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The Best Recording Studio Software of 2019

Matt D'Angelo
, writer
| Updated
Jan 29, 2018
> Technology

Recording Studio Software Comparisons

Recording studio software includes powerful tools for creating, recording, editing and exporting audio for professional use. Sound engineers, amateur DJs, musicians and business owners all use this software for audio projects, whether editing existing audio or creating new beats.

There are several different types of software, and the best one for your business depends largely on what your business needs are. At their core, each digital audio workstation (DAW) can be used for the same thing – they can record, create and edit audio. DAWs can be used to do everything from recording and producing a podcast to creating a chart-topping single.

Best Picks


After thorough analysis and review, below are all of our reviews for recording software.


The price of your DAW depends on what you need it for. There are free DAWs, which have sleek interfaces and a recording and editing engine that can tackle your audio projects. Mid-range DAWs typically range from $100 to $200, and will offer an extensive sound bank, audio editing interfaces, and other editing technology like pitch-shifting or time stretching. High-end DAWs will be over $200 and can exceed costs of $600. This software will include advanced editing technology and an even wider range of sounds and instruments to choose from.

The beauty of using DAWs is the flexibility in price – you can purchase an inexpensive DAW and download third-party plug-ins to expand its capabilities. It's also possible to add in sounds you find online or download extensions through the software's website. Because of this flexibility, price doesn't necessarily denote quality. While there are some inherent advantages to paid DAWs compared to free ones, once you enter the $100 to $300 range, you'll be accessing features that are prevalent across a wide range of software. So, depending on your needs, it may be best to spend less money upfront and add extensions as you begin producing projects.

Negotiation Tips

In terms of software, DAWs are unique in that they are usually one-time purchases. Only a few companies we analyzed offer a subscription-based service. Some allow for free updates, while others require you to pay a fee once you make a substantial jump in service type, say from version 1.0 to 2.0.

  • Support. Depending on what you need recording studio software for, consider the level of support offered by the company. You should be looking at software that offers some type of forum, a knowledge base of frequently asked questions and articles, video tutorials, and email or telephone support. Some DAWs don't offer the last type of support, so keep that in mind while analyzing this aspect. 

  • Added costs and what's included. While DAW pricing is flexible, be wary of added costs. If you pay for your DAW, it should come with a large sound library, a good number of plug-ins and other sound editors and technical support. It should integrate easily with third-party plug-ins and other sound files. Be careful not to jump at an intense, extensive software because of the power it boasts. Likewise, if you sign up for a free service, know how much it's going to cost to add sounds and download extensions.

Our Methodology

We started with a list of over 25 different digital audio work stations. We compiled it by analyzing industry trends, researching existing software and comparing the services offered by each company. From that list, we selected 10 that are at the top of the industry. This included analyzing things like ease of use, price, overall value, level of support offered, size of sound library and third-party software integration.

We analyzed each application in depth, comparing listed features on company websites, analyzing YouTube tutorials, calling or emailing customer service, considering online customer reviews and comparing the prices of each program. From the list of 10, we selected four DAWs that excelled in one of the following areas: budget, value, sound effect tools, traditional recording and live performance.

State of the Industry

The recording studio software industry is one that has endless business applications, particularly with podcasts and sound editing. If you're looking to start a podcast, edit audio, or create a new song or sound for your business, DAWs are a great place to get started. There are various levels and types of software, but all require a certain level of baseline knowledge to use. Luckily, almost all the major players include video tutorials, user forums and extensive knowledge bases so you can learn more about how to use the product or how to get the most out of it.

Before getting started, there are a few pieces of additional equipment that your business may need. DAWs are essentially recording and mixing software that need to be paired with other equipment. If you plan on doing a lot of live audio recording, you'll need an audio interface and an external microphone. The audio interface transfers sound into data that can be read by the DAW. It's also important to get an external microphone. While your computer likely comes with an internal microphone, the sound quality won't be nearly as good as an external one.

In addition to these tools, you also may need a MIDI controller to create MIDI files. MIDI files are recordings or audio files associated with virtual instruments, and many DAWs come with a lot of MIDI files built into the sound library.

MIDI controllers serve as a way for musicians and sound producers to create sounds without playing the actual instrument needed. A pipe organ, for example, can be played using a MIDI controller and then can be edited or adjusted to sound like a synthesizer. MIDI files and controllers are dynamic and present an opportunity to create, record and edit an endless number of sounds.

Common Recording Studio Software Questions & Answers

Have a recording studio software question of your own?
Ask an Expert

Does anyone know of a good program for making audio/slideshow trailers?

7 responses
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Alright so, I'm going to respond largely to the audio portion of this question. You say due to budget restrictions you're trying to avoid paying to rent a recording studio and that's understandable. If you are looking to capture dialogue such as an interview or even a single monologue voice-over an inexpensive option is the Snowball by Blue Microphones. On Amazon I am able to find them for around $50 and I know they work well. For even less money, your iPhone, when held really close to your...

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You already got some pretty good answers in terms of making your videos look good, the next thing is making them SOUND good as well... which is something a lot of people overlook. This is important because when we record something without any type of equalization or filtering we wind up with a wall of sound that spans the entire bandwidth of human hearing. Even if there's nothing going on at certain levels but a mere hiss the ear still picks up on it and tells the brain to process it. Then...

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If you plan to play music in a public space, then you require performance licence in order to play protect recordings from the relevant copyright owner. The two bodies you need to refer to are the PPCA and APRA. Music played in the home is considered private, but any public function space requires licensing. You can be held legally responsible for obtaining or playing music in a public space. Where there is evidence of copyright infringement or pirated music be held accountable.This...

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