- Max Kuehn
In this post, Fidlar will cover the best free music making software for Windows and Mac.
What is a Digital Audio Workstation?
The digital audio workstation (DAW) is a blank piece of paper with the paintbrushes needed for artists to create their art. You only need some sounds and your talent. But most importantly, you will need your creativity.
A DAW is a program that designs for editing, recording, mixing, and mastering audio files. You can record various instruments, MIDI controllers, and vocals, then lay out the tracks and rearrange the tracks. Then, you can cut, paste, and add effects to finalize the song that’s ready for the world.
If they are primarily using DAWs to create music, professional, semi-pro, and private studios use them. We know of musicians who still use traditional instruments. However, most people today are computer-based or have at least a hybrid studio that incorporates both. You can find out more.
As technology improves, this trend will only continue to grow. Apart from a computer for music, a DAW will be the essential piece of equipment you need to create the masterpieces waiting for you.
Top-Rated Best Music Production Software For Beginners
Ableton Live (Windows/Mac).
A DAW that inspires with a top-level workflow
Live’s impact on the music software market is hard to quantify. The first Live version was released in 2001. It broke all the rules of traditional design and became a recorded program for composers as well as a performance tool.
It has been an enormous success and has influenced many other mobile and desktop apps.
Live 11 is the long-awaited update. It adds much-requested features like an elegant comping system and support for MPE. New devices are also available, as well as updates to existing ones.
Although some changes may take some getting used to by veterans, Ableton has once again managed to improve Live’s capabilities while not adding complexity to its already efficient workflow. It is still at the forefront of DAW technology.
- Quick and creative workflow
- Excellent built-in devices
- There are many pros to choose from
- The latest update isn’t as important as the previous versions
- Some effects still require plugin delay compensation
Image-Line FL Studio (Windows/Mac)
This unique DAW has helped many electronic music producers launch their careers.
Image-Line’s DAW was originally launched under FruityLoops. It is a near-iconic product for certain generations of producers in EDM and hip-hop.
Version 20’s headline feature was a native 64 bit Mac version. This means that FL Studio can be used on macOS and PC without any need for an awkward workaround. Fortunately, licenses can be shared between Mac and PC versions.
Image-Line provides lifetime upgrades for FL Studio users. This means that all current FL Studio users will now have access to upgrades to version 20 on both platforms.
The updates keep coming. Version 20.5 introduced Flex, a new preset-based soft keyboard, and version 20.6 added many new features. Version 20.7 gives you all the tools to make a music video. Version 20.8 improves the software’s speed and precision.
While there will always be people who say FL Studio isn’t as ‘serious’ as other DAWs. The facts show otherwise, and FL Studio has many notable fans in the professional community.
- Great for EDM producers
- Excellent value for money
- Free lifetime updates
- GUI can feel a bit cluttered
Avid Pro Tools (Windows/Mac)
This software is the best for mixing and mastering (which is still a matter of debate, as I have seen from the comments over the last few years). Ask any sound engineer or professional music producer, and they will tell you that using other DAWs is a waste.
Many people say that after being certified in the program. There are whole school programs that focus on Pro Tools, as we have stated. We could go on for 100 about this software, but we’ll try to simplify it. It allows you to record, mix, edit and master music.
It has an own Avid Audio Engine, which is a fast processor and 64-bit memory for sessions (never freeze, lag, etc.), a latency buffer to reduce annoying delays, and built-in metering.
Elastic Pitch, which can be used to adjust the tempo and time-stretch for any track, is a little like autotune in that it ‘corrects’ harmonies. Pro Tools also includes 70 effects and plug-ins. It can do so many things that I don’t know where to begin.
Some professional musicians also use Pro Tools to mix and master their music. Although it’s compatible with both Macs and PCs, it works better with Macs (initially designed for this purpose).
We’ve read a lot about it being very buggy on Windows. Please be aware. Pro Tools is an excellent tool for anyone who wants to do a lot with it. It can take hours, days, or weeks to learn it.
Once you master it, it will be the best decision you make in music-making and a great career choice. It’s not clear if it will ever end.
- The best audio editing workflow available.
- Recording and mixing speed up to 64 bits
- Useful, robust track freeze and commit options.
- The industry’s best hardware and support policies offer the highest quality.
- Plugsound and Factory sound packs are excellent new products.
- Pitch correction is not available.
- There is no VST/AU plug-in support.
- For software updates beyond 12 months, a monthly fee is required.
Cockos Reaper (Windows/Mac)
A powerful DAW at an affordable price
Although Reaper by Cockos may be one of the most complicated digital audio workstations available, the power it can provide is unparalleled if you are willing to take the time and learn. You can download the software to test it.
After that, you will need to purchase a license to continue using it. This is a great strategy both for the brand and for the user as it allows them to test it for a reasonable amount of time without spending any money.
Reaper is quite different from other DAWs. Reaper was coded by a small group of people who wanted to keep the essential features of a DAW simple.
Drag and drop your VSTs and FX. You can map your MIDI controllers seamlessly. You can cut, paste, and split individual tracks. There is also plug-in support available for most creators. It is open-source software.
It can be used with most audio interfaces, plug-ins, and effects. You don’t have to pay anything if you download Reaper. Reaper can be used for 60 days before you buy. We recommend Reaper if you are serious about your research and shopping around.
You never know, it might be the right DAW or software that you need to finish your recording (many producers do this).
- Incredible value for money
- High-end MIDI/audio routing capabilities
- Storage footprints are small
- It doesn’t include a lot of plugins
Apple Logic Pro
The Mac offers incredible value and excellent performance
Although it’s been a while since Logic Pro X was released, version X was available in 2013. However, numbers can be misleading. Version 10.5 is Logic Pro 11, a modern music production software transforming this DAW into a traditional one.
The central feature of this overhaul is the addition of Ableton-style Live Loops. These loops allow you to create and jam with ideas before adding them to the main timeline.
A new step sequencer, completely redesigned samplers, and new tools are available for electronic beatmakers.
Pro Tools is still the preferred choice for recording audio. Logic, on the other hand, has firmly established its position as the top media composer tree. Logic’s superior MIDI implementation, and a wide range of options, have made it the favorite. Virtual instruments to call upon.
Logic Pro users have waited for this modernizing step, even though Apple follows trends rather than set them.
Logic Pro is more than just an excellent value for money – it’s not the latest in a series of well-judged free upgrades – Mac users will not find a better set of music production software for their Macs.
- Great value
- Tested and proven workflow
- It comes with lots of content
- Only for Mac
Steinberg Cubase (Windows/Mac)
An old-fashioned DAW that is still able to keep up with the young and bright.
Steinberg has been a leader in music software development for more than 30 years. Through Cubase (which started as a MIDI sequencer), Steinberg introduced a whole new generation to the block-based arrange screens used in most DAWs.
The company also developed virtual studio technology and a class-leading audio editor (WaveLab), which helped them survive the dark days of software piracy.
Cubase allows you to create music intuitively and quickly using a variety of tools of Virtual instruments. Besides, you can find thousands of sounds and effects.
Cubase remains the top DAW package despite increased competition. Cubase 11 is a solid update and expands on many fronts. The many great plugins, large sound library, and huge functionality make this a worthwhile purchase.
It’s also worth noting that the Artist and Elements editions have decent feature sets. It’s an oldie, but it’s still a great product.
- Great history, lots of development
- Workflow refinement
- Each of the three versions offers a good balance of features
- ‘Traditional’ design
Propellerhead Reason (Windows/Mac)
Although Reason by Propellerhead may not be well-known in the music production software world, it is one of our most reliable and stable programs. It’s very user-friendly, with drag-and-drop functionality (such as synth effects directly into the sequencer).
The workflow is also fast and easy for people in the mid to semi-professional range. It’s not complicated but not difficult — we think it’s right in the middle. However, Reason’s plug-ins are a little out-of-date compared to Fruity Loops.
The reason is a solid mixing console that’s better than many other options, such as Pro Tools and Logic. It also includes an amp and speaker plug-ins from Softube, making it an outstanding DAW to record guitar or bass. These plug-ins are great for creating presets and effects for your riffs.
They work well on both Mac and PC. What’s pretty nifty is the software’s ability to cut and splice audio files automatically…although I’m a bit tedious when it comes to this, it’s nice to get those files chopped before you start digging in.
It’s pretty accurate most of the time, but sometimes I need to tweak them a little…it doesn’t hurt. To add FYI, it supports all MIDI devices, so you are well-equipped for essential features in a workstation.
The reason isn’t as powerful as Pro Tools, but it offers many more features than Pro Tools, such as mastering and advanced effects. Reason retails for half the price of other DAWs.
- A versatile range of bundled instruments.
- A sound set that is useful and inspiring can be used as a starting point for electronic music.
- Fast composition workflow.
- SSL-style mix compression with EQ.
- Aging rack-mount-and-patch-cable UI idiom.
- There are no scoring or surround features.
- Track editing is still behind the rest of the competition.
Great introduction to music-making
Garageband is the leader in user-friendly music creation software. Apple’s entry-level program offers many sample options for those who are just interested in mmaking music. In minutes, you could create a song. Its sandbox environment and intuitive interface made it a top choice.
It also has a built-in lesson function that can be used to teach you how to play the piano. It will help you understand music theory by mapping out chords and explaining what they are.
Don’t let this fool you! This is a great stepping stone to Logic Pro X. There are many quality options here. The drummer is a shared feature that allows you to create grooves with multiple genres and offers a variety of patterns.
Apple Library, which is a similar interface for logic, will also be familiar to you.
Garage Band has two downsides: a limit on the number of audio tracks per song and no MIDI export. You can also control external hardware via MIDI controller.
Garage Band is still a powerful digital audio workstation and a highly professional tool. Garage Band is also the best free music-making software for beginners.
- All Macs Included Free
- It is very easy to use
- Pre-made upgrade paths
- There is no PC version
Cakewalk by BandLab (Windows)
Sonar rides once more, and it’s free version
One of the oldest digital audio workstations available, Cakewalk recently received a significant upgrade to its predecessor – Cakewalk Sonar. Bandlab purchased Gibson’s production and gave it away to music lovers.
Cakewalk is the most complete music production package. It offers unlimited tracks, advanced mixing and mastering tools, and 64-bit mix engines. The interface also supports Windows features like touch integration, pen calibration, and Surface Dial advances.
Bandlab is the best free music-making software available. This music-making software is free software for Windows only.
- Nothing is better than a complete DAW
- Skylight interface customizable
- Flexible ProChannel modules
- Version for Mac is not available
Tracktion Waveform (Mac OSX/Windows/Linux)
Tracktion Waveform is one of the most innovative business models available. Each year, the free music-making software is upgraded and the price of the previous model is reduced. Tracktion Waveform is the latest version.
The interface is just as intuitive as Garage Band but with more shine. It features unlimited audio and MIDI tracks, depending on your hardware capabilities. Additionally, it supports multiple plug-in formats like VST and Audio Units.
Each window can be scaled to fit your workflow, allowing for remarkable fluidity and linearity. Although not a free music-making software for beginners, it is still very accessible.
- The audio engine has been improved.
- Customizable workspace.
- There are three-tiered purchase price levels.
- More intuitive menus
- Context-sensitive assistance
- The steep learning curve in places.
AmpliTube Custom Shop (Mac/Windows)
AmpliTube Custom Shop allows you to express your creativity and add flair to your music with a guitar you already own. Although it is a stripped-down version, the fully functional guitar rig application comes with 24 models.
These include a chromatic tuner and nine stompboxes. There are also four amps, five mics, and two rack effects.
It’s the ideal tool for guitarists who want to record directly into their laptops. However, it also serves as a “try before you buy” option for anyone interested in getting the real deal.
The samples are excellent! IK Multimedia secured official guitar amp models from industry giants like Fender, Mesa Boogie, and Orange.
Bitwig Studio (Windows/Mac/Linux)
Is it seven years since Bitwig Studio’s first release? Although it has, it is still a relatively young DAW.
Bitwig has made much progress in the past few years. Bitwig is now known as the most innovative DAW on the market, and this has been despite the inevitable Ableton Live comparisons.
Version 4 is notable for the addition of comping, which is a very fundamental feature. The way it’s done is a typical ‘Bitwiggy-style’ approach. If you are looking for new ‘creative functionality,’ Operators will be a great option. They add a new dimension to the timing and how MIDI and audio events are triggered.
- Flexible modulation system
- Built-in modular environment
- Feature set that is truly forward-thinking
- Ableton Live casts a shadow…
PreSonus Studio One (Windows/Mac)
A DAW that is an “upstart” and now plays in the big league
Studio One has gained ground over the years and is now a DAW with absolute power and maturity. It not only matches its competitors in many respects but also surpasses them in a few.
Version 5 is a significant upgrade to the software, including a score editor and Clip Gain envelopes that allow for surgical region-based volume control. It’s an outstanding DAW, regardless of whether you’re a new user or an experienced musician.
With its responsive, modernist interface, smooth workflow, and innovative but relevant feature set, Studio One 5 truly represents state of art in virtual studio design.
- Excellent all-rounder
- Productive workflow
- Stable, mature, and modern
- An interface that is constantly busy can become overwhelming.
How to choose the best music making software
When choosing the best music production software, there are two important things to keep in mind.
The budget is the most critical factor in the music equipment guide. You would want it to last as an investment, just like your car.
Although there is much free music production software, it is best to save some money and find something you can use for the long term.
It is always a good idea to test the free tools before you buy the full-featured versions of these music production programs for Windows or Mac. Only then, make a purchase if you are completely satisfied.
Your Music Editing Experience
If you’re just getting started in music production, it’s not a good idea to get too obsessed with DAW terms. Pro Tools may be too complicated for you, so it might not make sense to invest. It would help if you started with an easy-to-understand tool for audio editing.
Expert-level music production software can make learning difficult and time-consuming. Pro Tools can be difficult for experienced players, but it is a great investment that will last a lifetime.
You can create high-quality music with the free music production software for Windows and Mac. It simplifies your job and produces professional-quality music. Choose the one that best suits your needs, and you can make amazing music. If you’re looking for more information on this topic, we hope that this article helps you clarify some things!