Unless you’re thinking of taking a purely analogue approach to recording your music (which could get extremely expensive and space-consuming!) you’ll need to get your hands on a Digital Audio Workshop (DAW), which is the software that you’ll use to emulate a physical recording studio in your own home.
Whilst you don’t necessarily need a top of the range computer to run most of these DAWs, it helps to have as much computing power at your disposal as this will mean that you’ll have the scope to create projects with multiple layers and depth. If you really have to use an old or underpowered computer then you may find that building large projects could prove difficult.
If you’re running on a small budget then it might be wise to start off with free software (such as Apple’s , so that you can afford the other tools you’ll need to round out your recording setup.
The following DAWs are just a small selection of the market, you might want to experiment with trial versions to figure out which one is best for you before taking the plunge:
Formerly known as ‘Fruity Loops’, FL Studio has been a long-time favourite for electronic and hip-hop producers, but it also lends itself well to producers working in other genres. At around £180, this is one of the more affordable DAWs out there which is also pretty easy to pick up.
Best for: Mid-range budgets and folks who want to make beat-focused tunes.
PC-owners can skip this piece of software as it’s available for Mac only. Originally created in the 90s, its gone through many iterations over the years and is widely-considered to be one of the best DAWs for Mac owners. At £200, this is a relatively affordable bit of software that is perfect for Mac owners.
Best for: Mac-owners looking for a versatile DAW.
One of the oldest DAWs out there, Cubase is a great piece of software for all levels and offers great tools for composing, sequencing, beat making, and recording. The downside? To access all of Cubase’s tricks you’ll have to splash out and eye-watering £480, whilst there are cheaper options available, you might hamper yourself with the basic versions.
Best for: Committed producers who don’t mind making a large initial investment.
Pro Tools turns 30 this year and is now in its 12th stable state. It’s a nifty bit of kit that is pretty simple to pick up and use, however (like all DAWs) it does take a good bit of time to master. In terms of payment you can choose to either subscribe or pay out right, the financial options are a little complex but this article (https://www.pro-tools-expert.com/home-page/2018/2/8/buying-pro-tools-which-is-better-perpetual-license-or-rental-subscription ) does a good job of explaining it.
Best for: In depth users who want to make full use of their recording spaces.
For those producers who are looking to get stuck into some live producing, Ableton Live might well be the best DAW to opt for. Although not the most easy to use piece of software, once you’ve got to grips with the UI you’ll be able to record, mix and compose on the fly. There are three versions available at £69, £319 and £539. Whilst the mid-range option is perfectly serviceable for beginners, most producers will quickly outgrow the basic package.
Best for: Would-be performers who are looking to take their setup mobile.
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