Home recording and audio editing has never been easier thanks to a wide range of DAW software that is currently available. If you want to record your own music at home, the amount of equipment you will need is shrinking constantly. The choice of software mostly depends on what you want to do, and what kind of knowledge you have, or are willing to acquire in order to reach your goals. Modern audio recording and editing software comes in many different shapes and form, with different levels of complexity and different abilities. Let's take a look at what is currently the best software of this kind on the market.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the Studio One 2, Studio One 3 Professional really brings this popular piece of audio recording and editing software to a whole new level of excellence. It offers full VST support up to VST3, and comes with some interesting features that can really make it a game changer in the industry. Most notable feature that fits that description is the ability to stack effects and instruments, creating unique sounds. While it still isn't working flawlessly, it's reasonable to conclude that it will be ironed out in the future.
Steinberg definitely heard the complaints of their customers, and fixed some of the notorious problems their Cubase software was riddled with. Cubase Pro 8 is a polished and much more stable audio editing and recording program that is the latest version of a very popular and trusted brand in the industry. It doesn't come without its set of little bugs and problems, but the overall experience it offers is really near the top of the spectrum. Cubase Pro 8 may not be the best choice for beginners as it takes some time to get familiarized with how it works and what it can do.
Windows users always had an abundance of high quality audio editing software, which wasn't always the case with Apple users. MOTU Digital Performer is one of the oldest DAWs that was only supported by the Apple platform. With Digital Performer 8, this changed completely. Now available for Windows users as well, Digital Performer 8 brings all of its notoriously good features to the other side of the spectrum. However, the learning curve on this digital audio workstation is so steep, that most new users will end up intimidated. The manuals and documentation that are included with the software take a long time to read and learn. A bit simpler system would have been much more appreciated.
Built on good parts of its previous versions, Propellerhead Reason 8 offers stability and efficiency the whole series are known for. Users of GarageBand might find Reason 8 to be somewhat familiar, as user interface is similar but more complex and offers more versatility. Reason 8 isn't the type of digital audio workstation that will offer a groundbreaking feature, but it is a DAW that offers stable performance and proven results. And even though Reason 8 doesn't support the standard VST format of plug-ins, its own library and third-party made dedicated extensions will be more than enough no matter what need this software to do.
Cakewalk really upped their game with Sonar X3, making their most basic version of their popular audio recording and editing software more capable and versatile for a reasonable price. The core software offers everything its bigger and more complex cousins do, however the choice of plug-ins is very limited. Even so, you can do some serious production work with only what you from the box. With VST3 support and 64-bit audio engine, you can expand your library with well known plug-ins and really create a setup that can produce great results.
Audio editing and recording software, also known as DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is a type of software that allows you to record the input from various instruments, and mix it into a finished track. Using DAW you can edit and compile different tracks, add effects and instruments, and generally do the production of the whole song in one piece of software. They are used extensively in the music industry, and chances are that most of the songs you hear on the radio were at one point edited in a Digital Audio Workstation.
Although they are used in professional studios, DAWs don’t require any equipment to work, aside from your computer and some sort of device that converts the instrument signal into something the computer can read. For a relatively affordable price, you can get into the world of music recording and production in your own home.
The answer to this question depends mostly on your preferences and what you intend to do with the software. We've mentioned five very popular options that are widely used, and are mostly capable of similar performance. However, each one comes with it's benefits and flaws, meaning that you should choose the one that is best aligned with your needs.
Software such as Cakewalk Sonar X3 is a great place to start as it is relatively affordable and easy to use. It's a basic digital audio workstation that does most of what the more popular and complex competition can. If you are looking for a more versatile option, then something like PreSonus Studio One 3 Professional or Steinberg Cubase Pro 8 might be a better choice. These two are more complex than Sonar X3, and also come packed with more advanced features and plug-ins. They are however more expensive and require some learning if you want to master them. Once you do, you will have some of the best tools at your disposal.
Software such as MOTU Digital Performer 8 suffers from the fact that it is not very intuitive nor user friendly in a sense that it has a very steep learning curve. For a person who is completely new to audio editing and recording, this amount of information may seem too overwhelming. Honestly, even for those versed in Cubase or Studio One, it may prove to be too much. With that said, Digital Performer 8 is one of the best audio recording, editing and mixing software options available at the moment.
If you are planing on working with audio on a more relaxed level, you don't have to spend large sums of money to start. On the other hand, if you want to commit to this field, choosing some of the more complex and more expensive digital audio workstations could be a great investment.
From all of the software we listed here, if we had to pick the best one, it would definitely be the PreSonus Studio One 3 Professional. It's a very stable platform, and offers a lot of versatility and innovative features that could become a standard one day. Sonar X3 does offer best value for the money, but the features that come with Studio One 3 are well worth the extra money.