Written by Luke Alex Davis 8:43 pm Technology

Sampleface Question Time: What DAW Should A Beginner Use?


Sampleface Question Time is a new feature where we answer questions you ask us. Our first question is about DAWs for the novice electronic music producer.

Sampleface Question Time is a feature where you ask us questions and we answer them. Simple. Although it initially started out as an extension of our Ask.fm account, we received a question in our inbox and thought it would be useful for you, the reader. The question came from a Mat Wilson who wanted to know what software would be good to use for electronic music as a novice producer. As a producer myself, I asked myself this question when I started out back in 2010. Unlike Mat who can play jazz trumpet (major kudos for that), I’m not an instrumentalist so I had to start from scratch. If you’re like Mat and you can play something, this gives you a great head start. There are a great selection of free and paid for DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) out there and it really just depends on your workflow. Each one comes with their own unique features, pros and cons. The following DAWs are the most commonly used amongst producers I know:

Logic Pro (Mac)
Pro Tools (Mac/PC)
Ableton Live (Mac/PC)
FL Studio (PC)
Cubase (Mac/PC)
Reason (Mac/PC)
Garageband (Mac)
Adobe Audition (Mac/PC)
Mixcraft (PC)
Renoise (Mac/PC/Linux)
REAPER (Mac/PC, free)

There are quite a few free DAWs out there as well with less features than the ones above but I won’t discuss those here. You can find some good ones, as well as the paid software from above in this list, provided by Audiotuts+, with a mini overview for each. The remaining Mac-only DAWs are Logic and Garageband. Logic Pro is the one I personally use and can now be bought as part of Logic Studio for £350 at the Apple Store or as a standalone program at the App Store for £140. It comes with software instrument libraries, multitrack functionality and a plethora of plugins and effects such as reverb, flangers, distortion, compressors, limiters etc. Garageband either comes with iLife for OSX or as a separate program on the App Store. It’s great for beginners despite some MIDI limitations but still retains multitrack functionality and varied instrument libraries.

My opinion? If you have a Mac, my top choices would be Logic Pro and Ableton Live. They have clean interfaces, lots of features for users at every level and they’re used by a number of electronic/hip hop music producers including these guys for Ableton and these guys for Logic. If you want the full package and the “industry standard”, Pro Tools might be more your thing. I’ve always found Cubase an acquired taste when it comes to DAW but it’s far from shabby. FL Studio has a user list including 9th Wonder, Afrojack, Skream and Lex Luger as well as a huge range of instruments and plugins. If basic functions are more appealing, Garageband might be for you.

I hope this helps anyone with a similar query. Alternatively, you can watch the videos below and hear other peoples’ opinions.