I am a fan of Presonus Studio One. I use the Professional version of Studio One 3 but the package recommended comes with the latest version 5 Artist. I am happy with my version but if you get Version 5 (included in the package) you get a few extra features so ….lucky you! You can even download a slightly cut down version of Studio One (called Studio One Prime) for free to try out for as long as you like. Get it here
But there are other DAWs out there – all with their fans so here are a few more to look at. Let´s start with Reaper
As you can see, it has a similar layout to Studio One and has similar features. As with the Artist version of the Presonus Artist product you get the ability to use VST. VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology and enables you to download “plug ins” – which are either effects or virtual instruments. I made my CDs etc with the instruments and effects that came with the original Artist version so I didn´t have this feature at the time but I have lots of them now (because a lot of them are free!) You can download Reaper for free and the makers rely on you being honest enough to pay $60 for a license. I have used Reaper in the past and it is excellent although possibly not quite as intuitive as Studio One. Find out more, download, try and license here
You can´t get cheaper than free can you and one DAW that has been going for years is Audacity. As you can see below it is a fairly simple program and it takes a while to learn to use it and it has, unsurprisingly, fewer features than the DAWs mentioned so far. Nevertheless it it very undemanding on computer resources and I have used it myself in the past. It can use downloaded VST instruments and effects but doesn´t come with many. Not what I would recommend for beginners but…it´s free! Find out about it and download here
There are plenty of others you might want to investigate. Click on them to investigate further.
Logic Pro – Used in lots of professional studios but for Macs only. As with anything Apple, bloody expensive but good.
Cakewalk Sonar – Cakewalk has been around for years and is a good DAW with lots of user forums etc It has a huge number of built in effects, drum programmers etc BUT it is no longer being developed and so might become problematic in future but it is FREE and far superior to Audacity
Ableton Live – As the name suggests if you want to use your DAW during live performances then this is the one for you. Not as intuitive as Studio One but a lot of musicians swear by it.