Best Music Making Software of 2022 | HP® Tech Takes (2022)

The best-music making software allows artists and producers to work with sounds digitally, whether or not you have a live band or instrumentation. Often referred to as digital audio workstations (DAWs), this software provides a detailed interface for recording, mixing, and mastering your work.

Choosing the right music software comes down to your own personal needs. Since many options have similar features, your level of comfort with a particular interface often takes precedence. Most music-making apps also feature their own built-in sound libraries to compare against each other, such as the sound of drum machines.

In this guide, we review the best music-making software available today with information on key features, product highlights, and pricing.

1. Ableton

Based in Germany and California,

Ableton

is an industry stalwart that’s extremely popular with recording artists. In particular, the software Ableton Live is well-liked by electronic music producers and DJs, thanks to the homemade audio and effects packs. Those perks make it very useful for live performances, too.

As of March 2022, Ableton Live is available in 3 versions. Each has its own one-time price, with higher-priced plans offering more features and better audio handling.

  • Intro: Good basic plan with 16 audio and MIDI tracks, 16 scenes, 2 send and return tracks, 8 mono audio input channels, and 8 mono audio output channels.
  • Standard: Helps professionals expand scope with unlimited audio and MIDI tracks, unlimited scenes, and 256 mono audio input and output channels. Adds audio-slicing and audio-to-MIDI features.
  • Suite: Greatly expands the amount of content you can manage per track, as well as the amount of built-in content, including audio and effects packs.

If budget is an issue, you’ll be pleased with the Intro version of Ableton Live 11. It’s packed with features such as Comping, MIDI polyphonic expression, tempo following, and note and velocity chance. Standard and Suite offer convenient linked-track editing, so you can manage more tracks at once.

Key Features:

  • One-time payment
  • 3 versions: Intro ($99), Standard ($449), Suite ($749)
  • Popular with producers and performers
  • Massive built-in sound library

2. Avid Pro Tools

Best Music Making Software of 2022 | HP® Tech Takes (1)

Avid Pro Tools

is undeniably one of the most popular studio software options in the world. Like Ableton, Pro Tools is full featured and supports a companion hardware line, with most of the interface designed to sync up seamlessly with a full-scale studio environment.

(Video) Best Free DAWs 2022 👉 Free Music Production Software For Windows

For career musicians with a reasonable budget to spend on production, Pro Tools is superb music-maker software that supports quality and quantity. The latest version is available in 2 tiers for a monthly subscription that grants access to all features.

  • Pro Tools: The starting Pro Tools plan offers much of the same functionality as Ultimate, with less support for complex workflows and extensive hardware suites.
  • Pro Tools Ultimate: Substantially boosts the scale and complexity of support audio, with lots of added features. Includes in-the-box dubbing, advanced audio editing, field recorder workflows, and more.

Pro Tools is a top-shelf candidate for professionals, especially engineers and hardware-obsessed artists. It’s also no longer restricted to studio hardware, so you can work with Pro Tools in your home setup.

Key Features:

  • Monthly subscription
  • 2 tiers: Standard ($29.99), Ultimate ($79.99)
  • Popular with studios and professionals
  • Established industry benchmark

3. PreSonus Studio One

Founded in Louisiana, circa 1995, the earliest form of PreSonus was created to help musicians Jim Odom and Brian Smith prepare their music for CD recording. Their

PreSonus Studio One

has many of the same capabilities as the competition but with a more intuitive interface. It doesn’t hurt their credentials that

Fender is set to acquire the business

.

Studio One is currently offered in 3 formats, with a streamlined free version,

Studio One Prime

, made for newcomers. Here’s what you get with the paid options:

  • Artist: Features “drag-and-drop workflow” system and unlimited tracks, effects, and plug-ins. PreSonus recommends it for musicians and podcasters.
  • Professional: Adds support for native plug-ins, Celemony Melodyne Essentials for managing vocals, more workflow features, and built-in audio content.
  • Sphere: Available only as a monthly ($14.95) or annual ($164.95) subscription. Adds the Presence XT Editor for editing samples, notation software from Notion, and even more content and plug-ins.

In addition to its interface and workflow features, Studio One appeals to artists with an existing investment in Fender. While the merger is in the works as of this writing, it stands to reason Studio One’s support for Fender will benefit from the connection.

Key Features:

(Video) Best AI Music Composers Software in 2022

  • Monthly subscription and/or one-time payment
  • 3 versions: Artist ($99.95), Professional ($399.95), Sphere (monthly/annual)
  • Strong candidate for fans of Fender products
  • Popular workflow and interface

4. Audacity

Best Music Making Software of 2022 | HP® Tech Takes (2)

Developed by two students at Carnegie Mellon University,

Audacity

is an open-source, free music-making software with more than two decades under its belt. It allows you to make your own modifications and additions to the core program and

sell your own version of the software

. It’s streamlined to run smoothly on most operating systems, too.

You can write your own plug-ins for Audacity, but it also supports LADSPA, LV2, Nyquist, VST, and Audio Unit effects. If you aren’t working with digital source material, you need a mic and a mixer, but this software is a fantastic starting point. Podcasters and other audio professionals will love it, too.

Key Features:

  • Free to use
  • Open-source and customizable
  • Simple interface
  • Easy to run on just about any system

5. Waveform Pro & Free

With roots in U.K. studio technology, Traktion’s

Waveform Pro 12

is another standout that’s popular for its unique interface. Traktion also offers

Waveform Free

, which is stellar free music production software with very few content limitations and restrictions compared to other free offerings.

Here’s how the 2 differentiate:

  • Free: One of the most full-featured free DAWs available. Thanks to extensive functionality and limited restrictions, Waveform Free can help you start making music at any scale.
  • Pro: Available in a variety of bundles to help address other needs, the core Waveform Pro 12 software is $149. The “Everything Bundle” costs $999, and it adds extra audio content and production tools.

Though there are plenty of reasons to consider the Pro version, Waveform is an obvious candidate for the best free music-making software in particular. Thanks to its lack of content limitations, even a professional can get a lot more mileage.

(Video) Best Free DAWs [Free Software to Make Music] (2022)

Key Features:

  • One-time payment, plus add-ons
  • Available in multiple bundles
  • Extensive features for a free DAW
  • No track limits

6. Steinberg Cubase

Released more than 3 decades ago, German audio tech firm Steinberg’s

Cubase

software began its life as a MIDI sequencer based on the Atari ST. With such a long history, Cubase’s interface has changed greatly over the years through continued innovation.

Cubase 12 is available in 3 different packages:

  • Elements: Bread-and-butter DAW with notable built-in features, though it includes limitations on complexity that may feel restrictive.
  • Artist: At the artist level, this package unlocks more of the workflow features you need for a true studio environment. They include combined select tools mode for using object and range selection at once, and ARA 2 support so you can get the most from your plug-ins.
  • Pro: Dramatically expands plug-in support and management options for composition and mixing. Ideal for brisk workflows and artists who need an extensive built-in sound library.

Steinberg supports mobile and tablet recording through the

Cubasis

app, now in its third iteration. It’s well-rated in both the

App Store

and

Google Play

, and even works with the Chrome OS, making it one of the best music-making apps in terms of versatility.

Key Features:

  • One-time payment
  • 3 versions: Elements ($99.99), Artist ($329.99), Pro ($579.99)
  • Support for mobile music making
  • Long history in the industry

7. Reaper

Best Music Making Software of 2022 | HP® Tech Takes (3)

Reaper

is designed for simplicity and efficiency. It's popular for its easy-to-run software, affordable licensing options, and emphasis on practical recording features. You’ll find minimal restrictions and plenty of support for most standard plug-ins.

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There are 2 license packages for Reaper, Discounted and Commercial, but both provide the same functionality. This makes it a useful tool for home and teaching environments in particular.

Students have plenty of room to learn with Reaper, and enough functionality to keep building on their experience. You’ll also benefit from Reaper’s active

user community

, one of the driving forces behind updates and changes.

Key Features:

  • One-time payment
  • Discounted ($60) or Commercial ($225) licenses
  • Discounted license is perfect for home and school use
  • Easy-to-run software with very few built-in restrictions

8. iZotope Music Production Suite

The

iZotope Music Production Suite

is a solid standalone DAW you can buy outright or as part of a bundle. If you go the latter route, you’ll find ways to expand your studio tech or sound library.

The core suite includes tons of useful plug-ins for instrument balancing, fine reverb control, and mastering your tracks. You can upgrade some of the included tools to pro versions or experiment with other features as part of the subscription tier. Base costs and bundle prices vary, but subscriptions are currently priced at

$199 per year

or

$19.99 per month

.

(Video) Free Music Production and Recording Software - Best Free DAWs (2021)

Key Features:

  • One-time payment or subscription
  • Available in multiple bundles
  • Good audio repair tools
  • Comprehensive core plug-ins

Summary

There is a wide range of prices and features with today’s music creation software, but the good news is you have plenty of options to consider for almost any application. Free music makers like Waveform Free or Audacity are more than adequate for basic needs. Otherwise, professionals may consider PreSonus Sphere or Steinberg Cubase Pro the best music-making software.

About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.

FAQs

What is the easiest software to make music? ›

  1. Apple GarageBand. Logic's little brother and the best beginner DAW overall. ...
  2. Ableton Live 11 Intro. ...
  3. Image Line FL Studio Fruity Edition. ...
  4. Steinberg Cubase Elements 11. ...
  5. Bitwig Studio 16-track. ...
  6. Presonus Studio One 5 Artist. ...
  7. Cockos Reaper 6. ...
  8. Acoustica Mixcraft 9 Recording Studio.
23 Apr 2021

What software do most musicians use? ›

1. Fl Studio. Image-Line Fl Studio is the most popular music production software used across the board. From beginners to industry professionals, you'll find Fl Studio easy to use with its appealing graphical user interface, structured navigation and easy to install plugins.

What DAW do most professionals use? ›

Pro Tools

Pro Tools is the industry-standard DAW. This is the one you'll find in almost every professional studio.

What software do famous producers use? ›

The most popular DAWS at the moment are Ableton Live, Logic Pro and FL studio. In addition to DAW's EDM artists also use several plugins for these DAW's which are in essence emulations of existing instruments and analog audio effects. These plugins come in the form of VST's or AudioUnits.

What DAW is easiest to learn? ›

Mastering your tools is essential for growth and can't be stated enough.
  1. Garageband. Our first DAW for beginners is Apple's Garageband. ...
  2. Logic Pro X. Our next best DAW for beginners is Apple Logic Pro X. ...
  3. Ableton Live. ...
  4. FL Studio. ...
  5. Bandlab. ...
  6. Presonus Studio One. ...
  7. Cubase Elements.
20 Apr 2022

Is Logic Pro good for beginners? ›

Logic Pro is a great DAW option for beginners. It's inexpensive, easy to learn, and online tutorials are abundant for continuous learning. Additionally, even as Logic Pro X is good for beginners, you don't have to switch to another DAW later since it has everything a professional engineer or producer needs.

What do music producers use to make music? ›

1. Daw (Digital Audio Workstation) What is it: A DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation, is a software application for editing, recording, and creating audio files. DAWs are considered to be the foundation of electronic music production- without one, you'd be recording on audiotape recorders.

Is making music easy? ›

Yes, in general making music is hard. Musicians have a gift for doing so, which they spend years cultivating. But that doesn't mean you can't develop and learn this skill too. We have an abundance of resources online and tools that can help us create music easier and make it more fun.

What do professional musicians use to make music? ›

Top 7 Music Production Software For Audio Professionals In 2022
  • Logic Pro X. Logic Pro X is a super popular music producing software on the list. ...
  • Fl Studio. ...
  • Magix Acid Pro. ...
  • Ableton Live. ...
  • Cockos Reaper. ...
  • Garageband. ...
  • PreSonus Studio One.
8 Nov 2021

Is Cubase used by professionals? ›

Question: Is Cubase Used by Professionals? Answer: Absolutely it is. There are several versions of Cubase, each of which is targeted to different users. If, for example, you are a producer looking to write and edit tracks, then Cubase Artist may be the best option for you.

What do most artists use to produce music? ›

Music Production Equipment
  • Computer.
  • Digital Audio Workstation (DAW): Pro Tools, Logic Pro, GarageBand, etc.
  • MIDI Controller.
  • Audio Interface.
  • Microphone.
  • Headphones.
  • Audio Monitors.

Which DAW has best sound quality? ›

Some will argue that Ableton Live has a recognizable, pristine sound. It's also said that Logic has a more 'flat' response, so some producers regularly compose in Live and then mix in Logic.

What DAW does Dr Dre use? ›

Akai MPC 3000

The Akai MPC3000 is by far one of the most important production tools in the history of hip-hop, with prominent users including Dr. Dre, J Dilla, DJ Premier and Swizz Beats.

What DAW does Kanye use? ›

Kanye West often does not use a DAW when making music. He uses hardware for sampling, writing, and adding beats. However, he and his team have been seen using both Pro Tools and FL Studio for recording.

What software do music engineers use? ›

Audacity

Audacity is a free, open-source audio engineering software platform that's very popular among engineers. It's known for its ease of use (even for beginners to audio engineering) and is available on both Mac and Windows. It comes with all the basic features needed to start mixing your audio track.

Why is Ableton better than FL Studio? ›

The Winner. For workflow speed, Ableton Live definitely wins this round. While workflow is subjective and changes between producers, Ableton's clear interface and intuitive tools definitely make it a breeze, especially working with audio. If you like workflow options, FL might be the better option.

Which is better Pro Tools or Ableton? ›

The main differences between Pro Tools vs Ableton are: Ableton is a DAW focused heavily on creativity and experimentation, whereas Pro Tools takes a more professional and audio engineering approach. Pro Tools is considered a music industry standard within professional studios, whereas Ableton is not at this stage.

Which DAW is best for tech house? ›

Ableton and Bitwig probably have the most modern and accessible content specific to Techno, House and all its flavors. You can make EDM in any DAW, or with hardware sequencers and go completely DAWless. Ableton has been around for a while.

How much does a DAW cost? ›

DAWs can run anywhere from a $60 Cockos Reaper 6 install to $2,599 for a “perpetual license” of the full professional studio-grade Pro Tools Ultimate toolset.

Is Studio One good for beginners? ›

Studio One specialist Gregor Beyerle teaches the three core principles that make Studio One so fast and easy to use: Studio One - All in One. You can do everything from your first idea and songwriting sketches, all the way to the mixing and finally mastering stage your finished track without ever leaving Studio One.

How much does a Logic Pro cost? ›

$199.99

Is Logic or FL Studio better? ›

Logic Pro X is an excellent choice if you want to do live recordings and acoustic music, while FL Studio 20 shines when it comes to electronic music production in the box. If you are a beginner, FL Studio 20 is much easier to use the Logic Pro X.

What's better Pro Tools or Logic? ›

Both Pro Tools and Logic can each achieve that, but Pro Tools goes a bit more in-depth with the audio recording features. Being the original recording software has its advantages. For example, Pro Tools contains 5 record modes; normal, loop, destructive, quick punch, track punch, and destructive punch.

How can I start my own music production at home? ›

To start producing your own music at home, follow these steps:
  1. Learn how to write melodies.
  2. Learn how to write lyrics.
  3. Download and learn how to use a DAW.
  4. Record your song using the DAW or write the music within the DAW.
  5. To do this, set your tempo and key.
  6. Create a drum beat.
  7. Add the bassline.

Can you produce music with just a laptop? ›

Whether you're recording bass guitar or hip-hop or a classical quartet, you can now produce practically any kind of music on a laptop computer.

Where do I start in music production? ›

Here is a list of steps you can take to become a music producer:
  • Train your ears. ...
  • Learn an instrument. ...
  • Get a digital audio workstation. ...
  • Have a production and recording space. ...
  • Learn how to use an audio mixer. ...
  • Network with artists. ...
  • Consider a degree in music. ...
  • Take an internship.
15 Feb 2021

How many hours a day should I produce music? ›

Try to spend one hour per day focused on music production. If you find it exceptionally hard to do this, start even smaller (15 or 30 minutes).

Why is producing music so hard? ›

Music production is hard because it demands a varied set of skills. Successful music producers need to be good at composing, mixing, and mastering music. They also need to know how to work with other musicians. Finally, they have to be business-savvy to make it in a highly competitive industry.

Are music producers happy? ›

Music producers are one of the happiest careers in the United States. At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, music producers rate their career happiness 4.3 out of 5 stars which puts them in the top 1% of careers.

How can I compose a song? ›

Great songwriters use these ten practical tips when composing new music and lyrics.
  1. Compose a catchy melody. ...
  2. Use all types of chords. ...
  3. Create a memorable rhythm. ...
  4. Build your song around a riff. ...
  5. Write a song you can play live. ...
  6. Step away from your instrument to write. ...
  7. Get ambitious with song structure.
10 Dec 2021

Which famous artists use Cubase? ›

Famous Producers who use Cubase?
  • Amon Tobin (who is incredible with production and worth checking out if you do not know his stuff)
  • Ian KirkPatrick (Dua Lipa)
  • Hans Zimmer of course.....
  • Nils Frahm.
  • Infected Mushroom.
  • Tiesto.
23 May 2021

Is Logic or Cubase better? ›

Verdict. Cubase is suited for in-depth musicians, that enjoy advanced and razor sharp precision, when creating music and altering audio. Logic Pro X is better suited for beginner producers, serving as an incredible tool to quickly and easily go from idea, to recording, to a finished product.

Why is Cubase so good? ›

Cubase is an impressive piece of software that gives you everything you need to create and produce music easily and quickly. The range and variety of features can make your jaw drop, but the best testament to its capabilities is the excellent audio quality of the final product you make on it.

Which DAW do famous producers use? ›

Famous producers use whatever DAW they are comfortable with. You can expect famous producers to only work in professional and popular digital audio workstations, or DAW for short. Famous producers will create their music in DAWs like Ableton, Logic Pro, FL Studios, Cubase, Protools etc.

What DAW does Drake use? ›

That said, 40 has a preference when it comes to DAWs that he uses to produce Drake's music, and they are: Avid Pro Tools. Ableton Live. Steinberg Cubase Pro & Steinberg WaveLab.

What Daw does Eminem use? ›

TC Electronic 2290 Dynamic Digital Delay.

Is Logic Pro worth buying? ›

It's an Editors' Choice winner for DAWs. That said, Pro Tools is another Editors' Choice winner because it's an excellent if expensive tool. If you're already invested in Pro Tools, you may well want to stick with it. If you're committed to working on a PC, it's the clear winner, as Logic Pro is only available on Macs.

What mic does Kanye use? ›

Audio-Technica AT4050 Condenser Microphone.

Which DAW does Travis Scott use? ›

So, what DAW does Travis Scott use? He, basically, uses three DAWs: FL Studio 11, Pro Tools, and Logic Pro X. You can find several pictures and videos online of Scott using these DAWs while creating his music in the studio. Travis clearly uses autotune plugins in a way that sounds pleasing to your ears.

What software does Kendrick Lamar use? ›

Pro Tools serves as the main software for Kendrick Lamar's music composition.

What DAW does Marshmello use? ›

Marshmello Uses Ableton to Make Music, You Can Learn It Too for Cheap.

What music software does Billie Eilish use? ›

As for the DAWs used, Billie prefers using Apple's Logic Pro X as her digital audio workstation software for producing music. Logix Pro X is another big hitter in the pop music production industry. Coincidentally, these are also the two that Finneas also likes to use.

What DAW does Drake use? ›

That said, 40 has a preference when it comes to DAWs that he uses to produce Drake's music, and they are: Avid Pro Tools. Ableton Live. Steinberg Cubase Pro & Steinberg WaveLab.

How do I start producing music? ›

Here is a list of steps you can take to become a music producer:
  1. Train your ears. ...
  2. Learn an instrument. ...
  3. Get a digital audio workstation. ...
  4. Have a production and recording space. ...
  5. Learn how to use an audio mixer. ...
  6. Network with artists. ...
  7. Consider a degree in music. ...
  8. Take an internship.
15 Feb 2021

What software does Kanye use? ›

Kanye West often does not use a DAW when making music. He uses hardware for sampling, writing, and adding beats. However, he and his team have been seen using both Pro Tools and FL Studio for recording.

What DAW Does Taylor Swift Use? ›

Taylor Swift, Björk, Brian Eno, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Shawn Mendes, and Ed Sheeran have all been known to use Logic Pro. That's the beauty of using a DAW to produce music – it's accessible to all genres.

What mic did Billie Eilish use? ›

Shure SM58

Billie is shown here using the SM58, as mentioned. She used it for all of her live songs for 3FM.

What DAW does Charlie Puth use? ›

Charlie Puth has changed his DAWs during his career, looking for the best one to produce his music on. While he used Steinberg Cubase in the past, he has been using Pro Tools for the past few years. There are several videos on YouTube where he shows off his home studio.

What DAW does Justin Bieber use? ›

Firstly, Bieber is running Logic Pro 9 on his Macbook. This is actually not the most up-to-date version of the DAW, that would be Logic Pro X. However, Logic X packages all audio tracks in a project into a single file, making them tough to extract for later use.

What DAW does Dr Dre use? ›

Akai MPC 3000

The Akai MPC3000 is by far one of the most important production tools in the history of hip-hop, with prominent users including Dr. Dre, J Dilla, DJ Premier and Swizz Beats.

What DAW did post Malone use? ›

FL Studio has a strong following in certain genres and our research reflected this, with the only producers using this DAW being from the four genres mentioned above. Notable albums that mentioned FL studio included those by Drake and Post Malone.

Why is music production so hard? ›

Music production is hard because it demands a varied set of skills. Successful music producers need to be good at composing, mixing, and mastering music. They also need to know how to work with other musicians. Finally, they have to be business-savvy to make it in a highly competitive industry.

Can I teach myself music production? ›

You can absolutely learn music production on your own. In fact, there has never been a better time than now to learn how to become a music producer. You just have to learn the key skills of songwriting, recording, mixing, and mastering, all of which you can learn with the right resources.

Can I produce music on a laptop? ›

Whether you're recording bass guitar or hip-hop or a classical quartet, you can now produce practically any kind of music on a laptop computer.

What software does Travis Scott use? ›

So, what DAW does Travis Scott use? He, basically, uses three DAWs: FL Studio 11, Pro Tools, and Logic Pro X. You can find several pictures and videos online of Scott using these DAWs while creating his music in the studio. Travis clearly uses autotune plugins in a way that sounds pleasing to your ears.

What software does Kendrick Lamar use? ›

Pro Tools serves as the main software for Kendrick Lamar's music composition.

Is Pro Tools better than FL Studio? ›

Recording. Why: Here's a category where Pro Tools has the clear advantage. FL Studio is aimed towards electronic music producers, most of which don't sample much live audio. Pro Tools, on the other hand, excels at capturing live performances and live recordings of all kinds.

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