Digital Audio Workstations or DAW is a device or a software typically used for music production and sound recording. It can also be found in every single music studio out there and it is an important part of making and producing incredible and flawless tunes. If you want your music to sound impeccable and very professional, you simply have to get yourself this useful piece of equipment. Feel free to check out our list of the best DAWs on the market in the section below.
Luckily, it Is available to everyone right now either in its physical form, or as a software program. It has a wide application so it is not reserved for music production only. The majority of podcasters use it as well and the best DAW will clear up your recordings and make any track sound very clear and polished. It is used for various types of recordings which require high quality sound and if you are in this line of work, or you are just starting to get involved in it, investing your money in the best DAW is a must.
Modern DAW entered the spotlight in the 1990s when making music in the comfort of your own home, or at your private studio became a common occurrence. Sure enough, it is hard to say which DAW is the best because it all depends on your own personal preferences and goals. There are so many different DAWs available in the market right now, ranging from downloadable software to a fully separate computerized unit that is capable for literarily anything you imagine.
It doesn’t matter if you plan on building a separate music studio in the back yard, or you plan on recording vocals and tunes in your living room – DAW is something you need to have in order to achieve professional and high quality outcome. It is a piece of a recording equipment you should invest your money in since it is very helpful and will deliver you amazing results.
Top 5 Best DAWs of 2016
Here are the best digital audio workstations money can buy.
1. PreSonus FaderPort USB DAW Controller
Delivering you all the basic features and options, PreSonus FaderPort USB DAW Controller is an excellent device that is easily connectable to your computer via USB and it also works with almost every DAW software out there. It can be used both at home and in a studio and it will allow you to achieve the desired quality of your recording.
It is small and compact so it won’t take a lot of your space. It is also very affordable so it is perfect for beginners. You will be able to control your sound quality without a single problem and you’ll master PreSonus FaderPort USB DAW Controller quickly and easily. The top part is made from metal, and the buttons are large and easy to use. PreSonus FaderPort is very user friendly that is for sure. It is a superb device for podcasters as well since it is very portable and can be used absolutely everywhere.
2. Zoom R8 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface
This device can be used for multiple purposes – it is a DAW, but it is also a pad sampler, sequencer, recorder, and a rhythm machine. If you invest in Zoom R8 Multitrack SD Recorder, you will be getting plenty of useful features that can be essential for recording in your home. You will be able to get studio results right there in your room. It will provide you with eight tracks that are to be used for recording.
What we particularly love about Zoom R8 Multitrack SD Recorder is the fact that it can be powered by batteries, so it is perfect for people who are constantly on the move. You can use it to record whenever the inspiration hits you, plug it in your computer later on, and work on your ideas whenever you want. It is a spectacular multipurpose device that can be useful to every musician out there.
3. Behringer X-TOUCH Universal DAW Remote Control for Studio & Live Applications
Behringer is a well-known brand that delivers premium music instruments and studio equipment. The X-TOUCH easily made our list of the best DAWs. This product is not an exception and if you decide to go with Behringer X-TOUCH Universal, you will be getting an exquisite piece of recording hardware which will allow you to bring your sound to the highest level possible.
It is beautifully designed and has nine faders and eight rotary controls. It is compatible with every music software out there so because of this, you will be able to connect it and use it on your laptop or computer right away with every software you already have installed in there. LCD strips will allow you to know exactly which track you are working on, and that simplifies the entire process. Working on Behringer X-TOUCH Universal feels like a breeze and you will be able to create great things with this device.
4. Novation Launch Control XL Ableton Live Controller
If you are an Ableton Live user but you are tired of the constant clicking and you want to actually get your hands on your DAW, this device will allow you to continue using that software but provide you with the complete real time control. You will get eight faders, sixteen buttons, and twenty-four knobs. It is well illuminated and you can even customize the colors to your liking.
Once you launch Ableton Live on your laptop and connect it to the live controller, you will be able to assign each button and knob to different commands within the software. Mixing your sound will be a whole lot easier and you will achieve great and crystal clear sound. Another useful thing is the fact that once you plug your Novation Launch Control XL into your computer, it doesn’t require an additional power source. So there will be no unnecessary cables all around your work station.
5. Icon Qcon Pro 8-fader DAW Control Surface incl Cubase LE
With motorized faders and eight knobs, this is a great addition to your recording studio. It can be used on every system out there and has presets that are compatible with some of the most famous music production software such as Pro Tools and Ableton Live. You will be able to record and improve your sound effortlessly with this device.
Icon Qcon Pro 8-fader DAW Control Surface is perfect for intermediate users who want to move to a more professional device, but they are not quite ready for a large and all-including DAW that might still confuse them a bit. This diverse model will provide them with additional useful options and expand their knowledge on sound and music production by a mile.
Benefits of Using a DAW
- Faster, easier, natural music production
- Handle large music files
- Random access editing
- Digital signal processing
- Nondestructive editing
If you are a seasoned music producer who have been using DAW in your recording studio for quite some time now, you know exactly why DAW is simply essential for achieving clear and professional sound. It is a great piece of equipment that can be used for various recordings. It is not reserved for musicians only and any sort of audio recording can be fixed and improved with this device.
So ask yourself a couple of questions – First, what is your goal? Do you want to become a music producer, or you will need DAW for audio recordings such as podcasts and radio shows? Secondly, how much money are you willing to spend on this instrument? And finally, have you ever used a device like this before? Once you have a clear picture of what you want, choosing the right model will be quick and effortless.
Beginners should do their research properly before they make a decision which DAW to buy. Choosing the best DAW for their level of knowledge is essential. You need a simple model that will deliver you all the basics and it should also be easy to master of all as this will enable you handle it with care.
You can always move on to bigger and better devices that will provide you with a larger selection of effects and options. But you need to begin your music production journey on the right foot, so make sure you buy the best possible device suitable for beginners out there. If you are just starting out, the best DAW for you has fewer features, but all of them are useful and they will teach you a lot about what exactly you need to do to make your sound as clear and as alluring as possible.
Match the DAW with Software for the Ultimate Music Production Powerhouse
As you might have assumed by now, you will also need a software program to accompany your DAW device. Of course, actual DAW device is not obligatory and you will be free to use the software on its own, and still record and edit your style in the most professional way possible. Some standalone DAW software matched with a solid computer is more than enough.
Luckily, there are plenty of software options out there, and some are very beginner friendly, while some are more professional and harder to master. If you have never used DAW before, we suggest that you download a beginner friendly software before you actually buy the physical device. You will be able to assess your current abilities and gain a bit of knowledge before you actually get your hands on the best DAW for you.
Music production software is quite expensive and you will be investing a lot of money in this endeavor. However, there are always trial versions that allow you to try out the software before you make the actual purchase, and determine if it is right for you or not. You will be able to test the software out for a couple of weeks for sure, so deciding whether you want to own it or not will be pretty easy.
We suggest that you look into Ableton Live – it is an excellent program that has a beautiful design, it is very user friendly and while it might not be the perfect software for editing voice, it is great for music production. It can be used on both Windows and iOS. Another notable software is FL Studio – it allows you to use various effects easily, and most importantly, it offers plenty of video and audio tutorials to their users. This feature is especially useful for novices, so make use of its availability to you. You simply have to start somewhere, right?
General Thoughts on Digital Audio Workstations
If you want the best DAW for your level of knowledge, you have to invest a bit more money in order to get the highest quality possible. Digital Audio Workstation is a valuable piece of equipment that will transform your recordings into a piece of art. The sound will be crystal clear, you will be able to easily add various effects, and the overall sound will be simply incredible. So spending additional bucks on the best DAW will pay off. You will be able to hear the difference right away, we guarantee.
So what should you look for while choosing the best DAW? First of all, make sure it is made from good, durable, and strong materials. You want this device to last you a long time and you shouldn’t buy something that looks and feels a bit wonky. Also, you will be handling it quite a bit, so all the buttons and knobs should feel firm and steady. You don’t want them to fall off or get broken.
Secondly, your DAW should have all the options you need. If you are a beginner who is learning how to use DAW and making your first recordings with this device, you will require less features. The best DAW for you should be smaller and more compact. The buttons, knobs, and faders are supposed to be easily accessed, providing you with comfort while you use this device.
If you are looking for a more advanced model, you will get a lot more effects, options, and features. However, it might be a bit harder to figure out how to use it right away, so be careful with this choice if you are not a fast learner. All in all, it all depends on your overall goals. DAW can be used for simple tasks and replace a tape recorder, while some people use it as their entire recording studio. It truly has a wide range of application and it should be the centerpiece of your recording studio.