Best Programs For Music Production

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DAW – Digital Audio Workstation
As a producer, the DAW is your main instrument. This is what you play, this is what you practice on and this is what you get good at. A DAW is a direct extension of your creative mind. Choosing the Best Programs For Music Production for you can be a complicated task and it may take some time and patience in order to be 100% sure in your decision. Let’s find out what are the options, what are the main differences between them and what’s right for you.

Hi everybody, Avi here. I’m a music producer since the late 90’s and I’ve tried almost every program for music production out there and I can help you find the right DAW for you.
These are a few very important questions you have to ask yourself before choosing your best program for music production. Disclaimer, This article is based only on my personal preference and knowledge. Let’s start with the first question.

1. What is my main genre?

2. Do I have to record and edit live instruments?

3. Am I planning to use third party plugins or only use the built-in ones?

4. Am I going to share projects with other musicians?

 

1. What is my main genre?

Every DAW is designed a little different. Some are built for fast creation, and some are built more like a recording tape machine. These days almost all the DAW’s have the same features and same abilities. The only thing that is different is the design orientation for specific genres. If your music is going to be live instruments based it is best for you to choose the ones that are built more like tape machines.

• Protools
• Cubase / Nuendo
• Logic Pro
• Studio One
• Digital Performer

These are the programs I personally used in the past for recording and general creation.
Over the years I’ve learned to like Logic Pro and used it as my main DAW for everything I’ll tell you why later on this article.
There are a lot of famous EDM producers that uses big DAW’s as there main creation tool.
For example
Cubase Users: Zedd, Infected Mushroom and many that I don’t remember right now.
Logic Users: Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, Kygo and many more.

If you’re more into electronic music creation that is synth plugins and sample-based, these are the DAW’s that are more suitable for you.

• Ableton Live
• FL Studio
• Reason

It is important to say that every DAW can be used for any genre. From the big ones I really prefer Logic and Cubase over Protools for example. What’s nice about programs like Ableton Live and FL Studio is that everything that is electronic music related can be performed very fast.
Also, it is full of interesting built-in plugins and features that allow you to create all the nice production “shticks” that you hear in today’s electronic productions.
Ableton Live users: Skrillex, Deadmou5, Diplo and more.
FL Studio: Martin Garrix, Avici (RIP), Aerojack and more.

I must say, I have a warm place in my heart for Propellerhead Reason. when it first arrived in the early 2000’s it looked like how I always wanted music programs to look. Just like an amazing equipment rig that every good producer should own. Back then everything was so expensive and the idea of a rack full of cool synths, samplers, and amazing compressors and EQ’s was just jaw-dropping. Nothing was that sexy back then and even today, it is considered to be one of the most impressive music applications out there.

2. Do I have to record and edit live instruments?

The more traditional producers that are recording live instruments like guitars, drums, and vocals use programs like Protools, Cubase and Logic. These are the three big ones.

Protools (PC | MAC)
Of course, it is pointing out the obvious but most big studios in the world use Avid Protools. It is built for studio and for big recordings, it has the largest and most diverse collection of outboard that is built by Avid specifically for it. Protools has a very easy and convenient wiring system, mixer, automation, and general working area.

Cubase (PC | MAC)

You can say the same things about Steinberg Cubase/Nuendo.
Although it comes with less outboard controllers it has the same features as Protools and still has an impressive collection of outboard gear that you can use with it or any other DAW system. Cubase was my main tool for 12 years and I love it! As far as audio recording and editing, no one does it better than the Germans. Everything is very accurate, Almost not bugs and overall stability. In the MIDI department, it is PERFECT as far as I can say. There is nothing you can’t do and the midi automation system is very convenient.
Just listen to the amazing and complicated stuff that Infected Mushroom are doing with it. It is practically limitless. The only thing I left Cubase for is the audio engine. At a certain point, it just didn’t sound good enough for my standards.

Logic Pro (MAC Only)
So after trying to get to “That Sound” I wanted and was always hitting a barrier with Cubase I finally listened to Logic. I first started with version 8 and it was an amazing eye-opener, or should I say “Ear opener”. I could finally hear the 3D depth in my sound. Reverbs sounded deeper, Kicks sounded fuller, lower and well defined. My sound drastically improved literally overnight. I was in love with every demo I made right from the beginning.
I didn’t like Logic coming from Cubase. Logic 8/9 was full of bugs and a lot of weird shit happened in my system. I called it ghosts in my machine. In time Apple released few major updates that made Logic much more stable and easy to work with.
One of the best Logic’s features is the audio comping option. It totally changed the way I used to edit vocals. You can read more about it here. In time Logic became my main tool and it is still my favorite DAW to this day, it is just full of creative energy in my perspective. I strongly recommend you to give Logic more time, it will pay off I promise. Of course Logic is for Apple systems only.

3. Am I planning to use third party plugins or only use the built-in ones?

This is a big one. Third-party plugins and instruments are a very big part of the music production culture. Some even have so many fans around the world that whole genres are based on them. A good example of such a synth plugin would be Sylenth1. A lot of EDM genres are based purely on this one synth and it literally has limitless presets and sounds.
So if you are going to buy all your third-party plugins it does not really matter which DAW to use. You just have to make sure the plugins company make a version of their plugin for your preferable music program.

And if you are not going to buy more then just the DAW, again I strongly suggest you go for Logic. You can basically create a full production in any genre that will sound amazing and up to date. It’s kinda the same with Cubase and Logic.

4. Am I going to share projects with other musicians?

A big factor is sharing projects between friends and other producers. If you are not working alone and want to send a certain project to a friend or another music producer or even to an arranger or mix engineer just do a little check what the most used DAW around you. Although I would not base my decision only on that. Choosing your DAW is still a very personal preference. I used to work with a partner and we always moved projects from my system to his and vice versa. Trust me you don’t want that export party every time you need to work with another musician on another system.

Free DAW’s
I wanted to mention this because not all of us would want to spend the money on an expensive DAW. So exactly for this, we have this sweet list of tools you need to take a look at.

• Reaper
• MU.Lab
• Studio One 3 Prime
• Ardour
• Zynewave Podium Free

You can read and hear more about these programs and more on that website. This is a short showcase video for Reaper

So to wrap this up I want to leave you with a sticky generic message, what’s important at the end is which DAW feels most like home for you and make it easier for you to create your art. It is your sound, your taste, your tools and your workflow that will make you the musician you will become.

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