2
Posted August 13, 2011 by Stephan Earl in Round-Ups
 
 

Music Recording and Production Software | DAW Roundup

Music Recording and Production Software | DAW Round-up - Home Music Production

 

I’m often asked what Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is the best for musicians within a specific type of music genre, or for musicians just getting into home music recording for the first time.  This is a difficult and almost impossible question to answer since this is a personal choice based on your style and preference for writing and producing music.

Next to the computer choice, the DAW is the most important component of your music production workstation. It has to flow with your way of thinking and become a tool to realize your ideas. It can’t slow you down and it has to have basic features you’ll need to create music.

So since I can’t say which DAW you should choose, I want to at least provide you with some data that shows:

  1. What DAWs are currently on the market
  2. Which DAWs are full packages and which are entry-level or scaled back versions
  3. What DAWs work only with PC, Mac or both
  4. Whether a DAW is known for a specific way of creating music
  5. What are the most searched DAWs on the web.

Below is a roundup of most popular DAWs on the market.  If you feel there’s a DAW package missing that should be present, please leave a comment and let me know so I can include it. The lists below are in no particular order, and you can sort them using the title bars. OK, let’s begin the roundup.

 Music Recording and Production Software | DAW Roundup

Complete Package DAWs

DAW PRICE OS FREE Trial Download NOTES
Pro Tools (Avid) $599 Win/Mac Yes Industry standard in major studio for many years. Package includes: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
Cubase (Steinberg) $449 Win/Mac Yes Steinberg invented VST technology. Package includes: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
Logic Studio (Apple) $499 Mac No This is Apple’s full studio package which includes: Logic Pro, Main Stage, SoundTrack Pro. Also includes: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
Ableton Suite (Ableton) $699 Win/Mac Yes Unique pattern-based DAW. Package includes: Ableton Live, MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
Audition (Adobe) $349 Win/Mac No Audio only DAW. Popular for podcasting and mastering. Package includes: audio recording / editing and FX plugins.
FL Studio Signature Bundle (Image-Line) $299 Win Yes Originally Fruity Loops, first loop-based DAW. Package includes: audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
ACID Pro (Sony) $299 Win Yes Loop-based DAW. Package includes: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
Digital Performer (MOTU) $495 Win/Mac No Package includes: audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
SONAR Producer (Cakewalk) $499 Win/Mac No Package includes: audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
Reason (Propellerhead) $399 Win/Mac No A virtual studio rack that recently added full DAW and plug-in functionality. Package includes: audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
Studio One Pro (PreSonus) $399 Win/Mac Yes Newcomer to the DAW scene. Popular for simplified GUI and drag-n-drop workflow. Package includes: audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.

Limited Function & Entry-Level DAWs

DAW PRICE OS FREE Trial Download NOTES
Pro Tools SE (Avid) Free with M-Audio and Avid audio interfaces. PC/Mac Yes Same graphic interface as full version with reduced functionality. For use with M-Audio and Avid Interfaces. Package includes: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments, and FX plugins. No external VST instruments can be used.
Cubase Artist/
Cubase Elements (Steinberg)
$249 / $119 PC/Mac Yes Both versions have the same graphic interface and compatibility as the full version of Cubase but with reduced functionality. Packages include: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
Sequel (Steinberg) $84 PC/Mac Yes Steinberg’s entrry-level DAW. Different GUI than Cubase with simple very easy to use design. Same class as GarageBand. Packages include: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins. No third-party VST compatibility.
Logic Express (Apple) $78 Mac No Same GUI as Logic Pro with reduced functionality. Package includes: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins. AU plug-ins only.
GarageBand (Apple) Free with Mac. Mac Free Entry-level DAW by Apple. Different GUI than Logic with simple very easy to use design. Projects are compatible with Logic. AU plugins only.
Ableton Live Intro (Ableton) $69 PC/Mac Yes Same GUI as Ableton Live with reduced functionality. Package includes: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
FL Studio Producer/ FL Studio Fruity Edition (Image-Line) $195 / $105 PC/Mac Yes Both versions have the same GUI as the full version of FL Studio with reduced functionality. Packages include: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
ACID Music Studio (Sony) $69 PC Yes Package includes: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
SONAR X2 Studio/ SONAR X2 Essential (Cakewalk) $199 / $99 PC No Packages include: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
Reason Essentials (Propellerhead) $99 PC/Mac No Same GUI as Reason with reduced functionality. Package includes: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins. Uses Rack Extension plugins only.
Studio One Artist 2 (PreSonus) $99 PC/Mac Yes Same GUI as Studio One with reduced functionality. Package includes: MIDI and audio recording / editing, virtual instruments and FX plugins.
Audacity (Sound Forge) Free PC/Mac/Linux Free Audio record only. Popular DAW with podcasters. Functionality includes: audio record / edit and FX plugins.

Stephan Earl

 
Composing, recording and producing music in the home studio environment for over 25 years, musician and author Stephan Earl now enjoys sharing his home studio setup experience with other home studio recording musicians via HomeMusicProduction.com.