The first place to start when deciding on the right DAW for your business is how you'll use the software. Producing a podcast requires a completely different setup than, say, producing musical compositions. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before investing in recording studio software:
- Is your primary use of the software to record audio or produce synth sounds?
- Will you create more studio recordings or live recordings?
- How much control do you need over audio or MIDI editing?
- Do you need to print music sheets?
If your primary goal is to create synthetic music, look for software that has a vast library of MIDI files and a comprehensive editing system. If you want to record live audio, this feature isn't as important.
Your Operating System
The recording studio software you invest in for your business largely depends on whether your computer runs Mac or PC. There is a lot of debate on professional audio forums as to which operating system is better; the truth is, you can pretty much produce the same sounds on a Mac as you can on a PC and vice versa.
If you will be collaborating with musicians, audio engineers or podcasters, consider a DAW that works on both Windows and Mac. Otherwise, look for compatible software for the OS you prefer.
Audio Plugin Compatibility
You'll also want to consider audio plugin compatibility before purchasing a DAW. The most common plugin formats fall into two different camps: native PC plugins and native Mac plugins. Virtual studio technology (VST) is the most widely used plugin format that works on both Mac and PC. The native format for Mac OS X is audio units (AU).
Pricing and Features
DAW pricing varies widely between free options and high-end powerhouses, but be wary of added costs. Paid DAW should come with a large sound library, numerous plugins and a solid sound editor. If you opt for free software, consider the cost of adding sounds and extensions.
Consider the level of support you can expect from the company. Do they offer useful guides, videos and articles? Is there a frequently asked questions page? More popular DAWs also have a large community forum where you can connect with other users, pose questions and find solutions to problems you run into.