15 best FREE DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations)
Music tech alone accumulates a hefty bill. Here are 15 free DAWs that will help you save some money while creating quality sounds.
by DITTO MUSIC
Making music is a creative process that can be incredibly rewarding. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced musician, using the right tools can make the process easier and more enjoyable. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best free daws to create music.
When it comes to music production, the Daw is the heart of the operation. It’s the software that allows you to record, edit, and mix your tracks. And while there are many excellent commercial daws available, they can be expensive. Fortunately, there are also a number of excellent free daws that can be used for music production. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best free daws to create music.
There are a number of excellent free daws available, and choosing the right one for you can be a challenge. Here is the list of the best free daws to create music with:
Audacity is a free, open-source Daw that’s available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It’s one of the most popular Daws due to its features and ease of use.
It offers a variety of features that makes it a great choice for music production. It has a multitrack editor that allows you to record and edit multiple tracks simultaneously. It also has a built-in effects processor that lets you add a variety of effects to your tracks.
Audacity is a great choice for both beginner and experienced music producers. The learning curve is relatively easy, and the software is very versatile.
If you’re dealing with larger projects, Audacity can be a bit limited. But for smaller projects, it’s an excellent free Daw.
The major downside is that Audacity does not function as a MIDI sequencer. This means that there are no MIDI tracks for you to utilize with your virtual instruments.
Despite this limitation, Audacity is still an excellent free Daw that’s great for music production.
– Easy to use
– Multitrack editor
– Built-in effects processor
– Available for Windows, macOS, and Linux
– Does not function as a MIDI sequencer
2. Waveform Free
Waveform Free is a fully-featured DAW with a simple and elegant interface. It’s easy to use and has everything you need to create professional-quality music. Waveform Free is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
There are no limits on the number of tracks or plugins. And you can use any VST plugins you have available. Waveform Free also supports MIDI and ReWire.
This Daw is also a great choice for beginners and experts alike. Whether you make hip hop, electronic or even classical music, Waveform Free has you covered.
– Elegant and easy-to-use interface
– Fully featured with unlimited tracks or plugins
– Supports MIDI and ReWire
– The interface may be difficult to understand for traditional DAW users
3. Ohm Studio
Whether you’re looking for a free DAW to produce professional-grade music or just to get started with making your own beats, Ohm Studio is a great option.
It’s a fully-featured DAW that includes a wide range of virtual instruments and effects, as well as support for VST plugins.
The best thing about Ohm Studio is that it’s designed for music collaboration, so you can easily connect with other musicians and producers online to work on projects together.
It’s also one of the few DAWs that offer a free version that doesn’t have any limitations, so you can use it for as long as you like. The only downside is that it doesn’t have a built-in MIDI editor, so you’ll need to use a third-party plugin or program if you want to edit MIDI files.
If you’re looking for a free DAW that has everything you need to create professional-quality music, Ohm Studio is a great option.
– Fully featured with no limitations
– Designed for collaboration
– Has a wide range of virtual instruments and effects
– Does not have a built-in MIDI editor
– The fundamental structure is not well suited for more complicated production
4. Cakewalk by BandLab
Cakewalk by BandLab is a fantastic free DAW for music creation. It has all of the features that you would need to create professional-sounding music. The user interface is very user-friendly and easy to use.
There are a variety of different plugins and effects that you can use to customize your sound. Cakewalk has a built-in sequencer that allows you to create complex arrangements and rhythms.
The software is constantly being updated with new features and improvements. Cakewalk by BandLab is a great option for those who are looking for a powerful and free DAW for music creation.
The features that are available in the free version of Cakewalk by BandLab are quite impressive. However, there are some features that are only available in the paid versions.
– User-friendly interface
– A variety of plugins and effects
– Powerful sequencer
– Constantly being updated with new features
– Some features are only available in the paid versions
Reaper is a digital audio workstation developed by Cockos. It is a complete multitrack, MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing, and mastering environment.
It supports a vast range of hardware, instruments, and plugins. It can be used in ‘Live’ mode for live performances or audio recording, or in ‘Studio’ mode for creating studio-quality recordings.
The software has a clean and simple interface that is easy to use. It is also very versatile and can be used for a variety of audio production tasks.
It is constantly being updated frequently with new features and improvements. I can’t forget to mention the MIDI CC Envelopes feature that comes in handy for creating dynamic and expressive MIDI performances.
– Very versatile
– Clean and simple interface
– Can be used for a variety of audio production tasks
– MIDI CC Envelopes feature
– There aren’t many complimentary plugins included
Ardour is a powerful digital audio workstation that is available for Linux, macOS, and Windows. It is designed for professional use and offers a wide range of features.
It is an open-source, collaborative venture led by musicians, coders, and professional recording engineers from all over the world.
The software has a clean and user-friendly interface. It supports a wide range of audio formats and plugins. Ardour also has a built-in MIDI editor and a powerful mixer.
Ardour is a great choice for those who are looking for a professional-grade DAW. It offers a wide range of features. Being the best tool for pros, it might be a little overwhelming for beginners.
– Powerful mixer
– Built-in MIDI editor
– Supports a wide range of audio formats
– Might be overwhelming for beginners
Garageband is a popular digital audio workstation developed by Apple. It is available for macOS and iOS devices.
The software has a user-friendly interface and offers a wide range of features. Garageband includes a variety of virtual instruments, it also supports Audio Units plugins.
Garageband has gained a reputation for being a popular platform for novice musicians to record their first songs. Despite its reputation as a novice software, GarageBand is surprisingly efficient at generating music.
Garageband is a powerful yet easy-to-use music production tool that combines the simplicity and aesthetic of Apple’s products with some useful tools.
If you’re a Mac user in search of a free DAW, don’t overlook Garageband.
– The interface is extremely versatile with a modern style.
– It includes a variety of software instruments and effects
– Only available for users of Apple’s iOS operating system
– Not as powerful as some other DAWs on this list
8. Pro Tools First
Pro Tools First is a free version of Pro Tools, a popular digital audio workstation developed by Avid. It is available for Windows and macOS.
Pro Tools First offers a limited set of features compared to the full version of Pro Tools. However, it is still a very powerful and user-friendly DAW.
It includes many of Pro Tools’ most significant features, making it the DAW of choice for professional studios all around the world.
However, there are some drawbacks that may make you hesitant. You can create a song with First by recording up to 16 tracks of audio and utilizing as many as 16 virtual instrument tracks. Furthermore, you can record only four tracks at once.
Despite these drawbacks, Pro Tools First allows you to jumpstart your DAW of choice if you go on to work in a professional studio. That’s a huge advantage!
– Pro Tools is the industry standard DAW
– Offers a wide variety of features
– You can record up to 16 tracks of audio
– You can only record four tracks at once
– Limited number of virtual instrument tracks
9. Cubase LE
Cubase LE is a light version of Cubase, a popular digital audio workstation developed by Steinberg. Cubase LE is aimed at beginner and hobbyist users, and it offers a subset of features from the full version of Cubase. Even so, it’s a powerful DAW that can be used to create professional-sounding music.
Cubase LE comes with a built-in audio editor, instruments, and MIDI editing tools. It also supports VST plugins, which gives you access to a wide range of third-party plugins.
It is a great choice for beginners who want to create professional-sounding music. Cubase LE is the best of that legacy, with just a few limitations for free users. You can record audio of up to 16 tracks and 24 virtual instrument tracks with LE.
– Cubase is a powerful digital audio workstation
– It has a large sample library and the HALion sampling platform
– It has a wide range of VST plugins
– Only 16 audio tracks and 24 instrument tracks are included
– You need to purchase the full version to get all the features
10. Studio One 5 Prime
Studio One 5 Prime is a free version of Studio One, a popular DAW developed by Presonus. It offers a subset of features from the full version of Studio One, but it’s still a powerful DAW that can be used to create professional-sounding music.
Studio One 5 Prime comes with a limited selection of virtual instruments, effects, and loops, but it still has everything you need to create great-sounding music. It’s also easy to use, making it a good choice for beginners.
A complete mixing and recording interface, sampling tool, drum machine, and step sequencer are all included. It also includes a number of effect plug-ins.
Overall, it’s a solid place to begin for those looking to make their own music for free. The only drawback is the lack of some features found in the full version, but for beginning users, that may not be a big deal.
– Powerful DAW with a lot of features
– The interface is simple to use
– Comes with a selection of virtual instruments, effects, and loops
– Includes a complete mixing and recording interface
– Lacks some features found in the full version of Studio One
– It doesn’t work with VSTs
Soundbridge is a free, open-source DAW developed by a community of volunteers. Yet still, it’s a powerful DAW that can be used to create professional-sounding music.
It has a fantastic built-in drum machine and effects, as well as a nice user interface that’s simple to use.
Soundbridge comes with a wide range of features, including a virtual instrument library, effects, and loops. It also supports VST plugins, giving you access to adding third-party plugins as well.
It is a great DAW for beginners and experienced users alike. It’s easy to use, however, it lacks some advanced features that are found in paid DAWs.
– Open source and free to use
– Powerful drum machine and effects
– Simple, user-friendly interface
– Lacks some advanced features
12. MPC Beats
MPC Beats is a free DAW developed by Akai. It’s a stripped-down version of the company’s flagship MPC software, but it’s still a powerful DAW that can be used to create professional-sounding music.
MPC Beats comes with a built-in sampler, drum machine, and a selection of virtual instruments. It also includes a selection of loops and samples to get you started.
The software is designed to be used with Akai’s MPK mini MIDI controller, but it can also be used with other MIDI controllers.
MPC Beats is available for Windows and macOS. The software is free to download and use, but there are some in-app purchases available.
– Powerful DAW that is free to use
– Includes a sampler, drum machine, and virtual instruments
– Compatible with Akai’s MPK mini MIDI controller
– In-app purchases available
– Only compatible with Windows and macOS
13. Ableton Live Lite
Ableton Live Lite is a trimmed-down version of the popular Ableton Live DAW. It’s perfect for getting started with music production, and it comes with all the basic features you need to create great sounding music.
Live Lite includes a wide range of instruments, effects, and loops, as well as a powerful drum machine and MIDI editor. It’s easy to use and comes with a help file to get you started.
Live Lite is available as a free trial with a license for many audio interfaces, MIDI controllers, plugins, and even iOS applications. You’ll need a few of these items to set up your home studio, so you might want to get a deal that includes Live Lite.
There are 16 tracks available with any combination of audio and midi channels in Live Lite. It supports up to four inputs and outputs at once.
It’s a Lite version of Live that’ll give you a feel for this extremely popular music creation software.
– Ableton’s workflow is popular among music producers
– There are a lot of effects and instruments available
– Powerful drum machine and MIDI editor
– 16 tracks available
– No ReWire support
– MIDI mapping is limited
14. Podium Free
Another free DAW is Podium, which is only available for Windows users. Despite its outdated appearance, it has a very contemporary feel and approach with a DAW-style timeline and mixing board.
The free DAW also offers full VST support, as well as an infinite number of tracks.
Its major disadvantage is that it wasn’t built to take advantage of today’s multi-core CPUs. Due to the fact that it can only run on one core at a time, overclocking the CPU and causing a crash is simple.
Apart from that, it’s a reasonably stable DAW that makes for an acceptable entry point into production if you’re a PC user.
The company behind Podium, Zynewave, also has a number of paid-for products that are definitely worth investigating if you find this one to your liking.
– User-friendly interface
– VST plugin support
– Infinite number of tracks
– It can only use one CPU core
– It’s only compatible with Windows
15. Serato Studio
Serato Studio is a free digital audio workstation for Windows and macOS. It was developed by New Zealand-based company Serato. The software is designed for DJs, producers, and musicians.
It features a user-friendly interface with a drag-and-drop workflow. Serato Studio offers all the essential tools for audio production, such as a sampler, drum machine, and virtual instruments.
The software also includes a MIDI editor, audio effects, and a mixer. You can use Serato Studio to record your own music or to remix tracks.
Serato Studio is a powerful, free DAW that’s suitable for beginners and experts. It’s user-friendly design and comprehensive capabilities make it a fantastic choice for anybody wanting to compose music.
– A beatmaker’s dream program
– If you’re working with samples and loops, this is a fantastic workflow
– MIDI editing is a breeze
– The sampler isn’t as powerful as some other DAWs
– No VST or AU support
These are some of the best free DAWs on the market. While they all have their own unique features and capabilities, they’re all great choices for anybody wanting to get into music production.
So, which one is the best for you? It really depends on your needs and preferences. If you’re just getting started, any of these DAWs will be a great choice. If you’re looking for something more powerful, you may want to consider one of the paid options.
We hope you found this article helpful.