DAW software is a tough purchase to make as there are tons of options out there. To help make this an easier decision for you, we decided to make a DAW software comparison. I have used many free versions of these, as well as off brands. After many frustrations and trying to work with different types of musicians, I started to figure out exactly what I was looking for. Luckily, I found this out before dropping too much cash on the most affordable options.
My first recommendation for you is to ask yourself these questions before checking out our DAW software comparison. Are you wanting to just record your own projects or produce music for others? Both? Are you wanting to get more into recording bands or making electronic music? How much RAM does your computer have? Knowing the answers to these questions will help find what is best for you quickly.
Choosing your DAW software is a very big decision as it isn't cheap, and it lays the foundation of how you build your studio from there on out. Rather then bombarding you with the very minor differences that may or may not be noticed, I am going to highlight the major pros of each program. Here is our DAW software comparison: (The following products contain affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I get paid if you click through and make a purchase)
DAW Software Comparison
Avid Pro Tools
Avid Pro Tools has very much become the industry standard in recording. With up to 96 different audio tracks, great stock plug-ins, and low latency, it is no wonder how Avid got this DAW to be so popular.
- Industry standard
- Easy workflow
- Once learning, you can jump to other DAWs easier
Steinberg Cubase can be compared to the grandfather of DAWs. They've been around for a long time and are very reliable. This new, improved interface has a large variety of different sounding instruments for using samples. Cubase is great for MIDI projects.
Ableton Live Suite includes over 50 GB of library sounds. It is compatible with most controllers. The name is conveniently titled live because it is great for in the studio and live performances. This is a great option for DJs and electronic recordings.
- Great for electronic music
- Popular for live performances
- An affordable option if using in studio and live
- Looks very different from other DAWs making it hard to jump back and forth
- Not as great of a choice for band recordings
Cakewalk Sonar Platinum
The Sonar Platinum version comes loaded down with tons of plugins to get you started right away with your studio. With an unlimited amount of tracks you can record and even the cool details like surround mixing, Platinum should definitely be on your list of DAW software comparisons.
- Great deal for all the plug-ins you get stock
- Plug-ins are modeled after legendary equipment
- Great for band recordings
- Not good for electronic mixing
- A little bit buggy
*Compatible with Windows 7, 8, 10*
PreSonus Studio One 4
This PreSonus DAW has some very unique features that come stock and ready to go. My personal favorite is the Harmonic editing. You can even print the notation in this package. This upgrade from the 3 has given the others in this DAW software comparison some competition.
- Affordable option
- Cool stock plug-ins
- Easy to use
- Newer to the game
- A little buggy
When Is It Time To Move On From Garage Band
You might ask yourself if you really need to put Garage Band or some other free/cheap software down to use one of these. The easiest answer to that is probably if you are reading this, then it is time. However, there are a few other signs that we can take a look at:
- Number Of Tracks: Do you find yourself needing more tracks to record your mixes
- Plug-ins: In our modern day recording culture, we are getting more and more heavily into plug-ins. Options are important to have to make your mixes as professional as possible
- Professionalism: Especially if you are looking to record other musicians, your image is very important, and the DAW you choose does have a little bit to do with that.
While DAWs aren't a cheap purchase, if you read those questions, you probably know what steps you need to make next. However, always keep your budget in mind as music in general is not cheap. Don't spend your entire budget on your DAW and be stuck without anything else to make it function. You'll still need an audio interface and microphones to get going.
Don't Get Frustrated With The DAW Software Comparison
If you are anything like me, then getting flustered and frustrated with the minor differences between technical jargon can cause you just to leave it be. Make sure the DAW is compatible with your system and that you like the setup of the DAW. If you need any further help at all, we can be contacted here.