What DAW Should I Get?
Updated: Mar 31, 2020
What is a DAW in the first place? A DAW is a Digital Audio Workstation. In simple words, it is the program you use to record, edit, and produce audio. You are able to create from scratch with samples or even edit projects that are already complete such as songs or audio books. There are 4 major DAWs for music producers and those are Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Ableton, and FL Studio. Granted there are many more such as Reason which comes free with a Mac and is actually the root program that evolved into Logic Pro.
It's absolutely important that you are happy with your DAW and that means it's easy to make music as quickly as possible. With these 4 being the most common DAWs on our list, we will only touch on their details to help you make your decision.
What are the 4 best DAWs?
(Image credit: Image-Line)
1. Image-Line FL Studio
Launch price: From $99/£76/€99
Versions: Fruity, Producer, Signature, All Plugins Bundle
System requirements (PC): Windows 8.1, 10 or later, 4GB storage space, 4GB RAM System requirements (Mac): macOS 10.13.6 or later, 4GB storage space, 4GB RAM
+ Great for Rap & EDM producers
+ Good value for money
+ Lifetime free updates
- GUI can feel a little cluttered
Rap/Hip-Hop and EDM producers have brought Image-Line's DAW to one of the best. Several blogs and hot music sites have had their fans vote on their favorite DAWs and FL Studio is often on top. The low price tag might be one of the reasons that make this program attainable by the masses and it could also be their lifetime free updates. You buy it once and you have ALL the upgrades. Amazing! https://www.image-line.com/flstudio/
(Image credit: Ableton )
2. Ableton Live
Launch price: From $99/£69/€79
Versions: Intro, Standard, Suite
System requirements (PC): Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10, 64-bit Intel (Intel® Core i5 processor or faster recommended) or AMD multi-core processor, 4GB RAM (8GB or more recommended)
System requirements (Mac): OS X 10.11.6 or later, Intel Core 2 Duo processor (Intel Core i5 processor or faster recommended), 4GB RAM (8GB or more recommended)
+ Fast and creative workflow
+ Excellent built-in devices
+ The choice of countless pros
Ableton Live's launch was one of innovation. On top of being a music production software, it was used as an instrument as well. Clips can be launched at your desired timing which ultimately makes your performance easy. The amount of creativity this software allows outside of the music production stage, makes it that much cooler. https://www.ableton.com/en/shop/live/
(Image credit: Apple)
3. Apple Logic Pro
Amazing value and great performance on the Mac
Launch price: $200/£200/€230
System requirements (Mac): macOS 10.13.6 or later, 64-bit processor
+ Great value
+ Tried and tested workflow
+ Native content is great
- Mac only Logic Pro X is Reason's big brother. Reason is free with Mac so if you have it, the workflow is very similar which will give you a huge advantage when switching to the much more advanced Logic Pro. Our experience has been all positive for what we use this for. We record clients and mix their vocals for maximum impact within an instrumental. https://www.apple.com/logic-pro/
(Image credit: Avid)
4. Avid Pro Tools
The industry-standard recording and post-production software
Launch price: From $30/£25/€28 a month
Versions: First, standard and Ultimate
System requirements (PC): Windows 10, Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB RAM (32GB or more recommended), 15GB disk space for installation
System requirements (Mac): macOS 10.13.6 or later, Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB RAM (32GB or more recommended), 15GB disk space for installation
+ Industry standard
+ Free version available
+ Smooth workflow
- Best-suited for linear recording
Pro Tools has been industry standard for a long time and what does that mean for you? If you aspire to record vocalists, bands, or other elements at an "industry" standard, it makes sense that you become familiar with this tool. Most professionally equipped recording studios will be running this program as it is tailored to engineers that record, mix, and master. That is not to say you can't do that on other programs but the abilities are meant for these purposes and not so much on the production side of things. If you intend on receiving a formal education, you will definitely be taught on Pro Tools as your main tool.
Our Final Thoughts
All you want to do is produce music. We get it. We recommend you make beats on either Logic Pro X, FL Studio 20, or Ableton Live 10. A majority of music producers we have had the pleasure of working with these past few years use Ableton Live 9 or 10. On Ableton we have released music of both hip-hop and EDM genres. About 90% of the producers we work with use Ableton Live. Remember Logic Pro X is MAC ONLY. FL Studio is common among Hip-Hop and Rap producers. It is a great program to have and if you know more people that produce, maybe ask them what they use as eventually you can begin collaborating with them and exchanging tips about your production method. If you plan to produce your own beats AND record some vocals or instrumentation, Logic Pro X is a great solution. Logic Pro X is a nice blend between the two. They offer amazing sounds and processors without having to buy additional plug-ins. If you're willing to go all-in and become the next mixing guru, Pro Tools is inevitable for you. Their subscription based payments turn some people off but make no mistake, the top of the industry use this, just watch any mixing session on youtube and you'll find most professional mixing engineers using Pro Tools. If you want a more tailored response to your situation or feel you might need just a few training sessions to get you started on any of these 4 DAWs, contact us via email and we'll get you the help you seek!