How to Choose DAW (digital audio workstation)

Talent, gear and software – this is the recipe in making the music. Some people say that if you’re really a master of your chosen craft, you wouldn’t really need the best (and most expensive) tools available to be the best in your field. That’s what they say. My dad always said, that it’s not the instrument but the musician. True – at least to a degree. When you’ve mastered your craft, marginals start to count. Great hardware gives an advantage.

choose-daw-guideRemember how you imagined the song in your head sounded? That’s how your song should be when translated into music. Hardware and softare should help you be effective. This makes choosing the best Digital audio workstation crucial for your success. It will help you get the results you imagined to be and just what you deserved.

When looking for the best Digital audio Workstation in the market, we always stick to the most recommended and popular ones because we feel that the more people use it, the more resources are available and it’s also a statement on how reliable it is.

The DAW market is very big and many types of software are underrated. Some are not really well-known, but performs just as well as the popular brands. Some people may recommend you “the best DAW”, but it mightnot suite your needs and match your workflow. Thus, you have to consider a lot of factors before choosing the best DAW that could help you maximize the potential of your talent and the music you make.

What is a Digital Audio Workstation?

A Digital Audio Workstation is the main material you will need to make your masterpiece. For painters, this is your canvas, paint and paintbrush. For writers, this is your pen. In short, a DAW puts your talent and ideas into life. This is a computer software designed to cater to your music production and editing needs. It will help you in recording, mixing, editing and mastering your digital audio files. You can rearrange your tracks, cut it and ad do anything possible with your music files using a Digital Audio Workstation. You can also record any musical instrument via this program. Everything you can’t do with your audio files is here, waiting to be utilized in order to bring out the best in the song you are making. Digital Audio workstation is the present and future of music production. Studios of any expertise and level use DAWs in their businesses in order to keep up with the fast-rising industry. This is the backbone of music production nowadays and not using DAW will just leave you behind eating dust.

How to choose the best DAW for you

Choosing the DAW you will be using for your music production is a critical decision. Just like anything in the world, the most expensive isn’t always the best. Cheaper, yet still better alternatives are on the market. Make sure it fits your needs. This is the most important aspect.

What many people prefer isn’t always what suits your needs. Thus, it’s very important to scrutinize and review all the DAWs on your shortlist. Here are some important details you have t look out for in choosing you DAW.

  • Main thing: If you have friends that use a certain DAW, seriously consider this. No amount of YouTube tutorials, hands-on hours and production-tutorials compare to having a friend sit down beside you and show you the ropes; shortcuts, latency settings, automation and so on.
  • Cost of software and your budget – Obviously this is a major consideration, even though this isn’t the only thing you should take into account. Cashing out a huge amount of money can be necessary if you want to be satisfied in your purchase for a long period of time. A cheap knock-off may save you money but it may compromise the quality of music you can make with that software. Also, prices usually depend on the efficiency and flexibility of the software. Cost doesn’t always go up with quality but many products actually display the direct relation between these two. Think about quality above all. Look for a DAW than can grow with you and not just something cheap you will have to replace every after 6 months.
  • Expertise – Are you still a beginner? An amateur? Or perhaps and expert who wants to try something more modern? Our level of expertise is important in determining the best DAW for you. You wouldn’t want to be jumping to the most advanced tools .without knowing the basics right? Thus, it is really important for you to determine how proficient you are in using this tool so you can find something that fits your skills. Choose something that has a simple and understandable interface. This makes learning easier for you if you are just a beginner. You can move on to more complicated softwares once you have learned all the basics, anyways.
  • Take slow and sure steps – If you are a beginner, do not rush. Take everything slowly. You will become an expert in no time without having to fast-forward things. You will become an expert but not through skipping the baby steps. Always remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Thus, start at the lowest. By starting with the most basic DAW, you will be familiar slowly yet surely of the software you are trying to learn about. Sometimes you wouldn’t even need a DAW when you are still starting out. Sometimes, an audio editing app is all you need to get started. A master of the basics is an expert.
  • Be firm with your choice – Stick to the DAW that you have decided to use and just upgrade eventually. By focusing on one software, you will become very accustomed to its interface and everything will be easier in transitioning to a higher version than to another type of DAW. But, always remember that sticking to your DAW also means choosing the right one in the first place. Choosing the best DAW for you is like marrying someone – you have to see yourself with that person in the future. If you can’t imagine yourself being with that DAW for years, then think again
  • Trust the digital age – Yeah, we may have made choosing the best DAW for you as something like a life decision but it doesn’t mean that all you have to do before purchasing a DAW is think about it over and over again. It’s already 2015 and when you encounter a problem, there are lots and lots of forums you can ask about. You can just Google an answer in a snap. Relax. These products, especially the established ones won’t make it to the market if they have not proven their worth. Read a lot of reviews. It will help you make the best decision.

Check out our list of recommended DAWs here (we will even highlight a few newcomers, that you may take into consideration).

Apple Garage Band DAW

Apple Garage Band DAW

The Apple GarageBand DAW now seems suspiciously like Logic X - it's actually built on the same audio engine. It has been a decade since GarageBand was released and it’s still rocking as one of the top entry-level DAWs of all time. Five upgraded v...
Audacity DAW

Audacity DAW

Audacity is a free and open-source recording and digital audio editor software application. It is available for many operating systems including Mac OS, Linux and Windows. It was first released on May 28, 2000 and has been award-winning computer software...
Cockos Reaper DAW

Cockos Reaper DAW

Quality almost always comes with a high price, but not in the DAW market. Many of the best performing and most flexible DAWs available may come with hefty price tags. Cockos Reaper proves that it isn’t always the case. Many DAWs may only allow users to...
Propellerhead Reason DAW

Propellerhead Reason DAW

Propellerhead Reason is a digital audio workstation (DAW) produced by Propellerhead Software used for creating and editing audio and music tracks.  This is software DAW contains samplers, sequencers, hardware synthesizers, and mixers – all single sof...
Steinberg CuBase DAW

Steinberg CuBase DAW

CuBase is an advanced system for music production. The digital audio workstation is developed by Steinberg. One of the most popular (and feature full) DAWs on the market. Record, proces, edit, mix and produce anything. Originally developed by Atari...