Best DAW Software 2019 for PC

Best DAW SoftwareInnovative technology has changed the way in which artists can create and edit music and other audio. Thanks to DAW software, it is now possible to create music quickly and from a relatively small setup. Furthermore, some music making tools are light enough that they work on mobile devices, allowing you to record and edit audio on the move.

When it comes to the best Digital Audio Workstation, there are plenty of options available. We have downloaded and tested the free DAW solutions on the market for 2019 to find out which ones are the best. From full suites to free music making software, our list covers audio recording tools that work across all platforms and devices.

1. Avid Pro Tools – industry-standard DAW software

Avid Pro Tools DAW software

While most of the programs on this list are free, Avid Pro Tools is a paid audio recording software, although it does come with a limited free version called Avid Pro Tools First. In terms of the full app, Avid offers both a standard Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD, both of which are excellent choices for recording audio and creating music, not least because the program is loaded with features, some of which are not on the free DAW software.

Now into its twelfth full version, Pro Tools is a famed DAW that is used by professional musicians and producers to tweak studio performances. Even the limited free version is powerful enough in its own right. Despite hosting a myriad of features, Pro Tools remains a relatively simple audio recording software to use, which is why it has become so popular.

Core features include 500MB of bundled loops, a huge sound library, cloud-based collaboration, the Xpand!2 multi-timbral workstation with 20 plugins, and more. Pro Tools First is free-to-use DAW software but come with limitations like projects limited to 1GB in size, 16 simultaneous audio tracks, and 16 instruments.

OS: Windows and Mac OS
Licensing: Free Version/Pro Tools – $25 a month/Pro Tools HD – $83 a month
File Size: 2.2 GB
Our Rating: 10 / 10

Pros Cons
  • Extensive features
  • Massive sound library
  • Cloud collaboration
  • Industry-standard DAW software
  • Free version is limited

2. GarageBand – perfect DAW software for Apple devices

GarageBand DAW

If you own an iPhone, Mac, or iPad, you are probably familiar with GarageBand. Apple’s music making software and editing suite is a masterpiece of design and function and is completely free. Users previously had to pay for GarageBand, but it is now available to all users of Apple devices, and there is a lot on offer.

Despite being free, GarageBand competes with paid DAW software, such as Pro Tools, and is arguably even better. There’s a reason why there is an influx of music artists and audio editors using their iPhones and Macs to record. GarageBand comes with excellent virtual instruments, MIDI-editing, music lessons, audio recording, effects, and much more.

This strong feature set is all wrapped in Apple’s typically excellent software design, which makes GarageBand so easy to use and beautiful to look. Indeed, the app would arguably top our best DAW list if it wasn’t for its availability limits. GarageBand is only available on Apple devices.

OS: iOS and MacOS
Licensing: Free
Our Rating: 9 / 10

Pros Cons
  • Stunning interface
  • Good usability
  • Regularly updated
  • Amazing features
  • Limited to Apple devices

3. Zynewave Podium – one of the best DAW for Windows

Zynewave Podium audio recording software

Zynewave Podium is an audio recording software that comes with a long list of features and abilities. Like Pro Tools, this DAW software is available as both a freemium and paid program. The free version of Zynewave Podium is limited, but still provides plenty of interesting abilities to suit most users.

However, the full version of Zynewave Podium is where it is at for a full list of features and tools. Among the core functions on Zynewave Podium are MIDI management, a 64-bit sound engine, VST, and the ability to plug in third-party solutions. Multiprocessing is also available, which is missing from the free version of this Digital Audio Workstation.

We like the customization of the Zynewave Podium interface, while the effects at least match those available on GarageBand and Pro Tools. There’s not much to dislike about this DAW software, but it is just not quite as versatile as Pro Tools or as slick as GarageBand. It is also only available on Windows.

OS: Windows OS
Licensing: Free Version/Pro Version $50
File Size: 16 MB
Our Rating: 9 / 10

Pros Cons
  • Strong features
  • Interface customization
  • Limited free version
  • Limited to Windows

4. Audacity – completely free DAW (open source)

Audacity free recording software

Audacity is one of the oldest pro-level free recording software programs, having made its debut way back in 2000. Since then, the completely free solution has become one of the most popular audio recording choices around, and not just because it is free. Audacity is an open-source DAW software that runs on Windows, MacOS, and Linux platforms.

Compared to other DAWs, Audacity admittedly carries a more basic interface and may look outdated to users seeking a modern touch. However, the simple look of this free DAW tool is misleading, as Audacity is both easy to use and feature rich. Toolbars make it easy for users to mix, track, and edit audio recordings, while loaded tracks are simply manipulated with a waveform interface.

There’s no denying the quality of Audacity, but it also has some problems. For example, any edits made to a track are permanent as they are made directly on the waveform. This essentially means that there is no going back to undo edits, so be careful.

OS: Windows, MacOS, Linux
Licensing: Open source
File Size: 25 MB
Our Rating: 8 / 10

Pros Cons
  • Cross-platform
  • Simple interface
  • Open source
  • Excellent feature set
  • Completely free
  • Destructive editing
  • Dated design

5. Ardour – the best free DAW for beginners

Ardour DAW

Like Audacity, Ardour is an open-source and free DAW that functions across Windows, MacOS, and Linux platforms. While it is arguably more boutique than other free recording software programs on this list, Ardour has plenty of pedigree. It was designed by a former Amazon programmer and delivers plenty of interesting features.

Ardour is all function and puts elegant form to the side in favor of providing all the tools you need for editing audio recordings. We especially love the robust multi-track recording that allows users to import audio on to video content. Unlike Audacity, Ardour does not have destructive editing, so you won’t have to worry about losing work after an edit.

Despite being a good DAW software, Ardour does feel like a starting point, not least because it lacks built-in effects and instruments, so you will need to download third-party software through the Jack sound server.

OS: Windows, MacOS, Linux
Licensing: Free version/Subscription from $1 to $50 per month
File Size: 93 MB
Our Rating: 8 / 10

Pros Cons
  • Audio-to-video features
  • Functional interface
  • Strong editing tools
  • Jack sound server support
  • No built-in instruments
  • No built-in effects

All the free DAW software listed above puts a full-fledged recording studio on to your PC and, in some cases, mobile device. They each host powerful tools for recording and editing audio, but also for creating music through virtual machines and MIDI integrations. Whether you are a DJ, singer, or instrumentalist, the programs above have something to offer. If you’re looking for the best way to enjoy your music, you might be interested in investing in decent wireless earbuds.

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