Even if the music artists create a new piece of music easily, delivering the exact output of the song might be difficult. To achieve the same, a trial and error method is used. Keep reading to get an idea about the best DAW for beginners for free!
Best DAW for Beginners
DAW software is the foremost and essential component for a home or project studio. It combines the hardware and software instruments in a single hub and helps identify the perfect mix of audio files. Finding a DAW that helps mitigate the fear of using complex software might not be easy. Here, we have shown the list of the best free DAW software for beginners on Mac and Windows platforms.
Characteristics to Select DAW Software
It can be a little challenging to select the perfect DAW for a beginner. However, this redundancy and vagueness can be reduced by understanding the basic features and requirements. The suitable characteristics to select the best DAW software for beginners are listed in this section.
- Platform Compatibility: The DAW software must satisfy the system requirements of your PC. You can check the specifications of the PC. Based on the specifications, you can ensure that the perfect DAW compatible with the requirements are satisfied.
- Trial version: If the DAW software has a free trial version, you can install the DAW. In addition to this, it is best to consider the DAW with a lower price or subscription fee.
- Bundled library: The library of the DAW software should include a variety of data and presets. The audio files should include instruments and preset sounds as downloadable content to include in the editor.
- Additional Features: The DAW software should have additional features like supporting VST plugins or including recorded audio from various instruments. In addition to this, sharing the complete output media content with others with the platform and social media apps should be considered.
The list of free and paid versions of the DAW software along with their features are explained in the following sections.
1. Ableton Live 11 Intro
The Ableton Live 11 Intro is a DAW that is best for PC setup and supports cross-platform.
- With a fast and fluid workflow, the DAW offers a spontaneous approach to composition, arrangement, and performance.
- You can use the Session View workflow on the interface with clips and scenes to allow easy editing.
- In addition, you can transfer them to the Arrangement section to lay track horizontally and build further.
- Also, you can use Looper for advanced editing and include new features including comping and MPE support.
- System requirements include Windows 10 and macOS 10.13 or later versions with an Intel i5 core processor. As an alternative to the Intel processor, you can use an AMD multi-core processor. Space requirement for the app is 3 GB disk space for basic installation and up to 76 GB to store additional content.
- The DAW is highly suited for DJ works for live propensity owing to the features. You can produce a finished track from scratch using the inputs like 1500 sounds, four software instruments, 21 audio effects, 11 MIDI effects, and 5 GB of sound library content and presets.
- There are three versions viz., intro, standard, and suite with upgrading functionality. The intro edition has a 5 GB sound library with 1500 sounds, 4 software instruments, 21 audio effects, and 8 MIDI effects at $99.
2. Image Line FL Studio Fruity Edition
The FL Studio, abbreviated for Fruity Edition, is the best DAW for beginners free and is highly suited to creating Hip-hop and EDM genre music.
- OS requirements for the DAW are Windows 8.1, 10, or later versions and macOS 10.13.6 or later versions. 4 GB RAM and 4 GB storage space are required for the effective functioning of the software.
- Version 20 is cross-platform supported and it provides lifetime free updates of the software.
- It offers a customizable interface that encompasses drag-and-drop functionality and a click-style step sequencer. When this is combined with piano roll, a speedy workflow without virtual MIDI keyboards can be generated.
- A powerful glitch FX module plugin named Gross Beat is used to render real-time gating, glitch, repeat, scratching, and stutter performances, adding a different dimension to samples and tracks.
- This feature-packed DAW can support both apps and provide IL Remote to control elements of the software from a mobile device.
- The entry-level version has 83 instruments and effects, samples, and loops in higher-tier versions. The Fruity Intro version has a fast workflow and allows building patterns efficiently in the $99 paid version.
- Adding stock sound library and audio recording capabilities are not highly efficient though.
Also Read: Top 36 Best Beat Making Software for PC
3. Steinberg Cubase Elements 11
The Steinberg Cubase Elements 11 is one of the best DAW for beginners on Windows and Mac that can be used to create music easily.
- Only 64-bit PCs with Windows 10, macOS Mojave, macOS Catalina, or macOS Big Sur OS are supported. It requires an Intel Core i series CPU or AMD Ryzen multi-core CPU processor. Storage space of 4 GB RAM and 30 GB hard disk space is necessary.
- The entry-level version has a feature set with linear workflow and great pedigree and the paid version provides access to industry-standard creative tools and costs $99.99.
- It includes a sizeable chunk of content with over 1000 instrument sounds, 64 MIDI and 48 audio tracks, 3 VST instruments, and over 50 VST effect plugins of VST technology.
- It offers warp samples like the Ableton DAW, and you can use Sampler Track to import your samples and play the files chromatically.
- Also, you can manipulate the files with onboard filters, controls, and two LFOs and perform basic score editor including features like MixConsole, sampler track, chord pads, chord track, and chord scale assistants.
- This DAW does not require an e-licenser USB dongle but lacks VariAudio3 and AudioWarp Quantize.
4. Bitwig Studio 16-track
The Bitwig Studio 16-track is a DAW software that can be used to obtain the reduced feature set of Studio edition using the filters compared to the entry-level 8-track.
- Windows 7 or later, Mac OS X 10.13 or later, and Ubuntu 18.04 or later versions OS of 64-bit PCs are supported. It requires a Dual-core AMD, Intel CPU, or better x86 CPU with SSE3 or SSE4.1 support.
- The space required for the effective functioning of the DAW is 4 GB RAM and 12 GB free disk space.
- This built-in modulation system contains 17 devices and a forward-thinking feature set. General ease of use and innovative approach to modulation and connectivity to external hardware allow the creation of music easily.
- The library includes 16 hybrid audio or instrument tracks with the ability to host unlimited VSTs, and 11 instruments inclusive of the new Polymer Synth.
- In addition to this, it includes 30 effects processors, 17 modulators, and an essential collection of content.
5. PreSonus Studio One 5 Artist
The Presonus Studio One 5 Artist is a predecessor version of the Presonus platform and is the best DAW for beginners on Windows and Mac.
- The required system specifications are Windows 10 and macOS 10.13 or later versions of OS are suited for 64-bit PCs. It requires an Intel Core i3, AMD A10 processor, or Apple Silicon M1 processor for effective functioning. Space requirement is 4 GB RAM and 20 GB free hard disk space.
- A stable and modern interface with an intuitive workflow and VST plugin support helps in the easy formulating of music files.
- It offers a single-window working environment with quick and easy drag-and-drop functionality.
- Also, it records live instruments and integrates Presonus Notion software to convert MIDI files to printed scores. As it uses an audio interface like Audiobox, it requires a subscription to Presonus Sphere to access more sounds and features.
- Presonus Studio offers a feature-rich with unlimited audio, MIDI tracks and instrument tracks, buses, and FX channels.
- You can use five virtual instruments including the Impact XT drum sampler, and five powerful virtual instruments that are Presence XT virtual sample player, Mai Tai polyphonic analog modeling synth, Mojito monophonic subtractive synth, Sample One XT live sampler and editor.
- In addition to the Artist edition which costs $99.99, version 5 of the DAW software offers two more versions which are Prime (free) and Professional editions.
Also Read: 18 Best Free Audio Editing Apps for Android
6. Cockos Reaper 6
The Cockos Reaper 6 DAW software has a customizable interface to allow the creation of music files easily.
- OS versions supported by PCs include Windows XP/ Vista/ 7/ 8/ 10, OS X 10.5 to 10.13 for 32-bit architecture, and OS X 10.5 to 10.14 and OS X Catalina version for 64-bit architecture. The storage space required may differ from 12 to 20 MB depending on the OS version.
- It has a responsive interface with a tiny storage footprint and provides end-to-end resolution and unlimited free updates on the versions from Reaper 6 to Reaper 7.99.
- This cross-platform DAW has plenty of advanced features like drawable MIDI CC envelopes and a sophisticated visual patch bay system. This helps in routing MIDI and audio and built-in video editor for social media sharing.
- The Demo version of the software has a 60-day evaluation period and requires a $60 license fee.
7. AKAI MPC Beats
The AKAI MPC Beats is simple software and is one of the best DAW for beginners for free. It is best suited for DJs and making beats in music.
- The useful chord pad function helps to specifically focus on beat-making using the classic MPC range of samplers and drum machines. Integrated classic 16-pad MPC can be used as a plugin.
- MPC Beats features 8 MIDI tracks and 2 stereo audio tracks, AKAIs Bassline, Tubesynth, Electric instruments, over 80 onboard effects, and a 2 GB content library.
- It has a Piano roll for MIDI notes and sample editor for editing audio but has limited arrangement features. This does not support region editing but we can use the composition features to play chords from virtual pads.
8. Serato Studio Free
As the name indicates, the Serato Studio Free is one of the best DAW for beginners free, which is suitable for DJ shows to make music at ease.
- Windows 10 or later and Mac OS X 10.13 or later versions of the OS can be supported on 64-bit PCs. An Intel CPU with a multi-core processor is required and the space requirement is 4 GB RAM and 5 GB disk space.
- It provides 1 GB of free sound content with pitch’n Time time stretching feature in the software. You can drag audio to keep snaps to the key and tempo of the project and create the music easily.
- DJ-esque workflow with two desks and a library allows mixing the audio files easily.
- The free version is limited to one audio track and the paid version includes $9.99 per month or $199 for a lifetime fee and provides additional features. It includes features like automation and unlimited tracks, decks, and scenes.
Also Read: 22 Best Free Podcast Recording Software
The BandLab is one of the best DAW for beginners on Windows and Mac with an interactive BandLab UI and supports finding the features on the software.
- You can access unlimited tracks, projects, and cloud storage with a community of fellow musicians to produce music without limitations.
- Also, you can use the drum machines module, add saturation effects and bass boost to emphasize effects on music.
- The library of the best DAW for beginners free includes over 10000 royalty-free loops and 200+ free MIDI-compatible virtual and universal effects for cross-platform.
- All the projects are stored within unlimited cloud space to collaborate with others in real-time and share songs directly within the platform. This option is attenuated with the Tip jar function to directly support and encourage artists.
- It is available for iOS, Android, Mac, PC, and Chromebook platforms and is supported on phone and browser versions too.
10. Ronald Zenbeats
The Zenbeats is another one of the best DAW for beginners free, a synth maker produced by the legends Ronald, and is used to create music easily.
- You can carry projects to other devices and use a touch-friendly interface to alter the file easily.
- The library contains loops and grooves to easily construct songs and use views to stack up loops and trigger performance.
- Also, you can edit and mix audio files using the easy UI and produce your own loops from microphones. You can use the synths and virtual instruments to alter the music file in the Loopbuilder mode.
- It offers trigger individual loop pads or entire scenes to alter the performance and record it directly into the Timeline view. Feed the audio files into the mixer and add effects and filters for each track.
- The ZEN-Core synthesizer engine of the software version helps in using the hardware synthesizers. Use drum machines with classic Ronald samples and SampleVerse instruments with a huge library of sounds.
- You can use $49.99 or $149.99 paid versions to unlock instruments on one or every device respectively and use the VST plugins.
- The software can run on every platform including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, or Android.
11. Avid Pro Tools Intro
The Avid Pro Tools Intro is a DAW that requires a subscription fee of $99.99.
- It allows adding 32 tracks of audio layering and using effects, plugins, instruments, and loops to enhance the production of tracks.
- You can create radio-friendly productions and soundscapes using the tracks and use the cooperative creatives love feature or Pro Tools Cloud Collaboration feature.
- The monthly and annual subscription of the paid version provides 512 audio tracks inclusive of 64 simultaneous tracks, 1024 MIDI tracks, effects, plugins, and video support.
- Licensed content from Purple Audio, Fairchild, Pultec, and Moog with some pedal effects and amp models via the Eleven MK II software help in modifying the music content effectively.
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Best DAW for Beginners on Windows
The software described below is exclusively the best DAW for beginners on Windows. This software can be only installed on the Windows OS and helps in managing the audio files easily.
1. Acoustica Mixcraft
The Acoustica Mixcraft is an alternative DAW for the GarageBand DAW. The intuitive and approachable interface of the best DAW for beginners Windows has similar production power to help enriched music production.
- Windows 7 SP1, 8, or 10 versions of the OS are supported on both 32 and 64-bit PCs.
- A 1.8 GHz Dual Core CPU (Quad Core or higher) processor and 8 GB RAM space are required.
- It offers a polished interface and workflow with a great range of instruments, support for third-party plugins, audio interfaces, and hardware controllers.
- The latest version adds new toys like syncable automation, vocoder tracks, and a massive library with over 7500 loops, effects and samples. It also includes 15 software instruments, unlimited audio, and MIDI tracks plus.
- It has a similar performance to Ableton-esque Performance Panel and you can use the built-in video editor.
Read the next section to know about the list of best DAW for beginners free on Mac.
Best DAW for Beginners on Mac
The following software can be categorized in the best DAW for beginners on Mac section as it is only supported on the Apple platform. The DAW software listed in this section has positive user reviews and with the efficient macOS, it is easy to configure the audio files in the software.
The GarageBand is one of the best DAW for beginners free and is easy-to-use present on most Apple devices. At least 1.8 billion Apple users get access to the built-in software on the Mac platform.
- The OS with macOS 10.13.6 or a later version is required to install the software.
- This is an upgrade to the Logic Pro DAW software making it ideal for advanced operations.
- The simple user interface has interactive artist lessons for Guitar and Piano. You can plug in a mic or Guitar to record audio or load up MIDI tracks.
- In addition, you can use the virtual keyboard or other virtual instruments to load the MIDI keyboard.
- The library includes hundreds of synth sounds and Apple loops, inclusive of Live Loops updates.
- It supports up to 255 audio tracks with full automation, Drummer track, Guitar, bass amp, and pedalboard emulations.
- Also, it offers powerful and more advanced features such as a proper mix page and 5.1 surround mixing capability help in altering the music file.
Also Read: Fix Unable to Install GarageBand on iOS
2. Apple Logic Pro X
The Apple Logic Pro X is one of the best DAW for beginners on Mac that has both free and paid versions for $199.00.
- The software offers all features in GarageBand with additional sound quality and editing capability features.
- The intuitive interface of the software aids in better organization of the music files with the color code and group tracks in the Track Stack.
- It offers the best sample libraries with Alchemy VST Synth and over 70 GB of samples of sound library, virtual instruments, and loops from every genre of the board from Rock to R&B or Cinematic.
- The scoring feature helps to convert MIDI tracks to music scores automatically with no requirement for any equipment.
- The Drum Machine Designer can be used to build and tweak custom drums and you can use the Quick Sampler and Drum Synth modules for advanced editing capabilities.
3. Universal Audio LUNA
The Universal Audio LUNA is one of the best DAW for beginners on Mac and has an Apollo interface that helps to combine acclaimed UAD DSP.
- It is easy to combine serious production power and use the AAF or Advanced Authoring Format session to import sessions from Avid Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, and other popular DAWs.
- You can use key commands to make it easier for all Engineers and use the integrated support for DSP-powered UAD-plugins.
- There is no discernible latency making it suitable for immediate operations.
- Using onboard DSP acceleration to accelerate real-time monitoring, it offers an analog-style tracking workflow to monitor sessions.
- Also, you can use Neve 80 series console and Oxide multitrack tape-emulation extension to track drums in the music and modify them.
- You can use orchestral instruments to include bass and perform real-time synthesis with sound sources from Spitfire Audio
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The article provides a list of the best DAW for beginners on Mac and Windows platforms. Kindly use a few minutes to send your queries and suggestions in the comments section.