Best Music Production software (Digital Audio Workstations) reviewed

music production

Best Music Production Software buying guide: Find extensive reviews of the top Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) recording software on the market.

Best Music Recording Software Packs

Want to record audio, create a new song, mix tracks, you need a good DAW, besides a good laptop or desktop, monitor speakers, and studio headphones. Here we take a look at the best music production software / music making software out there.

Music Software Skill Level Platform Pros & Cons Price Range

Apple Garageband
Beginner Mac / iOS Pros: Easy to use, Free
Cons: Only for Apple products
Check Price

Apple Logic Pro
Medium/ Expert Mac Pros: Stable, Nice plugins
Cons: Some plugins are a bit difficult to use
$$ Check Price

FL Studio
Beginner and Intermediate Windows / Mac Pros: easy to Use
Cons: Lack some pro features
$$ (Check Price)

Propellerhead Reason
Advanced beginners/ Expert Windows / Mac Pros: Loads of features
Cons: Can be overwhelming for beginners
$$$ (Check Price)

Avid Pro Tools
Expert Windows / Mac Pros: Amazing performance, Powerful
Cons: Bit Pricey
$$$ (Check Price)

Steinberg Cubase
Medium/ Expert Windows / Mac Pros: Versatile, Powerful
Cons: Resource- heavy
$$$ (Check Price)

Ableton Live
Medium/ Expert Windows / Mac Pros: Solid, Nice interface, Good for live performances
Cons: Pricey
$$$ (Check Price)

Sonar, Tracktion, Logic Pro, Ableton Live and Cubase are some of the popular DAW sequencing & recording software available in the market.

These software lets you record both audio as well as midi tracks. They come with all the features mentioned above and a lot more.

Some of the popular DAW products are:

  • Reason (Propellerhead)
  • FL Studio
  • Pro Tools (Avid)
  • Sonar (Cakewalk)
  • Cubase (Steinberg)
  • Logic (Apple)
  • Ableton Live (Ableton)
  • Magix Music Maker (MAGIX)
  • Music Production Software DAW: Highlights

    Depending on the product, you can expect to get few or all of the following (various aspects of music creation) in a DAW:

    • Multi-track recording
    • Song writing
    • Composing or transcribing
    • Beat programming
    • Sound design
    • Sequencer
    • Audio / MIDI Editing
    • Automation
    • Built-in processors and effects
    • Video support
    • Built-in Mixer – for Mixing, Re-mixing
    • Mastering
    • Film Scoring

    DAW Recording Software: The Heart of Your Recording Studio

    Music Recording SoftwareLearn about DAW / MIDI Sequencer and music recording software programs. This is where you do all the recording and editing of your sound tracks.

    Once you have got your computer sorted out, you will need a recording software to start working. This is basically a software program for managing your tracks, editing them, applying effects, and it is from here that you create your final mix.

    There are lots of software programs out there (the industry standard is protools) so you may want to check this article out, to read more on what would be the best software available for your situation.

    But then the sequencer is not the only software that you will need. The other software that you will need is the various kinds of sounds and effects that you will need for your music.

    When you are making music, you will need different kinds of sounds such as synths, pianos, guitars, band instruments, orchestral and other sound effects. The more types of sounds you have, the more creative you can get and the more unique you can make your music to sound.

    The basic recording software program that you choose does come with a basic set of sounds but then if you need more, you can go for extra sound and effects, which come in the form of software libraries and sound plugins.


    DAW Recording Software

    The MIDI Sequencer is the heart of your recording studio. This is where you do all the recording and editing of your sound tracks.

    Also known as a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), the MIDI Sequencer is where you mix all your tracks and make the final output which can be copied to a CD.

    Hardware or Software?

    One thing to understand is that a sequencer can be a piece of software or it can be a feature provided within your electronic keyboard itself.

    A workstation would have a full fledged sequencing ability, giving you all the tools to do your recording/editing work.

    On the other hand if you would like to use your computer to do your recording work, you will need midi sequencer software.

    Important Features

    Let us have a look at some important features of any sequencing tool.

    Tracks
    Almost all the sequencing software lets you add more than hundred tracks. You can add both audio as well as Midi tracks.

    You can even import audio files into your MIDI sequencing software and incorporate them in your recordings.

    Editor
    An easy to use editor is an important feature to have as you will be making a lot of changes to your recording before you produce your final mix.

    Sequencers lets you edit audio/midi tracks and come with a lot of features to make the editing an easier task.

    Mixer
    Mixer lets you create the right balance between the various tracks in any musical arrangement. You can adjust the volumes of each track using the sliders provided.

    Effects/VST Instruments
    Effects like reverb, chorus, flanger, vocoder, etc. makes your recording sound more interesting and realistic.

    All the sequencing software come with a decent set of built-in effects which can be used in your recording but if you want the best effects available, you will need to buy them!

    Audio Processing
    After mixing your tracks you need to use audio processors like equalizer and compressors to make your recording sound better and punchier.

    The sequencing software comes with built-in equalizers and compressors which can be used in your recording but the best equalizers/compressors do not come free. They are available as VST instruments which need to be bought.


    Here’s a video of a beat making software:

    Other features
    Besides the above mentioned features, sequencing software come with numerous other features which lets you record/edit complex musical arrangements with ease. Some of these features are –

  • Freeze tracks to avoid accidental changes
  • Clean up your vocal tracks using features like pitch correction, dynamics, and vibrato
  • High quality time stretching
  • Automate your tracks/plug-ins during record and playback
  • Import video and add your score to the video as a thumbnail track

  • Music Production Software

    Top Free Consumer-Grade DAWs

    There are several Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) available out there, but most of them are not free (although most of them do have a trial version which is free to use but have limited features).

    However, there are some free alternatives out there that offer some good learning experience (in recording, editing and music production).

    MU.Lab
    MuLab from MuTools provides an easy interface to record, create and edit multi-track music. Its surprisingly efficient and has decent amount of features.

    • MuLab supports MIDI and audio recording
    • Features sample player, drum set, synth, EQ and more


    Watch: MuLab 6 Intro

    MuLab is available for Windows and Mac OSX for free from: http://www.mutools.com/mulab-downloads.html

    Apple GarageBand
    GarageBandMac computers come with GarageBand — a free, consumer-grade DAW that lets you get started with music production. The software features a modest sound library, drum machine, synth controls for changing the sound of your audio, and a number of virtual instruments.

    • Easy to use software cor creating music – With or without an instrument. Plug in your guitar or mic and choose from a wide selection of sounds, amps and effects.
    • Create EDM and Hip Hop beats like a pro.
    • Great collection of sounds, including several, powerful EDM‑ and Hip Hop‑inspired synth sounds. The sounds can be tweaked to your liking.
    • Learn to play popular instruments like Piano & Guitar with a good collection of built-in lessons.
    • You can record, edit, add effects, mix and master. Its your all-in-one studio.
    • Easily share your finished song on Social sharing sites

    Apple recently released a major upgrade to GarageBand, with an eye on the lucrative Chinese market; the new version has features Chinese instruments (including pipa, erhu, and other Chinese percussion instruments) and hundreds of Chinese music loops.

    Additional features include Chinese language localization, ability to share music on social network (including video site Youku).


    Watch: Apple CEO Tim Cook jam on the new Chinese version of GarageBand


    Watch: T-Pain mixes a beat with the new GarageBand

    To Conclude

    Music Production Software There are various kinds of software out there that help musicians and producers create music, with the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) music production software being the most powerful one. You can checkout the trial versions of some of these to get an idea of their capabilities; the high-end Pro Tools HD system is used commonly by professionals.

    Long back, all the functions mentioned above were carried out by dedicated hardware. Most of it has now moved to the software domain, and you can make these a part of your home studio. What you choose will depend on what your needs are, what types of sounds you want, and what type of music you want to create using your Music Production Software.

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