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The Best Free DAW's for Audio and How to Choose One

There has never been a better time for music production. The digital era has made recording and music production easier and more affordable than ever before. In fact, there are tons of free Digital Audio Workstations (DAW's) that contain the essentials for getting started in recording. A DAW is a software program in which you can record, edit and mix multiple tracks. In this article, we'll go through our two favorite free DAWs available today and help you decide which one is right for your needs.

Pro Tools|First

Pro Tools has been the standard recording software in the music industry for decades. A few years ago, they released a free version of the renowned DAW available to everyone, and it comes loaded with the essential tools you need to create music. The most notable features of Pro Tools|First include 16 mono tracks (or 8 stereo tracks), MIDI editing, and 23 plugins that include all of the essentials to mix a pro sounding track. If the included plugins aren't enough, you can actually expand your arsenal via the Avid store! They have lots of great additions to an already packed program.

What are the limitations?

A few limitations of Pro Tools|First starts with the number of inputs. You can have up to 16 total tracks, but you can only record 4 at a time. This may hinder great drum recordings, but it definitely is enough to get started. Avid also took away Beat Detective. Beat Detective is a program included with Pro Tools systems that makes editing so much easier. It really is a professional feature and understandable that they wouldn't give it away for free.

Who is it for?

This is a great DAW for someone getting into specifically audio recording. The audio features are incredible for being free and it has MIDI programming capabilities for the producers as well. But Pro Tools really focuses on great audio processing and editing. It is definitely possible to make a high quality demo, or even a commercial single using this software. Get it here.

Studio One Prime

  Studio One is a DAW that is constantly rising in popularity, and Studio One Prime provides you with the essential tools you need to start making great recordings for free. PreSonus keeps giving users free updates and making the workflow better every day. The most notable features are unlimited audio and instrument tracks, advanced automation and very easy-to-use MIDI editing/drum programming.

What are the limitations?

Although Studio One Prime has unlimited audio tracks, you can only record two tracks at a time. Prime also only includes a fairly basic set of plugins and one VSTi that can be pretty limiting. However, they do have the Pro Plugin Bundle for only $19.95 available here, and it is definitely worth it if you plan on sticking with Prime.

Who is it for?

Studio One (especially in it's current rendition) is made for producers - people who write songs and program many parts of it. Many EDM producers have made the switch to Studio One for the incredible MIDI functionality. With Prime, you get a taste of that and a sample of the very streamlined audio recording. The recording functionality is smooth, but the editing isn't quite on par with Pro Tools. That is why we mostly market this toward EDM producers and songwriters. Get it here. There are many other free DAW's out there. But for most recording needs, Pro Tools|First or Studio One Prime will be perfect. The free versions are a great way to see how you like the workflow and GUI. When you are ready to upgrade, give us a call and we can help you choose the right version! As always, enjoy FAST and FREE shipping on any order in the continental US. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to give us a toll free call at 855-269-0474, or stop in our store in Downtown Appleton! Be sure to check out our other articles here.

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