Best Recording SoftwareWhat is the best recording software for the home studio?

That is a great question. It is also very important to address. Let me refer to my last few posts. I have shared several thoughts in a general overview, regarding the creation of the home music studio.

We've talked about the studio space and how to create stations for the sources we intend to record. Now let's take a deeper look at the primary tool for the recording process itself. As previously mentioned there are essentially two types of recording options for the home studio. The first is recording directly to a computer, and the second is to record with a stand-alone unit such as a hard disk recorder.

My personal choice is to use a combination of software and hardware to record directly to a computer. This type of studio setup is called a digital audio workstation or DAW for short. In future posts I will share my suggestions for the hardware side of things, but for now let's talk about the best recording software for the home studio.

Now I know some of you may be ready to instantly disagree here, giving 20 reasons why my software picks are wrong. So before I give you my reasons why, let me give you the simple answer to our original question.

The best software for home recording is the software that meets your budget, can produce your project goals, and one you're able to learn how to use.

I know you might be thinking, "what a cop-out."  Now that you know my answer, let me explain why I believe it to be true. The home music studio is about creating a place to capture musical expression for the purpose of sharing it with others. There are many different options to do exactly that.

Some of the best recording software is completely free. Other software can cost you hundreds of dollars. In either case, your budget is the first thing that matters. Secondly, can the software produce and meet your project goals? If free recording software meets your budget and is sufficient for meeting your project goals, then you have the best recording software for your specific situation.

In the same token, just because you've paid hundreds of dollars for software does not mean you will have a professional sounding project. The rule of thumb here is relative to your budget and goals as well as your understanding of the software you're recording with. If you don't know how to use the software you have, costly or not, it's of little value to you.

Now to be fair let me say that there still is an industry standard option when it comes to the best recording software in the studio.

The one that comes to mind is Avid Pro Tools. Pro Tools has certainly been one of, if not the most, popular DAW recording solution around. Is Pro Tools the best option for your home music studio needs? That is a question only you can answer. I will say that if your budget allows, Avid does have some great options that are certainly worth looking into.

If I am going to recommend any software out right Pro Tools would certainly be on the list. An entry-level Pro Tools bundle with a limited edition software version starts around $120.00. Though I'm personally not a big fan of software limitations at this price range. However if you want to spend the money too see what Pro Tools is like, this is one way to do so.

In many ways Pro Tools has created the look, functionality, and feel of the DAW that many other software manufactures emulate in their own products. That said, Pro Tools is not the only Recording Software that can get the job done well. Now days, that are many other options that can produce the same quality recordings with many of the same features as Pro Tools, yet for a fraction of the price.

Here is a list of other recording software options (not all but a few) that are worth investigating as well.

Adobe Audition (Free, Fully Functional 30 Day Trial)

Ardour (100% free, but only runs on Linux and Mac and is best for the tech savvy person)

Cakewalk's Sonar X3 Producer (Free Trial available)

Steinberg's Cubase Elements (Free Trial available)

Sony's Sound Forge (Free Trial available)

Reaper (Download Free)

Let me summarize the answer to our question. What is the best software for home recording? Know that one of the most popular industry standard option today "might be" Pro Tools. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a better option for you personally. If you don't have the budget for Pro Tools (or just want to use something else) then try looking into one of the free or more affordable options above. Personally...

I currently use and would highly recommend Reaper for the most affordable, full featured software for home recording.

If you do have a reasonable budget to work with (around $300), you might consider  Cakewalk's Sonar X3 Producer. X3 Producer comes with many virtual instruments and is packed with tons of features for this budget range. Either way, find a program that fits your budget and needs that you're able to learn at whatever your level of experience with home music recording.

Have you tried any of the software I've listed? Do you have another option I didn't list? What do you consider to be the best recording software. I'd love to hear your thoughts so please add them to the comments section below.

    173 replies to "Best Recording Software"

    • Junius Perry

      I have a Focusrite 2i4, a pair of Yamaha HS8’s, and I’m learning Reaper. I’m only two weeks into the art. Your information is very helpful!

    • jason palmer

      Sonar out of Business….
      I been using sonar for 15 yrs…sucks, i loved that software…been looking for a decent replacement, thats how i stumbled on this site…looks like reaper is going to take sonar s place for me…not as aesthetically pleasing, but just as powerful for sure…I’m glad I cut my teeth on the visuals tho, now I kno what all those value digits are for and what they do…still, bummer to see sonar go….RIP

      • David

        Take a look at the Reaper skins, they’re are many that are visually pleasing :)

    • Robin

      Coming from an analogue background (still have my Fostex B-16 tape machine with a 16 channel mixing board) but just getting into this digital stuff. Tried a few demo versions of DAWs, including Ableton Lite, Cubase, Sonar Platinum etc. but couldn’t really come to grips with them. Tried Tracktion as well as that came as a freebie with a piece of hardware but again had a few problems with it. Now I’ve been trying Reaper for a few days and have just purchased a licence and working my way through their massive series of tutorials. I have an Alesis Q49 midi keyboard hooked to my PC and am using a Behringer UMC204HD audio interface. Everything hooked up to a pair of Yamaha NS10 monitors.
      Currently using Reaper to clean up and split wav files produced from my old (100 years) pedal bellows organ to build a virtual instrument to plugin to Reaper, so the learning curve is huge….

    • Leo Henderson

      Well I’ve actually used the sonar x3 for a good while now, . veerrryy intuitive, lots of great features, good quality . . But like maybe a month ago I switched to Presonus Studio 1 V3. It comes with higher grade plug-ins and effects. . .Its not as intuitive as SX3, but the quality is a little better. Dont Know if its the software itself OR because Im also using a Presonus Interface. Thought maybe the matching brands had something to do with it {Lol} Anyways Im enjoying your videos. They’re opening my eyes to a good bit of things I wasnt doing in my mastering phase in my studio. . . Thanks A LOT!!!

    • John

      I tried using Cubase with a Steinberg USB interface. Problem is it kept having conflicts with Windows 10. Finally support told me it wasn’t fully tested in Windows 10 yet so I had to find another way. I’m using a Tascam Digital studio now and it’s got limited functionality but I’m a beginner.

    • Clark Martin

      I recently downloaded Anvil Studio – it’s free. Have not had a chance to use it yet. Do you have any comments?

      • David

        Thanks for the question Clark, I’ve honestly never even heard of it so I really don’t have much to comment on it. ;)

    • Jason

      Hey David — I agree 100% with your comment about the best software being what’s best for you. Today’s DAWs are so incredibly flexible, and almost all of them can do things we could never dream of doing just a few years back! Really appreciate you sharing your insights here…


    • jeffrey

      hello David. I have Reaper on my PC Laptop. my keyboard ( Casio CDP230R)
      is connected to my PC by USB and so is my focusrite 2i4. I just bought
      Kontakt 5. how do I get Kontakt to work with Reaper. Also would it be better to connect my keyboard to my Focusrite using an instrument cable.
      As you can tell i’m just starting to connect everything and i’m not sure Thanks for your help.

      • David

        Either way you connect it is fine. However, as with any DAW, once its connected, you’ll have to enable the midi device. In Reaper goto Options–>Preferences–>Audio–>Midi devices. In most cases you should see your device listed, just click on it and enable it. Then when you insert a new virtual instrument, you should be able to trigger it’s sound via the keyboard.

    • Riley Savage

      Hi, I use :logic Pro X mainly. I also have used Garageband, Mixcraft 6 and cubase. I have Cubasis installed on my iPad, plus FLstudio, I have also used Adobe Audition, which I have as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. I use a lot of apps on iPad and iPhone to songwriter, using arpepeggiators and various virtual innstruments. I have used software instruments on the iMac with a midi, using Logics software instruments. Alchemy in Logic is very good. I do play guitar and piano at a basic level. what I am trying to do now is to improve my piano and guitar playing for a more stripped down feel to my recordings. I have played both instruments on recordings that I have done, but feel they are inferior to the ones I can make with software instruments. I want to improve to the point where my own playing is as good as what I can achieve with software instruments. I use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 2nd gen audio interface. I use a Blue Yeti pro mike with this, as it has an XLR function as well as being a USB mike. I also have an Apogee 96K mic that I can use with the iPad. The Blue Yeti is better, and much enhanced by using it as an XLR with the Scarlett interface, than as a USB mike. I personally find adding drums to my tracks the trickiest thing. Not being a drummer, it is more difficult than adding a bass, or other instrument with midi. Tried using drummer in Logic but it never seems to fit my song. Another reason to improve my own playing and make tracks that are more stripped back and don’t need drums!

    • Tom "Ketchfish" Inglis

      Thanks David and all the posters for the great input. I’m just starting a new project and I think I’ve decided to go with Reaper. I’ve used it in the past successfully to flesh out some originals, do some band demo recordings and add new tracks to existing live recordings to sweeten them up. This time, I’m a bit more ambitious with a 10 song original project intended for release. I’ve got a fairly anemic Win 10 laptop I’m dedicating to the project and recently acquired a Tascam US-1800 I’m going to try out with it.

      I’ve used Reaper with some really low horsepower computers and, while a bit slow in rendering, it’s plowed on through and gotten the job done. Since I don’t expect huge sales, the $60 license is quite reasonable and in my genre, blues/blues based rock, everything I need to get a solid master is there and relatively simple to use. I’ve played with it all in previous versions of Reaper and from what I’ve seen in the guide for the current build, it’ll be more efficient in this one. My plan/budget puts me turning a profit at about the 200 unit mark without taking digital downloads into account. I own the music and I’ve cut deals with the other contributing musicians to accept a percentage of net for a limited time in lieu of performance fees.

    • John

      I have used Pro Tools Le 8,9,10 and I like Pro Tools but my projects mostly contain Vocals so I tried Studio One and haven’t went back. The integration with Melodyne is amazing!! No rewire needed. They are getting better and better with studio One and Pro Tools key commands work as well. One piece of equipment that has been essential too is a good pre-amp (external) of course budget is a concern for that. However I use audacity for a lot of projects related to the church. Not music but recording lessons and just voice-overs. Like you said all you need is what the project requires!! I started with cakewalk many years ago but haven’t tried it in years. Nuendo is another that I hear from a real pro engineer with 5 Grammies under his belt is amazing. These days daws are advancing so fast it’s hard to get used to one upgrade and then another comes out. My only problem with computer software is I have a Mac and when a new OS comes out I have to wait for a while before I upgrade because plugins and even the software isn’t supported right away. Good info here thanks everyone!!

    • Steven

      Hi i use Mixcraft 7 Homestudio Is This A Daw To use and if so are there any vsts that would be great for vocal recording?

      • Phc Llc Tunz

        We use MC7 Pro Studio (As we indicated earlier) and one of our Favorite VST’s for use with Vocal Recording is a FREE VST from J-Hud-Studio called Vocal-King V. 1-1 ( It really does bring out the vocals in a mix. And of course iZotope VocalSynth (Surprisingly, it’s not 2 expensive : ) is another good choice for creativity concerning vocals.

        Hope This Is Of Help.

        PhcLlc Tunx Memberz

    • neil

      I’m in the Logic Pro X camp – started using it when our bassplayer started using it for our band recordings – but he’s not very technical so I took over the recording engineering and such.

      If I wasn’t already invested in using Logic – which has some mighty capabilities including great compressors, and multitudes of world class virtual instruments (of which I probably use two or three a month :D ) – then I’d seriously look at Reaper. But all that said, depending on how many instruments you have to invest in – Logic may actually be competitively priced. And if you hit their ‘commercial’ level, Logic is less expensive.

      One nice thing is if you come from Garageband, Logic will feel familiar, but there’s so much more that opens up when you get further into it, routing, VCA’s, groups, automating pretty much anything you want to, greatly expanded virtual instruments and so on.

      I am still mostly a DIY / Hobbyist but have done a fair amount of recording over the years (3 albums of so so music) trying out this and that. I’ve used ProTools in the past – but to get the real deal is so expensive and if not ‘working with’ other studios can’t justify it. I’ve also used Cuebase and Ableton Live (which really seems is for creating beats or performing live, but not a great album creator.)

      • Todd

        reaper is the new way to max out,your setup because of the small app size tiny footprint ,so know the cpus man and have fun. GoodPressRecording.seattle wa

        • doug henderson

          I LOVE REAPER

      • Wayne Wright

        I am trying Music Maker MX premium, this is the first time ever trying to record with software,it seems confusing but maybe it takes some getting use to. What do you think,maybe this isn’t good at all I don’t know. All im looking for is to make my own songs, I play the guitar ,got the Trio Band Creator to put in the drums and the bass,just need some vocals and keep trying, am I on the right track.

        • David

          Truthfully Wayne, I’ve never heard of Music Maker. My personal preference is still however, that doesnt mean that Music Maker is not good, just means I have no experience with it.

    • Carlton Melson

      Hi Dave. I have everything on your list except for Adour, Ive never heard of it. Ive been a musician since 1978. When my last band broke up in 2000 I learned about using computers for music. My first DAW was Acid 1.0 and I learned about loops. It was new territory for me and I thought it was the coolest thing….lol. I made loop based music with Acid for about 10 years before I decided to try something different. I like what you said about software. Ive learned over the years everything does basically the same thing with their own unique personalities. It just depends on what your comfortable with. I focus mainly on writing with midi and creating my own loops these days just for the fun of it. My main goal is composing teaching myself how to master. I use FL Studio to write parts, Ableton to put my tracks together and mix, and Reaper to Master. Sound Forge is a good tool but I suggest using Acid Pro 7 instead. It does everything Sound Forge does and more. Plus its a whole lot easier to edit with and also does just about everything your favorite DAW is capable of. This will keep your learning curve low. I liked your first vid and am looking forward to more. I never thought of using a reference track before. I like that idea.

    • John

      Hey Dave, I have been using Garageband for about five years, and though I still consider myself pretty much a novice at home recording and I’m not a very technical guy, I have managed to become pretty comfortable with it and have turned out some decent demo recordings. But I would like to move beyond the demo stage and actually produce commercial quality recordings of my music. I noticed there were not many mentions of GB in the comments so far and was wondering what your thoughts on it were with respect to commercial grade recordings. Also, if I wanted to switch to a different software do you know if the files are transferable from GB to other DAW packages? BTW, I am new to your posts and videos and really appreciate what you are doing and look forward to learning a lot from you.

      • David

        Welcome aboard John ;), so GarageBand is no where near as robust as Reaper, Studio One, or any other of the many full fledged DAW out there today. Can you do a lot with it? Sure as you’ve mentioned and it may be good to get started to some degree. However, the limitations of plugins, routing, and other features make it something not worth while over the long run.

        If your garage band files are exported into .wav than yes any other daw can read the files but these would have to be the individual tracks and not the project files themselves.

        • neil

          Garageband is actually pretty amazing for a ‘free’ application – no it doesn’t have any kind of bus routing, but it does use pretty much any AU plugin and does run 24bit recording. If you’re a singer songwriter or rootsy kind of musician with three instrumental tracks, three mic drum recording, and a vocal track or two – it’s perfectly capable of creating good recordings.

          And its easier than many applications for recording.

    • Jack

      I’ve been using Mixcraft on and off for years. Have 7 Pro now. Lots of virtual instruments, incl a excellent piano, lots of effects, VERY EASY TO learn and use I think and VERY affordable.

      • PhcLlc Tunz Memberz

        We agree here. We Use MixCraft 7 Pro (We Fondly To It As MC In Our Correspondences) & Just Love It’s Ease Of Use across the board. And Acoustica Has Come A Loooooong Way Since They First Released MC. And Believe it or not, they have done a good job of listening to what their users want in a DAW.

        The MC Pro Version Definitely has some POWER Stuff in it, & isn’t too expensive either. Worth a look we think. : )

        PhcLlc Tunz Memberz

    • Aaron Sowell

      I’m using maschine 2.3 and exporting it to Adobe audition I must say after coming from using hardware ,Mpc. Asr ,
      I was amazed at how user friendly these are.
      Got a free copy of studio one with the interface that I bought , I just can’t seem to get my arm around this, my maschine controller won’t sync as well as my axiom 61 it looks like a killer daw but I’m very frustrated with the process
      Any suggestions

      • David

        Sorry Aaron, the Maschine is one thing I’ve not used yet.

    • Dave Patrick

      Hey David
      I’m pretty old school when it comes to the DAW….I worked with a guy who had a quad core 64 bit laptop, with Sonar, and it worked great, but it was his rig. And…there was a bug in the app, where it would freeze.

      I’d like to do PC recording, and it sounds like reaper is the place to start.

      Maybe you could give me direction with your experience….
      -how powerful a PC would I need…2gig processor, 2 gig memory? (Overhead can choke a PC)
      -use a m-audio for USB interface?
      -does the reaper have built in effects? (Like lexicon, quadraverb, tc electronic)
      And can you record dry, but also hear your effects?

      -about midi
      Does reaper have built in sounds, like piano, bass, sax, percussion, strings? Can new sounds be added?
      I have guitar with Roland GK2 pickup…it would be great to bypass the GR1 pedal, and go direct to PC, to lay down midi…is there a box that does that?
      For punching in/out….I’m ok with an old school foot pedal for punches…is there such a midi device…or, is it better to just program the app for the in/out times?
      For drum triggering….a drum machine is intuitive…had a Roland DR 660….what’s the best way to lay down drums…get some kind of drum trigger pad?
      My Roland GR1 has some great sounds…does Roland make plugins of those sounds? Or, would I need to do a midi feed to it, with an outboard mix, going to another recording device? What a pain…..



      • David

        So Reaper is only $60. It comes with most any FX, EQ, compressors, etc that you’d need. However, it does not come with virtual instruments. My personal preference is to buy only what I need and use. This is one reason I love Reaper. it has all the tools I need but the instruments I buy on my own and get exactly what I want. I use and recommend any of the XLN Audio Products for the best piano/organ, drums virtual instruments around.

        For punching in/out? There may be a midi control that could do this but I find that it much more accurate to do so in the software itself, and/or to simply record multiple takes. Reaper allows you to record multiple takes per single track and select the one you want to use in the end without destroying the other.

        For me, aside from playing drums from an electronic kit, the next best way to build drums tacks is through the drop/drag functions of a good drum VSTi like Addictive Drums 2.


    • Steve (Renotunez) Terry

      I recently stumbled on to your YouTube videos and have to say I am impressed. Thank you for sharing! I am a bassist primarily, with limited keyboard and guitar chops. Both of our DAW systems are fairly similar in what we use and have compiled over the last few years. I like Reaper, but am a novice at best. However, you shared some techniques and features in the software that I have used recently. They have already added dimension to some songs I had written and recorded 10 years ago. I lost them for a few years and I am glad I have found them again so I can finish them to complete my album project. I plan to use these tracks as a map to re-record the parts, master them, and then release my project in a small way, mainly to friends and family. I was retired from playing for about 6-8 years but for the last 2 years I have played bass/sing in my church’s worship band. It is a great band and I am blessed to be apart of it. The players all have inspired me again to dust off my cobwebs. Played professionally for 20+ years, and was retired for 10. Many of these other players in our worship band are 1/2 to 1/3rd my age but it does not seem to matter. Age range is 20-61 and we rock!! Humbly stated. This situation has inspired me to write again and to do some production on my home studio. This worship situation has gotten me to bring in harmony along with playing bass because we lost a great female vocalist recently and each of us has had to start to sing more in support of the lead vocalist. The last 2-3 weeks have been incredible! We have gotten 3 & 4 part harmonies and the band is starting to sound like 1 unit of sound, tight and strong. Now it has been giving me more things I hear in my head and the inspiration to pull these things I hear together and record……With that being said, you also have been apart in inspiring me to get off my duff. I have enjoy what you share on Youtube and how you get things put down. After hearing one of your 25+ track songs in one of your videos demoing a Reaper technique, and then seeing what you were using to do all of that with last night on a different video. Very impressive!! Our kits are very close in what we use to record ( my kit = decent Laptop, USB mixer, decent guitars-(LP, 335, Strat… none high mind mind you), decent condenser and dynamic mics each for different purposes, Reaper software, some soft synths, and mastering plugins, Alesis QS6.2 keyboard, M-Audio Ozone midi keyboard controller/audio interface, ART Dual Pre USB interface, AV40 monitors with a subwoofer, 6 string “jazz bass” style bass guitar, small 5-15 watt all tube amps for recording guitars, bass and organ sounds, etc, etc.) I have all I need! Now it is time to start to record and stop buying what I THINK I NEED to start my recording. Thank you again for your part in inspiring me!! EAS is over, (Equipment Acquisition Syndrome!!! It was fun while I had the time and money!LOL) Also, sometimes I can get hung up on the recording/production/mixing/mastering learning curves and that is where you and a few others have helped me. I am planning a mix of audio recording of the voices and instruments and using midi to put the drum tracks and keyboard tracks together. Your presentations have been the easiest for me to grasp a hold of, so…Again, Thank you my friend!!! Steve

      • David

        Thanks for the feedback Steve, glad to have inspired you a bit. ;)

    • Marco Klaassen

      I started out waaaay back with Logic when it was still available for the PC.
      But when Steinberg came with the VSTs I started with Cubase and although there are so many DAWs out there my favorite DAW is still Cubase. I’m amazed by the possibilities it offers and I like the workflow.
      I use UAD2 plugins and a few other special plugins, like soundtoys, some Slate Digital plugins and stuff from Izotope and of course the native Cubase plugins.
      But nothing can beat the Lexicon 224 reverb from UAD, it gives me an instant Bladerunner vibe.
      But there comes a time you have enough. How many comps or EQs do you need? Plugins have become like apps for a tablet. Every month new ones come out and even if they are free how many do you need?
      I compose and produce Jarre/Vangelis and The Crystal Method/The Chemical Brothers/Trance kinda music.

      I can’t speak for all the others but I choose Cubase and have been working with it for years. I find it a disaster to switch over to a different DAW. I tried Sonar but I just don’t have the patience to learn all the ins and outs of a new DAW.
      I know some have great features that are not available in others or you have to create work arounds to get the same effect.
      But I haven’t come across a feature Cubase couldn’t handle yet and I don’t understand why some people have the need to be so negative about another DAW, different from the one they use.
      Just pick your DAW, work with it and if it works for you, great.

      If you use 5 different DAWs to get to the end result, well that’s the way you work.
      One thing I really dislike is how companies collaborate with a particular DAW and even integrate functions of a controller especially for that DAW. I used to be a great fan of Novation controllers but since they started to force ambleton live on you I will never purchase a Novation controller again.
      If I have the dough for it I want to upgrade my Komplete 8 to 10 and get myself a Komplete Kontrol S88 series.

      But alas, I’m still recovering from a severe heart attack I had 4 months ago, hence this late message.
      I finally stepped into my studio last week for the first week since 5 months and after installing Gigabytes of updates for Windows, Viruskillers, etc I still need to update all my audio stuff and sort out the +2545 emails I have and unpack all the sample packs I downloaded 5 or 6 months ago.
      I use my two iPads in my studio as well. It’s great how powerful these things have become and I use one of them as a mixer controller for Cubase, it works great.
      I hope I can continue with my debut album soon but my cardiologist told me it will take at least a year before I will be able to say everything is “normal” again.
      I wish you all a healthy and successful future, be creative and have fun!
      Your life can change in a blink of an eye, trust me.

    • Larry Sakld

      I’d be open to trying other DAWs like Reaper, but like others here, longtime PC user, when everyone I know uses a MAC w / Logic Pro, I have stuck w/ Sonar (Pro currently as it was just 19.99 for 12 months), well worth it and the new bells & whistles are incredible. That said, I use a vast amount of 3rd party vsts (2.4 & 3, 32 & 64bit) and rarely fails me, though aren’t all software buggy (homebuilt Win 10 64bit w/ digital drives)!

    • G Clausen

      I use Logic for theatre sound design. It is extremely fast for on demand adjustments.

      In my studio, however, I use Pro Tools. The workflow and interface fit the workflow I’m used to, but the main reason is because it is pretty much ubiquitous. I can take my Glyph to almost any studio and record or mix on existing projects without any issues.

    • G'trail Lot

      Yes I’d have to say to anybody that thinks that pro-tool is the best studio recording software for industry quality requirements for your music. This is not true, how i know is, my son uses pro-tools and he told me one day (Listening to my DAW called Reaper) that my song has the same if not better quality sound as his recordings on his pro-tools. Maybe thats because i have a friend that has very good skills of mixing sounds etc at his job with Disney for 37 year’s in Burbank. Yeah i learned a lot in the two (2) year’s of recording with Reaper from him. Like David said basically… “No matter what software you use, doesn’t mean that you’re gonna get high quality sound out of it. It takes learning your DAW very well for what you expect out of it, and for that budget my personal preference out of them all is… “REAPER”!!

      • Glen

        I’ve gotta agree. After using Cakewalk and Cubase way back when, and Logic more recently, I’ve gotta say I’m blown away by REAPER. First, the price is unbeatable (Cockos donated my license because I use it for charitable work—how cool is that?), you can customize literally EVERYTHING, the included plugins have some amazing features that some very pricey plugins lack, it’s cross-platform, completely portable (you can install and run it from a thumb drive and bring with you anywhere with all your settings and customizations intact), there are tons of free resources (like actions, extensions, etc.), it’s easy enough for amateurs to start using right away, but powerful enough for use in any professional environment, but, the killer feature is the online support community. You can ask anything and get an answer within minutes. That, and the fact that the developers are amazing, make this the app to beat, IMO. It is lacking a little in the automation department, but there are workarounds to do just about anything, and the developers are hardcore. In a year or two, it’ll be head and shoulders above the rest of the DAWs, so I feel really good about investing my time and energy to learn it inside and out. Embrace the REAPER! You’ll love it!

        • David

          Hi Glen, I agree with your comments with one pushback. Reaper can automate most anything, in fact, much more automation features are in Reaper than most any other DAW out there today. ;) Thanks for the comment!

          • Eugene

            Hi David am very new to music software and I want to setup my own DAW. Can you please give me ideas and what things I need to be able to setup.


    • John Taglieri

      I was a SONAR user for many years…8 versions. I switched 2 years ago to PreSonus StudioOne Pro and WOW…couldnt be happier. Easy workflow, great sounds, great plug in, nearly zero latency…just a killer DAW…

      Check it out!

    • Kenny

      I have put together a 4 piece band. I recently purchased a Behringer XR18 and am now looking for the right DAW for my windows laptop, or my ipad air2. I’m not looking to produce professional music, I just want to record my band at rehearsals and at live shows to put on our website and for promotional purposes. Perhaps at some point a promotional CD or better. Any ideas without breaking the bank?

      • David

        Hands down look at and using your laptop.

        • Kenny

          Thanks David I’ll do that. ANy thoughts on Tracktion 4? It came as a free download with the XR18

          • David

            Depends on how much you want to do with it. There are a lot of DAW’s out there I’m not a fan of limited versions as when you grow in your knowledge and ability than you also have to upgrade your DAW. Thus why I suggest looking at Reaper, it can be as entry level or professional quality as you want to use it for. You can also use it for free until you get used to it some and then purchase for $60. Well worth it to me.

    • Don Richard

      I’ve been using Mark of the Unicorn’s Digital Performer since it was strictly a MIDI sequencer back in the early 80s for the Mac Plus. Love it, but that might be because I’m so used to it. Every now and then I’ll need to look something up in the manual and wonder how it would be for me if I was just starting with the program now, the manual is at least 4 times thicker than the original. I’m surprised no one else mentioned it, it was one of the first DAWs ever released.

    • Caleb

      In 2000 I started out with Cubase but had a problem connecting 2 keyboards together on 2 different channels so I decided to use Mackie Tracktion and it worked well but as they started to update the program it wasn’t as user friendly as it use to be so I switched to Studio One and I highly recommend that over most others! You can use the Demo or purchase it from Guitar Center for $99.

    • Josa Rasheed

      I use a variety ,Logic, Pro tools , Cubase, Reaper, Studio One,and Mix Buss,, cause some clients likes the different functionality,,and sound of the DAW

      • David

        Thanks for the comment Josa, now day there really are a lot of options right. Have a great weekend!

    • Pedro

      Why is there no mention of Ableton? Is that not good? Guitar center carries that as well as some others that are not mentioned.

      • David

        Hi Pedro, there is no mention of Ableton because there are like 500 different DAW’s and I couldn’t possibly remember them all. Ha ha ;). I’m sure I left out several to be honest but these were the ones that came to mind at the time of me writing this post. The ones I’ve mentioned are DAW’s that I’ve had personal experience with or someone I know has and it by no means an all inclusive list, just something to get you headed in the right direction.

        Thanks for the comment.


    • Walter Potter

      I’ve been learning Logic Pro X 10.1.1 and for $200 it is incredible what all it can do. It is definitely worth checking out if you have a Mac. If you have an iPad you can connect via Logic Pro Remote if you are on the same wireless network which means you do the basic recording functions remotely OR use the iPad as a control surface OR use the iPad to play the virtual instruments. Logic Pro will also work with all of Garage Band’s virtual instruments and you can work in Garage Band then send it over to Logic Pro for more work if you want.

      Plus if you have a newer Mac you have the Thunderbolt connection and many audio devices are coming out to utilize that faster port.

    • Muhamedali

      I use Presonus Studio One Pro. It is a young, but very powerfull DAW. You can of course track everything at the same time.

    • Mark Scott

      I been using Pro Tools 11 for about a year and I am enjoying it. I use Garage Band and Logic Pro also. I sometimes record with Logic Pro and send it to Pro Tools for further mixing and editing but love Pro Tools. I also use Native Instruments Maschine Micro for recording beats and samples. For 400.00 it’s a great mpc style studio with plenty of sounds and samples. I then send it to Pro Tools to finish the project. I enjoyed you info on compression. Great stuff. Mark ” Roc B”Scott

      • David

        Thanks for sharing Mark!

    • mark

      i started on a free version of sonar 8.5 that came with my first usb audio interface. i liked it but the free version had track and plugin limitations i outgrew.
      i found REAPER to be an easy enough transition; especially with its online support and forum community. i have also tried cubase because it came with my second interface i purchased. it’s a fine option but as a free version it had similar limitations as the version of sonar i had. and when studio one artist was on sale for five dollars i grabbed it. but didn’t like it at all. i also picked up harrison mixbus for twenty dollars on sale. i wanted to like it but it’s just okay. what makes me like or dislike a daw is how well it works for my natural workflow. REAPER is customizable and has a fantastic online support community. and their free trial is fully functional. only a nag screen reminding you that you should purchase if you continue to use after the 60 day trial. at $60 for an amateur license or $225 for a commercial license there’s no reason not to take a chance and not fear the REAPER.

    • achraf

      thanks a lot my bro for that

      • David

        Not a problem and happy to help. ;)

    • Kirk

      I don’t know if this posted, so please excuse the duplicity:

      Well, I’ve been using Studio One 2 now since my post back in February and all I can say is WOW! Well, that’s not all I can say. I can’t believe how deep this goes. I still have huge respect for Sonar (and the new Platinum version looks to be leaps and bounds beyond X3). I believe I have been converted. I was using one of the chains on my Main out last night and the song just came alive. Albeit, my mix was crap, but hearing the results instilled motivation and inspiration I didn’t realize I could achieve. I am convinced that this DAW will be what I use from here on in.

    • Kirk

      Well, I’ve been using Studio One 2 now since my post back in February and all I can say is WOW! Well, that’s not all I can say. I can’t believe how deep this goes. I still have huge respect for Sonar (and the new Platinum version looks to be leaps and bounds beyond X3). I believe I have been converted. I was using one of the chains on my Main out last night and the song just came alive. Albeit, my mix was crap, but hearing the results instilled motivation and inspiration I didn’t realize I could achieve. I am convinced that this DAW will be what I use from here on in.

    • Kirk

      I have been using Cakewalk products forever. Although I have tried other recording software programs, I always find myself back with Sonar as my recording software. At one time I owned a Fostex VF-160 digital hard disk recorder and recorded several songs on it (and although I’m no pro mixer / masterer, I still enjoy listening to them) Unfortunately, I had to sell it; but hey, moving on. I would then transfer the waves to my PC and work more with them in Sonar (a workflow that worked well for me). I find Sonar intuitive. I had a lite version of Cubase (v.4 I believe) that came with the Lexicon Alpha, but I didn’t find it to be user friendly. Seriously, you couldn’t just hit record. Currently, I am back with Sonar X3 Producer and starting to record new songs and resurrecting some older unrecorded ones. It feels good to get back into it after five or six years. Thanks for this post. It sparked some memories and reminded me of some old goals I hadn’t reached.

      • David

        Thanks for the comment Kirk. Have a good weekend!

      • Jay Neubauer

        another Sonar X3 Producer user. Been using Cakewalk products since it was called Cakewalk (started with Cakewalk 4 as I recall, many years ago!) and it is what I am used to. In the pro studio I do most of my recording the platform is Cubase, and the engineer knows it intimately. It comes down to what you can afford and get to know.

    • Carlos Manso

      I am basicly a Cubase user.
      I do wonder why nobody mentions Logic here?

      I am thinking about a switch, but not sure yet


      • David

        There are many DAW’s not mentioned here. The only reason why, there are far to many to mention them all ;). Ha ha. I am a PC guy at the moment but I can say that I’ve heard a lot of Mac people say very good things about Logic.

        • Meli.E

          I started out with Cubase when I had a PC but now on Logic and hoping to get and try Ableton.

    • Sound Decision

      As mentioned before I missed PreSonus Studio One (Pro) in the list. I’m an oldskool Protools user since version 5.1 (!) , still use it once and a while (version 9), but do the most of my work with Studio One Pro (S1) , up until the mastering process. Inside S1 I use proprietary plugins as well as other plugins (Waves, Tracks, Ozone, Sonnox, Slate Digital etc). What I like most of S1 is its intuitive user interface, complete integration with the PreSonus hardware (I also own 2 StudioLive 16.4.2 desks), the Capture software which allows you to record from the StudioLive desks with a few simple button hits (very handy during live-situations where I record as well) , and then import it flawlessly into S1. It just works ! Also it isn’t as cpu-consuming as ProTools is lately. For instance, I used to work on a fat dual quad-core MacPro. Now I do everything on a MacMini 16Gb/2.7Ghz quad-core. I’m very content with this DAW !

      • Sound Decision

        Btw, I record 32 channels into S1, and the latest project I’m working on is a 63 tracks progressive rock album. No sweat at all…… :-) ….

        • Terry Lester

          I’m with ya…. I use Studio One Pro as well…. Flawlessly…. I bought Pro Tools 11 and find it to cumbersome to use, just my opinion….wasted money spent for me. Studio One Rocks, period…..T

      • Chad

        Thank you so much for your insight, it is a huge help for someone like me! I am just getting back into recording and clearly have been out of it too long. The technology has changed so much my head is spinning. I came from the Radio side of things and literally started editing by splicing Real-to-real then finishing with a program call Saw Plus, so you could say that I would be a bit “Old School”.

        I have been doing a bit of homework and found that S1 pro sounds like the way I am going to go, but was wondering if you could help me decide on some hardware to use… I was leaning toward the PreSonus 16.0.2 however i just saw that you were using the 16.4.2. Please advise why one might choose the 4.2 over the 0.2 in a recording situation (not planning on ever using for live events), there is a fairly significant cost difference.

        • David

          I chad, I don’t currently use either of these boards in my home studio just to clarify. That said, I have used the 16.4.2 in the past and I know several others who currently use these digital mixers for both live sound and recording. Reaper is also my prefered DAW so you are aware as well. That said, I know several that use Studio 1, it is important to note that most any true DAW is going to have identical sound quality, the difference is in performance and how you get there.

          In answer to your question, the 16.4.2 has additional buss mixes built in in addition to the master stereo fader. Depending on your situation you may have no need for the extra busses. If your not mixing live bands while recording it may be a non issue for you.

      • dave

        I agree! I’ve been recording for over 20 years and have used everything from Acid to Sound Forge to Cubase to Pro Tools but I have found Presonus Studio One 2 to be the best software I have ever used. I’ve been using it loyally for the past 3-5 years and will never go back to any other DAW. It takes all 3rd party plugins well and is easy to use.

    • Angela

      Helloo :)
      I wanna ask which microphone you recommend for recording and software. Because I really love singing and playing musical instruments. But pls. The cheap and good quality once and where I could get them . Thx a lot :)

      • David

        Hi Angela, if your looking for the most affordable option to get started and still get great quality. Take a look at the Blue Yeti USB

        I’d also recommen using for software.

    • Néstor Arellano Pulido

      I just discovered that I can purchase the discounted license of Reaper, because my yearly gross revenue doesn’t exceed the $20,000 dollars. :D

    • Kenny

      I’m brand spanking new to the recording end of music. I’ve put together a five piece band, me on acoustic guitar/vocals, a female keys/vocals, a percussionist, a uke bass player and an electric violin player. I’d like to set up a home studio to do some recording. What do I need to record all of us on separate tracks at the same time? Can you give me my best options for hardware and and software?

      • David

        Hey Kenny, one great option that comes to mind would be the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
        running the Reaper DAW. You would have 8 mic inputs to record at one time plug an addition MIDI input which could record the keyboard (if it has midi out) at the same time as the other 8. You would need a decent computer/laptop to get the job done but any modern machine should foot the bill.

        If you had a bit more budget and a Firewire connection, I’d recommend looking at the Presonus StudioLive 16.0.2 This would come with Studio One which is just fine for the software. Big benefit here is you get 16 channels to record simultaneously plus it would be the perfect mixer for running a band and recording sessions to boot. Hope this helps!

        • Kenny

          Thanks David…appreciate the input. I’ll check into the products you recommended. I have about a $1000 budget I could spend for this project. I just purchased a new laptop for this very purpose.
          Looking forward to checking out the products and getting started. Would any of the items you mentioned work in a live setting, such as recording a performance?
          Thanks again

          • David

            The personus studio live 16.0.2 is perfect for live and recording at the same time.

            • Kenny

              Hello again David,
              Would I be able to connect the presonus studio live 16.0.2 to my laptop using a firewire to usb2 or usb3 adapter? My laptop doesn’t have a firewire port

            • David

              Hmm, that one I’m not sure off. You may have to content Presonus on that.

            • Kenny

              At the risk of sounding completely clueless, is the ethernet port on my laptop the same as a firewire port?

            • David

              The Ethernet port is not the same as firewire. Ethernet is actually for networking purposes.

            • Kenny

              What are your thoughts on the Line 6 StageScape M20d Digital Mixer?

            • David

              Hey Kenny, honestly I didn’t even know it existed. So after looking at it for a while. Geeese! I want one ;-) ha ha. This would be a great portable house mixer and give you the waves to mix in a DAW. Line6 makes some great stuff and this looks really awesome!

      • Steven

        Hello Kenny, I like David’s post and would like to offer you another approach. Consider using the PreSonus AudioBox 1818VSL device which has the USB connection instead of a Firewire port. The 1818VSL has 8 input channels and comes with the Studio One Artist version. Check on line because sometimes PreSonus runs a special to upgrade software! I think with your configuration of vocals and instruments the 1818VSL should meet your needs. The inputs accept both XLR and 1/4 cables. That means you don’t need D/I boxes. That saves money too. Plus with the USB connection, almost any laptop or desktop will work. Make sure you reduce the number of programs running in the background such as antivirus or performance monitoring software. Hope this helps.


        • Kenny

          Hey Steven
          I will definitely check out the products you mentioned. I appreciate your input.

          • Steven


            The FireWire USB adapters do not work with Presonus. I tired it! The adapters work with video but not audio recording. I forget the technical reason. I bought two different adapters and neither worked.

            Please let me know if you have success. I ended up buying a used MacBook and it works great even being 8 years old. Good luck.

    • Keith Elphick

      I have a number of DAWs installed, however my rather unusual approach that I find works for me is to record all my basic tracks into my iPad Garage Band via an Alesis interface, running into a Focusrite Scarlett which channels into Adobe Audition on my lap top. I then have two versions of each track recorded, although sometimes I copy the iPad track into Dropbox and import to Adobe. I find that somehow, the tracks recorded in iPad (especially vocals) have a warmth and clarity that must have something to do with Apples propriety compression (guessing on that one). Adobe Audition’s Mastering suite is also extremely comprehensive, and makes the final mix result, sound extremely rich and complex, even on my worst “sounding” monitors.

      • David

        Interesting approach Keith. Thanks for sharing.


    • Norman

      Thanks, I am learning and using Sonar X3 Producer. Your Video Tutorials are very, very helpful.

      • David

        Thanks for the comment Norman, I’m glad to be helping you out.

    • Wade

      I cut my teeth on Cubase and still use it, however now I use it in conjunction with other software. I will frequently use Reason for basic tracking and their synths, then export a temporary mix to Cubase to add VST instruments, (strings, horns, drums) or to work on a single instrument track with various VST processors. I then move the new tracks back to Reason for final mixing as I really like the sound of their engine. That stereo output then goes to a 24/96 wav file that I bring into Wavelab for cleanup and mastering with Izotope’s Ozone5. From there I create an mp3 version and add all the metadata.

      • Jonny

        I do everything in Studio One Pro. I record, edit, mix and then use the fully integrated mastering suite to master songs or a whole album, and then, either burn using integrated Red Book, or create a DDP image to send off to duplication, or I release to Soundcloud and Nimbit; all without leaving Studio One Pro. It’s awesome.

        • Joe Slump

          I have Studio One. As a new DAW user trying to record a band off a 16 channel mixer, I would not recommend. It is very difficult to use and after a month I still cannot get any instrument to record more than 10 seconds before it crashes.

          • Jonny

            I’m sorry that’s been your experience with Studio One. However, the crashes you refer to could be more system related than DAW related. I’ve never had Studio One crash once.

            Every DAW has a learning curve to get beyond, once you get to know it, you will find it is very easy to use.

            • Steven

              I agree with you that this is a system issue and not Studio One. I have used almost every software listed in this article and can tell you that Studio One, pound for pound is the most integrated and easy to use recording software. Presonus stepped up the game with Capture. This is their one button solution to recording live events. The recordings are then brought into the editing software of Studio One. Another thing I appreciate about Studio One is the OpenForum for solutions and having called their customer support on a Wednesday trying to figure out how to configure StudioFire devices with the DAW, they walked me through it step-by-step. I record here at my home studio and also have a mobile rig for small and large events. Presonus and a MacBook have never, and I mean NEVER failed. The plugins are immediate. Cubase and ProTools required rendering the track before taking effect. I love immediate application so I can hear it and then make the changes if needed. Please add Studio One Professional to the list. Check online or call their office as they offer a “cross-over” price that is lower than the normal price. Thanks for a great article and responses.

    • Michael

      I can’t say that I have a broad depth of usage on many DAW’s to give honest comparison’s but I have been using Presonus Studio One Pro for about 2 years now and would have a hard time changing to anything else except Pro Tools as it is an industry standard. Would be interested to hear other comments about how Studio One Pro compares to other professional Daw’s.

      • Jonny

        I am a new Studio One Pro user, having used Cubase since its inception. I have also worked with Pro Tools. Of the three I am most familiar with, as just listed, I’d say that Studio One is exceptional in value and also its incredible range of functionality and UI. It’s enabled me to work better and faster than in any other DAW I have used.

        In my opinion, Studio One Pro tears strips off Pro Tools.

    • RickH

      Any fans here of Riffworks? I’ve recently started working with it and am impressed by it’s refreshing combination of intuitiveness and recording capabilities. It’s a different style of DAW that lets you build your masterpiece in segments.

      • David

        I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it Rick, sounds interesting though. Thanks for your comment.

        • benjamin

          Riffwork is good for sketching together song ideas and if you need a software generated drum track the “instant drummer” is fantastic, though it’s not really instant if you build your song a few bars at a time. What the instant drummer feature allows are those transition rolls between 4 or 8 bar segments so it doesn’t sound like a drum machine pattern robot. There are many different drummers/styles, but each costs about 10 bucks. I lay down the drums in Riffwork and then take the way file size not Studio One and sad gits, keys, bass, vox, etc.

      • Mark

        Rick I have Riffworks and love it as a song writing tool. Lets you build song part by part and arrange very easily till you get it just how you want it. Nice loop based program. I use PT 10 and 11 for serious recording though

    • Bob Morgan

      I have been a Cakewalk user since 2005. Currently, Sonar X3 gives me almost anything I could ask for in the way of versatility, plug ins, effects, options, tracking, etc. I believe any DAW has its own learning curve and although I am amazed sometimes at what I’ve learned about Sonar, I’m still constantly amazed at what I haven’t even touched, but may someday. I think that the quality of a DAW is also reflected in the number of professionals who use it, and although Pro Tools was at one time the only real choice on that end, that is no longer the case. And now that Gibson has purchased Cakewalk, I’m looking for good things. I agree with the others, pick something that has what you need and is intuitive for YOU to learn and try to stick with it.

    • Jeff

      Question: What does Reaper have that Audacity does not have? I am a drummer looking for a decent quality software, but also cost effective – free is good!!! I have the Tascam US-1800 interface ( I HATE the Cubase LE version that came with it), and use Windows 7 on a laptop I have now designated for only recording purposes. Any thoughts and/or advice would be greatly appreciated!

      • David

        If I were to list everything that Reaper has that Audacity does not this post would be far too long :).

        A few big ones are that Reaper is a true Digital Audio Workstation, audacity is not.

        With reaper you can do realtime effects, run tons of free VST effects and plugins, record and edit in realtime.

        The audio engine in reaper will process audio up to 64 bit from start to finish.

        Reaper has both a full 64 bit software versions (including plugins) and can bridge 32bit VST plugin as well.

        Having used Audacity early on and now reaper for years, my advise is don’t waste your time any longer with Audacity.

        If you want to do any real recording it’s worth learning reaper.

        Also, there is only one fully functional version of reaper. The $60 is on the honor system. The only thing you get in the none registered version is a popup delayed window confirming your still evaluating the software.

        In other words, download reaper now and start learning how to use it for free. :)

        • Jeff

          Thank you for the feedback. As a drummer, I’m just looking for a way to lay down my tracks so I can marry them to my instructional videos. I will eventually be using the software to record some band tracks, but for the most part, it will be for drum purposes. I was also looking at Sonar X3 and was impressed with the interface. Again, thank you!

    • Howard Chang

      Hi David and thanks for sharing your thoughts on various DAWs. When I first got into recording and mixing, I purchased the Tascam US-1800. It’s a great value with 8 xlr inputs. It was bundled with cubase, my first experience with DAWs and I struggled mightily with it. I heard about Reaper, decided to give it a try and immediately found it much more intuitive. I’ve been using it ever since. Bottom line – I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendations!

    • Brian Barton

      I’d also like to recommend picking one piece of software and working with it. I literally obsess over trying new apps and see if I like this better or “Oooh, shiny!”, etc. They’re all very similar with just varying workflows.

      • David

        Great point Brian, thanks for the comment!

    • Brian Barton


      I enjoy your stuff, thanks so much for putting out such useful information.

      For about 15 years or so, I was a Cakewalk guy. It got to a point where they were “pricing me out”. You know, coming up with a new version and charging me $179 or so to upgrade a version or two. I started messing around with something I read about called “Reaper” and checked it out. What was the hubbub about “Reaper”? Turns out it was doing stuff Sonar wasn’t doing at the time like making simpler renders, not having to have a midi track and audio track just to get a VI to play (although X2 & X3 appear to do that now). That being said, Reaper really does the job well for me and I can get around in it quite nimbly.

      I’m really pretty wishy-washy though. If I watch a Reason, ProTools, or X3 video, I’ll want to start using those! I’ll stick to my guns (for now) and keep on using Reaper along with the VSTs I’ve got from my previous versions of Sonar.

      • David

        Thanks Brian,I’d like to think your in good company with Reaper ;). That’s the only DAW I have installed and record with now days. Thanks for the comment.

    • Ekow Godwyl

      hello, am Emmanuel from ghana. pls can a person use sure mic for home studio for the start and can u give me some of the sites to download vsti instruments for free?

    • gig2112

      I would like to be able to record my own voice and sing a long a minus-one or instrumental..I am wondering whats the best way to do that?

    • Paula Slater

      Hello David, I would like to be able to edit podcast interviews. I would like some easy software (I am a newbie) that has a good visual interface. I will need to be able to edit two tracks. Most of my interviews are done on Skype. I have a great mic (Heil),but most of my interviewees do not. I prefer a CD to a download if possible. I am checking out Samplitude Music Studio 2014, but it seems to be for music. What would you suggest? I do not like Audacity.

    • Carlos Palacios

      I use Ardour on Linux and it’s a very great DAW. There are tutorials on the official web site and lots of videos on youtube about how to use it and it has great pluggins and you download others to make a cool editition nd mixing of your track. Although it is limited because it doesn’t support all midi hardware or all audio interfaces, it is always good to check out what hardware it supports before buying any.

    • Luc

      Hey Dave!

      Reaper is pretty good but I recently found Tracktion 4 which I really enjoy. It’s about the easiest DAW you can find.
      It comes bundled with the Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB Interface.

      There is also a site called Groove 3 which offers tutorials on just about every DAW software.
      It helped me to quickly get up to speed with Reaper.


    • Tim

      I just spent some time on Reaper this afternoon. The one thing I can’t get past is editing within the program. If I simply want to cut a short passage (or bad take), I can’t just select what I want gone and cut it. The forums all talk about using another program (like Audacity) to edit, then import the file back into Reaper. Why would I want to have to do that? I just want to do simple edits and I don’t see how Reaper can do it easily. After about 90 minutes on Reaper, I was totally unimpressed. Am I missing something?


      • David

        Hey Tim, I feel your pain! ;) The hardest thing to learn when trying a new DAW can be doing things differently than what you’ve already trained yourself to do on another. I agree completely that Reaper has some limitations that need some fixing when it comes to the editing features of a track. This is one area that they have made lots of updates in to this point (believe it or not).

        In reaper to do what your asking there are a few way, on a single track, you can use the split items function (ctrl+s in windows) to mark and in and out of the area you want to delete. Then select that slice and hit delete. There are also some cool options that can be toggled from the “ripple editing” menu as well. These apply to how many tracks you want to slice an area out and if you want to delete the hole at the same time.

        Another way of doing this is by using the selection brackets to highlight the area you want to delete (disable snap mode if more precision is needed). Than click the waveform of the track you want to edit. Then hit Ctrl+Del. This will take out that selection like you’ve described. Again, using the “ripple editing” options will change whether the hole is deleted and the rest of the wav is shifted over as well.

        I agree this could be made simpler but I assure you that getting around this is well worth the trouble if your looking for an affordable option with tons of routing feature (a real strength of reaper) and an all around good DAW option. It does take time to learn something new but each DAW has its strengths and weakness regardless of what your using.

        Hope this helps and thanks for commenting!

        • Tim

          Thanx David! I’ll mess with it a bit longer and see if it starts to fall in line. You’re right about getting used to having things a certain way.

          I work for a large credit union in the marketing dept. I write and produce a fair bit of radio (and other audio) out of my home studio for them (V/O as well). I’ve been using samplitude for many years, but have recently started shopping DAWs again.

          Appreciate the tips and input.

    • Rick

      For PC, I like Mixcraft for it’s intuitiveness and capabilities. But since I got an iPad, I’m into GarageBand.

      • David

        Thanks for chiming in Rick!

    • michael

      Logic pro for macs

    • justine Johnson

      I’m loving your work Dave!
      How refreshing to have someone tell you what they think you should buy because they
      ACTUALLY KNOW!! .(not to mention providing useful, ‘hands-on’ ideas that I can apply myself)
      I’m looking forward to creating the studio I’ve always wanted without breaking/robbing the bank…lol..
      Thanks in advance!

      • David

        Thanks Justine, I appreciate you taking the time to comment and give your feedback. Keep in touch.

    • justine Johnson

      Sounds like a great news letter

    • Dejan Vizant

      Hi,Dave,what is your opinion about presonus studio one,as if my view compared to the price and quality of pre sonus seems like the best solution.Thank you!

      • David

        Its really hard for me to say that Studio one is the “Best” solution. But it may be for you. I’m still partial to Cakewalks Sonar X2 for that same price range but that’s simply because I’m used to that DAW. If Studio one is something you can afford, it has the features you need, and your willing to learn how to use it, then go for it. Paired with a good audio interface you’ll be able to create some quality projects for sure.

    • simon sabir

      i am simon sabir
      i am using the FL studio now . but my one of friend is running the studio and he is using the software logic on Mac .its good . but he say me i should us the Cubase not FL Studio. he give me reason that FL studio Do Not have good Sound of Instruments .
      but i check the Ranking on net of Tools for recoding then there was FL studio at the 4 rank and Cubase is at 7 rank. Now i am confused on which software i should use for my home studio .
      if you have any good suggestion for me then please help me out .
      simon sabir
      [email protected]

      • David

        Thanks for asking your question Simon,

        Remember that any rank for recording software is simply someones opinion. Regarding instruments, if you can load VST instruments in FL Studio than you can have the exact same quality as any other software. The difference will be what the program comes with by default. If it does what you need it to do and you know how to use it will, than I’d keep using it. If your finding your not happy with the instruments in FL Studio than you can simply upgrade those. That said, both Cubase and FL Studio are widely used recording studio DAWs. Good or bad is purely a matter of opinion.

    • Russ

      I have over 200 old albums I would like to use for samples and produce my own hip hop beats…Although I hardly know anything about doing this…I was wondering if there is any software out there that would work good for this project and be easy to learn. I have a laptop and that’s it. What else would I need to go along with the software to accomplish this? Thank-you to who any that replies….

      • David

        Thanks for the question Russ. This is one area I don’t do a lot of (creating beats) but I do know a lot of people who started learning this with Ableton Live. You would need an audio interface and the software as well as a way to hear your doing to start. This could be headphones or studio monitors. On the audio interface I would recommend looking at the
        Focusrite Scarlett 2I4 Usb Audio Interface
        The 2i4 comes with a lite version of Ableton Live, which is great to get started with and will do a lot. Keep in touch!

    • Bing

      How about Mixcraft ? Pros and Cons?

      I used Mixcraft more a few years back and tried REAPER a bit. I find Mixcraft easier to use. From a songwriter and/or music composer’s perpective, I want to spend more of my creative juices on making the music rather than perfecting the sound (not to say that sound reproduction is NOT important—I hope you know what I mean?). What do you think?

      Thanks and great blog by the way.

      • David

        Hey Bing, honestly I’ve not had the chance to use Mixcraft personally. That said, unless your building a studio where you want to record lots of projects for other people and need to import industry standard files from ProTools, there is no reason that most any DAW couldn’t work just fine.

        I do understand what your saying about making music verses learning software, I’m a believer that both are very necessarily and this just comes with the territory. This is the reason I find it hard to say that one DAW is better than another. Regarding Mixcraft? If you’ve been able to learn (or continue to learn) how to use it, if it does what you need it to do, and if it fit your budget than I wouldn’t worry to much about what your missing personally.

        When you being to hit walls that your software can’t do, than its time to look for something else. I know this might not be a direct answer to your question but again, I’ve not personally use Mixcraft so I hope this helps.

        Keep in touch!

    • Jaime Lopes

      You haven’t mentioned Live at all, or Logic.
      At $199, Logic is one of the best value for money DAW’s I can think of, although having said that, if you have a mac, then you already have Garageband…
      Live is not on the cheap side, but it is so flippen cleverly designed for songwriters, even if you aren’t into EDM…

    • Jeff Lodge

      Hey Dave,
      Didnt see anyone making reference to Cubase. Perhaps cuz I’ve been a PC geek since dirt I gravitated to Cubase back in v sx 2.0. Although living in a truck makes it difficult for me to play with it much, I have the newest version 7 and have been pretty impressed so far. Be interested to hear from anyone (PC) that has “switched” from Cubase.

      Am one of those guys who spends entirely too much money on software you mentioned in a previous post. Waves Platinum, NI Komplete, all the Spectrasonics stuff, etc. etc ;)

      Thanks for doing what you do!

      • Jim

        I started analog recording with an 8 track recorder about 25 years ago. About 13 years ago I purchased Cubase ( their first release as I recall). I also purchased a Roland mixing board with the capability if two analog to digital converter. I am an engineer and spent a great deal of time just getting the system to record. The tech from Roland finally told me that it could not be done and to return the product. I didn’t give up. However, once I got the system to work, the tech wanted me to explain how I got it to work. About 3 or four years ago I upgraded toncubase 5 and purchased a Yamaha analog to digital piece of equipment. The system allows for 8 inputs and 8 outputs. It also allows you to daisy chain 3 of these units for a total of 24 ins and outs. The main problem is the number of updates required for the converter and the software. The security implemented my Stienberg is a real pain. I lost my hard drive and will have to start from scratch to get it working properly. I seem to have read a similar post about how difficult it is to get the registration done. They give you a thumb drive for what ever version you have which works as your liscense. For me, since i bought an upgrade, I would have to load the original software and use the original USB thumb drive before installing the upgrade and using the new USB key. Since I have worked with computers since they started, I have a certain advantage. I spent over 200 hours making the first version work and I strongly suggest that anyone new to digital recording take a course on their specific software. I do not think that any of the high end software is truly intuitive. There are so many effects that come with Cubase that you should be able to get your desired sound. Even after getting to this point, there is still a great deal to learn about microphone placement and input industry standard for decibels. This applies not only to each individual input but also the final master. Again, I suggest that you go to a school and learn the ropes. I also think that you should play with it long enough to achieve some level of experience before going to a school. I have been playing classical style guitar for well over 40 years. When placing the mic’s and monitoring the screen it becomes very difficult to record yourself. I also have an Alesis Keyboard for arranging and background. The midi can be done with the computer. The notes can be mathematical done with your computer keyboard and then processed by the keyboard.

    • Roland Ciuoderis

      I haven’t tried any newer updated versions of the software/DAWS listed (except for reaper and studio one), but some time back I used almost all of theones out there and the easiest and absolutely most intuitive was and still is SAMPLITUDE/SEQUOIA. Seem its much more popular in Europe than here, but I swear by this program. It all just ‘clicked’ into place when I began using this..I was able to finally “talk”to my audio interface and tell it what I wanted to do.
      Be that as it may, make no mistake..there is a learning curve with all DAWS and Samplitude is no different; but it got me to where I wanted to go much faster than any of the others. Samplitude is expensive; they do have sales once to twice a year where they will sell the software for a really cheap price. Of mention -their MUSIC STUDIO program is a bargain..a lot better and more refined than it used to be… even though it is a step down from Samplitude. Often on sale for $99 or less. EASY to get going quickly with this….very intuitive like its older brother…
      LASTLY, the ultimate bargain is REAPER. If I wasn’t using Samplitude for such a long time, due to cost and so many more choices on the market, today I would have probably ended up with REAPER. It DOES everything the big expensive DAWS do and at 60 bucks ?!? With tons of Updates included?? It is a FREAKING NO BRAINIER.

    • Mark Stevens

      Well Sonar X2 upgrade prices are in, $99, for me which will be a no brainer, can’t wait until the time arrives! I urge everyone to give it a look!

    • Leigh Taylor

      My vote is for a program called SAWstudio (
      I don’t own it yet – but I plan to!

      • David

        Hey Leigh, I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it? Let me know what you think when you do own a copy. thanks for the input!

    • Mark Stevens

      Was just wondering if guys using Pro Tools were Mac users, and the reason I ask, is for the budget-minded, bedroom studio guys like me. I think Sonar does just as good a job, for a whole lot less! So I was just interested, if you have tried Sonar, and didn’t like it, or like I said a Mac thing? I’m not bashing Pro Tools by any means, after all it is the industry standard, but for smaller applications, I think Sonars price difference, and abilities, make it the small guys best bet! Just trying to understand, a get a point of view, so please be nice,lol! Also looks like Sonar X2 is being promoted now, and looks like they have upped the ante!

      • David

        Hey Mark, Hopefully some others will respond as well. In my case I’ve used Protools on a PC. It came with my m-box. It was an LE version so didn’t have the full load of the big dawg. Like you, a Mac just wasn’t in my budget.

        As far as Sonar, I won’t speak bad about it at all. Again I have an LE version of that too (came with my ZED 14). Today I default to Reaper. Not because something else lacks but because Reaper was only $60.00 and came with more plug-ins than my copy of Sonar did (though I believe you can download the reaper plug-ins for free). I also sold my m-box and no longer have it or ProTools.

        In this end, sounds like you got a great deal with Sonar so seems like a valuable DAW for you to me.

        Any one else?

        • Mark Stevens

          Just one more word on Sonar, you said you had a LE version, so of course, it will be limited in all ways, especially plugins. Right now you can buy Sonar X1 Producer for $399 or less, and get the free upgrade to X2, which has R-Mix, TH2 amp sim., and if you check the number of instruments, and effects included is incredible! I’ve said it a million times, a poor mans Pro Tools! Of course these are just my opinions, but please check out what is included (Pro Channel!)!

          • David

            Hey Mark, good to hear from you again! My honest opinion (and that all it is). I’m 100% with you on Sonor and the upgrade options they’ve offered. Your right, there is an awesome amount of great plug-ins, especially with producer.

            If I had the cash to invest into it right now, I might even do it. ;). Since you were able to right now, man I’m excited for you. Who doesn’t love some new toys. ;)

            For the time being I’m more focused with Reaper, and that is not because I don’t like another DAW. Reaper and my old copy of Sonor LE is what I have at the moment is all.

            Funny side note though. In the survey I’ve sent out ( ), of the 11 DAW’s I’ve listed. Someone has a preference of each and every one on the list ;). Ha ha.

            Keep in touch!

            • Mark Stevens

              That’s awesome, sorry if I sound pushy about Sonar, it’s just what I started with, and comfy with. I just remember how hard it was to get started, until I found the forum, on Cakes site, then Youtube exploded with great tutorials. Plus the jump from 8.53 to X1, actually made it easier, with the Skyline UI, and new features! So whatever DAW you choose, good luck, and be patient, there is somebody out that’s covering whatever problems you are going through, just have to look for help! Keep up the good work David!

            • David

              I hear ya Mark and no apology necessary. I’m honestly just happy to have you share your thoughts. It helps me know that someone is actually listening. ;) Keep me posted on any of your projects. I’d love to hear how things are going!

    • Steve

      I’ve been using protools for over a year. It was a pain to learn the program but I think it was worth the time invested. I think it’s one of the best for editing. Even with all the buggy things that come with it.

      • David

        I hear ya Steve, I’ve used ProTools for years with my first m-box and later. I liked it as well. I’ve used Sonar, Audition, and Reaper as well. In the end I think if it does what you want to do and you know how to use it, then its the best DAW for you. The debate over which DAW continues ;).

        Thanks for your comment.

    • Dan

      Samplitude is my weapon of choice. I took 4 free ProTools courses and discovered it is truly a pain in the butt to do things with ProTools. With a few exceptions, Samplitude was more intuitive for me.

      I also hear good things about Logic, but I think that is Mac only.

      • David

        That’s cool, I’ve not spent any time with Samplitude. What do you like most about it?

        Like you said though, ProTools (or any other DAW) is not all that valuable if you can’t use it. ;)

        I’ve heard great stuff about Logic too, I’m just too broke to be a Mac guy, ha ha. I’ve been spending most of my time between Sonar and Reaper now days.

        Thanks for your input Dan!

        • Dan

          The Samplitude UI is just something I was able to grasp much easier than ProTools. The UI can be changed (there are several built in options for track and mixer views) and the keyboard shortcuts are totally customizable.

          AUX tracks are easier to setup. No intermediate buss needed, just route to the aux track directly.

          MIDI tracks are easily converted to audio. Just “freeze” the track. Want the MIDI data back? Unfreeze it. Presto. Most of the time I just leave them as MIDI data and apply effects as needed directly to the track.

          Mixing down tracks is faster, typically 1/4 to 1/2 the time it takes ProTools.

          I’m not too crazy about the built-in plugins though. I downloaded Reaper’s free VST plugins, and use them for a lot. (Those are really good plugins!)

          Anyway, I could go on, but try its demo someday and see if Samplitude is right for you. Everyone is different about what they like.

          • David

            Cool deal, I will try the demo for sure as soon as I get a chance.

          • Roland Ciuoderis

            I second Samplitude. Remember, with any DAW there is a learning curve–no real instantaneous results.
            Samplitude isn’t as popular here in the States, but it has many, many merits. I tried a few DAWS some years ago (cubase, pro-tools, etc), and after spending countless hours struggling with them once I tried Samplitude everything seemed to just ‘click’…I was finally off and running, making music.For me, it was the most intuitive of all the Major DAWS. They have ironed out their problems through the years as well (and which major DAW hasn’t?)

            Although actually it has become a more pricey program to purchase now; methinks once or twice a year the company offers it as a deep discount, which is comparable to pro tools cost.

            You can do almost everything in Samplitude that you can in pro tools…Really—and then some. Included VSTi’s are very good, though not great. Effects are very good as well..some excellent. As a whole an incredibly comprehensive package. (spectral analysis and spectral editing included as well !!)

            • tripsichord

              I have been a fan of Magix for a number of years. There are some great videos on YouTube to show you tips and tricks. I’m now using Pro X2. You are right, big learning curve. About a month ago I downloaded 12 trial DAWs. I went back to Pro X2. I guess when you get the hang of doing things one way it’s hard to switch. At one time, 10 years ago, I used 3 different DAWs that were free and would have to copy from one to another, but it worked. What every you feel comfortable with is what’s best for you!

        • Pierre

          Hi, I started in the late 90’s with samplitude (it was version 2496 at this time), having used earlier cakewalk & cubase (for midi), and I’m still using it (samplitude pro x). Being used to old analogic gear for recording & mixing (8-tracks tape, 24/4/8 table), it was really easy to learn in this aspect, and is still. Very versatile, I find in the bundle effects just what I need (ok, except vsti for which I have specialized ones as superior drummer or Amplitube), and still use my m-audio ultra 8r as my main audio interface – there too, straight forward and neutral, as so many other audio interfaces (miss the daisy chain capability though). Todays I’m trying Reaper as a mobile daw for recording (does the job quite well), but still stick to samplitude for the mixing process on my main computer (working entirely in the box) – comfort is the word I think :).

    • Mark Stevens

      Chiming in a little late, but just wanted to mention if there are any Cakewalk, or Sonar users, they are having a great promotion. Buy one of the Sonar packages, and you will be automatically upgraded to the next version! I mention this because I am a Sonar X1 user, and love it, I feel for the money, you get plenty of instruments, audio, and MIDI are handled well, and if you are up to the Producer levels, they have great mastering capabilities!
      Of course just my opinion, but if you’re looking to expand, give them a look, I think you will like what you get for price!
      Great article Dave, and thanks, keep them coming!

      • David Maxey

        Thanks Mark!,
        On the Sonar X1 I’m 100% with ya. For the money to upgrade it’s a great DAW. Like you’ve said if you can get the Producer level even better. I’ve got a copy of Sonar LE that came with my board and even for that older lower level package it can do a ton. I’ve also heard lots of good stuff from the many that are using X1 and up too.

        Hope all is well Mark and have a great night!


    • Konstantin

      Hi there, great article David as usual.
      I think for me as a voice over artist, Adobe Audition s3 is just great but for someone who wants to create or record music probably he needs to search for a ”more professional product”.
      Nice to find a website like yours.
      Keep rolling..!

      • David Maxey

        Good thought for sure, thanks for commenting and let me know if I can help you out in any way.

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