Best free DAW

8 Best Free DAWs For Home Studio

Today we have the luxury to record music for free. And we can do it with free DAWs. The only thing you need to have is a laptop or a PC and you are good to go.

If you have no instruments, that’s not a problem either. Every DAW includes instruments and FX plugins. Or you can use some great free plugins too.

Free software is also great for learning. You can download it, understand how it works, get used to it and transition to full-featured DAW will be easier.

What Is A Free DAW?

A free Digital Audio Workstation is a full-featured software for music recording. You can create audio or MIDI tracks, add plugins, mix, and master tracks with it. It has everything you need to record and produce music. It’s a premium DAW with limited features and functionalities.

And two different kinds of free DAWs exist. There are totally free Digital Audio Workstations that work like premium DAWs. These types of DAWs have all the features. Some of them may lack some advanced features that industry-standard premium DAWs have.

And another type of free DAWs is when it has some limitations regarding features. Mainly, these DAWs are free versions of premium Digital Audio Workstations. Some of the most popular DAWs have a free version you can use. But it has various limitations.

On this list, you will find both types. You can use a totally free DAW or a limited version of a premium DAW.

Best Free Daws With Full Features

First, let’s see the best DAWs you can use totally free. They come with every feature you will need to record and master tracks. These DAWs include various FX, mixing, and mastering tools. Also, you can use third-party plugins too.

1. GarageBand

garageband free

GarageBand is one of the most popular DAWs that is totally free. It comes with every Mac computer and works only on iOS. It’s a full-featured music-making software. Perhaps it’s not as powerful as its big brother Logic Pro, but you can create good quality tracks with it. One time it was the best free DAW.

The great thing about GarageBand is that it comes with plugins and sound presets. It includes plugins for guitar, bass, drums, and other instruments. So, if you don’t own instruments, you can record music without problems.

GarageBand also comes with drum loops for various music genres like rock, blues, hip-hop, etc. Also, it has great synth sounds. You can create great music with GarageBand in any genre for free. Previously it was only available on iOS but now you can also run Garageband on Windows PC as well.

GarageBand Features:

  • Included Plugins & Sounds
  • Unlimited Tracks
  • Drum Loops
  • Synth Pads
  • Mixing & Mastering Tools

2. Tracktion Waveform

waveform by tracktion

Waveform by Tracktion is another great free DAW that has unlimited features. This app is great for recording, mixing, and mastering any kind of music for free. It works on iOS, Windows, Ubuntu, and Raspberry Pi.

Comes with built-in plugins but also you can use third-party plugins for more flexibility. This software is great for solar recording, band recording, and singer-songwriters, and you can use it for podcasts too.

Although you can record any type of track, perhaps the best use of Waveform is for electronic music. If you are an EDM musician, then Waveform is one of the best free DAWs for you.

Waveform Features:

  • Unlimited Tracks
  • Built-In Plugins
  • Podcasts
  • Multi-Platform Support

3. SoundBridge

SoundBridge in free daws

SoundBridge is a free, full-featured Digital Audio Workstation. It’s simple to use, has VST support, and is great for recording, sequencing, editing, and mixing the audio. You can download it for Mac or PC.

It offers a modern and easy-to-use interface. Beautiful sequencer, mixer, browser, the editor makes it easier and faster to create tracks. And it comes with built-in FX such as reverb, modulation, compressor, EQ, filters, and much more.

SoundBridge stands out among other free DAWs with its features. When you download SoundBrigde, you get features like audio routing, linked faders, presets, a virtual MIDI keyboard, automation tools, and more. Great free tool for recording music.

SoundBridge Features:

  • Multi-Platform Support
  • Built-In FX
  • Instruments
  • Modern Design

4. Cakewalk

Cakewalk free bandlab

Cakewalk was a premium DAW and BandLab decided to make it free. So, now you can use it for free with all the features it has. Cakewalk works only on Windows. It requires at least 4GB of RAM, 3GB of disk space, and a multi-core Intel or AMD processor.

It is a complete Digital Audio Workstation and you can compose, record, edit, mix, and master songs for free. Has an award-winning UI, you can create unlimited tracks and use third-party plugins.

But Cakewalk itself comes with tons of high-quality, industry-standard plugins. You get tools such as EQ, compressor, limiter, and various FX. If it’s not enough, you can use any third-party plugins with VST3 support.

Cakewalk Features:

  • Built-In Tools
  • Unlimited Tracks
  • Mixing & Mastering Tools
  • VST3 Support

Best Free Daws With Limited Features

Now let’s find out the best DAWs that are free versions of industry-standard, premium Digital Audio Workstations. These tools come with limited features and functionalities and are great for beginners. Almost every big software allows us to use their free version.

5. Ableton Live Lite

Ableton free verison

Ableton is one of the most popular DAWs, especially in the EDM community. And Ableton Live Lite is a free, limited version of premium software. This is a great starting point for beginner musicians or record engineers.

With Ableton free version you get access to 16 scenes, 2 send and return tracks, tempo following, etc. It has VST2 and VST3 support, so you can use third-party plugins. Although, it includes some essential tools.

The free version includes instruments and effects such as impulse, drum rack, filter, EQ, compressor, reverb, MIDI monitor, scale, and much more. Ableton Live Lite is a great recording tool for beginners. Especially for EDM musicians.

Ableton Live Lite Features:

  • VST3 Support
  • Built-In FX
  • Mixing & Mastering Tools
  • 32-bit Recording

6. Pro Tools First

free pro tools

Pro Tools First is a small brother of the most popular Digital Audio Workstation. If you want to learn Pro Tools, then the free version is the best option. It comes with limited options but you get to know it and understand how it works.

Pro Tools Forst works on both – Windows and iOS – and comes with features such as loop recording, editing tools, session templates, and many other tools that are essential for recording, mixing, and mastering. You can create 16 audio and 16 midi tracks.

Like the full version, First comes with free tools such as a limiter, compressor, EQ, and other essential tools. In total it includes twenty-three plugins and you can create 16 aux tracks.

Pro Tools First Features:

  • Built-In Plugins
  • Editing Tools
  • Track Freeze
  • Multi-Platform Support

7. Cubase LE

free cubase daw

Cubase LE is a free, compact version of Cubase Pro. It’s one of the best free DAWs you can find. Like Pro Tools First, you get a premium product with some limitations. This is a perfect entry into the music recording world. Very modern and easy-to-use tool for beginners.

You can create, record, mix, and master tracks. It comes with tools such as HALion Sonic SE and Groove Agent SE, twenty-three FX, and 5GB of various sounds and loops. All these instruments and FX are high quality. The library includes drums, guitar amps, and other instruments.

Limitations come in tracks. With Cubase LE you can create sixteen audio and twenty-four MIDI tracks. But it’s enough for most beginner musicians. It works with iOS and Windows and the minimum requirements are 4GB of RAM, 25GB of disk space, and multi-core processors.

Cubase LE Features:

  • Built-In Plugins
  • Instrument Library
  • Loops & Sounds
  • Editing Tools

8. Studio One Prime

studio one prime free

Studio One Prime is a limited version of another greatly popular DAW. But with a free version, you can freely record, mix, and master any track. Works with Windows and Mac and comes with great features.

With Prime, you get features such as envelopes, console, drum editor, master track, MP3 export, pattern editor, and more. And the great thing is that you can create unlimited tracks, and channels, and use unlimited plugins.

It comes with built-in instruments and effects. You get Ampire, which is a guitar amp and effects plugin, delay, chorus, flanger, reverb, etc. Unfortunately, you can’t use third-party plugins because it doesn’t include VST support.

Prime is a great way to start your journey in the recording world. This is high-level software and it will help you to master it and become a better recording or mixing engineer.

Studio One Prime Features:

  • Unlimited Tracks
  • Built-In Tools
  • Drum Editor
  • Drag & Drop Workflow
  • Multi-Platform Support

Conclusion

If you want to start and learn how music recording, mixing, and mastering works, free DAWs are great tools for that. You get all the necessary tools you need to start recording music. You can learn, get used to it and then upgrade to premium software.

For premium features, you can try free software, but if you need to quickly start learning, then you can use free versions. They are easier to use because they don’t include all the features and are less complex. However, both can do their job and you can create modern, high-quality songs for free.

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