What is DAW software?
DAW is the abbreviation of Digital Audio Workstation (digital audio workstation), but it means a lot more. The first DAWs were simply digital replacements for analog tape machines used to record music. As technology grows, DAW also makes certain changes. It has additional features that allow users to create songs without having to know how to play an instrument.
Summary of the best DAW software for Windows
Most DAW software focuses on recording music performances with microphones or creating music from scratch. You’ll find lots of DAWs that handle both, but typically, each application will focus on just one specific feature.
Top best DAW software for Windows
1. Cakewalk by BandLab
The software was originally developed by Cakewalk and also known as Sonar until 2017 when the parent company Gibson announced it was shutting down. In 2018, BandLab acquired the software and released it for free under the current name (Cakewalk by BandLab).
Although there is not all the features like Sonar, Cakewalk by BandLab also has most of the good features. This is probably not the best DAW for Windows, but it is definitely the best free DAW.
Most free DAW software sets a limit on what you can do, such as the number of tracks, save the tracks, … but BandLab’s CakeWalk does not set these limits. You can unlimited tracks and integrate more tools and effects. Cakewalk by BandLab does not have a paid version, so you do not have to worry about being bothered by ads.
– Download Cakewalk by BandLab here.
2. Traktion T7
Traktion may be better known for its Waveform DAW or its digital instruments, but it also offers a free full-featured digital audio workstation. Like Cakewalk’s BandLab, this version offers unlimited audio tracks so you can unleash your experience. While it still lacks some features in Waveform 8 and 10, many of these features, such as changing the color of the music, seem unnecessary.
Another plus point of Traktion T7 is that it has an easy-to-use Blue Steel interface so it is definitely an ideal choice for beginners.
– Download Traktion T7 here.
3. Pro Tools First
Pro Tools is one of the biggest names in the audio industry and it has maintained this reputation for many years. Pro Tools First was introduced in 2015 and unlike many free versions of paid DAW software, you don’t need to buy a piece of hardware to use it.
Because of that, you will encounter some limitations when using. You are limited to 16 simultaneous voices and four maximum hardware inputs. You are also limited to 16 instrument and virtual instrument tracks. The sample music is also less than Pro Tools or Pro Tools Ultimate.
– Download Pro Tools First here.
4. Studio One Prime
First released in 2009, Presonus Studio One is the best DAW software but not many people know it. However, it has started to gain more fame in recent years thanks to the free DAW – Studio One Prime. This software has many features of the paid version and like Pro Tools First, you don’t need to buy any hardware to try the free version.
Studio One Prime does not limit the number of tracks or virtual instrument tracks you can use. While there aren’t as many features as a paid tool, at Studio One Prime, you’ll probably be offered the Presence XT virtual template player, 9 Original Effects plugins, and 1GB of loops and templates to get you started.
– Download Studio One Prime here.
Although technically DAW software, Audacity is quite different from other free DAW software. Audacity was built primarily for audio editing. It has very good editing tools, but recording in Audacity is not as good as in other software.
Another difference is that Audacity doesn’t provide many ways to support virtual instruments. So, if you need to use instruments to create music, you should rely on the sound system of your computer as well as some applications that support this.
– Download Audacity here
In general, if you are looking for good audio editing software and you only need basic DAW functionality then Audacity may be a good choice. This software is also open source.