DAW Products

Some of the best digital audio workstations are listed below. A short description and average retail price for each is given.
Logic Pro

Price: $200

Platforms: Mac OSX

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Logic Pro is one of the most popular digital audio workstations on the market. More significantly, it has crossover appeal unmatched by any other DAW. Musicians from every genre flock to Logic for its clean, Apple-designed user interface, powerful editing tools, exceptional suite of built-in plugins, samples, and instruments, and affordable price.

If you’re on a Mac, then Logic Pro is the safest purchase. There may be another DAW that fits your workflow better, but you simply can’t go wrong with Logic.

Pro Tools

Price: $600 or $30/month

Platforms: Mac OSX | Windows

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Pro Tools is unique among workstations because it’s developed first and foremost for professional Audio Engineers, Mixers, and Mastering Engineers. Their Pro Tools HD systems are complete sets of hardware and software designed for ultimate reliability in professional sessions, and their audio tools have been honed over decades of development for optimal workflow in a studio setting.

Their home-based products have never fared as well as their studio products; while you’ll still find Pro Tools in nearly every major studio, it’s never made much of a mark with consumers despite their powerful free version available cross-platform.

Ableton Live

Price: Intro: $88 | Standard: $388 | Suite: $667

Platforms: Mac OSX | Windows

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Ableton first debuted in 2001 with a radically different workflow from the workstations that came before. This workflow stems from Ableton’s focus on both live performance and creating musical ideas, versus the standard record -> mix -> master workflow handled by audio-focused DAWs.

They were one of the first workstations to provide automatic beatmatching, and their unique Clips view allowed musicians to create tracks using automation and loops rather than always staying matched to a specific timeline.

Their innovations in workflow, automation, electronic music tools, and even widely-regarded peripherals like their Push audio controller have all crafted Ableton into the premier workstation for creating electronic music today.

Bitwig Studio

Price: $299

Platforms: Mac OSX | Windows | Linux

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Bitwig is the surprise new entrant to the DAW field (most others have been around for at least a decade) and they’ve swiftly shot to the top of the DAW rankings despite still being in their very first version.

Created by some of the developers of Ableton, Bitwig remained shrouded in mystery for years while under development, before suddenly launching in the spring of 2014 to a wave of hype.

Since then, Bitwig’s workflow tools have kept users satisfied and their share of the market growing. The company’s philosophy centers on helping musicians create and build musical ideas as efficiently as possible, and they live up to that goal admirably.

FL Studio

Price: Producer: $199 | Signature: $299 | Total Bundle: $737

Platforms: Windows

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FL Studio has been around for almost 20 years, though for a long time it wasn’t usable as a full workstation because it didn’t record audio.

It was popular as a beatmaker for years, but when it became capable of recording audio as well it exploded in popularity and is now consistently voted one of the top workstations on the market.

Even so, it’s still best know for hip-hop and electronic music for its step sequencer and its workflow tools focused on beats, rather than on audio editing.

Studio One

Price: $299

Platforms: Mac OSX | Windows | Linux

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Studio One stormed onto the scene in 2009 under the guidance of PreSonus, better known as an audio interface maker. In fact, this is a big reason why Studio One became so popular so rapidly — by purchasing PreSonus products, you can get Studio One for free or heavily discounted.

While the software’s version 1 was more hype than substance, Studio One is now on version 3 and hits just as hard as the workstations that have been in development for more than a decade.

From an intuitive scratch pad to store musical ideas as you work to an efficient timeline view and a massive library of plugins, sounds, samples, and virtual instruments, Studio One deserves its place as the rising star of professional audio workstations.

Honorable Mentions

Reaper, Cubase, Reason, Digital Performer, and Cakewalk’s SONAR are all other popular choices.