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The Press Desk 17th April 2018 08:09 PM

10 most popular DAWs right now
 
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10 most popular DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations)

Digital Audio Workstations - DAWs, for short - are arguably the most important piece of software in our studios, to the point where it’s nearly impossible to picture a modern studio without (at least) one so it’s safe to say that they are something we can’t live without. As expected, it’s one of Gearslutz’ main topics of conversation, so let’s find out which DAWs are the most popular on our forums:





 Cubase Pro 9.5

Steinberg Cubase Pro 9.5



Pros: Arguably the most well-rounded DAW out there in terms of content and features, it might be a notch below Apple's flagship Logic Pro in terms of content but it has the benefit of working on both Mac and Windows systems.

Cons: Requires a specific protection dongle that can't be used for much else other than Steinberg’s software and a handful of selected plug-ins.





 Live 10 Suite

Ableton Live 10 Suite



Pros: Streamlined for composition and live performance like no other DAW, Live heralded a new era for electronic music production. It can be even more effective when used with special Live-friendly controllers which are optimised for the software’s array of performance features.

Cons: A very idiosyncratic piece of software whose unique workflow may or may not appeal to some, and those hardware controllers feel somewhat necessary to get the best out of it.












Some observations:

  • With the sole exception of Apple’s Logic Pro, and now that FL Studio is finally arriving at the Mac OS, all the DAWs on our list are cross-platform - they will run on Windows PCs or Macs, with Mixbus additionally offering Linux support.

  • Honourable mentions go to Cakewalk Sonar (now being sold under the BandLab brand/banner), MAGIX Samplitude and Bitwig.

  • It's interesting to note that despite their increasing popularity in the plug-in world, DAWs have not yet fully jumped into subscription models and Pro Tools is the only one on our list with that option.

  • On the other hand, annual fees for updates are becoming more common, with Pro Tools and Bitwig being two notable examples of this new(wish) business model. Others have more predictable cycles and are 'more or less' charging annually for major updates - Cubase comes to mind - whereas if you bought Logic Pro X, for example, you haven't paid for a single update since.

So there we have it, Gearslutz' most popular DAWs! Which one are you using? More than one? Different tools for different jobs? Are you happy with what they offer or are you planning a change soon? Share your thoughts below!

For more on DAWs, visit: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/daw-talk/

VenVile 20th April 2018 05:23 AM

FL Studio and Reaper are perhaps two of the most underrated DAWs, with FL being extremely popular in electronic music, second to Ableton, and easily the most popular in the Hip Hop genre.

scottym 28th April 2018 05:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VenVile (Post 13269087)
FL Studio and Reaper are perhaps two of the most underrated DAWs, with FL being extremely popular in electronic music, second to Ableton, and easily the most popular in the Hip Hop genre.

Both Reaper and FLStudio are overrated by their respected community followers, yet they have the most illogical and frustratingly limited approach to usability standards other daws don't have..

Personally I find them both terrible, and particularly FLStudio terrible..(even more so today) even though I produce trance music and have been for over 20 years.

I wouldn't be surprised if it's one if the reasons most music we hear today is just terrible.

henge 28th April 2018 06:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scottym (Post 13283821)
Both Reaper and FLStudio are overrated by their respected community followers, yet they have the most illogical and frustratingly limited approach to usability standards other daws don't have..

Personally I find them both terrible, and particularly FLStudio terrible..(even more so today) even though I produce trance music and have been for over 20 years.I wouldn't be surprised if it's one if the reasons most music we hear today is just terrible.

Yeah the musicians composition,arranging,mixing and playing skills have nothing to do with quality...it's the DAW's fault.bumpkin

scottym 28th April 2018 07:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by henge (Post 13284757)
Yeah the musicians composition,arranging,mixing and playing skills have nothing to do with quality...it's the DAW's fault.bumpkin

Normally I wouldn't blame the daw but there increasing signs that some daws are limiting users potential because of the way are being designed, with convoluted, confusing, and unfocused workflow aspects. Daw developers need to take some responsibility and not take for granted that users will use something, just because they put it there. The user and the interface they need to use has to meet in the middle to allow for an effective relationship to work. If that's not happening, then something is going to suffer...

bill5 29th April 2018 01:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by scottym (Post 13283821)
Both Reaper and FLStudio are overrated by their respected community followers, yet they have the most illogical and frustratingly limited approach to usability standards other daws don't have..

Personally I find them both terrible, and particularly FLStudio terrible..(even more so today) even though I produce trance music and have been for over 20 years.

I found Reaper one of the better ones. But this isn't exactly a difficult problem. If one doesn't like a DAW, try another one. There are many, with many similarities, but also varying designs/workflows. What one person swears by another finds terrible. Neither is right or wrong; it's what works for the individual.

Quote:

I wouldn't be surprised if it's one if the reasons most music we hear today is just terrible.
uh, no. The quality of music has nothing to do with the DAW. That would be a hilariously bad excuse for anyone to use. I think a lot of the music (the stuff we hear on the radio anyway) is poor because people's imaginations are weaker and people are lazier in general.

bitleyTM 30th April 2018 04:49 AM

Is this a discussion on ”today’s music” ? :) I think it’s cool to use different daws and see what inspires. We all have our “home base” selections. But moving out of those boundaries sometimes is only good.

nightchef 30th April 2018 03:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bill5 (Post 13285290)
I found Reaper one of the better ones. But this isn't exactly a difficult problem. If one doesn't like a DAW, try another one.

My main DAW is Digital Performer (glad to see it make the list!), but I've been using Reaper lately a lot because I'm working on projects created in a Reaper-based shop, and my take FWIW is that it's a DAW for people who prioritize flexibility over usability. To get the most out of it, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and play with the interface, customize toolbars, etc., to make it fit your workflow and personal style. Some people find that rewarding, some would prefer something that presents a more intuitive/usable interface right out of the box, even at the cost of a little flexibility. It's not really a better/worse thing, just a horses-for-courses thing.

bill5 1st May 2018 01:15 AM

Really, interesting take...I didn't customize it much at all and found it easily usable right out of the box, more so than most in fact. Never used DP though -

lou latch 1st May 2018 10:24 PM

Maybe it's not that important here, but the info on Reaper pricing is wrong: It's actually 60$, not 59$ for the discounted license (ain't it refreshing to see the actual price instead of the common ridiculous .99 pricing?).

From the REAPER website:

You may use the discounted license if:
You are an individual, and REAPER is only for your personal use, or

You are an individual or business using REAPER commercially, and yearly gross revenue does not exceed USD $20,000, or

You are an educational or non-profit organization.


The regular price for a commercial license is 225$ (which is still a bargain) although one doesn't have to bring evidence of qualification for the discounted price.
Also, your license expires after 2 mayor releases, so if you buy a license for 5.xx it's valid through 6.99 and you have to buy a new one for version 7.

I have read many comments where people claim Reaper is free, just because you can use the fully functional demo forever, that's immature ignorance.


I love Reaper for that pricing model and for the complete lack of copy protection, which has cost me quite some nerves with other DAWs... (oh, i need the new iLok for that version -> oh, i need the new Pace software -> oh, i have to upgrade my OS for that software -> oh, that OS doesn't run on my older office computer...)

If we want that model, which bases on trust, to stay or even spread, it's crucial to support it correctly. Try it, it feels good freshflowe

Lance Lawson 8th May 2018 07:13 PM

As near as I can determine all DAW's sound alike. That is to say the sound is determine by the audio interface. So it then comes down to which DAW are you can best operate. I don't require tech wizardry. Anything that is capable of reproducing what an analogue studio of the golden age will be more than enough. So it comes back to whether you like the look of the DAW.

applesupport 12th May 2018 05:59 PM

All the gearbox sounds are very good, but it totally depends on the user, what the choice of the user is? It could be Apple gearbox or Dawl gearbox.
Apple support thinks the audio quality is more important than the brand.

dontogueli 21st May 2018 07:43 AM

The imaginative people it's there. Waiting your ears
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bill5 (Post 13285290)
I think a lot of the music (the stuff we hear on the radio anyway) is poor because people's imaginations are weaker and people are lazier in general.

No man/men remember that we are thousend of million personos in world. And included thousend of hundred thousend of composers. I have find always extremly bad, bad, good and extremly good music in al countries, society ranges, races and genres.
This is an media strategy. Music have a big power in the society. And imagination is extremly dangerous for some macrosocial plans. I stop here because is not the place and will not provoque the tipical reactions.
only say The architecture of a tool influences necesary the results. Its the difference between a pro and an amateur: reduce this influence
and
Is not a lake of imagination that is guilty of the "sounds are dominant today on your radio. It's also your choice to find your preferred music and environement.
Good music? Like the Gallegos say : Meigas? haberlas haylas

PascalC 21st May 2018 08:56 AM

Agree with pro/cons of Gearslutz. I've been a huge fan of sampro then I tried Mixbus (but as it's written it's not a complete daw with advanced features + high cpu charge) then reaper (I feel i'm doing computing more than music) I'm looking now to Studio One/protools and DP. My choice : 1° DP 2° PT 3° SO. depends of prices etc. I can take all time needed thx to sonar free edition (not a lite edition !)

Belka 22nd May 2018 10:10 AM

Not seeing the DAW of the Year 2017 voted by Computer Music Mag called "Bitwig" ... but Harrington Mixbus and Motu Digital Performer :facepalm: gigidigigidi

atma 22nd May 2018 09:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Belka (Post 13330619)
Not seeing the DAW of the Year 2017 voted by Computer Music Mag called "Bitwig" ... but Harrington Mixbus and Motu Digital Performer :facepalm: gigidigigidi

it's in the 'honorable mentions' list. and this is a 'most popular' list, not 'the best' daws list.

charlienyc 25th May 2018 05:30 PM

why Pyramix isn't on the list
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nightchef (Post 13287687)
[Reaper is] a DAW for people who prioritize flexibility over usability. To get the most out of it, you have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and play with the interface, customize toolbars, etc., to make it fit your workflow and personal style. Some people find that rewarding, some would prefer something that presents a more intuitive/usable interface right out of the box, even at the cost of a little flexibility. It's not really a better/worse thing, just a horses-for-courses thing.

Agreed. This is what keeps people away from my DAW of choice, Pyramix. The power, flexibility, and complete customization make for a very steep learning curve. I have to keep turning interns away who don't know at least the basics of it, as it's only taught in a few programs (McGill, Peabody, NIU (Northern Ill. U), etc. A six- or eight- week internship is about enough time to teach someone the most basic tasks, ignoring all other aspects of recording and studio use! While it's frustrating as a user Pyramix will probably never make this list, it's difficult to convince anyone to switch when it takes months to get comfortable with it. I get that.

I also see this from the other side as a Reaper user when I'm not working on classical music. This was the first DAW I sat down with to do a mix on a pop song and things just flowed with ease. I dropped in media, setup several plugins, and had a mix going with automation in about 10 minutes. That's a level of intuitiveness that should be commended!

Cheers

charlienyc 25th May 2018 05:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lou latch (Post 13290510)
If we want that model, which bases on trust, to stay or even spread, it's crucial to support it correctly. Try it, it feels good freshflowe

Although I doubt I've made 20k with Reaper, I love their model and recommend the software to everyone. Thanks for the reminder to 'do the right thing' and upgrade the license I bought in 2012 (that still supports the current version!).

cheers :chug:

bitleyTM 26th May 2018 03:17 AM

Just for fun perhaps we all could publish a recent track and comment on what DAW it uses & some details?

I can start with my new song “The Traveller” which I have planned to release (via Amuse) shortly on itms & spotify. It’s out on the tube for now.



Musical style: Synth pop
Credits: Vocals, lyrics, music & production by yours truly, Patrick aka Bitley.
HW gear used: JP08 (the pwm sound), JX8P (the pad)
SW instruments: Thor (the bass) & the NNXT / Combinator based refill that took me five years to develop; WBF R2 (Way Beyond Fairlight R2) (drums, additional synths)
Computer: 2011 Mac Mini w 4 GB ram & High Sierra
Audio interface: Propellerhead Balance
DAW: Propellerhead Reason 9.5
CPU usage: 45-50%
Mastering / etc: Yamaha HS80 & AKG phones. I live in a flat and almost never use the monitors. Compared it a little to some tracks like music from Tove Lo & the Weeknd but also Erasure, Yazoo, Abba to find levels that seemed OK... but the whole mastering experience in general is a nightmare more or less. I really should take my tracks for a spin in my Saab 9-5 speakers as that instantly reveals if the mix has too much bass. Relentless as I am I used Reason’s default mastering suite and decided to give it a try.

Enjoy!

IgneousRay 27th May 2018 11:27 PM

bitleyTM I was setting up a desk in my new room and every time your song ended I went over there and hit the replay button. So yeah, I liked it.

I wish I had something to show but I only just recently got into the mindset of trying to make things professional quality. So even if I did have anything finished, I haven't taken the time to plan out how I'm going to try to publicize my stuff.

I have been using FL Studio for years. I would say that its biggest feature is the free lifetime updates. I know because of that it kind of becomes a common "Baby's first DAW," a lot of new producers flock to it. The result is that it's kind of a tool that a lot of people, even big names, USED TO use, and when you pile that on top of the fact that a lot of amateurs release stuff from it... It's easy to get the impression that it's a tool you're supposed to graduate from.

However, I think it has everything you need to stick with it and I am very excited about the fact that FL 20 is Mac compatible. I hope this causes it to gain more traction in the professional world.

People complain about the workflow. In a way, it lacks workflow by itself, but allows you create your own workflow if you take the time to learn how to use it. For example, I know people HATE when you create pretty much a whole song in one pattern in FL, however, it's great that it lets you do that, if it works for you then it works for you. When I do classical music I go light on the playlist and heavy on the patterns, when I do electronic music my patterns are light and my playlists are heavy.

I will admit, it has its shortcomings. One of the biggest issues for new users is accidentally creating automation and not knowing how to get rid of it. The customization is amazing though. For example, there is a plugin called Patcher that allows you to route all the channel and mixer plugins together within itself in any complex arrangement you want.

I have never run into a limitation. I think anyone who doesn't use a lot of presets is going to create stuff that "just sounds like FL." I think a lot of people hear Fruity Reeverb 2 and recognize it. So if you want your music to not sound like it was obviously made in FL, at least use the built in convolution reverb instead.

I can't really see any case where FL would make somebody a bad producer. I think it's really a money thing. Brand new producers buy FL because it makes the most economical sense. Brand new producers don't make good music. If they are going for the cheaper options, chances are they also have to use soundfonts instead of libraries and that they can't afford MIDI controllers or digital pianos. Like really, DAW or no DAW, there's no better workflow booster than having an instrument to play.

fuzulu 29th May 2018 09:45 AM

cubase & ableton should be on top

bitleyTM 29th May 2018 10:40 AM

Thank you Ray! Avicii had no problems creating golden stuff with FL. RIP to him and to my grandfather who passed away early this morning on his 95th birthday. I dedicate my song above to him. He’s out on his last journey now.

VenVile 29th May 2018 01:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by IgneousRay (Post 13340573)
bitleyTM I was setting up a desk in my new room and every time your song ended I went over there and hit the replay button. So yeah, I liked it.

I wish I had something to show but I only just recently got into the mindset of trying to make things professional quality. So even if I did have anything finished, I haven't taken the time to plan out how I'm going to try to publicize my stuff.

I have been using FL Studio for years. I would say that its biggest feature is the free lifetime updates. I know because of that it kind of becomes a common "Baby's first DAW," a lot of new producers flock to it. The result is that it's kind of a tool that a lot of people, even big names, USED TO use, and when you pile that on top of the fact that a lot of amateurs release stuff from it... It's easy to get the impression that it's a tool you're supposed to graduate from.

However, I think it has everything you need to stick with it and I am very excited about the fact that FL 20 is Mac compatible. I hope this causes it to gain more traction in the professional world.

People complain about the workflow. In a way, it lacks workflow by itself, but allows you create your own workflow if you take the time to learn how to use it. For example, I know people HATE when you create pretty much a whole song in one pattern in FL, however, it's great that it lets you do that, if it works for you then it works for you. When I do classical music I go light on the playlist and heavy on the patterns, when I do electronic music my patterns are light and my playlists are heavy.

I will admit, it has its shortcomings. One of the biggest issues for new users is accidentally creating automation and not knowing how to get rid of it. The customization is amazing though. For example, there is a plugin called Patcher that allows you to route all the channel and mixer plugins together within itself in any complex arrangement you want.

I have never run into a limitation. I think anyone who doesn't use a lot of presets is going to create stuff that "just sounds like FL." I think a lot of people hear Fruity Reeverb 2 and recognize it. So if you want your music to not sound like it was obviously made in FL, at least use the built in convolution reverb instead.

I can't really see any case where FL would make somebody a bad producer. I think it's really a money thing. Brand new producers buy FL because it makes the most economical sense. Brand new producers don't make good music. If they are going for the cheaper options, chances are they also have to use soundfonts instead of libraries and that they can't afford MIDI controllers or digital pianos. Like really, DAW or no DAW, there's no better workflow booster than having an instrument to play.

Although a lot of what you said is true, I also know that in some genre circles, it's perhaps the most popular DAW; Hip Hop comes to mind. And a lot of the big producers in Hip Hop use FL, or have extensive experience on it. I've found that many of them use FL for building their beats, but sometimes take their mixing to Cubase or ProTools, especially for finished tracks with vocal recordings.

I too am very excited about FL 20. My only wish for FL at this point is for tightly integrated audio comping in the playlist, which I think could be happening very soon, due to the new freezing/consolidation feature in the playlist.

I have no desire to use another DAW, because I'm quick and efficient with FL. I was looking hard at Studio One, but that was solely my ego following the crowd; I honestly don't need it. And with their latest release, and the number of their user's complaining that such a minor upgrade doesn't require such a high price...well, that just makes me appreciate Image Line and FL Studio so much more. Every new version of FL brings with it significant updates, and it's all for free. That's one hell of a business model!

I urge everyone who has not tried FL Studio yet, and given it a fair shot, to seriously consider doing so now with version 20, especially if you're on Mac

Robby in WA 29th May 2018 04:10 PM

Nice to see DP on there. Been using it since it was just Performer. Always been solid for me and it's what I got used to.

Here's a track my band released last month using DP (MOTU 16As too).

https://open.spotify.com/track/3S4R1...S1is7LMomqDb9g

EDIT: For those on that don't use Spotify:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/st...598&app=itunes

http://celestialnavigation1.bandcamp...torm-is-coming

Temple of Light 29th May 2018 05:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dontogueli (Post 13328486)
No man/men remember that we are thousend of million personos in world. And included thousend of hundred thousend of composers. I have find always extremly bad, bad, good and extremly good music in al countries, society ranges, races and genres.
This is an media strategy. Music have a big power in the society. And imagination is extremly dangerous for some macrosocial plans. I stop here because is not the place and will not provoque the tipical reactions.
only say The architecture of a tool influences necesary the results. Its the difference between a pro and an amateur: reduce this influence
and
Is not a lake of imagination that is guilty of the "sounds are dominant today on your radio. It's also your choice to find your preferred music and environement.
Good music? Like the Gallegos say : Meigas? haberlas haylas

Please do tell where is
the time and place to have such discussions?
This stuff needs to be exposed and talked about.

YYMV

Light
yingyang:synth:cooge
Temple

bitleyTM 29th May 2018 10:43 PM

I’m giving the thumbs up even though I do not use Spotify. I buy tracks on iTunes instead. There are a thousand methods for every need. ;)

jzero 30th May 2018 05:49 AM

FL Studio is a killer tool in the right hands. It is deep software that really has grown powerful over the years. Those who dismiss it have an axe to grind and don't know how to use it.

bitleyTM 30th May 2018 02:19 PM

Same with Reason, Logic, Live, Bitwig, Cubase, etc etc...

fuzulu 31st May 2018 10:28 AM

Bitwig missin

gabrielbates2001 31st May 2018 01:14 PM

since studio one v4 has been released what are peoples opinions on it? some people worship S1 like it is the second coming.