45 Comments

  1. Keith

    Nice article and a good list of DAWs but what about Digital Performer?
    If you’re into soundtracks, film music, non-EDM, and general Rock music it’s a solid DAW. It’s massively popular with certain sections of the music community and it’s been around longer than most.
    I’m not saying it’s the best DAW out there as arguing about that is pointless but it definitely should be on a list as comprehensive as yours.

  2. Mark

    I would have to add Mixcraft 7 to the list. Sometimes referred to as a ‘Garageband for Windows’, it isn’t, not by a long shot. While Windows only, it is a legitimate and very powerful DAW that has features and benefits for beginners and pros alike. It’s VSTi and VST collection is second to none and the 7,000+ samples and loops will get anyone busy quick.

    I’m only a hobbyist and I know there are a lot of options out there but I just think Mixcraft 7 is a great DAW and shouldn’t be overlooked. Plus the support and forum are all class.

    Mark

    • Old Blue

      Mixcraft is beautifully simple and intuitive to use. Also comes with a load of stuff, virtual instruments, vst effects, drum and other loops. Maybe not the most sophisticated plugins but since it supports standard vst/vsti you can add more upmarket plugins from other vendors. Should suit many windows amateur musicians very nicely.

    • Dave Coles

      I agree. I have Mixcraft Pro Studio 8. I’ve been using it since version 5 and still find it way easier to learn than others I’ve test driven.

  3. Chri

    Trying Bitwig, is it true some of the designers were from Cubase or Pro Tools?

    • Anonymous

      from Ableton

    • Anonymous

      Neither, they used to work for Ableton

    • Anonymous

      Gdbdbnd

    • OJK

      from ableton obviously – scenes and tracks.

  4. Another Dimension

    Cubase ONLY!

  5. Xenor

    Cubase is the shit!

    • John OBrien

      I’m down with that. Love Cubase.

  6. Anon

    Great article! Scott your writing has been great lately and I really enjoy the subjects you take on. Quick nitpick, the Ableton Push 2 was actually designed and built in-house by Ableton, unlike the Push 1 which was indeed developed in partnership with Akai.

    • Scott Parsons

      Hey,

      Thanks a lot! Appreciate the positive feedback.

      And you’re right about the Push section, It wasn’t as clear as it could have been. Thanks for the heads up.

      :)

      -SP

  7. Mr. Travis

    Very good post. Landr is dominating SEO already!

    I like your positive spin on all of them. Even though we all know FL is the Rodney Dangerfield of DAW’s

  8. J-Boss76

    This is a good list. I have used all of these DAW’s except for Reaper. I like most of these programs, but I would have added Acid Pro, and Soundforge. They were both made by Sonic Foundry, until several years ago when Sony bought them out. But they are still great audio programs. I’ve been using Acid, and Sounforge for over 15 years, and I also use FL Studio. Those 3 programs together offer every option I could possibly need. They also work together very well.

  9. RockSalt

    Cubase is by far the most polished, feature-rich and stable DAW on both Mac and Windows platforms. I’ve tried pretty much all of ’em.

  10. Sasha

    “While most music software uses a multi-view layout, Logic simplifies its workspace opting for a single window view. ”

    Logic can work in the single window view, or you can use multiple windows if you prefer: separate mixer, arrange, score, MIDI, etc. You can also save screen sets and recall them with keyboard shortcuts.

  11. Iogen

    Started with FL Studio, then Reaper. Love them both [tried Cubase and Ableton before though, but i only use Reaper now]. Good article.

  12. John OBrien

    Used Logic (Wow! Great looking interface). Easy workflow and plugins and sounds great. ProTools sounds fantastic, but I don’t really like the workflow. This is due to inexperience with newer versions. Ableton is my live performance software. Studio One creates stems for Ableton very well, but I have some frustration with this. Sonar, used it, but I stopped using it due to the DX over VST focus. May be different now. I hate Reaper with a passion. Cheap, cumbersome but will be rated high by hobbyists and tweakers. I need more fluid workflow and professional tools. Started using Cubase in 2007 after using Pro Tools and have come to enjoy it. Got it initially for free, and upgraded over the years to Cubase Pro 8.5. Great balance between handling plugins, audio and midi with equal power.

  13. Arty Coyote (Mordz)

    I definitely love the list. Amazing DAWs. I’ve been trying out Reaper and I think I like it. A lot in fact especially it’s commands

  14. John Weiss

    Great post! Thank you for it.

  15. Nate

    Nothing’s like Studio One 3. It’s so awesome.

  16. Charly Sousa

    Steinberg cubase ofcourse

  17. Obbi xex

    it takes more time to load . often the app closes itself ??? why is it so ?? PC Version

  18. Perplexia X

    Why doesn’t anyone talk about Magix? It’s a very under-rated DAW!
    I know it’s a beginner DAW, and it has it’s problems (freezing, etc.)
    but I’ve been using it for about 4 years, and yes, it’s just for amateurs,
    but why doesn’t it get mentioned in these Lists and conversations…
    unless, of course, someone brings it up?
    We’ve been told that it’s under-rated, and that we really use it well,
    but we do tend to push it to the limits sometimes! LOL :-D

  19. John

    Glad you put the list together. What I found lacking form an otherwise comprehensive summary is the FEEL of them, and that is what throws me off the most. I’m from the old days of analogue everything, and some of these softwares’ logic paths are strange to me. I have Reason 3 thru 9, Digital Performer since it was just MIDI, a copy of Logic 8… not keen on throwing $200 at everyone every time the OS changes. I’ve used most everything else on that list. But some aspects remain obscure to me. For example, I was using Studio One 3 and couldn’t figure out how to make a short midi drum pattern loop. I could get the whole song to loop, but not just that one aspect.
    Which are the most intuitive?

    • Scott Parsons

      Hey John,

      Good point here! Feel is really important. And each DAW offers a pretty different workflow. We considered feel while we were compiling the list, but it’s hard to make a judgement on feel because it’s all up to the creator in the end. One musician may find that one DAW feels off for them while another musician wouldn’t even dream of using anything else.

      So I guess in the end feel comes down to who is using it. The best bet is to try a bunch of different DAWs to figure out which one suits your workflow best. Most of the DAWs on this list have free trials or LITE versions that you can test out before buying.

      Feel will always be subjective, so it’s best to give a few a try!

      Best,
      Scott

  20. John

    I did my best work on nTrack a long time ago

  21. KH

    Maschine is Awesome; it’s sound quality is great. Pretty easy features, and can turn any sound or sample into an instrument is priceless. Just think that it is odd you don’t have it on your list. I have Logic Pro X, GarageBand, FL studio, and have tried Reason, Pro Tools, Ableton, and some others you have up here; it stacks up with the best. Composing could be easier. Still it integrates with logic and possibly other softwares. You could be missing a major DAW. Maschine is definitely next level. -Music Composer K.H

    • Mike

      I agree. Maschine is on another level and not many know about it

  22. Kamol Anowar

    I used some DAWs. My first DAW was Nuendo then I tied with Propellerhead Reason and I liked very much that combination of instrumental work from reason and editing work from Nuendo. Long time I was using them and upgraded up to 2006. then I started Cubase and Reason but I couldn’t match with these two and went back to Reason and Nuendo. Since 2013 I am using Studio One and It feels better than Nuendo (My feeling), I can do everything here instrumental and editing. Now I want to start with Reason 9. Even I am very interested to use Ableton Live with Push 2. Let’s see…..

    I liked your writing, how you focused on those DAWs specialties is really appreciable. Thanks,

  23. Michael Vogel

    Great article. Surprised you’ve missed Samplitude & Sequoia.

  24. Adam

    How did Motu’s Digital Performer not make the list? lol Phenomenal program aimed at film scoring. Tons of pros use it. Danny Elfman to name one.
    Pro Tools, Cubase, and Digital Performer are your 3 original big pro DAW’s. DP was originally Mac only but is now available on PC. It’s midi editing is top of the class. It most definitely deserves to be on this list, and high up too.

  25. Shawna

    I’m old school (or just old). I’m about to put together a small home studio. I’m a long time PC user and even though I’m taking a course that focuses on Pro Tools, I still want to consider other options for my DAW at home. Especially since I don’t own or can afford a Mac. I know they make a Windows version nowadays, but Pro Tools has alwalys felt like a Mac program to me.
    Sonar has really caught my attention. I have to admit I really like the “look” of Sonar and Reason. But I heard a few years back that Reason went “Mac only”?
    I don’t want to have the Mac vs. Windows debate, but I do want to try out trial versions of DAWs that are known to work well on PCs.

    Shawna

  26. Jon var

    All daws mentioned here are all excellent daw including digital performer.its what works for you thats key.
    I went from fl studio to cubase to reaper pro tools mixcraft by the way a awesome program and now i settled and married to ableton 9 .

  27. Nick

    I use Ableton 9 and Mixcraft 8. Between them you can make good dance tunes. Mixcraft good for recording Midi, Ableton great for beats and mixing.

  28. Alfred Flowers

    I’m looking for the easiest daw for beginners that doesn’t sound like a toy like some I’ve tried…

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