Best package: Pro Tools 12″
There’s nothing to do: Pro Tools is the industry standard for DAWs. If you walk into a professional recording studio, you’re much more likely to find Pro Tools than any other software. And a few versions ago, Avid broke the M-Box requirement, allowing you to use the software at home with any audio interface. It’s an easy choice if you’re looking for a full-featured live instrument and sequencing production software.
There are two plans to choose from: Pro Tools and Pro Tools Ultimate. you can record up to 128 tracks simultaneously and up to 64 separate wired inputs/outputs (if your hardware can handle it). The software supports up to 512 instruments and 1024 MIDI tracks, meaning you won’t be held back no matter the size of your project. There are also over 120 bonus plugins.
Check out other product reviews and shop the best audio interfaces available online.
Runner-up, Best Overall: Reason 12 by Reason Studios
Reason Studios is best known in the music industry for their plug-ins and effects. But their flagship Reason DAW has a fan base that straddles the line between those looking for electronic production and those looking for live instrument recordings. It’s the rare recording software that doesn’t have too limited a specialty. If you buy their full version of Reason 12, you get a lot of features.
With their latest update (12) you get Mimic, a fun new sampler for the modern beat maker and producer. It is designed for quick and immediate activation, cutting and handling. The update also includes a huge sound bank with more than 29,000 patches, loops and device samples.
They still offer their classic but unique Matrix Pattern Sequencer for controlling tracks with up to 32 steps per pattern. There’s VST support and an able to Live link if you prefer to produce in Reason but play live in Able ton. But like any software, it’s all about feelings and preferences, and Reason has more than a few loyal fans.
Best Value: Logic Pro X
Along with Pro Tools and Able ton, Logic Pro is usually chosen as the best audio production software. With the latest X iteration of the line, they’ve opted for a scaled-down version without all the bloated sound libraries and dropped the price from $500 to $200. But if you consider the features you get it easily deserves the “best value” spot here. It now has a Smart Tempo feature that reads and matches the BPM, tailoring the recording to the content of your project. They’ve also upped the ante with reverb, vintage EQ and other add-ons. They’ve updated drum patches with different music styles and you can even use the Logic Remote app to turn your phone into a remote. Add to that all the expected I/O, tracking features and very intuitive modulation functions (a feature of the Logic line for a while) and you get a full service DAW at an average price.
Best for electronics: Able ton Live 11
If Pro Tools is the industry standard for dedicated and full studio features, Able ton is the standard for DJ, EDM and hip-hop beats. Able ton Live 11 includes a number of features suitable for any beginner or experienced beat maker. Like all previous editions, Live comes in three editions: a lighter and cheaper Intro edition, a Standard Edition and a complete set that includes all the plugins and sounds you need.
In our experience, Suite is a bit overkill for the average producer, so we’ve chosen Standard for this. It gives you unlimited audio and MIDI tracks wherever your project takes you, 12 send and return buses for effects, up to 256 different mono inputs and outputs, the ability to capture MIDI inputs for live programming, some complex and interesting warps and much more change. . They include over 1800 different built-in sounds (a 10GB library in all!), plus 37 audio effects and 14 MIDI effects, all included in the Standard version.
Able to Live 11 software includes a set of features suitable for any beat maker, aspiring or experienced. One of the biggest updates in Live 11 is the comping feature. You can organize multiple steps of an audio or MIDI performance into individual takes and link two or more audio or MIDI tracks to edit content simultaneously.
Want to read more reviews? Check out our selection of the best DJ equipment.
Best for Songwriters: Personas Studio
Personas has made a name for itself in the audio interface market with great success. Now, with Studio One, Presongs has entered the field of digital audio workstations with a worthy competitor to the others on the list. Option 5 Artists takes Studio One to the next level. The thing that sets the Studio One line apart, as far as I remember, is its simplified single-window workflow where you don’t have to swipe back and forth between multiple screens.
There are plenty of simultaneous audio recordings and smart MIDI sequencing features like multitrack editing. Includes a drag-and-drop loop-trip function and over 30 original effect plug-ins. They also offer a built-in Melo dyne feature (although it’s just a trial version of the Artist version) that offers incredibly high levels of pitch correction.
If you want to compose a song with a catchy beat, check out our pick of the best rhythm creation software.
Best Budget: Acid Music Studio 11
When it comes to DAWs, Acid Music has an interesting history. First, Sony owned and sold it as a companion to its award-winning Sound Forge burning software. Magix bought the rights to produce the Acid series in 2016 and they relaunched the brand. Acid is available in a Pro version, although it comes at a high price and we recommend a few other DAWs in this price range.
However, for those on a budget, Acid Music Studio 11 is a great option that offers some solid entry-level features, including professional 24-bit and 192 kHz multitrack audio, powered by a 64-bit engine. Includes eight virtual instruments and six effect plug-ins. Choose from over 2,500 loops used to produce hip-hop, house and rock.
You can record unlimited audio tracks, track multiple instruments live at once, and custom map shortcuts for your keyboard. It has support for VST plugins, so you can extend the functionality of the software with as many plugins as you need. Finally, you can export everything you need as mp3, wav or flac.
Best Plugin: Celemony Melodyne Editor 5
When Melodyne released her first edition, she was in a good mood. After all, they promised a very accurate level of pitch correction, including polyphonic isolation, so you can correct (or tweak!) every note in the chords. In the fifth iteration, Melodyne offers a few levels, starting with limited “essentials” and “usability”. None of these offer polyphonic pitch editing capabilities (probably the coolest part), so we decided to recommend the “editor” version. And you will be amazed.
They call that multi-note functionality Direct Note Access (or DNA for short), and the way it works is pretty neat: you take an input note, whether it’s a single vocal line or a full guitar chord, and plug it into the software. . Then each note is mapped to a piano roll-like interface, allowing you to isolate, tone down, or even drag pitches to another note. Compatible with almost every major DAW, this award-winning pitch plugin will become an essential part of your production arsenal.
Best for Mobile: iZotope Spire
There aren’t many music production apps for phones, and most are lightweight, derivative versions of their desktop counterparts (see: GarageBand for iPhone). To be sure, iZotope Spire is actually a hardware software package and you can download the Spire software itself for free. But to get the most out of it, you’ll need Spire hardware — the equivalent of a mobile studio that fits easily into a small backpack.
The device itself has two microphones or phantom-powered inputs for using a microphone or monitoring tools. A condenser microphone is also built into the front. But what really stands out here is the intuitive Spire software. Once paired, you can record multiple tracks simultaneously through the Spire. And once you’ve started mixing and mastering (that’s right, you can mix and master on your phone), iZotope added a nice GUI that lets you practically drag and drop tracks into X/Y access and move them to the left or left. . to the right and prioritize them in any order (while dragging them up and down). It’s all powered by iZotope’s award-winning Neutron auto-mixing algorithms and is truly impressive software, on your phone or otherwise.