9 Best DAW for Beginners in 2019

A DAW, also known as a Digital Audio Workstation, is a software application for recording, editing, and producing music and audio in general. It’s the tool of the trade of music producers, sound engineers, and independent artists who record and publish their own music without the help of a professional studio.

ProductBrandNamePrice
AbletonAbleton Live 9 Standard Ableton Live 9 Standard Multi-Track Audio Recording with Sound LibraryCheck Price on Amazon
Image-LineImage Line FL Studio 12 Producer Edition (Discontinued)Buy on Amazon|$209(Price as of 10/21/2019 09:59 ET)
PropellerheadReason 9.5Buy on Amazon|$393(Price as of 10/21/2019 09:59 ET)
AvidAvid Pro Tools 10 Software Activation CardCheck Price on Amazon

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Modern DAWs are complex, extendable with third-party plugins, and immensely powerful. Considering the colossal number of features even simpler DAWs have, it’s no wonder that beginners find them daunting and difficult to learn. There are, however, DAWs that are much more suitable for complete beginners than other DAWs.

The DAWs featured on this list are beginner-friendly not because they are overly simplistic but because they have huge communities behind them, who have produced a wealth of instructional material. Being able to just go to YouTube and watch someone else demonstrate how to use a particular feature is much less daunting than reading boring manuals or figuring things out by trial and error.

Samplitude Music Studio

If you’re looking at the best of the best as far as digital audio workstations for beginners go, look no further than the Samplitude Music Studio. On the technical side of things, this is a comprehensive studio with 64-bit architecture and multicore support, which can put even some of the ore higher-end systems to the test.

This one actually has tons of virtual instruments loaded into it, as well as the essential FX suite with 11 professional plug-in effect. You can actually use up to 32 different instruments in a single project. There’s just a ton of features that go into this program — anything you could ever want for being a professional audio engineer.

But, what’s actually really unique is that Samplitude comes with what they’re calling Automatic Mastering —  with this “presets can be created for audio volume, width and depth as well as for additional mastering parameters.”

Logic Pro

Logic Pro is a well-known audio editing program in the industry, actually made by Apple. It’s a little more difficult to start using, but there are countless tutorials and guides for beginners that get them into this professional audio editing program quickly.

This is one of our favorite options because of the sheer amount of support that Logic Pro has. With constant updates, you’ll always have the latest tools and features to develop out an audio track.

Logic Pro is obviously not free, or even cheap to buy into. However, if you’re offering studio and mixing services, Logic Pro will more than pay for itself, and might even help you obtain some of your first clients. It’s also won’t work for those that are running on a PC — Logic Pro is available for Mac only.

Bitwig

Bitwig Studio might be a little more up your alley, working on both Windows and macOS. This digital audio workstation is perfect for the beginner and professional alike, actually having everything you need to take a track from start to finish.

If you’re new to audio editing and digital audio workstations in general, Bitwig is an excellent tool; however, Bitwig caters to beginners by offering extensive tutorials that you can watch. These tutorials cost extra, but there is an extensive amount of information that can get you put o speed quickly.

Bitwig Studio is regularly used for personal and professional projects. So, while it’s pricey, it’s an investment that will not only help you get the expertise that you need, but will be the program that you can start to make a living off of.

Sony ACID Music Studio

Next up, we ‘re looking at Sony’s very own ACID Music Studio. Sony is a name that you can trust when it comes to music, re-mixing, and audio editing tools in general. It’s a total music production platform, giving you literally everything that you need to recording your own music, getting it on a CD, and mastering it. There are tons of big name artists that use Sony’s Music Studio.

There’s all sorts of things to look out for in this program — the ability to mix recorded audio, music loops, and MIDI.  The ability to make flexible MIDI tracks with 90 included instruments, and then being able to shape your sound with effects and remixing tools.

 

 

 

Ableton Live (Windows, macOS)

Used by: Bassnectar, Mogwai, Daft Punk, Skrillex, The Glitch Mob, Paul van Dyk, and many others.

Ableton Live started in 2001, and it has since changed how music is produced both in the studio and live on stage. Whereas many traditional DAWs barely fit on a single screen, displaying a plethora of instruments and panels at the same time, Ableton Live is compact and clutter-free. The DAW is designed to be this way because it’s, among other things, intended for live performance. Surprising pop-up windows are the last thing you want when playing live in front of an audience.

Ableton Live comes with two main user interface arrangements: the classic Arrangement View and the unique Session View. The Session View is where ideas can freely flourish and develop into concrete bits and pieces of future songs. You can organize and trigger sets of MIDI and audio clips, group them into scenes, and trigger the scenes as single units. When you’re ready to give your ideas their final form, you can switch to the Arrangement View and further manipulate the arrangement and effects of the recorded tracks from the Session View.

All versions of Ableton Live support VST plugins, powerful built-in MIDI sequencing of software and hardware instruments, automatic plug-in delay compensation, MIDI remote control instant mapping, MIDI output to hardware synths, multicore and multiprocessor audio processing, and more.

FL Studio (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS)

Used by: Avicii, Seven Lions, Basshunter, Mike Oldfield, Sarom Soundz, Camo & Krooked, and many others.

FL Studio is perhaps the most popular DAW among complete beginners, and for a good reason. Its graphical user interface is based on a pattern-based music sequencer. FL Studio’s style of music production encourages small ideas to develop into complete songs and audio tracks naturally, over time. As soon as you install and launch your copy of FL Studio, you can start laying down basic beats and what might eventually evolve and morph into something larger and perhaps even completely different.

Considering that FL Studio is bungled with a massive number of effect plugins, synthesizers, instruments, and other tools that you can use to turn your ideas into reality, it will likely take some time before you even get to third-party VST plugins, which FL Studio supports without a hitch.

Professional DAWs such as FL Studio are not cheap. When you buy a new guitar or a drum kit, you can, at least, console yourself with the fact that the instrument will likely be with you for the rest of your life. Knowing that there’s going to be a new version of your DAW of choice every year, costing you hundreds of dollars, can be disheartening. Well, this doesn’t apply to FL Studio. Buying FL Studio not only gets you the latest version but all future FL Studio updates free, according to the official website, and Image Line, the company behind FL studio, has been living up to this promise for 18 years and counting.

Ardour (Windows, macOS, Linux)

Used by: Jannis Pohlmann, Anelixis, Johanna Herdtfelder & Band, and others.

There are two main things that separate Ardour for other DAWs on this list: it works on Linux, and it doesn’t cost a single dollar (unless you want to support the developers). Yes, not only is Ardour one of a few truly multi-platform, full-featured DAWs on the market, but it’s also open source and supported entirely by the generosity of its users. The main person behind Ardour is Paul Davis, a British software developer best known for his work on the JACK Audio Connection Kit, which is a professional sound server daemon that provides real-time, low-latency connections for both audio and MIDI data between applications that implement its API.

Although Ardour doesn’t come with the price of commercial DAWs, it does come with most features included in DAWs that cost several times as much as Ardour. You can either record new audio or import existing audio or MIDI files from your hard drive, cut, move, stretch, and trim the audio tracks until you’re satisfied with the composition before you apply various effects and audio adjustments. But that’s not where the fun ends. Ardour also comes with built-in soundtrack features that make it easy to synchronize imported video with any of the available Ardour timecode sources. And when you outgrow the plugins included with Ardour, you can extend Ardour’s functionality with any third-party VST plugin you want.

Reason (Windows, macOS)

Used by: S1, Key Wane, ZETA, Tobtok, Kill the Noise, Timbaland, Toro-Y-Moi, and many others.

Reason is a polarizing DAW because its user interface emulates a rack of hardware synthesizers, samplers, signal processors, sequencers, and mixers. Users can populate this virtual rack with any devices they want and freely interconnect them in an arbitrary manner. The same virtual rack can natively accommodate third-party VST plugins, which Propellerhead, the company behind Reason, sells on the official website.

This approach to audio production is intuitive, visual, and 100 percent fun. Some of the more noteworthy devices included with Reason are Subtractor, a polyphonic synthesizer device based on subtractive synthesis, NN-19, Reason’s original sampler, Dr. Octo REX Loop Player, a loop player that plays back samples created by the ReCycle music loop editor, and, for example, the RV7000 advanced reverb effect.

If you’ve tried several traditional DAWs only to find that none of them really aligns with your approach to audio production, Reason might be just what you need. Just don’t be surprised when you get so used to it that any other DAWs will feel clunky and alien.

Avid Pro Tools (Windows, macOS)

Used by: Kanye West, Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, Max Martin, Rick Rubin, and many others.

If you’d, one day, like to work as a professional audio engineer, you better start familiarizing yourself with Avid Pro Tools right away. Developed by Avid Technology, an American technology and multimedia company, for Windows and macOS, Avid Pro Tools is a professional software-based non-linear editing system that started in 1984 under the brand name Sound Designer. Since then, it was used by Ricky Martin to record, edit, and mix his first top single, Livin’ la Vida Loca, and create the audio for the video games DJ Hero and Guitar Hero, among many other things.

The latest version of Avid Pro Tools supports cloud collaboration, loop-based music creation, and comes packed with over 60 virtual instruments, effects, and sound processing plugins. Thanks to the recently-introduced subscription model, Avid Pro Tools is now also more affordable than ever, even though it’s still pretty expensive. You can either get it for $24.92 per month with a one-year agreement, or for $29.99 without the agreement. The cloud-collaboration feature is a paid extra, and it starts at $4.99 per month.

ProductBrandNamePrice
AbletonAbleton Live 9 Standard Ableton Live 9 Standard Multi-Track Audio Recording with Sound LibraryCheck Price on Amazon
Image-LineImage Line FL Studio 12 Producer Edition (Discontinued)Buy on Amazon|$209(Price as of 10/21/2019 09:59 ET)
PropellerheadReason 9.5Buy on Amazon|$393(Price as of 10/21/2019 09:59 ET)
AvidAvid Pro Tools 10 Software Activation CardCheck Price on Amazon

* Links in this table contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Thank you for your support. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.

Verdict

As you can see, there are a lot of awesome Digital Audio Workstation programs out there. Most of these that we’ve listed above can be used for those just starting out and trying to navigate there way through the beginnings of the field; however, almost all of these can be used in a professional setting as well, allowing you to work as a professional audio engineer or mixer.

Do you have a favorite DAW for beginners, or just in general? Let us know what it is in the comments section below — we’d love to hear from you! And who knows, you may even find your own suggestion on our list during our next update!