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The Renegade Producer's Fav 5 Digital Audio Workstations for Electronic Music Producers

5 Top DAWs Lead Image

Time to choose between the hundreds of different digital audio workstations available? Feel as confused as a chameleon standing in a field of M&M's?  This post should make life way easier for you! Read on:

Yes, the choice in digital audio workstations is an important decision for a new producer to make. It's a long-term partner.  It influences almost every aspect of home studio music production and, to some degree,  even your sound.
The array of DAW choices out there and the research and testing needed to test each one can make this crucial music production decision quite a daunting prospect.

So, on this page, quite arbitrarily, we cut the 80% crud out.  This means you get a shortlist of only 5 out of the 100's of DAWs to choose from. Much easier, right?

Disclaimer: The list is chosen by the author, based on a vague mix of familiarity, market share, community support and conventions in the author's experience with music production and music producers. Do your own research before you make a choice! (Read "Biased")

And The Winners of The Renegade Producer's Top 5 Digital Audio Workstations Are... (drum roll...):

Image-Line FL Studio

OS: Win (Mac in Dev)
Price: Editions range from $99 to $899 at the time of writing.
Plug-in: VST
Known For: Easy to get into and have fun with while it still packs a production punch.

FL screenshot

A firm favorite in the realm of Hip-Hop and Dance Producers,  FL Studio has come a long way from it's humble origins as step-sequencer-based Fruity Loops.

No longer can you really look down upon FL Studio users in a condescending way.  Those days are well and truly over with a list of power-users that stretches to Mars and back.

FL Studio has become a true music production environment that can handle pretty much any music production task you throw at it.

Check it out now on the FL Studio site or on Amazon.

Ableton Live

OS: Windows & Mac
Price: Editions range from $99 US to $749 US at time of writing.
Plug-in: VST & AU
Known For: Clip-based workflow and equally useful on stage and in the studio.

Known for it's hybrid live/production philosophy, Ableton Live is a winner as far as many DJ/Producers, especially those in the Dance/EDM/Electronic Music scenes, are concerned.

It's focus on clip-based production means it differs slightly in workflow compared to most of the other 5 digital audio workstations mentioned in this post, except for Bitwig which is similar.

This is a solid choice if you play out or plan to play out a lot.  That said, it's a good all-round DAW for production work too, so worth consideration, even if you're a studio rat.

AL software screenshot

It's available on the Ableton site or Amazon.

Apple Logic Pro X

OS: Mac
Price: Retails at $199.99 at the time of writing.
Plug-in: AU
Known For: Solid all-rounder loved by composers and electronic artists alike.

Logic Pro Screenshot

Apple Logic Pro X, with a history that stretches back to it's early 90's incarnations of Notator Logic and Logic, is another darling of electronic music producers.

Based on a traditional multi-track studio layout,  this DAW is closer to Pro-Tools and Cubase in it's operation than Live, FL Studio and Bitwig.

You'll be in good company as Logic Pro user and you'll have no shortage of guides to lead you through the process.

Available at the time of writing for $199 on the Apple site.

Bitwig Studio

OS: Windows & Mac & Linux
Price: $399 US at the time of writing.
Plug-in: VST
Known For: Newcomer and pioneer with hybrid workflow design.

A newcomer to the game, Bitwig is the lesser-known candidate among our selected digital audio workstations.  That doesn't mean it's not a solid choice.

Bitwig Studio started life back in 2014 with a novel approach which brings together linear and non-linear sequencing in one DAW.

At $399, it's a bit more pricey compared to other entry-level options but with all the potential and capabilities it offers for music production it's well worth your consideration.

Bitwig Screenshot

Get it at Bitwig.com.

Steinberg Cubase

OS: Win & Mac
Price: Current editions range between approx $90 for Elements and $600 for Pro Version at time of writing.
Plug-in: VST
Known For: Popular veteran all-rounder and originator of VST plug-in technology.

Cubase Screenshot

A definite veteran in the world of digital audio workstations, Cubase has carved a place for itself as an all-round winner,  loved by musicians and producers alike.

It's closer to Logic than Bitwig or Ableton in its linear multi-track-based workflow. Still, many electronic music producers like me swear by it.

Why?  It's a reliable workhorse that can handle anything you need to do as a producer or beatmaker.

Available at Steinberg's site.

In closing:

I hope this shortlist of digital audio workstations has helped you narrow down your candidates!

Remember, your producer skill stack will always be more important than your choice of DAW. Talent trumps tech in the studio. A good producer will quickly switch between DAWs because they know the fundamentals. They have transferable skills.

That said,  every DAW out there has it's own little quirks and ways of doing things.  Some may suit you better than others.  Most offer demo versions.  Try all the ones on your list for a while before you decide.

The above 5 DAWs are all respectable choices.  Choose one of them if you want to get on with the music production rather than fret over which DAW to use.

Once you have your chosen DAW set up and ready to rock you may want to read this post about how you can become a DAW ninja, fast.  Oh, and if your goal is to stack your music production skills and stay ahead of the pack, remember to get your copy of The Renegade Report below:

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