What is the best DAW for beginners in the music industry? What DAW should you choose if you are only starting your music production? Let’s take a look at the DAWs our professional mixing and mastering engineers recommend.
What should I look for when choosing a digital audio workstation?
The first mistake that many beginner producers make is thinking that all DAWs have the same purpose. You can use DAWs, audio interfaces, and microphones to record songs and have all you need for music making. In a way, this is true, you can create music, record tracks, mix, and master music using almost every DAW available.
However, the functionality of all digital audio workstations is different depending on what tasks in music production each of them was created to perform best.
So, if a producer says that, for example, Ableton Live is not so great because there are better DAWs for beat making, they need to understand that, in the first place, this DAW is meant to excel during live performances, and there it shows the best results.
The questions you should take into account when choosing your DAW:
- What type of work will you use the DAW for? Will you be making beats, mixing, and mastering songs? Maybe you’ll be working with Dolby Atmos immersive sound, or maybe you’ll use the DAW at live concerts, etc.
- Is it your goal to work with music on a professional level, or will it remain just a small hobby?
- What DAWs are popular in the world and in your country today? Which DAW do the people you are going to work with use?
- And finally, do you prefer a PC on Windows, or are you an Apple user?
As you see, there is no such thing as the best DAW for everybody, the choice depends on many factors.
Why should I choose a popular DAW to start my music production journey?
The main rule when choosing a DAW is that the software you choose should be popular. Why is it important?
When you read the recommendations on the internet, you can find hundreds of free new DAWs “for beginners” with enticing descriptions of unlimited audio tracks, midi tracks, amazing audio effects, great software instruments, convenient piano roll, drum machines, and other advantages. It may seem that it includes everything that music producers need for their virtual studio.
The descriptions of different DAWs might be a bit overwhelming, and you may think that you have found the best DAW for you, but the truth is, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort if, from the beginning of your career, you start to use one of the popular DAWs.
The two important reasons for choosing a popular DAW:
The first reason is that you will be cooperating with other musicians: artists, producers, and audio engineers. And it will be a great advantage if you all work with the same DAW, it will save you a lot of time.
That’s why the DAW you choose should be popular on the market in general and also be popular locally in your country and among the people you communicate with.
The second reason for choosing a popular DAW as the best DAW for you is that whenever you have any questions about some functions of your DAW, if many people work with it, it will be super easy to find the answer. There will be a lot of information on the internet, or you will be able to ask a friend who also uses this software.
You know how much time it can take to understand one little problem in the functioning of a piece of software if you have nowhere to turn for help and use a trial-and-error approach to find the answer yourself. Do yourself a favor and avoid these situations by choosing a popular DAW.
Now, we’ll look at the DAWs we recommend you choose and start your production journey with. Here we are looking at them from the perspective of what functions in music production each of them does best. So you could make your choice depending on what career in the industry you are aiming for and what tasks you are planning to perform the most.
Pro Tools is the most universal professional workstation
The most universal professional DAW, both for Mac users and PC users, is Pro Tools. You can produce orchestral music with it, create arrangements for songs, music for movies, work with Dolby Atmos, and more.
With professional virtual instruments and a great virtual sample player, the program allows you to create more than 500 instrument tracks and even more midi tracks. It’s the top software for musicians, and you will be able to do everything in it, from recording music to editing audio, mixing, and mastering your songs.
We can not say, though, that this DAW is easy for beginners to work with audio. Interface is somewhat complicated, and it will take a lot of time and effort to learn how to use it if you are a beginner and exploring the best DAWs for beginners.
However, Pro Tools is great for audio engineers who work with music professionally. If your goal is to eventually work with music at the industry level, then learning this DAW makes great sense.
By purchasing a subscription to Pro Tools, you also get Melodyne for free, which will come in handy for vocal editing and manual pitch correction.
Logic Pro is a highly functional DAW for Apple users
Logic Pro is a universal DAW with versatile functionality, that’s why it’s called Apple’s flagship DAW.
The difference from Pro Tools is that this DAW is made only for Mac users, so if you prefer Apple computers to PCs, then Logic is your best professional choice.
Logic works better than other applications on Mac OS because it’s made especially for it, so it’s quick.
You can use an almost unlimited number of tracks, more precisely, up to a thousand audio tracks and software instrument tracks.
We can say Logic is like Pro Tools for Apple, you can do every production task using it.
If you plan on creating Spatial Audio, you can choose Logic Pro
Logic Pro includes native Dolby Atmos mixing support. If you are going to create spatial audio and immersive sound using Dolby Atmos, Logic is the best tool. You’ll have all the instruments for a convenient 3D audio creation workflow.
The integrated Dolby Atmos renderer will allow you to check how exactly the song will sound on Apple Music on different playback systems, including the spatial audio head tracking feature.
If you are planning to excel at mixing songs in Dolby Atmos format, it’ll be better for you to choose this DAW. However, if you are not interested in Dolby Atmos, Logic is still your choice as the most professional software for musicians who use an Apple computer.
Like Pro Tools, Logic is a little difficult, and if you are a beginner, you’ll spend a lot of time and effort learning how to use the DAW. But if you are seriously determined to become a professional audio engineer, Logic is a great choice.
FL Studio is the best choice for beatmakers
If you are exploring the best DAWs for beginners with a goal to become a beatmaker, then FL Studio (Fruity Loops) is what you are looking for. It can be used by Mac and PC users equally.
FL Studio has an easy-to-use sampler track, a great set of software instruments, and its FPC drum machine is incredibly powerful. The audio track limit is 500 tracks in the latest versions.
You won’t need deep knowledge of music theory to produce music with FL Studio and its powerful instruments. FL Studio was created for beatmakers and remains one of the best digital audio workstations for producers who plan to create music professionally. Great software instruments, a sound library, and audio effects make it the best DAW for creating beats.
Work with audio for media professionally using Nuendo
Choose Nuendo if you plan to work professionally with audio for different media. The work of preparing and synchronizing audio for filmmaking is called post-production, and Nuendo excels in it.
Steinberg Nuendo is great for post-production tasks
With the latest versions of Nuendo, you will easily prepare and synchronize audio for the following products:
- virtual reality products, and others
An abundance of useful tools, including ones that use some AI processing, will help you work easily with music, dialogues, dubbing, translations, and any other kinds of audio for media. If this is what you are planning to achieve, Nuendo may very well be the best DAW for you.
Working with 3D sound
Nuendo also provides great support for Dolby Atmos, you can use it if you want your work to be in the immersive sound format. The Dolby Atmos renderer will help you get binaural audio to monitor immersive sound using headphones.
Cubase vs. Nuendo
Cubase is another very popular professional DAW. It is similar to Nuendo and is also made by Steinberg Media Technologies, but is simpler and has less functionality than Nuendo.
Cubase is weaker than Nuendo, but it still remains a professional tool for audio engineers and post-production.
For a beginner, it may make sense to start with a simpler product like Cubase, and later, when you feel confined by its functionality, move to Nuendo. Similarities in the product designs will make your transition smooth.
Cubase is a great DAW for beginners to work with audio. The interface of Cubase elements is quite intuitive, and many people find it better and easier than the interface of similar powerful DAWs like Logic and Pro Tools.
Cubase and Nuendo are great options for an audio engineer
Apart from preparing audio for media, both Cubase and Nuendo can be successfully used for working with songs and professional mixing and mastering.
As a beginner, if you want to record and release songs, Cubase or Nuendo may also be a good professional choice of DAW to learn. As we already mentioned, the interface is great and intuitive. Regarding functionality, Nuendo is definitely among the best DAWs available today, while Cubase will be a slightly less expensive choice.
Your live performances will thrive with Ableton Live
If you are planning to use your DAW at live concerts and shows, then Ableton Live is the right choice.
You will obviously be able to use Ableton Live for creating music, recording, mixing, and other production tasks, but it is much more functional than other applications when it comes to supporting live music at a concert.
For live performances, Ableton gives artists much more freedom and possibilities than any other DAW.
So if you are looking for the best DAW for beginners to help you do live shows, get Ableton.
Reaper is the best DAW for supporting your hobby
If producing music is your hobby, maybe you are recording and mixing your songs in your free time, and you are looking for a not-expensive solution that would work on an average laptop configuration, Reaper is your choice.
Reaper is almost free, you’ll pay $60 for it after a 60-day trial, but the program will not shut down if you don’t purchase it. You’ll be able to still use the free version, it’ll just remind you from time to time until you eventually make the payment.
It is simple and greatly customizable, you can create your own artist version of the interface in it. You can choose how you want your session to look, and you can code your own plugins and add them to the DAW.
This program is very reliable, it can record long sessions and work forever without crashing.
Reaper is amazingly lightweight, partly because it doesn’t come with many instruments and libraries, so for making music, you’ll need to add third-party instruments and samples, but that will cause no problems.
At the same time, it offers you the possibility of using unlimited tracks in your session.
Should any questions appear, there are a great number of users worldwide and a special Reaper forum, so you’ll be able to find answers to your questions online and learn how to use your DAW easily.
There are more DAWs you may want to check out
These 7 DAWs we have named so far are our Major Mixing studio choices. We recommend you choose one of them, although they are just the most popular among the hundreds of available applications.
If you want more options to choose from, let’s now take a look at just a few more DAWs. These are less expensive, and a little less professional, but still very popular and highly functional.
This is the first one we’ll recommend if you don’t like the ones we named in the main section.
This is one of the best DAWs for beginners that works only for Apple users. It’s completely free and known to be easy to learn for those who are just starting their journey in music production.
The great thing about Garage Band is that you can use Apple loops and great drummers to create drum parts.
Should you miss some functions in Garage Band, you can always find third-party plugins or instruments and use them with the DAW.
Although Garage Band may push your Mac to its limits and be slow at times, its advantages still outweigh its shortcomings.
PreSonus Studio One, as opposed to Garage Band, works on any operating system. This DAW, even though a bit expensive, is a great choice for beginners to do anything from beatmaking to recording and performing. It comes with five powerful virtual instruments, and has all you need for recording and producing music. Studio One also allows you to work with videos.
PreSonus Studio One offers unlimited audio tracks and a drag-and-drop, intuitive workflow design. It’s easy to learn, and although it has less functionality than Pro Tools, for example, it still has more than enough for your successful production work.
If you purchase PreSonus Studio One, you receive Melodyne Essentials for pitch correction and vocal editing as well.
This popular DAW works on Mac OS, Windows, and Linux, and is a DAW you may check out for yourself because it provides a great set of tools for music production and some tools aimed at live concerts.
The functionality of Bitwig is similar to FL Studio; however, FL Studio is still better equipped for supporting live performances.
Bitwig Studio includes a whole package of instruments, samples, and effects, so this DAW will be enough for you to produce different types of music. It also supports third-party plugins, so if you miss something, you’ll be able to add it.
It’s not as great for live performance as Ableton Live, but it can still be used for this purpose. It is not expensive and is good for recording, editing, composing, mixing, and mastering music. Also, the interface is simple and suitable for beginners.
Owning the right DAW that will help you produce music is important. Choosing the software correctly will save you time and help you make your songs richer and more impressive. If you are not producing songs but are working with sound for media or doing other jobs in music production, having a powerful DAW and the right tools will always be a great advantage.
That is why we advise you to choose a DAW carefully, based on the tasks you are planning to accomplish with its help.
To work in the music industry, you need to produce the highest quality music according to all the standards the top-chart hits set before you today. The industry trends are quickly changing, and if you are a beginner, in order to succeed or just get help and grow, you need to team up with professionals.
At our Major Mixing studio, we have helped many artists develop their careers. We’ll make your music sound professional like the songs at the top of the billboards do because amateur music production has no chance to succeed in the music industry today.
Bring your project to us, we’ll help you with the production process and make your music perfect with the professional mixing and mastering it deserves. The world is waiting for your music!