Best Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs)

Best DAW - Digital audio workstation for PC/MAC? Don't agree with the list? Vote for an existing item you think should be ranked higher or if you are a logged in, add a new item for others to vote on or create your own version of this list.

The Top Ten

FL Studio
Fruity Loops Studio is probably gonna be your best bet in the Digital Audio Workstation zone, if you are looking for a good, advanced yet simple one. I have used Fruity Loops since version 7, and it is very user-friendly, a good looking interface, easy and advanced at the same time type of Digital Audio Workstation you will ever have, now comparing this to Ableton, it's only what you can do better with either the two. But for my side, It's probably the best, and includes FREE lifetime updates, Performance abilities, several VST plugins that come along with it, and way too much more and more up with it. It is the best Digital Audio Workstation you can get.
Awesome. My first DAW, and after trying a few others, I know I'll never use another Daw. Pure genius, everything works smoothly and is streamlined to perfection. Fully recommended
FL Studio is by far the best DAW. Especially now days. It has everything you need and will ever need and than some! Also the visual is stunning. Very customizable. You can make you song not only sound amazon but look amazing too.
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2Abelton Live
Hands Down Best DAW so much flexibility. I started with Reason then Record the Logic, now Live.
Has everything you will ever need to create and record music. If it had a few more sample instruments it would be the complete package.
I tried sonar, audition, cubase, fruty loops, reason, reaper, but I fell in love with Ableton Live. It is the only software I bought on my life.
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3Apple Logic Studio
Logic is Pro Tools little brother (with Pro Tools being the Audio industry standard and Logic being the consumer friendly DAW) Anything you can do on Pro tools you can do on Logic and vice versa giving you the richest, fullest, most professional sound for your buck. Lots of instruments, lots of plug ins, User friendly, easy to read not overcrowded interface.

I own reason, logic and pro tools... And used to own fruity loops
Apples Logic Studio is a great DAW!
For everyone who want's to play around with a software containing: professional mastered sounds / Plug-Ins, wide choice of "Apple Loops", good opportunities for mastering (even "top notch" mastering settings) and 100000 different kind of things!
It has a very user-friendly interface, is intuitive and has the Apple products quality. It includes tons of samples and a great collection of instruments. Above all, is compatible with almost all digital music formats (unlike the rest).
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4Steinberg Cubase
Pro all the way! They invented the computer DAW as we know it! That says it all. Right now they already have cuabse 6 out and it includes a lot of features that are found in the Nuendo series and it's to me the best production software one could ever use. I have used it for 7-8 years now and I still haven't maxed it out! You can do any genre of music on it with ease: rock, hip-hop, dance, electronica, movie scoring, you name it...!
Not complicated at all, large flexibility in workspace (you can tune up everything, even cursor behavior). Large amount of built-in VSTis. Ergonomic interface an mixer. And much more. Perfect for any kind of music.
This has it all you need nothing just this and hit it
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5Cakewalk Sonar
I really like this Daw. It does everything I need plus more. I am currently on 8.5 producer. My only wish is that it was ported to the Mac.. I an sure it would work even better on a mac.. Unfortunately, Windows is the only thing holding this product back..
I use X1... It is very powerful.. Has a lot to offer especially if you're into MIDI
It takes a while to get used to... But once your friends with it... It is Amazing
An incredibly deep and powerful software held back by less than adequate marketing and no support for mac. If it had mac support then it has everything else to easily rival the likes of Cubase, studio one and logic.
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6Propellerheads Reason
Just love the interface! Three-level processing: 1. just create instrument/track, record, apply some basic settings and it sounds ok (for complete new-comers), not to mention the preset definitions, effects, etc. 2) Start tweaking the basing parameteres in the racks/mixer and you already sound cool (for those who know a thing or ten about mixing/sound creation/editing). and 3) is just... infinite tweakability, once you open the in-depth settings of sequencers, synths, effect parameters or you turn the racks around, to access simulating environments, rooms, miking, oscillator voltages (usable as side-chain parameteres for other effects, as well) or detailed synthesis of even wavetable sound instruments. Different built-in types of synthesis for synth freaks. Extremely easy midi hardware integration. Auto quantization of waves, etc.

Reason can do just about anything, if you know how to combine and chain racks, just as you would do in an analog studio. The downsize of that is that some things, like parallel compression, for instance (granted, you can create compressors with an infinite number of bands, chaining filters and compresors) may be a bit too complicated for beginners, and it would take some big space in the rack, where other DAWs would just give you a built-in plug-in. You can easily get native multiband compressors as native racks (Reason's equivalent of plug-ins), if you want to avoid making a setting for a band here, and two racks down for the other, but you need to buy them. Equally, if you need a de-esser, you can build one from several built-in racks, like eqs/filters and compression or buy a native one as a rack extension - and there are several excellent ones available, but they don't come cheap. The main thing I have to reproach Reason, however, the only bugging thing is that the mixer EQ only has four bands (virtual rendition of the SSL hardware mixer). It might be enough for Dan Huff, but not for me, especially since I prefer to record everything clean and apply everything (amp simulators, warmers, effects, etc) in the rack. Granted, you can add a ton of eq racks to each instrument/track, if you need more frequencies, but you would still end up working on a frequency here and on another one in another rack or a different window. I truly hope they correct that with the next issue (provide at least six bands of eq-ing in the mixer, preferably seven - shelves included). I would have some other recommendations pertaining to workflow accessibility (i.E. number of clicks for a transpose, for instance, as I don't like to keep that window open on top of other things), or a gate rack )(which you can also buy separately), other than just that in the mixer, but the mixer eq would be the main thing.

All in all, I love it, though. Truly do. Love the work flow, the interface, the feeling it gives me (of warmth and... human environment :)), the easiness of most things, the possibilities, the huge dynamic range, the crystal-clear sound bus, the flawless wave transpose and stretch, the powerful sequencer, the wavetable definition tweak options, etc. , etc.

Conclusion: thoroughly recommend it.
Never crashes
Low CPU usage even loaded with many modules (not really an issue with todays CPUs)
You can patch cables around as you want. The only that supports CV control to my knowledge.
Automation on everyhting just with right clicking.
Fuctional sequencer.
Great support and tons of extra sounds (refills)
Combined with "Record" gives you access to full SSL console emulation.
Best price for what you get. Once you buy it you start making music with no need of extra (third party) stuff.

Extremely versatile DAW, gives advanced users the ability to create new original sounds and instruments that have never been heard before, though it takes a reasonable amount of technical understanding and a large amount of time. CPU load is among the best in the industry and it DOES NOT CRASH, EVER. From a production perspective its definitely my favorite though there are a few things that could be improved.
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7Avid Pro Tools
Pro Tools is truely stunning! It is top of the line in all aspects of audio recording, music production, mixing and mastering, and so much more. However, Pro Tools (as you may be able to discern by the name) is directed more toward Professional musicians/producers. It is used by studios and big-name producers all around the world. However, though Pro Tools is mainly designed for professionals, it has an intuitive interface that makes it suitable for amateurs and new comers, while at the same time provides great depth and power for industry professionals.

When I discovered Pro Tools, my only previous experience with DAWs was with Garage Band, so you can imagine the overwhelming confusion that came with trying to learn how to use one of the most professional DAWs on the market after having such an amateur background.

I am by no means a professional producer/artist, but I would highly recommend Pro Tools to both Professionals and amateurs, providing that they already have an at least somewhat extensive background with DAWs.
If you want to play with the big boys, you've got to have the same toys, in professional music, it means shelling out big bucks for a Pro Tools System. Pro Tools is currently the industry standard tool used in countless popular contemporary recordings and music productions. And many will argue that Pro Tools is the best. Pro Tools has an intuitive interface that makes it suitable for amateurs and new comers, while at the same time it provides great depth and power for industry professionals. The downside however is its price and its limited compatibility and high hardware requirements. Still, if you want to have the best music production software that money can buy, you better check out Pro Tools and the range of products they offer.
Pro Tools 10 Rocks!
All the others can not hold a candle to it, it presses all the right buttons, very low learning curve but takes years to master has a class about it that other daws strive to catch up with and when they almost do, protools is off again reaching new heights of brilliance, suck it and see you will like the taste.
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8Steinberg Nuendo
For me Nuendo is a super complete DAW. In it I can record, edit and mix up with the audio quality and efficiency. Besides having an easy to use interface. Leaves nothing to be desired as the others.

9Cockos Reaper
REAPER just works, solid/stable, best business model/cheapest, looks best/skinable, small footprint, most updated DAW ever, best support, great to rewire with FL Studio, Ableton Live, Reason etc... Most underrated likely because of its price. So funny how ignorant & set in there ways & easily lead by commercial advertising so many people are who think they are 'in the know' esp. When it comes to Pro tools, it really is a clear case of the blind leading the blind :P
Low priced and full of features that the other big household names have and then some. I've been using Reaper for the last three years and I'm still discovering new features that I didn't know existed. It's simply the best!
Got a bunch... Always end up back at Reaper... JUST WORKS
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10Sony ACID Pro

The XFX included plugins Need Serious Upgrading! They sound Too Digital and very Childish!
I personally wouldn™t use it for live recording, but as a Loop Base Music Production Studio
It™s the best in my opinion. For live recording I would use another program like Cubase, Protools,
Sonar or Samplitude. The new Izotope plugins work really well.

The Contenders

11PreSonus Studio One
Mixing? Check. Mastering? " check. VST 2.4 and VST 3 support? Check. User-friendly? Check. Drag-and-drop anything? Check. MIDI editing? Check. Piano Roll? Check. Exactly how many characters can I use for this comment? I have used Cubase SX3 and 5, FL Studio (which is more of a sequencer than a DAW, really, Ableton Live Suite 8, Tracktion 3, Audition, Sequoia, Acid Pro, Music Maker, Pyramix Virtual Studio, and just about every other DAW released for the PC. I really like Mixcraft 6 for its mixing capabilities, but I have to say the DAW I have always returned to after trying so many others to see if there is a feature I missed in Studio One, and can't find even the slightest comparison. I use a lot of Kontakt 5 stuff and really like V-metal, (after upgrading from Shreddage-X) and all it takes to create a dual-channel track is to click the Kontakt instrument in the instrument list in Studio One's mixer, and click the box for the next output. Nothing is easier to use than this DAW. To reate a pitch-bend in piano roll, I click on the 1st point, click on the second point and I'm done! I focus on making music and not on the interface. Everything is where I want it WHEN I want it! I recommend everyone to give this DAW a try just once and you'll be hooked like myself!
Love it! Works every time I open it and it takes 2 seconds to start with a template. So excited that I get to vote for this because I know that this software has a good following and a good crowd behind it! Thanks Presonus!
Great bang for bucks. The effects shipped with it can easily keep up with the more popular DAWs.
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12Adobe Audition
I cannot find fault with it. Editing is its strong point. All the way from surround sound to spectral analysis. Not heavy on CPU usage. Multitrack functionality is good. Red book CD burning options are fantastic. Will use any plug in you can throw at it. Will use any hardware interface you can mention. I cannot find fault with it.
Great mixing/raw recording interface. Detailed and useful effects good workflow until CD lists, at least I've been having trouble with that.
I got thousands of dollars just because of adobe audition.. Thanks adobe
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13Single Cell Software - Caustic
Highly Innovative, Friendly User interface, suitable for all producers from Beginners to Pros, Anything is possible with Caustic, there are no limits. Free for Windows and Mac. Genius Mobile Version For Android and iOS only $7.99. Large online community where friendly users can share their songs and content. Caustic is incredible because it provides endless possibilities to the creative Producer. Great for sound design as well, easily create your own unique samples and synth patches. However, If all you desire to produce is beats or sample-based music, Caustic has you covered here too. Like I said there are no limits, create the most personal unique music designed entirely by you or make hits with industrial quality, it's up to you. If you want a high quality DAW for very little cost, Caustic is the correct choice. Great software at low cost saves you money for other studio necessities, choose Caustic, after making beautiful music in a relatively short amount of time the scales will fall from your eyes and you won't ever look back.
No other program that I have come across is as easy to pick up yet richly packed with features. It is simple, intuitive and easily approachable for a beginner to get started making tracks in the first few minutes.
I love this program. Without it my phone would be redundant. Amazingly well priced, intuitive, simple for music beginners and full of depth for those in the know already. The price? An utter bargain.
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Mixcraft 6 is an awesome DAW, especially for using a MIDI controller to compose most of a song. I have Ableton live and it can't touch the midi power of Mixcraft. In fact, Ableton barely works with a virtual instrument without the CRASH or poping and hissing. Mixcraft is something anybody can it the ground running with and is very stable. I'm using windows 7 with a dell laptop and FireWire express card and it is seamless. Appleton, not so seamless. How do they sell mixcraft so cheap? It is amazing! It is the best kept secret of all DAW's
I love mixcraft so much it's simple and not less quality comparing to another daw software, and very cheap price
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15Magix Samplitude

16Motu Digital Performer
DP has been in the shadows of Pro Tools for as long as I can remember, but it has always be the more flexible, full featured DAW. The most recent incarnation gives you tons of usable plug-ins, instruments and endless routing, editing, tracking and mixing possibilities. It is a studio workhorse, head and shoulders above any other DAW for scoring video. Totally undervalued.
This is the best DAW out there for film scoring!
Best Daw for me work flow is ok, steep learning curve but works for me, I'd give it 7 out of 10

For the year this software came out they were ahead of their time. Try Track Caster which is the newer software from the developer. Rock solid.

18Cool Edit Pro
Very reliable for audio recording with great effects and easy to use.

19NI Maschine
This is a great DAW, anyone can use it, even if you're just starting to make music. It will be twice as good after its upgrade next month.
This a great DAW, if you don't know about it, then look it up.
This is such a great, and underrated DAW

20Merging Technologies Pyramix
As a Mastering Engineer I used Mac based Sonic Solutions in the 1990's. The company went belly-up and the winner after that became Merging with the PC based Pyramix. It can do anything you can possibly dream of, except make coffee.
Power, Flexibility, Features, adapts to your style, a little longer learning curve simply because it does so much! Sonic performance second to none.
This is the most tranperent DAW
Visit Merging Technologies Pyramix Website

21Harrison Mixbus
The best analog sound that I have ever heard


23MuTools MuLab
Powerful modular area, routing everything to anywhere, several synth that can be tweaked to sound like classic analog ones, some basic effects (compressors, amp sim, eq, reverb, delay... Etc) good compatibility with plugins and good and easy audio recording. What else would you need?


25Prism Media Products Sadie


Giel Bremmers' Studio program, full-featured, even in the trial version, and compares favorably with the big boys.
Visit MultitrackStudio Website


29Open Labs StageLight

I have Ableton Live 9 but much prefer Audacity and that is what I use day in day out. When I get an idea I can go through the steps manually, virtually nothing is automatic, and I like that as I'm a musician. My Live is limited to 8 tracks, but using Audacity I have as many as 35 tracks on some projects. Live requires much more screen real estate than my 19" monitor, Audacity serves me well.
Not really a DAW but if your into learning to record, mix, master, and effects, this is a good starting point!
I make all with this DAW: recording, mixing, mastering.
I added some external VSTs and the results are ok!
Visit Audacity Website

31Apple GarageBand
Visit Apple GarageBand Website

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This list was created 5 years, 326 days ago and has been voted on over 1,000 times. This top ten list has been remixed 1 times.

Updated Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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