Audio Basis - articles about audio
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is software to record, mix, postproduction of music. Read about DAWs at Mac, Windows, Linux for beginners and professional using and how to choose the software.
Disclaimer: This table can contains errors. It is not offer or advertizing. We are not affiliated with listed products. We guarantee nothing. If you found wrong/incomplete information, contact us, please. To get exact information, contact with the software developers and/or vendors. There is no exact rules "for beginners" or "for professional". In author's opinion, "for beginners" rather mean "it is easier way to make music from zero or it is free".
|DAW||License||Operation system||Plugin types||Description|
|Recommended for beginners|
|Ardour||Free, Commercial||Linux, Mac, Windows, other||Built version (ready-to-use) is paid. But you can build it by yourself for free|
|Bitwig||Commercial||Linux, Mac, Windows|
|Cakewalk||Free||Windows||VST||By BandLab. Easy to quick start.|
|FL Studio||Commercial||Mac, Windows, Android. iOS|
|GarageBand||Free||Mac, iOS||Support of target sample rates above 44 kHz was not found. 24 bit audio is supported. It is easy for quick start. Built-in guitar tuner is very usable. See key shortcuts.|
|LMMS||Free||Linux, Mac, Windows||VST|
|Luna||Free||Mac||Promised release at spring 2020. Free for existing Thunderbolt Apollo & Arrow interfaces|
|MuLab||Free, Commercial||Mac, Windows||VST|
Free, in-app pur
|T7 DAW||Free||Linux, Mac, Windows||VST / AU / Linux VST|
|Recommended for professionals|
|ACID Pro||Commercial||Windows||VST||24 bit / 192 kHz audio recording|
|Bitwig||Commercial||Mac, Windows, Ubuntu|
|Cubase||Commercial, Free1||Mac, Windows||VST||
For recording, mix. Rich abilities for commutation and pro-audio hardware support. Suitable note and audio editing.
1 Free version may be provided with some hardware
|MOTU Digital Preformer||Mac, Windows||VST, AU, MAS|
|Logic Pro X||Commercial||Mac||AU|
|Nuendo||Commercial||Mac, Windows||VST||Focused on postproduction|
|Harrison Mixbus||Commercial||Mac, Windows, Linux|
|Presonus Studio One||Commercial, Free||Mac, Windows||AU, VST||up to 384 kHz|
|Pro Tools||Free, Commercial||Mac, Windows||AAX and other||In free version, limitations for used plugins was found. But the free version is enough to learn the DAW and music production bases. To faster work, learning of key shortcuts is recommended.|
|Pyramix||Commercial||Windows||VST||DSD recording (up to DSD256)|
|Reaper||Commercial||Mac, Windows, Linux||VST|
|Splice||Compatible with Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro X, GarageBand, Studio One.||Free|
As rule, DAW is multitrack software for recording, mixing, etc.
There are software, that capable edit audio files. But the software is called as "audio editors" rather.
Digital audio workstation may be 2 types:
However, first option is more prospective currently. Because there is lesser limitations for user.
Versions of DAW may have
Digital audio workstation have base features:
Track types have no standart definition. And may have other definition for different DAWs.
MIDI tracks contains MIDI messages for musical instruments (buitin or external for DAW), that are connected to the track outpuit.
Instrumental tracks like to MIDI ones, but are contains builtin instrument. They are easier to adding. But may have issues for recording of doubles at same place for some DAWs.
Audio tracks contains audio data (from microphone/instrumetal/linear inputs or exported from audio files [loops, as example]).
Automation tracks contains positions of knobs/sliders/buttons positions/altering in time.
Master track contains general commands for DAW's project.
Tempo track contains tempo value/altering in time for the project.
Plugins are programming modules, that allow to expand DAW functionality.
There are several standards of plugins:
Sound quality depend on DAW and used plugin implementation.
Here some information about resampling quality. However, if you are not satisfied resampling quality of used DAW, you can render project to target audio file at project's sample rate and bit depth. After it rendered audio file may be resampled with external audio converter software.
As rule, it is recommended to create project in resolution 96 kHz / 32-bit float and higher, even for 44.1 kHz/16 bit target.
When project is rendered to 16 bit, dithering is recommended.
When you choose DAW pay attention to features:
Track number depend on how many instruments you plan use in recording.
Number buses depend on general effect and output number.
As rule, DAWs include instruments and effects. But if you plan expand effect and instrument range, care about price of purchased plugins.
December 12, 2021 updated | since December 17, 2018