If you’re thinking about going pro with your music talent, you’ll need a great program to produce it. With the myriad advancements of technology, there are a great many options you can consider. Here is a list of the best music production programs on the market today.
Before you pay full price for any music creation software be sure to check Amazon for academic versions (if you’re qualified) to save money.
You may remember this being heavily promoted when the iPad came out. It has since then become a popular app for mixing and producing music on the go. It’s also available on the Mac. It doesn’t run on Windows or Android though, so you’re out of luck if you have either of those.
Available for free, Garageband will allow you to do most basic mixing and editing effects for your tracks. It will also allow you to insert multiple instruments and preset tracks in you want. The UI is also very intuitive, with simple drag and drop gestures working for most controls.
- Streamlined recording
- Available for free
- High-quality virtual instruments built-in
- Only for Apple users
- Only basic tools available, so not much use for advanced music editing
I remember first hearing about audacity in a tutorial for converting analog tapes to digital files. It’s one of the best music production programs out there, especially since it’s free, hence Audacity’s popularity as the most downloaded audio recording software in the world.
It’s mostly aimed towards beginners, so new musicians will find it extremely helpful. There are controls for noise reduction, looping, and slowing down tracks and other effects that can improve audio quality.
There are also options to add tons of plug-ins and other comprehensive features. However, it can seem cluttered and unrefined at times. Keep in mind that this isn’t something that the pros use, it’s just for newcomers. Even so, the program’s ease of use and number of options has made it extremely popular.
- Great sound quality
- Richness of features
- Many plug-ins and enhancements
- Cluttered interface
- The UI isn’t as intuitive as Garageband
This is for the absolute novices out there, as well as the extreme budget crowd. Here’s a program that doesn’t cost a cent, much RAM, or processing power. Hya-Wave saves you a lot of money and a lot of processing power on your laptop.
It’s understandable if you don’t have a high-end PC or Mac and are just looking to get by on a budget. Hya-Wave is just a web browser-based program that will let you copy, paste, cut, and record audio. It also features some pretty decent effects and allows sharing on social media accounts.
Don’t expect the moon from this though; it’s just bare bones music production software that is designed for complete novices. However, it’s a great place to start.
- Easy to use
- Available on any browser
- Does decent work for free
- Limited effects and plug-ins
- No option for multi-tracking
Avid Pro Tools
Avid Pro is as close to the complete package as you can get without going to a recording studio. It has everything you will ever need to be an independent musician. It’s not cheap though, you have to pay up for this kind of quality.
Luckily there is a free version called the Pro Tools First app which gives you free limited access to most tools. You’ll get 16 audio tracks, 4 inputs, a gigabyte of space in the cloud and 16 instruments. All of this for free is an amazing deal.
However, if you’re looking to save all your music to the cloud, you’ll have to pay for more storage. You should go with your original cloud account or hard drive for storage.
- The Pro Tools don’t have an equal
- 16 instruments/Audio tracks are great, even for a professional musician
- Limited Space
- Requires a monthly/annual subscription for full services
If you’re looking for a full-featured music production program, this is it. Ardour runs on any platform, including Linux, works with any audio engine, and has great ripple edits built-in. However, its UI isn’t the prettiest or the most intuitive. There’s a steep learning curve for this program that you’ll have to put in the effort to climb.
However, you’ll thank your lucky stars that one of the best audio editors around is free. Not only does it have compatibility with most audio engines, but it’s also got all types of features you’ll need. You can cut together a track, clean up audio, reverberate, fade, and echo, etc.
- Works with all audio engines
- Has great MIDI capabilities
- Ripple editing effects
- Non-intuitive interface
- Not as powerful as Pro Tools
Logic Pro X
Now we’re entering the paid territory. None of these programs, from here on in, are free. The first program on this list is Logic Pro X. It retails for under $200, but it only works on Mac. There is a wealth of options for this program. The great selection of royalty-free loops alone makes this one of the best audio mixers around.
It features virtual instruments just like its smaller counterpart, Garageband. It can create 255 audio and MIDI tracks as well.
- 15 insert effects
- One of the more affordable audio editors on the market
- Expensive when compared to free audio editors
- Not compatible with PC
Steinberg Cubase Elements
Cubase Elements has a great UI as well as 3,500 pre-made royalty-free loops. That alone puts it on our best-of list. The interface looks clean and is easy to navigate, even for a beginner. There are also nearly 24 virtual instruments that you can play.
Add to that the large loop library and the audio mixer which supports 16 insert and effects per channel, and you have a bargain.
- Costs just under $100
- Has a plethora of royalty-free loops
- Has an intuitive UI
- The Installation can be tricky
- Has a limited track count
FL Studio Producer Edition
FL Studio Producer is not only a mouthful; it lives up to its name. Get this one if you’re delving into EDM and hip-hop. It offers great value for money because of its free lifetime updates feature. This is highly unusual for most paid music production programs.
It also has multi-touch support, a wealth of features, and a great UI. Order the box version from Amazon or download at Image-Line’s website.
- Free upgrades forever
- Customization and Usability is great
- Hip-hop and EDM producers will find this especially useful
- Included Plug-ins are lacking
- Mac version is still in beta testing mode
This is a great program to help you record music live. Ableton Live has seamless MIDI sequencing, and access to nearly 50 GB of royalty-free sound libraries. It’s also fairly easy to use. While the look is nothing to gawk at, it’s certainly a very capable piece of music-making software.
- Access to 23 sound libraries
- Has been growing since 1999, guaranteeing that it’s tried and tested by generations of music producers
- Seamless MIDI sequencing
- Great for recording live performances
- Not the best looking interface
Order the box version from Amazon or download directly from Ableton’s website.
Steinberg Cubase Pro
Cubase Pro may not seem like one of the best music production programs at first glance, but it’s up there with the greatest. It gives you access to a lot of electronic sounds that you can recreate the Blade Runner soundtrack with.
Though it may be expensive and may require a learning curve, the investments of time and money are worth it.
- Once you learn it, it is an extremely capable program
- Gives access to a plethora of virtual instruments
- Great for the EDM, hip-hop crowd
- Steep learning curve
With either of these production programs, you’re in safe hands. Whichever one you choose, you’ll get to learn a lot and produce great sounding music. Just remember to keep working on yourself and rising through the ranks. Practice makes perfect.
Good luck on your musical journey!