How To Choose A DAW

What is a DAW ?

DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation. In other words, the software that you use to produce your music.

There are many very good DAWs out there, and bottom line, they all do the same things:
Record MIDI, record AUDIO, Mix the whole thing.

DAW Cakewalk Sonar X2 Track view

DAW Cakewalk Sonar X2 Track view

So how do you choose one?

The most typical question that comes in mind when in search for your first DAW is:

What is the best DAW?

Unfortunately there are as many answers to this question as the number of existing music recording software.


You cannot buy all of them. That’s many thousands $$.

Even if you have the budget, it would be a tremendously confusing to learn how to use several different DAWs at the same time.

At this point, I’m going to make an attempt to answer the question:
What is the best DAW?

A DAW is a tool.

A tool is only as good as how well you use it.

The idea is to choose a DAW and stick with it. Learn to use it until it becomes an extension of your hands and your creativity.

This is why it is so important to make the right choice for you.

Sometime the choice is done for you.
For example, when you buy a professional or semi-professional audio interface, most of the times it includes an LE (Limited Edition) software.
And when the time comes to upgrade, you naturally buy the full version of the same software.
Which is the right thing to do because you are already familiar with the interface and all you have to deal with are the new features.

There are other parameters to consider when choosing a DAW.

First, you have to define the kind of production you want to make.

  • Case 1 – Is it a full musical production that involves recording musical instruments, vocals … , mixing and mastering (finalizing) ?
    Then you need a DAW that includes “all” the necessary tools (plugins) to achieve this out of the box.
  • Case 2 – You plan to record at home then mix in a professional studio.
    Then it is best to choose the pro studio and maybe use a similar software they work with so you could just put all your project files on a USB stick or a DVD, take it to the studio and in a matter of minutes you’re ready to roll.
    Another option is to choose a DAW that can export OMF files (any major DAW does.) It is second best when porting audio from one DAW to another.
  • Case 3 – You just want to record a narration and mix it with a prerecorded background music.
    Then you probably don’t need any other software than the one that was bundled with your audio interface.

The best way to choose your first DAW.

Basically you could go to YouTube and check thousands of videos from enthusiasts who describe their DAWs.
Some are professionals, but most are just enthusiasts.
The advantage is that it’s free.
The disadvantage is that it can be very time consuming and worst, confusing.

If you are serious about building yourself a home recording studio and want to start on the right foot, there is a better option.
It is called GROOVE 3.

It is a very high quality video courses site about almost every professional music software existing made by experts who guide you, step by step, from basics to ultra advanced.

The video bellow is a small example.

How to use Groove 3 to choose your first DAW.

You subscribe for 1 month (at the time of this writing 1 single month costs $34.99). You look at the basics of all the DAWs where they explain the interfaces.

This will certainly give you a good idea of how each software looks and feels.

The one you understand the fastest, will probably suit you best.

Look if that software is offered as a 30 days full functionality free trial.

The ability to practice the DAW while watching the videos is a very efficient way to learn and catch professional habits guided by experts.

You can see for yourself at

They have hundreds of free videos that you can watch no strings attached.

Listen to Russ from Groove 3 tell you why they started Groove 3

A short description of Groove 3 site.

I hope you’ll be happy with your choice.

Go make some music.