If you want to be a music producer, one of the necessary ingredients of the mixture is owning a good piece of digital audio workstation (DAW) software. A quality DAW will take you a long way in reaching the desired sound and musical vibe, but there are many factors to consider here, making the task of finding the best digital audio workstation a tad daunting.
But have no fear, kind reader, as we have decided to take on the task of heavy lifting onto ourselves and sift through today’s market in a brave attempt to fetch the best DAW the world has to offer. After taking multiple factors into consideration, we came up with four strong contenders for the flattering title.
How to find the best digital audio workstation?
Our quest has singled out the following four items – Propellerhead Reason 8 and Presonus Studio One as the representatives of the high end domain, and Cakewalk Sonar and Steinberg Cubase Elements 7 as the members of the budget friendly league. More details in the segment below.
We’ll kick things off with the amazing Reason 8, possibly the strongest DAW on today’s market, a very strong item at all fronts coming at a fair and affordable price.
The item comes with an unlimited number of MIDI and audio, a plethora of different audio effects and musical instruments, a pro large format mixing console with no hidden menus, and an option to expand in sonic terms with hundreds of different rack extensions. For the listed price, this is the absolute top item you can acquire.
When it comes to performance, as long as you have a good computer, this baby will run as smooth as you can only imagine. The vast number of sonic adjustments makes it stand out as one of the few DAWs that require no additional tweaks and significant plug-in adjustments. Everything is ready right out of the box, leaving us with no choice but to highly recommend this product as one of the top devices on the list.
Up next is a more of a budget friendly option and one of the best affordable DAWs out there – the Cakewalk Sonar.
The item offers a set of control bar enhancements with dynamic re-sizing, along with capabilities to optimize your MIDI editing process with the renowned Pattern Tool, a pack of PRV enhancements for faster MIDI editing, and the ability to switch the desired mixes in a matter of seconds through the included Mix Recall function. Other notable features include Expandable Sends and FX Stacking options for additional sonic versatility.
If you are a beginner or an intermediate producer, this baby packs everything you need to delve into the world of production without those extra features to make it feel daunting and overwhelming. And even if you are a pro, this tool offers everything you need to deliver quite a solid recording.
Back in the higher price range, we have yet another representative that can shake up the reign of the Reason. They call it the Presonus Studio One Pro, and it is indeed a top-notch tool.
Along with a powerful drag and drop functionality, this item packs an unlimited number of audio tracks, virtual instruments, MIDI tracks, FX channels, and audio buses, ranking it among the top items on the list, and quite close to the renowned Reason.
Also included in the mix is a convenient and highly effective content browser with sorting options and a preview player, with included features for Integrated Mastering, New Open option, Melodyne Essential Integration, AIR Convolution Reverb, and much more.
In many terms, this fella offers a performance on par with the Reason, in some aspects it’s even better and in others it’s inferior. Therefore, if the given budget suits your needs, we highly recommend running these two through a comparison line and determine which suits your needs the best.
Another affordable device comes in the form of Steinberg Cubase Elements 7, one of the best cheap DAWs in the world. It is one of the best because it does not sound cheap at all and the bad connotations associated with that word completely disappear within minutes of initial use.
The item offers a pack of streamlined audio and MIDI recording, scoring, editing, and mixing tools, adding support for 64 MIDI and 48 simultaneous audio tracks with up to 24-bit and 192 kHz audio. It comes with a top-notch set of virtual instruments, such as the renowned HALion Sonic SE workstation, the MPC-style Groove Agent ONE drum machine, a prologue synthesizer, and more.
It is instantly ready for use with a total of 44 audio effect processors, including the Pitch Correct function for vocal intonation correction, a Morph Filter and the VST Amp Rack guitar tone suite.
Once again, you will be surprised that this budget can deliver this type of performance. This fella is no Reason, but the listed features secure incredible versatility on all fronts, leaving you with a vast array of sonic options to improve, adjust and alter your recordings.
You will be left surprised by some of the features the manufacturer has decided to incorporate. If your budget is a bit on the low side, we highly recommend giving Cubase Elemets 7 a spin.
So there we have it – the top picks for the best digital audio workstation. Each of these fine items is a very good choice, and a type of product that will not leave you ambivalent. They all pack a stellar punch for their respective price tag and they will all give you more than you have paid for.
Now it just comes down to the matter of jotting down your exact needs and preferences, as well as your exact spending budget. Once that is over and done, feel free to pick any of these fine products, for they shall not disappoint you. Highly recommended, a major thumbs up from here!