What Should You Look for in a Digital Audio Workstation for Music Production?
Your digital audio workstation (DAW) is the cornerstone of your production equipment.
Choosing the right DAW software is an essential part of being able to produce slick tracks. There are dozens of programs available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Some of these options are free, but they tend to have limited potential. It’s hard to create a quality recording with a set of free tools, so you may need to invest a little bit of money on finding the right software.
If you don’t want to spend your hard-earned income on expensive software, take the time to learn more about your options. Find out what you should look for in DAW software for music production.
What is a Digital Audio Workstation?
While some use the term to refer to all the tools, equipment, and resources in your studio, we’re simply referring to the software that you use to produce your music.
There are also standalone systems that resemble mixers with their own LCD display. But, for this article, we’ll just look at digital audio workstation software.
You can find software for all major operating systems – Windows, Mac, and Linux. There are even a few Android options, but these haven’t reached the same level of sophistication as the top DAW software for desktop computers.
Pro Tools is the most recognized name in DAW software, but it’s not your only option.
As mentioned, there are also a few free options, but most are under-equipped. Though there are a couple of open-source programs, such as Audacity, that may suit your needs.
In the past, you would need to use multiple programs in order to gain all the features available in a typical DAW program. This includes a MIDI sequencer, virtual instruments, and a digital audio processor. You now get everything that you need in one program.
There are three main components to consider when choosing a DAW. This includes:
- The computer that you will use to run the DAW
- The DAW software that you end up deciding to use
- The audio interface that allows you to record music and transfer it to the computer
You will want a modern computer to run the modern DAW software. This software places a lot of demand on the processor. So, if you want to limit your chances of the DAW software crashing, then you’ll need a decent computer.
Along with a computer, you’ll need an audio interface for transferring music to your computer. This sound card will need to be compatible with your computer. The interface should have jacks for inputting your mic and other instruments.
The final step is choosing the DAW software. The software provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows you to record, edit, and mix your music.
Choosing the Best DAW for Your Needs
When you start browsing for DAW software, you’ll want to think about your specific needs. What are you looking for in a DAW? Think about the following factors:
- Ease of use
- Sound quality
- Plugins and extras
First, you need to think about how easy the software is to use. Some software will require you to watch detailed training videos or search the internet for tutorials. Others are incredibly easy to start using instantly.
If you’re just messing around, you should look at some of the cheap programs, such as GarageBand. GarageBand is included on most Mac computers, but can also be purchased through the Mac App Store. There are similar programs for Windows and Linux.
But, if you’re serious about making quality music, then you’ll want to take the time to learn how to use one of the most sophisticated programs – such as Pro Tools or Logic.
Also, consider the cost. You’ll need to spend a little more to get Pro Tools, but you’re getting a high-end piece of software. You get what you pay for when it comes to DAW software. If you want to make the best music possible, then you should use the best equipment that you can afford.
When it comes to sound quality, Pro Tools, Logic, Sonar, and Cubase are your best bets. They’ve got the best reputation when it comes to sound quality. Though, this is a hotly debated topic. Some of your other choices include:
- FL Studio
- Studio One
- Adobe Audition
Here’s a quick round-up of the 5 best digital audio workstations, according to Tracks4U:
Finally, look at the plugins and extra features that are available for the software. Most of these programs will come with a preset group of sounds and virtual instruments that you can experiment with. But, if you want to add more, you may need to pay more.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right DAW Software
In the end, you don’t worry if you can’t afford the best DAW software right now. You can check out one of the most affordable options and familiarize yourself with the layout and graphical user interface. This practice will help you learn the basics of music production, preparing you for the use of a better DAW.
Once you start producing quality music, you’ll want to start making money from your hard work. Use these tips to select the best DAW, produce your music, and then register for our upcoming webinar and learn how to sell your music.