The Top 10 Best DAWs for music production in 2017

Getting the right music production software is vital to your music. Whether you’re recording a live band through a mixer or creating an electronic piece completely from scratch, a good DAW is essential to making your music.

Thankfully in the modern world we have access to hundreds of pieces of software instantly – but that can make it hard to find the right program just for you. To help you out we’ve collected our top 10 favourite DAWs, each with their own unique traits, that we think are the best artists can get.

Keep an eye out for a list of our favourite FREE DAWs coming soon as well.


Ableton Live ($99+)

(Windows & Mac)

Ableton is one of the world’s most popular DAWs and with good reason. It features a flexibility and feature set that means no matter what you are working on you can create and edit your music exactly how you want.

Ableton is perfect for both beginners and experts with an accessible UI that features a massive range of functions the further you delve into it. Ableton offers 2 view modes that you can switch between at any time: The standard Arrangement View and Session View which allows you to loop different tracks and pieces to build the music as you go.

Live is a fast, fun, intuitive way to make music and a valuable tool to any musician or producer.

FL Studio ($110+)

(Windows & Mac)

FL Studio is an OG of the music production world, with 18 years of innovation behind it’s software today. FL Studio has become renowned for it’s versatility allowing you to compose, arrange, record, edit, mix and more all inside it’s brilliantly easy to use program.

FL Studio’s in-built MIDI arranging is one of it’s most lauded abilities allowing beginners to experiment with transposing and experts to completely write tracks how they would like. Every purchase of FL Studio also comes with free updates for LIFETIME, meaning that you will always have free access to the latest version.

Logic Pro ($199)

(Mac)

Logic Pro is Apple’s darling music production studio for Macs. It offers a fully fleshed out recording studio that is used by professionals (so you know it’s quality). Logic Pro is as visually appealing as it is powerful with gorgeous colours to order your arrangements and sophisticated functions to perfect your projects with.

Whilst it is Mac only this makes it one of the best choices for Mac users as almost everything that can be used on Mac will work with Logic Pro. There are also frequent updates for the software, with a recent update integrating the new Macbook’s touch bar for some super cool functionality in your mixes.

Steinberg Cubase ($80+)

(Windows & Mac)

Cubase have established themselves as a staple in music production software. Using Cubase’s intuitive controls make every step of the production easy – and it’s designed to help you with every step whether that be tapping in the first few notes to your track or tweaking the levels in your final mix.

Their are 3 different versions of Cubase which offer a different package depending on what you need. Their flagship software Cubase Pro is for everything from composing, recording, mixing and editing music with the program’s sophisticated audio and MIDI tools. Cubase Artist is made for deep editing and sequencing whilst Cubase Elements is the feature-packed program for recording music using Cubase Pro’s world famous technology.

Pro Tools ($29+)

(Windows & Mac)

Pro Tools has become renowned as a powerful, quality program not just for music but audio in general, with TV and filmmakers among those who laud the software. Pro Tools is a powerful DAW with deep plugin integration and they’ve recently added loop-based creation allowing you to progressively work on a project.

One of the reasons Pro Tools is so loved is it’s Cloud Collaboration features which allows you to collaborate with anyone – no matter where in the world they are. This also means that working across multiple machines on a project is as smooth as a dream. You can work with up to 10 collaborators, making Pro Tools an essential product for long distance collaborations and bands.

Another unique thing about Pro Tools is you can pay a monthly subscription if you can’t afford the full license, so you can use it only for as long as you need or work towards paying for a full version.

Renoise ($75)

(Windows, Mac & Linux)

Renoise is an interesting DAW in that it does things differently using a “tracker-based approach”. What this essentially means is that the music is run in grids similar to Ableton’s Session view which is brilliant for step-editing and building the elements of a track one-by-one.

Renoise working in grid-based patterns streamlines the creative process but that’s not to say there isn’t a massive range of functionality with Renoise. It features dozens of built-in audio processors and support for a wide range of virtual instruments. In addition you can extend the program with scripting to control it however you want using MIDI and OSC devices.

N-Track Studio ($49+)

(Windows & Mac)

N-Track is famed for it’s virtually unlimited capacity of audio and MIDI tracks with the same capabilities as most of the top DAWs at an incredibly affordable price. It has everything you’d want for recording and mixing with support for a giant range of virtual instruments including ReWire and AU.

One of N-Track’s standout features is it’s cross-platform compatibility which allows you to record and edit between any machine – Windows, Macs, and both iOS and Android mobile apps. The mobile version of N-Track Studio are also incredibly powerful putting a full DAW with all the features you could want literally into your hands.

MOTU Digital Performer ($499)

(Windows & Mac)

MOTU is one of the serious OG’s with MIDI versions going back as far as 1984. It is an incredible platform for streamlining all the elements of your projects into a singular workflow that sparks creativity and inspiration without overwhelming. It features state-of-the-art studio production technology for a high quality mixing and recording experience with a massive variety of editing capabilities.

DP features next gen rendering and buffering technology that is made to keep running to your computers very limits, allowing you to let loose with plugins and tracks. Despite their long-running Mac exclusivity, MOTU have made DP available on Windows too recently.

MOTU also peculiarly offer the option to upgrade from another DAW for a discounted price if you’re looking to switch.

Propellorhead Reason (€369)

(Windows & Mac)

Reason is incredibly reasonable in introducing itself to new users, to it’s software or DAWs in general. They boast such an accessible program that on their website they provide a simple 5-step process to creating a track on Reason.

One of Reason’s standout features is it’s massive host of packaged VSTs that not only give you the tool set to create a massive variety in Reason, but can even be used outside of Reason with other programs. It’s layout will also appeal to tech geeks with the ability to view it as a studio rack, with virtual cable patching too.

Propellorhead’s Reason is available as a much cheaper Essentials version as well as the full DAW.

Cakewalk Sonar ($19.99+)

(Windows)

Sonar is an award-winning DAW with a bunch of cool features, like touch screen compatibility. Sonar comes with an impressive list of lauded effects and virtual instruments to give a professional touch to your mix without even having to buy anything external.

Sonar is available in a variety of different versions which range from incredibly affordable with all of the base features to the regular price of a few hundred for the fully fleshed out version with all the extras, and they’re all available to purchase on a monthly basis to save even more money. Every purchase of Sonar also guarantees you 12 months of free updates, which they regularly add.


So there you have our list of the best programs for creating, mixing and producing music in 2017. Be sure to check back on the RouteNote Blog for more equipment, top lists and news about the music industry – your number one stop for the world of music.

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