There is professional (expensive) software used by professional and even famous DJs and producers, but also several excellent free programs, which we are going to talk about here. This type of software is called DAW which stands for Digital Audio Workstation. DAW programs were initially born as digital solutions for recording music, but over time they have become programs that can be used to create backing tracks and musical pieces even without knowing how to play an instrument.
In the following guide we will show you the best ones programs for making music for PC can also work as digital audio workstation (DAW)so that we can record, mix and play digital audioturning your PC into a synthesizer to manipulate sounds as you would a program to write words.
READ ALSO: best free programs for mixing and creating music on your PC
Free DAW programs for making music
1) CakeWalk di Bandlab, previously called Sonar, was a professional software that was discontinued in 2017 and then revived in 2018 by Bandlab who released it again under the name CakeWalk, for free. It doesn’t have all the features of Sonar, but most of them are still there. Although it may not be the best DAW for Windows, it can be considered the best free DAW, if only because it does not place any limits on its use, with unlimited tracks, a large number of integrated effects and even virtual instruments to play on the computer . Since there is no paid version of the product, you don’t even have to worry about seeing ads inviting you to pay.
2) Apple GarageBand is Apple’s historic program for making music, available only for Mac, free for everyone. As an application it is quite complete and also among the simplest to use, although it still lacks a couple of key functions such as MIDI export and the ability to control external hardware via MIDI. The main features are the Drummer, the easy-to-use groove-maker, multiple genres, controls and patterns. Apple has done an excellent job in creating a program for those who want to learn and enter the world of computer music production and it can be the perfect springboard to then move on to something truly professional, namely the Apple program Logic Pro Xalso used by Daft Punk for almost all of their albums.
3) Tracktion Waveform it is a program that is released for free in the previous version to the one currently on the market. In practice, while the new version of Tracktion is paid for, the older one, from two years earlier, becomes available for free and even if it does not have the latest functions, it is absolutely a complete studio for making music on the computer. Tracktion Waveform (formerly T7) is the version currently available for free, full of features and designed with the goal of making things simple. Like Cakewalk’s BandLab, this version offers unlimited audio tracks. The workspace has everything you need in the main window, without having to search through different screens.
4) Pro Tools is the free version of one of the most popular programs in the audio industry. Unlike many free versions of paid DAW software, you don’t need to purchase any specific hardware to use the free version, just that there are significant limitations to what you can do. A maximum of 16 simultaneous instrument and vocal tracks and four hardware inputs can be used. The sample rate is lower than if you paid for the full version of Pro Tools or Pro Tools Ultimate.
5) AmpliTube is a complete and functional program for Mac and Windows. This software, similar to the popular Guitar Rig, transforms your computer into a complete amplifier to record your own music, sung with the microphone and played with bass and guitar, as you would in a recording studio, with an impressive level of customization. This free version includes 24 models including a digital chromatic tuner, nine stompboxes, four amplifiers, three microphones and two rack effects.
6) Klevgrand SyndtSphere is a program for Mac and Windows that works as a software synthesizer, loaded with over 70 presets, and the ability to transform sounds with a very original ball control.
7) LMMS, for Windows, Mac and Linux, cannot be missing from this list, because it is the truly free and open source alternative to Adobe Audition (one of the most popular professional software for making music on the computer). LMMS has a multitrack interface for mixing sounds, composing music, playing with various instruments (including VST ones) and layering rhythms, chords and loops, easily. LMMS is a program for editing songs, adding sound effects, mixing and manipulating sounds with a full synthesizer.
8) MuLab is another great digital audio workstation, good free alternative to FL Studio, with an intuitive interface that helps you record, edit and create multi-track music with ease. The best part of this software is that it supports MIDI files and comes with useful tools like equalizer, audio recording, reverb, synth, drum, etc. The free version of MuLab supports 8 VST plugins for each project, 4 tracks per composition, one MIDI input/output and 2 audio input/output. If you overcome these limitations of the free version, you can still use the software, but there will be background noise in your recordings.
9) Podium Free is a simple alternative to FL Studio, an effective digital audio workstation that allows you to record, mix and edit audio, including MIDI files, even with VST instrument effects and plug-ins. The best features of this software are the standard editing and recording tools and the. virtual mixer.
10) Audacity it’s not technically a DAW for making music on PC, it’s largely based on digital audio editing with which you can do a lot of manipulations. It’s not as good as other programs for recording and the included virtual instruments.
11) SoundBridge is a free (the site asks for a donation, but it’s not mandatory) audio editing program made with simplicity in mind, with an interface that isn’t overloaded with menus, sliders or unnecessary features. SoundBridge includes support for touchscreen devices and VST audio plug-ins, a customizable drum machine, and a powerful set of audio editing tools for cutting, trimming, and mixing multiple tracks at once. SoundBridge also includes a free collection of audio samples to integrate into your music.
12) Ubuntu Studio is a version of Ubuntu for music creators, which includes all the open source software for creating and recording music, ideal for musicians.
13) MPC Beats is another very good DAW program available for free. With this application we can activate 16 samples of different tracks, add drum loops, record MIDI, modify and edit the samples and recordings made, individually select the sounds to add, over 80 audio FX plugins to use and extension support for the musical genre you want to play.
14) Evening Studio it is a very complete and accessible music creation program without limits. With this program we can make beats using the available samples and manage all the recording work of the individual instruments to isolate, flip, overlap and cut samples, with a good collection of FX effects to use on each individual track.
15) Cubase LE is probably the best program for creating music on any PC and Mac, available as a free trial. Even in the free version it provides the necessary tools for recording and for editing and mixing the recorded tracks or samples in our possession, with the possibility of adding basses, effects and filters already seen on the professional version of the app. Cubase LE is a benchmark for making music on a computer and the free version is limited but more than sufficient for those starting to make music for the first time.
Although the best DAW programs are paid (and they also cost a lot of money) we don’t necessarily have to spend for get closer to the world of professional musicalso using simple ones free programs for making music and take advantage of all the advantages of DAW programsnecessary to be able to mix, arrange and generate the bases for new songs or new bases.
For further information we can read our guides on best apps for making music and playing on Android, iPhone and iPad come on how to mix microphone audio with PC sounds and music.