Unlike 20 years ago, the amount of music production DAWs almost goes through the roof nowadays. When starting to make music, it is very important to choose the right kind of DAW to stay on the right track, because it is an investment for the future. Read on for tips and thoughts about what is the best music production software for beginners.
Getting Into It
Progression in music production doesn’t happen over the weekend. You’ll need to be prepared to spend years of your life learning music production and the software associated with it. This is exactly the reason why it’s important to choose a quality DAW for yourself to avoid the following situations:
- Change your DAW every once in a while
- As the DAW grows within you, you realize that it doesn’t have the features you need
- Working with the specific DAW is not fun
Do Some Research
Just like prior to any purchase, you wouldn’t want to blindly spend your money purchasing anything important to you. This is why it’s wise to take a few days and do some background research about DAWs. While doing this, you’ll want to consider the following features, and which ones of them are important to you:
- MIDI and audio capabilities
- Mixing and plugins
- Virtual instruments
- (Ease of) Usage
Visit websites of DAW developers, watch Youtube videos, read reviews and even better, if people you know are using a certain DAW, go watch them work with it and ask to try it yourself.
You’ve Got Two Options
There are fully featured DAWs and there are stripped back DAWs. The former is the “pro” version and the latter is the more beginner friendly one, usually missing some features.
For some, it might be easier to choose the “light” version, to avoid all the confusion about every single feature and tool inside a DAW. These versions are probably relatively easy to use and to get started, too. These versions are fully capable of making music, but they miss some of the more advanced features. The flipside is, of course, after a point you might need to move on because you’re ready to take the next step, and get a “pro” DAW.
Now, choosing a fully-blown professional DAW from the beginning might be intimidating and slow at first, but on the other hand you’ll grow into it and learn everything little by little. The advantages of the pro versions are, they have everything you’d need in terms of features. By choosing this option, you’ll skip the hassle of having to upgrade your DAW, spending more hard-earned money.
Many DAWs have different versions. Let’s take Ableton Live for example. The differences between the Intro and the Suite versions are quite dramatic. The Intro is lacking the majority of synthesizers, plugins, and the audio and MIDI tracks are limited to 16. Of course, there is over 500€ ($540) price difference between the versions, but at the end of the day, you still might want to make the upgrade.
Just like Apple offers GarageBand and Logic Pro, it is up to you to choose. Neither is a bad choice. It’s always intimidating to learn new software anyway. If you’re a hobbyist and just want to record some music for yourself, you’ll probably be well off with a simpler DAW. But if you have bigger plans for yourself in music and have great passion for it, I’d recommend choosing a full-featured, pro DAW.
List of Common DAWs
- Steinberg Cubase
- Ableton Live
- Avid Pro Tools
- Propellerhead Reason
- MOTU Digital Performer
- Acoustica Mixcraft
- Cakewalk Sonar
- PreSonus Studio One
- Apple Logic / GarageBand
- Image-Line FL Studio
- Cockos Reaper
…and many more!
Personally, I use Avid Pro Tools. Though I have friends who use Ableton Live and Apple Logic Pro, among others. Ultimately it’s a personal choice, and could be very hard to “nail it” right from the beginning.
Go ahead and start researching and downloading trials of the DAWs mentioned above to get started!
I hope this post will help you finding a great DAW for yourself for many years to come. Good luck!
Are you a total beginner? Or do you have at least minimal experience in DAWs? Are you having a hard time finding the right one? Drop your comments below.