What's your favorite DAW?

For those who aren’t familiar, DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation.

Examples would be Garage Band, Cakewalk, Reaper, and many others.

If your looking to use your computer for audio work (or play), you use DAW software to do that and there are versions for all different smart phones, Linux, Mac, and Windows.

And now I’ve reached the limit of my knowledge. I haven’t used a DAW and I’m looking for something relatively easy. I won’t be doing any studio work and probably won’t use it for anything more complicated than trading music files back and forth between me and a few other people to add our own parts.

If you could tell me what you use and why it works for you maybe I can get a better idea of what I need. Also, any recommendations are appreciated.

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I like GarageBand best and I assume Logic is even better. I’m using Audacity the most now though because that’s what a friend uses, and it is on more platforms.

Cakewalk seems really good too, and is also free and more polished and feature-rich than Audacity, but I kind of put it aside it when my friend started using Audacity.

GarageBand is dead easy to use. Audacity is not hard either but definitely behind the others in UI and features like instruments.

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Is there a problem going from one DAW to another? Different file formats?

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Yes in general, they all have different file formats. There’s some things you can do though (export individual tracks and reimport and so on.)

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I chose Audacity, or maybe it chose me, as I run Linux on my desktop, and there weren’t a whole lot of usable options. I like that it’s pretty easy to use, but it probably doesn’t have all the features of a more professional DAW. There are also plenty of tutorials online for it too.

On my iPhone, I’ve installed the GarageBand app - it’s fun to play with, but I haven’t looked into really recording with it, as I don’t know how that would work on a smartphone app, or if it would give good results. If I had a Mac, I’d probably use it though - it seems really intuitive, and has a bunch of drum loops, and little goodies built in.

Interested to hear what other people use and like!

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I used Audacity mainly to digitize old tapes (not of music I could buy on iTunes, obviously, but of stuff I had recorded with different bands in the late 90s).

For recording new stuff, I find Garageband more powerful and easier to use. It also includes amp modeling and effects if you want to bypass your own amp and directly record through a DMI. (Logic is presumably Garageband’s really big brother, but the price tag is also accordingly).

When I bought my DMI, a copy of Ableton Lite was included. It also has some powerful features, certainly even more so in the full version (which, however, is also pricey), and tons of add-ons and “macros” developed by a large community. Ableton, ProTools and Logic are probably what most pros use.

One thing to consider is whether the DAW you are looking at can indeed accept/incorporate the many add-ons or plug-ins that are also available, e.g., Captain Chords for creating (professional) chord progressions, or virtual software instruments.

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I’ve been using Reaper for 7 or 8 years now. I like the interface and I find it’s perfect for studio work, but it needs some time to learn how to use it. Audacity is way easier, but less complete and professionnal.

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Yeah Reaper looks really good and is old school :slight_smile:

Honestly though if my friend had a Mac I’d probably simply have bought Logic by now, or even just stuck with GarageBand. GarageBand is just amazing. Tons of effects, models and instruments, a super easy interface, lots of stuff to download (way, way more than one ever will), etc.

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I’ve never used a DAW but I just ordered a Line 6 POD Studio UX1 audio interface that comes with Cubase LE. I haven’t received it yet so I don’t know what it’s like. Anybody have any opinions on Cubase LE?

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I’ve been using Apple stuff exclusively since 2010, so I use Logic these days, and used to use Garageband. I’ve had a good overall experience, a few glitches here and there but as far as I know, most professional studios either use ProTools or Logic. Seems like mostly ProTools, but Logic feels more user-friendly for dummies like me, based on my limited experience with ProTools.

I do all my recording for lesson videos, playalongs etc. in Logic, it’s a good mix of live recording functionality, ease of looping regions, customizeable interface, and makes sense to my Apple-tinted brain.

Garageband is great for personal use, but it’s a little too idiot-proof for anything in the pro-level realms IMO.

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It’s NOT “idiot-proof” enough for me though . . . :yum:

One of these days, I’ll have to figure this DAW stuff out.

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Thanks everybody for all the reply’s.

I guess what I’m looking for is Gargeband for Windows, which doesn’t exist. I guess I’ll try out Cakewalk because… Free. And it’s supposed to have better interface than Audacity. We will see.

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Playing around with new stuff is fun! Hope it works for your purposes!

Good luck!

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@eric.kiser, I use GarageBand. Like everyone says, it’s pretty simple to use and all I gotta do is plug any of my guitars into the USB port of my MacBook and start recording. I use it mainly to just record myself so that I can play back tracks to hear where I’m messing up. Things sound a whole lot different when you hear them played back… A humbling experience to say the least.

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Cakewalk has a nicer UI and a lot (a lot) more stuff than Audacity, out of the box anyway. I would say Audacity is easier to get started with though.

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I create a lot of digital music, thus my interest in trying to learn bass… i wanted to actually play a real instrument. I have used most of the DAW’s out there… I have a lot of native instrument hardware and use their Maschine software, but i also use a much lesser known DAW called Mixcraft Studio Pro, i love it.

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Cool. Perhaps you can help.
I’m looking for something as simple as GarageBand but for Windows.
I was going to go with Cakewalk but that was mainly because it’s free and is supposed to have a nice interface.
What do you recommend for people just getting into it and just planning to use it casually?

***edited to clean up spelling and added a little more detail where needed.
But also wanted to note that a good PC is also a piece of the puzzle, when creating a .wav for .flac or .mp3 oupput file, there is a lot of processing that goes on to generate these files. I use and quad core i5-7400 3ghz, and 32 gigs of RAM, this may be overkill… but I also do a lot of 3D modeling on this same rig… so it’s quite beefy, be sure to check the particular applications requirements so you get the performance you need, as some of these applications can be demanding, specially when applying a lot of filters and using multiple virtual instruments at the same time.

DAWs pretty much all do the same thing… so its really just a matter of what what you like.
Unless you have a specific reason you need to use Logic or Ableton etc… there are plenty to choose from that are fairly inexpensive. I never used cakewalk myself, so can’t compare to it directly.

You can try a free demo of Mixcraft at https://www.acoustica.com/mixcraft/download.php but i believe Ableton as well as most of the others offer free demos as well. Try them out and see what one feels good. Either way there is quite a learning curve… the big ones, like Ableton or Logic Pro-tools etc… you will be able to find a lot more learning materials for the well known applications vs a lesser know application.

A pretty popular and fairly lower cost one many people use is FL studio, tons of people use it, and its been around for years now. https://tinyurl.com/yxelpm9a you can find a demo of it here.

This really is a big topic, as a DAW can do a LOT of things… you need to determine what you need the DAW for and find one you like that does what you need. For example, you can use it just for simply arranging and mastering audio file you have already created. You may want something more tuned toward live performances like Ableton Live or Maschine by native instruments (but be advised Native Instruments is proprietary to using there hardware with it), or maybe you want something with tons of virtual instruments sound packs/loops and filtering options as you play along with a midi keyboard or controller to just jam with.

I think starting with FL studio is a good starting point, but Reason, and Ableton are another pair of very pro level ones that support windows. No matter what you do, download the demos and try them out. You will need some kind of audio interface or usb mixer most likely as well, since DAWs are not meant to work with built in sound-cards on motherboards… those are pretty poor quality and not very functional for music production.
And you will need a set of studio monitor speakers, regular PC speakers are not meant to be used with a DAW, as they do to much processing, you need to use monitor speakers to hear the true flat/unprocessed sound before any processing occurs to master a mix properly.

I personally use:
Mixcraft Pro 8 Studio as my primary DAW - currently $79 (100 bucks off) as of this writing see above link for the web link to the demo
Mackie CR5BT - 5" Multimedia Monitors - $220 bucks on amazon, but there are smaller sized 3in ones and they only cost $99
Behringer Q1202USB 12-Channel Mixer $120 on amazon, but i bought it for $99 so look around for sales

I use a lot of other gear as well, but starting out, you need 3 things:
a DAW, Monitor Speakers, and some sort of audio interface or mixer. I decided to go with a USB mixer cause it allows me to connect several inputs, but if you only have one thing to connect, people love the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface, I have not used it, but its highly rated. It’s about the same price as a mixer… and the mixer gives more inputs, eq-ing, compression etc… so I went that route.

There are TONS of youtube vids like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJaC8Umz_X8&t=1s discussing top 10 DAWs

Andrew Haung has a ton of good info on his youtube channel about setting up a home studio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JBOgJ0lTJo

Good luck… your entering a new world so it’s a lot to absorb… but it’s not all that bad… there are a ton of tutorials… that and just spending time working in the software, you will get the hang of it all.

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Super helpful! Thanks for getting into the forum madness with such good intel!

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@method72 Your response was both informative and pretty overwhelming.

Would you have a recommendation for someone who just wants to record and maybe share some tracks back and forth. Or, is doing that just a lot more complicated than I have assumed?