One of the most important tools that a modern producer has in their arsenal is their DAW. DAW is an acronym for Digital Audio Workstation, and it is the piece of software that pulls all of the different elements of song creation together in a simple and accessible recording environment. Everything from producing and mixing to mastering and sound design can be done from the DAW. You can even write songs.
This makes it crazy important to any musician, from the people at the top of the industry to bedroom producers. The DAW is one of the most important advancements in music technology in the last several decades because it brings the quality and versatility of a full studio and puts it into anyone’s laptop, tablet, or even phone at this point.
Thanks to the importance of DAWs in the modern music industry, many different companies have created their own versions of this incredible software, most of which can do about the same thing. However, different DAWs have different workflows, strengths, and weaknesses that need to be considered, especially if you’re just getting started. Here are some of the biggest DAWs in the industry and which one might suit your needs better.
Ableton Live is a well-loved DAW. Due to its multiple workflows, it’s at home both in a recording studio and in a live setting. You can use Ableton to run backing tracks and virtual instruments live due to Ableton’s highly stable sound engine, as well as its ability to use both session and arrangement views for different purposes.
Ableton has found a large following in many different genres, from hip-hop to indie rock to rap. The varying workflows and reliability of Ableton allow producers to take the studio session that they create and bring it directly to the stage at a moment’s notice. Some producers find Ableton’s workflows to be a little off-putting because they’re pretty unlike other options, but that’s exactly what makes it so special. Despite its uniqueness, Ableton has developed a large following.
In the world of hip-hop and rap, few DAWs are more used than FL Studio. Beginning as a small program over 20 years ago, FL Studio has found a dedicated following both with high-end producers of all kinds and underground bedroom artists. Its workflow lends itself well to programming and producing music in a friendly, accessible way. However, it’s still really functional in terms of all the different things it can accomplish.
FL Studio is a fantastic DAW for musicians who are looking for a simple place to start. The workflow is great for people who are just getting going with making music, and it’s easy to start making music that they are very proud of. FL Studio is often disregarded by musicians as a DAW that is only for electronic music, but with enough use, you can make whatever kind of music you want with it. FL Studio is a great option for all kinds of beginners, as well as industry veterans.
Apple’s Logic Pro
Apple’s Logic Pro is one of the most powerful and versatile DAWs on the market today. It’s got tons of professional tools at the disposal of its users, but it’s still highly usable, even for less seasoned musicians. It’s super capable and has dedicated users in almost every genre. Logic Pro also has offshoots in the form of the free GarageBand for beginning musicians and Mainstage for live performers who want to use Logic’s sounds and workflow on the stage.
Logic can be used for recording both sound and MIDI, which makes it an extremely useful tool, whether they’re working in a live studio environment or as an electronic producer. That’s why so many artists and producers specialize in Logic Pro—it excels in a ton of areas. Anyone can come to Logic Pro and find a new set of sounds to work with and create their own songs very quickly.
One considerable downside of Logic Pro is that it is only usable on Apple computers, like MacBooks and iMacs. This is disappointing for Windows, PC, and Linux users, because it entirely cuts them off from being able to use this program. However, for Mac users, Logic Pro is an incredible option. It’s only $200 on the app store, which also makes it one of the most inexpensive single purchase options available on the current DAW market.
In almost every major recording studio, they’re probably using Avid’s Pro Tools. There’s a very good reason for this: Pro Tools is one of the most powerful DAWs on the market. It’s been the standard for recording music for decades for all kinds of artists. It’s pretty much been used extensively in virtually every genre imaginable.
That said, there are some downsides to Pro Tools. First, it is much better with recording live audio than it is with MIDI, so electronic producers don’t use Pro Tools as often as they use other DAW. Pro Tools can also be confusing, making it slightly less accessible to beginners. It might be something to work up to.
However, there is a reason why it’s called Pro Tools. The professional quality of the software is unmatched by almost any other DAW, and there are few DAWs that work better with live audio. Pro Tools is also beloved by many mixing engineers. The learning curve with Pro Tools is often steep, but the work to master the software will always be worth it.
How Unison Can Help Producers
Unison exists to give producers high-quality sounds to use that will sound even better than whatever their DAW has to offer. The Artist Sample Packs have sounds curated by some of the best producers in the world so that you can save time without having to sort through your samples, and the Serum Presets give you access to professionally designed presets modeled off the biggest hits in each genre. These are some of the best sounds in the industry and can serve to help elevate anyone’s sound from good to great. The next hit is right around the corner, and it can be yours with the help of Unison.
What are digital audio workstations (DAW)? | Recording Connection
What Is a DAW (And What Can You Do With It)? | Careers in Music
Best beginner DAWs 2021: 11 music production software recommendations for newcomers | Music Radar