One of the toughest first steps that anyone wanting to get into home recording has to go through is picking which Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to use. As the DAW is the heart of any home studio, it’s also one of the most important steps. The good news is that all modern DAWs are going to sound good…once you get them to work and know how to use them. And therein lies the varying degrees of bad news. Some are easier to work with (both hardware and software-wise) and some are harder.
So how do you choose? Everyone has heard of ProTools, as it’s the professional studio standard – but it’s also pretty expensive (for more than the entry level system) and complex. I’m not saying it’s a bad choice, of course, it’s just that it’s a good idea to not just assume you have to go in that direction – there are lots of options. This blog post over at Discmakers is a good place to start, at least to introduce you to some of your choices:
It’s not a completely comprehensive list – be sure to read the comments section to find even more suggestions readers have. Personally I use one not on the list: Tracktion 2, which is Mackie’s software (currently unavailable and unsupported). Why? Because not only does it have a super intuitive software interface, but it came bundled with Mackie’s great hardware interface and mastering software. Point is, I did my research, picked a system that fit my needs and budget, and I’ve been happy ever since. Not that there aren’t trade offs – my system has plenty of quirks and limitations I’ve learned to workaround that may be non-starters for you.
So go take a look, do your research, and I’d love to hear your comments on DAWs you’re thinking about using or maybe you have strong feelings about the one you already use. They all have positives and negatives – what have you learned about different DAWs?