Top 10 Best DAW Apps for Production in 2024

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The digital audio workstation (DAW) is the software program you use to create your music.

DAW software has made music creation more accessible than ever before—and they’re only getting more powerful!

Whether you’re just starting a song, or about to reach that final mastering step, you’ll need music recording software to make your vision into a reality.

Here’re the 10 best DAWs on the market right now:

  1. Ableton Live 11
  2. Logic Pro
  3. Studio One 6
  4. Bitwig Studio 5
  5. Audacity
  6. Pro Tools
  7. Garage Band
  8. Steinberg Cubase Pro 12
  9. FL Studio 21
  10. REAPER

This guide will give you everything you need to pick the best DAW software for you.

What is a DAW?

DAW stands for “digital audio workstation.” It’s a software program used for composing, producing, recording, mixing and editing audio and MIDI.

Many DAW programs can record live instruments, vocals and virtual instruments, as long as you have the appropriate equipment, which include an audio interface and microphone

You can also loop, sample and create effects in a DAW, and they facilitate mixing of multiple sound sources on a time-based grid.

A DAW is essentially a music production studio, on your computer. In music, DAWs help you make your songs sound finished and professional.

Hot tip:

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How to choose the best DAW for you

There are lots of different DAWs out there, each with different strengths and weaknesses. You can find them for Mac and Windows, free and paid, with simple features or everything the pros need.

There are a few important points to consider as you choose which DAW you’ll use for your music.

The first is that despite different looks and workflows, they all essentially do the same thing—make music.

Once you grasp the basic metaphors of digital music production, your choice of DAW software will seem a little less important. The main differences between them are mainly about features and workflow.

That means the only way to choose the best DAW for you is by testing them out and finding which one fits your needs best.

Hot tip:

We encourage you to take the time to try a DAW before you decide to buy it. But if you’re just looking for a quick recommendation, here’s our best advice.

Best Budget DAW:
Reaper—works on any OS, has pro features, only costs $60

Best all-around DAW:
Logic Pro—great built-in plugins, perfect platform for traditional recording

Best DAW for electronic production:
Ableton Live—Built for sampling and loops, great synths and sounds included

Download a free demo

Most DAWs offer free trials or lite editions to help you decide if they’re right for you. Once you’ve honed in on the ones you want to try, download the demos and see how things feel in practice.

If you’re just getting started with the core ideas of DAW software you might consider trying a free DAW.

There are a few great DAW apps that are available completely free. They might not have the functions the pros rely on, but they can certainly produce great music.

Starting slow with a free version first can save you a lot of time and money when it comes time to commit. Free DAW programs are great for beginners. Online audio editors, which allow you to edit one track at a time and are easier to learn, are also a good tool for beginners.  

The 10 best DAW apps for creating music

Dive into our favorite DAWs in this video

Now that you know what to look for in a DAW, let’s check out the best recording software. Here’s the essential list of the 10 best DAWs currently available.

1. Ableton Live 11

Ableton Live 11 interface

For a long time, Ableton Live has been well respected as the best music production platform for creatives.

This acclaim comes with good reason—Ableton’s inspiring session view made it very easy to audition loops and piece ideas together, making it a favorite among electronic producers.

Ableton is essentially the world’s best sampling looper—it includes incredible sampling and synthesis plugins that make it a sound design powerhouse.

Beyond its sampling and synthesis capabilities, Ableton’s entire plugin suite holds its own with excellent EQs, delays, reverbs, compression and much more.

With the launch of Ableton Live 11, the DAW expanded MIDI recall to make comping over ideas easier, syncing for live performance, a handful of new plugins and much more. 

Live 11.3 added an all-new synth, improved auto-warping and more features that support MPE, a feature that allows you to apply changes to individual notes instead of an entire MIDI channel.

Ableton also offers deep compatibility with the insanely flexible Max digital signal processing environment with Live as Max4Live.

This makes Live one of the most versatile sound design tools out there—there’s a lot to love!

Price: $469


  • Impressive MIDI comping
  • Great suite of plugins
  • Creativity oriented


  • Interface can be confusing
  • Not suited as well for advanced production

2. Logic Pro

Logic Pro interface

Logic Pro is Apple’s pro audio software product.

It’s a great DAW software suite that shares its user-friendly design philosophy with GarageBand. If you started with GarageBand, you’ll find a lot to love in Logic Pro.

Ever since Apple added an impressive suite of bundled plugins and impressive flex time and flex pitch features, Logic has excelled as a one-stop solution for audio production.

In 2021, Apple launched a huge update adding live looping capabilities, a better step sequencer, newly developed plugins and even an AI drummer tool that’ll write drum parts for your tracks.

The latest update, Logic Pro 10.7.5, includes the ability to record MIDI plugins, improved Smart Tempo analysis and new presets for hip-hop and electronic producers.

Logic is a highly capable yet user-friendly DAW that’s built for recording and production just as much as it is built for creation and songwriting.

And, at its $199 price point, you’re getting a great deal compared to other DAW brands on the market.

Price: $199 USD


  • Well rounded DAW with painstaking attention to detail
  • Tons of great plugins and software instruments
  • Very fairly priced considering its features and add-ons


  • Only works on Apple products

Hot tip:


3. Studio One 6

Studio One 5 Prime interface

Studio One 6 is the newest edition of PreSonus’ DAW software.

While Studio One is one of the newer DAW platforms on the market, Studio One 6 comprises everything PreSonus has been working on since launch.

It works well in many applications, but it excels with arrangement and composition with its powerful ability to turn MIDI data into sheet notation.

The suite also features deep integration with hardware, making it easier to use outboard gear within Studio One’s workflow—especially considering the DAW controller PreSonus built for it.

The workflow in Studio One is focused on creativity and inspiration. It can also be a good introductory DAW program. It has an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that lets you easily import MIDI files, audio and even video. 

In the latest update, the new Smart Templates help make recording, mixing, mastering and live shows easy.

Its “songwriting first” design makes it easy to compose fast—you can even output printable scores and lead sheets from the parts you create in the DAW.

Studio One may seem like a bit of an underdog, but that gives it a lot of space to innovate and the results are impressive.

Price: $399 USD


  • Highly oriented towards creativity but handles production work well
  • Powerful notation and arrangement capabilities


  • Not as many included plugins and instruments as other paid DAWs

4. Bitwig Studio 5

Bitwiig Studio 4 interface

Bitwig Studio was launched in 2014 by a group of former Ableton developers after an extensive testing period.

So it’s no surprise that it draws some inspiration from Ableton including its own non-linear workflow, but it has pioneered its own unique composition approach with its modular design.

Bitwig Studio 4 delivered expressive MIDI support, better audio editing and a handful of new plugins and software instruments.

The latest iteration, Bitwig Studio 5, introduced browser improvements and new tools for live performances and modulation.

Unique modulation options, strong hardware integration, and songwriting-friendly tools make Bitwig a solid option for any creator.

Bitwig is one of the best DAW software options if you’re just starting out with recording software and gives you plenty of room to grow.

Price: $399 USD


  • Unique modular design workflow allows for some interesting customization
  • Great for creators
  • Easy to learn workflow


  • Less suited towards recording, mixing and mastering

5. Audacity

Audacity interface

Audacity was released in 2009 as a completely free recording software. And it’s still free today!

Audacity is compatible with all operating systems and easy to download right away.

Audacity is compatible with all operating systems and easy to download right away.

It has everything you need to record audio on a timeline with no extra features.

It doesn’t record MIDI, so using virtual instruments like VST synths is out of the question—and plugin effects have to be applied only to audio sources. That means that Audacity might not be the best choice for a full mix.

It does have basic functionality like recording audio, editing various sound files, splicing and mixing sounds and adding effects. If you’re just getting started with the core ideas of digital recording, Audacity might be the perfect way to jump in. 

It’s also the best DAW for those with programming experience: Audacity is open-source, so if you’re feeling ambitious, you can download the source code and build your own version of it. 

Price: Free


  • Fully capable audio production and editing software for free


  • Doesn’t work with MIDI so software instruments are not compatible
  • Concerns over privacy and spyware after acquisition by MuseScore

6. Pro Tools

Pro Tools interface

Pro Tools is the industry-standard DAW. This is the one you’ll find in almost every professional studio.

Pro Tools was designed for traditional recording in a studio setting and it excels at every part of that process.

Pro Tools was designed for traditional recording in a studio setting and it excels at every aspect of that process.

Professional engineers love it for the speed of editing and the high-quality mixing environment.

It may have a slightly steeper learning curve than other DAWs, but it’s worth putting in the time if you ever hope to work in a professional studio.

Pro Tools comes in several configurations including the free, introductory edition Pro Tools Intro. This basic DAW software includes eight mono or stereo audio tracks, eight instrument tracks, eight MIDI tracks, 35 plugins and plenty of other features to get you started.

The premium, hardware-accelerated edition is now called Pro Tools Ultimate. There is also Pro Tools Artist, which costs only $9.99 per month, and the standard native version, Pro Tools Studio.

Like other paid software, Pro Tools is transitioning to a hybrid subscription/license model with each subsequent edition named after the year of release (we’re currently on Pro Tools 2023).

Pro Tools also requires you to use the iLok hardware digital rights management (DRM) platform. DRMs are used to ensure users pay for the software they use and can add a layer of complexity and cost to gaining access to the tools they guard, which may be off-putting to some users.

Price: $79.99 USD billed monthly


  • The gold standard for audio production, recording and mastering


  • Confusing pricing and overall higher price tag

7. GarageBand

GarageBand interface

GarageBand is almost a household name at this point. The free DAW developed by Apple has done more for democratizing music production than almost any other music software.

GarageBand is almost a household name at this point.

You may even be surprised to know what hit records have been made on it considering it’s a free program that comes with all versions of Mac OSX.

Hot tip:

The helpful tips that GarageBand provides in-app are written in simple language accessible to all production skill levels—you can learn a lot that way!

Overall, GarageBand is a simple but effective tool for getting started with DAW software. And if you’re reading this on a Mac, you already have it. So make something today!

Price: Free


  • All the essentials you need to start making music in your computer
  • Simple interface and basic plugins for audio production and editing tasks


  • Only works on Apple products
  • Watered down features compared to its big cousin Logic Pro

8. Steinberg Cubase Pro 12

Steinberg Cubase 11 interface

Steinberg’s Cubase was one of the first commercially available DAWs and still has a strong following. It began as a MIDI only application and its MIDI editing capabilities are still among the strongest.

Cubase 12 is the latest version of the app and it’s packed with all the features you need to create a pro-quality track. It has improved MIDI controller integration, a new Scale Assistant for pitch editing and more effects. 

Its audio and mixing features are no slouch either—this DAW can do everything the big names are capable of.

Steinberg pioneered the popular VST plugin format, so there’s great compatibility with free VST plugins, making it one of the best DAWs for Windows (although it’s compatible with Apple products too).

Cubase has a lot of great features, so it’s worth considering as you search for the best DAW for you.

Price: $878 USD


  • Strong MIDI editing features
  • Great for audio production, editing, mixing and mastering


  • Includes advanced features but at a higher price

9. FL Studio 21

FL Studio 20 interface

FL Studio (formerly known as Fruity Loops) is a favourite among hip-hop and electronic producers for its no-nonsense interfaces that can get you started making beats right away.

Many beatmakers got their first taste of creating loops and grooves with this DAW software and continue to use it to this day.

Many beatmakers got their first taste of creating loops and grooves with this DAW software and continue to use it to this day.

It includes extensive integration with AKAI’s FL Studio specific hardware and even a mobile extension of the DAW to keep you creating music anywhere. It also comes standard with a wide variety of native plugins including synths, samplers and virtual effect units.

Version 21 made updates to its browser settings and user experience and made audio editing faster and more precise.

Image-Line also offers free lifetime updates to the program. That means if you purchase once you’ll have access to every version from now until forever.

Price: $260


  • Great step sequencer
  • Highly oriented towards beat makers


  • Less optimized for music production tasks
  • Doesn’t come with many included plugins and software instruments


Reaper interface

REAPER (Rapid Environment for Audio Production, Engineering, and Recording) comes from the same developers as the WinAmp audio player and Gnutella peer-to-peer network.

It’s a powerful, comprehensive and adaptive DAW without any engineering compromises.

REAPER comes with a free 60 day trial, but an individual license only costs $60 USD—it’s the best value in DAW software.

There are no track types in REAPER—each track you create can do anything you need it to (audio, midi, video, bussing)—which makes arranging super simple.

REAPER is an equally good option if you’re just starting out or if you’ve had your head in a DAW for as long as you can remember.

Beginners can simply press record to get started and experienced users can take advantage of the advanced routing matrix or use ReaScript to program anything from a macro to a full-featured extension.

A new REAPER 6 license (the latest version) includes free unlimited updates through version 7.99.

Price: $60 after trial period


  • Well built DAW platform with tons of capability
  • Very affordable
  • Skinnable interface and open-source code make it highly customizable


  • Comes with very few plugins or add-ons

Create, Mix, Repeat

Whether at a home studio or in a professional environment DAW software has made creating accessible and easy. With all the different apps out there to choose from, there’s no excuse to not be creating every day.

If you’re asking yourself how to record, edit or mix music better, chances are there’s a DAW out there that’s the answer. 

Ready to get started? Sign up for a yearly LANDR Studio subscription and get Ableton Live Lite now! 


Various contributors from the LANDR team of music mentors.


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