A DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation, is an essential part of every home recording studio. DAWs are software programs in which you can record and edit audio and are the foundations of digital recording. While many experts recommend Pro Tools, which is the industry standard software, there are dozens of other programs to choose from that offer similar control at a fraction of the cost (both for your wallet and your CPU). Here are three DAWs that I think are great for beginners:
REAPER is an extremely stable and flexible application that runs on both PC and Mac. It is a fully functional audio and MIDI recording program that enables in-depth editing and mastering, supports a wide variety of plug-ins, and is extremely lightweight (with a file size less than 20MB). REAPER is also affordable, offering a discounted license to personal users and educators for only $60 and a commercial license for $225. While REAPER may not look as pretty as some other programs, it proves its worth through seemingly endless customization and constant free updates. You can download a free 60-day trial and check out the rest of its features on the official website.
For Mac users, Apple’s GarageBand is a powerful introductory recording program, complete with hundreds of virtual instruments and sound loops. This program is great for bedroom producers who don’t have access to many instruments or musicians. GarageBand also features a simple, user-friendly interface that allows for quick and easy song creation. GarageBand is also a simplified version of Apple’s Logic Pro X, which is their professional level recording program and a common alternative to Pro Tools. The best part is that it only costs $4.99, so you can become familiar with Apple’s recording software and eventually make a smooth transition to Logic Pro. Learn more about GarageBand here.
Acoustica’s Mixcraft is an affordable and powerful multi-track recording program made exclusively for PC. The user-friendly interface resembles Apple’s GarageBand, and allows new users to comfortably begin recording music at their own pace. Mixcraft is packed with virtual instruments, plug-ins, and thousands of instrument loops for song creation right out of the box. It is a great program to introduce users to the world of digital recording, but it does require quite of bit of computer memory and hard drive space. The home version is fairly priced at $89 and all future upgrades are offered at a discount for returning customers. Check out all of Mixcraft’s features here.
I personally use REAPER, since I love its stability and the customization if offers. While I am still learning all of its features, it is allowing me to easily learn as I go.
What do you think of this list? Are there better programs? What kind of software do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!