugins to offer you a suite of all the tools you need to produce great recordings immediately.
Combining an easy MIDI and audio editing and a strong sample editor, Logic Pro X achieves a great mix between flexibility and ease of use.
Logic has pro-level capabilities like pitch and timing correction and realistic guitar amp simulation plugins directly in-app.
The price for the standard edition is $199.99.
• Steinberg Cubase (Windows/Mac OS)
Steinberg’s Cubase was among the earliest DAWs available on the market and continues to remain popular.
Cubase 10 has all of the tools you’ll need to make a professional-quality track.
Initially, The Software started as a MIDI-only program, and its MIDI editing features are still one of the best available.
Also, The audio and mixing capabilities Cubase offers are equally impressive— this DAW can accomplish everything the other names can.
In addition, Steinberg invented the popular VST plugin standard, so there’s a lot of free VST plugin compatibility, especially in Windows.
Certainly, Cubase has many useful features, so keep it in mind while looking for the best DAW for you.
• Presonus Studio (Windows/Mac OS)
Studio One is pretty young compared to DAWs but truly coming into its own with Version 4.5, which boasts some powerful features you won’t get elsewhere.
Its unique high-resolution internal MIDI protocol enables smoother parameter adjustments in MIDI sections.
And the specialized hardware interface plugin lets you operate outboard gear simpler than ever before.
The workflow of Studio One is centred on creativity and inspiration.
Its “songwriting first” architecture makes it simple to write fast.
You can even generate printed scores and lead sheets from the parts you create in the DAW.
Studio One may look like a bit of an underdog, but that allows it a lot of room to experiment, and the results are remarkable.
Studio One at $400; updates from Studio One Professional are $150.
• GarageBand (Mac OS)
If you have a new Apple product (iPhone, iPad, MacBook ), you get GarageBand on that device.
MacBooks are excellent in that they offer a computer and a DAW in one purchase.
It’s recognized for its amazing audio loops, virtual instruments, and its beginner-friendliness.
Once you’re done, you can quickly AirDrop it (i.e. share it) to iTunes and Soundcloud.
• Audacity (Windows/Mac OS)
Audacity is a free, open-source DAW which just about as basic as it can be. It’s a wonderful tool for newbies to start.
You can record several tracks, edit them, and even apply effects like EQ and compression, but they’re far tougher to use.
But if you want to learn how to record and edit audio merely, Audacity is a wonderful place to start.
Choosing The BEST DAW for YOU
The DAW you use depends depend on your musical interests, your aspirations, and your budget.
- If you’re interested in primarily producing dance-pop, EDM, house, and other electronic music, choose Ableton, FL Studio (aka Fruity Loops), and Akai MPC.
- On the other hand, If you’re interested in making orchestral sounds (like in film scoring) using samples of actual instruments and you plan to execute much of the music yourself using MIDI keyboards, consider Logic and Cubase.
- If you’re mainly interested in recording live audio in a studio, Pro Tools from Avid is the industry standard. Many producers also prefer Logic and Cubase for live audio, and even Ableton may be used for this role.
- If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for a DAW, several of these applications offer restricted versions that are accessible for free.
- Some of the greatest free applications include Garageband (a scaled-down version of Logic). Note that Garageband will only work on a Mac.
- Audacity is yet another popular free program for audio editing, although it’s not appropriate for digital instruments.
All of these applications can support multi-track recording when more than one instrument is recording simultaneously. Most have more than enough effects built-in, such as EQ, auto-tune, compression, reverb, distortion, chorus, echo, and delay.
- Likewise, these applications can compose music with loops and digital instruments controlled by MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) (musical instrument digital interface).
This means you can compose full tracks without even attaching them to a microphone.