A lot of people ask us, maybe they’re absolute beginners and they haven’t purchased a DAW, or maybe they’re using a DAW and they’re questioning their DAW’s choice.
We get asked this all the time, and it’s a really popular question:
What DAW is the best DAW?
It’s a heated debate. People who are passionate about what they use to create with, obviously they’re going to have some strong feelings about that, so there’s whole shoot-outs and things on Gearslutz and Reddit about Logic versus Ableton and Pro Tools versus Logic, and FL Studio versus Qbase and Reason.
The answer to this question that we are going to give you is probably not a popular one, and the answer to this question is:
Whatever DAW you’re using, that’s probably the best one for you.
Now, the reason why we said that is because what you use to create as a human and as an individual is really dependent on personal taste and your choice, personal choice. You cannot empirically state “Logic is better than Pro Tools.” You cannot empirically state that Pro Tools is better than Ableton Live. You just can’t, because the way we gauge success in the music industry is by people consuming what we create with those DAWs, with those DAWs, and people who consume a high amount of music
Let’s say a SoundCloud playlist or a song has 500,000 listens or plays on Spotify,and it charted on iTunes. That song became successful. It doesn’t matter what DAW you used to create that song, because the end listener doesn’t care, so you can’t empirically state that one DAW is better than the other.
It’d be like stating that one type of paper is better than the other paper for a painter. It’s a stylistic choice. Some people can do amazing things in a DAW that blows our minds. The DAWs that we personally know how use are Logic, Ableton, FL Studio, Pro Tools, Cubase, Bitwig and other smaller DAWs. There’s a lot to be said about being very comfortable with something and mastering your DAWs, so the answer to the question of what’s the best DAW is it’s whatever DAW you’re using and that you’re comfortable with. Now if you just feel like you are always butting your head against a wall and you cannot create as free-flowingly as you want, then you might be using the wrong DAW.
Test out and demo major DAWs. We used Ableton. We tested the demo, and We liked elements of it. WE love simpler and sampler, but it’s ugly and it’s small, and we don’t like certain elements of the gooey, but I love how it sounds. We love the idea of the racks down below. We love a lot of Ableton Live, but we also love a lot of Logic, and so I told myself I’m not going to just switch and be like, “Okay, we’re done with Logic. Now, only on to Ableton.” We just use Ableton sometimes and see what happens. If we have a client or a project that we needed to finish, we’re going to use the DAW that we’re most comfortable in, versus Logic or Logic Pro X, so again, don’t overthink this, guys. It’s really simple.
If you’re happy creating in your DAW, we don’t care if Skrillex or whoever uses Ableton. Don’t care if we use Logic or if whoever uses Pro Tools or whatever. It doesn’t matter. If you’re getting good results, if your career is moving forward, if you’re getting good progress in your mixes and your sound, it doesn’t matter what you’re using. Don’t change your DAW choice just because someone else is using a DAW that you look up to.
Now, we want to talk about price points, because that’s important. If you’re just starting out and you’re trying to figure out what DAW to buy and maybe you’re using GarageBand or a free DAW, and I want to talk about the options out there, and there are many of them. There are Logic X, there’s Ableton, there’s FL Studio, there’s Qbase, there’s Pro Tools, there’s Reason, there’s Studio One, there’s Bitwig. That’s nine different choices and there are ones that I’m missing. There’s Sonar for Mac.
There is a solid probably 15 DAWs out there, and some of them are free and a lot of them are more expensive than others. In my opinion, you need to look at it like this: are you Mac-based or PC-based.
We’re Mac-based and I question that sometimes, but a lot of my stuff is Mac-based, and therefore, Logic is an option for me, and in my opinion, on a Mac, Logic is the most cost-effective DAW, and I don’t know if that’s opinion anymore, because it comes with so much stuff. Ableton Live, there’s three different versions. The full version is $799, $700. You can get student discounts. Logic is $199 and ever since Logic redid their plugin, they added some new plugins, and they included Alchemy, which used to be a $250 synth when Camo Audio existed before Apple bought it, for free. We don’t know what DAW gives you that bang for your buck, if you’re a Mac user, for $199. We did compare this. The lower prices points of Ableton, they don’t give you what you would get with Alchemy and some of the Apple loops and samples. You get everything. You get all the plugins, so the bang for the buck, We would say Logic is best, but sound quality, userability, gooey, that’s all personal taste. Some people love the sound of Logic. Some people hate it. Some people love the sound of Ableton. Some people hate it.
If you’re on a Mac, Logic X is a great option. It’s $199. If you’re not on a Mac and you’re doing EDM, hip hop pop type stuff, FL Studio, Ableton Live are great options. If you’re recording more of live band and you’re [inaudible 00:06:58] more mixing, more of a mix engineer, Pro Tools is great, because mixing in Pro Tools, it just makes sense. Other things don’t make as much sense on Pro Tools, like midi implementation, but it’s gotten a lot better, and then Qbase is this whole thing. Qbased confused the hell out of my when I used it, but you can do some really cool stuff. Studio One is another good DAW by Personas. Reason’s really fun. Guys, it really just depends what you feel comfortable with. Most of these DAW companies have demos now. Demo a DAW, see if you like it, move onto the next. You will find one that will click with you and resonate with you, and then you can look into the feature set, the price point and compare it against what you’re currently using.