Here is a quick overview of music studio software I use or have used. Just my personal opinion about different type of DAWs. I have not used all of them but I have tried most of the big ones and have settled down with something that works fine for me. We live in a time where music production tools is available to almost anyone. You dont have to go back that many years to see that it was only big name studios that had access and the ability to record music. It is certainly an exciting time for up and coming music producers!
When I started out experimenting in music I used something called trackers. They are still to an extent in use today, for example: Renoise. However they are not the topic for the article today.
This is what I am using now, and I love it! The interface and the workflow is fantastic. It may take a while to get used to though. Live have two views, the session view and arrangement view. When I produce music I always use the arrangement view because thats what I am familiar with. Session view is a more spontaneous approach to music making. You add clips, edit audio and skip around on the fly. Some producers use the session view for getting ideas out and then bring them over to arrangement for further refinement. Live supports a a lot of different workflows and it is really fluid interface-wise. That is one reason I like this type of music studio software so much.
You get some great content depending on the version you buy. I especially like the glue compressor that ship with the software. Its extremely nice.
Here is a video of me showing how I made the experimental track called: Kaos, using Ableton Live. For more production videos, check out my other Ableton Live Tutorials videos.
Reason have a special place in my hearth because it was the first real DAW I started using. I even have some tracks for sale today made using Reason. What makes Reason so good is that you have a contained and closed environment with instruments, samples and sounds. You get everything you need to start producing right now. Reason doesn’t support VSTs but they have their own plugin format called Rack Extensions. You buy these from a store that reminds a lot like the Apple App Store. You have a good selection of great plugins there. However if you want to make use of VSTs you should look for something else. Reason is a complete music studio software contained in one application.
I still occasionally use Reason today but mostly for updating or make changes to older tracks. Below is a video where I show off the track Simple Light in Reason. In the top part you have the rack with all instruments and the lower part shows you the sequencer.
Apple Logic Pro
I had a good run with Logic Pro. Apples offering into the music production market. I switched from Reason to Logic a few years back when I decided to go the Mac route, when logic still was in version 9. A lot of professional producers use Logic and it is an highly capable DAW. Considering the price you get a lot for your money if you get Logic. Below is a Trance track called Starlight Skies I made in Logic X.
What I think is good with Logic is everything you get for that low price. The alchemy synth alone which is included, is worth the asking price. Then you have the drummer part that can make a drum track for you automatically by “listening” to other parts of your music. Even EDM tracks! Its really nice and have a lot of “beginner” friendly features while still being advanced. Unfortunately it is not possible to demo Logic, you have to buy it, but I think you can ask for a refund from Apple within 14 days.
What About the Other big DAWs?
Cubase, FL Studio, Reaper, Studio One, Bitwig, Pro Tools? How do you pick the best music production software? What about free music production software? Yeah, there are a lot to choose from I know, and this little music music studio software review article won’t be able to cover everything. If I had to do that I wouldn’t have time to make music! And that is what we ultimately want to do, right?
What I would do is to just pick one of them and go. A smart move would be to pick something that a lot of people are using, that way it is easier for you to get help from others on the Internet if you need it. Just for fun, I did a Google search for a bunch different DAWs and here are the result!
- Pro Tools – About 200 000 000 results
- FL Studio – About 41 000 000 results
- Logic Pro – About 26 900 000 results
- Cubase – About 9 470 000 results
- Ableton Live – About 5 440 000 results
- Propellerhead’s Reason – About 374 000 results
Pro Tools is the industry standard music studio software so obviously it wins. The rest? Well you see the numbers yourself. All DAWs above is capable of producing high quality, professional tracks. It all depends on one thing, namely you. You have to pick one and just get to work. I am using Ableton Live and will probably stick with that in the foreseeable future. With that said… I have half an eye on Bitwig. But changing DAWs take time, time that could be better spent perfecting my craft and producing music.
What About Plugins?
I try to use the best plugins available. I rather pay a bit more and buy a good quality plugin from the start. Another important thing for me is that the plugin is DRM free. I do not like using USB dongles, so if I can, I support the guys who make plugins without that type of copy protection.
Here is a short list of what I am currently using.
- Xfer – Serum (Get my free Serum Presets)
- Reveal Sound – Spire
- u-he – Diva
- Native Instruments Komplete 12
- Fabfilter mastering bundle
- Soundtoys – Decapitator / Echoboy