Best DAWs for Hip-hop
What’s the best DAW for beat making? Check out these six examples of the best hip-hop producer software available in 2021.
To get started making hip-hop beats, you need a Digital Audio Workstation for creating backing tracks and recording rap verses. The problem is, there’s lots of DAWs for hip-hop producers to choose from, all promising different things. Which DAW is best for creating and recording rap music?
When inspiration strikes, you want a smooth workflow so you can get your bars down before they disappear from your mind. Which DAW is best for hip-hip for you as a producer will depend on your workflow and budget. Here are six DAWs to consider to get you started.
Reason Studios has an analog feel that connects you to the beatmaking process. It’s got a big sound bank and great drum designer, loop editing and mixing capabilities. Drop samples right into audio tracks for super-fast manipulation.
Reason can be used as a plugin in other DAWs, to bring its sound packs and effects to a workflow you prefer. Available for a $19.99 a month subscription, it’s an affordable option for beginner hip-hop producers.
Brilliant for beginners, BandLab has a super-simple interface but also a huge library of royalty-free sounds and a great easy sampler. The cloud-based setup means there’s nothing to download – and everything is completely free. Share your beats instantly to the platform for feedback and encouragement from the community, as well as collaboration opportunities.
BandLab also make CakeWalk, a DAW with really impressive capabilities considering it’s also available for free.
Designed for electronic music, Ableton Live’s clip view means you can get ideas and loops down fast and swap ideas around. Due to its origins as an instrument, Ableton is highly intuitive for performing at live shows. Its powerful features let you flip samples and make drum racks quickly.
Accessing full features will set you back $449, although you can grab the stripped back Intro version for $99.
Once you’re up to speed with the layout and keyboard shortcuts of FL Studio, beats can be assembled in a flash. The step sequencer channel rack allows you to get stuck in stacking up beats right away.
The vocal recording takes a little getting used to, but the FL Studio piano roll is one of the best, so even if you have no music theory background you can get to work editing and arranging virtual instrumental parts by clicking in MIDI notes with your mouse.
FL was built for electronic music, affordable at $99 for the light version, and its popularity means there’s hundreds – if not thousands – of tutorials out there.
An intuitive visually pleasing DAW with easy drag-and-drop abilities and easy to move between arranging, editing and mixing your project. Quick sampling abilities and renowned audio editing capabilities make for a streamlined experience.
Bitwig starts at $99 for the entry version – and you can try in Demo mode without a time limit.
Logic’s Live Loops let you arrange loops and samples in an accessible grid for swift beatmaking. The Apple-only DAW also makes vocal comping easy, and the step sequencer lets you build beats and bassline patterns in an intuitive way.
At $199, Logic is the grown-up version of GarageBand. On that note – there’s nothing wrong with GarageBand if you’re an Apple user who wants to practice recording your flow and have a go at making your own rap beats.
Most modern DAWs can be used to make hip-hop music – so it comes down to which you feel most at home working in. Happily, you can download all the DAWs on this list for a free trial before you commit to any music software.
There’s more out there to discover, too. Do you want to buy and master a professional DAW like Pro Tools, or explore a free DAW like Tracktion Waveform first?
Which DAW do you recommend for making beats? Let us know what you use in the comments.
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