Best DAWs for Beginners

See our table of top DAWS for Beginners

As a home studio producer, your digital audio workstation software, more commonly known as a DAW, is a crucial aspect of your setup.

The concept of DAW originated way back in the 1990’s along with the evolution of home recording. It allowed the home recording musician, beginners included, a virtual studio residing inside of one’s computer.

There has been much controversy and discussions regarding which one an individual should choose especially with the extensive range of available options.

This is stressed even further when choosing the best DAW for beginners.

As the central hub of your recording studio, your DAW is where all the recordings come together to form the completed track you’ve been dreaming of.

Whether you’re handling recorded instruments, electronic beats, or even plain spoken audio, a good digital audio workstation is essential to ensuring that everything is properly mixed and sounds exactly as it should.


Best DAW for Beginners


FL Studio
Image Line FL Studio Signature Edition Review

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Windows/MacImage Line
Ableton Live Review

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Pro Tools
Avid Pro Tools Software with Annual Upgrade and Support Plan Review

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Reason Music Production Software License

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Studio One
Studio One Professional Boxed

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Reaper DAWS

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Steinberg Cubase Pro 9 Recording Software Review

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Music Maker
Music Maker Premium Addition

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Logic Pro
Logic Pro X Review

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Best DAW for Novice

You can check out our best Daws Reviews  or continue on.


DAW Software Guide for Beginners


Questions To Ask When Choosing A DAWS for a Novice


When searching for a DAW for your home recording studio, it’s easy to think, “I’ll just get whichever one is best.” The catch, however, is that there is no one single DAW that rises above all the rest in every category.

Instead, different pieces of software are designed to meet different needs and specialize in different areas.

As a result, finding the perfect DAW is largely dependent on what exactly you plan to do with it.

As a general rule, pretty much every DAW available on the market will perform the same basic functions.

However, many programs specialize in particular areas.

Some work best for specific genres, such as EDM or musical scores.

Others make it easier to control MIDI manipulation or mix the variety of sounds on live tracks.


In short, all DAWs have their own strengths and weaknesses, so the best way to find one that works for you is to ask yourself a few questions about your work and your goals.


  • What genre(s) of music are you producing? Do you specialize in one or do you work with a wide array of tracks?
  • Will you spend the majority of your time composing, recording, or mixing? Or do you plan to do all three equally?
  • How much previous experience do you have with DAWs and producing in general? Do you need to start with something straightforward to learn the basics, or are you confident enough to dive right in?
  • What is your DAW budget? Do you have enough saved away to get any software you want, or is cost a major deciding factor?
  • What type of computer do you use? (More on this below)

Regardless of your answers, your best bet is to pick a single DAW and stick with it.

Jumping back and forth in hopes of finding which one you like best may seem like a good idea at first, but there’s a decent chance that it’ll hurt you in the long run.

The more you switch, the less opportunity you get to learn the ins and outs of a single DAW, meaning it will be that much harder to master a specific program’s intricacies.


Understanding Workflow

Once you have sorted out the basics of your producing goals, it’s time to ask yourself a few questions concerning workflow.

In essence, workflow is how you specifically produce and arrange an overall track.

If you are just starting out, you probably don’t know exactly what your workflow will be because you haven’t yet had the opportunity to discover it.

But the more time you spend in the studio, the more you’ll get a feel for exactly how you prefer to do things.

Much of your workflow will depend on the sort of music you are producing, so keep these questions in mind as you search for a DAW:


  • Are you recording instruments and vocals, or electronic beats?
  • Are you producing audio that is often heavy on the low end, such as bass music or hip hop?
  • Are you working purely with studio recordings, or will you tackle live tracks as well?
  • How much control over mangling and manipulating audio do you want to have?
  • Are you producing for other artists, or just for your own music?

Your Computer Will Have A Big Impact On What DAW You Choose

If you know anything at all about computers, you know how big of a rift there can be between Macs and PCs.

Many prefer one while many prefer the other, and DAW companies are no exception.

There are several DAWs that will only work on one operating system or the other, but the ideal program will be one that is compatible across both MacOS and Windows, as well as less-used software such as Linux.

While you certainly don’t have to choose a DAW that works with anything beyond your own computer, finding one that is cross-compatible with several different operating systems will make it that much easier to collaborate with other producers, no matter what systems they are using.

At the very least, always make sure that the DAW you select is compatible with your own computer.

While this may seem obvious, be sure to keep in mind any future plans for changing or upgrading your studio.

For example, there’s no sense in buying a Windows-only DAW if you know you are planning to switch to a Mac in a few months once you have saved up the money.

Instead, either wait to buy a Mac-compatible DAW or look for software that is cross-compatible to cover all your bases.


What are the Options to purchase a DAW?


You basically have 3 options that you can opt for. Namely:

Digital Version: This is perhaps the best option for beginners as you can download the software and get going right away.

Included Version: This is where the software is included free of cost along with specific gear or interfaces. If you are looking to save, then this option is definitely an alternative worth checking out as you get an interface as well as the virtual workstation at the cost of one.

Boxed Version: This option actually sends the DAW software to your door step.  Which mean you must be patience until it arrives.


Installing DAW software

Installing the software is pretty straightforward unless you purchase a program with a dongle.

Some beginners get tripped up by this step.  To unlock the software you download your license and store it in a USB dongle. This dongle must be plugged in whenever you need to use the software. This is fine until you want to travel.  Misplacing or leaving a dongle in hotel room kind of puts a plug into the old creative juices.

The dongle is good for the industry to protect from piracy however they can be a bit of hassle if you’re not using a stationary desktop.


Free DAW’s for Beginners


Free vs Licensed – Limited and Full Versions

Countless gung-ho new producers dream of getting the top-of-the-line music software for their studios, but in most cases, it is acceptable and even beneficial to begin with a free DAW.

Many of today’s top music producers began with free DAWs, and it’s easy to see why.

By starting with something simpler, you can ease yourself into the complex world of producing, as free basic DAWs often have fewer specialty features than their paid counterparts. Be aware their functionalities are limited.

Virtually all DAWs have some sort of free version that you can test drive, if for no other reason than to see which brand of software you prefer.

Another alternative is to buy the limited version of some of the premium DAW software. These limited versions exist so small home studios can have the luxury of using the best DAW as well. The costs go down drastically as compared to the full versions but at the same time the features offered by these limited editions are fairly close to the licensed editions. The restricted features are generally used only by advanced sound engineers and as a beginner not an area you have to concentrate on.

Purchasing a limited version doesn’t mean you’re committed to that type of license. Later on, if you need the features that are restricted in the limited editions, you upgrade to a fully licensed version.

That said, there is nothing wrong with jumping straight to a fully licensed paid DAW, especially if you already have producing experience and know exactly where you want to go professionally.

Even if you begin with a free version, it is always a good idea to plan ahead and start thinking about which full DAW you would like to get one day.


Lifetime Access Is A Powerful Incentive

As with most software, DAWs change faster than most people can keep up with.

As technology continues to develop, many companies release a new version every year in order to showcase the latest and greatest that modern software has to offer.

Others change their programs to cater more to evolving musical tastes in order to appeal more to a specific market.

On one hand, keeping on top of the latest software is a great way to keep your producing skills honed, but in the other, buying a new DAW every year can quickly drain any budget. That’s where lifetime access comes in.

In order to win their customers’ loyalty, some DAW companies have begun offering lifetime access where you buy the initial software and then receive all future updates for free.

If you plan on sticking with the producing path for quite some time, this is an excellent way to keep your software up to date without breaking the bank.

While you may have to save up a little more to make the initial purchase, committing to a DAW with lifetime access can save you major cash in the long run.


Choose the Best DAW for Beginners


Regardless of your producing specialty or skill level, make sure you take the time to research which DAW is best for your specific needs. We have an ongoing list of DAWS that you can start with.

If you are not sure where to begin, start by downloading a few free trials and seeing which ones feel the most natural for your individual style.

Different programs will work better for different people depending on their individual studios and producing needs, so be sure to take all our information into account when shopping

Once you’ve zeroed in one that works for you, you’ll be on your way to producing in no time.

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