Do you want to start making music using your computer without spending a fortune on expensive software? Then this video is exactly what you’re looking for! Another Producer What’s good fellow musician? Welcome to another producers video on the best free digital audio workstations. Today I’m going to cover ten music programs I think you should really know about Because first of all they are free and some of them are really really worth trying Personally I use Cubase 10 Pro but some of those free digital audio workstations amazed me with what they are capable of. In the end I’m going to share with you my favorite free DAWs for each operating system Windows, Mac, Linux and also your browser. You can make music inside your browser?! That’s right I didn’t know that either. Let’s get started! Pro Tools first is also the first DAW on this list. As Pro Tools is presumably still the industry standard in terms of DAWs I wanted to integrate it, although I think the stripped-down version of it really requires you to upgrade to one of their paid subscription plans. You can only have up to 16 tracks which is not a problem if you’re just starting to make music, but you also cannot use third-party plugins and it limits you to only three projects. Furthermore you always need an internet connection because your projects are stored in the avid cloud. However Pro Tools first is good to get some insight into how Pro Tools works. It comes with 3GB of sounds and 23 stock plugins, which is a lot. But it probably won’t satisfy your needs. If you still want to check it out, you will find a link to Pro Tools first and the other DAWs in the description below. The 2nd free da is OhmStudio by Ohm Force.
Ohm Force is a French company which mainly makes nice plugins like for example Frohmage, which is a free filter plug-in. It maybe looks a little bit weird but actually it is really cool, go check it out! With OhmStudio you can use your third-party plugins and you have no track limitations. Unfortunately you cannot export your tracks in a lossless format and your projects are also saved in a cloud. The reason for that is ohm studios real-time collaboration feature with which you and another musician can work on one project at the same time the downside of this is that you only can have 10 projects unless you upgrade to a hosting subscription plan. You can also upgrade the application itself which then comes with 24-bit recording lossless export and depending on which version you choose you get two or all of Ohm Forces plugins. Next up is Audiotool a browser application for either Firefox or Chrome. As you can see it comes with a bunch of fancy looking instruments and effects which actually sound really good. But what I like the most about Audiotool is that you can use presets and samples of other users if they make them available to you under a Creative Commons license. You just have to sign up on their website and follow the link to the application side to get to this user interface On the right-hand side you can see this big box with the different devices and I was really curious about this 808 emulation so I simply dragged and dropped it into the work area to use it. Audiotool has a modular structure which means that you have to connect your devices with those cables here like you would normally do in the analog world. In the lower zone you can edit your different tracks by for example drawing in some MIDI data.
Alternatively you can also record yourself playing them on a MIDI device. I couldn’t find a way to record audio directly inside this session but you can go on another website to record samples and then import them into your project similar to OhmStudio you can collaborate in real time by inviting any Audiotool user to your project. You then can communicate with each other via an audio/video chat in the lower right corner. Unfortunately you can only publish your music to Audiotool itself or SoundCloud. At least I couldn’t find a way to export directly to your hard drive. The downside of such an online DAW is that you face more latency and dropouts. I made this small loop here to demonstrate it and you can also check it out on Audiotool itself I published it under Creative Commons license for anyone to reuse.
BandLab is another browser DAW which only works inside of Google Chrome but it offers you over 120 different instruments and advanced features like time stretching and real time auto pitch. You can record audio directly inside your project window and it is structured more like a traditional DAW with this big playlist window in the middle. It also supports collaboration and even has got an app for Android and iOS. You can export your audio files in lossless 24-bit WAV format and it has got some mastering algorithm you could use to make your tracks more compatible in terms of loudness. What I found really annoying is that you have to freeze each track individually and I suppose it would be really handy to have some auto freeze function. Also here you have to face latency and dropouts. To handle it a little bit better BandLab has got a latency checker with which you can test your actual latency. Afterwards BandLab automatically applies some correction. I also made a small loop with BandLab to demonstrate to you the dropouts I talked about. But always keep in mind that those issues depend on your individual situation. For example if you have a great internet connection and good hardware it’s likely that you have less dropouts than me. Just check it out yourself Unlike the free version of ProTools I think Studio One Prime is a good DAW to start making music. Although you can’t use third-party plugins and have to be satisfied with only nine stock plugins and one instrument you have no limitations in terms of tracks and projects. Once you get to a point when you miss certain features you can upgrade to either studio one artist for around 100 € or professional for around 400 € You could also rent to own the professional version via splice for $17 per month over a period of two years. Also Ryan Bruce aka Fluff and Luke of Great Good Fine Okay use Studio One so maybe it is the right DAW for you as well With SoundBridge you get a complete DAW which is no lite version of a commercial product. Formerly known as Lumit audio SoundBridge allows you to have an unlimited number of tracks and you can use your third-party plugins You even can collaborate with other musicians via Skytracks.io. It comes with RitMix which is a drum machine and nine stock effects. As well as for the other DAWs you will find a link to SoundBridge in the description below Number seven is a free digital audio workstation for our exotic birds using Linux. Ardour is an open-source project initiated by Paul Davis. As SoundBridge Ardour does not try to limit you in terms of tracks projects or third party plugins It even has got a video timeline which is especially cool if you want to create soundtracks for film productions or simply edit your YouTube videos Ardour has no built in virtual instruments so you will have to rely on third party software if you want to use them. I’m going to cover the best free virtual instruments in another video so consider subscribing if you are interested in that. However Ardour has all the basic effects you need for a good mix.
Another free DAW which also runs on Linux is T7 by Tracktion. It basically is an older version of their current flagship Waveform 10. With T7 you get a complete DAW with all the basic effects and the biotek synthesizer. Tracktion does feature a single screen interface which lets you access all their features in only one window. For only 69 bucks you get the full version of Waveform 10 with advanced features including Melodyne essential and Antares auto tune, so definitely go check it out.
Mac users probably want to check out GarageBand. It is a free music production software from Apple and somehow a stripped-down version of their professional DAW Logic Pro X It comes with a variety of instruments loops and effects. You can even learn to play guitar and piano with the help of integrated music lessons GarageBand restricts you to 32 tracks which is totally fine to create great music productions. A friend of mine produced his complete EP inside of GarageBand but if you still need more features you can upgrade to Logic for $200 In case you have an iPhone or iPad you could also use the GarageBand app Last but not least we have Cakewalk by BandLab and you might think “Wait a second.. BandLab? Wasn’t that the browser application you just talked about?” And yes you are totally right. Cakewalk was formerly known as SONAR by Cakewalk. After the active development of Cakewalk products were ceased BandLab acquired certain assets of the company and made SONAR available for free to all BandLab users It comes with four great sounding instruments, nice effects and it has got a great customizable user interface. You can arrange it by simply dragging around the different windows. Furthermore it comes with VST3 and ARA support. For those who use Melodyne for example. Unfortunately it is Windows only So which DAW is best for you? If you are using Windows I think cakewalk is the best choice. You get a great DAW which is updated frequently and supports leading technologies. The only thing that might bother some of you guys is that you have to install the BandLab assistant to use it As a Mac user the best option is obviously GarageBand. Typical for Apple it is super intuitive and offers a variety of ways to get creative. If the 32 tracks and features in GarageBand aren’t enough for you you can upgrade to Logic Pro X for $200. If you’re working on a Linux system I would use T7 by Tracktion. It gives you great features and is relatively inexpensive to upgrade with only $69 for Waveform 10. The single screen may be a feature but it also could be a disadvantage if you want to use multiple screens. Making music in the browser was a whole new experience for me I liked BandLab better than Audiotool because it allowed me to export my music to my hard drive in high quality. So if you can handle dropouts and latency BandLab is really really fun to use. Alright so I hope this video helped you to determine which free DAW is right for you. Let me know which DAW you use in the comments below and check out one of my other videos on the right-hand side Until then, have an absolutely awesome day!
Originally viewed on Best free DAWs for Music Production in 2019