Studio Gears

Best DAW for Beginner 2018 – 8 of The Best DAWs

DAW SOFTWARES BUYING GUIDE

PRICE WON’T AFFECT SOUND QUALITY

This is very important, lots of people think DAWs with the higher price will have better audio quality, this is wrong, no matter you’re using a free DAW or an industry standard DAW, the audio quality is same. The things matter is the interface, tools and workflow, those things will affect your final production.

DON’T BUY THE FREE ONE

As you search for the best DAW for beginners in Google, you may find some free DAWs or some super cheap DAWs, if you just need basic recording and editing, then go for it, but when it comes to mixing, mastering and some advanced editing, you will find it is inadequate. Not only the tools and features are not enough, but also the interface and workflow are hard to use because that’s not those free DAWs are designed for.

So if you want to produce some music, not just doing audio editing, don’t waste time and energy on those free DAWs, go find a better one.

LIMITED AND FULL VERSIONS

Most paid DAWs will have limited and full version, some DAWs will even have free version for beginners, my suggestion is, if you are a beginner or don’t have enough budget, buy the limited version first, you will get 90% of the features of the full version, only some key features, sound library and plugins are excluded.

Buying a limited version is way better than buying a free DAW. When you need a better one, you don’t need to switch to another completely new DAW and learn it start again, just upgrade to full version, it costs you less, and is more familiar to you.

MASTER YOUR DAW

I can’t tell you which one is the best DAW, because everyone has different needs, find the one that works best for you and master it.

DAW is your tool, you need to master your tool, unlike other gears like interfaces, monitors or headphones that are easy to understand, so you can upgrade to completely different one and the whole concept stays the same, when switch to another DAW, you have to learn it from scratch, it takes time to master another DAW, so why not choose the right DAW at first place and master it. (It’s totally fine to switch to another DAW if you don’t like the current one, and master several DAWs is not a bad thing)

 

OK, here’s my top 8 DAWs…

1. Ableton Live 10

It is first designed for live performance, however, Ableton Live has evolved into a fully functional recording software. The interface is very clean and simple, besides the traditional arrangement view, Ableton live also have unique session view, where the timeline doesn’t represent at all.

You can drag and drop any clips to the session view, it can be few notes or a full song. All clips can be started and stopped independently and they will always be automatically synced. It’s good for experiment with song ideas and performing live. You can also record it from the session view to the arrangement view.

Ableton Live is perfect for creative electronic musicians, DJs and live performers.

Also check out the famous youtuber ANDREW HUANG doing magic tricks with Ableton Live.

Intro

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : limited
  • Software instruments : 4
  • Sounds : 1500+ 5+GB
  • Audio effects : 21
  • MIDI effects : 8

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

Standard

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : full
  • Software instruments : 5
  • Sounds : 1800+ 10+GB
  • Audio effects : 34
  • MIDI effects : 8

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

Suite

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : full
  • Software instruments : 13
  • Sounds : 5000+ 70+GB
  • Audio effects : 41
  • MIDI effects : 15

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

2. Reason 10

The interface of Reason is very cool, it has 4 main work areas, Browser, Mixer, Rack and Sequencer. You can drag virtual instruments and effects from Browser to your Rack, and build your own rack from scratch. It’s mimicking an analog rack, you can even patch cables on your own ideas, so you will have unlimited possibilities. The multi-track sequencer is where you record and edit your tracks.

The powerful synths and virtual instruments are one of the biggest features of Reason, so if you enjoy experiment with synths and patching, definitely check out Reason.

Intro

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : limited
  • Software instruments : 10
  • Sounds : 2.6GB
  • Effects : 11

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

Full

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : full
  • Software instruments : 16
  • Sounds : 7GB
  • Effects : 26

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

3. Reaper

Reaper is very pocket-friendly, you will have 60 days free trial without restriction, after that it will request you to buy their license, a discounted license for $60 or a commercial license for $225. The discounted license is for personal use or commercial use that yearly revenue doesn’t exceed $20000.

Reaper only takes less than 100MB on your hard drive, it can be open really fast and ready for recording at any time. The updated version release very frequently, Reaper is constantly improving itself.

You can’t compare Reaper with other pricey high-end DAWs in the market, but Reaper has everything a DAW should have, for those who have a tight budget, Reaper is a great choice.

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 32, 64 bit

REAPER HOMEPAGE

4. FL Studio 20

FL Studio is perfect for beginners, it is easy to use, the interface and workflow are easy to understand. The interface is completely customizable, for instance, you can scale the mixer to any size you want. It has a feature that other DAWs don’t have, that is, lifetime free updates, you can update FL studio to the latest version, FL Studio 21, 22, 23…, it will always be a free update.

It also has a cool multi-touch feature, you can access the mixer through your iPad or Tablet. Using FL Studio with a multi-touch monitor allows you to do more with your fingers.

There’s also a FL Studio Mobile, you can access your project on mobile devices, it gives you the ability to record, edit and mix the song on the road.

FL Studio is best for electronic musicians, programming music with FL Studio is fun and simple.

I recommend you don’t choose Fruity because it doesn’t have audio recording.

Fruity

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit (MAC), 32, 64 bit (PC)
  • Key features : limited
  • Software instruments : 11
  • Effects : 50+
  • Tools/generators : 7
  • Tools for sample playback and manipulation : 8

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

Producer

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit (MAC), 32, 64 bit (PC)
  • Key features : full
  • Software instruments : 13
  • Effects : 50+
  • Tools/generators : 7
  • Tools for sample playback and manipulation : 10

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

Signature

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit (MAC), 32, 64 bit (PC)
  • Key features : full
  • Software instruments : 14
  • Effects : 60+
  • Tools/generators : 8
  • Tools for sample playback and manipulation : 11

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

5. Studio One 4

Presonus is well-known for its quality hardware, it released the first version of Studio One in 2009, since then it has become one of the top DAWs in the market. The biggest feature is its drag and drop feature, if you have used other DAWs before, when you need to create another track with the same signal chain setting, you have to copy each insert one by one, but in Studio One, it allows you to copy the whole chain to your new track, it’s really a time-saver.

Studio One is integration with the best pitch and time correction and editing plugin in the market – Melodyne Essential 4, you can access Melodyne in each tracks faster and simpler. Only Professional edition has full access to Melodyne, Artist edition is trial version, and Prime doesn’t have it.

Prime

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 32, 64 bit
  • Key features : limited
  • Software instruments : 1
  • Presence XT Library : 1.56GB
  • Audio effects : 9

FREE DOWNLOAD

Artist

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 32, 64 bit
  • Key features : limited
  • Software instruments : 5
  • Presence XT Library : 1.56GB
  • Audio effects : 30

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

Professional

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 32, 64 bit
  • Key features : full
  • Software instruments : 5
  • Presence XT Library : 14GB
  • Audio effects : 37

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

6. Logic Pro X

Just like Reaper, Logic Pro only comes with one edition, you can have full access to Logic Pro with only $199.99. I will say it is the best DAW in the world, why? Let’s look what you will get for this price.

First, you will get a massive collection of effects, software instruments and sound library, and it’s always adding new ones, this is way enough for a beginner, so you don’t have to spend extra money for third party plugins. Second, the interface is clean and simple, it’s very newbie friendly. Third, Logic Pro is very smart, you don’t have to do certain things manually, for instance, when you are creating a bus send, it will automatically create an aux track according to your send, this is really helpful. Logic Pro also features many drummers in different styles that can play along with your groove. There’s still a whole bunch of cool features in Logic Pro.

With this price, Logic Pro is definitely the best DAW for beginners. Oh wait, not just for beginners, Logic Pro is good for anyone.

PC users might be mad about this because Logic Pro is MAC only.

  • Platform : MAC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : full
  • Software instruments : 23
  • Sounds : 63GB
  • Audio effects : 69
  • MIDI effects : 9

CHECK LOGIC PRO IN APP STORE

7. Cubase 9.5

Cubase has been on the market for a really long time. It introduced VST plugins back in 1996, which is widely used in industry. Cubase is one of the most advanced DAW, it does everything pretty well, especially at MIDI and plugins, it’s suitable for any genres. Some of the biggest features are creativity and cloud collaboration.

Cubase has intelligence tools and unique workflow that maximize your creativity. The VST Transit allows you to share your projects online, you can also download other people’s projects, with this cloud collaboration feature, you can collaborate with like-mind musicians and producers around the world (Elements edition doesn’t have VST Transit).

You won’t go wrong with Cubase, the only downside is its price.

Elements

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : limited
  • Software instruments : 3
  • Sounds : N/A
  • Audio effects : 40+

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

Artist

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : limited
  • Software instruments : 8
  • Sounds : 2600+
  • Audio and MIDI effects : 70+

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

Pro

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : full
  • Software instruments : 8
  • Sounds : 3000+
  • Audio and MIDI effects : 90+

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

8. Pro Tools 12

Pro Tools is an industry standard DAW, it’s been widely used in large commercial recording studios and also home studios. Just like Cubase, Pro Tools does everything pretty well and they share the same features, that is, creative workflow and cloud collaboration.

Yes, Pro Tools also allows you to collaborate with others, with Avid Cloud Collaboration, you can work with up to 10 collaborators on a single project, and access to your projects anywhere, as long as there’s a Pro Tools-equipped computer.

The capability of Pro Tools is beyond imagination, the tools and features it got are so powerful that make Pro Tools so hard to beat.

The bad news is, Pro Tools is relatively expensive, but there is also a First edition which cost you nothing.

Pro Tools First

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : limited
  • Loop library : 500MB
  • Effects : 20

FREE DOWNLOAD

Pro Tools

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : limited (it’s quite enough, normally you won’t need those additional features)
  • Loop library : 2GB
  • Software instruments and effects : 60+

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

Pro Tools Ultimate

  • Platform : MAC, PC
  • 64 bit
  • Key features : full
  • Loop library : 2GB
  • Software instruments and effects : 60+

COMPARE PRICE : AMAZON THOMANN

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