If you are old enough, you probably remember a different time in music production. Most kids today wouldn’t believe how difficult it was to make, mix, and distribute music. It would take days, weeks, and sometimes months for a budding musician to get their music out.
To make matters worse, having the best music was not a guarantee that people would get to hear your songs. Today, thanks to technology, you can create, mix, and share your music all before breakfast. With the best music production software for beginners and experts, you don’t even need a producer to create a fantastic track.
While this seems magical compared to the olden days, getting your hands on the best music production software is not a walk in the park, especially if you are a beginner. You have to comb through a plethora of options to get the right software for your needs.
If you don’t know what to look for, you might end up using a lot of money on trial and error. However, with the right approach, you can get good software without too much hassle.
What You Should Know About Music Production
Before you begin your search for the best music production software for beginners, it is essential to have some background information. This information will give you an idea of what to look for when you are searching for the best music production software.
What is DAW in music?
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is a software app or hardware device used for composing, mixing, producing, recording, and editing audio such as sound effects, speech, and music. DAWs make it possible for producers to mix multiple soundtracks on a time-based grid.
What equipment do you need to produce music?
If you want to set up a home studio, you will need some equipment. The first and most important piece of equipment you need is a computer. If you already have one, you are in luck because it will help cut down on your expenses.
Apart from a computer, you also need a digital working station, microphones, studio monitors, headphones, and audio interfaces.
For a beginner, it is advisable to gain some experience first before investing in costly equipment. For instance, if you’ve never used a DAW, it would be better to try out a few free versions before investing in the expensive ones. Doing this will give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t.
It will also help you know which features to look for if you decide to pay for one. It may be a good idea to save up for one piece of equipment at a time since it might be costly to get everything at once.
What should you look for when purchasing music software?
Music production software plays a vital role in the production of music. The software not only needs to be easy to use but must also provide a creative environment to work in. For this reason, you need to know what to look for when purchasing DAWs.
For starters, you need to consider the features of the software. Some of the most important features of a DAW include virtual instruments, virtual effects plugins, pitch correction, elastic audio, and notation features. You also need to consider compatibility and price.
How We Reviewed
To come up with this list of the best music production software for beginners, we considered expert reviews for different software. Some of the sites we checked include PC Mag, Techsupportalert.com. CNET.com, Performermag.com, and Toptenreviews.com.
We chose these websites because they are known for thoroughly testing and reviewing products and software. Apart from this, we also considered each of the software features to determine whether or not they would be great for music production.
Overall Price Range of Music Production Software
The price range of music production software is $0 to $3,000, depending on the features. However, the products we reviewed range from $0 to $750.
Top 8: Best Music Production Software for Beginners
If you are interested in venturing into music production but are unsure which software to use, this list will prove very useful. We have included free and paid versions of the best music production software for beginners. These software products offer not only a smooth learning curve but also have plenty of useful features.
1. Ableton Live
Ableton Live is one of the top choices for the title of best music production software for beginners and for a good reason. For starters, this music production software offers you standard multi-track recording that features an unlimited number of audio and musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) tracks for songs.
What’s more, the software has cut, paste, and splice features that can help you take your creativity a notch higher. However, it's the seamless MIDI sequencing hardware and software that make this software stand out.
Another incredible feature of this music production software is that it has 23 sound libraries. That means you can make music as soon as you get it. How amazing and beginner-friendly is that?
Ableton Live has several benefits; it offers fast navigation, powerful automation, and it comes with various sample work materials that users can refer to. However, it does not have track comping, pitch correction, or notation view.
What's more, this software is only compatible with Windows. PC Mag rated the software 3.5 out of 5 stars and describes it as a powerful all-in-the-box solution for music production. Ableton Live goes for $99 to $750 depending on which package you choose.
2. Apple GarageBand
If you’re looking for Mac music software that’s easy to use but still offers impressive features, Apple GarageBand may be your answer. One of the things that makes Apple GarageBand one of the best music production software for beginners is that it has a user-friendly interface.
It also comes with solid presets for guitar and vocal recordings, although it's not as refined as advanced software. Another incredible feature of this software is that it gives you an opportunity to learn how to play the piano and guitar.
It teaches you different chords and explains them to provide you with a better understanding of music theory. To make things even better, it supports the standard USB keyboard which makes your learning experience even more effective.
Apple GarageBand is an excellent choice because it is easy to use, has a professional interface and the Apple built-in sound keeps getting bigger and better. The only thing that might be a challenge for some users is that it lacks a mixing console view.
PC Mag rates this software at 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommends it for both novice and expert music producers. Apple GarageBand is free of charge.
3. PreSonus Studio One
PreSonus Studio One is one of the music software products with the best workflow on this list. That is exactly what makes it one of the best music production software for beginners.
Furthermore, this software is described as a standalone workstation that comes with drag and drops functionality, buses, FX channels, VST, MIDI, and unlimited tracks. Another thing that makes this software stand out is the fact that it is compatible with both Windows and Mac.
Although PreSonus Studio One has an attractive interface, fast workflow, and robust sound sets, it has several disadvantages. For one, it lacks a notion editor. There is also no easy way to import session data or save your I/O templates on this software.
What’s more, the MIDI editing feature on the software is quite weak compared to other software on the market. However, rating it 4.5 out of 5 stars, PC Mag believes this software is an excellent option. The price of this software is $99 to $400 depending on which package you purchase.
- Intuitive single-window work environment with quick and easy drag-and-drop functionality and multi-touch support
- Unlimited audio and instrument tracks, advanced automation features, virtual instruments, Buses, and FX channels
- Pristine sound quality with Native 32-bit floating point resolution and support for up to 384 kHz audio
- Exceptional new virtual instruments: impact XT and sample one XT for powerful beat or loop-based composition, live sampling, and robust sample editing
- Patterns allow for intuitive drum and melody composition via familiar drum machine/sequencer style UI
4. DarkWave Studio
If you are in search of free music production software, DarkWave is among the best music production software for beginners free of charge.
This software supports Windows XP to Windows 10 and comes with plenty of useful features. Among its features are Multitask Hard Disk Recorder, Sequence Editor, Pattern Editor, and Virtual Studio, among others.
DarkWave Studio is easy to use, easy to configure and set up, and has plenty of useful features. However, it requires a very powerful Windows operating system and soundcard to function correctly. Techsupportalert.com rates this software at 4.0 out of 5 stars.
5. FL Studio Producer Edition
If your goal is to learn the ropes of music production and you are not looking to invest a lot of money in software, FL Studio Producer Edition may be the best option for you.
What makes this software one of the best music production software for beginners is that it is quite affordable and comes with the basic features you need to learn about how to produce music.
There are also advanced features that you can delve deeper into as you progress. Some of the features you get to enjoy include pitch shifting, audio editing, multi-track audio recording, time stretching, and a multi-touch interface, to name a few. FL Studio Producer Edition is only compatible with Windows.
For the price of $190 to $200, FL Studio Producer Edition is without a doubt a budget-friendly option. However, you should know that there are several versions of this software and the price goes up with more features. CNET.com rates FL Studio Producer Edition at 4.0 out of 5 stars.
- Powerful mixing and automation
- The best Piano Roll in the business
- Flexible Browser and workflow features
- Support for all VST standards
- Over 80 instrument and plugin effects included
6. ACID Pro 8
ACID Pro 8 is also among the best music production software for beginners. This software is an excellent choice because it is simple to use. It also has a very user-friendly interface, which makes getting the hang of it easier.
Some of the features you get to enjoy on this software include MIDI support, recording ability, and loop audio tracks. You also get to enjoy over 3,000 sound series.
ACID Pro is excellent software for someone looking for a simple tool with basic music production features. However, compared to more advanced software, ACID Pro is a bit buggy in terms of MIDI incorporation and other advanced features.
Also, it is only compatible with Windows. There is currently no expert rating for this software. However, we included it because it has incredible features and it's beginner-friendly. Users rated it 3.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon. It sells for $140 to $150.
- High-quality dew for loop-based music production
- High-performance music software with 64-bit architecture
- Real-time pitch shift/time stretch
- Flexible multi-track recording on Modern user interface
- High-end audio technology with professional VST instruments and effects
7. Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio
Mixcraft 8 Pro Studio is one of the best music production software for multitasking. It features 57 audio effects and 21 virtual instruments. Furthermore, this music production software has over 7500 unique features.
Among these features are pitch correction technology, professional loops and samples, video editing, live performance, and many more. With this software, you also have the option of uploading videos and music tracks to social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Tumblr, and others.
The advantage of Mixcraft 8 Pro is that it has numerous features and it is inexpensive. However, this software is only compatible with Windows. PerfromerMag.com rates the software at 5.0 out of 5 stars. It sells for $90 to $100 on Amazon.
- Record multiple MIDI and audio tracks simultaneously.
- Trigger auto-sync audio and MIDI clip grooves live or in the studio with Performance Panel.
- Loop library includes over 7500 royalty-free loops and samples in all styles. 21 pristine sounding virtual instruments, two new samplers, Alpha and Omni, and 57 professional audio effects.
- One-click publishing of music and videos directly to YouTube, Facebook, Sound cloud, Mix cloud, Vimeo, and Twitter. Burn directly to an audio CD!
- Load and edit video files and still images with ease. Render complete video projects to popular formats, DVD creation or YouTube upload.
Audacity is a great alternative to Garageband. Unlike most of the software on this list, Audacity is not a DAW; it is a digital audio editor. Its primary role is helping you to organize audio data as opposed to organizing audio bits.
However, you can do both. With Audacity, you can export songs, edit files, and export samples in different formats such as MP3, AIF, and WAV. It has a straightforward interface and provides a very smooth learning curve.
The benefits of using Audacity is that the software is free of charge and compatible with all operating systems. However, it doesn’t have any support options. Toptenreviews.com rated this software 9 out of 10 stars.
- In 2018 Audacity is still the #1 affordable software for professional sound and music recording, editing, and playing all common audio files such as: WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3, OGG Vorbis
- Live Music Recorder: you can create live recordings of music or audio. Easily digitalize your records and cassettes. Mix and master you mixes with the bonus plugins this bundle includes.
- Mix as many tracks as you need with effects to brighten or polish your sound. You can get the same sound as the pros!
- For Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista as well as Mac OS (10.6 and newer)
- Bonuses: Collections of audio plugins for Audacity Software. Video tutorials on the disc to help you get started and learn how to use your new software.
Choose the Best Music Production Software for Beginners
There you have it; the best music production software for beginners. You will not go wrong with any of the software on this list. Nonetheless, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more excellent software products you can use.
Before you purchase any software, it is advisable to research and find out other people’s experiences. However, the only way you can identify your favorite music production favorite is by trying some of them out.
If you have no experience with music production software, we suggest you start with the free options to get a feel for how they work, then work your way up to more advanced options.
Once you've chosen your software, come back and tell us about your experience with it in the comments!