Best DAWs: Find Your Perfect Music Making Software (2022)
You sing or play songs and realize it is time to start recording your creations. This next stage is crucial, and your recording software makes a big difference.
Music-making software or Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) can be challenging and expensive, but they're the best way to get the music out of your head and into a format you can share.
We have rounded up the best music production software for you if you're making music or videos or thinking about it. The best music-making software allows you to work with sounds digitally, whether you have a live band or not. Whether just starting out or already making it professionally, the following software will boost your performance.
What is Digital Audio Software (DAWS)?
Digital Audio software will enable you to record and turn your creative ideas into reality swiftly and effortlessly.
From professionals producing concert-level material to simple enthusiasts, from clearing up recitals to podcasting, DAWS is a fundamental and powerful tool for slick performance.
DAWs cover the entire music production process from:
DAWS have been around since the 90s and have grown ever increasingly powerful, and there's no need for the bulky equipment of yesteryear. Powerful programs reside on your laptop or PC at prices ranging from free to considerably more.
For your setup, you will need digital audio software, an audio interface unit, a mic, and vocal isolation shields to make music.
Audacity: Best Free DAW
Audacity is an excellent free audio editing software that's available right now. It's open-source with regular updates and is ideal for simple, low-fidelity tasks. It's simple to get the hang of, supports tons of plug-ins, and is an excellent DAW to start using for any audio editing. You can write your own plug-ins and code software modifications. You'll need a microphone and mixer if you don't have digital source material, but this software is a great place to start. Podcasters will love it too.
- Open source
- Cross-platform compatible
- Good basic editing
- Some lag issues
- Integrated tutorials would be helpful
- Free version might be limiting for more advanced users
System Specs: Windows 10 and 11 (32 or 64 bit), Recommended 4G RAM, 2 GHz processor
Cakewalk: Best entry-level DAW
Although not initially designed for beginners in mind, Cakewalk is a fantastically designed, professional DAW where you can write, record, make edits, mix, master, and publish your music on sites like YouTube from this free software.
Previously known as Sonar, Cakewalk is a serious bit of kit that is fully featured, customizable, and CPU-efficient.
- Fully featured
- Runs very efficiently on older or less powerful machines
- Large bank of inbuilt sounds
- Windows only
- Seem a bit clunky from time to time
System Specs: Windows 8/ 8.1 and above, Recommended 4G RAM, 2.6 GHz processor, 20G hard-drive
Price: Sonar Home Studio $49, Sonar Artist $99, Sonar Professional $199, Sonar Platinum $499
Ableton Live: Best DAW for Electronic Music or EDM
Since 2001 Ableton Live has been a mainstay across the whole spectrum of music creators. It's a music industry stalwart with its intuitive clip-based approach to building tracks and a focus on real-time performance on stage. It is sophisticated and intuitive, giving creators slick performance.
This DAW features an extensive sound library with over 70 GBs of sounds, including drum samples, percussion loops, virtual instruments, and grooves. EDM producers can edit and morph these samples to make them their own.
Ableton Live Pros:
- Slick performance with fast navigation
- Superb in-built devices
- Not just a recording device, it can be used as an instrument
Ableton Live Cons:
- No free version, but there is a 90-day free trial
- No pitch correction tool
- A bit expensive
System Specs: Windows 10 or 11, Intel Core i5 or AMD multi-core processor, 3 GB disk space for basic installation (8 GB recommended), up to 76 GB for extra content.
Price: Intro $99, Standard $449, Suite $749
Avid Pro Tools: Best professional quality DAW
Avid Pro Tools is the industry standard for recording studios around the world. It is a top-notch product with software and hardware options for everyone interested in recording vocals and instruments and mixing studio-quality music. With over 100 plug-ins, it will take your mixes to the next level.
Avid Pro Tools is a powerful and flexible tool that helps you create music of any genre. It comes in 3 flavors:
- Pro Tools Artist: Create professional-quality music and beats with intuitive, creative tools.
- Pro Tools Studio: Ideal for producers and artists who need a complete professional music production toolset.
- Pro Tools Ultimate: Perfect for producers who need to take on the most prominent music and audio post productions.
Knowing Avid will undoubtedly help if you want to work in the industry.
Avid Pro Tools Pros:
- Pro quality
- Fast recording and mixing engine
- High-quality support
- Pitch correction tool
Avid Pro Tools Cons:
- No free version
- Subscription only
System Specs: Windows 10 & 11 Home, Pro, and Enterprise 64-bit Editions
Pro Tools Artist & Studio: Intel® Core i5 processor
Pro Tools Ultimate/Flex: Intel® Core i9 or Intel® Xeon processor 16GB RAM (32GB or more recommended), 15GB disk space for installation, PCIe slot for HDX or HD Native card, USB-port, FireWire-port for ASIO-supported audio device, compatible NVIDIA graphics card
Price: Pro Tool Artist $9.99 monthly, Pro Tool Studio $31.99 monthly, Pro Tools Flex $99.99 monthly
FL Studio 20: Best DAW for Beats
Image Line's FL Studio 20 is one of the most popular DAWS for pattern and loop-based music such as hip-hop. Frequent updates and an easily used interface get your music from your mind to the airwaves super fast.
FL Studio producers are known to make hits on just a laptop with next-to-no additional hardware. You can get the Akai Professional Fire controller for sequencing, note-input, mixing, and interface navigation.
FL Studio comes with full-featured, professional-grade native plug-ins, making it ideal for beginners. With over 30 native software VST instruments and 63 audio and MIDI effects plug-ins, you'll be able to make your sound truly unique.
FL Studio Pros:
- Accessible, good for beginners
- Built-in audio processing and VST instruments
- Infinite plug-ins, features, and samples
- Good price
- Free lifetime updates
FL Studio Cons:
- A bit of a steep learning curve, but all the other positives offset this
- Recording process can be a bit confusing
System Specs: Windows 10 or 11 (32-bit or 64-bit versions), 2 GHz AMD or Intel Pentium 3 CPU with full SSE1 support, 4 GB free disk space, and 4 GB of RAM.
Price: FL Studio Fruity Edition $99, FL Studio Producer Edition $199, FL Studio Signature Bundle $299, FL Studio All Plugins Edition $499
Audio Evolution Mobile Studio: Best DAW for mobile
Audio Evolution Mobile is the benchmark for music creation, mixing, and editing on Android, from song creation ideas to complete mobile productions. Audio Evolution Mobile is getting to the same level as desktop DAWS using the internal mic or recording from a multi-channel USB audio or MIDI interface. You have virtual instruments, a virtual synthesizer, real-time effects, automated mixing, loops, drum pattern editing, and much more. Make your music on the go.
Audio Evolution Mobile Studio Pros:
- Lots of options and features
- Not too difficult to use
- Great vocal recording
- Customers at Google play report professional performance
Audio Evolution Mobile Studio Cons:
- Not free, although there is a free trial
- Some crashing issues for which customer support will offer individual help
Price: Free trial but then one time payment of $9.99
Which DAW is right for me?
The best DAW is the one you find easiest to make music with, so start by trying out their demo versions. Think carefully about how you will work and which DAW elements suit you. Test your workflow; if you're constantly stuck, the software probably isn't for you.
Our DAWS list will help you get your podcast and music out on the airwaves in high quality and set your work head and shoulders above the rest.
*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.
About Malcolm Archibald: Malcolm is an SEO copywriter that helps businesses thrive. He's passionate about languages and helps companies improve traffic, bring in customers, and build a better web presence.