Top Software for Music Production – Guide & Comparison
This article will help you find the best music production software, especially if you haven’t got the time to browse all the websites you can find on this subject. Our team did all the research for you and after carefully looking at some of the most popular pieces of software and seeing what experts and users had to say, we came to the conclusion that Propellerhead Reason 10 is the digital audio workstation that you should be looking for. This is a good choice for any aspiring producer, as it has an interface that is easy to follow. It is also a piece of software that is versatile and offers many possibilities. Furthermore, it has a huge library of loops and effects that you can use to create some great music. If you can’t find our first recommendation, you should look for the Ableton Multitrack (Live 10 Standard), which is another easy music production software.
Our Top Choice
You will find it easy working with this software as it has an easy-to-use interface. With this product you get everything you need in one package, including recording audio, mixing, editing and composing. The library of this software is huge and it offers you a choice of lots of synth sounds, effects, or loops. There are also many plugins that can be installed, and they will increase the versatility of this software.
The space on the screen with this software seems limited.
Offering you pretty much everything a professional artist needs to produce music, this piece of software is great in any studio.
If you’re looking for something that offers the complexity of a studio DAW, and the flexibility of a software suitable for live events, this is the one for you. Its advanced arrange view will let you see every detail of your composition in real-time. This is a piece of software that works great on both PC and Mac hardware, so you won’t have issues with compatibility. Its library is full of interesting effects.
There is a more complete version of this software that is also more expensive.
Running on Mac and PCs too, this software is great for live artists that need a fast product to keep the crowds entertained.
Many artists like this music software because it is easy to use and it lets you create music fast. Much of the processes are automated and you will find that the software is doing the work for you. You can install it on Mac and PCs, so you’ll never have issues with compatibility, unlike using an emulator. Rendering is fast with this piece of software thanks to the new rendering options of this product.
This is a good piece of software but it doesn’t have massive improvements.
FL Studio has been known as one of the most popular music software out there, and this new version proves why that is the case.
5 Best Music Production Software (Reviews) in 2019
We had a look at what users and experts had to say about the best music production software for Windows and also music production software for Mac, and we found out that there are some pieces of software that work great on both platforms. We could say that the following are our favorites for plenty of reasons, so check them out.
- 1. Propellerhead Reason 10 Multitrack Recording Software
- 2. Ableton Live 10 Standard Multitrack Recording Software
- 3. Image Line FL Studio 20 Producer Edition
- 4. Steinberg Cubase Pro 9 Recording Software Professional
- 5. PreSonus Studio One 3 Artist Recording and Production Software
- Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
1. Propellerhead Reason 10 Multitrack Recording Software
This is Propellerhead’s newest and most performant DAW (digital audio workstation) and it will help you solve many issues in the studio. If you had the experience to use previous Reason iterations, you will be pleased to find out this one comes with the same accessible user interface.
It is not an ugly software, although it is a production software that puts more emphasis on efficiency and functionality rather than style. It’s an ideal piece of software for smaller screens as it offers you all you need to know in a small frame. When it comes to features, this software has always been a great asset for those looking for a recording software or to mix the sound, but it can also do well if you want to create music from nothing.
The tenth variant of this software focuses on new instruments and effects that you can use in your music. You get two new synthesizers on it, and also a lot of improvements when it comes to synth sounds, but also other sampled instruments and loops. The DAW will offer you enough flexibility to experiment with different patterns.
You get over 3GB of sampled instruments and loops, so you can have everything you need to create your own music from scratch.
It has an easy-to-understand interface and even though you didn’t work with the previous versions, starting with this one will be easy.
The product offers everything you need if you’re looking for audio recording software or mixing potential.
With the introduction of the new synthesizers, you will be able to find new sounds for interesting pieces of music.
You can always make use of the huge library of loops and sampled instruments, and that helps you when creating music from scratch.
The software also offers the possibility to increase its range of sounds and effects with different plugins that can be installed.
You also get the possibility to stretch or slide across your audio file as you see fit.
The main flaw of this software is that it uses a basic theme and the layout will leave you with little space to work on, which can be a problem for bigger projects.Buy from Amazon.com for ($399)
2. Ableton Live 10 Standard Multitrack Recording Software
As the name suggests, this is the tenth reiteration of the Live software provided by Ableton. The standard variant is one of the three available ones and it offers the right mix of functionality for music producers that require more than the basic “Intro” variant and don’t need to spend that much money on the “Suite” piece of software.
It serves as a good software for those looking to get into the world of music production. You don’t have a limit on the tracks that you can create, and you get plenty of plugins, including the EQ Eight plugin, which essentially lets you analyze how your track sounds. Installing this piece of software is easy, as you only have to purchase it, and then follow the installation steps and prompts.
It is a DAW that works on both Macs and PCs, so you won’t have any issues with compatibility. This is a music production software that has two types of views. One of them is known as session view and the other as “arrange view”. The first of them is ideal for on-stage performances, while the arrange view is better for the studio if you want to create more complex pieces of music.
This software is one of the better choices when it comes to live performances, as the session view will allow you to make quick adjustments to the tracks you are playing, and the feature also plays the music in an endless loop.
If you want to have better control over the music you are creating, you can always work with the advanced arrange view.
There are no limits in terms of tracks that you can use and that means your song can be as thick as you want, full of instruments and effects.
You will also find it pleasing that this software works with both Mac and PC devices, so you don’t have to worry that you can’t run it somewhere.
If you really want to experiment with the whole ensemble of features that this software offers you will have to purchase the pricey full variant.Buy from Amazon.com for ($499)
3. Image Line FL Studio 20 Producer Edition
FL Studio has always been known as a very colorful piece of software, and this edition is no different. The number 20 in the name shows that the software has been useful for musicians around the globe for 20 years. Artists like Avicii, Martin Garrix, or Afrojack all have used this software.
This new software incorporates everything the old FL Studio 12 had, including the super-fast features that were so intuitive to use. Beginners will be able to start this software and create some music right from the start. It also allows you to quickly edit MIDI information with the help of the piano roll, which shares information with the step-sequencer.
One of the main features the software is known for is the “quirky” graphics, which attract newcomers but it also looks a bit too playful for some. But this new DAW comes with improved and precise vector graphics that will look great on any monitor, including 4k models.
Furthermore, you can now edit, record, and mix audio signals more easily. You are also able to drag-and-drop items from your PC onto the project and they will be sorted automatically. Additionally, this new model is also compatible with Mac devices.
This is one of the most popular production software out there, as it is known for how versatile it is and that is why many artists use it.
You won’t find many other digital audio workstations that are easier to use than this one. The controls are intuitive and the software helps you in your work, making many aspects automatic.
The software offers you the possibility to use it on PC and Mac devices too, without running the risk of it crashing, as it used to do before when using emulators.
Usually, rendering a piece of music that you created can take hours, but with the help of the new rendering options of this software, you can do that fast.
Apart from the fact that the software is now compatible with Mac devices, users say that the improvements compared to previous releases are insignificant.Buy from Amazon.com for ($199)
4. Steinberg Cubase Pro 9 Recording Software Professional
Right from the start, this software has a nostalgic look, with a minimalist design. The workspace is neatly organized, and there is now a new lower zone that comes with added features. This zone makes it easier for users to go through the interface and navigate it with. Everything about this software is smooth, partly because of the minimalist look.
This is one DAW that is known for how many features it can offer. The 9th version of the software brings back old aspects, but it also revamps them and offers some new things too. There is a new Sampler Track, which will help you in your work with samples, making things more accessible.
After years of experience, the creators of this software listened to their customers’ feedback and ended up creating a product to please most of them. In terms of performance, this is one DAW that runs smoothly, and you won’t get crashes when using it.
Although the software is hard to master at first, those that have used previous editions will have an easy time getting accustomed to the new features. This piece of software is a versatile one and it does well in every aspect, from composing and recording to mixing and editing.
If you’re using one single monitor you will be delighted with the new lower zone that simplifies the navigation through the piece of music you are creating.
The new Sampler Track is a great tool for those that work with samples a lot and it is also intuitive to use by less experienced users.
The fact that this software can help you do pretty much everything in a studio is great for music producers that don’t have a great budget and are looking for something that can let them do everything.
Its simple design helps it run smoothly and makes it avoid crashes.
Newcomers will have little to no clue how to use the production software and it will take some time for them to get used to it.
There still are some minor quirks that need to be resolved but they don’t impact the creative process that much.Buy from Amazon.com for ($579.99)
5. PreSonus Studio One 3 Artist Recording and Production Software
PreSonus is a brand in the music industry that offers great tools both in terms of hardware and software. As a result, their new Studio One 3 Artist DAW is one of the most capable pieces of music editing software out there.
When first looking at it, the Studio looks a bit crowded and a lot busier than other similar software. However, that is mainly due to the fact that most things are color-coded. That means you will be able to learn what each color means and have an easier time navigating the interface in no time.
This color-coding aspect helps you keep track of complicated projects. The windows, features and the interface overall are easy to memorize, but if you don’t like the way it looks you can always customize that, dragging things around.
The software now comes with a capable browsing option that lets you search for effects or samples easily. This is an important feature taking into account the huge size of the library that you can access.
It is meant to be primarily used as a recording and mixing DAW, but it also does well if you want to use it for composing.
The fact that this software comes with a color-coded interface means that you will get the hang of it pretty fast.
You will also be able to have a better feel of what’s on your tracks, just by having a quick look at them.
The number of effects, loops, or samples is astonishing and you will have a lot to choose from in this software’s library.
Fortunately, you also have a quick browsing function at your disposal that will get you to that sample you need.
It is one of the better choices out there when it comes to mixing.
This is not the full version that the company offers, and if you want to get even more features, you need to get the Pro variant.
If you stack too many samples and tracks on top of each other the software will start to run slower and slower.Buy from Amazon.com for ($99.95)
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
Whether you’re looking for the best recording software, or you just want some generic music making software, you will have to think about a couple of things. First of all, you might consider your budget and how that influences your setup. Then, consider what others are using, but don’t necessarily follow them. The most important thing is to test the DAWs yourself and see which one of them is the top music production software for you.
Look for a popular software
Many aspiring music artists spend too much time searching for the perfect DAW, but most professional software do a decent job when it comes to music production. So you can just choose one of the pieces of software that you have heard of. If you want to create really complex and technical music you will need to try more of them.
You shouldn’t worry too much about the best beat making software, as no matter what you choose, it won’t impact your career too much. The important thing is how much effort you put into making your music. Furthermore, don’t worry about what users use. Some artists prefer specific software, while others do amazing things using another.
You shouldn’t forget that no matter how much you research something, the actual test is the practical one when you use the software and see what it’s capable of. That is why it’s best if you go online and download yourself a trial version of the DAW you would like to have. This is how you will see if you like the interface, the workflow, how the software responds before you go on and buy the real deal.
How practical is it?
One way to decide how suitable a music software is for you is to analyze the budget that you have, and set your long-term goal in mind, to see how that software will impact your budget and aspirations. Purchasing a piece of software will take some funds out of your wallet, but you also need to remember about renewing the license from time to time.
Additional plugins may be required too. There are cheap music production software that require very few plugins, whilst others will have you invest a lot more than you expected, so be careful what you choose based on that. Get all the information you can about those aspects and after that, start trying the software you like.
Also, don’t forget to get a piece of software that suits your equipment well. If you’re looking for the best music production software for beginners, chances are you’re not that willing to change your hardware because of new software. So if you have a Mac, make sure the software you choose is made for you. The same goes for PC users. Emulators work too if you have no other choice, but you know they slow things down significantly.
Are you a live artist?
Most of the popular production software is great in the studio, but they don’t do that well on the stage. Some of them are made to be used by live artists, and if you know you’ll be using them for that, make sure they have all the functions needed. Good integration with MIDI controllers will always help, as well as fast connectivity with VST instruments.
Some pieces of software have a setting that lets you switch to “live use”, so you should look for those. It’s great if they also allow you to save presets, matching the interface with the sound and what you see. You could say that any beat making software is decent for live performances, but you might as well be looking for one that makes the job easier.