Everybody loves free stuff. Right? That’s the reason why you are searching for some best free music production software.
Even, when I was starting out my music production career, I used a free DAW; N-Track for atleast 2 years. The quality was dumb though.😉
But it worked for me in my initial states of music career. It helped me in learning my music production skill
SO, in this article, I’m gonna review the top 9 FREE DAW or Digital Audio Workstations.
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Let’s dive right in.
When it comes to free DAW for home recording, Garageband is my first choice.
It has all the basic features required to produce a good sound track.
The ONLY DRAWBACK is it needs a mac based platform to run.
That means you need an apple computer to run this DAW which costs 3 to 4 times then a Windows based ordinary computer.
Well, if you own an Apple computer or Laptop, or even a mobile, you can run it for free.
It is comes preinstalled with Apple computers and laptops.
If not pre-installed, you can also download it from iTunes store for free of cost.
There are very much similarities I’ve found between the UI of Garageband and the paid DAW Logic Pro X.
SO, if you are familiar with Logic Pro X then operating Garageband will not be too hard for you.
Overall, its a perfect start if you have an Apple device like iMac, iPad etc.
There are a handful of loops and samples are provided with Garageband that will help you easily produce music from scratch.
When I installed Garageband and play the loops and samples from browser, it amazed me.
Mac products are really cool.
It was killed me with it’s loops and samples quality.
Garageband is all supported by iPad and iPhone that means you can use it on any mac device you have.
iPad friendly feature makes you the DAW on the go which can be used just anywhere in the world.
You can produce music on the go inside your car, in a park, in a concert or wherever you find the good recording environment.
You just need an ASIO audio interface to continue your musical journey with Garageband.
If you are an indie music composer, you already know how much is it important to have MIDI support in your DAW software.
Without MIDI support, you can’t use virtual instruments included with Garageband.
However, you can use an onscreen keyboard to play the loops and samples assigned in a MIDI track.
BUT, playing music through a MIDI keyboard is much easier then on screen keyboard.
Thanks to external MIDI support, you can record your favorite music with just a MIDI keyboard.
Amps and pedals
The apps and padel effects given in Garageband transform your guitar track. However, I’m not a much satisfied with their quality.
Apple needs to improve the quality of amps and pedals provided in Garageband package.
SURE, we can’t expect more then these amps and pedal support in a free DAW.
Drummer for iOS
A seperate drummer section is provided to create live loops during recording.
The beauty of Garageband is you can use them on a live performance by dragging from the browser to tracks in realtime.
You will find all most all genres of loops and grooves in the drummer section.
Sound like a Pro
Instruments such as Smart Strings have realistic samples that you can use to give life to your music.
The amps, pedals, loops and samples, and virtual instruments that comes with Garageband package installer are sufficient to produce a professional soundtrack.
However, as you know in music recording field we always seek for best possible quality, you can use external virtual instruments to get best results.
Otherwise, the included ones are sufficient.
Share your songs worldwide
Garageband supports iCloud drive which is used to save your creation on cloud drive and share directly from there on social media.
Garageband has the feature to share your work to the world with only few clicks.
This feature makes it a popular music production software among the indie producers.
2. Pro Tools First
Few ears back Pro Tools was known as a recording software which runs only with it’s own hardware.
But now Pro Tools First music making software absolutely free that support any ASIO audio interface.
Pro Tools first is a lightweight DAW software that supports 16 tracks playback, 16 virtual instrument tracks with the recording of up to 4 tracks simultaneously.
Pro Tools First has 23 plugins effects sufficient to mix your songs like a pro.
If you’re a beginner then its a good choice for you.
Pro Tools First is equipped with powerful virtual instruments like Xpand!2.
Those will make music production very easy and comfortable in Pro Tools First.
Pro Tools First Features
- Session templates – rock, pop, electronica, hip-hop, jazz etc.
- Click and drag MIDI note editing.
- Xpand!2 virtual instruments included.
- Two high-quality loop and sample libraries included.
- 23+ effects and utility plugins.
- MIDI editing tools
- 16 Audio tracks, 16 Instruments tracks
- Record 4 tracks simultaneously
- You can collaborate with musicians anywhere in the world
3. Cakewalk by BandLab
BandLab has announced in April 2018.
They are going to relaunching Cakewalk’s famous SONAR Platinum DAW for free.
Cakewalk BandLab is a Windows based program so you need a Windows system to run it.
The best thing is its built on 64Bit architecture hence deliver a crystal clear sound quality.
I recommend it as the best free DAW software in the universe.
Cakewalk by BandLab Features
- Made for everyone – Songwriters, Producers, Composers.
- Specially built for tracking, mixing, or mastering.
- 64-bit Mix Engine
- State of the art resampling
- VST3 Support
- Windows 10 Support
- Audio Random Access support
4. Cubase LE DAW For Free
Where Cubase 10 costs atleast $700, you can download the lite version of it free.
This lite version is called Cubase LE which is enough for an indie composer.
Cubase LE is one of the best free music making software that you can use in your home studio.
There are several feature that make it a great DAW in 2020.
Like, you get HALion Sonic SE 3 and Groove Agent SE 5 to produce beats and melodies with a Midi keyboard.
It has 23 audio effect processors that enough for a basic mix. With LE version of Cubase, you get 16 audio tracks and 24 MIDI tracks.
Some guitar amps and pedals are also included in the package.
Overall, for a basic mix Cubase LE is perfect choice.
Cubase LE Features
- Supports up to 16 Audio tracks and 24 MIDI tracks
- 24-bit/192 kHz
- 8 physical inputs
- HALion Sonic SE 3 and Groove Agent SE 5 featuring 180 presets
- 23+ plugins
- Virtual Amps and Pedals included
- Over 5GB of sounds and loops
So you can see that Steinberg is providing much more than Pro Tools First with their free version of Cubase.
5. PreSonus Studio One 4 Prime
PreSonus is a manufacturer of pro audio hardware but it has one of the best DAW software for homes studios.
They always provide this DAW with their audio interfaces and other products.
However, PreSonus Studio One is not free.
SO, they have a lighter free version called Presonus Studio One 4 Prime.
It’s just like Protools First and Cubase LE.
You’ll get most of the features of Studio one artist edition with this free version.
It’s intuitive single-window work environment with quick and easy drag-and-drop functionality and unlimited tracks make your production much more easier.
And the best thing is, you’ll get a 64-bit architecture, that means more depth in your audio.
Definitely you need a 64-bit computer to run this music making software.
PreSonus Studio One 4 Prime Features
- The intuitive single-window work environment
- Drag-and-drop functionality
- Unlimited tracks
- Nine Native Effects plug-ins
- 1GB of loop and sample content
- 64-bit operating
6. Ableton Live 10 Lite Free DAW
Ableton Live Lite is another popular free DAW software for beginners.
However, Ableton is built for MIDI sequencing, sampling, and electronic music, production you can also use it for audio recording.
For a beginner MIDI sequencing artist its a perfect free alternative to Ableton full version DAW or Logic Pro X.
With a handful of features its capable of producing hassle free great music.
The best thing I like in it provides nondestructive editing with unlimited undo.
That means you can edit your recordings without worrying about loosing the previous work.
One more thing I like in Ableton Live Lite is Multiple automation lanes.
With this feature, you can automate your creations like professional studios. No free music making software can beat Ableton Live Lite in automation.
Ableton Live Lite Features
- Session View for quick, intuitive composition, flexible performance and improvisation.
- Nondestructive editing
- 32-bit/192 kHz multitrack recording
- 64-Bit Architecture
- MIDI sequencing
- hardware instruments
- Advanced warping and real-time time-stretching
- VST and AU support
- 8 Audio & MIDI tracks
- 2 Send and return tracks
7. Audacity Free Open Source DAW
Audacity is an open source Audio Recording Software released many years ago.
It’s compatible with Windows, OS X, and Linux operating systems.
With multitrack recording support, it is able to produce good quality music.
However, it does not looks like a professional DAW like others but don’t be judgemental due on its user interface.
It’s a powerful free DAW and you can easily produce good quality music with Audacity.
- Recording – We can record live audio through a microphone or mixer, or digitize recordings from any media.
- Export / Import – We can Import, edit, and combine sound files and export in many different file formats, batch export.
- Plugins – Support LADSPA, LV2, Nyquist, VST and Audio Unit effect plug-ins
8. Serato Studio Free Version
Serato studio is actually a paid DAW but it has a free version with limited features.
However, this limited version is enough to produce basic music.
Especially for DJs this music making software is a ultimate gift.
This lit weight DAW runs on limited hardware resources so you can use it on the go.
The intuitive beat making feature for beginners, DJs, and advanced producers is amazing.
Also the faster ans simple workflow make is very easy to produce music.
Serato DAW Features
- Best for DJs who want to produce in EDM, Trap and Hip-Hop genre.
- Built in loops and samples helps a beginner to get started.
- A faster and simple workflow makes it very easy to make music.
- Runs on limited hardware resources.
- Best DAW for road side recording.
Traktion Waveform Free Version
It’s and overall DAW for indie composers, bands, podcasters, singers, DJs ans song writers.
Everyone can be comfortably use this DAW.
However, it needs some training to use this music making software as the UI is a bit complicated for beginners.
You can watch their free training videos to use this DAW properly.
Traktion Waveform Features
- Constant Save Technology
- Plugin Sandboxing
- MIDI Pattern Generators
- Collective Sampler/Synthsizer (provided as add on)
- Micro Drum Sampler
I know the feature are not as attractive as other DAWs but if you want to use a DAW for very basic use, then Waveform free version is a good start.
Well, here was the list of 9 most powerful and popular free DAW software for newbie producers.
Although these all are powerful and capable of producing good music I personally suggest you go with Cakewalk by BandLab.
I’ve used it previously and I know its capability.
Now it’s your turn. When you download your favorite free DAW form this list, let me know in the comments.
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Gautam Roy is a recording engineer and a blogger from India. He loves music, writing and travelling. He is also an active investor and a successful entrepreneur.