Most people would say that long gone are the days of real musical instruments (which is quite sad, actually) as EDM or electronic dance music is the rave nowadays. DJs play in arenas around the world, are paid a lot higher, and have become A-list celebrities while bands and other instrumentalists are reduced to intimate gigs in their local pubs. However, if you are a real musician, you do not have to sulk in the corner as you can try to keep up with the times by using electronic production to enhance your traditional sound. Because, after all, aren’t most electronic sounds based on musical instruments?
Give your music career a chance and make a hit with this list of the latest and best music production software available today. Also known as digital audio workstations, DAWs are the modern versions of drum machines and synthesizers which were used to mix sounds. While DAWs use a computer-based program to produce a digital music output. using a DAW allows you to integrate various instruments, lay down tracks, mix and master audio files, and finally release that song you have been dying for the world to hear.
If you want to become a music composer in these modern times, there is a lot to consider in choosing the perfect music production software that fits your style. We discuss the different programs available below.
FL Studio, known as Fruity Loops before, is by Image-Line and is considered the best music production software for use by both beginners and newbies. It has a greatly enhanced and fairly intuitive interface which makes complex production tasks pretty easy. You will be able to get a full range of tools, sounds, and effects at a comparatively low cost with this DAW, which is perfect for individuals who are just starting to make money in this industry.
Ableton Live, just like its name, is the most popular and best DAW for live recording and performances. It comes with a standard multi-track recording with a huge library of built-in audio sounds and MIDI tracks, a cut-paste-splice feature, and a seamless MIDI sequencing software and hardware which allows all MIDI instruments to auto-map readily on its interface. Regardless of your level, you can rock up to a venue and hype a crowd with this DAW.
Cubase from Steinberg is the perfect music production software for the musician, artist, and songwriter as it comes with a mammoth set of sound libraries and some of the most powerful plugins which you can use and tweak to your heart’s content. It also has Steinberg’s signature key, score, and drum editors as well as VST Transit, an online collaboration feature which lets you upload tracks to cloud services and work on projects together, anytime and anywhere.
Studio One is a surprisingly stable music production software by PreSonus, although not quite as popular as the previous DAWs mentioned. A fully-fledged standalone DAW, it has a simple interface with an easy drag-and-drop functionality, unlimited tracks, MIDI, VST, buses and FX channels, nice reverb effects, and a Melodyne feature which makes editing tracks smooth and uncomplicated while you take your musical ideas into the real world.
Pro Tools by Avid, on the other hand, is deemed to be the best music production software by professionals and considered as the industry standard DAW. It gives you the standard ability to compose, record, mix, edit, master, etc. and comes with a wide range of EQs, effects, and plug-ins such as reverbs, compressors, channel stripping, and the works. Its a bit complicated to learn, but there are dedicated courses to help you master your craft.
Logic Pro from Apple is an awesome digital audio workstation that is a perfect choice for music producers and engineers who need a lot of help in actually creating the music. It provides a very advanced but easy-to-learn interface, features, and plugins with some of the best virtual elements which includes track consolidation, instrument layering, an intuitive mixer for plug-in control, and a score editor to allow you to create your own MIDI files, among others.
Reason by Propellerhead is a slightly less-known DAW in the music software community, but is actually the most stable one and is perfect for the middle and semi-pro users. It has a pretty nifty interface that allows you to easily drag-and-drop elements, a relatively fast system, and exceptional workflow. It also has a very solid mixing console and an ability to cut and splice audio files automatically as it supports all MIDI hardware.
Acid Pro is a feature-rich and budget-friendly DAW from Sony which is also a great choice for beginners and semi-professionals to use. It offers virtually endless possibilities in manipulating samples with a pretty solid sound series loops and lots of VSTs to mess around with. It also boasts of a built-in mixer which supports surround channels and sub-mixes and allows you to mix sounds from outside sources as well as MIDI and hardware control panels.
Reaper music production software by Cockos is an excellent choice if you are looking for a dedicated DAW that is strongly reliable and budget-friendly. It’s an open-source software and a pretty unique music production tool as it only gives you the essentials of a DAW without the unnecessary features. It supports most audio interfaces, plug-ins, and effects with a drag-and-drop functionality and enhanced MIDI mapping controls.
Garageband is another DAW from Apple which deserves a spot on this list. It’s an extremely popular music production software especially among beginners and people who just want to lay down some tracks and make some cool tunes. What is best about this software is its very user-friendly interface with an interactive control of plugins that allows you to visualize what you are making by mapping out the chords and explaining what they are.
Sonar is the latest iteration in a DAW from Cakewalk with the highest sound quality and is famous for its beautiful interface with a clean look. It has a 64-bit mixing engine and features improved sound quality for plugins and imported audio files. It also comes with a wide array of effects and virtual elements as well as support for an unlimited number of digital and MIDI tracks.
Despite being the best in the market, this list of music production software still carries a number of advantages which are essential for certain levels of ability as well as disadvantages for others. So, before buying the most popular or most expensive one to ensure functionality, you might want to consider getting to know first what you want from your DAW as well as the following factors:
- Budget. If you are just beginning to get interested in making music and don’t know where to begin, you may be well to go with the budget-friendly ones. You don’t want to spend a hundred bucks just to abandon it later because of loss of interest. But, if you have already decided for the long haul, then go for what the pros have.
- Experience. Even if you have the latest version of the most expensive DAW and the coolest of gear, you won’t still be able to produce the music that you want if you do not understand and nail the basics first. An expert-level software can take a lot of time to learn so you would want to start with something that you can easily grasp and use.
- The future. You might also want to consider the future in choosing the right music production software. If you are not planning on dedicating your entire life to making music, then it is not practical to get an expensive one. But if you’re planning to make a professional career out of it, then go for the industry standard if it fits your budget.
- Purpose. Whether your purpose of getting a DAW is to create music for others or to perform them yourself, there is always a right software for you to choose. There are some software options on this list that are optimized for these uses with tailored features for specific uses, so make sure you get the one that will suit your needs.
- Commitment. Whatever software you have chosen will become your ultimate weapon to keep surviving in the music industry. The more familiar you are with your instrument, the more ideas you can generate. Therefore, you have to be really certain and be committed to your choice to avoid spending on something not very useful.
As a conclusion, one may be the best music production software for most but it does not mean it works for all. So, make sure that you choose the one that you are most comfortable with and the one that caters to all your requirements. You can ask experienced people from the industry or try out some of the trial versions of the DAWs listed in this article and find out which tickles your fancy. Give it ample time to sink in and decide if it’s the musical partner you want to be with.