OK, so recently I’ve really brought the ‘real talk’ about life, the universe and everything.
And while I LOVE to get deeeeeep, and I’m aware that Donald Trump was voted out the Whitehouse last week (yaaaaaassss), I also know that sometimes, a girl just needs a little practical advice. And that’s exactly what I’m sharing here with you now.
Because Today, I’m breaking down how to pick the perfect DAW (or digital audio workstation) so you can start realising your musical ideas and get your music out into the world.
It can be so, SO overwhelming choosing between all the different options available - do you go with Garageband or Ableton? Logic or Pro Tools? But fear not, because by the end of this post, you’ll know exactly which DAW to pick and why.
I’ve divided my recommendations into three main categories that correspond with the type of projects you might want to make (‘cos I’m good like that).
So, Let’s dive in!
The ‘I Have NO Budget’ Option
If you’ve ever felt stuck recording your music because of lack of funds, then get ready to start moving forward because there are some great, totally FREE DAW options.
Firstly, you can do an awful lot with something like Garageband. In fact, Indie band The Ultramods recorded an entire album on the Garageband app for iPad describing it as “an everything-combined-into-one package".
You can also now start using Pro-Tools for FREE through their Pro-Tools First option, which is quite the development as for decades, this was the industry go-to DAW but came with a hefty price-tag. Pro-Tool offers more detailed capabilities than Garageband with regards to plug-ins, presets and more, but you’ll need to eventually upgrade to have all the features this powerful software can deliver your recording projects.
The ‘I Want to Reeeaaally Get Into Audio Editing & Mixing’ Option
If you’re more of a Live or acoustic musician, chances are you’ll be actually recording most of your audio yourself - as in, you won’t be doing the whol ‘bedroom producer’ thing of layering up inbuilt synth and drum packs.
If that’s the case, there’s two DAWs I’d recommend you consider, as these will give you the best detail and control when working with actual audio files, both through editing and mixing too. These are Pro Tools and Logic Pro X.
I’ve already talked about how Pro-Tools has traditionally been the go-to DAW in professional studios. In fact, when digital recording started to usurp analogue, Pro-Tools was what engineer’s turned to. But in recent years Logic has become increasingly popular due to it’s ability to also edit audio in detail, while being a teeny bit more ‘user friendly’.
Both these DAWs allow you to zoom in really up-close-and-personal to your waveforms and make super precision edits - this is great if you’re working with voice, guitar, piano or rain drops - anything you need to shape with skill inside your music.
The ‘I Want to Produce Beats and Electronic Textures’ Option
Lastly, the music you’re hearing in your head might be a little more beat driven and using a variety of textures, both organic and electronic. If that’s the case, there’s two DAWs I would recommend due to the ease at which you can combine both MIDI and audio.
For the record, MIDI is the language different pieces of digital music technology uses to communicate musical language, such as tempo and pitch. This is what your DAW uses to translate what you’re playing on your MIDI keyboard and then pump it out as actual sound.
Therefore, MIDI is essential if you’re looking to produce beats and electronic textures, such as ‘pads’ and synths, in your music and the two DAWs that will serve you best for this are Ableton Live and Logic Pro X.
You absolutely CAN use MIDI in Pro Tools and Garageband, but they just aren’t quite as intuitive in my experience. I actually personally love ableton because it’s affordable, really intuitive once you get familiar with it and so adaptable for live performances - it can be a game changer if you’re looking to really get into electronic music.
Notice how I didn’t include Audacity?
Yeah… that’s because I just don’t like it. I’m sorry if this is what you’ve been using for ages and it’s all you know or you really love it, but for my money, it’s just too clunky.
I would always advise someone to switch over to a different free option or upgrade with the DAWs I listed above.
So there we have it - all the different DAWs I’d recommend you try depending on what you’re wanting to do with your music.
The bottom line is you need to give them a go and see which one works best for you. Most of them offer free trials so you can play around and find what fits.
And if you loved learning about these different DAWs, check out my FREE PDF sharing 10 FREE Tools to Start Recording Your Music Right Now >>
Inside you’ll find some wonderful toys to play with in your music!