Audio Production Software Review

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Why Use Audio Production Software?

Whether you are a solo musician looking to record some of your personal work or your band is looking to cut an album, audio production software offers a great way to get your songs recorded with the same software that professional studios use. Recording your own music at home with studio production software will save you and your band money and give you the flexibility to take your time and get it right.

Audio studio software is a useful tool for any level of musician, producer or engineer to record, edit, mix and master music. We reviewed the best entry-level audio production software so you can begin to build your home studio with fully functional software and still have money to buy other hardware you may need such as mics or an interface. Three of the best audio production software products on the market today are Reaper, Cubase Elements and Image Line FL Studio. Any of these three can provide all the tools of a fully functional DAW at an introductory-level price tag. For additional information, visit our learning center for articles on audio production software.

Entry-level versions of audio production software offer a great way to get familiar with each product to decide if you want to upgrade. We’ve done extensive research on all the products above to give you confidence that you’ll choose the right software for your needs.

Audio Production Software: What to Look For

Even though all the products we reviewed are considered introductory level, some offer far more recording capabilities and production features than others. You want to choose software that allows you to record a decent number of tracks per session but also has plenty of MIDI capabilities and plugins. Below is a list of criteria we used to evaluate the best music production software:

Recording
You want to find software that allows you to produce recording sessions with a large number of audio and MIDI tracks as well as recording multiple audio tracks simultaneously. Recording tools such as loop recording and write automation can be important to get your tracks sounding exactly the way you want them to.

Mixing
The best production software tools include a multi-band equalizer so you can fine-tune your recordings to sound as good as possible. Pitch correction and time stretching can be helpful tools to fix audio blemishes without having to re-record anything.

The more insert and send effects you can apply to an audio track, the more options you will have to achieve the right tone and texture for your recordings. A mastering suite is also a nice bonus if you want to boost you mixed audio to radio-quality volume.

Plugins
Plugins are the icing on the cake and give you the tools to manipulate and create the sounds you are looking for. They include effects, sounds and textures that you can apply to your audio channels. Plugins such as guitar emulators allow you to plug your guitar straight into the recording interface and use the guitar tones from revered amplifiers such as Fender, Mesa Boogie, Marshall and many more. Plugins open up many production avenues.

Entry-level software may have some plugins, but there is always room for extension. You want to look for audio production software that is compatible with multiple plugin formats. The more formats your software is compatible with, the more plugins you can add to your software.

Help & Support
Video tutorials and user forums help novice users learn the tools and tricks of studio software. These resources can be invaluable to beginning users. Software that is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems are especially useful.

Entry-level audio production software gives you many of the tools that fully functional DAWs offer but at an affordable price tag. You can always upgrade once you have mastered the entry-level software we reviewed. By following our guidelines you’ll find the correct software for your recording needs.

 
 
Software » Multimedia » Audio Production Software Review
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Reaper Cubase Elements FL Studio Producer Pro Tools Ableton Live Intro Reason Adobe Audition Sonar X3 Sony ACID Music Studio Studio One
Reaper Cubase Elements FL Studio Producer Pro Tools Ableton Live Intro Reason Adobe Audition Sonar X3 Sony ACID Music Studio Studio One
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Ratings
9.28
8.80
8.28
8.10
7.88
7.78
7.65
7.50
6.40
4.90
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9.38
10.00
10.00
5.00
8.75
9.38
8.75
7.50
8.13
8.13
10.00
5.00
8.13
8.75
7.50
7.50
6.88
8.13
8.13
10.00
7.50
8.13
6.88
10.00
6.88
10.00
5.00
10.00
8.13
6.25
8.13
7.50
6.25
8.75
4.38
5.00
6.25
4.38
4.38
3.13
 
Recording
Ease of Use 100% 100% 75% 90% 85% 80% 70% 80% 70% 70%
Maximum Audio Tracks Unlimited 48 64 16 16 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Maximum Number of MIDI Tracks Unlimited 64 64 16 16 Unlimited   Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Maximum Simultaneous Recorded Tracks Unlimited 48 64 4 4 Unlimited 99 Unlimited Unlimited  
Total Group Channels/Busses Unlimited 16   16      4 Unlimited
Loop Recording/Track Comping
 
Beat Detection/Calculator
 
 
Write Automation
  Pan and Volume
Import Audio
MIDI Editor
 
 
Extract Audio from Video Files  
    
  
Score Editing  
 
   
  
Mixing
Mixer Equalizer 4-band 4-band 3-band Multi-band 3-band 2-band Multi-band 4-band Multi-band Multi-band
Effect Inserts Unlimited 8 8 8 2 Unlimited 16 Unlimited Unlimited  
Effect Sends Unlimited 8 3 8 2 4 16 Unlimited Unlimited  
Pitch Correction
  
 
Time Stretch
 
Mastering Suite
  
   
Plugins
Total Number of Plugins 300+ 44 40+ 25 26 14 50+ 27 2 28
Virtual Instruments 6 3 30+ 3 3 3   12 90 4
MIDI Plugins 40+   Yes (but not specified) Yes (but not specified) 7 Yes (but not specified)   7 2  
Supported Plugin Formats VST, VSTi, AU, JS, DX, Dxi VST 2.4, VST 3 VSTi, Rewire, Dxi, VST, DX AAX, RTAS, AudioSuite VST, AU Propellerheads’ Rack Extension format VST, AU, VST 3 VST 2, VST 3, Dxi VST, VSTi, DX  
Help & Support
Email
  
  
Manual
 
User Forum
Video Tutorials  
 
 
Phone    
 
Supported Operating Systems
Windows 8
 
 
Windows 7
Windows Vista
  
   
 
Windows XP
 
   
 
Mac OS X