First of all, what exactly is a DAW? DAW stands for digital audio workstation. It is essentially the software platform used to record, edit and produce audio. There are many different DAWs out there but there are a handful that are most commonly used in audio production. If you produce a specific genre of music and are wondering which DAW best suits your genre, you should know that you can achieve a similar workflow with almost all major DAWs, but some may fit your needs better than others. Let’s take a look at a few major DAWs and their features:
Five DAWs Recommended By Nickel City Sound & Media:
- Pro Tools. Often referred to as the industry standard, Pro Tools is found in many professional studios. A very versatile DAW, it works well for recording live audio but also supports virtual instruments and MIDI. It also offers powerful editing and post-production tools. Out of all the DAWs, Pro Tools probably has the biggest learning curve as there are many complex tools that can be utilized inside of it.
- Cubase. Comparable to Pro Tools, Cubase works great for live audio, editing and post-production. Some find there is a slight advantage in making music with MIDI and virtual instruments in Cubase due to it’s more simplified layout.
- Ableton. Like other DAWs, Ableton can record live audio but really shines on the midi and virtual instruments side. It is commonly used for electronically produced music. The interface is very minimalistic and can streamline your creativity without having to click through multiple options and menus.
- Fruity Loops. When Fruity Loops first arrived on the scene, it was strongly geared toward electronic music production. Currently, it’s still most commonly used for electronic and hip-hop music production but can also record and edit live audio just like any other DAW.
- Logic. Logic is Apple’s version of a DAW. If you’ve used Garageband before, Logic will be very familiar. You can think of Logic as a supercharged version of Garageband. It handles live audio, virtual instruments and midi like the others, but many people like Logic for it’s simple, intuitive design. It should be noted that Logic is only able to run on Mac computers.
Most of the listed DAWs offer a free trial so that you can do a little exploring and see if the DAW is a good fit. It may also be helpful to check out the features lists on their websites to see which is more tailored to your needs.
If you have any questions or could use some help setting up and getting started with your DAW, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few honorable mentions:
- Audacity – A free, basic audio recording and editing platform.
- Reaper – A free, fully featured DAW.
- Harrison Mixbus – A DAW geared toward a more traditional, analog approach to audio recording & production.