What’s The Best DAW For Electronic Music?

Best Daw For Electronic Music

Well, I have to say this: no DAW is superior to its competitors. It’s just a matter of taste. The best DAW is the one YOU feel most comfortable working with. Sure, every man vouch for his favourite music making software and keeps telling it’s the only choice for this-and-that type of music. But like I said, it’s all just a matter of taste and preference.

What you need to do is to download the demos and test them throughly. That’s the only way to find out which DAW is the best.

However, I’ve been in the electronic music scene for some time now and IMO there seems to be four music making software that electronic music producers favor quite a lot: Logic Pro (only for Mac) and Ableton Live are probably two of the most popular DAWs in many professional electronic music studios. Majority of well known artists seem to use either Logic or Live.

Also, lot of people use FL Studio & Reason as well so I would suggest to check out these four DAWs first.

I personally use FL Studio (been using it for 10 years now). I also know lot of popular producers use FL Studio (EDIT: as with always, you can’t be 100% sure with these “who’s using what DAW” -type of things. Only the producer can tell you for sure. Be noticed that I base the following “claims” on what I’ve read from the net on various different sources) : BT9th Wonder, Boi-1da, Basshunter, Deadmau5 (EDIT: FL at least to some extent (?) alongside with Ableton Live and other DAWs), Mike Oldfield, Tim Berg (AVICII), AfrojackAudiojack to name a few. It has also been voted as best DAW by MusicRadar users in 2011 and 2012 and I could give you thousand reasons why FL Studio is the best DAW,  but that would be just a my opinion. It may work for me but not for you.

I also use Ableton Live (but not that much though). Lot of DJs use Ableton Live on stage (and for podcasts, etc) so it’s an awesome “live” tool, but also very good for music production as well. Many big name artists use Ableton Live for production: Daft Punk, David Guetta, Gabriel & Dresden, Pete Tong, Rennie  Pilgrem, Richie Hawtin, Sasha, Skrillex, Knife PartyArmin Van Buuren (alongside with Logic Pro) and the list goes on and on.

(ADDITION: it doesn’t actually matter who’s using what.. what’s really important is what YOU feel comfortable working with)

Reason is popular too. But there’s one major flaw in Reason: it doesn’t support VST which is a standard in most modern DAWs. That means you’re not able to use any additional virtual synth plugins or effects in it. However it has some pretty good virtual synths and effects built in so you can definetely create high quality electronic music with it.

Then there’s Cubase which is one of the oldest DAWs and still used widely and Pro Tools which is broadly used by professionals throughout the audio industries for recording and editing in music production, film scoring, film, and television post production.

Other popular DAWs are Sonar, Presonus Studio OneSony ACID Pro, Synapse Orion, Reaper and Adobe Audition.

Check out some of the free and open source DAWs as well such as Ardour or Rosegarden.

For more alternatives, look at this list of digital audio workstations.

As you can see there’s quite a lot of choices. You really need to download the demos and do some testing. When you find a one that works for you, learn it inside out. That’s the best DAW.

About Petri Suhonen

Petri Suhonen is an electronic music hobbyist. He has been producing music with computers over a decade on such styles as trance, downtempo, ambient & experimental electronic using FL Studio.

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Comments

  1. Andre Lefebvre says:

    The best DAW I find is the one that makes your workflow fluid…

    BTW, you may also want to add Reaper to your list: http://www.reaper.fm/

    Cheers,

    Andre

  2. Aung Myin(DJ Cosmo) says:

    Hi Petri,
    I’m Aung Myin. I’m from Myanmar.
    I’m also an Electronic Music Hobbyist like you.
    Greets from Myanmar!!!!!!

    Regards,
    Aung Myin

  3. Andre Onate says:

    Hey, Adobe Audition is always left out of this arena for whatever reason!! I use this program and I’ve used many others as well. For me, Audition is the best audio editor of them all. I think Audition is used mostly for t.v. and radio commercials and movies even, but it can most definetly still rock an electronic track!!

    • I’ve always tought Adobe Audition is some sort of video -editing software with music production possibility… Thanks for bringing this up – I will add the Audition to the list.

  4. Audition used to be CoolEditPro. A very nifty and richly featured program indeed…

  5. Maladroid says:

    Mmm been using Fruityloops for years now too but it’s only recently that I have started really getting serious with music making. Yeah the thing with reason and VSTs is both a blessing and a curse. Its exclusivity to its own plugins make it more straightforward which is conducive I think to creativity and workflow. That’s always been my problem with FL, the availability of VSTs these days, its hard for me to focus on just making music and not wasting hours on finding that perfect plugin

    • Good and true point. I’ve been personally experiencing the very same thing with the vast supply of all the VSTs, but in these past months I’ve been focusing mainly on the FLS native plugins and I have to say I’ve been learned to do quite a lot things with only a handful of plugins.

  6. mory says:

    ONLY
    FL STUDIO

  7. enflans says:

    Hi,

    Your post helped a lot since I am deciding which one to buy on a limited budget. However, as much as I would like to produce electronic music (specifically electro house), my other love is acoustic/hard rock as well. Could you give me some advice on which DAW would likely be able compensate best for both electronic production and instrumental recording (ex. Guitar/Vocal plugin, rock drum beats)? I’ve done some research on popular DAWs for studio recording such as Pro Tools and Cubase but I don’t want to be compromising the electronic production aspects as well. I am thinking of getting either Ableton Live or FL Studio since they seem to the most acclaimed in the business (electronic), so perhaps it would be great if you could give me some advice on which of these two would best accomodate for studio recording? Any other suggestions will be great too.

    Thank you!

    • Hey there,

      That is a good question…

      Personally, I dont do any instrument recording when I produce by myself – it’s all digital with soft synthc and sampels and I rely on FL Studio.

      However, I do play in a band as well, and we use Zoom H4 and Zoom R16 to record our material and when I go to mixing stage, I still rely on FL Studio and so far it has worked great for such use as well.

      So as for me, FL Studio is working very good!

      I’ve seen comments people saying FLS is not good for recording stuff and that Cubase or Pro Tools is better… but personally, I don’t see a problem why FL Studio wont work as good (or Ableton).

      Just a my opinion :)

      Cheers!

    • I do both live music and electronic music. Reaper is REALLY good and easy for rock music. Especially on the mac. It’s cheaper than the alternatives and easier to use. I also use maschine, which whilst tailored to electronic music, I have been using it for a bit of folk, with really good results.

  8. David says:

    Hi! A really good post and extremely helpful for me since I’m about to buy my first daw :). I’ve been playing keyboards and arranging some compositions but I want to explore the software production aswell, since I find really expensive buying new gear according to my needs when I can have a powerful setup in my computer at an affordable price. I’m kind of in the same situation than enflans. I love both acoustic and electronic music (specifically trance and deep house). I know that there isn’t a “all in one” daw that covers every genre but I just want a tool that I can do a reasonable range of music. I’ve limited my options to Ableton and Reason. But after some research, watching videos and listening stuff I can’t realy decide which one is the best for me. So far, I like Reason because it’s self-contained and the hardware-like interface it’s just amazing. I like Ableton because it’s easy to do performances with it and it’s more “live” oriented, which I find really nice. Also I’m not sure if using or not using plug-ins it’s an advantage or a disadvantage. I’d really like some advice and help with this because performing live it’s almost a must for me as much as the Reason interface and workflow. Thank you in advance! :)

  9. giorgio says:

    Good article, only some clarifications:

    Logic and Ableton are the most used daw from the pro producer. The other daw as FLStudio, cubase, reason etc. are not diffuse between pro producer as Logic and Ableton.

    Many pro producer use Ableton for podcast and in live but use Logic for production as Armin.

    Deadmau5 doesn’t use FL but Ableton

    ProTools is not generally used in production but for the final stage (mix & mastering)

    • Hey Giorgio and thanks for your clarifications. However, I did a little more in-depth research on couple of things:

      It seems Mr. Armin Van Buuren does use Ableton Live for producing as well and not just for his weekly radio shows. He’s using it WITH the Logic. Check these:

      http://www.ableton.com/armin-van-buuren
      http://www.clubzone.com/news/357/interview-with-armin-van-buuren.html

      Also, Deadmau5 does indeed use FL Studio in his productions (EDIT: at least to some extent (?) though can’t be 100% sure.. needs to be confirmed from the artist itself), but he use it alongside with Ableton Live. Looks like he’s using Cubase and Reason as well. Check these:

      http://www.image-line.com/documents/powerusers.php?entry_id=1287669909
      http://musicianstools.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/artist-profile-deadmau5/

      You’re right about Logic and Ableton though – they seem to be very popular DAWs in many professional studios… I think I’ll need to emphasize that more in my article.

      Cant say much about how widely Pro Tools is used for production though, but you’re probably right.

      Thanks!

      • fizpop says:

        dude, he got paid to say that. yeah he probably did start using FL back in the day, but now he definately does not. the FL sound engine doesnt sound great at all, compared to pretty much any other DAW

        • “he got paid to say that” ?

          Sorry, but I don’t buy that.

          “he probably did start using FL back in the day”

          True.

          “but now he definately does not”

          You can’t be sure unless you don’t know him personally. I saw an interview where he said he’s doing some “things” in FL.

          “the FL sound engine doesnt sound great at all, compared to pretty much any other DAW”

          With all due respect: that is gibberish.. http://flstudio.image-line.com/help/html/app_audio.htm.

          • Pawan Pattery says:

            I agree with Petri..

            Just have to check the tut’s on this page to know the quality., It’s all just about how you use your tools..

            regards,
            Pawan Pattery (from India)

  10. MasterHolten354 says:

    Hi, i really liked your article and it did help point me in the right direction, but im still only slightly uncertain as to which DAW’s would my definitive choice although i have a good idea but would like your opinion in the matter.

    I want to make electronic music (maybe some jazz in the future) making mostly ambient techno, illbient, acid techno, some dnb, glitch and house. From what i mostly read and studied, FL Studio seems to be very commonplace for electronic production as well as Logic and Cubase (i think) and I also know well of Pro Tools being used for a wide variety of areas (record, edit, mix, produce), Reason is also well spoken of for electronic music and Ableton live for pretty much the same reason and, also, for live production/recording and djing.

    As far as im concerned, i am willing to take up Pro Tools, FL Studio and Ableton…each for something different, while the fact that i would have to learn them all is daunting, i think its a pretty good deal: Pro Tools and Ableton for recording, Ableton for live and djing and FL Studio for DAW only production. This is sort of my own but would like any insight as to if this IS a good idea or not.

    Thanks in advanced :D

    • Hey there,

      In my opinion – while that does sound like a good set of tools for all those different purposes – you have a quite a steep learning curve ahead of you with three different DAWs…

      Of course its your choice, but I would recommend to pick only one DAW for starters and play around with it for a while to see if it fits for you for the type of music you’re producing.

      You can record, edit, mix and produce with Ableton and FL Studio as well.. maybe pick Ableton or FL for starters?

      Just my two cents! :)

      • MasterHolten354 says:

        I happen to have the FL Studio 10 demo and i like it…might try the Ableton Live demo to see how i like it…also have Pro Tool Se lying around, might get started with it this year :D

  11. andre says:

    I’m looking into taking advantage of the FruityLoop promotion and can’t decide between the Fruity Edition of the Producer Edition. I will be using it with VST instruments like Synthogy as well as CamelAudio Alchemy or other of their samples.

    Thanks!

    Andre

  12. fizpop says:

    deadmau5 and avicii most certainly do not use fl, they both use ableton live. deadmau5 plays live with ableton. in my opinion ableton is the best by far. almost every electronic music producer uses it (many also use logic now to) i have never heard of a top producer/performer using FL, ever. with that said, FL is a great start, but find 1 you like and try not change from that.
    you will find that for electronic music, ableton has so many possibilities, its endless. in my opinion, go for ableton, the ease of use and possibilities for electronic music by far outdo any other DAW.

    • The thing is, as always with “debates” on who’s using what, you can’t never be sure… Only the artist himself can tell you what he’s using (that’s why I think I need to edit a little the “artists who use this and that DAW” -section in my article).

      Anyway, where do you base your claim that DM or AVICII most certainly do not use FL anymore? And what do you mean by that? Do you mean that they don’t use it at all (at any extent) or not as their main DAW?

      Or course, I can’t be 100% sure either as I’ve never had a chance to chat with mr. Zimmermann (or Tim Berg) so I base my claims on stuff I read from the net…

      As for AVICII, check this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAl-ySjX1YU&feature=fvsr. Looks pretty much FL to me… though can’t be 100% sure what he use right now.

      As for Deadmau5… he seems to use multiple DAWs nowadays (probably Live as his main DAW like you said.. I saw a video where he’s jamming with Live), but I read he still use FL for making beats and such, but this needs to confirmed.

      I’ve also read that a lot of top producers use FL. For example, check what BT said while ago (even though FL’s probably not his main DAW, but still interesting): https://twitter.com/#!/BT/status/98799496984662017

      However, remember that its not important who’s using what.. all that matters is what YOU feel comfortable working with… if you’re able to producer great music with a DAW no other artist is using, would that actually matter?

      Ableton Live is good, there’s no doubt about it. I have Live alongside with FL and I like some of its features a lot, but my in my opinion it lacks of sequencing features (and couple of other small details) which are unbeatable in FL.

      And yes, FL is a “great start” like you said, but in my opinion, its also good to STICK with it and not just something to BEGIN with and then drop it and change to another DAW. Why not just stick to it if you can make good music with it?

      I think every man vouch for his choice of DAW, but in the end, all that matters is what kind of music you are able to create with your chosen DAW.

      Cheers!

      • fizpop says:

        I highly respect you for your reply, and i totally agree with you when you said: “However, remember that its not important who’s using what……….I think every man vouch for his choice of DAW, but in the end, all that matters is what kind of music you are able to create with your chosen DAW.”
        its not about who uses what, as long as you get what you want from your DAW, i just said that because i really like ableton and its features.
        you defenately do your homework and you seem to know your stuff (unlike alot of crap that one see’s on the net)
        anyway, nice feed man. happy music making

        • Thanks, mate, I appreciate that! Cheers!

          • Teddy says:

            Look Petris comments have been the most insightful and substantiated. This might be random but I reckon what matters more is YOU, the person that uses the DAW and not necessarily the DAW itself. Sure you might want to have the best DAW out there but that’s pointless if you’re not any good yourself. I personally use FL studio as it is exactly what DAW stands for a Digital audio Workshop. I could go on and praise its capabilities but that wouldn’t answer your question fairly. The best advice would be testing each DAW individually, as mentioned and finding what is the most comfortable for you, not just falling victim to biased posts/opinions. Good luck with your production

    • enflans says:

      i saw in an interview with deadmau5 where he claimed to be using FL studio but the final production always ends up with ableton.. I saw it on the net too but can’t seem to find it for now.. but definitely it doesn’t matter what DAW anyone uses as long it gives the desired results

  13. n00bz says:

    Avicii uses FL n00bs

    • Lootius says:

      Yep he sure does, no midi controllers atm either.
      Keyboard maestro!
      Sorry C-DJs, he is a laptop DJ but he is playing his own stuff! Not bad for a headliner!

      Myself, FL Studio Producer edition for arranging, Ableton for the polish and mastering.

  14. Amit says:

    Sequoia is one of the best sounding daw in the daw world now and also Samplitude both these softwares are manufactured by the company Magix.

  15. Any Daw is gud as long u understand the way of communicating wit its, i uses fl9 bt i wanna learn pro tools cause its gud for mixing, as for midi editing i go wit cubase.

  16. hazir says:

    hi petri.i am using fl studio too,i started age before,and i learned so much,fl studio is really good software and i produced two sounds,but i have never tested other DAW s,i think i will download demo of cubase 6 or ableton live.and i think that is very important whose producers use daw prograams,producers who uses FL studio climbed up to first place on dj mag top 100 list :D(like afrojack,avicii,dead mause,arty)thank you for this theme.

    Hazir from Bosnia (balkan)

  17. hi there.

    i use flstudio for many years and i feel perfect with that, producing all kind of music: from tekno to trance, from dnb to heavy dubstep and flstudio never misses the point ,)

    btw in these years i tried also ableton live, which i prefer for live performance than flstudio that seems to be more studio oriented.

    im using the combo ableton + flstudio rewire too and it rocks!
    i also make some pieces of songs in flstudio, than i record all the stuffs into ableton and i continue in that…

    the last steps, mixing and mastering, are performed all in FLstudio.

    also, i’d like to answer to all the dudes saying flstudio sounds worst than ableton or other DAWs: flstudio is a powerfull DAW, maybe one of the best, and how it sounds depends of your skill and ears because i feel that the flstudio sound engine is really really fine and it use to plays also the microvariances in your mix.

    returning on flstudio stuffs, i always wanted a better “live mode” session. If IL would make it real i’ll be exalted!

    • I’m using FL and Ableton side-by-side as well (for producing) but the ratio is like 95% FL and 5% Live for me. Even so, Live is very good DAW, but I’m just sooo into FL’s workflow and Piano Roll :D

  18. Joe Howard says:

    What annoys me about certain articles you read referring to FL Studio, is that its nearly always “I use it as a tinker tool and transfer it into something else”. As a hobbyist, I find this annoying. Yes most professional studios are not using FL Studio so transferring WAVs into LOGIC or whatever must be commonplace, but FL Studio, particularly version 10, is spectacular in my opinion. I’m not even using 25% of its capabilities and its still amazing. I tried Reason, and it is limited and complicated. The left to right approach of programs like Cubase is appealing (I started with Making Waves Audio which had that left to right approach) but the flexability of FL Studio (and the way you can limit this flexability with templates) really works for me. Each to their own, but it frustrates me when people still talk about FL Studio as the lesser of the DAWs. Just because a program is intensely confusing and complex doesn’t make it better

  19. Nicholas says:

    I know for a fact deadmau5 is primarily FL Studio.

  20. Alex Dickson says:

    FL and Cubase 6 are my current musical weapons of choice

  21. Eric says:

    I’ve used FL Studio for years. I dabbled with Ableton for a while when I was trying to consolidate my production and djing into one software.

    From my experience, Ableton is an amazing software, but.. The learning curve seemed VERY steep. Even with some experience with DAW software, it takes a while to learn. So rather than spend a whole year learning a new software, I went back to FL for production, and use Traktor for the DJing.

    Personally, I also like the look and feel of FL’s UI over any others I have seen or tried.

    FL also has free updates for life, and is a fraction of the cost of Abelton or Logic with essentially the same feature set. The upcoming FL 11 will be like Abelton Live it seems, and use DJ controllers for on the fly mixing… (Updated for free.. of course.) :)

    • The performance mode in FL 11 is really nice addition 8-)

      • Yazi says:

        Hello Petri,
        i have had fl studio 10 installed from a torrent(sorry about that, if it offends anyone) but i found it hard to work with. The option clone – loads the instrument preset but empty, so i have to again load the track in it. The piano roll is amazing i think. Another problem is that when i open a second channel(cloned), and if a mute an instrument say sakura in that channel, it will mute it in channel one also.
        I might try ableton or cubase and see what works for me. you may realize i’m a beginner.
        push integrated with ableton is something really good. you can spend time making tracks on the push controller itself.
        I know this question is silly but which update is better according to you?
        fl studio 11
        or
        ableton live 9

  22. Adam says:

    Hi.To clear the air I’ll say that most of today producers use more than one DAW . So don’t get dizzy when some of your idol producer will give a statement that he is using this and that. Good example is Orjan Nilsen who is using FL Studio inside Cubase. Yes , it’s correct word – “inside”, because FL may act like VST plugin so it’s possible to use it inside any DAW that enables using VST plugins.Also “secret” weapon is rewireing technology inside all DAW’s.So we can work with Reason in other DAW’s .

  23. Best is really a subjective matter, and it is best to download demos and try them out first. Anyhow, we have complied a list of the top DAWs going around today. Feel free to check it out! http://www.producingbeats.com/List-of-Popular-Music-Making-Digital-Audio-Workstation-DAW-Software

    Nice article Petri!

  24. Eric says:

    Ableton is awesome, but has a steep learning curve and the UI feels weird (to me). It also costs an arm and a leg, but it’s designed to be used live as well, which is nice. Personally, I prefer Traktor for live stuff.

    I’ve been using FL Studio for over 7 years, seriously for about 3. I think it’s the best bang for your buck. $200-300, and you never have to buy it again. Free updates for life is huge. Sound quality is great. Supports 3rd party VST’s without any fuss. Built in plug ins and effects work great as well.

    As stated, the best DAW is the one you feel works the best for you. Most have free trials. Give them a test drive, and see which one you like.

  25. Amir says:

    Hi Petri ..I’m a FL Hobbist from IRAN..In my Opinion FL is so FAST to Cope With…3xOsc is my favorite..I make Plenty of Awsome Sounds with it and get it Spicy with some Effects …Can We Share FL VST Presets? Where Can i do it?

  26. Reaper, the best!!

  27. xell says:

    Dude, Reaper DOES support VST. Change it in your article.

  28. Vinit Pratap says:

    Very nice and helpful article Petri, ‘what suits and works for you is the best for you..’

  29. FL Studio is the Best Daw For Trance Producers.

    I am using FL Studio for couple of years.

  30. sammy says:

    i feel fl studio offers best beginner package which costs less and gives more than what you money can buy.i feel its under-priced but hey,its good for us.i thing fl has bad reputation because it started like badly,people used it as a toy so this is how it got reputation like that.and btw add MADEON in the list of fl studio user.he is obsessed with it and makes awesome music.if anyone wants to know any thing producers use go to equipboard(dot)com .it does not matter what you use,what matters is you are pro in it.
    and for the novices i quote them the golden word for production-“gather skills instead of tools”.

  31. DuttonsaysHi uses Reason, and then I said, why not. I went in and tested it (I use FL studio Normally), and I didn’t understand anything with it so I just dumped it.

  32. Been using cubase since the early days and I figure those guys know better than anyone how to get the proper sound and workflow. I’ll stick with Cubase.

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