Choosing the right Digital Audio Workstation is the fundamental step in the process of building a software-based music production studio. After all, the DAW is the central part of any virtual studio setup, where all the audio recording, editing and mixing takes place.

Needless to say, there are plenty of commercial digital audio workstations out there, however the options are far more limited if you’re building your studio on a tight budget. Most commercial DAW applications come with a demo version of some sort, but a demo is often quite restricted in terms of available features when compared to the full product. Thankfully, it is possible to build a powerful music studio almost completely free of charge nowadays, at least when it comes to finding the right software for the task (you will still need to invest some money into a decent computer, a pair of monitors or headphones and an audio interface).

The list below features a selection of the best free digital audio workstations. Please note that the programs are listed in no particular order. Every user has different demands and it is practically impossible to say which freeware DAW is the best.

SoundBridge

SoundBridge is a full featured Digital Audio Workstation that emphasizes mobility, connectivity and ease of use. We’ve optimized the user experience and made the application high resolution with 5 color schemes, added channel strip & plugin presets, a swing tool, advanced mixer routing, and much more! SoundBridge is an omni-recording experience, transcending desktop, mobile, and in-browser recording environments. Our online collaboration engine allows you to seamlessly connect, communicate and transfer data, among an unlimited number of collaborators per project.

Pros (+): Great user interface, included full set of plug-ins, full VST support, unlimited audio & MIDI tracks. Online collaboration and project sharing.
Cons (-): non found as of June 2017.
Platforms : Windows, Mac OS.

Studio One 3 Prime

daw_studio-one-prime

Pros (+): Great user interface, external SoundFont support, quality native effects.
Cons (-): No VST plugin support, only one virtual instrument included.
Platforms : Windows, Mac OS.

https://shop.presonus.com/products/software/studio-one-prods/Studio-One-3-Prime

Tracktion T5

daw_tracktion-4

Pros (+) : VST and ReWire support, fully functional software, cheap upgrade price.
Cons (-) : No updates, unconventional workflow and user interface.
Platforms : Windows, Mac OS, Linux.

http://www.tracktion.com

Pro Tools | First

daw_pro-tools-first

Pros (+) : AAX plugin support, includes Xpand!2 instrument and over 20 native effects.
Cons (-) : Only three projects can be stored, network connection required, CPU hog.
Platforms : Windows, Mac OS.

http://apps.avid.com/ProToolsFirst/

OHM Studio

Pros (+) : VST plugin support, high quality native effects. Collaborate with musicians from all over the world.
Cons (-) : Free 10 Project/Songs. No Offline (yet)
Platforms : Windows, Mac OS.

www.ohmstudio.com

Samplitude Pro X Silver

daw_samplitude-pro-x-silver

Pros (+) : VST plugin support, high quality native effects.
Cons (-) : Only up to eight tracks and two busses per project, complex menus.
Platforms : Windows.

samplitude_pro_x_silver_miditech_us.exe

There are lot more free or limited functionality version of DAW out there than this short list. I will add them to the list as I try them and provide my feedback and review on each.

 

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