Music Recording Equipment: Digital Audio WorkstationsBy
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Before the rise of computers, recording studios had tape machines that they recorded to, and editing was done by cutting and pasting pieces of the recording with a razor and tape. Today, Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) have taken the place of those tape machines, bringing with them a multitude of options that didn’t exist previously. If you are setting up a recording studio, DAWs are a necessity, especially you plan to collaborate with other industry professionals.
There are many different DAWs to choose from, so we’ve pulled together some of the best and most popular. Take a look through these options and see what is best for you.
Pro Tools is arguably the most popular (or perhaps a more appropriate word is common) DAW. Pro Tools Express comes with an interface and a basic set of plug-ins for $499. Compare the different versions on this comparison chart. A free trial of Pro Tools 11 is available. Available for both Mac and Windows OS.
Logic Pro X
The latest version of Logic Pro X comes with awesome new features which previously required third-party plug-ins (Drummer, a drum programmer; Arpeggiator; and Flex Pitch, a tuning application). The now-included plug-ins are a step forward, making this program excellent for programming and making synths and beats. The dark interface also allows for less strain on your screen and battery.
$199 on the App Store; Mac OS only.
Like other DAWs, Cubase offers versions of the program at varying price points and with various features, allowing you to choose the level that fits your budget and your needs. This program has many plug-ins, including pitch correction (standard in all versions). Prices range from US $99 to EUR $699; available for both Mac and Windows OS.
This program is made by Presonus and also has varying programs (Free, Artist, Producer, and Professional) at varying prices. Compare their different features and prices, and find the version best suited to your needs and budget. Available for both Mac and Windows OS.
Reaper is a one-version program with much of the same functionality and ability as the other DAWs listed. It offers a 60-day free trial, after which the license is only $60. Available for both Mac and Windows OS.
While it may be obvious that you need this equipment, the choice may not be as clear. Our best advice is to identify your studio’s needs first, then research and compare your options.
Have you purchased one of the above DAWs? Or is there another version that you use? How has it worked out for your studio?
See also: Recording Music: Essential Equipment for a Home Studio, Recording Music: Pros and Cons of Creating a Home Studio, Music Recording Equipment: The Best Microphones, Music Recording Equipment: Finding the Right Headphones.