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  • Writer's pictureAmit Weiner

The Best DAWs for Your Home Studio

You've probably seen these discussions countless times on Facebook, the audio groups, and among your friends:

Cubase or Logic? Ableton or Pro Tools? Studio One or REAPER?

What is the best Digital Audio Workstation for your home studio?


In this article, I'll summarize the five most recommended music production Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) by around 25 composers I surveyed for the year 2024.


Ready for a quick rundown? 😊


There's no significance to your production software! Whether you're working with Cubase, Logic, Ableton Live, or others, what matters is the music itself and your production skills!


Always remember – the software is just a tool, a means through which you create your music. What you have between your ears, your brain, and in your ears themselves is much more crucial and will determine the quality of your music more than any software!

And your brain and you ears are FREE, you don't need to buy them, update them, or upgrade them!

So invest time and effort to master your skills, it will pay off eventually!


Ok, let's dive in!


This article is primarily aimed at composers creating and producing music on the computer, but it can also help singers and other musicians, or anyone wondering which software suits them.


Remember that it's also a matter of taste and personal opinion.

For example, if you are sound engineers, then, of course, Pro Tools is the most important software for you since it's present in 99% of recording studios worldwide today.


The article summarizes the top five best DAWs for 2024 in descending order, from fifth place to first. I'll talk about each software, its advantages and disadvantages, its price, and my personal recommendations.

Let's dive in!


5. Fifth Place – Pro Tools by Avid


In fifth place, we find Pro Tools by Avid. The software has been around since 1989 and is considered the standard for recording studios worldwide. Pro Tools is used in almost every respected studio, from Jerusalem and Kiryat Motzkin to Abbey Road in London. Ninety-five percent of the music you've heard in the last decade, from Adele to Hanan Zimmer, was recorded on Pro Tools.


However, many composers don't favor Pro Tools, possibly due to its less convincing MIDI capabilities and the lack of synthesizers and sounds compared to other production software available today. Its higher price is also a consideration. As of December 2021, it costs no less than $800 annually, available only through an annual subscription plan.


Despite this, Pro Tools is a software you must be familiar with because almost all recording studios use it. There's a very slim free version that can help you understand its structure and workings. However, composing and producing music on Pro Tools is generally not recommended.


4. Fourth Place – Studio One by Presonus


In fourth place, we arrive at Studio One, which has become a prominent player in the DAW world in recent years. Studio One incorporates successful features from other software, making it stand out significantly.


Studio One is an excellent software, not as expensive as others (as of December 2021, the most professional version costs around $400). The main reason I and other composers don't recommend Studio One as much is that most composers around you simply don't use it. Therefore, you might find it challenging to exchange files, ask questions during troubleshooting, and feel less connected to the community, which is essential in this field.


It's a bit like the notation software Sibelius, which almost everyone uses, so it's crucial to be familiar with it.


Now, onto the top three, three German giants:


3. Third Place – Ableton Live


Wait, hold your shouts; third place is still excellent!


In third place, we encounter the software that those who fell in love with it are not willing to consider other options: Ableton Live. Ableton Live has revolutionized the world of DAWs with its unique approach to production. The German company Ableton has changed how we think about production software, with Live being the actual name of the software (not Ableton, as we mistakenly say in Israel).


Ableton Live is extremely popular worldwide, known for its immediate and special way of thinking. It has capabilities and effects that no other software possesses. It fosters highly creative thinking and a working method with loops that gives you the feeling of making music at every moment.


The only reason it's not my first choice is that it leans more towards loop-based music. For someone like me, whose music is less loop-centric, it's less necessary. If loops are your thing, then Ableton Live is the software for you. Still, if your music primarily avoids loops (like mine), you won't benefit from what Live has to offer.


Regarding its price, the most professional version costs $650 as of December 2021. If you choose to work with Ableton Live, you're in very good company!


2. Second Place – Logic Pro by Apple



Originally, Logic was created by the German company Emagic until Apple acquired them.


In second place, we have Apple's software, Logic Pro. It's exceptionally affordable, the cheapest among the five listed here, at only $200. All its updates are free, making it much more budget-friendly than, for example, Cubase.


Logic is a very old software, existing since 1993. It only operates on Apple computers, so if you have a PC, it's not an option for you. The good things about Logic are that it's incredibly user-friendly, easy to understand from the get-go, designed for enthusiasts as well as professionals, and comes with excellent plugins and synthesizers. The sampler in Logic is particularly outstanding.


And, of course, the most crucial aspect is that you're in the hands of Apple, known for providing top-quality products. And no need to pay for updates, did I mention that?


The downsides of Logic include its exclusivity to Mac computers and that it's much thinner in features compared to other software on this list. It lacks many advanced features found in other DAWs, which is a bit strange. One notable missing feature is the ability to search within a project. How can that be?


(If, as you're reading this, Apple has already added the search feature, feel free to comment below!)



1. And in first place... Cubase Pro by Steinberg


We've reached the software that the majority of the composers participating in this survey (as mentioned, 25 composers) chose as their number one. That's Cubase by Steinberg. Cubase is very seasoned, existing since 1989, the same year the first version of Pro Tools was created. In recent years, Cubase has undergone a significant transformation in the awareness of film composers and media musicians. For instance, in 2015 in the United States, mentioning Cubase would often be met with laughter, as it was considered software for trance creators or kids making beats. However, today, most serious composers in Hollywood have transitioned to Cubase. The list of composers working on Cubase is enormous: Hans Zimmer, Junkie XL, Oscar winner Hildur Guðnadóttir (for "Joker"), Trevor Morris, Infected Mushroom (from a different field, of course), and many more.


The majority of composers for computer games also work on Cubase, including Yonathan Zur (the Hans Zimmer of the computer games domain, and an Israeli like us!), among others.


So, what are the advantages of Cubase? Cubase is a spaceship with an endless array of features continually being added. For example, Time Warp, VariAudio, or the Control Room, which no other software has. Support for Dolby Atmos starting from Cubase 12, expression map, in short, a sea of advanced features not found in any other software. Learning everything in Cubase is a real life endeavor, and you'll always discover another cool feature you didn't know existed, making your life easier (this still happens to me, and I've been on Cubase for about 15 years).


And what are its drawbacks? The price – as of December 2021, Cubase Pro 11 costs 682 euros, and each annual update usually costs either 60 euros or 100 euros if you switch to a new version (for example, from 10 to 11).


Crashes – it's challenging to truly know this, but some claim that Cubase crashes more than other production programs. I can personally attest that Cubase crashes for me quite a bit, and I have a new and powerful computer. However, it could also be because of plugins from other companies (3rd party plugins) that don't adapt well and cause Cubase to crash.


I personally work on Cubase 99% of the time and recommend it to anyone who doesn't have a Mac on Logic Pro. (And no one is paying me to write this here 😊).


That's it. Here's a summary of the recommended music production software (DAWs) today:


5. Fifth Place – Pro Tools

4. Fourth Place – Studio One

3. Third Place – Ableton Live

2. Second Place – Logic Pro

1. First Place – Cubase Pro


And to conclude, a few personal tips from me:


* Don't fall into this FOMO that we all have, constantly wanting to switch from one software to another.

* Learn one software in-depth, and that's it. Each of the programs on this list is a world unto itself.

* It's much more important to know music, know how to compose, and know how to write good music than to know every feature in Cubase.

* What will make your music better and more interesting is not another feature in Ableton, but your ears and what's between them – your brain.


Or as I wrote at the beginning:


The choice of your production software is not significant! Whether you're working on Cubase, Logic, Ableton Live, or others, what matters is the music itself and your production skills!


So, go on and start making good music!


Bonus for the summary – here's a trailer piece I composed as library music, featured throughout the 2021 trailer for the Chinese film:


"The Curious Tale of Mr. Guo (2021) 不老奇事 - Movie Trailer - Far East Films"


Music by Amit Weiner & Amir Gurvitz. The Album was published by Universal Production Music, 2021.

Is it your first time here on this blog?

My name is Prof. Amit Weiner, a composer for film and TV and pianist, proudly leading the cross-disciplinary composition department at the globally recognized Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

I’m on a mission to help musicians find career opportunities and help musicians find their way in the huge world of the music industry.

With two decades of active composition experience, I find immense joy in teaching and sharing my knowledge and experiences.

My music is published by Universal, Sony, Warner, Megatrax, and more and I have received the Prime Minister's Prize for Composers in 2022.

I'm confident you'll not only enjoy but also find immense value in the content!


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