The advent of internet has caused a paradigm shift in the music business. Long gone are the days when music labels were sought by legions of aspiring musicians to record professional quality music. Thanks to a surge of free music production software or DAWs nowadays, anyone can compose beautiful melodies within the comfy environs of their home and belt out hits for the entire world to marvel at. Although, music production has become ridiculously easy, finding the best free music production software is painstaking.
The problem is compounded by lots of expensive software on the market who discourage against using free music production software! So, how does a budding songwriter snag a decent free DAW? By going through our list of 10 of the best free music production for beginners, of course!
How to choose a good free Music Production Software?
Be it on Mac OS X or Windows (7, 8 and Windows 10), all the free DAWs on our list have been chosen on several criteria such as ease of use and responsiveness of the UI. To pick a favourable DAW, do ensure factors such as third-party VST compatibility are considered. Luckily all these DAWs offer a rich collection of inbuilt free VST plugins, free synths, drum loops and more.
Whether if you were anxiously looking for a powerful DAW with free synths or just a simple beat maker, your search has come to an end. So, are you ready to select the best free music production software for beginners? Without further ado, let’s begin.
10 of the Best Free Music Production Software for Beginners in 2021
1) Reaper [Mac & Windows]
You must be wondering why does Reaper feature on this list of free music production software when it asks you to pay a nominal $60 fee after free trial? The truth is, Reaper can actually be used forever even after the 2 months trial is over. The reason Reaper reigns supreme are features such as powerful MIDI routing in multiple media formats at any sample, bit and depth rate.
Not to mention, a crafty ReSurround tool for spatial visualization as well as real-time stretch, FX processing and Notation Reader for writing and reading music. The customizability that Reaper offers is second to none as you can tweak it all you want.
Especially beginners would be enticed by the customizability of Reaper’s drag and drop layout interface wherein you can dock, show or hide outboard windows on a separate monitor. Reaper can also process stereo and multichannel audio (up to 64 channels) without any hassles.
What’s more, Reaper offers seamless integration of third-party VST, AU, MIDI plugins with auto plugin delay compensation. Also, there are a lot of accessibility tools for beginners in the form of resize, glue and trim that are useful for recording multiple takes and loops, overdub tracks.
2) GarageBand [Mac]
Since time immemorial, GarageBand has been a staple feature on Macs for beginners learning the ropes of music production. Believe it or not, GarageBand is a phenomenal DAW with crafty virtual session drummers, a plethora of AU plugins, EQ support and rich guitar, synths and drum loops. What’s more, the UI is pretty neat and responsive wherein you can stack up to 255 tracks, use a multitude of inbuilt stompbox models, and pedalboards with aplomb.
With a realistic set of amp emulators spanning across genres such as Classic Rock, grunge, Metalcore to indie, GarageBand is apt for guitar-based music production. Not to mention, you can immerse yourself in a gamut of rich sounding presets for guitar, vocals, and percussion to craft, record, and share your masterpiece.
All together, Garageband is one of the best free music production software for beginners and serves as a great stepping stone to hone their skills and learn Logic Pro, GarageBand’s advanced elder brother.
3) Tracktion 7 [Mac & Windows]
Long heralded as an ‘unlimited’ free DAW for music creators, Tracktion 7 is a full-fledged workflow-oriented program that sports a swanky “blue steel interface” intrinsically designed for some serious action. No matter what genre of music you create, Tracktion 7 supports an array of VST/AU plugins whose parameters can be further automated through its clever Automation Patterns tool. If you want to make a plugin even more expressive, you can use T7’s LFO modifier.
But, the real novelty is the Clip Layer effects tool that allows you to stack multiple effects on individual clips instead of using them on entire tracks. Beginners would also be in awe of T7’s intuitive single-screen interface that comes in handy for creating, recording, mixing and mastering songs with finesse.
Of course, T7 has carried forward the legacy of Tracktion 6 with nifty highlights such as Z-Plane’s elastique pro time stretch algorithm, beat time correction, “super comp” audio compiling tool, rom and a robust plugin management system plugin management system for managing heaps of VST/AU plugins on your DAW.
4) Ableton Live Lite 9 [Mac & Windows]
Don’t be dissuaded by Ableton Live 9’s limited edition credentials, it still holds up as one of the best free music production software for beginners to fiddle around with. For starters, the lite version lets you record up to 8 tracks with MIDI sequencing. Plus, you can harness an eclectic collection of inbuilt VST/AU Plugins and SFX (EQ, reverb, compressor, chorus, delay, drum sampler, etc) to create professional quality mixes.
What’s more, you can sync MIDI equipment such as keyboards and play sets anywhere on the go since Ableton Live Lite 9 is compatible with the Export live set feature of many iOS apps.
Also, the interface is pretty responsive and workflow-oriented so beginners would find it fairly easy to write, record and produce their own songs. Some other splendid features include: inbuilt slicing and warping tools, and nifty Analogue-modeled filters that emulate vintage hardware models.
5) Ardour [Mac & Windows]
A unique open-source DAW, Ardour piqued our interest in ways aplenty. To start with, Ardour supports hordes of VST/AU and FX plugins that are crucial for embellishing your sound on DAWs. More importantly, you also get to automate parameters within the plugins. Then there’s the industry-standard mixing console, which is easy to use thanks to a soothing interface wherein all the buttons and widgets are well-defined and neatly arranged without looking like a mishmash.
Furthermore, multi-track MIDI editing is quite easy on Ardour since it is non-linear editor (with virtual racks for showing overlapping regions) and one of the best free music production software for beginners of all hues.
And, if you also want to do some slick video editing on the side, then Ardour is your go-to program. Simply edit the soundtrack of a video on a frame-by-frame timeline, or trim through videos displaying in a separate monitor window with ease and grace.
6) LMMS [Mac & Windows]
Suitable for music producers of all hues, both rookie and professional, LMMS takes the crown if simplicity of UI were the criteria for choosing a good DAW. Sporting a familiar-esque layout, LMMS hooks you right in at first glance. With a melange of instrument synthesizers (including emulations of Roland TB-303) and support for drop-in VST and LADSPA plug-ins, LMMS ensures you can incorporate more elements into your tracks.
Furthermore, LMMS boasts 5 editors to help you compose sick tunes. An FX editor for sprucing up mixes, Beats + Bassline Editor for crafting those groovy beats and a Song Editor for creating melodies.
You can also revel in the usual fare – distortion and bass enhancer, piano-roll editor, delay, limiter, reverb, and built-in compressor. Lastly, you can also import MIDI files from other DAWs such as Hydrogen and export your files into MP3, AIFF, and WAV formats.
7) DarkWave Studio (Windows)
If you are looking for a lightweight DAW that doesn’t hog much memory or space, then DarkWave Studio is a formidable contender on our list of the best free music production software for beginners.
It is a powerhouse of abundant features such as Multitrack Hard Disk Recorder, Pattern Editor, Sequence Editor and Virtual Studio. Out of these, Sequence Editor is very impressive as it allows users to mix all the track patterns together and line up patterns that can be played in any arrangement.
DarkWave also supports various types of ASIO audio drivers and over 19 inbuilt VSTs that add a gamut of eclectic effects to your mix on its intuitive drag and drop interface. Albeit, dealing with too many menus and separate windows on DarkWave could be irksome for some beginners.
8) MU.Lab [Mac & Windows]
A top-tier modular synth and effects engine, MU.Lab is a through-and-through must have DAW for beginners looking to compose, record, mix and render multi-track audio. For starters, this awesome program supports support audio and MIDI playback on a smooth and responsive UI. You would be in awe of MU.Lab’s intuitive visual routing and versatile mixing desk that is streamlined for making short work of complex and time-consuming edits.
Mu.Lab also comes loaded with auto mono/stereo audio handling, step sequencer, arpeggiator and you also get the option to easily automate parameters. But the real highlight has to be its programmable synths and drums.
You can harness the MuDrum module for tweaking sampled drum loops and MuSynth workhorse synth/sampler (a collection of world-class synths) to infuse new life into your mix.
9) Hydrogen [Mac]
Looking for a solid DAW with modular interface for creating free beats? Look no further than Hydrogen which is one of the best free music production software for budding musicians. A great free alternative for creating and customizing your rhythm-based tracks, Hydrogen fits the bill just right if you are solely focused on sampling drum beats.
Hydrogen is an advanced drum machine which comes loaded with a pattern-based sequencer that can weave together tons of patterns into a track. Furthermore, you can also avail MIDI input support and render tracks in formats such as FLAC, OGG, AIFF, and WAV.
On the downside, Hydrogen does not boast as many features as some expensive DAWs on the market. But, don’t be dismayed by its limited features, Hydrogen does have a sample editor with cut and loop options, pitch corrector, advanced tap tempo and time-stretch tool.
10) Audacity [Mac & Windows]
A list of the best free music production software for beginners would seldom be complete sans Audacity. Compatible with an array of VSTs, Audacity features tools such as pitch corrector and delay that are essential for beginners learning tricks of the trade.
Complemented by an easy-to-use interface, Audacity can be harnessed to edit samples, songs, and process audio files into formats such as MP3, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, et al. What’s more, you can also edit mono and stereo files separately on Audacity since it is a multitrack audio editor.
However, as it is actually an open-source digital audio editor and not a full-fledged DAW, Audacity primarily manipulates audio data rather than helping users organize several audio waveforms into a cogent mix. This could be limiting for some users who have moved well beyond the beginner threshold or want to take their audio pursuits to the next level.
And…that’s a wrap! Did you like our list of the best free music production software? Did we miss out on any DAWs that you know of? Sound off in the comments. Let’s stir it up.
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