What Is A DAW : Guide To Music Production Softwares

When starting out with music production and recording, the first question that comes to mind is which music production software to use? Once you start researching, you immediately find out that music production software is called a DAW(Digital Audio Workstation).

In this article, understand what is a DAW and some of the best DAWs for music production and recording.

What Is A DAW - Digital Audio Workstation - Thumbnail

What Is A DAW?

Before the digital revolution, audio was recorded in analogue format, i.e. using tapes, mixers and other analogue gear. DAW(digital audio workstation) recreates the audio recording and production process for digital platforms. A digital audio workstation (often called DAW) is a music production and recording software that is typically used for audio recording and/or editing. A DAW can consist of different software and hardware elements. DAWs also facilitate the mixing of multiple sound sources on a time-based grid.

DAW typically features editing capabilities, graphic timelines, virtual mixers, filters, FX, MIDI capabilities, file management and organisation tools. Apart from this, DAWs are also capable of a lot more functionality, but all these components are usually found in every DAW.

Functions And Uses Of A DAW?

Every DAW is able to record, edit and mix. Apart from this, you can also compose and work with MIDI within the DAW. There are four main functions of a DAW.

  1. Digital Audio Processing: - Sound is analogue in nature. In conjunction with a computer and audio interface, a DAW processes audio for recording, file management and working in digital format.
  2. Editing Window: - DAW comes with an Editing Window or Editing view that is used to edit the recorded audio using different DAW editing tools.
  3. Mixing Window: - DAW enables producers and audio engineers to mix and master audio within the DAW with the use of plugins and other mixing tools.
  4. Composition: - One can easily compose music/sounds within a DAW using different virtual instruments, plugins and MIDI capabilities.

Best DAWs For Music Production and Recording

Each DAW(Digital Audio Workstation) offers a unique workflow. Selecting the best DAW according to one’s needs and requirements is important. Some DAWS offer a better workflow for purposes like tracking, mixing and mastering. While others offer a better workflow for Music composition, editing and arrangement.

Some of the best and most widely used DAWs for audio recording and music production are:

  1. Avid Pro Tools: Pro Tools is an industry standard for professional recording studios and broadcast. Pro tools offer a linear workflow for tracking, mixing and mastering. Pro Tools also offers great external hardware compatibility.
  2. Ableton Live: Ableton is the best choice of DAW for performing live as well as composing in the studio. Ableton Live is the go-to choice of DJs and Electronic Music producers who need a fast and creative workflow. Ableton Suite offers huge sample packs, FX Library, Instruments and plugins.
  3. FL Studio: Another huge hit among EDM and Hip Hop Producers. FL Studio, earlier known as Fruity Loops, offer an intuitive workflow for electronic music production and beat making. FL Studio is affordable and great value for money.
  4. Apple Logic Pro X: Logic Pro is the best all-around and most user-friendly DAW with easy to understand the workflow for beginners. Logic offers some of the best in-built plugins and instruments. The only downside to Logic Pro is that it is available only for Mac users.
  5. Cubase: Cubase is among the earliest DAWs that started the digital revolution. Steinberg is the company that invented Virtual Studio Technology(VST Plugins). Cubase offers a well-refined workflow that is easy to understand and adapt. Cubase is a great all-round DAW for all studio purposes like recording, mixing, composing and editing.
  6. PreSonus Studio One: Studio One by PreSonus is relatively new to the DAW market, but it is catching on quick and is becoming the go-to DAW of many studios and producers. Studio one is a great all-round DAW and value for money. Studio One offers some of the best all-round capabilities. It is great for composing, recording and mixing. The workflow is really easy to use and filled with intuitive features.
  7. Cakewalk By Bandlab: Bandlab is a 100% Free DAW. It provides amazing all-round capabilities and is a great DAW for all studio purposes. If you are just getting started with music production or are a veteran, Bandlab will not disappoint.
  8. Reaper: Reaper is an affordable all-round DAW with a great workflow for composing. Reaper is efficient, fast to load, and tightly coded, making it a great DAW for computers with lower specifications.
  9. Reason: Reason is known for its easy-to-use composition and beat-making tools. Reason also offers a Reason Rack that can be used inside other DAWs to make instrument racks.
  10. Bitwig Studio: Bitwig offers some of the most intuitive MIDI workflows. Bitwig Studio offers a workflow that is similar to Ableton Live and a UI similar to Logic Pro, bringing the best of different worlds together in a DAW. It is affordable and a great place to start with.
  11. GarageBand: GarageBand is a Free of cost user-friendly DAW for composing music offered by Apple. It is limited in functionality and cannot be used for advanced projects.
  12. Audacity: Audacity is another free DAW, famous among podcasters and gamers. Audacity can be easily used for editing and recording audio.

Best DAW/Music Production Software For Beginner Music Producers

All veterans and experienced music producers know that they will need to use more than one DAW as per their project requirements. All DAWs can perform nearly all necessary functions, but each will offer a different workflow. You have to explore and find the one that works best for you.

If you are just getting started with music production, here are the best DAWs for beginners to get started with music production:

    • Best All-Round DAWs - Logic Pro X, Ableton Live
    • Most User-Friendly Workflow For Beginners - Logic Pro X
    • Best Free DAW - Cakewalk Bandlab
    • Best DAW Workflow For Composing, Electronic Music and Live Performance - Ableton Live
    • Best DAWs Workflow For Beat Making - FL Studio, Ableton Live, Reason
    • Best DAWs Workflow For Recording and Tracking - Pro Tools, Cubase
    • Best DAWs Workflow For Mixing and Mastering - Pro Tools, Cubase
    • Best DAW Workflow For Audio For Video - Pro Tools

      Best Free Music Production Software or DAW

      Cakewalk By Bandlab is the best completely free music production software or DAW. If you are just getting started with music production and recording, Bandlab will be the best choice to start and experiment with. Cakewalk offers an all-round workflow with easy to understand user interface, VST support, 64-Bit engine and unlimited tracks. You can easily compose, mix and master using Cakewalk. The software also offers collaboration capabilities and an inbuilt auto pitch for real-time automatic pitch correction.

      Now that you know what is a DAW and how it helps you in creating music and working with audio.

      In the next lesson, learn the basics of Ableton Live and get started with your music production journey.


      Leave a comment

      Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

      This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


      Udeeksh Sood Image

      Written By

      Udeeksh Sood on

      Udeeksh is an Audio Engineer and Co-Founder of learnmusicproduction.in. He loves to produce music, research music gear, play guitar, go on treks and road trips.