Hi Readers, Its Dean Barrett I have been composing music since 2001 and I have seen many DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstations) in my years of music production so I am back to answer this question I get frequently asked “What Makes A Good DAW?”
You want a DAW that’s rock solid stable, reliable, up to date with a customizable ui and expandable plugin feature set with the ability to add third party VST instruments, tools while supporting samples should you need them.
My top places to buy Loops & Samples (review)
As music producers we tend to stick to work with what best suits our workflow & offers native support & compatibility with our hardware and software instruments.
But many other factors determine a good DAW and most of it these days comes down to user preference.
In my humble beginnings, I was introduced to a software called Acid Pro, which was a really simple to use loop mixing DAW that had a boat load of features and was one of the easiest to use at the time, getting creative ideas out and released was very fast, especially when I was working on creating DJ Mix Sets and gathering as many sample libraries I could to put together sets for my DJ Friends.
Choosing A DAW
- Stability is very important when it comes to producing music especially when you are working to create a brand new song, you can’t have your studio software crashing in the middle of your project and the worst part is sometimes they do not even have automated backups of your work to protect against losing your work.
- If you happen to have one such program that does often crash, my advice to you is to always remember to frequently save your work, because theres nothing worse than losing your entire song because an unexpected error occured in your project and daw.exe needs to close. 🙁
It can be very frustrating and more often then not, you will find yourself looking into the problem trying to find solutions to why the program is crashing and having to sort it all out.
- User Interface
- A user interface that suits your workflow is really important because this is where you’ll most likely be spending up to four hours a day or more working and you need to have a user interface that helps you get things done rather than fighting your way around the application you can focus on producing the song. It is nice when DAW’s give you enough functionality and features but steps out of the way when your creativity is at its peak and you need space to work with less clutter.
- User Preference while not one user interface works for everyone which is why so many DAW’s exist offering freedom to create in whatever fashion some offer complete customization and others do not. the best advice I could offer anyone going for a DAW for the very first time is to research the studio software you are interested in especially watching tutorial videos and look for free trials of those programs that way you can get hands on with the software before spending your cash on something you might regret.
Check out my top 10 DAW’s for Beginners article
- Though not quite as much of a problem as it used to be there are still lingering issues that may happen when you experience compatibility issues.
- VST compatibility issues can plague older studio programs which don’t support the newer plugins available and you may experience crashes or abnormal operation of the program or a complete crash its no fun and its happened to me so often that I have limited the amount of instruments that I use in a given project or phased out older ones that are no longer compatible.
- Operating System Compatibility sometimes your operating system can determine what can and cant be used so be sure to check with the software what operating system its designed for for example PC or Mac.
Be sure to read the system requirements to make sure the system you are installing the software on is up to the task otherwise you may experience issues and abnormal operation.
- When choosing a DAW features are very important, as software gets more and more feature rich we love having advanced functionality as a producer automation tools, built in instruments to get us started and excellent midi editing options really help with workflow, some studio programs even have techniques to aid in writing progressions faster and automatic quantizing as you play so that you don’t have to go back and manually edit the midi tracks all the time.
- When I choose a studio application I make a note to check out all the features and find out which ones suit my needs and what can help me grow as an artist and improve my production techniques.
- Mastering tools are also important allowing me to get a basic master done without having tons of third party tools can really improve workflow and save a bit of money as well.
- Choosing a DAW that fits your budget can be time consuming, that’s why I placed this low in the list, how much a DAW costs is not the most important aspect, however once you have purchased studio software, I’m wondering about its lifecycle before a new version is announced that I will undoubtedly have to upgrade to for my software to keep getting updates generally I aim for the Professional Editions of most studio software as you get the best value.
Check Out My Top 3 DAW’s That I Use All The Time
- User Preference does also apply here and it totally depends on your budget and all the factors above you will want to read reviews on them and learn about everything you can and check forums related to issues experienced by other users and see if solutions were provided to fix them.