It is important to choose the first option for you as soon as possible and try to make sense of it as profoundly as possible. This will allow you to pay less attention to technical aspects and focus on creativity.
In this article, we will try to speed up your choice.
Introduction to DAW
Before deciding which DAW is right for you, you need to understand what a DAW is, and what it does. DAW means Digital Audio Workstation. It's a piece of software designed to help you record and manipulate audio.
You'll need to use a DAW if you want to:
1. Record multiple audio channels. For example, multiple instruments or overdubs.
2. Edit the audio. For example, cut the file, glue two files together or modify.
3. Balance these multiple channels together to create a final stereo audio file. We know this process as mixing.
All platforms sound the same
There is a common misconception about DAWs. Inexperienced producers seem to think they sound different. But there is empirically proved fact: the DAW itself won't have an impact on the quality of the audio.
If you import the same recording into two different DAWs, it will sound exactly the same. But every DAW comes with different plugins. And this is where the difference lies.
Plugins are used to help process the audio, for example EQ, compression or reverb. These are called stock plugins.
The vast majority of modern DAWs come with a full range of stock plugins. So, while all DAWs inherently sound the same, they all come with plugins that sound different. But, ultimately, the differences are small. Any modern DAW will come with plugins that are sufficient for producing studio-level mixes. The difference is how you use them.
Different genres – different DAWs
Many DAWs are designed to suit certain genres. For example, Ableton Live or Frutty Loops are geared more towards electronic music production. People working in the studios with live instruments prefer Pro Tools; Ableton Live is also used by many people dealing with hip-hop and loops.
Although no DAW is designed with one genre in mind, some of them are better adapted for specialized needs.
Price and content
Generally, the more expensive the DAW is, the more opportunities and exclusive features it includes. But, if this is your first workstation, the expensive dimensional product can play a cruel trick on you.
Firstly, if you spend a few hundred dollars for a DWA, but the experience proves it does not meet your requirements, nobody will give you money back. You can buy the most expensive DAW, thinking of prospects, but you can hardly assess your prospects in the beginning. Whether you will have to record singers and live instruments, or will you write bits for hip-hop artists.
Secondly, you may have overchoice of a variety of built-in functions and tools. Rather than focus on the basics, you will twist everything and anything making nothing of it.
Start with something simple, and better yet, with a trial version of the product. Then you will know for sure whether you are comfortable with this program.
If you are working in your own studio and plan to complete all projects there, it's not your issue. But if you plan to mix elsewhere, for example, if you record in professional studio and mix at home, it makes sense to get the same DAW they're using in the other studio. This will greatly facilitate you to transfer the project from one computer to another.
Some DAWs also support transfer formats like OMF and AAF which while not perfect, make it a little easier to move between different systems. Make sure this does not escape your attention.
Otherwise, you will have to constantly render each recorded track separately which can take you hours of time in case of big projects.
Traditionally, we conclude with recommendations from ExpertMusic team. Let's have a brief look at the main features of the best DAWs, in our opinion:
1. Logic Pro X (MacOS)