Most of us want our beats to sound as professional as possible. If you’re ambitious as I was when I started, you’ll want to compete with major beat makers and producers in the industry as well.
In my last post, I showed you how to find the best computer for making your music. In this post, I’ll reveal the software that makes beats sound more professional, boosts creativity and makes you feel more productive. This post will help you determine if your current software is right for you and how to spot the best DAW for your style and workflow.
Today there are many digital audio workstations (DAWs) to choose from and finding the right one can be frustrating but necessary to building an optimal studio setup and creating professional sounding beats.
A DAW is not just a tool, but numerous tools inside of a tool, sort of like a Swiss army knife. DAW’s have a solution for pretty much any audio or music need.
The right DAW will actually improve your music and speed up your workflow. It will inspire you to consistently create music you love and help get those melodies and drum patterns out of your head easier.
When I started using a program called “Reason” I felt an instant connection, as if the designers and creators of the software had me and my preferences in mind. The DAW you choose should mesh well with your style. It should inspire you and speed up the rate you crank out quality music.
But how is a beginner, who is learning the technical stuff, supposed to narrow all the choices down to just one DAW? Well, without trying multiple DAWs this can be difficult. To make things a little easier, I have provided a few suggestions below.
First, I recommend playing around with a few different DAWs, 3 – 4 at the most. Asking a friend or finding out what DAW your favorite producer, artist, engineer, or DJ uses is a good way to get closer to the DAW that will work best for you.
It’s possible you may go through a few DAWs before you find the right fit. Before online stores though, it was hard and expensive to tryout more than one DAW, but nowadays, you can try almost as many as you need to, meaning your chances of finding the perfect DAW are very good.
One of the good things about just starting out, is you don’t have a DAW preference. You can try out many DAWs without feeling attached to a certain feature, design, or layout.
The DAW for Making Beats
Although most DAWs are equipped with the options you need from sketching ideas to audio mastering, there are some DAWs that lean more towards a certain stage of the music creating process than another.
When making a decision on a DAW, knowing what your primary uses for the DAW are will help you find the right DAW for you. Will you be composing tracks, recording vocals, editing audio, mixing, mastering, or scoring a film?
When starting to make music, inspiration is everything. Many times inspiration is sparked from a dope sample, patch, or sound. At the beginning, starting a track from scratch will be painful; you may even get frustrated and want to quit. But having a DAW full of fresh, unique sounds will ensure your creativity and inspiration continues flow.
Intuitive with a short learning curve
Your DAW should make sitting down and creating music feel comfortable and effortless. One of my favorite ways to work is to learn as I go or as I need, because it helps break the ice and fight resistance. When a DAW is intuitively designed, the learning curve is shorter. The menus, record, play, and undo/redo options are where you feel they should be or close to it. Basically, when you have the thought, “Man, It would be dope if I could do this,” you should discover shortly after that it is possible. A DAW should never restrict or get in the way of creating; rather, it should make things easier.
There are some music creators that couldn’t care less how their DAW looks. But the truth is, the design of your DAW will affect how inspired you are to use it. As a music creator, we pull inspiration from everywhere and everything. So even something as shallow as the color of the transport bar, or how realistic the faders look can spark inspiration.
My weapon of choice is currently Reason. I’ve used almost every DAW out there trying to find something I really loved using. I was in search of something that made getting the ideas out of my head a little easier. Though there is no such thing as THE BEST DAW, there is the best DAW for you and your music.
I love Reason because of its simplicity and how fast you can open it up and get going on an idea. My favorite thing about Reason is its flexibility. I also love being able to look on the back of a rack and experiment with different ways of wiring devices and sounds together to create something new. It’s so much fun!
Reason emulates a rack of hardware synthesizers, sound modules, samplers, signal processors, sequencers, and mixers, all of which can be routed and re-routed in unlimited ways with patch cables on the back of the rack.
ReWire is a software protocol, jointly developed by Propellerhead and Steinberg, allowing remote control and data transfer among digital audio editing and related software.
Rewire is cool because it allows you to use two programs like Pro Tools and Reason simultaneously. So if you like Reason’s sounds and sequencer but prefer to use Pro Tools’ plugins and mixing environment, ReWire makes this possible.
Propellerhead Reason (Mac & PC)
Avid Pro Tools (Mac & PC)
Presonus Studio One (Mac & PC)
Apple Logic Pro X (Mac only)
Ableton Live (Mac & PC)
Cakewalk Sonar (PC only)
MOTU Digital Performer (Mac only)
Steinberg Cubase (Mac & PC)
Imageline FL Studio (Mac Beta & PC)
It will take years to completely master a DAW. There are features you may never use, but that is ok as long as the DAW is able to do everything you need. At the end of the day, it’s all about what you produce. A DAW should never get in the way of creating music, as it is a tool and tools are invented to make something easier and faster to do.
Can you think of some other things that can help make deciding on a DAW easier?
What is your favorite DAW to work in?
In my next post I’ll help you make a decision about Monitoring your music.