Your First Steps Into Trance Music Production: Which DAW to Choose?

In the world of music production, there is one fundamental thing that is needed before you can really start the whole process of music production. I’m talking about the piece of software called a DAW. But what actually is a DAW? Which DAWs are available? And which DAW you should choose for your style of music production? Read on to find out more about your first baby steps into Trance music production.

DAW, say what?

You might be wondering by now what a DAW actually is. DAW is short for Digital Audio Workstation. A DAW is basically a system, usually a piece of software, which can help you record, edit, mix en process digital audio. While standalone DAWs exist, nowadays DAWs used by producers are mainly computer programs that you can buy and install on your Windows or Mac PC.

A DAW is the basis you need before you can start producing electronic music. In a DAW you will find all the basic tools for music production. You will usually start out with a bunch of mixers or tracks. In these tracks you can add your own audio files, or connect digital synthesizer. Then you can add further processing according to the sound you are looking for, like equalizers, reverb, delay and many many other effects.

Usually the DAW itself comes with a bunch of implemented synths, effects and samples, but there are also many external plugins called VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology) which you can add to your DAW. VSTs is something we will discuss in another blog. There are a bunch of DAWs which you can choose from, like for instance Ableton, FL Studio and Logic. Below we will discuss some of the most commonly used DAWs for electronic music producers, so you can decide for yourself which DAW to choose.

Which DAWs are available out there?

Live 10 - Ableton

Operating system: Windows, Mac OS
Ableton Live Website

Ableton is one of the most popular DAWs at this moment in time, and growing more and more in popularity. As the name suggests, it is focusing on having some special functionality when it comes to playing live. Compared to other DAWs Ableton has a better functionality called warping, which detects BPM of samples, and can easily time stretch between certain BPMs. But is in generally sense a great DAW when it comes to general music production. It comes with a great range of stock effects and synths, and also has great expansion possibilities with systems like Ableton Push and Max for Live.

Ableton Live 10 impression interface
Impression of the Ableton 10 Live interface.,

Pricing:
Essential €79
Standard €349
Suite €599

FL Studio 20 - Image Line

Operating system: Windows, Mac OS
FL Studio Website
FL Studio 20 Image Line interface impression
Impression of the interface of FL Studio 20 by Image Line.

Formerly known as Fruity Loops, this is one of the most popular DAWs, especially for dance and trance music producers. It comes with a great set of built in FX and plugins. Has a really nice interface, with capabilities to quickly build your tracks in the playlist, flexible piano roll, and the opportunity to create sets of sounds together in 1 single MIDI pattern. All in a great place to start for a trance/dance producer.

Pricing:
Minimal €89
Standard €189
Signature €289
Full €805

Cubase 10 - Steinberg

Operating system: Windows, Mac OS
Cubase Website

One of the classic DAWs in the scene, developed in 1989, and still available right now. Steinberg actually developed the concept of the VST. Still quite popular under a large group of producers, as it offers perfect capabilities for multitrack recording audio as well as working with MIDI and VSTs. They have been leaders in the past when it comes to new developments in the scene. Reason to offer your respect to this company.

Pricing:
Pro €559
Artist €309
Elements €99

Logic Pro X - Apple

Operating system: Mac OS only
Logic Pro X Website

This is one of those DAWs which is only available to Mac users. Since many creative people swear to the capabilities of Mac computers, this is your go-to DAW if you are one of those Mac groupies as well. Great audio compatibility for Mac OSX and of course a very stable software package to do you audio production with.

Pricing: $200

Reason 10 - Propellerhead

Operating system: Windows, Mac OS
Reason Website

Reason 10 is a special kind of DAW, because it is originally designed as a standalone system. In The latest version it is possible to work with VST2 plugins. This DAW has a strong analog feel to it, with a design of a real old skool studio rack, allowing you to connect cables anywhere manually. If you really like the oldskool studio workflow, this is definitely a DAW for you.

Pricing:
Intro €79
Full €259

Pro Tools 12 - AVID

Operating system: Windows, Mac OS
Pro Tools Website

This really is the high end professional studio software for the pros who really have some money to spend. It basically is the standard for everybody who reaches a higher level of production. With accompanying hardware, this is really not a cheap option, but in the end probably where you want to go once you become pro. Though no everybody is a great fan of this DAW, it still is the industry standard.

Pricing:

Standard
Per Month €23
All Time License €559

Ultimate
Per Month €78
Per Year €929

What is the best DAW for you?

In this article we want to answer the question which DAW you should choose for your production goals, and specifically when it comes to producing trance. The simple answer is no DAW really is the perfect one, each one of them has their pros and cons. There are also some free options on the market, but the professional DAWs are in a general much better because of compatibility and also because other people will use them more often. If you decide to work together with other producer on projects, which will most likely happen at some point, you can send projects easily between different systems. The best tip I can give is, once you have chosen your DAW, stick to it and learn everything about it. You can get so much out of every DAW mentioned earlier, that it won’t be necessary to learn all of them.

For me, I use Ableton Live as a basis, mainly because of the live playing features and the great warping functionality. But recently I started with FL Studio as well, because many fellow producers I work with FL Studio and it makes life much more easy to work on projects within the same software. I don’t like FL Studio as much as Ableton, but it does the job in the end, so it doesn’t mean FL Studio is worse. It just a matter of getting used to it, and finding a way to get the most out if. You can now hopefully choose for yourself which DAW is best for you!

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