Which Is the Best Software to Make Music – The Perfect DAW

By | April 2, 2015

To the question, which is the best software to make music, is no simple and easy answer. This is true because people are different, and so are the software designated for music making. If you’re lucky, you’ll instantly stumble upon the DAW that you’ll stick to, until the end. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll have to do some research and work to find the perfect one.

The Search

It is challenging to find a perfectly suitable package of software for your own musical needs. Usually, it takes years of experience to go through various pieces of DAWs and see which ones you constantly go back to. Let’s start with a few questions:

  1.  Photo Credit: rhome_music via Compfight cc

    Do you want to record your instrument? Photo Credit: rhome_music via Compfight cc

    Do you play an instrument and are you planning on recording it?

  2. Are you just sketching ideas or producing full tracks?
  3. Do you want to mix your own music?
  4. Do you need to use virtual instruments?
  5. Are you in need of good audio-editing capabilities?
  6. How important is working with MIDI notes to you?
  7. Do the looks of a DAW matter to you?
  8. What kind of a workflow do you prefer?
  9. Are you more engineer-oriented or creativity-oriented?

Think about these questions, as they will help you ultimately land the perfect DAW.

The DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

I’m just going to say this first. You can do everything you need to do in virtually any modern DAW. I’m also not listing any DAWs here because one is not better than the other. The main differences between them concern matters of workflow.

 Photo Credit: soft Picasso via Compfight cc

Which is your priority – audio or MIDI? Photo Credit: soft Picasso via Compfight cc

So you truly need to think of issues such as whether you prioritize recording actual audio or do you compose by clicking on MIDI notes. Do you need a mixer with advanced mixing features and routing capabilities or is it enough for you to be able to pull faders up and down? Do you want to look at a “pretty” DAW or do you prefer function over beauty?

Choosing a DAW greatly comes down to the question of what you need to do with it. All subjective issues aside, it is the smart starting point. Do research about different DAWs and see how they and their features are being marketed.

If your friends are using a specific DAW, go watch them use it. Download demos of DAWs and make a song with each of them, and see which one is the most pleasant for you. All DAWs have their own “logic” of getting things done, and you just need to find the one that clicks with your own personal logic.

Myself, I am currently using Pro Tools as my main DAW, because it happens to click with me in ways that just are right for me. Probably because Pro Tools is a more engineer-driven DAW. Well, it basically is a “digital tape machine” and mixing platform with great audio editing capabilities.

Know this though, I have gone through various DAWs throughout the years, and even though there are similarities between DAWs, I find them all unique in their own way. There’s a certain “feel” to each DAW, which is hard to describe without experiencing it yourself.

What DAWs to look at, then?

Take a look at the giants, and research their features. Ableton Live, Apple Logic Pro, Cubase, PreSonus Studio One, Propellerhead Reason and Avid Pro Tools for starters. There are many other DAWs in the market as well, but I’m fairly sure one of these would be a good fit.

Just download demos of each, spend a day of two with each you’ve chosen and mess around with them, making some music. I’m quite sure you’ll have some positive “a-ha!” –moments with some of them, which will eventually lead you to potentially stick with one.

Don't be scared by the complexity of a DAW Photo Credit: piddy77 via Compfight cc

Don’t be scared by the complexity of a DAW Photo Credit: piddy77 via Compfight cc

Don’t be intimidated by the initial impression of the DAW when you first set your hands on it. They’re not that hard to use, and they all have the same core functions.

In the End

If you already have a DAW and are happy with it, stick to it, because what’s the point of switching in that case? I have switched DAWs because my needs have changed. The workflows I had visualized in my mind could be only achieved with another DAW, or at least more efficiently, so I had to switch.

If you're happy with your DAW, stick to it Photo Credit: William Brawley via Compfight cc

If you’re happy with your DAW, stick to it Photo Credit: William Brawley via Compfight cc

And that is pretty much the only reason to jump to another DAW. So think about these if you are looking for your first piece of software to make music with, or if you have something you would like to change about your current workflow.

To conclude, no DAW is better than the other. It is always subjective. You can always make it work the way you want to, by using your imagination. Because when you think of something you need to accomplish, you can do it.

-JP

Are you having trouble finding a suitable DAW for yourself? Do you find yourself jumping from DAW to DAW? Or did you find the perfect DAW immediately? Drop your comments below.

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