Choice of audio recording software otherwise called DAW – digital audio workstation - is wide. Selecting the best one for you can be a little befuddling task, especially you are new to DAWs. Top-ranked audio recording software applications have a lot of similar functionality to offer. Most serious DAWs now cover all prime areas - instruments, effects, audio tracking, pitch shifting, MIDI programming and so on. However, some have specific strengths compared to the others which could be a deciding factor. The kind of audio production requirement you have can take advantage of some specific strength a DAW has, for example Ableton Live and FL Studio are good choices for people who make EDM – electronic dance music and loops music. Although the workflow in professional DAWs is comparable, workstations can have focus on different areas mixing and mastering, liver performances, creating musical ideas, MIDI editing and so on.
How Much Can You Spend?
Most top-notch DAWs usually come with and entry level, probably a limited edition and a full feature version. Many bestselling DAW brands have come up with fully functional free versions as well. If you are a beginner, you may very well be able to start with a free version which may be basic with limited options, but does the job. Most cases the quality of audio processed by these free versions of leading DAWs are equally as compared to the full version ones. If you are looking for a lot of plugins and features, then the free or basic versions may not work. Match your requirements with what the different versions of DAWs can offer.
Portability of Projects
If you have any requirement of moving part of your project or complete project between your home studio and other studios, you need to look at the capabilities of your DAW to handle exporting and importing projects. If you’re working between studios and transporting hard drives around, it makes sense to get the same DAW they’re using in the other studio, so you can open raw project data wherever you are. Some DAWs also support exchange formats like OMF and AAF which make it a little easier to move projects between different systems. It may be a good idea to know what is the popular DAW in studios in and around you, you may be working with.
DAW for Your Requirement
Most important thing is to check which DAW offer maximum features to address your requirement. If you are only producing electronic loop music, you need to focus the capabilities of the DAW handling this area. No point in getting a DAW with sophisticated pitch correction and vocal enhancement features. Likewise, you are only recording documentary voiceover tracks, you may not require MIDI programming features at all. Often, lower version of DAW software comes with limitations on the maximum number of tracks, and probably the bit rate at which the audio can be recorded. When making a choice, it is helpful to get an overview of the workflow, ease of operation, user interface design.
DAW Brand – A Personal Choice
There are endless discussions on which is the best DAW. As said earlier, most top-notch DAW applications have comparable features and relatively similar workflow. Also, many DAW software have option to sort of mimic popular DAW workflow and keyboard shortcuts to make easy for customer to switch. If you are new to digital audio workstation software, there is a reasonable amount of learning you need to do. Your proficiency is one big factor contributing to ease of operation of your DAW. That said, in many ways the DAW you work with comfortably will become your personal choice and if it can do what you require reasonably well, you may not think of switching. That make sense to me. So, do your homework well if you are making a decision for your first digital audio workstation. Nearly all DAWs are giving a 30 day trial version free. This is a great opportunity to have a feel of it and get fist hand experience how it works. I would highly recommend that you try it out for a month before you make your final decision.